This has been a random winter month at the farm!
We started off making dozen and dozens of donuts for our Friends of Winskill friends, who then had their pick up at the barn. We then invited our 2020 couples and their families to the barn for our yearly tasting, where all booked couples try everything on our menu, from our appetizers to our ice cream!
We then hosted the annual Chamber banquet where our fearless leader Boss Kyle was awarded "Business Leader of the Year" along with a fantastic group of other business leaders (and educators)! Way to go, everyone!
And we continued to make progress on our ice cream truck, starting by drilling the first hole (and then cutting a big hole) in the side of the truck so we could put in the service window! Pretty soon we're going to be serving up ice cream from that window!
Not as cool but just as important is Kyle scoped out the right spot to put in the big tanks so we can have water in the truck and be completely compliant with food and beverage service rules. We'll take you on a tour of the inside of the truck very soon - it's shaping up very well!
AND on the subject of ice cream, Kyle visited the Lancaster High School technology education shop, where the students are currently making us a bunch of FREE CONE chips that we're excited to hand out to our ice cream enthusiasts. The high school students are pretty excited, too, as once they are finished with this project, they get their very own ice cream party!
We unveiled our ice cream desserts, tested out at both the Chamber event and our tasting, which includes a delicious cider donut sundae, which of course is something I'm going to be eating all the time. We'll talk more on that later - I'll be doing a full tour of our ice cream in the next couple of months!
Lastly, we hired an intern, Bridget from UW-Platteville (you'll hear more about her later), made some improvements to the barn by having Judy sew some drapery to cover the barn doors, and - oh, yeah - Kyle got a hair cut.
There are a lot of iconic images at the farm: the big corncobs on the side of the corn box, the welcome sign above the ticket window, the "Picking Pumpkins" face-in-the-hole sign, the rocking horse. And the cows - those big Holsteins are a fall season staple. If you've been to the farm, you probably recognize these signs and animals, but you might not know the face behind them.
That face is Shea, sign painter and caramel apple artist.
Shea's painting began with an off-hand comment to Kyle from - of all people - her mom. While at the farm, Shea's mom mentioned that Shea was a great face painter. Shea said, well...I don't like face painting much, but I DO like to just paint. And few weeks and conversations later, Shea's painting career at Vesperman Farms began with a friendly little strawberry guy for berry season...and hasn't stopped since.
For the next couple of years, Shea added a lot of personality to the farm. She laughed, "I spent a couple winters with no furniture in my dining room and a dozen huge signs that I was working on during the offseason."
Like so many of our workers, though, Shea's talents run far past painting. She began working on the farm in 2014, manning the admission booth and snack counter on Sundays. Since then, she has added to her repertoire, learning to make all our fall season treats, working the pumpkin checkout, and helping out during our holiday breakfasts.
But Shea's absolute favorite job at the farm is making our caramel apples, which she is the hands-down champion. There's a lot of finesse that goes into making the perfect apple, but after making what has amounted to thousands of these treats over the years, Shea is a pro.
Shea has been around the farm for years and has witnessed a lot of growth and change since she first stepped into the admission booth. As she helped out more and more, she was witness to the year-round work and dedication of Kyle and his family and workers to create a fall season experience for our farm guests. She has always enjoyed being a part of people's fun days and helping them to make memories at the farm.
Although we don't see Shea as much as we'd like to now, she is still making the farm a better place. Her living room has more furniture now, but the signs are still there, getting a much-needed hand from much-loved farm artist.
We were super excited to learn that Kyle was named Business Leader of the Year by the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce! He was honored in February at the annual Chamber banquet, held right at the farm. And even though Kyle whipped up some delicious cider donut sundaes for the event, we still got some cake to celebrate this great boss!
Congratulations, Kyle! We're super proud of all you're doing and really excited and happy to be a part of it all!
Some days when I walk into the barn, it's in full wedding make-up, beautiful and floral and gorgeous. Other days it's an explosion of fall: pumpkins, happy families, and the smell of donuts. And then there are other days, when I walk in the barn to see a tractor parked there, or a truck, or giant piles of torn-apart equipment.
The constantly changing landscape of the barn was the inspiration for us to add a new "monthly round-up" about the farm to the blog. Because every month - every day, really - there is something new going on, and while these things aren't always the most Instagram-able things we do, they are always interesting and always in service of bringing you a better experience here at the farm.
We're a little last posting our January wrap-up because, to be honest, these first months of 2020 have gotten away from us. But in the month of January, we've been busy making a mess out of the barn.
The first project on Kyle's 2020 maintenance agenda was to refurbish the wagons on the kiddie train. We built the original green wagons back in 2015 and then built the red ones in 2016. The green ones - being our first experiment with a wagon build - weren't as strongly constructed as the red ones and they've needed quite a bit of upkeep and maintenance throughout the years.
So the first thing I walked into when I came back from a little Christmas break was wagons piled high all over the barn and the VERY strong smell of paint. Kyle and Q, one of our favorite multipurpose guys, rebuilt all the green wagon frames and replaced wheels and other parts so they matched the construction of the red ones, which have been virtually maintenance-free since they were built. Then they all got a new coat of paint and were sent out of the barn, all ready for next fall.
Next on Kyle's list for maintenance are the big pumpkin patch wagons, which means that the next time we have a few weeks with nothing scheduled, I might be working from home!
But the thing that has been taking most of Kyle's energy and time has been ice cream. A few months ago, Kyle bought an old cable repair truck and we here at the farm were...confused. But much like the barn itself and in true Kyle form, the vision he sees that has us all scratching our heads at first is becoming a reality...and a cool one at that because this funky vehicle is going to become our new ice cream truck!
He's been gutting the truck, has ordered and received the new window (which we almost tripped over), ordered essential tanks and equipment, talked about rewiring, and has been chatting with the State about the licensing requirements. Add to that installing back-up cameras and other safety equipment, working with a designer to spruce up the outside, and working with a welder to fix it up to our requirements, and you can see why this month has flew by!
Right now, the truck still doesn't look like much, but quite a lot of the time-intensive work is almost behind us, and we hope that the remaining parts will come together quickly and we'll have our truck up and running in a month or six weeks. And we can't wait to bring you more stories about ice cream, which we will feature a lot here on the blog in the next months as we get more going on with our new fun farm treat - and it's new fun farm wheels.
Fun on the farm...in blog form!