Posts Tagged ‘Family Time’

Takin’ what life throws at me part 3, Let’s get this party started

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Pre-opening ceremonies

Pre-opening ceremonies

Maize Valley Farm Market and Winery will be sending a team to the Susan G. Komen 3 Day walk for the cure in Cleveland Ohio in 2011. This is part 3 of the story of how this family farm business came to “adopt” this as “official cause”. Both from a personal standpoint but also from an event and business perspetive how we try and raise awereness and funds. That’s why it is part of the Ohio wine and more blog, this part of the “more”.

Now that is a real bad cliche’! We often say when we lose someone to breast cancer something like, she “lost her battle” with breast cancer. What the f**k does that mean? A battle is a subset of a war are those men and women who get breast cancer warriors? Well you’re not till it punches you in the gut as it did us.

At least for us, even when it came very close to us we had sympathy for those affected but sort of covered our ears and went “Laaa, Laaa, Laaa, Laaa” when the discussion really tried to get “focused”. You don’t really take up arms and Lock n Load till it takes a shot at you, then baby, “it’s on”.

Who's da bad ass?

Who's da bad ass?

Gonna “Rewind” now a bit from dropping Chelle off day of the walk to one of “My Darkest Days”, and I ain’t talkin’ about the band from Canada either! You see in order for you to understand why I began to understand why the SGK walk was important enough to tell others, I need to tell you how breast cancer has reached into our lives beyond my wife Chelle.

When I heard “those words” on the dock I was dropped to my knees, a blackness shadowed over me, I felt powerless to help “my girl”. Maybe I overreacted? I am a data guy I needed data what did this mean? All of a sudden I was in a fog, my reference points unknowable, my objectives and options unclear.

Tim Mary Ellen and Anne

Mary Ellen Cole Bakan

Overreacted? I did not know, THAT was the problem! The fog, the blackness of my heart and soul was maybe a result of the “war” I was sucked into. My sight was obstructed. I feared this battle, you see this was not the first time I saw a one. Pictured above is not just a tractor and a wagon but my Brother Tim returning from the pumpkin patch with a load of guests, pumpkins and memories.

Sitting on the wagon was his wife Mary Ellen Cole Bakan with their daughter Anne. A daughter they were not even supposed to even be able to have, today the biggest living memory we have of Mary Ellen.

Orange, my favorite color!

Orange, my favorite color!

Mary Ellen was our un-official “pumpkin lady”, nobody out of ignorance nor mallace ever left our pumpkin patch without paying for the time, labor and toil it took to raise the crop. With a smile and comforting tone as big and beautiful as the blazing color of the fall folliage around you, that only a 4th grade teacher could deliver, she could walk up to anybody and be sure she did her part to help keep this farm “sustainable”.

The change of season brings certain well “certainties” if you will. Just as those colorful fall leaves decay to give us aromas we only ascribe to fall, or that the models on the L.L. Bean cataloge are having a great time! I was certain EVERYONE leaving the pumpkin patch had PAID for their pumpkin!

Tim and Mary Ellen “worked” for FREE for us on the weekends, I’d pay a King’s ransom if I could to bring her back for my brother. They had our back, I’ve done the best I could the almost past three years to have Tim’s. I feared that someone would have to have mine. That’s how this party got started for us. More to come.

Maize Valley Farm Market and Winery will be fielding a team for the 2011 Susan G. Komen 3 Day walk. If you would like to join us please get in touch. Because everyone deserves a lifetime!

What a wonderful fall! Thank you!!

Monday, November 8th, 2010
My wife is a "Survivor" more than I can say 4 this van!

My wife is a "Survivor" more than I can say 4 this van!

Pink Van 4 Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the cure

Pink Van 4 Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the cure

Marlboro Madness getting ready 4 work

Marlboro Madness getting ready 4 work

Straw Crawl "Pre-Season"!

Straw Crawl "Pre-Season"!

Straw crawl "Post Season"!

Straw crawl "Post Season"!

It was a long and wonderful fall harvest season here at Maize Valley! BEST one EVER! Thank you to all of those of you who came out and enjoyed one of the best weather fall periods we have ever experienced. It all started on Sept. 18th with the balloon lift off and wrapped up with Oct. 31st finding our crew still hard at work in the Carnage in the Corn Haunted Corn maze which was way too much fun!

Great weather came together with great effort to make this season a rewarding time for all of us. The grapes had their best harvest ever with all the heat from the summer and a late frost letting them store up extra energy for the coming winter after we were finished picking.

The half marathon was a huge success, a new greenhouse is going up at the main farm and the vintner dinners keep selling out. We are looking forward to a great Thanksgiving and Christmas season and then we will start pouring the coal to next year’s slate of special events.

All this is only possible with great staff, great neighbors and wonderful guests each and every day. Thank you all and look for Maize Valley to “Bring it” even harder in 2011. At Maize Valley We Make Great Wine…FUN! 🙂

Maize Valley Corn Maze opens Sept. 18th 2010

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
NASHOG Pig races

NASHOG Pig races

Megasaurus Corn Maze Adventure

Megasaurus Corn Maze Adventure

Red lens decoder station helps you navigate

Red lens decoder station helps you navigate

More than just a walk in a corn field

We think Maize Valley farm market and winery is Northeast Ohio’s most complete fall harvest destination. From Cabernet to Corn Mazes, from Haunted Scares to Syrah we have you covered. Years ago when we started corn mazes and pumpkin picking were about it. Now while they are still what you might call the “fulcrum” to our fall “lever” they are just one part of the Maize Valley experience. We have added NASHOG Pig Races, Duck races, an expanded play area, a haunted corn maze and woods walk, plus our awesome pumpkin cannon and more.

Factor in all the great food we produce on site, and even award winning wines if you so choose to enjoy with the rest of the experience while at Maize Valley, you can easily spend four to six hours with us on a sun drenched autumn afternoon. I guess we are a winery with ADHD and maybe more!

At Maize Valley we strive to deliver and experience packed full of value for the individual, family or group. Coming this fall for 2010, on September 18th the corn maze opens with a great big ole’ faarrrrr (fire), followed on the 25th by a balloon lift off. On October 1st our way fun haunted Carnage in the corn opens then on October 9th Megasaurus the fire breathing car crushing metal monster comes to Maize Valley to make it’s version of pumpkin pie! Add in campfires, and all the fall fun that build memories that last a lifetime.

Maize Valley’s Breakfast with Santa

Saturday, December 19th, 2009
Santa getting warmed up!

Santa getting warmed up!

We like we say “There is Always Something Happening at Maize Valley”! And this year the big guy was back again! He parked the reindeer on the barn roof and spent the morning with us. We ended up having TWO seatings with Santa this year due to poplular demand. It looks like we will have to see if he can stop by more than one weekend next year.

Everybody had a great time. Mary, Todd and crew kept the food coming out hot and plentiful from our kitchen and our elves kept everybody moving so that the lines were short and the fun was long. Thanks to all the great folks who picked us as their families “meet and greet” location with Santa.

And one of the really cool things is we do sell a whole lot of great holiday gifts during events like these, that is one of the reasons we do them. Yes we do sell a lot of wine too, after all how do you think all those little ones get here?

Samuel Barber: Agnus Dei (Adagio for strings) #breast cancer, #farm

Friday, October 23rd, 2009
New Year's Eve 2009 at Troutman's, boy I hope 2010 is better!

New Year's Eve 2009 at Troutman's, boy I hope 2010 is better!

It’s been such a long time I think should be blogging, but time just slips away and keeps on going…..

Tons has happened here at Maize Valley since August, I am sorry to say I have lost track of time and fell down on the posts. As of late we are dealing with our sixth straight weekend of rain. Pretty much since the start of our fall harvest season and corn maze opening. Per the haunted maze we have had it open only one night out of a possible seven to date. Hopefully tomorrow night will be the second night, rain forcast for next weekend?

Most of all what rocked my world and has divided my attention was the news that my wife Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer on August 31st. Wow what a deal, dropped me to my knees. We had surgery last Monday, things went as well as could be expected, now we wait on final test results and plan future treatments. I guess it was good we were busy this fall, it helped to occupy our minds.

But we didn’t back down anywhere here on the farm. We just kept pushing like we have all our lives. Just one more challenge, with this time family first. I have learned a great deal about myself, I have learned a great deal about breast cancer and all the success stories as well. But you see a two years ago we lost my sister-in-law Mary Ellen Cole-Bakan, just over a year ago Michelle’s Mom survived. A roller coaster nobody should have to ride.

Mary Ellen helped us in the pumpkin patch from day one. She was great, anybody who would “forget” to pay as they got back on the wagon she would gracefully approach with a smile and be sure we got our money for the pumpkin. She was just a soft and bright soul and I often think of her as I see families in our pumpkin patch building their memories, as she is part of mine.

Cancer scared the hell out of me, I did not want to have memories I wanted to have my wife and business partner of almost 24 years now. You see this business with the help of her family, (mostly Chelle’s Mom and Dad) we have built together from the start at our first farm market conference back in Dayton over 15 years ago. That is where we got our first glimps of direct marketing, corn mazes, pumpkin picking and more. From there we began building a place that in turn helps build memories to last a lifetime for others. She and I are not “in love”, it is something that we do… Thanks Clint Black. Without her this place is just a body of work, hollow without her.

The surgery went well, we think and hope for now she is going to be in that close to 75% that survive today due to our early detection. Time will tell but more than time we are on this one with both feet. And the marketer in me looks to 2010 with breast cancer awarness month in October maybe we can help others by dovetailing our personal journey and our business into their lives as well.

Stay tuned, as maybe that is my purpose behind this new journey my wife, lover and best friend have embarked upon. Thanks to all the family and friends that have helped to lessen the sting with their actual help here on the farm, in the store and in the winery. Thanks to all the stories of realatives and friends that are still here today and words of encouragement of their success stories. That is what we plan of doing for others at the very least!

Corn Maze Update, “It’s in the Field”!

Thursday, July 16th, 2009
Carving the "Circle MV"
Fresh Cut Pathway

Fresh Cut Pathway

Corn Maze Paths just after cutting

Corn Maze Paths just after cutting

Getting started cutting the corn maze

Getting started cutting the corn maze

This is our Tenth Anniversary Corn Maze, wow has it been that long??!! Well we are getting started and combining the maze with our new Civil War Re-enactment set to go on August 15th and 16th. Corn looks kinda short we will see, just not enough sun and heat so far. If we don’t make Aug. it will be Labor Day Weekend.

I have been getting several inquiries as to how we do our mazes and why we do things certain ways. Keep in mind this agritourism thing is a process of evolution. Not all things work at all locations. You can learn by seeing what others do and then trying certain aspects on your own place. But most of all keep asking questions. I don’t think “outside the box”, I crawl up on top of it, pick it up, & turn it over. I look at agritourism from all sides now!

We hire Rob Stoffer with Precision Mazes to handle the cut and Hugh McPherson of Maize Quest for the design and activity content. We have done it all in-house over the years but we just have too much going on now and have created such an expectation of excellence with our guests that it is now time to rely on the professionals. My brain just ain’t big enough to get it all done anymore, I don’t know if it ever was, I think I was just lucky. We have done NASCAR/NAPA, Bridgestone/Bigfoot, Formula One Racing and more. It has been a fun ride and a great way to make money while bringing such fun to families!

Keep in touch as we install the games, trivia, and all the other stuff that makes a Maize Valley an Adventure, not just a walk in a corn field. Check out the links under “Agritourism” to learn more about the great partners we have!

A Farmer’s Family Work, and a ride in a 51′ Ford Truck.

Saturday, July 4th, 2009
My Daughter's first ride, a responsibility from Mom and Dad

My Daughter's first ride, a responsibility from Mom and Dad

Getting Ready to put the newly rebuilt Carburator on.

Getting Ready to put the newly rebuilt Carburator on.

I guess I intended to get out and take some crop progress, field and vineyard updates and all that fact type stuff to let everybody know who was interested about what was going on at this North East Ohio Family Farm how things were doing and what they looked like.

Well all week it has been cloudy and cool, especially for July. Today was no exception. So I was catching up on odd jobs yesterday and today because it just wasn’t too good to get out and take some video and pics.

All this Social Media stuff does not come easy to this purpose driven person. You see I seldom engage in an activity unless I can see the purpose of my actions, an outcome, progress. Yes it can be fun, but fun and productive is better. Fun, productive AND profitable BEST!! My Dad always said, “Take small steps and keep moving keep plugging away”, “Make every lick count”.

Here is some insight I guess to this purpose driven blogger, for my daughter and with my son. You can even take a ride with Brett and me! Yea, I was driving and holding the camera…You are right, it is sooooo much easier than when I am on my motorcycle!

Corn Maze/Agri-Tourism & Ohio Civil War History Come together @ Maize Valley

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
Kay making first grid pass for 2009 Corn Maze

Kay making first grid pass for 2009 Corn Maze

Our 2009 Corn Maze Adventure is off and running!! This year’s theme is the Civil War. We are hosting a re-enactment here at Maize Valley on August 15th and 16th. We are even bringing out a limited edition wine for that weekend with a special lable recognizing the two battles that were fought in Ohio and the respective commanders. We plan on having the maze open by that weekend providing the weather cooperates.

I have placed a few videos at the bottom of this post to quickly walk you through how we have gotten started to date. I hope to put together a more edited version for teachers if I can find the time. We get so many questions as to how do you create those corn mazes? I hope this helps answer a few questions our guests might have. We use a GPS guided cutting system as well, more on that later.

We have partnered with Maze Quest this year for a new interactive game inside the maze as well. More details will be coming soon keep an eye on the website or suscribe to our e-mail list for more info.

Wagon rides, pumpkins and so much more make Maize Valley THE Place to Be!! And just one more way we Make Great Wine…FUN!!