Today I’m taking a page out of a Debbie Macomber book by writing a short journal entry that literally counts my blessings from the 2021 Season at Enchanted Acres.
“I want to practice gratitude,” writes best-selling author Debbie Macomber. “…Instead of concentrating on the negative, I want to look at the positive side of life.” Two of her books that have inspired me the most are “One Simple Act: Discovering the Generosity of Gratitude” and “Be a Blessing: A Journal for Cultivating Kindness, Joy, and Inspiration.”
There is absolutely no way I could operate this business for one season – let alone 10 seasons – without support from the following individuals and groups. My mom and I planted our first pumpkin crop in 2012, using a hoe and our hands. There was no running water or electricity either, and we held pumpkin decorating classes under a tent. With help from many friends, family members and community supporters, we have added new amenities and new attractions to enhance our guest experience.
I’d like to shine a spotlight on the many people who graciously share their time and talents to create a great guest experience during our 10th season of business:
- My mom. Mom has been beside me every step of the way since I decided I was going to start a pumpkin patch. This woman doesn’t know the meaning of “quit”! She also has an amazing support group around her. Thanks to them, pumpkins got picked and pallets were stocked for opening weekend. Her friends also put together corn shocks and helped with pumpkin decorating all season long.
- My family. As luck would have it, I got sick right before the opening weekend. My husband put up the photo boards. Thankfully, my two college kids came home and rolled up their sleeves. Together, they got a long list of items done before we hosted the West Fork Food Pantry fundraiser on Sunday, Sept. 26.
- My brother. This guy helps me do so many things “behind the scenes” that I’m bound to forget to thank him for everything. I’m convinced my brother can fix anything! I’m so grateful that he met me on more than one morning at 6 a.m. plant pumpkin seeds before beginning his full-time job. He helped plant our amazing corn maze. He was instrumental in setting up and then putting it away at the end of the season. Rod sees things that need to be done, and he takes care of them. If he needs help, he calls in a favor and makes it happen. I appreciate him so much!
- Marlene. My aunt is a godsend, willing to pitch in and help where help is needed. She and my mom are like a modern-day Batman & Robin, descending upon Enchanted Acres to save the day! I couldn’t have provided field trips without them. I also appreciated her working the gate this fall.
- My neighbor Cindy. With a smile that lights up a room, Cindy gives a warm welcome to all who enter our barn and shop inside The Market. I’m so thankful Cindy chooses to put her years of retail experience to work for us!
- Yolanda. She can work magic with two slices of bread and a panini maker! Her Hot Beef Sundaes alone are worth the drive to rural Sheffield. I appreciate Yolanda’s passion for wholesome food, and her Australian accent is a pure delight.
- Daniel. Talk about a blessing! When Yolanda was unable to cook, Daniel stepped into our kitchen and didn’t miss a beat. He has such a calming presence.
- Blake. I’m so glad Blake came back for another season because he also can help me with chores when needed. He can hook up equipment and back up trailers straight. Lord knows I need help with that!
- Judy Steere. My mom’s best friend is one of the sweetest ladies I know. She shows up with a smile and a willingness to do whatever she can to lighten someone’s load. I appreciate her working with my mom to help guests decorate pumpkins.
- Sara and Dick. Talk about “old family friends.” Dick and my dad grew up together and they were each other’s best man. I love seeing Dick pull into the lane just to see how things are going. I also appreciate the pre-season help that he and Sara provide each fall.
- Katy of Flint & Co. Because I tend to spread myself too thin, I need help staying organized. Katy is definitely detail driven. I appreciate her help with coordinating events and staying on top of social media.
- Jesse. Last year Jesse was a little hesitant when I asked him to drive tractors for our hayrides, but he did a great job and came back to do it another season. We greatly appreciate Jesse’s time.
- Dean. Have you ever noticed that sometimes people come into our lives when we need them most? I’m so thankful Dean asked how he could help because I didn’t have enough hands to do everything that needed to be done. I greatly appreciate Dean driving the tractor on Sundays.
- Aaron. To provide community service hours for his church, Aaron volunteered his time to help at Enchanted Acres during the West Fork Food Pantry fundraiser. We’re thankful he was able to keep a watchful eye on our corn pool, goats and horse at other times throughout the fall.
- Pastor Kim and Diane Wills. The Wills are a dynamic duo! They have been instrumental in getting the West Fork Food Pantry established. Pastor serves as the board chair and Diane serves as site coordinator. When I got sick right before the fundraiser I had volunteered to host, they were left to pick up my pieces. I’m so thankful for their grace.
- Auctioneer Cory Behr. I’m so thankful Cory answered my call and was quick to say “yes” when I asked if he would donate his time and talents to helping us raise money for the food pantry. About $2,000 was raised that day from gate proceeds, pie sales and the live auction of a chainsaw woodcarving.
- Anthony Martin of Logs4Heroes. I hope you’ll take the time to click on this link and learn more about this amazing young man who has served his country and continues to serve his fellow man. Anthony created and then donated a one-of-a-kind chainsaw sculpture to benefit the West Fork Food Pantry.
- Darwin and Lorna Meyer. This couple is very active in church groups and community organizations. I’m thankful they purchased the chainsaw sculpture, benefitting the West Fork Food Pantry.
- Pie judges. Special thanks to my friends, fellow foodies and bloggers, Val Plagge and Darcy Maulsby, for agreeing to judge the pie contest. I also appreciated travel bloggers Hodge Podge Hippie for making Enchanted Acres part of their travel itinerary in Franklin County Iowa.
- Monarch Yoga and Goat Yoga attendees. Goat yoga has become an annual tradition at Enchanted Acres. This year’s beautiful fall weather allowed us to be outdoors. Special thanks to Nicole Monarch and her daughter for leading this activity for people of all ages and stages.
- School field trips. Mrs. Landers of North Butler brought her first group of students on a field trip in 2012, when we didn’t even have running water or electricity! She has faithfully brought her class every year. (When Covid prevented field trips in 2020, we provided online lessons.) We also appreciate annual visits from West Fork and North Iowa Christian. The goal of our field trips is to make learning fun.
- Sheffield, Greene, Meservey Public Libraries. October is Book Month, and we’re thankful to partner with local libraries to celebrate it all month long! These librarians have partnered with us for years, yet they read different stories and offer unique crafts each time. Our Books in the Barn Storytime on Saturdays has become something kids look forward to attending.
- Church groups. Some local church groups have made hosting a Wednesday evening family fun night, complete with a potluck, an annual tradition. We always look forward to their return. We also enjoy hosting Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, as well as 4-H Clubs. (Message me if you’d like to arrange a special event after hours.)
- Franklin County 4-H Fun Day. Special thanks to Jackie Dohlman of Franklin County Extension for coordinating this event once again. Our guests absolutely love taking part in Make & Takes so much that many return year after year on this day. A big shoutout to county 4-Hers and their parents for doing such a great job of offering how-to presentations related to fall and Halloween.
- YOU, all of farm visitors. It has been SO MUCH FUN watching your families grow from year to year. Thank you for making Enchanted Acres an annual tradition!