Kyle says that January is the month in which we sit and look out the window, wishing for warmer weather and making plans. But, really, there hasn't been much sitting.
Much of our work this month has been focused on ice cream (of course) and on new things to add this fall.
Oh, and cleaning. We deep-cleaned the donut machines, which was a necessary if a bit unpleasant task that we gladly gave the privilege of to Kyle. In the kitchen, we cleaned everything, from the walk-in cooler to the floors. We also updated our lighting to more environmentally friendly - and brighter - LEDs.
We've made huge progress on Scoop 2, our new ice cream truck. Kyle gutted it, ran a whole bunch of cords and wire, and painted the drab grey inside a bright yellow. The truck also needed a few tune-ups and new back tires, so Scoop 2 is currently in the shop awaiting maintenance. Then it will be off to Digital Designs in Dubuque, where they will wrap the truck in the same clothing as Scoop 1. Also, Caitlin, our new scoops coordinator, has been designing a new menu board for both trucks that looks absolutely amazing.
Even better (especially for my kiddo, who loves ice cream), we've been testing out some new specialty flavors to add to the summer truck route!! Taste testing will begin in earnest in two weeks.
If you want to check out Kyle's journey to get the new truck, check out our Scoop 2 blog! And for more on Caitlin, check out her blog here!
We also got quite a bit done and in the works for next fall. We're in the process of building a new feature for the farm designed just for toddlers, and are working through design and materials questions. We will start building that when the weather clears a bit, and I'm super excited to see our fun vision come to life and watch our tiny farm visitors enjoy it in the fall.
AND we just finished one of the most fun projects I've ever done at the farm - a giant chalkboard! (More on this one later - we'll have a video up soon!)
There has also been a lot of exciting discussions about new things to come - new food items, new fall season and ice cream merchandise, and talked A LOT about a new friend arriving this fall, someone we can't talk about right now, but are so excited for you all to meet!
We've had a lot of time to develop our new farm family, a membership group for our visitors, and we have a lot of great coupons, giveaways, and new information for you there when you sign up!
And you can sign up, right now, right here!
These next couple of months will be excited as we continue to work on new and fun things and they all come together! Stay tuned!
Even though we do a lot of seriously fun stuff in the other months, fall is our favorite time. We love fall so much, and we love that you visit us - either for the first time or as part of your yearly family tradition - but we don't always get the chance to thank you.
So we created our farm family to do just that. We're trying to pay back all of your support and all of the time you've spent here with a program that helps us show you how much we love you guys back.
It's so simple. Sign up. Get exclusive coupons. Be entered to win fun fall giveaways. Be informed about things that are happening at the farm. And have it all come directly to your inbox.
Join our farm family today!
If it's your birthday, we can help you celebrate.
Each trip around the sun you take earns you a free pint. Just sign up for our farm family and we'll send you a coupon for a sweet birthday gift.
Candles not included. :)
Join our farm family today!
We've been looking for ways to reward and thank our customers for a long time. The people we know - who come to the ice cream truck all summer and who make a trip to the farm for fall season every year - and the people we have yet to know - those of you who haven't visited us yet or only have been to see us a few times. We want to show our appreciation for you all.
Our farm family was designed with you in mind. We wanted to find a way to connect with you all and thank you for all your support, all the laughs we've had, and all the love you shown us over the years.
If you don't do Facebook, if you don't like hunting for information, the farm family is for you.
Sign up for our farm family today for coupons, giveaways, and anything that's happening at the farm delivered right to your email.
Join our family today!
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.
Fun on the farm...in blog form!