I'm not exactly sure when we all fell in love with Hailey, but if I had to hazard a guess, it would be immediately upon meeting her.
Like so many of our staff, Hailey started sugaring donuts for us in 2018, a very young and quiet high school student. But since she's been here, she's come a long way, both in her job duties - from making donuts and rolling silverware to working weddings and scooping ice cream - and in her confidence.
This girl, she is seriously awesome. If she were any sweeter, she'd be ice cream. She says what is on her mind, but in the most hilarious and non-threatening way that ALWAYS makes us laugh. She's always up for the next adventure and although she'll give you that "you know this is crazy" look, she's always excited to learn and, what's better, has a lot of fun with every new idea we have.
There is a category in our scheduling system that is a catch-all for all job tasks. It's called "Farm Work" and, according to Hailey, whenever she's scheduled under this category, she knows she's in for a treat. Whenever Hailey thinks she's seen everything and done everything, Farm Work teaches her something new. This year, she picked pumpkins and even learned how to drive our wagon train!
Hailey's love of Farm Work is exactly why she fits so well into farm life. She loves working weddings. Helping with the ceremony is her favorite bit because she truly loves knowing she contributed to such a special day. She loves being in the ice cream truck because, well, "who wouldn't love having the option of being surrounded by ice cream all day long!" (SO TRUE.) And she enjoys so many other aspects of the farm - every day is different and Hailey is always up for whatever we throw at her.
When Hailey isn't at the farm or at school, you'll find her spending time with friends and family, on the field for soccer or on the mats for gymnastics. She also enjoys going to the gym, but no matter how many curls she does, she still struggles to scoop ice cream in the summer - according to Kyle, this is because she needs more forearm work. (Hailey says maybe instead she'll just stick to the service window!)
It's almost time for Hailey to move on to the next phase in her life, as a senior she'll be graduating this May. We hope to keep her around for at least one more summer so she can work on those forearms in the ice cream truck...
...and maybe convince her that she should stay and do Farm Work forever.
Two summers ago, we hired an intern, Caitlin. She was a UW-Platteville student who grew up in a suburb of Chicago, where she was one of 25,000 people. She went to a school that had a student enrollment larger than Lancaster's total population. Small town life - and farm life - was...confusing for her.
We joke all the time about how on this city girl's first day at the farm, she planted pumpkins. She laughs when Kyle goes out and recognizes everyone he meets. Hunting confuses her. And apparently, we all have an accent here?
But even though she finds the pacing of our little life here a little perplexing, Caitlin loves it. During her internship, she learned a whole host of new skills, but you probably recognize her from ice cream. Throughout her summer internship, Caitlin traveled all around with our then-new sweet treat and gave out free scoops in many of our local communities.
After a summer of scooping, Caitlin stayed through our fall season. She then she graduated, got a job, and moved on from the farm. It was good to see her go to the next phase of her life, but if Kyle and I were being honest, we were pretty bummed to see her leave.
And then, of course, the pandemic happened. She lost her new job and had to move home. Her life plan changed completely.
After a little employment reshuffling, Caitlin called up Kyle, asking for a reference. We maintain that it was the best call she's ever made, because it gave Kyle an idea.
The pandemic left us with a pretty quiet farm. So in May 2020, we started up the ice cream dream and had an incredible first summer with the ice cream truck. Although we had a lot of fun, it was also clear that we needed a new team member focused on ice cream. And when Kyle talked to Caitlin, he realized something:
Caitlin, more than anyone at the farm (maybe even Kyle) IS ice cream. And we needed her back.
It took a little convincing, but the good memories brought her back to the farm and she started with us again right before our 2020 fall season.
Since she's been back, the farm has been a different place. Sometimes - not often, but every once in a great while - a place can be transformed by a special person who can change everything. Caitlin, with her energy, her humor, her willingness to do everything from washing dishes to helping customers, breathed a lot of new life into our little team at the farm.
Caitlin fits perfectly into our team at the farm - as perfect as, they say, a scoop on top of a cone. She has a goofy humor that revives us even after a long day on our feet. She continues to amaze us with her absolutely perfect clumsiness - I personally believe she holds the world record for the most things broken in one day. Like everyone on our team - she loves to help families make memories, and everything she does is in service of this our most important value. And, of course, she LOVES ice cream. And the fall.
Officially, Caitlin is back as the new Scoops Coordinator, and she'll manage our ice cream trucks and help with fall season, but unofficially, she's back as our friend, our advisor, our pep-in-our-step. We are super grateful that she returned to our little town - even though she finds it endlessly confusing - and came back to our little farm. Because now that she's here, we can't imagine our home without her.
One of my favorite parts about working with Kyle is that every now and then he'll pop his head into the break room and say the weirdest things.
This past month, he told us he had bought a second ice cream truck.
At some random tiny used auto dealership off some random highway.
In New Jersey.
A 2007 model with only 40,000 miles on it, this was, in Kyle's words, "a beautiful truck." And so he booked a flight from Milwaukee by the way of Nashville to Philadelphia and secured an Uber to the New Jersey dealership.
Then he asked Caitlin for a ride.
I told him to take the video camera.
Over the weekend, we tried to store over some cider. It did not go well.
We're adding freezer cleaning to the "to do" list this week. Whoops.
The Monday after our first winter stop with the ice cream truck found us in the kitchen.
On Saturday, we stopped in Lancaster for the Opening Day Sales. Thank you to everyone who stopped out! We had a great time AND we sold out three of our four holiday flavors. With seven more stops planned between now and December 19, we needed to restock. So we spent the morning running our ice cream machine and filling pints.
Our newest flavor, sugar cookie, is many steps in the making. Kyle tested our kitchen (and math) knowledge by twelve timing the recipe, which was kinda stressful and kinda awesome and required a very big mixer paddle. And since he's the boss and that has its perks, Kyle got to lick the paddle clean.
After the cookies cooled, we crushed them up and added them to vanilla ice cream flavored with almond extract and jazzed up with colorful holiday sprinkles. This is sugar cookie in a pint - or a cone - and it's absolutely delicious. Very hard not to sample, even on a Monday morning.
We got a little fancy with blending next for our new candy cane ice cream, a creamy mixture of peppermint-flavored red-and-white ice cream with crushed candy canes mixed in throughout. This ice cream is fun and it smells delicious - just like the holidays.
If you were at the farm this fall, you might recognize our last two holiday flavors: apple cider donut and apple pie. These two were favorites for so many of you, so we had to bring them back specially for the holidays.
We didn't have enough time for baking donuts (don't worry - there is still some cider donut ice cream in the truck!), so the last flavor on our list to make was apple pie.
For this delicious treat, we brought out our homemade apple pie filling and whipped it together with vanilla ice cream. This simple treat is amazing - just like the apple pie but without all the work - and perfect for after those holiday meals.
In addition to our regular flavors, these four holiday flavors are available in the truck for the next month.
You can track the truck on Facebook or by visiting our website to see our stops. We hope to see you there! And if you want to treat yourself this holiday season, sign up for our Farm Family Rewards and you can get a free pint when you stop! To join, visit our subscription page!
And we hope that you have a wonderful holiday season, filled with the best kind of Christmas cheer.
We started September so unsure, but October and November were so much fun.
In the barn and on the farm, we enjoyed the company of so many of you. We were so truly happy to see everyone, the weather was beautiful, and we had the best time with our farm guests.
Behind the scenes, we were a mixed bag of caramel apple nuts.
Throughout most of October, we struggled with weird supply chain issues caused by COVID. On one weekend, we were just an hour away from running out of donut mix and our chinny-chin-chins were saved by Kyle's quick thinking and negotiating. One donut disaster we weren't unable to avoid was running out of half-dozen containers, but we eeked through that mess with a combination of bags and people's willingness to splurge on double the donuts they originally planned for.
If at one point you received your food on paper plates rather than our customary paper boats, that wasn't planned. It was a frantic trip down to Dubuque to buy up as many paper products as possible when we found out we were unable to get paper boats shipped in time for the weekend.
And Kyle worked some kind of Internet miracle when he shipped in a huge shipload of caramel so we didn't run out before our local supplier was able to restock. For a few hours there, we were looking at some fall days without caramel apples, but Kyle's persistence saved us from that sad, sugarless fate.
In addition to product problem solving, we constantly had to be on our feet for our employees. Being open during COVID was a heavy decision for us, and we are so glad we decided to go forward, but we didn't do it lightly. One of the most important things for us was to keep both our guests and our staff safe, so we established norms that we felt applied to us and adapted as the season went on.
We also spent quite a bit of time with employee musical chairs, as sometimes staff couldn't make it or some of them had to go into quarantine for potential exposure. We switched a lot of people around, we ran short staffed many days, and we did our best to keep up with everything while keeping our employees' safety paramount.
And truly, we have to say: We have such great staff. They worked hard, for us and for you, this fall. They adapted quickly to the changes that came at them, they accepted things out of our control, and - I know this always sounds so trite, but it's also so true - they did it all with a smile. We absolutely love fall, and although this fall was different from many of the ones prior, we loved it. And we love our employees. They are the cream of the crop, the best thing since sliced bread, the silver lining, the nail on the head, and although Elvis has left the building on our fall season, our employees remain the pick of the litter.
And you heard that straight from the horse's mouth. :)
Thank you for this fall season, everyone. It was wonderful.
With the cold settling in around us, we're missing our ice cream days. Don't get us wrong, fall time is king around here, but the summer in the truck gave us a new season to love.
Our ice cream truck is an old cable splicing truck, refurbed to Scoops on Wheels, and the generator, which powers everything from the dipping cabinet to the air conditioning, SOMETIMES works. On a hot summer day without the A/C, it can get to a 12 on the heat scale. Even if the air conditioning was working, the best we got to was about a 6.
We had some hot days in the truck, but you all made them so worth it. The superb crew that worked the truck this year did have their share of frustrations with the heat, but they found such joy in scooping up ice cream, that even the "12" days faded quickly, leaving only the good stuff behind.
Meg, who was a foundational member of our newly formed ice cream crew, and whose flavor matches mine (mint cookie pals!), absolutely loved when daycare kids visited the truck and she got to see their eyes light up when they see that first scoop of ice cream. She spent the summer perfecting the perfect scoop to top off that little sugar cone, and is not lobbying hard for Kyle to add a peanut butter and chocolate choice that, for her, will edge out the mint for good.
For Eric, who mixes cookie dough and cookies and cream for cookie ice cream nirvana, the best experience he had was serving a sweet family of four who, while huddling under the awning in the rain waiting for their ice cream, were so sweet and smily and wonderful even through the rain and internet connection issues and Eric's slightly slower scooping (due to some very frozen ice cream). On other days, he learned that generators are finicky and that the truck can probably get up to 212°F (but who's measuring), but the smiles he got when he handed kiddos their cones kept him scooping away.
Bri, who in a very sincere but also very punny move, quickly realized that she had one of the coolest jobs when she told her 4K kids that she's an ice cream lady. She also was almost always in the truck when he had pay-it-forward kindness chains happen, which was seriously one of the amazing things to watch happen in the truck. To those people who started, continued, and supported a kindness chain, we are in awe of your service to others. It was awesome.
Bri also learned that a few hours of scooping give you Hulk-like arm muscles and that there's really only ONE solution to everything: Generator quits working? Call Kyle! You forgot the window key? Call Kyle! You ran out of ice cream? Call Kyle! You broke something that you shouldn’t have! Call Kyle! Just always call Kyle! And she's still calling him! But this time it's to convince him to finally make a the cookie jar ice cream that her and Eric are REALLY hoping to see: mix up cookie dough and cookies and cream, but then add some M&Ms because...why not!?
Our intern Bridget quickly learned to double and triple check that she had everything she needed after a few little incidents, like having to drive back to get the key to open the serving window and spending a few hours without the iPad, on which we take all the orders, because, boy, that was a lesson in basic math! Her favorite thing was the dogs! Bridget went a little crazy every time a dog came by the truck. :) A big fan of the brownie fudge, Bridget is hoping for a black cherry flavor some day.
The truck was really a beautiful experience, and we just can't explain how much we loved scooping for you all this summer...nor can we explain how much we want Kyle to start serving up our favorite flavors! We will see you, friends, next year!
Meg started with us last August because her older sister had worked with us. She thankfully sold Meg on the farm, and Meg began working weddings and fall season, and then quickly became not only a crackerjack ice cream maker and scooper, but our ice cream truck model!
And if she's being honest, that was the weirdest thing Kyle has ever asked her to...be in a photoshoot...for an ice cream truck...in a silly hat...and a bow tie...on the farm...with a bunch of our friends' kids...
The farm is a weird place. But it's fun.
Meg likes the farm a lot because she is surrounded by people who help pass the time in fun ways, like learning new things about each other or trying to figure out what Kyle exactly means when he says the employees can't have any "raw bananas." I actually asked Kyle about this, and let me tell you, sometimes we wonder about the things that occupy Kyle's mind. Apparently, Kyle is fascinated by the fact that no one calls just bananas "raw bananas," like a "raw carrot" or "raw chicken." Cause, you know, these are the kinds of things that we ponder here.
The farm is a weird place. But it's fun.
Meg's done about everything on the farm, from cleaning the bathrooms (which she hates) to making donuts (which she loves, because of course you're in the best position to sneak a yummy treat). And she is our next rising star making donuts, because she made a bunch this fall season and she is AWESOME.
Meg is a quiet force here, but she is quite a force. Her good attitude, amazing smile, and determination to do everything she does to the best of her ability makes her such a valuable person to have in any position, in any capacity, and in all situations...even photoshoots!
In a whirlwind of ice cream and I Dos, August passed...and so did most of September. And, in Kyle's exact words, "Oh, boy. We tried a lot of things."
In early August, we had our final curbside pickup for donuts and ice cream. We couldn't be more thankful for everyone who ordered for our summer pickups. They were bright spots in otherwise empty and quiet months, and we appreciated having guests to the farm, even ones that stayed in their vehicles!
We also invited people to the farm for our first-ever outdoor concert. The Larry Busch Band came and played, we served up some delicious fair-style food, and although we didn't have a huge crowd, the event gave us some ideas for fun things to do in the future.
In that same time, we celebrated with three wonderful couples, who held on to their wedding dates throughout all this uncertainty, made a lot of hard choices and sacrifices, and reconsidered almost everything that they originally planned on to celebrate their marriages in this crazy year.
We had beautiful weather for all three weddings, which felt like grace, and our farm guests were considerate, excited, full of laughter, and FUN...everything we needed during one of the longest and most difficult summers we have ever experienced.
Congratulations to these amazing couples - we hope that this year was just a tiny speed bump in what otherwise will be smooth sailing on your wedded journey. Thank you for your patience, your determination, your flexibility, and your love.
And despite an accelerated slow down in many areas of our farm life, we sped up in the ice cream truck, visiting all sorts of places (we even made it to Dubuque and all the way up to Spring Green!) and scooping up ice cream for all of our favorite people.
From our hard-working farm neighbors to the Cuba City Community Market to our friends right here in Lancaster, it has been a joy to be a part of your summer, and we are already looking forward to the next one. For now, you can still visit the truck - it'll be parked on the farm until we close for fall season at the end of October.
And speaking of fall, after a long spring and summer, our favorite season is finally HERE! After a very rainy and difficult week leading up to fall, the weather cleared for a gorgeous opening weekend, and we were so happy to see our farm families forget their troubles, shed the stress of the last months, and come out for a fun day on the farm. Our sweet little goats, our new calves, the big old pigs, and our donkey and pony had so much love (and so much food); our staff was thrilled to see the kids watch the donuts being made (and, of course, enjoy them as well!); and the zip line buzzed with activity again.
Our favorite season is here, and we look forward to more weeks of fall fun.
This year, despite all that has been going on, we were lucky enough to bring onboard two new interns, who have been having a scoopin' good time at the farm!
Caroline and Bridget, both business students at UW-Platteville, were supposed to start with us months ago. But when the pandemic shut down the farm and their university, their internship was put on hold, and we weren't sure if we would be able to work with them this year.
Happily, with the addition of the ice cream truck and the generally positive direction that life has been going, they were able to start with us just over a month ago now. Since then, these gals have become a staple in our ice cream truck, serving up scoops to our local communities with a smile and "oohing" over every dog they see!
These two have been absolute troopers: They've had to adjust their expectations and schedules quickly and sometimes without much warning; they've had to learn quite a few new skills and get good at them in just one or two shifts; and they've worked hard to help us in a time when we have been navigating unknown waters and haven't been able to give precise direction or even complete instructions. To sum up: they rock.
Bridget, who is our resident dog lover (even more than me!), is at UW-Platteville for business administration with an emphasis in management and a minor in creative writing.
In addition to school and the farm, she also works at the Iowa County Humane Society and volunteers her free time working with animals and fostering dogs to help them get ready for adoption. She hopes to one day start her own business, especially if that business is her own dog rescue.
Working at the farm has given her quite some insight into the time and effort it takes to start new projects and new endeavors. As someone who wants to eventually start her own business, being exposed to the behind-the-scenes work that Kyle and his team puts in has taught her lessons time management, organization, and teamwork. Bridget has proven to us time and again that she's ready for any challenge we throw her way. On her first shift in the truck, she hopped right behind that wheel and drove to the town without any stress. Very quickly, she's become good at running a customer service window AND learned how to scoop, which is actually much harder than it seems.
It's quite amazing how something as simple as ice cream can scoop out lessons in business and life.
So far, Bridget has truly enjoyed working in the ice cream truck, especially when people bring their dogs by or when little kids get super excited about getting ice cream! The only downside to the ice cream business has, so far, been being caught in the rain while restocking the truck. NOT fun!
When Bridget is not traveling in the truck, her off-work hobbies include (of course) spending time with animals, hiking, DIY projects, playing cards, hammocking, and traveling.
Sharing her fellow intern's dislike of being caught in the rain while stoking is Caroline, who is going to school for business, human resources, and management.
As Caroline puts it, she does not like getting muddy. But she does like seeing the smile we put on people's faces and the joy they get from the experience we are blessed to give them. For Caroline, helping is her main purpose for what she does. Right now, she loves to help people smile while working in our ice cream truck, but after graduation, she would like to continue her good work in the healthcare industry.
So far, this internship has taught Caroline to think on her feet when there is a lot going on. And there has been A LOT going on. Since Caroline has been here, she's helped with two curbside pickups, helped us develop our social media presence, picked up many shifts in the truck, and worked on a variety of other projects, all of which are new to her and to us. She's developed a lot of good relationships with our current staff and customers and been a rockstar through it all!
In her free time, Caroline spends time with friends and family, reads, shops, golfs, and - of course - naps!
One thing is for sure, these gals will not forget their summer of scooping. It's been an adventure for us all.
Fun on the farm...in blog form!