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.
We had such a good time tasting the flavors, but we can't keep them all to ourselves. We're even more excited to make them available to you! All through the month of June, we'll be at a variety of places where you can visit to taste our ice cream, culminating in a super fun event on the farm! For a list of tasting events, visit our website. More on our ice cream event on the farm below!
At the end of this month, we'll be hosting our first ever Sundaes on the Farm. Drop in Sunday, June 30 from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. and enjoy the farm activities, but - most importantly - try our ice cream! All our flavors will be available for tasting and we'll have pints for purchase. Visit our website or check us out on Facebook for the full event details!
After attending ice cream school, Kyle had a pretty clear idea of what he wanted to do.
The first thing on the agenda was order the ice cream machine. At school, he got to experiment with a few different kinds of ice cream machines, and the one he liked best was an Emery Thompson, which is made by one of the oldest ice cream machine manufacturers in the country. A lot of recognizable names in the ice cream industry started out on this type of machine, including Ben & Jerry's and Haagen-Daaz. (Maybe one day we'll be on their website!)
The ice cream machine is small-ish, but it can produce about 7 gallons of ice cream in about 10 minutes, so it's a pretty powerful ice-cream-makin' machine.
Once Kyle got the machine, he got right down to business making ice cream, which was (I'm not gonna lie), pretty awesome for our staff. Below are some pictures of us making our delicious strawberry and mint cookie ice cream!
To start, Kyle had to get a good recipe for both chocolate and vanilla, and that experimentation process took a week or so. We went through quite a few batches of ice cream, all of which were thoroughly tested by our staff. We offered Kyle some valuable input and we raided the freezer more than once (okay, more than twice) to make sure things were in tip-top flavor.
Since then, we've worked on developing about 10 core flavors that people really enjoy, and the fun part has been learning about all the different types of ingredients and techniques that make ice cream great. What's the best ratio of caramel to ice cream? How many walnuts should be in the mix? And how do you get a really good swirl? We'll be experimenting with more flavors as we develop our brand - and our staff will be right there with us, especially in the fall when we begin to work on the magic equation we've all been waiting for: ice cream + donuts.
We're super excited to follow up what was the best week ever here at the farm with more weeks full of ice cream flavors and tasting. Check out our next blog for all our current flavors. And don't worry, we'll be updating you with any new developments on Facebook and on our webpage!
The farm is a unique place. I mean, I don't know many places that combine a pumpkin patch and corn maze, weddings and events, donut fundraising, giant pumpkin growing, and berry patches all in one business.
And now we're adding one more thing.
For years, Kyle has had an idea of a food goods line in the back of his mind. For awhile, it was a jams and jellies, a common food product produced by places like ours. Then it was wine and craft beers. Then he entertained the idea of pies. Then cookies and cakes and the list goes on and on. But then one conversation changed his whole trajectory.
During a random chat one night, Kyle's neighbor and friend told him that he should think about a line of ice cream products. The more Kyle thought about it, the more he liked it. It seemed to fit. It was different. It sounded like a fun challenge.
But he wasn't sure where to start, so the same friend, who stays in close contact with the UW-Madison dairy science program, suggested Kyle look into Ice Cream School, and exclusive course taught once a year there.
What happened after that, well, was a lot of waiting. I mean, waiting, yes, but also a lot of work. We got distracted. Kyle finished building the barn, we grew a weddings and events business, and we started our fall season in the new space. We got busy, and so the food good lines took a backseat. Also, Kyle could not get into this class!
He tried to sign up once, it was full. And so the next time the course opened, he signed up immediately. But he still had to wait for another 8 months before the class began in January 2019. And it was when he walked in that he realized how exclusive and important this class was. He was one of 12 people in a 3-day course that ran from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. And even though Kyle drove 90 minutes to attend, he was in the minority because people had come from all over the country to attend: the Twin Cities; Virginia; Washington state; Manitoba, Canada; and Kentucky. To put it simply: this class is a really big deal.
The class, which is taught by UW professors but also by ice cream shop owners and industry manufacturers and experts, gave Kyle the opportunity to get the scoop on the ice cream that he wouldn't have gotten otherwise. He learned things at the class that he would have taken a long time to learn otherwise.
On the first day, Kyle and the gang had a crash course in the basics of ice cream and in ice cream food science. They learned then learned about the different machines and proper sanitation and cleanliness. That afternoon, they spent the entire time talking about vanilla and chocolate.
It was here that Kyle learned about all the different types of vanillas - they are made in all different parts of the world, such as Tahiti and Madagascar. They got to try them out, learned how the varieties make subtle differences in taste and texture, and experiment with these vanilla flavors. Not only did Kyle realize just how complex the seemingly simple vanilla flavor can be, but "imitation vanilla is forever ruined for me," he says.
The next two days were focused on using fruits and adding other ingredients to ice cream. They were asked a lot of questions that Kyle had never thought about. Like: What is the correct amount of ripple for an ice cream (the correct amount of butterscotch or chocolate sauce)? What is an inclusion (a horrible word for brownie bits and chocolate chips)? How does adding these things change flavor and texture?
Kyle left the class with a good sense of how he wanted to start his own ice cream business, and he was super excited to begin. Unfortunately, after the class, there was a whole other bout of waiting that needed to take place, which we'll cover in our next blog. We can't wait to share how we chose our ingredients, let you in on our experimentation and development (believe me, as a seven-month pregnant woman, I have had A LOT of fun with our experimentation process), and give you the details on our flavors and where you can find us during the month of June.
We hope you have as much fun as we are having with our new addition to our crazy world: small-batch, super premium ice cream!
Fun on the farm...in blog form!