Welcome to the Speckled Hen Inn

Life and Lodging in Sustainable Style…what it means to us

April 29th, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

That’s a slogan that we use at The Speckled Hen Inn and it means more to us with each passing day.  It seems that the more we learn about green living, eco-travel, sustainability, etc., the more we discover that there is to learn.  Every purchasing, planting, and menu decision is affected by out commitment to approach these decisions in a way that will minimize any negative impact and maximize the positive.

 

Each year in April we renew our certification in the Travel Green Wisconsin program.  It is the perfect opportunity to take stock of what we have accomplished and look forward to what will come in the year ahead.  Going “green” is a journey.  Let’s take a look at what we have done, are doing, and hope to do soon.

The easiest and obvious things came first.  Compact fluorescent bulbs replace incandescent light bulbs as they burn out.  Motion sensors that turn lights on for a short period of time are used in many areas both inside the Inn and along the outdoor walkways.  As appliances wear out they are replaced with EnergyStar rated appliances.  Refrigerators, freezers, washers and clothes dryers have been some recent examples.  Each guest room has an additional waste can just for items to be recycled.  Information about what can be recycled by our refuse pick-up company is posted for guests to read.  We also recycle batteries, print cartridges, and many other items.  Nothing just automatically goes in the trash bin.  A linen re-use program is in effect and bath liquids are offered in dispensers rather than little plastic bottles.

Water conservation is a major concern at our Inn.  We do have our own well that provides us with beautiful clear, clean water.  We eliminated bottled water from our “amenities offered” list more than a year ago and guests seem to enjoy our natural water supply.  It does, however take electricity to pump that water out of the ground so we are constantly looking for ways to reduce our water usage.  We have installed low-flow shower heads and water conserving toilets. Our laundry is equipped with high efficiency washers and we sweep rather than hosing off the decks, porches and walkways.  New garden beds have drip irrigation systems and are mulched to retain moisture.  Rain barrels to use for watering the decorative landscape planters are in the plans for this season.

Crab apple trees along the pasture fence

Crab apple trees along the pasture fence

 

The Inn’s 50-acre property is home to may species of birds, deer, wild turkey, and other woodland and wetland creatures.  The spring-fed creeks on the property supply them with an open source of water year-round.  We hope that our guests will enjoy and respect the natural habitat while they are here.  Many guests express their joy at having a place to reconnect with the land.

It has long been an ideal, goal, dream, whatever you want to call it, of ours to live off our land.  Our favorite bookshelf has always contained books outlining the various ways that one might accomplish that.  While being completely self-sufficient is still a distant dream, we have made some major efforts toward that goal.  Our vegetable garden and orchards continue to expand.  It is a joy to prepare and offer our guests breakfast items that feature the bounty of our land.  We have also developed great relationships with other local growers and suppliers whose goods also grace our table and additionally give our guests a destination for their exploration of the area.

I want to close this post by saying a few words about the final word in our slogan – Style.  We strongly feel that embracing sustainability and being environmentally conscious is not tied to “doing without” but rather to finding better, more earth friendly, ways of doing the things that you want to do.  It is about embracing what you can create with whatever is available and sharing it with those you care about.  Our decorating “Style” reflects the roads we have traveled and what we find that offers us comfort.  Our food “Style” reflects our passion for fresh, local, and lovely.  And our hospitality “Style” reflects our willingness to share what we have created with our guests.  We hope that they enjoy as much as we do. 

Meet the Innkeepers at The Speckled Hen Inn

April 22nd, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

 

Bob and I are both natives of Missouri.  We met in college in the late 60’s and were married in 1973.  We moved to Madison in 1978 and purchased the 50-acre parcel where The Speckled Hen Inn is located in 1984 and began construction and landscaping in 1986.  We completed the building of our home in 1990 and raised our two children in the house that is now the Inn.  In 2000, I opened the Speckled Hen Inn.  Bob retired from his “day job” of 32 years in 2005 and became the full-time assistant innkeeper .

Bob and Happy take a break.

Bob and Happy take a break.

 

Over the years, we have developed our interests in entertaining, cooking, gardening and wine appreciation.  They tell me that I have the creative genes that are best reflected in the decor of the Inn and interesting gourmet breakfasts served at the Inn.  The Inn is known for its breakfasts, warm ambiance and genuine hospitality.  Many of the breakfast entrées use ingredients produced at the Inn by the Innkeepers.   Bob is the assistant chef, head gardner and is responsible for the upkeep of the 50 acre estate.   The Inn is proud to be a member of Travel Green Wisconsin.

 

Come share our 25+ year labor of love and be prepared to be pampered and, of course,  well fed.

Pat with one of the lambs.

Pat with one of the lambs.

 

 

Group Special Events: Dining al fresco

February 5th, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

The Party Patio at The Speckled hen Inn

 The Speckled Hen Inn offers group outdoor party facilities and food/beverage service.  The service is available only during the summer season (May-October).  Join us for such events as family reunions, graduation parties, birthday parties, wedding rehearsal dinners or company sponsored events.  We have a complete outdoor kitchen and dining area.  We feature outdoor BBQ and Pizza venues.  Beer, wine and soft drinks are also available.  Seating is limited to 20-30 people.  Larger groups can be accommodated and served buffet style around the pool.  The swimming pool may not be used due to licensing restrictions.

Enjoy the view from the patio

Enjoy the view from the patio

 

 

BBQ dinners feature slow smoked ribs, pulled pork, and/or hot dogs/brats with baked beans, coleslaw and chips.  Pizza is available by the pie or can be served individually as a “build-your-own” buffet.  Our chef is passionate about smoking/grilling and gourmet pizza-perfection; this may well be the best party food you have ever had.

 

 

 

Partytime in the outdoor kitchen

Partytime in the outdoor kitchen

 

 

 

Please call to plan your next event and to receive a price quotation.  Prices average between $12 and $25 per person depending upon menu selection, exclusive of beverage costs.  There is a $70 setup charge per group for county permit application fees.  No tipping is required, thereby effectively offsetting the mandatory county fee.

Relax on the patio

Relax on the patio

 

It doesn’t get much better than this.  Make your next event something special at the Speckled Hen Inn.

Brew Pubs in Madison WI

December 17th, 2008 by Pat Fischbeck

Wisconsin is well known as the land of Brats and Beer. In Madison there is no shortage of spots to wet your whistle but if you want to pull up a stool and enjoy the really freshly brewed stuff you will want to visit the city’s brew pubs.
The newest kid on the scene is The Ale Asylum at the corner of Kinsman Blvd and North Stoughton Road.  This brew pub is not far from The Speckled Hen Inn and guests visiting there give their brews a mugs up rating.  They also offer great deli sandwiches and pizzas.
The Great Dane Brew Pub has been around for a few years and now boasts three locations.  You can find one in downtown Madison in the historic Fess Hotel building, at Hilldale Mall and in Fitchburg.  According to their press they have more tap selections than any other brew pub in the country.  They also offer good pub grub.
J T Whitney’s on the west side of Madison has also been here for a while and has a good local following and great foosball tables.

Moving up the size scale quite a bit, there is the Capital Brewery and Beer Garden in Middleton.  It is a rather large micro-brewery producing award winning German-style beers.  They offer tours on Fridays at 3:30 PM and on Saturdays at 1:30 and 3:30 PM.  The tours are $3.00 per person over the age of 21. 

Brew Kettles at the Capital Brewery

Brew Kettles at the Capital Brewery

 In December and January the Stube is sometimes closed for private parties, so you may want to check their website to see if the Stube is open before you get too thirsty.  Their Bockfest is the last Saturday in February when they release their Blonde Doppelbock.

Dane County Winter Farmer's Market

December 17th, 2008 by Pat Fischbeck

Many of the guests at The Speckled Hen Inn enjoy the Dane County Farmer’s Market in the warmer seasons but few realize that the market is open in the winter also.  From January 3 until April 11, 8:00 AM to noon, the market is indoors at the Mifflin Street Senior Center.  Listed below are the things that you can find and enjoy at the winter market.

 

Wondering what you can find at the DCFM Winter Market? Here’s a listing to help guide you.

Fruit
Apples; Cider; Jams, jellies, and preserves; Pears; Pear and apple butters; Raspberry products

Stored Vegetables
Carrots, Garlic, Potatoes, Shallots, Turnips

Fresh Vegetables
Chard, Greens, Kale, Lettuce, Micro-greens, Radish, Spinach, Tomatoes

Meats
Beef, Bison, Brats and sausage, Chicken, Conventional and special cuts, Emu, Ground beef, Highland beef, Jerky, Ostrich, Pork, Roasts, Turkey, Steaks

Decorations
Bison products, Emu products, House plants, Orchids, Ostrich products, Potted flowers

Cheeses
Flavored cheeses, Goat cheese, World-class aged cheeses, Fresh cheese curds

Baked Goods
Flat breads, Biscotti, Cheesecake, Pastries, Cinnamon rolls, Sweet breads, Torts, Cookies, Muffins, Panettone, Sourdough bread

Specialty Items
Mushrooms, Maple syrup, Wool products, Candles, Honey, Pesto, Vinaigrettes, Eggs, Hot sauces, Flavored sea salt, Goat milk soap, Salsa, Yarn, Sheepskins, Hides and leather, Soups, Pasta sauce, Fresh-ground whole wheat flour, Herbal vinegar

The market vendors are also a great source for recipes using their products and many offer delicious samples.

Farmers' Market Strata

Farmers

Last Minute Holiday Shopping in Madison

December 11th, 2008 by Pat Fischbeck

Everyone has to eat.  So, it just makes sense that gifts of food are always welcome.  There are lots of places in Madison where you can pick up fabulous local foods to suit everyone on your shopping list.
Wisconsin is all about cheese and there is a lot to choose from.  Stop in Fromagination on the capitol square to get your imagination going.  Or visit and sample your way through the artisan cheeses at Carr Valley Cheese in Middleton.  The tiny, tiny cheese store in Paoli is tons of fun too.  Not too far from the Speckled Hen Inn you will find Mouse House and Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet.  Have someone take your picture with the huge cow to prove that you were really there.

 

Carr Valley Cheese at a Speckled Hen Inn Wine Tasting

  

 

If you have someone who loves to cook on your list, stop in Penzy’s spice store on University Avenue.  Their double vanilla is divine and the variety of pepper and the mills to grind it is excellent.  It is a Holiday treat for your nose just to walk into the shop.  Next door, there is a cookware store that will actually sharpen your knives while you wait and next to that there is a shop that sells all kinds of wonderful vinegars and oils.  If you need something to finish off a food gift basket, Whole Foods is right across the street.
Chocolate lovers will long remember any gift of truffles from Gail Ambrosious Chocolatier.  Coffee lovers might appreciate the freshly roasted beans from Victor Allen, Steep and Brew, or Ankora Coffee Roasters.  Everyone loves pasta.  The fresh pasta from RP’s is excellent.
We will be happy to help guests at The Speckled Hen Inn find the perfect gifts for all those question marks on their shopping list.  One final suggestion: How about a Speckled Hen Inn Gift Certificate tucked into a copy of a Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast cookbook?  We can make it happen.

Come enjoy winter sports in Southern Wisconsin

December 11th, 2008 by Pat Fischbeck

Winter has surely arrived in Madison.  Several inches of fresh snow have turned the grounds at The Speckled Hen Inn into a winter wonderland. Happy, our Golden Doodle, and I are just in from a romp in the snow.  I was trying out my new snow shoes.  What fun!  We followed the short walking trail around the pasture and saw a wild turkey, heard lots of birds in the pine trees and saw deer tracks behind the stable. 

The XC ski trails at Elver Park and Yahara Hills Golf Course will be open by the weekend.  Elver Park has a warming house where XC ski rentals are possible.  There is also a great hill for tubing or sledding.  Local outdoor ice rinks for ice skating and Ice hockey are not quite ready yet because the snow blanket has prevented the ice from freezing to a safe thickness.

It is a bit early in the season but downhill skiing is a possibility.  Cascade Mountain reports a 24″-40″ base with 16 trails and 2 lifts open.  Devil’s Head reports a 16″-30″ base with 5 trails and 3 lifts open.  Both ski hills are less than an hour from The Speckled Hen Inn.  Spend a fun day on the slopes and then return to the Inn for a soak in your whirlpool tub  followed by dinner at one of Madison’s fabulous restaurants.

Happy enjoys playing in the snow outside The Speckled Hen Inn

Happy enjoys playing in the snow outside The Speckled Hen Inn