Monthly Round-Up: July!!
It's already August. Summer is almost over, ice cream season is winding down.
As with all new things, this past year has been full of changes, challenges, and absolutely wonderful moments. Most notably, there has been this wonderful group of people - a group that goes bigger every week - that has helped make this all happen.
We have this crazy wonderful staff, who have been driving, scooping, cleaning, setting up and tearing down - and most importantly, smiling - since May and will continue to do so all the way through October.
Some of these days have been gotten long...and very hot. Some of these days, Kyle has been at the farm since before sunup and gone home well after sundown, doing everything from maintenance on the trucks to building new activities for fall season.
And speaking of maintenance, we have to give a huge shout-out to Pinks, who have helped us in a pinch and always come through. When the trucks have needed more than Kyle's fixes, they've turned the truck around within hours so we can make it to our scheduled stop. They are amazing!
Some of these days, our ice cream staff have left before lunch and come back after dark. Over the course of a wedding weekend, our staff works long hours on multiple days to give our couples as beautiful and fun of a day as possible.
Our staff - the scoopers, set up crews, event staff, ice cream makers, cleaners, and drivers - are amazing. We cannot thank them all enough for their hard work and positive attitudes. Despite these sometimes long and challenging days, our staff brings so much happiness here to the farm. And we love them for it.
And then on the other side of the window is you. And, guys, we are just so appreciative of you.
You've made us laugh. You've started kindness chains. Your excitement and appreciation has kept us going. Your kids have made our day. You have made our day. Oh, and so have your dogs, who love ice cream just as much as you!
So many banks, businesses, and individuals have provided free cones within their communities. So many schools have asked us to scoop up ice cream for their students and staff to celebrate the end of a hard, but good year.
Here at the barn, families and friends have come to celebrate with their loved ones on their very special day. Their happiness at being together again has been wonderful to see.
Thank you, everyone. Thank you so much for your support and business, but also for all the good you've put into the world this summer. It might have just seemed like an ice cream cone - or just well wishes for a wedding couple - but it all was so much more.
Because, c'mon. There's nothing but good in smiles like these.
A little over a month ago, we planted our pumpkins. Now they are growing little baby pumpkins that will soon be ready to pick come fall!
This week, Kyle showed us around the patch and we learned what makes a pumpkin...well, a pumpkin.
Monthly Round-Up: June
With one hundred and fifteen ice cream truck stops, we ran our tails off in June.
We went everywhere from Madison to Peosta, Spring Green to East Dubuque and into Hollandale. McGregor, Galena, Edmund, to Wyalusing Beach. We attended five dairy breakfasts in five counties. From graduation parties to employee appreciation days to night markets, we feel like we were there for it all.
We got up before dawn on some days, came back after dark on many. Cleaned off a lot of dead bugs. Made tubs upon tubs of ice cream. Moved them from the freezer to the truck. Jumped the truck a couple times (whoops). Packed pints. Rotated pints. Washed dishes and mopped the floors. And did it all over again.
But let us tell you, it was a wonderful month. Although there are a lot of less-than-exciting things that happen behind the scenes of an ice cream truck, the part after we open the window and get out our scoops is seriously the best. We really never get tired of those cotton candy smiles.
At the farm, things were a little quieter. We had a sweet little wedding celebration. Did a little field work. Saved a lot of goats stuck in the fence.
The big news of June is that we finally received our new big walk-in freezer, which in one quick morning was installed and filled with ice cream. We have had quite a few storage and stocking woes during the month of June and we are terribly excited about this new freezer. It will help us tremendously. The best part about it? It's right down by the trucks, so no more hauling tubs from the kitchen allllllll the way to the truck freezers. (I'm particularly excited about this...my arms have been getting quite the workout!)
June was packed with excited stuff. But if you don't mind, we're just going to take a little nap now until July starts.
Monthly Round-Up: May
The month of May started with a breeze. On the 1st, we welcomed wedding guests to the farm on the hottest and windiest spring day I can remember. Here on the farm, we have a lot of rain contingency plans, some heat contingency plans, and quite a few of on-the-spot problem-solving plans, but we hadn't made any plans for 35 mph wind and bridesmaid updos!
Although we had to bring the couple's ceremony inside (with that kind of wind, you couldn't hear more than a foot from you), it was still a wonderful day filled with a lot of laughs and a lot of love.
The rest of our May weddings were less windblown, but were just as wonderful. We were so happy to celebrate with all of our couples, especially with those who finally got to say their vows after the pandemic pushed their original wedding date off into this year. Congratulations to all our May brides and grooms! And thank you to the family and friends who celebrated with them, and with us.
Plus - we got a photobooth wedding guys! Our favorite!!
We also were able to celebrate Mother's Day brunch for the first time in two years, and it was so great to see families back out doing things together. We saw generations of families, from grandparents to grandkids, all coming together in one place to share both a meal and their time. And let me tell you - it did our hearts good.
Finally, we helped recognize some amazing foster families by serving them a fun lunch and scoops of ice cream -- and we did some seriously good zip lining with the kiddos. We said good luck and good work with cider donut sundaes to Lancaster's seniors when we wrapped up the month with the Lancaster Senior Banquet, a really fun night that was made all the more special because we are soon saying a sad but necessary goodbye to four amazing seniors who have been with us at the farm for years. But more on that -- and a few tears -- in a later blog.
This month was a cycle of putting tables up and taking them down, washing linens, running the dust mop and floor cleaner, emptying trash cans, washing windows, setting up benches and moving the arbor, and meal prep after meal prep after meal prep. It was a pretty physical month for our staff, but the happy days at the farm for our guests made the work so worthwhile. Plus...photobooth, guys. Photobooth.
May was also a busy month in the truck!
We kicked off May with Teacher Appreciation Week. We bounced around to many area schools -- from Belmont to Dubuque to right here in Lancaster -- to help schools celebrate their staff.
The next week we stopped at a lot of nursing homes for Nursing Appreciation Week to help people show their love for their care staff.
In between those stops, we made our first trips into Barneveld, Kieler, and Ridgeway and visited a lot of surrounding communities to scoop up ice cream. We enjoyed time with a lot of great families (and their fur babies, too!) and loved all the laughs and happiness.
At the end of the month, we found ourselves at school again, helping celebrate the end of the school year by scooping up cones for a whole bunch of very happy and very excited kids, who are now all ready for summer!
It was a wonderful month in the truck, and we are looking forward to June dairy month and all the stops that are to come in this wonderful summer weather!
Oh, hey, I forgot. We also planted pumpkins (in between the rain drops) and planted the corn maze. But we'll tell you about those things later! Oh, AND we hired an amazing person to make our ice cream and run our kitchen - but I'll tell you all about Whitney in another blog, too. May was SO FUN, you guys!
Ice Cream Trucks: Then and Now
In April, we took Scoop 1 out for a few visits. The weather didn't exactly cooperate with us. Save for a few peeks of sunshine, it was cold, rainy, and cloudy. But we had fun. We appreciated everyone who came to visit, who sometimes stood in a brisk wind for their cones or pints, and who still smiled and laughed and made our day.
Now our second truck, Scoop 2, has been inspected and approved for the road. We will be taking it out this weekend AND we have the best ice cream weather forecast we could ask for - sunny and 80 degrees.
We admit, we're feeling a little sentimental about this. So we thought we'd bring you all along for a little trip down memory lane.
Two years ago, there was no truck. There was Kyle, Caitlin (our intern at the time), and a few other people hauling around some iced-up coolers full of ice cream, visiting bank parking lots and giving away free scoops. We were brand-new to ice cream, and so were you.
Fast-forward one year. We learned A LOT about making ice cream. With your help and feedback, we established and finalized our recipes. And Kyle began what turned out to be a quick hunt for the perfect ice cream delivery method: a truck.
With a lot of unexpected time on our hands, we got the truck, got it wrapped, bought some freezers, and made a bunch of ice cream. This one truck had quite a few "makeshift" or "self-engineered" or (maybe our favorite description of it) "designed by Kyle" aspects to it.
Our menu board was a piece of cut metal with laminated flavor names adhered by velcro.
Our generator limped along for about six weeks until it finally gave up, and Kyle ratchet strapped a plucky little generator to the back of the truck that just BARELY kept up with all the freezers. We occasionally were blessed with air conditioning, but it was not often that we could squeeze enough juice out of the generator to get cold air through the truck.
We established a fun routine of jumping the truck, as the batteries often drained overnight. It was a good life lesson for me and other employees, as jumping a vehicle was not a skill I had before last summer.
Last summer, we had only 12 flavors, no merchandise, and only a few staff members available to work the truck, so we had to run a more limited schedule. But we had a ball, you guys. There's just something about the ice cream truck - the laughs, the fun, the happy families. We were without air conditioning, but we had no shortage of smiles.
This summer, the biggest change has been the addition of a second truck, Scoop 2. It's the same truck as the first, wrapped similarly and outfitted the same.
This major change foreshadowed a lot of others. Caitlin came back, now as our scoops coordinator, and we all got our act together pretty quickly in preparation of a full ice cream season ahead.
We have a new amazing menu board designed by Caitlin and Kyle, with magnets instead of laminated cards and, most importantly, photos of our ice cream for you to see as you order! This new menu board is permanently attached to the trucks, which is awesome we will never forget it at the farm by accident (something that has never happened...ever).
Probably the best thing for our staff has been the new generators that don't generate as much heat, are much quieter, and - most importantly - do not fall off the back of the truck or require any cranking. Both trucks have also had a top-to-bottom inspections and new tires, so hopefully we won't be jumping them so much this summer.
Inside the truck, we've added super fun t-shirts and cooler bags AND new flavors in addition to our 12 regular ones. This past month we've enjoyed Peanut Butter Cup and next up is Blueberry Cheesecake!
We also have new freezers in Scoop 2 that don't require constant electricity, which eases up on the generator load and makes it possible for us to finally run the A/C on those hot, hot days. The new dipping cabinet freezer will also keep the ice cream at a more consistent temperature, making it easier for our staff to scoop and easier for you to eat!
Also debuting this year are our new fun pint containers that are a major upgrade from the basic white ones. Plus they have ice cream ingredients on them (a new requirement from the state), and we also have that information at the trucks for you if needed!
With all these changes, our heads have been spinning, but we - and now almost 40 of our amazing scooping staff - are looking forward to a super fun ice cream season ahead. We are thankful for all the updates to the trucks, and are hoping that you enjoy them as much as we do, especially those new flavors!
Monthly Round-Up: March!
After traveling 2,500 miles all throughout the South for the annual corn party (more on this after I've gone through some pretty epic video footage...), we had exactly one day to relax, unpack, and get ready for the busy month ahead.
The first thing we did was make ice cream. With our trucks scheduled to go out the first of April and a VERY empty freezer, we scrambled to get flavors ready for the upcoming season. Luckily, a few of our employees - plus a few newbies - pitched in to help us get ahead. Within a couple weeks we were ready to start the season - soon all your favorite flavors will be traveling right to you!
A funny thing about making ice cream. On St. Patrick's Day, we posted a Boomerang video of us making our green mint cookie ice cream. A week later, we noticed something. This little 10-second video has now been viewed by 826 thousand people, most of them in India. Why that's happened, we don't know. But this little video sure went places!
We also made a lot of fun new updates to both Scoop 1 and 2, which you can check out in our next blog! We're talking all things old and new about our trucks, including our brand-new pint containers!
Continuing with all things ice cream, we invited all our current and new employees to attend our very first ice cream orientation. We did a little scooping, a little customer service training, and a little driving practice. We had a great time showing all our new employees around and getting them ready for their first season in the Scoops!
We had two very special applicants join us for training. They over-scooped a bit and they definitely can't drive the truck, but they sure did make us laugh.
The month ended with our Easter celebrations. We had to do quite the cleaning in the barn, as Kyle had moved all his tools, both the ice cream trucks, and a few other random "fix-its" in over the winter, but we were so happy to welcome you all to the farm. Thank you for celebrating Easter with us. We hope you all had a wonderful Easter holiday.
View our Easter video on the blog or on YouTube! Love and donuts from all of us at the farm.
In our farm family, we have all sorts of Easter traditions. Some of them date way back, to our grandmothers and grandfathers. Some of them have a shorter history, but that doesn't make them any less meaningful. One of those new traditions is our Easter Bunny Breakfast, which we started only five years ago.
It's a time to be grateful, and grateful we are. Thank you for being with us. For including us in your family traditions. For supporting us. For sharing your laughs, your kindness, your smiles. We are grateful to have spent Easter with you. Happy spring.
Love and donuts,
The Vesperman Farms family
Fall Treats to Raise Funds
The first week of February brought extreme cold and a lot of snow. It also brought the Friends of Winskill group to the barn for their annual fundraising pick up day. Inside, in the two days prior to the pick up, we made 450 bags of kettle corn and 800 dozen donuts. And outside...well, it snowed like the dickens.
We usually make our kettle corn outside, but because of the snow and cold, we moved around our kitchen and parked the kettle corn machine right under the vent hood. And as it froze outside, we stayed nice and toasty as the machine kicked off heat. We always make our donuts inside, so no changes there, but some of our staff did struggle to make it in as the winds blew snow all over the roads and complicated travel for many people.
Despite the weather complications, we had such a blast with this year's Friends of Winskill fundraiser. They had an excellent turnout and raised funds to go towards recess and play equipment, classroom supplies, and--for this year especially--media for the school to help with their virtual learning efforts.
It's truly wonderful to see a group of people come together to do such good things for their community, and the Friends of Winskill group works so hard to give as much as they can--and they have a lot of fun too.
And for us, seeing our donuts do some really good things is the best part. We hope you all enjoyed them!
Vanessa + Cody
This two made "Wife of the Party" a household phrase here at the farm. And party we did with this bride and groom. They enjoyed every last second of their wedding day, from their vows to the zipline rides.
Congratulations Vanessa + Cody!
Photographer: Roots + Wilds
Bakery: Sprinkled Confections
Savannah + Dakota
Savannah and Dakota's May wedding was all about romance. They transformed our barn into an elegant fairy tale and wowed us all with their love for each other.
These two made us all believe in that fairy-tale, only-happens-in-books, once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.
Congratulations, Savannah + Dakota!
Photographer: Lightburst Photography
Floral: Country Crossroads
Baker: Greenbush Bakery
Fun on the farm...in blog form!