Monday, October 21, 2019

Lost And Found

Another crazy busy day is in the books.  I can't even begin to explain what I do all day long, but here's an example or two.


One Grandma 
One small kid wearing a mask.  
One small kid ... one of the baby goats escaped the confines of the pen by jumping out.
Five jackets
Six binkies
Three water bottles
Three MORE water bottles
Two cell phones
One walkie talkie
Two sets of keys
Eight pumpkins
Three parents
All of my fingerprints
All of my fingernails

Grandma was found wandering the outskirts of the corn maze

Kid wearing mask was found by the Barnyard Bounce ... Grandpa who lost him was very mad!

Baby goat was caught and returned to the pen.  The hay was moved further away from the fence so he couldn't jump on top again and escape.

Five jackets, six binkies and six water bottles were found on the Time Travel Tractor.  They now live in the lost and found box in the barn.

The cell phones found between the hay bales on the hay ride were returned to the frantic customers.

One of our walkie talkies was found in the portable bathrooms on the floor.  We sprayed it with bleach and gave it back to the guy who lost it.  I'm glad it wasn't me!

The keys were found near the Zip Bee and returned to the frantic customers who couldn't leave the property because ... well, they lost their keys.

Eight pumpkins were recovered from the family who was trying to steal them, running out the back of the property.  

Three parents were reunited with their children.  How does this happen??

My hands are in water and ice so much that all my fingerprints have been erased.  That makes it very difficult to unlock my phone, but good if I'm going to rob a bank!

Every single fingernail I had has disappeared in ragged broken ugliness.  It will take me weeks to grow them all back.  

Hopefully we will all recover as soon as Halloween comes and goes.

Total miles walked after day whatever it is, because I've completely lost count:   169.71

Sunday, October 20, 2019

A Few Quick Numbers

I'm trying to get my brain to work this morning.  If I say the weekdays with three to five hundred kids  are crazy, I'm here to tell you it's NOTHING like the weekends.  I'm longing for the 500 kids!!

I need to go in extra early this morning because we ran out of so much stuff.  I really need to take stock and get prepared.

This is where I stood for ten hours yesterday making shaved ice.  This machine?  It's probably cranked out over 15,000 in it's lifetime.
We went through ten boxes of chips at 50 per box and wrapped up an incredible 500 hot dogs without missing a beat or having the customers wait.  As you can see, this is a tiny operation, no more than 15 feet wide, backed up against an old cow milking station in the barn.
All that product has to be brought over from the shop and put into the three large ice chests, along with hundreds of pounds of ice.  Just out of sight is the side where we cook all the hot dogs and make up nachos with cheese and jalapeƱos.  A record 588 hot dogs were sold, which means we don't have enough for today.  We are OUT.
That's a dirty word in the snack bar business.  We've been able to keep up with most everything else, but ran out of coffee, hot water for hot chocolate and nacho cheese after using 20 gallons.  In other words, we're exhausted!!

This should be our biggest day yet.  Then I'll be very happy to be back to herding those squirrels!!!

Total miles walked to date:   163.26  

Saturday, October 19, 2019

It's A Miracle

I can't believe I'm still in the upright position.  I did a bit of everything yesterday, from Zip Bee load-the-kids to Corn Chute sliding to tractor driving!  At least on Fridays we make hot dogs to sell, meaning I always get to perform a taste test.  Nothing beats Costco dogs.

I stocked and restocked the snack bar, making extra room for pumpkin bread.  Sold out of what we call trios (three cookies in a bag), we packaged two entire boxes.  Lucky for us, four cookies were broken.  NOT lucky for us, they taste terrible.  They are plain sugar cookies with a flavor I can't describe.  It's somewhere between cardboard and sand.

A group of special guests showed up all the way from Japan.  We had 20 college kids visit the Patch.  They are in the U.S. taking English classes and came out for our crazy experience.  We explained all about the California gold miners as they panned for gems in our sluice box.  You should have heard them laugh and giggle with surprise when they found crystals, magnetite and even Indian arrowheads.

About half screamed with laughter when they went down the Corn Chute (the big yellow slide).  The others were too scared to speak!!  It was then on to pumpkin carving, which they had never even heard of before.  What a treat to watch their faces!!
By noon, all the kids were gone and we were back to family entertainment.  That's when things went south.  Miss Kelsey set about cooking 72 hotdogs.  I wasn't paying attention, since my attention span has been shortened in direct correlation to the pain in my feet.  Too bad we couldn't just feed them to the dinosaurs, but alas, they were already full from the plethora of small children they ate in the morning!!

By 4:30 we still had 57 dogs in the pan.  I panicked.  The goal is to NEVER have any hot dogs left at the end of the night, two hours later.  The solution?  We had a sale!!  TWO FOR ONE became our mantra as we told everyone who walked up.
In no time we were down to six, which we packaged up for the worker's families.  Guess what's coming for dinner???  I breathed a big sign of relief.  It took another hour to clean up, pack up and get out the gate.  

Here's a forty pound example of the decorative carving pumpkins available, or at least they were until yesterday when hundreds of pounds went out the door.  
Finally home at 7:30, I played with the puppies who think I've abandoned them, fed everybody and crashed on the couch.  There's only one more week if I survive this weekend!!  The smiles I get from the kids after the dinosaur ride make it all worthwhile.  That and of course the moola I'm making!!!

Friday, October 18, 2019


Sometimes it's just so crazy, you have to laugh!!  I'm pretty good at letting things slide, but when a group of teenagers began to trash the corn maze, that was it for me.  We chased them off the property.  I don't know why people have to act that way, but it's not allowed at THIS pumpkin patch.

The day started off nice enough with unruly kids and overstressed teachers.  At least I've got the bus drivers trained to pull right up to the unloading zone by waving my arms like a mad woman!!  I even drug out my neon yellow sleeves so they could see me better.

Here's a picture of inside the barn where the kids have their lunch.  I write times and names on the chalkboard to be sure they get in the right spot.  This is the first time I've tried this, and it's working rather well.  Yay!!!  Much better than trying to move 50 kids around to the right area.
Sadly, it wasn't all good.  THIS time the kid threw up on the bounce pillow instead of the garbage can.  I have to hand it to the two young girls working there.  They immediately cleaned it up and sanitized one whole side.  They got a gold star for the day.
Another gold star went to the new cleanup girl.  You could almost eat off the floor when she was through cleaning up after four schools.  I think we're on a roll!!
This time only 30 kids came for their after-school program.  They all wanted to hit the corn maze, which covers about ten acres.  I warned them before they entered that it was huge and they might lose a kid or two.  They all went in and one minute later all came back out.  The teacher got the message.
We aren't open after dark, but when the sun goes down, we turn on all the lights until everyone has left.  It's a pretty amazing sight to see.  The huge sign at the top of the slide changes from one brilliant color to another.  

Another day, another dollar as we gear up for this weekend.  It's become so popular, we have people coming from as far away as Sacramento and Tulare.  We should have two tractor drivers back today so I get a reprieve from that job.  The best part about it is it's a sit-down job, plus I love talking to the kids about the big dinosaurs.  I've even been known to roar quite loud!!!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Fighting Off Dinosaurs!!

Ever have one of THOSE days?  Yesterday was it for us, and I hope we got it all out of our system at one time!!

First, the night guy didn't do his job.  He must have slept through his shift.  From the very start, we were under the gun.  With 300 school kids coming in, we had our work cut out for us.  Although they should have arrived on schedule, all the buses came in the driveway at the very same time.

It's like fighting those tiny dinosaurs compsognathus from Jurassic Park.  They were running every which direction!!  I can only say I have much respect for the teachers.  I could never do THAT job!!

The tractor driver had to take over the night duties, leaving me to drive for part of the day.  No problem, I just LOVE driving through the dinosaur patch, especially when it was overcast and cool most of the day.
Suddenly we had another dino fight on our hands.  The cleaning ladies didn't show up, nor did they call.  YIKES!!  We all grabbed trash bags and cleaned the entire property including trash cans so full I couldn't even lift the bag out.  I lost that fight, ending up with a chocolate milk soaked tennis shoe and sock.  Yucky!!!
To add insult to injury, someone threw up on one can.  Too much on the Barnyard Bounce I suspect.  Then it was on to the 250 kids coming in the afternoon.  We had to band each and every one of them and of course they all came in at the exact same time.  THAT dinosaur included 41 shaved ice treats, so you can imagine what I did for the next hour.
The next fight, which we won by the way, involved the 50 teenagers trashing the corn maze.  Really??  I don't know what happened to the teachers there.  They had no control whatsoever!

The last dinosaur to test our skills was actually a teacher who insisted her 100 kids get a pumpkin.  It wasn't on any of my paperwork, but I took on the fight.  After reaching no one on the phone, I checked through the binder of reservations to find a note that LOOKED like she was right.  I double checked with the Owner (who is NOT the one taking the reservations) and we decided to give them out.  One hundred pumpkins were passed out to one hundred pumpkins in the six year old age group.
Everyone went home happy while I went back to tractor driving until 6:45.  At long last I only had one fight left.  Trying to get eight huge plastic tarps on the trailers so keep them dry overnight.  You can imagine my frustration, but luckily I beat that dinosaur!!!  I just kept thinking about my nice soft bed!!

Another 300 kids are coming in this morning.  Woohoo!!!!!

Miles walked after day 19:   150.44

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Here And Gone

Another 450 kids come and gone.  Here's how it all works.  The schools make reservations for field trips.  The cost per child is $5.00.  They come out usually by bus, but sometimes the smaller groups come by cars.  I get to meet all of them at the gate, around 5,000 in total.

We always offer a free wristband to teachers and their aids, which I get to place on each and every wrist.  I can slap on wristbands faster than lightning!!  Then they all get to come in and ride all the rides while I gather up the bus drivers (or whoever, since some bus drivers don't seem to be able to touch the lunch boxes ... must be some bad voodoo or something) and get their lunches to the correct locations.

Field trips have to include education, which is why we have the Barnyard Squares show to teach them about agriculture.  After lunch and returning at least ten lost jackets, a couple of cell phones and several sets of keys, they all head out the gate, pumpkin in hand.  Yes, every single one gets a pumpkin.

Some schools are VERY smart.  They put all the kids in the same color shirts so they are easy to corral.
At long last, usually around noon, all the kids are gone and the public begins to arrive.  We've been busier and busier every day.  
Last Sunday was the second biggest day they have ever had, with two more weekends to go.  My feet are crying crocodile tears.
I have to admit, I'm looking forward to taking off in the motorhome to the peace and quiet of Arizona, not to mention the COUCH!!!

Total miles walked as of the 18th day .... 142.63

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Up In The Clouds

Sometimes you just have to laugh out loud.  With a new tractor driver to train, I spent way too much time yesterday driving to get any pictures.  I feel bad about that, but I have a couple of stories that might make you laugh.

We have a kid named Jake that's been working most every day.  A very nice quiet TALL kid.  One day I said to him ... HEY ... what's your name?  You are just so TALL I'd like to know you.  With a sly smile, he handed me his business card.

It says ... Jake Guerrero

Yes I am very tall
I am 6'7"
Yes I play basketball but I don't play for any teams
The weather is the same up here as it is down there
No my family isn't tall.  I'm the only one.  Thanks for asking.

Best laugh of the day!!   To make it even better, he has picked more pumpkins out in the field than anyone else on the property.  Jake is a cool dude, probably all of 17 years old, with a great sense of humor.
My next story involved a girl that came up while I was making shaved ice.  She started to take one when I asked if she had paid for it.  No she said, they are free.  I'm sorry, but you have to pay for them.  Did your mom pay for one?  She looked at me for a second and lied.  YES!!!  I didn't believe her.

I asked the girls ... the answer was NO.  Where is your mom?  She's over there (pointing to the other side of the snack bar).  I don't think you paid for it.  Go ask your mom for $4.  She ran off to her mom standing about 50 feet away with four kids in tow.

Sneaky these kids are.  Now she's got me wondering just how many shaved ice kids picked up that they DIDN'T pay for.  Thinking back, there were three times I was short on an order and didn't know why.  I guess I figured it out!!!
Just for giggles, here's some numbers from the weekend snack bar.

720 hot dogs and of course buns to match
16 giant bags of nacho chips
9 gallons of jalapeƱos
28 cases of 36 bottles of water
18 large cases each of pepsi, Dr. Pepper, 7-Up and Diet Coke
24 boxes of chips, 50 per box

Total miles walked after day 17 ...  133.74

I'll be back at it in three hours with 300 kids coming in to play.