Life on the Farm – “Seasonal changes – A farmer looks back.”

 
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Everything has its season and the Maize Quest Corn Maze and Fun park season ends this Sunday. Sure, we’re tired from working seven days a week for a month and a half, but it’s always sad to see it end. We checked in our last big school tour this morning and it hit me – Soon the fields will grow quiet again.

I work best in bursts. I guess it’s the farmer in my DNA, but I work best seasonally. Unlike a battery that gives power slowly and continuously, I’m more of a capacitor -> I get charged up and put out full power for a short period of time, then end completely exhausted.

Are you a battery or a capacitor? Neither is better, each is different.

I like the high-energy, “It’s Go Time!” mentality of Harvest season, but even your Mazemaster needs time to recharge, so it’s now that I get reflective on the joys of the harvest.

Here are some of the notes from this season on the farm:

Early Spring was a roller coaster of warm days and cold-snaps. The cherries and apricots were completely killed by frost and some of the peaches for damaged. Not a great start to the year, but fortunately, blueberries and apples emerged unscathed.

Spring had Winemakers Matt & Hugh stymied by challenging cherry and blueberry fermentation. If not for our network of winemakers and a lot of extra work, Cherry Blossom wine might not exist!

Corn & pumpkin planting went very well and was followed by a lot of rain, great start! Drought-like conditions took hold in August and early September stunting the total yield on corn and pumpkins.

As we worked into early October, welcoming our usual Harvest Festival guests turned into a job of dodging rain drops in those first weekends of October, but Pennsylvania weather is always changing and brought gorgeous sunny weekends in this middle to allow guests comfortably to the farm.

As we come to the end of the Fall Fest season, we have had a run of unseasonably nice weekends and are thankful for it. Even this final weekend in November, looks clear and bright with lovely Fall temps.

Farmer Matt (he kinda does it all) is finishing harvesting field corn and soybeans now, and the fruit picking crew is finishing up apple harvest. Soon we’ll be cleaning up and storing equipment away to hunker down for the winter, but…

…NEW for 2016, the farm market, bakery and wine tasting room will remain OPEN Saturdays 12-5PM & Sundays 1PM-5PM through Dec 18th, INCLUDING Black Friday 12PM-5PM!

That means YOU can get your bakery favorites and shop the farm market, then head over for wine tastings ( if you are over 21, of course.) Miss Dee will even take your orders for Thanksgiving Day pies for pick-up Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

So, why not head to the farm one last time for the maze season, then don’t forget us for your holiday shopping. The Fall Fest season might be coming to a close this Sunday, but you can stay connected to your farm friends for a few extra weekends.

When I try to look back and capture the season in a few paragraphs, it seems to slip through my grasp. So many tasks, so many interactions, so many challenges, so many hassles, so many wonderful moments – when I try to quantify it, it slips away. The only answer if to feel it, to feel and consider all those moments as a whole and big complex system you can’t understand, but you can feel. It’s overwhelming; it’s overwhelmingly joyful.

Thank you so much for your loyalty to our family’s farm. It is a joy to serve and entertain you each and every season. While I personally might need a little time to recharge, I guarantee I’ll never be short on energy when you’re here

Life on the Farm – “Fall Harvest Poetry Slam”

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Our beautiful maple tree in full fall glory.

Hey

If you know me, you know I like words. I’ve always been fascinated by the power of words, and so we’re launching the first-ever, Maize Quest Fall Harvest Poetry Slam.

That’s right. Poetry. Why? Because expressing emotion, meaning through words is an art form to be encouraged. It is difficult to collect an experience in words. Sometimes the moment is so meaningful it seems to defy verbal expression.

I’ve been thinking a lot as I stand in the fields with people picking pumpkins, as I drive the tractor through orchards bursting forth with fruit. My feelings of gratitude for guests, for the farm, for the opportunity to do what I love and share it all are overwhelming.

So here it is, a poem about Fall. If you want to hear it performed, [CLICK HERE]

“Never to be missed.” – by Farmer Hugh

Crisp.

Both wind and fruit,

Crisp crunch of leaves under foot.

Bursting colors of leaves, ripe fruit on trees,

Winter’s cold hastens hibernation to the root.

Cozy.

Sweaters, scarves and long pants calling,

Wrapping form whilst leaves are falling,

Snuggling hugs warm heart as cheeks turn rosy.

Flavors.

Bursting crunchy apples, juicy bites,

Hot sweet cider Harvest’s rite,

Flashlights flitter through stalks at night.

Pumpkins orange, green and white,

Turn into pies in ovens piping,

Frost clings to windows icing.

S’more and meat over campfire savor,

All treats, no tricks, on this farm favor,

A Harvest full of nature’s flavors,

Never to be missed.

Click the watch the video of the poem performance.

Only two weekends left – “It’s always somebody.”

No Scare Halloween Weekend | 2 FOR 1 Pumpkin Picking | Farmer Hugh’s blog | FINAL Apple Picking |
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Big Pumpkin field
Get days this weekend for picking pumpkins Fri & Sat are the LAST CHANCE.
Life on the Farm – “It’s always somebody.”

Just two weeks to go for the Fall Harvest season. Yep, November 8th, we close the Farm Market & Maize Quest Corn Maze & Fun Park. Seems like only yesterday we were interviewing new employees for the team, but it was July.
As we prepare to bid our guests farewell for the season, it makes me realize how much I’ll miss the crew of Mazemasters, Donutmasters, Marketmasters and Orchardmasters who help make our farm the warm, inviting place it is.
No matter how many attractions we add, the experience comes down to people. You might say, “It’s always somebody.”
Somebody welcomes you. When you arrive and get your tickets, somebody welcomes you. While I’d love to welcome each guest myself, I can’t possibly do it without friendly teens and adults who work here to help you.
Somebody cooks for you. Our bakery & donut crew is the largest, most cross-trained team we’ve ever had and they’ve put out more apple cider donuts, pies and dumplings than ever.
Somebody cares for you. Whether on a ride, like our new Hidden Gem Railroad, checking out your treats in the market, learning on a school tour in the orchard or getting your video introduction in for the corn maze, our team is caring for you. Answering questions, making change, stocking sodas, checking tractors – they do it all.
I’m really thankful you are our guests.
YOU make our dream of operating this family farm possible.
  1. APPLES: Final weekend in the orchard! York, Stayman, Rome, Smoothee, Red Chief, Empire, JonaGold for apple picking in the orchard.
  2. PUMPKINS: Buy 1, Get 1 Pumpkin Blowout! Pumpkin Express Wagon Rides are FREE starting Fri-Sat at 11AM, just pay for the pumpkins you pick: $.75 per pound, but NO PUMPKIN costs more than $12, no matter how BIG!
  3. SAVE on Maize Quest Tickets and experience our newest attraction the Hidden Gem Railroad Trackless Train Ride. [CLICK HERE]
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Life on the Farm – “Worth 1,000 words?”

 Amazing Pumpkin Panorama | Pumpkin Patch Picking | PRIME Apple Picking |
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Eric Big Pumpkin
Life on the Farm – “Worth 1,000 words?”

Hi,

We’ve always been total “A picture is worth a 1,000 words”, but is that really true? This week, I’d like to find out what you think.
Picture people: We are holding a Photo contest for Maize Quest tickets. Load your best photos from Maize Quest, the pumpkin patch, the apple orchard or enjoying the bakery. (We’ll share the pics on Facebook and maybe in a future email.)
Word people: You’ve read a bunch of musings from a short, bald farmer. Ever wonder why? I think words are powerful and I’d love to hear what’s important to your family. Write me back, Word People! (We’ll share your musings about the farm, family and your Fall traditions.)
The case for Pictures. Visual images are captivating. Their power seems derived from their ability to communicate emotion instantaneously. They are a moment frozen in time that allows us to imagine ourselves in that moment, too.
The case for Words. Words are magical. I particularly like the spoken word. One of my products feats as a father was reading the entire Harry Potter series to my son Ian, all 4,000 pages of it, complete with character voices a la Jim Daily. Words are magical. Close your eyes and words allow your mind to form the picture that is precisely right for you.
So, which are you?Pictures or Words?
Is a picture worth a thousand words or can a thousand words create amazing pictures in your mind?
I’d love to know what you think. If you want to super-charge your senses, come to the farm this weekend. Sights, colors, sounds, smells, visual feasts and actual feasts await you.
At Maple Lawn Farms & Maize Quest we don’t have customers, we only have guests. As our guest, you’ll get some great pictures of your family. Mark my words.
See you soon on the farm,
Hugh
PS This weekend is going to be a “classic”. Crisp, cool and October sunny. you never know what might happen next weekend, so get here while you can. Get directions [CLICK].

Do you choose… adventure?

Do you choose… adventure?
Eric Big Pumpkin
Beautiful look into the rain forest.
3 Things to Know this Week:
  1. Mac, Smoothee, Red Chief, Empire, Fuji, JonaGold for apple picking in the orchard. Just $15 per half-bushel. Mr. Allen is in the gazebo with baskets. Early pickers get the BIG Pumpkins! Pumpkin Express Wagon Rides are FREE starting Fri-Sat at 11AM, just pay for the pumpkins you pick: $.75 per pound, BUT NO PUMPKIN costs more than $12, no matter how BIG!
  2. Maize Quest OPEN Friday 10AM-10PM, Saturday 10am-10PM with Flashlight Nights, Sun 1PM-7PM. Fruit picking everyday Mon-Sat 8AM-6PM, Sun 1PM-5PM – Last Orchard entry hour before closing.
  3. SAVE on Maize Quest Tickets and experience our newest attraction the Hidden Gem Railroad Trackless Train Ride. [CLICK HERE]
Life on the Farm: “Fun is a choice.”

Hi, Hugh,

Ever know someone who couldn’t manage to have a good time anywhere?
Ever know someone who had a good time anywhere she went?
Yep. You know them both. Maybe you are one of these characters. Perhaps you are somewhere in-between. The key here is that your choices are much more important than your circumstances. Whether or not you have fun each day, at an event, with your family, during some quiet retiring time – it is all your own personal choice.
Circumstances are things that happen around you. Though choices help create circumstance, to a large degree, you can’t control your circumstances. The weather, for instance, is completely out of your control.
Reactions to your circumstances are completely under your control. You may disagree heartily with a retort such as, “My mother-in-law makes me so mad I have to yell at her!” But, you’d be listing reactions that are actually under your control. You technically, do not have to yell at her, but you let yourself do it anyway.
Complaining is a reaction, and an inefficient one. Complaining is a typical reaction to challenging circumstances. We all like to complain because it unloads some of our frustration on the listener. We feel better. Typical, the listener does not.
Why I am writing about this now. I can’t change the weather. Friday night, we just had to close. Tough to do when you are only open for business for a limited season, but I went home, enjoyed dinner with the kids and watched a family movie snuggled up on the couch.
That’s the best I could do out of bad weather circumstances. In my younger days, I would have been fraught with indecision and racked with worry over the financial implications. Now that I’m older, I’ll steal that extra Fall night with my kids and figure the finances will work themselves out without me worrying about it.
So, yes it has rained.
Yea! It has stopped.
We are OPEN for you to enjoy time with your family this weekend Saturday ’til 10PM and Sun 1PM-7PM. The wind is drying things out and the pumpkins are freshly washed. The corn maze pathways are packed down, so you aren’t going to sink into mud.
Dress for adventure, hop in the car, enjoy easy access to attractions and choose your own adventure this weekend at Maize Quest. 
A happy crew of farm staff and an unusually well-rested Mazemaster are here to take good care of you 🙂
See you soon on the farm,
Farmer Hugh

PS I actually love my mother-in-law. It was just an example. You’re the best, Jane 🙂