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While the exact history of Valentine’s Day is murky, it appears to have evolved from rituals involving the welcomed whipping of women with strips of blood-dipped lamb, a lusty lottery, three martyred saints…all sorts of really hot stuff (honest, look it up). But throughout the centuries the heat got turned way down. Today, millions languidly […]

While the exact history of Valentine’s Day is murky, it appears to have evolved from rituals involving the welcomed whipping of women with strips of blood-dipped lamb, a lusty lottery, three martyred saints…all sorts of really hot stuff (honest, look it up). But throughout the centuries the heat got turned way down. Today, millions languidly trudge through a holiday clichéd with exchanges of paper products and heart-shaped pieces of chalky candy, both inscribed with generic declarations of romance. The randy days of playful mutton whippings are over. So how to make Valentine’s Day less predictable? This year try an intimate getaway, just you and your “hot stuff,” as countless Sweetheart Conversation Hearts would put it.

Little Sugar River Farm,a vacation rental property near Albany, Wis. (two hours), not far from New Glarus, is a perfect little spicy retreat. The farm’s 1,600-square-foot guesthouse was awarded the Wisconsin chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ Honor Award for its blend of modern elegance and rural American vernacular style. The guesthouse is nestled on the edge of a nature preserve overlooking picturesque fields, a remote moraine and woods.

When you make a reservation, the property’s owners will ask what you’d like stocked in the kitchen. Wine, local artisanal cheeses, regional microbrews and flowers are a standard welcoming treat, but the farm is happy to shop for groceries if you would like to cook in the fully equipped kitchen. Frank, the farm’s owner, will also be happy to cook for you if you so desire.

The property is a working, “mostly organic farm,” and you are invited to interact with as much of its workings as you’d like. Collect fresh eggs in the morning from the 28 free-range hens housed on the farm, or just ask and Frank will bring you as many as you want. During the growing season, the farm produces a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables, flowers, honey and herbs. It also freezes produce for guests to enjoy throughout the winter.

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The interior of the guesthouse is airy and bright and exudes a kick-off-your-shoes
coziness. The floors, cabinetry and furniture are custom-made from richly toned
cherry and oak harvested from trees on the farm’s woodlot. The house can sleep up to six adults but is perfectly suited for a couple looking to enjoy peace, quiet, eggs and, most importantly, each other. Relax together with a movie, book or one of several magazine subscriptions (you’ll have to bring your own Milwaukee Magazine) on the giant sofa in front of the fireplace. Both the upstairs bathtub and shower are designed for two, so we’ll let you imagine the possibilities.

If you need to take a break from all that relaxing, try a walk through 2,000 acres of state-owned land just off the porch or go ice-skating on the farm’s pond. The Swiss-flavored town of New Glarus is just minutes away if you need to hear an alpenhorn, pick up some Ricola or stock up on Swiss-styled goodies. Maple Leaf Cheese and Chocolate Haus (608-527-2000) features an enticing selection of award-winning local cheeses and imported chocolates. New Glarus Brewing Company (608-527-5850) offers a worthy tour and tasting room as well. Mineral Point is also just a short drive from the farm and is one of the best places in the state to browse art galleries and artisans’ studios. Book a table at the Dining Room at 209 Main in Monticello (608-938-2200; just 20 minutes from Little Sugar River Farm) for a romantic dinner. The much raved-about restaurant, owned and operated by a husband and wife, features local ingredients in inventive, ethnically eclectic gourmet cuisine. After dinner, head back to the guesthouse and hop into your king-size bed with high-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets. By the end of your stay, you’ll realize that not even Hallmark can express what a few nights together at Little Sugar River Farm can. (608-862-2212; www.littlesugarriverfarm.com.)

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