you gonna call?" If Shelley and Francis
Swoboda of Tilden had a choice in the matter
last week, probably nobody. It came as a
complete surprise to the farm couple when
paranormal investigators Chad Lewis and Terry
Fisk knocked on their door Monday, July 20,
asking to inspect their crop circles.
"What crop circles?" they asked.
"We had no idea they were there,"
said Shelley Swoboda of the mysterious rings
which appeared in their oat field just off
County Highway N, at some time previous to
Friday, July 16, 2004.
The field with the circles is not in a direct
line of sight from the Swoboda's home, and the
couple noticed no unusual activity on their
farm prior to the discovery.
The investigators who called on the Swoboda's
were tipped off to the presence of the rings
after receiving an e-mail about them including
precise directions to their location. The
message was sent Friday, July 16. However,
neither Lewis or Fisk checked their messages
until the following Monday.
The message sent by Adam Prince, recent
graduate of Chippewa High School, stated that
he noticed what might be crop circles out in a
field off Highway N. Deciding not to
investigate on his own, Prince e-mailed BLT, a
paranormal research firm from Eau Claire,
which Lewis and Fisk head.
It didn't take long for news of the ringed
formations to reach the media and following
that, the general public. "We could have
lived without the excitement of it all, said
the Swoboda's, "as the culprit or
culprits, whether normal or paranormal,
damaged about 4-acres of the best oat crop
we've had in years."
So, on Monday, the Swoboda's found themselves
accompanying the two paranormal investigators
- plus a newspaper reporter who had also
arrived at their home - to the field where
three circles were found.
Leaving the trio to investigate, Francis
Swoboda, returned to the house, called his
insurance company and inquired whether or not
his policy covered "alien damage." A
startled agent advised Swoboda to call the
police. Shortly thereafter, a Chippewa County
police officer joined the others in the oat
Fearing hordes of curiosity seekers, Francis
Swoboda decided to put out a few 'no
trespassing' signs. That approach has been
successful to the extent that people are
mostly doing drive-by's or parking off the
highway for a brief period of time as they try
to make out the circles, which are not all
that visible from the road.
Of the three rings found, the largest said
Lewis, measured 65 feet in diameter. Two
others measuring roughly 54 - 55 feet in
diameter were connected to the center circle
by 30 foot x 5 foot pathways. "We took
whole plant samples from both inside and
outside the circles and sent them to
Cambridge, Mass., for independent study,"
added Lewis. "Especially important is
measuring and comparing the nodes of the
plant," he added, noting that the nodules
of those plants found inside the circles seem
to be elongated. Tests on comparative heat,
radiation and magnetics were also part of the
"We've investigated other crop circles in
Wisconsin, but these are the first in Chippewa
County," said Lewis.
The Swoboda's have faced the uproar with
equanimity although Fran-cis Swoboda would
have preferred the creators of the circles,
whether extraterrestrial or not, to have put
their time to better use. "We had plenty
of hay to be unloaded, it certainly would have
been something better for them to do."
Meanwhile, some of the curious, stymied by the
little able to be viewed from the highway,
have begun buzzing the field in small
The Swoboda's, for their part, will just be
happy when the whole thing blows over.