Fly-over the Sunflowers at Maple Lawn Farms

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 Click on Picture to Watch Drone Fly Over

Full Details:

Maple Lawn Farms Sunflower & Peaches Weekend

Who:

Maple Lawn Farms, Maple Lawn Winery & Maize Quest Corn Maze & Fun Park

What:

The farmers at Maple Lawn Farms planted 5-acres, or approximately 5 football fields of sunflowers. In one section, it’s planted full of the classic yellow sunflowers that will mature at about 5 feet tall. In another 2 acres, visitors get to see 10-12 different varieties that display the wide spectrum of sizes and colors in ornamental sunflowers.

Why:

“Sunflowers are symbols of positive thoughts, feelings and create a happy atmosphere,” says Hugh McPherson, Maize Quest’s Mazemaster. “They connect with people, and we want people to connect with farming on a personal level.”

When: Maple Lawn Winery Sneak Preview Event: Friday Aug 11, 2017 5PM-9PM

General Public Admission: Sat 10AM-6PM, Sun 1PM-5PM

Last ticket allowed ONE HOUR before closing. Fields closed at listed hours.

Details: The Sunflower Festival is an experience. All guests park at the farm market. Each ticket includes a wagon ride to the field of sunflowers. Guests spend as much time taking pictures, exploring around the field, and reading informational signs as they like. Each ticket includes one ‘stem’ or LIVE cut sunflower.

Parking is FREE.

After exploring the sunflowers, guests may enjoy ice cream, donuts, pies, fudge, cookies and more from the bakery and farm market. Food trucks are on site for lunch, snacks and dinner. Maple Lawn Winery is open for tastings and shopping Sat 12PM-5PM, Sun 1PM-5PM for guests over 21 years old.

Winery Sneak Preview Details: Friday Aug 11, 2017 5PM-9PM, Maple Lawn Winery is hosting a VIP wine tasting, LIVE music and food truck event. This event will be the FIRST opportunity to visit the Sunflower Fields via wagon ride, and is limited to 250 guests over 21 years old (I.D. required).

Maple Lawn Winery will be open for wine tastings and our outdoor event area offer space to enjoy dinner from the food trucks and beverages from the winery and local breweries while listening to live music.

Ticketing disclaimers: Ticketing is limited and MUST be purchased online to ensure admission to the event. Due to our capacity, we are strictly limiting ticket sales BY DAY to ensure every guest gets plenty of pictures in the sunflowers.

NOTE: Sunflowers are an agricultural crop and therefore subject to weather, growing conditions and ripening variables. We cannot guarantee that the sunflowers will bloom on a particular date, so prepare to be flexible by 7-10 days in your visit.

Stay tuned on Facebook. for up-to-the-minute plans. The event is an outdoor event and therefore held weather permitting. Should a complete crop failure arise, tickets will be exchanged for Maize Quest Corn Maze & Fun Park tickets OR a Maple Lawn Winery upcoming event OR for Maple Lawn Farms fruit and merchandise certificates. NO cash refunds.

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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 – “The End of Authoritarian Farmers.”

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Life on the Farm – “The End of Authoritarian Farmers.”

 

For almost 20 years, I have been a dictator. Now, I’d style myself a “Benevolent” Dictator, but authoritarianism was still the rule of the day. Due to the paradox of business growth, the rise of the millennials and the aging of my daughter, my authoritarian days are over. The promise and trouble of the top-down management style handed down from generation to farming generation has met its match in this modern day of agriculture, and I’ll share why.

I came by it honestly. Many of you know exactly what I’m talking about – Dad rules, and he makes the rules, because he is ultimately responsible for the family’s well-being. He puts food on the table. He disciplines. He is the head of the family.

Notions such as this might seem quaint in our ever-opening society, but back in the mid-seventies, when I was growing up, this was the norm. My grandmother and grandparents all were depression era people. This was even more entrenched in their generation and stories of family lore were of heroic family men sacrificing for the farm and family. Those men were revered for it.

I came by this honestly.

The life transition came slowly. I married a strong, beautiful woman, who “wasn’t about to take my last name, thank you very much.” I had to learn to work beside my Dad (old school) without the two of us killing each other in a desperate battle for control.

I learned as our business grew that I needed other people, brilliant people, to help design mazes, cut mazes, organize ordering, proof materials, help at the Fun Park – terrifyingly, I was no longer able to be in complete control of every moving part of the farm and business.

It was at a board meeting of Farmers Inspired, a national organization of farmers who do what we do at Maple Lawn Farms, that I first learned an African proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

What a profound statement. We, I, You don’t have to go it alone, running as fast as we can. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. What a joy to have the pressure of being alone, doing it alone lifted off our shoulders. What if we could “do it together”?

Back to the farm. I frankly couldn’t do this alone. Think about it – Dad manages production. Matt manages row crops AND works with me on the wine. Michelle books the groups and organizes the ordering for the farms we help. Janelle does the books and the schedules. Betsy does payroll and farm invoicing. Dee manages the market. Allen helps you in the orchard. Frank fixes everything. Jenny pours wine and leads at the Fun Park. Plus, over 65 part-time staff deliver the fruit and the experiences you know and love on the farm.

Authoritarianism is dead. The days of a “boss” screaming insults at a “worker” are over. Everyone on the farm can go work anywhere else, heck, I’m a terrible manager if my people can’t be employed somewhere else!

Authoritarianism dead and I’ve noticed a few reasons why it’s not coming back.

1. Things are better with more eyes. I know I’m pretty good at making, say a brochure. However, when Audra does the graphic design, Michelle proofs for details and I write the exciting copy – the brochure becomes great.

2. More taste buds. I, now that we’ve done it, can make wine. However, when Matt and I discuss, plan, check and take notes, then run our ideas by our buddy Carl, winemaker at Allegro Vineyards, then have some of the women as additional taste-testers, we make tasty wine AND can replicate it on batch two.

3. Helping hands. I our process, I’m ultimately responsible for every guest experience, but I can’t possibly connect with every guest, every time they visit. We have a system of returning staff helping new staff get up to speed, train while shadowing and supporting each other as new staffers learn the ropes. Its a system of more helping hands, more teachers sharing knowledge.

My daughter just turned 14. She is a wonderful, caring, beautiful kid who is outgrowing her “Daddy” vertically and in maturity. I confess to not being ready to give up my little girl. While she was a child, authoritarian rules were for her education and safety. Now, as the bible says, “children are like arrows in your quiver”, meaning they are meant to be honed, then careful strung, aimed and released to fly true and free into the world. Luckily, I don’t have to let go just yet, but I assure you that my authoritarian days are over.

The myth of American Business and the American Dream. The myth is that a lone American hauls him or herself up by the bootstraps, bold goes alone to achieve great things. That’s just totally false.

The real American Dream is that a brave individual can believe so fervently in a positive vision of the future, that a group of like-minded people will choose willingly to join the cause. Together they will overcome the challenges and plot a course to success.

I no longer wish to be a Benevolent Dictator. I want to be a farmer, a business owner, people want to partner with for mutual benefit. I don’t want to bear the load alone, but share the success with the team as we go.

Maybe it’s my age, but I no longer want to go “fast and alone”, but, instead, I want to go far and go together.

Come meet the farm team, the winery team and the Fun Park team. You are going to be amazed at the quality group of people who’ve come together at our one little farm in Pennsylvania.

See you soon on the farm,

Farmer Hugh

Life on the Farm- “You just never know.”

Gorgeous Columbus Day Weekend on the Farm | PRIME Apple Picking | Get Your Pumpkins | Farmer Hugh’s blog
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It’s Fall Y’all! Great weather Sat-Sun-Mon, spend family time on the farm.
Eric Big Pumpkin
Beautiful sunset over the Pumpkin Shed.
Things to Know this Week:
  1. APPLES: Granny Smith, York, Stayman, Rome, Smoothee, Red Chief, Empire, Fuji, JonaGold for apple picking in the orchard. Just $15 per half-bushel. 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!
Life on the Farm: “You just never know.”

Hi,

What a crazy time of year. On the farm when it’s harvest time, you still have all the other work to do and you have to harvest all the crops. During this time, it’s akin to being “in the Red Zone” 24/7. You just never know what’s going to happen.

This past week alone, we had hurricane threat, a long-time church friend pass away, clarinet lessons, (I’m writing this before we leave for..) soccer practice, social media posts to share, CSA boxes to pack, construction to supervise, supplies to pick-up, a family to feed, kids’ homework to check – you just never know what’s going to happen.

So what do you do when you don’t know what’s going to happen?

Step 1. Prepare as best you can. We knew rain was coming. We knew we wouldn’t be selling hundreds of baskets of apples and hundreds of tickets, so we enacted our plan to reduce hours and staff, update our communications with our guests and make wise decisions based on staff and guest safety. Sure, we weren’t busy in the rain, but we minimized the impact on our staff and guests.

Step 2. Stay positive. In farming, you live by the weather which happens to be completely out of your control. We know rain is a bummer for everyone, but we’ll be open next weekend and the sunshine will be back. The sun will (actually) come out tomorrow!

Step 3. Keep your eyes on the prize. At Maize Quest, we don’t have a Mission Statement, we have a mantra: “Make People Happy.” That’s it. That’s the mission, the filter for choices, the guiding light for our business and our staff. When a situation comes up, we evaluate the response with “What will make people happy?” We often say, “It doesn’t matter how you feel, it’s what you do that matters.” We are going to take care of each and everyone of you, our farm guests, no matter what.

So here we are, a week after the big rain event. The apples are still on the trees, the corn maze looks great, the fields are dried out, the cool weather is great for hot chocolate, the pumpkins are freshly washed.

We can’t possibly know what next weekend will bring, BUT this weekend looks great with sunny weather Sat-Sun-Mon.

Are you ready for a break?
Get lost with your family on the farm.
Get lost from the hassles.
Get lost from the over-scheduled schedules.
Get lost from the hustle and bustle to breathe clean air, walk the stalks, eat from the trees and sample treats in the market.

Purposefully take the time, choose to use your time to unplug from the world and escape together, just for one day this weekend.

You just never know what next week will bring.

See you soon on the farm,
Hugh
PS Need a farm field trip for your learning adventure? Groups are booking right now. Email Michelle at michelle@cornmaze.com or call her 717-495-1759. Over a dozen groups booked last week alone and time slots are going fast! Learn more about groups at Maize Quest [CLICK HERE]
PPS We almost never have a good crop of Granny Smith Apples, but this year is exceptional. Granny Smith will SELL OUT of the orchard, likely by Monday, so if you like the tartest apple out there, get here soon :-)
Maize Quest Open Every Weekend!

What’s FUN at the Fun Park?

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Hugh, The Maze Master

Maple Lawn Farms & Maize Quest – “As young as you can, as long as you can.”

Pumpkins patch OPEN | PRIME Apple Picking | Maize Quest Flashlight Nights | “Young as you can.” blog
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The BIG pumpkins go FIRST! Get here early to pick.
Eric Big Pumpkin
Early pickers get the BIG ones! Checkout this family’s haul. 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 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!
  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: “As young as you can, as long as you can.”
On top of every thing you have to do in a week, you still need to parent your children. Wait, strike that, reverse it. During this hectic week we stumbled into some very typical “kids growing up and dealing with issues” moments. It led me to revisit a premise upon which my wife and I whole-heartedly agree: “Keep them as young as you can, as long as you can.”
Dress code. I have a fashionista daughter, who by some miracle of wife, church and modesty, has not yet fallen prey to Justice, booty shorts, and “Princess Butt” sweatpants.
For some reason, as boys shorts keep getting longer and they pull their socks up to meet the bottom of their shorts, girls are pushed into “adult revealing clothes”, though most adult women I know, wouldn’t where stuff like that.
Keep the dress code, young as possible, as long as possible.
Media. Please, we don’t even have an Xbox and we have one TV in the house. We’re not Amish, but we’re too busy to watch hours of media each day. Video games are monitored, devices aren’t allowed in rooms, the computer stays in the kitchen we’re we can see it. Don’t fall for “Everyone else is playing/watching/listening to…” Our rocking family nights are more “So You Think You Can Dance” than “Call of Duty VI”.
Keep the media inputs as young as possible, as long as possible.
Family time. I love this time of year, because we see so many familiar faces. After 19 seasons in the maze and longer on the farm, we have watched families grow up in the orchards. I saw a great, long-time visiting family this weekend; just happened to run into them before they left.
Both 20-something sons have full-time jobs, parents are busy with their lives, but they prioritize time together as a family. They were smiling, laughing and joking because one soon had been in a severe auto accident a few months ago and had a concussion, so they brought him to test him in the maze!
They were having good, old fashioned fun together as they had for over a decade at the farm.
They are staying young together, enjoying time together, as long as they can.
I know this email might sound a bit preachy, but this is what’s happening now, in my 40-year-old life. Am I way off base here?
This is a beautiful weekend, apples are ready, pumpkins are ripe, the Fun Park & Amazon Corn Maze are ready for your family. Call a time out on your hectic life and escape to the farm.
If you’d like to keep your kids, kids a little longer, no matter how they are, nothing beats some Fall fun on the farm.
See you soon on the farm,
Hugh

Maple Lawn Farms: “Running with Flies.”

A Farmer’s Breakfast | Blueberries! | Apricots | Running
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One of my favorite ads from ad king Nike.
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This was my farmer’s breakfast treat, fresh blueberries in a fresh apricot. No, just enjoy!
Life on the Farm: “Running with flies.”
Analogy time: After my morning run, I concluded that life is like running… with flies.
Part 1:
I am not a runner. If you’ve ever met me, I’m 5-foot-nuthin’ with shoulders wide as a truck. I’m meant to pick up heavy things, not run. Still I persist in running because I live to play Ultimate Frisbee and I need to be competitive.
Here’s the life part:
I never wake up thinking, “Gosh, I can’t wait to get out there and run.”
Yet, I roll out of bed, lace up and go for it. Sheer mental determination and a look towards the next Ultimate game with the goal I’ll be a better, faster player.
Isn’t life like that? You always have to work hard to get ahead, sometimes without seeing results for your labor for weeks, months, even years.
The fruit business is like that. We plant trees and don’t see an apple for 4 years, yet still we care for the trees, mow, prune and hope.
It’s a mental discipline to keep working.
Part 2:
After all the mental victory to get out the door with my sneakers on, I run down the road, doing what I’m supposed to and suddenly, “Ouch!” A giant horse fly bit me in mid-stride! I was attacked for the next 300 yards hoping for the best case scenario, which would be smashing a gross, giant, biting fly on my head.
Now seriously, I’m out here exercising like I’m suppose to and I’m attacked by biting flies?! Something’s wrong with this picture.
The life part:
Isn’t that always the way? You get started working towards your goals and you meet resistance. You get annoyed along the way and you start to lose focus on your objectives. Biting flies are very distracting.
I’ll share with you a bit of small business person struggle. We work very hard on the farm and at the maze to make sure our guests feel comfortable. We don’t want you to see any struggles, but I’ll pull back the curtain on a few.
We’re working hard to expand the farm market and our business in a secret-for-now way (more on that later, stay tuned!) This expansion employees a dozen contractors, our employees, and we’ll end up added 5-10 part-time positions.
Great for the economy, right? We’re doing a brave, good thing, right?
We took off running towards our goal, only to be bitten by permitting delays, regulatory delays, 20 inspections, loan meetings, on and on and on. Bite, bite, bite.
It makes you wonder if it’s worth all the work to do good and grow!
Sometimes, pardon the very brief political rant, I think “It’s no wonder business is struggling in America. It’s super-hard to get started in business!”
Swat, swat, swat!
Of course it’s worth it! A few flies along the run don’t take away from the value of running, the good feelings at the end, the fitness, the victory, the growth in physical and mental toughness. Of course it’s worth it. Swat!
I kept running. I was going to have a few welts on me but, by God, I wasn’t going to stop. That’s just not who my parents raised me to be. It’s certainly not what the forefathers of this country envisioned. They envisioned a united people, ready to work hard once lifted from the hand of tyranny.
This week, keep running. Swat the annoying flies that are trying to distract you. Set your sights on goals, big and small, that light a fire in you, put one foot in front of the other and
just…
keep…
running…
Have a great week,
Farmer Hugh

Maple Lawn Farms – When does that ripen?

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Farmer Paul checking the Red Delicious apples. He does a lot of checking to make sure the crops are healthy and well watered for you.
We are fruit farmers – for YOU!
We believe in opening up our farm to guests like you. That’s why you can pick EVERY crop we grow directly from the tree, bush or vine that grew it. You know that tree-ripened, picked fresh is the way to get “the good stuff”
Here’s a guide for you to plan your visits to the farm for “the good stuff”:
Mid-June – Sweet Cherries
Late-June – Sour Cherries & Blueberries
Mid-July – Cling Peaches & Apricots
Late-July – Freestone Peaches – Our specialty!
Early August – Early Apples & MASSIVE Peach crop picking
Labor Day Weekend – Maize Quest Corn Maze & Fun Park Opens
Early September – Big-Time Apples
Late-September – Pumpkin Picking
Early October – MASSIVE Apple & Pumpkin crop picking
Oct-November – Fall Harvest Celebration with Maize Quest, Apples, Pumpkins, Group Tours, Bakery, Cider & TONS to do, pick, & EAT!
The best way to connect and stay up to date is on our facebook page at:
Click image to connect.
See you soon on the farm,
Farmer Hugh

 

From the farm – Scottish & Amish farming together. What’s next?

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corn maize
It’s planting time!
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Life on the Farm:
“Why you should sign-up for our CSA program.”


The Amish & the Scottish. We McPhersons are Highland Scots, thrust into the new world during the Potato Famine in the 1850s. The Amish were forced to the New World seeking religious freedom. Both came from strong Agrarian (farming) backgrounds and settled in York and Lancaster Counties.


A small community. Over the past few years, with rising land prices in Lancaster, the Amish commy has expanded across the Susquehanna River into southern York County. We now have Amish neighbors on both sides of the farm.

Working together.
It may be some before you get an email from one of our Amish neighbors :-)
With all we already do, we aren’t planting 14 kinds of veggies spaced 1 week apart all summer.
That’s why we’re working together on our CSA.

Community Supported Agriculture = CSA. You, the consumer, invest in the crops we grow specifically for you by purchasing a membership “share” in the harvest. Because you get these CSA memberships before we plant, we don’t plant more than we can market, thus reducing waste and lost produce.

What’s a “share?” The farmers producing for you, our CSA members, grow the crops. Each week, you pick-up our “share” of the harvest. We are providing the boxes and transportation from the Amish farms, they pack the veggies, we add Maple Lawn Farms-grown fruit and staff the farm market for you to pick-up. (A typical CSA box is shown below.)


Why you would do this. Everything we put in your box was produced in farmland within 10 miles of Maple Lawn Farms by us or our neighbors. We harvest Monday you pick up the box Tuesday. Each week the contents of the box change based on what’s ripe and ready.
You get the freshest produce from a farm you can visit within one day of harvest. It’s a surprise every week, and there might be a few bakery treats occasionally included as well…
Look, if that doesn’t get you excited, then the program is not for you – and that’s OK. It’s not for everyone. If you are like my wife, she always wants the best and freshest for us and the kids (she’s a vegetarian as well), so she’s already signed up!

This is not the grocery store. How many miles does lettuce from Chile travel to get here?! This is not the grocery store. Each week’s variety and items are dependent upon what’s ripe. You don’t pick and choose what goes into the box, you just get the bounty of the farm.

Think of your CSA Box as your first stop, then you only need to go to the store for the rest! Register you interest with us today. Lot’s more details, timing & pricing when you [CLICK]

Hugh

PS Please do update your information for us if you haven’t already [CLICK]. We want to get you the right stuff without being a bother.
Hugh, The Maze Master