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.
If smiling is really contagious, then the reason the farm is such a happy place is because we have Brianne around.
Kyle hired Bri about three years ago, when she was in school studying to become an elementary teacher. She said she loved working with kids, so Kyle put her on zip line supervision. And she loved it. And the kids loved her.
Since then, Bri has found her way into almost every aspect of farm life. She helps with events and weddings, bartending, doing dishes, rolling thousands and thousands of silverware sets, serving buffets and bussing, supervising the setup of the space, cleaning the barn and farm areas, and helping the couples decorate. She's helped with strawberries, she's worked the ticket window, been in the kitchen, been behind the checkout counter, sugared the donuts, helped in the fields. And recently, she's been making ice cream and working in the truck, scooping up ice cream to our local communities.
Bri is a really great utility person. And a really great person. Her smile is her superpower - but what's more, her infectious personality and happiness lifts everyone up around her and makes even the longest shifts fun.
We are lucky to have Bri, and so far, we've made it just interesting enough to keep her around at the farm.
Bri's involvement in weddings has given her LOTS of ideas for her own wedding (think of the farm as a living Pinterest board), and it's also given her some of her favorite moments. As coordinators and as staff, we get to meet many beautiful and amazing couples, and get to bear witness to many lovely moments, and one of Bri's favorites is that magic moment when the bride and her father begin their walk down the aisle. Hearing the sweet words from father to bride and seeing the happiness they all feel is one of Bri's favorite moments.
It's these moments that help offset some of the more...unglamorous...parts of a wedding and events business, like the 2 a.m. clean up after a reception. After everyone leaves, the process of wiping down tables and chairs, peeling stickers off the floor, and dumping all the leftover drinks begins. Although this part may not make the Pinterest board, for Bri, seeing the whole day - from turning on the lights for the florist delivery to dunking that final beer bottle in the recycling bin - come together is always a neat experience.
In her whole time at the farm, the only experience Bri was not down for was was being our Easter Bunny for the annual Breakfast with the Easter Bunny. She was able to wiggle out of that job by convincing Kyle that a bunny taller than 5' 3" might be a better idea.
Despite - or perhaps even because of - some of these odd jobs, Bri truly loves working on the farm. Like many of our amazing staff, the fact that she is constantly doing something different keeps her interested and busy. The best part, though? She loves who she works with.
As Bri puts it, who you work with can make or break the work environment. "As a farm staff, we have so much fun together and we truly enjoy experiencing all Kyle's crazy ideas and events together. Being able to laugh together when bussing tables and sugaring donuts definitely makes the time go by faster." We definitely agree, and, Bri, the feeling is definitely mutual.
An added recent bonus?
"I also can't complain about taste testing the countless flavors of ice cream or quality control checking the apple cider donuts," says Bri.
An added recent bonus for us? Bri isn't going anywhere any time soon!
She just graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a degree in elementary education, minoring in early childhood. In the fall, she'll be starting her career teaching 4K at Winskill Elementary School right here in Lancaster, which means that not only will Bri be sticking around the area and staying with us at the farm, she'll be bringing her class out to the farm for school tours! She is excited that she'll be able to show her students what she does at her other work home, or what she's doing when she's not spending time with family and friends, kayaking, fishing, or baking. But we've got her beat in the excitement department because we know she'll be smiling along with us for years to come!
Thank you so much, Bri, for just being you. We are so thankful for the person you are and for what you bring to our farm family.
We'll always have a melty ice cream milkshake on the counter for you. :)
We just went from 0 to 60...well, 55, while observing all traffic laws and road signs.
June has brought us back to life, not only in the ice cream truck but also at the farm, and with it has come a good refresher of our driver's ed rules and an application of new guidelines throughout our entire work life. But mostly, it's just been so fun to be back!
Since our first visits to Mineral Point and Lancaster, we have been out and about with the ice cream truck! From Platteville to Bloomington, from Dodgeville to Dickeyville, we have been able to bring our ice cream directly to you in your community, and have been blown away with your support and love. We are in the business of happiness, and ice cream has been the cherry on top of this purpose - the smiling faces, the excited kiddos, the sticky faces. We could not have enjoyed this month more.
We have also seen businesses in your community do amazing things to give back to the people they appreciate most. Ritchie Implement sponsored cones for their community in each of their locations, as did Highland State Bank, Don's Tire, and Fillback Family of Dealerships in Highland; People's State Bank in Lancaster; and Community First Bank in Livingston. Many organizations brought ice cream directly to their employees to thank them for their hard work, including Grant Regional Health Center, Amcor, and Morningside. Our visit to the nightshift at Grant Regional was our first ice cream emergency - as we got to park right in the ambulance bay to serve up cold treats to the hard-working night workers. We were so happy to be a part of these wonderful people's plans to show their appreciation for you through our new favorite language: one scoop or two?
After almost a full month in the new truck, we are so excited to see what the rest of the summer will bring. We hope to see you next! If you want to know where to find us, our full schedule is on our website. And if you'd like us to visit for your next event, employee appreciation, or celebration, you can request the truck here!
We were also so excited to celebrate the marriage of two wonderful couples this month! After weeks of the barn sitting empty and serving as Kyle's workshop, the transformation it went through to come back to wedding glory was quite a lot of hard work, but it was such a wonderful payout.
The pandemic did change things quite a lot, both for our couples and for us. The barn set up had to be altered to space seating appropriately and we made many changes to our beverage and food services to accommodate better social distancing and reduce touch points. All these changes made for a very crowded kitchen, as we needed almost double the normal number of staff, and we all had to learn new skills very quickly. Despite a few stress points, the staff was happy to be back to weddings.
Our two couples were so incredibly brave to navigate these uncertain times. Even with all going on in the world, they were determined to keep their original wedding dates, and they worked with us with open minds to keep problem solving throughout all the changes, throughout all the uncertainty, and throughout all the stress to make sure they saw the vision of their wedding day - although altered from their original plans - come to fruition. We were so happy to be able to help them celebrate their happy day, and we honestly feel that our appreciation for them cannot be understated. Many congrats to these newlyweds!
We also fit in some field work and some time outdoors this month. Kyle and the crew put pumpkins in the ground, and they are growing up and getting ready for an amazing fall season.
Our short but sweet strawberry season lasted only a slice of June, but we had great picking while it lasted.
The month ended with quite the bang and a lotta rain. While one of our couples was decorating for their wedding, a monster storm blew in and dropped over an inch of rain in only a few minutes (I think three inches total), which resulted in some serious flooding at the farm. While we ooh'd and aww'd over the new Vesperman Farms whitewater rafting experience, the water did some serious damage to our gravel roadway and scared all the barn cats up the hay pile. We have to give a good shoutout to our amazing couple, who after agonizing over COVID problems, had to then experience major flooding at AND a close encounter with a skunk during their wedding weekend. But I'll tell you more about that another time - it's a story that can only happen at Vesperman Farms. The next day, we fixed up the roadway and all the damage, the farm was back to ship shape by noon, and there was only beautiful white fluffy clouds for the wedding.
This June had a lot packed into it: strawberry picking, planting, cutting out this year's maze design, mowing lawn, traveling with the ice cream truck, making hundreds of gallons of ice cream (so much ice cream!), mowing lawn, getting ready for the weddings, mowing lawn, and fixing all the water damage. It was, as Kyle puts it, one of the longest and shortest months he's ever had. But, honestly, we wouldn't have it any other way. The farm thrives in this crazy environment we've built for ourselves. And even though we're all a little short on sleep, we have a new appreciation for our crazy schedules, our wonderful customers, and our amazing staff. We've missed this very much over those quiet weeks during shutdown, and we could not be happier to be safely - and sweetly - back to the farm.
Fun on the farm...in blog form!