CLUCK to Close May 5

CLUCK the Chicken Store to Close | Barry Adams | March 22, 2019

A store that defines niche retailing is closing but the work won't end for the owners.

Susan Troller and her husband, Howard Cosgrove, have announced that they are closing their Cluck the Chicken Store that opened in 2012 in Paoli. Business has been solid and profitable each year but the couple wants to spend more time with their four grandchildren who did not exist when they opened the business in a remodeled former service station nearly seven years ago. The brood includes a set of 2 and half year old granddaughters who live in Madison.

"I have very mixed feelings about it. We make money every year and we have a great community but in order to take it to the next level it needs an infusion of new energy," Troller, 66, said of her business. "We’ve given it a lot of love and attention and now it's time to do some other things that require some love and attention."

The last day of business is scheduled for May 5 but Troller and Cosgrove are also trying to sell the business. If a buyer can't be found, they could either just sell the property or lease the building for another business.

Cheese Returns to Paoli

Wisconsin State Journal | Barry Adams | October 22, 2017

Landmark Creamery is the latest addition to Paoli, which boasts artisans, restaurants and a healthy dose of history.

Anna Landmark and Anna Thomas Bates had come to this hamlet along the Sugar River to look at a walk-in cooler. Now they find themselves in the midst of a major remodeling project that will allow them to fulfill their dream of having their own cafe, retail, packaging and aging facility for their Landmark Creamery cheese, the vast majority of which is made from sheep’s milk.

“I’m really excited. We need a cheese store,” said Susan Troller, who in 2012 opened Cluck the Chicken Store, a chicken supply shop and art gallery at what had been a dilapidated service station. “Retailing today is tough. You’ve got to be a destination. It has to be an experience.”

The plans call for serving coffee and pastries for morning commuters in addition to grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese curds, soft drinks and cheese from other cheesemakers.

Landmark Creamery cheese can be purchased in Wisconsin but also in Chicago, Minneapolis, New York City, Boston and San Francisco — part of a craft cheese industry that has exploded over the past 10 years and created thousands of choices for consumers.

“One of the best things about Wisconsin is that everybody across the country sends trucks here to pick up cheese,” Thomas Bates said. “So we’re able to take our smaller quantities of cheese and consolidate them on pallets for these bigger companies. It’s a huge advantage that we have that other smaller cheese makers in other states don’t have.”

This story has been shortened from the original. Please follow the link to read the entire story in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Madison Essentials magazine August 2017

When visitors come through the front door at CLUCK the Chicken Store in Paoli, their first words are often, “What’s a chicken store?”

“That’s understandable,” says owner Susan Troller. “There are no other stores quite like it anywhere. It’s really three stores in one.”

CLUCK is a farm store that sells a complete line of feed and supplies for people who keep backyard chickens. It’s an art gallery featuring original works from local and regional artists. Plus, you’ll find books, housewares, toys, and a surprising collection of gifts, all featuring chickens, horses, bees, and other animals—even chicken enemies, like foxes and owls.

“I have always loved art and home décor,” says Susan. “It is great fun to meet talented local artists and give them a place to show their amazing work.”

Follow the link for the whole story.

Madison Essentials photo 2.JPG


On the Road: Paoli | Christine Bellport | August 4, 2016

NBC-TV15 reporter Christine Bellport took a deep dive into the tiny crossroads arts community of Paoli. Her report really only touches on the highlights, but you can hear her enthusiasm. Of course, she had to buy a rubber chicken purse at CLUCK, but she also stopped at the Hop House, Paoli Bread & Brat and the Schoolhouse Cafe & Shops. Click the link above to watch. It's only a few minutes long, but packs in a lot of good information.
christine bellport on the road_0.png>

The Larry Meiller Show

Wisconsin Public Radio | The Larry Meiller Show | June 21, 2016

Raising Happy and Healthy Backyard Chickens
June 21, 2016 - 11:45am

More and more people are discovering the fun of having backyard chickens. Our chicken expert will tell us what is required to raise happy, healthy chickens. And yes, you can train them!

Host: Larry Meiller
Guest: Susan Troller

Larry and I talked about chickens for 45 minutes and took tons of calls from chicken lovers all over Wisconsin. Click the link to listen to the show in real time or download it for later.

Madison Magazine May 2016

Bikers Delight | Mike Ivey | June 10, 2016

In the May, 2016, issue of Madison Magazine, writer and avid biker Mike Ivey highlighted Paoli as one of six favorite rides, and one that leads right to CLUCK's front door.

The 30-mile round trip down to this little crossroads town southwest of Madison might qualify as the most popular bike route in the state of Wisconsin.

On warm summer evenings or cool weekend mornings, you can count hundreds of cyclists of all levels heading down Seminole Highway or the Badger State Trail. Riding to Paoli offers a little bit of everything, including some hills on the Range Trail and views of the placid Sugar River.

The opening of the Badger State Trail in 2006 only made things better for getting to Paoli, now providing a traffic-free route on pavement all the way to Purcell Road, where the trail turns to crushed limestone. From there, continue onto Sayles Trail and Sun Valley Parkway into the artsy little hamlet that features Cluck: The Chicken Store, a retailer that caters to backyard-chicken enthusiasts.

Read the rest of the story here.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

I attended a unique event last week, held at Cluck the Chicken Store in Paoli and sponsored by Nutrena (animal feed supplier): a chicken taste test.

Nate Pranke, one of two chefs at Cow & Quince in New Glarus, cooked three different types of birds: a supermarket bird, a Cornish Cross raised on local pasture and a Freedom Ranger raised on local pasture. Meat birds do receive supplemental feed, but they eat grass and forage for bugs when raised outdoors.

A few notes on chicken breeds: There are breeds that are best for laying, some that are best for meat and dual-purpose breeds that are good for a bit of both. And just like vegetables, there are heritage breeds that were raised before industrial agriculture became the norm.

Meat birds typically have larger breasts and legs and a fast growth rate and are efficient at converting feed into meat.
Most supermarket poultry is of the Cornish Cross variety — a hybridized species that is bred for lightning-fast growth in a confined area. This attribute results in a meaty bird that can be butchered at 5 weeks in conventional confinement (or 8 weeks outdoors) but also a number of weaknesses:

The chicken's growth is too much for its skeletal system and organs. It doesn't move very much and is susceptible to heart attacks. If this type of bird is raised outdoors, it doesn't forage well or withstand weather changes.

Many alternative poultry farmers are raising modern hybrids, and two of the most popular are Red Rangers and Freedom Rangers.

These hybrids come from heritage breeds and have a slower growth rate and more adept foraging skills, making them a better bird to be raised on pasture. These chickens are typically slaughtered between 9 and 12 weeks.

I took my 5-year-old as a date because (a) he is charming and (b) I wanted a neutral palate who wouldn't be influenced by the type of bird or how it was raised. He was oblivious to the speakers and dug into the three small piles of chicken on his plate when it was set down before him. (The chicken was served alongside bread and a divine coleslaw from Paoli Bread and Brat Haus that was scented with orange zest.)

After my son tested each, I asked him which one he liked the best and the least. He tried them each again and chewed thoughtfully.

He chose the pasture-raised Freedom Ranger as his favorite and the conventionally raised Cornish Cross as his least.

The other guests and I agreed with him almost unanimously. The conventional chicken was very soft and tasted watery (Chef Pranke noted that when he pulled the meat apart to serve, this meat was very soft and completely fell apart). The Freedom Ranger was toothsome (in a pleasant way) and had a more robust, distinctly herb-y taste.

Each bird was prepared the same — brined for 12 hours, rubbed with olive oil and stuffed with lemon and thyme. I'm not sure if the Freedom Ranger meat absorbed the aroma of the cooking herbs more readily or if it was a function of how much it foraged, but its meat was delicious. The Cornish Cross raised outside had a nice texture, but it was less flavorful than the Freedom Ranger.

I spoke with Eric Johnson from Jordandal Farm, who has raised both types of chickens outside on grass. He began raising alternative species eight years ago.

He and his wife, Carrie, are committed to raising poultry in outdoor pens on grass, and the Cornish Cross grew too fast and would just sit in front of the feeders.

This year he raised Red Rangers, and he has raised Freedom Rangers and Kosher Kings in the past.
He prefers them because of their hardiness, good activity and ability to put on weight.

All in all, it was a good experiment. While I am committed to buying local meat that is raised humanely for non-culinary reasons, it helps to know that it also truly tastes the best.

The temperatures are dropping, and roasting a whole chicken is a surefire way to get your house smelling incredible while providing several cost-efficient meals for the family well into the workweek.
My preferred method, if I'm planning ahead, is to rub the meat with salt one to three days ahead of cooking time (see recipes by Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe and Molly Stevens, roasting guru). But if you are working at the last minute, the recipe I've included is a quick, French preparation that yields a delicious bird.

Visit the site to see Anna's recipe.


Everyone will have chickens eventually | Linda Falkenstein | September 25, 2015

Cluck is one of many attractions in the idyllic bicycle destination of Paoli.

Paoli, the hamlet just south of Verona on the Sugar River, has always been quaint, but the place just keeps getting more charming. On a recent Sunday afternoon, the grassy lawn adjacent to the river was filled with white chairs from a wedding; a steady stream of Lycra-bedecked bicyclists were stopping for libations. Visitors were even arriving by kayak — taking advantage of the cleaned-up river, thanks to the Falk Wells Sugar River Wildlife Area, which begins just upstream. The Paoli House Inn offers a spot to overnight; there are pubs and art galleries, cheese and brats, and, improbably, Cluck, a shop devoted to the backyard chicken-raiser.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking Cluck’s not for you if you don’t have a backyard brood. You could call the front of the store a hybrid chicken-themed gift shop and art gallery, though the offerings are more unexpected than you might, well, expect. Paintings by Marcia Sparks, Cynthia Quinn and Anne Stack Connor are currently featured, among poultry-themed aprons, mugs, cards, baby onesies and jewelry.

“We don’t have chickens, but we like to come in,” announces one Sunday visitor, to which clerk Howard Cosgrove replies: “Oh, everyone will have chickens eventually.”

Click the link to read the rest of the story.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Paoli Hopping with Galleries, History and Beer | Brian E. Clark | August 30, 2015

One hundred and fifty years ago, farmers living a dozen or so miles south of Madison needed somewhere to grind their wheat and corn, so they built a mill.

But not just any mill. They constructed an imposing, three-story grist mill on the banks of the Sugar River in the tiny burg of Paoli (pronounced either pay-OH-lie or pay-OH-lee, with locals preferring the former) and diverted the stream to power the mill's turbines.

Today, that cream-colored limestone structure remains the centerpiece of the town, restored in the 1990s by Bill Hastings, who pretty much brought it back from the dead.

Dubbed the Paoli Mill Terrace & Park, a section of the canal that once fed the turbine remains on the east side of the building alongside a large picnic area.

"That mill is a thing of beauty," said Richard Joseph, who runs the Hop Garden Tap Room at the back of the mill.

"Bill did a great job with it. He's retired now, but he had his marketing agency in it. He used to live on the top floor and he still has an office there. The roof was pretty much caved in and the place was a mess when he bought it."

Elsewhere in this quirky little Dane County hamlet you'll find the appropriately named Cluck the Chicken Store.

It's owned by Susan Troller, who's considered an icon in the regional backyard-chicken-raising community. The store has organic and custom-milled feed, veterinary supplies, brooders, waterers and handcrafted coops that could be works of art.

There are also greeting cards, housewares, gifts, original art — all of which celebrate the backyard chicken. The shop is also the place where chicken keepers can learn about the Gallus gallus domesticus, share stories and meet up with other backyard chicken devotees.

Paoli also has a handful of galleries, including the Zazen Gallery, which serves as a showroom for Richard Judd-designed furniture and works of other artists; Totally Wired, which sells purses, handbags, plates, bowls and silverware decorated with wire and beads; Paoli Secret Garden, which sells hammocks, epiphytes, topiaries, living tables and magnets; Artisan Gallery, which displays the creations of 100 artists who work in ceramics, painting and sculpture; the JohnChristineDesigns jewelry studio; and the Paoli Mill Park Gallery, which displays the work of 70 local and regional fine and folk artists.

Follow the link to read the rest of the story in the Journal-Sentinel.

Brava Magazine

Something to Crow About | Meg Rotter | August 8, 2015

Brava August 2015.JPG

Brava copy August 2015_0.JPG