Two designers creating a roadmap to a simpler more fulfilling lifestyle
Friday, November 4, 2016
TREINEN FARM CORN MAZE AND PUMPKIN PATCH
A DAY ON THE FARM IN FALL
It was a perfect autumn day, temperature in the mid-sixties, clear skies, a gentle breeze and enough fall color to make the hills of Lodi, Wisconsin still sing their autumnal song.
We've known Julie for almost as long as we've been back in Madison. It's on her family farm that one of America's premier corn mazes has delighted and entertained thousands of guests for the past several years. This year Travel Magazine, USA Today, MSN and the Travel Channel have honored the Treinen corn maze and pumpkin patch as one of the country's ten best. Even Architectural Digest singled out Treinen Farm as one of the best in the nation. I couldn't believe that Julie and her family beat us to an editorial in Architectural Digest, but their honor was well deserved.
Everything on the farm is worked out to perfection. The farm is located on Highway 60 just outside of Lodi, Wisconsin. The farm is impossible to miss. Parking is on one side of the highway and looks more like a parking lot for a major athletic event.
For safety they've added a human size culvert going under the highway as a passage into the farm proper. Local kids are employed with wooden wagons to help guests carry their pumpkins from the fields back to their cars. The service is free but these kids make a killing on tips.
There is an admittance fee and a few competitive events have a small fee but everything else is free and there are activities for everyone. Expect lines, especially for heading out to the pumpkin patch.
It's probably the most photogenic part of the experience. Alan Treinen, the eighth child in the family of ten owns and runs this now massive operation. It's Alan who breeds and trains the Belgian Draft horse teams that pull the huge wagons out into the field for those wanting to take a pumpkin home with them.
They are very careful to not overtax the horse teams so they're switched out on regular rotation. Just watching the process of hitching and unhitching the teams is a spectacle.
Guests line up to board the wagons and then when they return their arms are always laden with pumpkins
There's a bin right there where they can wash down their finds
or an area set aside with baby cribs to store your pumpkin while you go off to explore the rest of the farm.
Kids are treated to all sorts of adventures. There's the rubber duckie water pump where kids use an old water pump to send rubber ducks down a shut and into a galvanized mini-lake
There are pony rides for those not suffering from equine fear.
Molehill Mountain provides the thrill of a giant slide through a tunnel made from PVC culvert pipes.
And if that's not enough to entertain the kids let them loose in the Tractor Tire Playground and watch them get filthy dirty in amongst the piles of sand and rubber tires.
For the bigger kids there's the pumpkin slingshot where you can catapult a small gourd or pumpkin into the pond in an attempt to hit a floating target
or for a dollar you can challenge your sense of balance and climb Jacob's Ladder. If you can reach the top without falling you win a sawbuck. I'm guessing this is a real moneymaker for them. I've never seen anyone reach the top
Then there are the animals, from miniature goats
to a pack of baby pigs with names like Bacon and Pork Chop a sadistic nod to their ultimate demise.
Perhaps the biggest animal draw is the kitty house. There's always a line to get in and spend time with a slew of kittens.
Most people who come to the farm and maze spend a good part of the day there so food is also a big part of the experience.
The food shed houses a snack bar featuring Lodi's award winning bratwurst, a Wisconsin staple along with cheese curds, chili dogs and malts and ice cream
A trip to the Old Chicken House Store is a mandatory stop before anyone leaves the farm and heads back to the tunnel and the parking lot.
Inside is where they stash the caramel apples and cinnamon donuts all locally made and totally delicious. Try to find a four-dollar caramel apple in New York. I dare you.
I have gone to the farm every year since we've know Julie and every year I make sure I don't leave without my year's supply of root beer jelly. I'm from Wisconsin and it's in my blood even if the first ingredient listed is sugar. I don't care.
I guess I need to end with the maze. It's great if you've got a group but on my own I'm not that into it.
Mazepic The amazing view is overhead and that's impossible to do without a drone but the aerial pictures are amazing.
When you're on the ground it just looks like corn but the thrill is getting in and then getting lost.
Fortunately they hand out maps so you can sort of get yourself out but I've known people who've ended up in there for hours trying to find their way back to the entrance.
For the really small ones they offer a Children's Maze. It's actually more my speed.
The farm will remain open until the second weekend in November. Put on your shit-kickers, come with hunger for what Wisconsin has to offer and load up on a few pumpkins still good for that Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. THE GALLERY