Sunday, October 19, 2008


Thank you to everyone who made our first season open to the public a huge success! We love what we do and we love sharing it with you!

Grandma & Great Grandma, Doris Greuel, was here from Macomb, IL, once again! This time, to hang the closed sign on the very last day of our very first season!

If you visited us this season (once, twice, or even more!), we want to hear from you! Tell us your stories of your visit to our ourchard! Share your experiences with us! We may even publish your story on our website! Email us at

Check back here often as we will share with you the changes we are making, big & small, and all of the things we will do over the next 8 months to care for the trees that will bring you the fruit you love next season! HAPPY TRAILS!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Prairie Fire BBQ Pulled Pork Premier on Saturday 10/18!

Prairie Fire BBQ will be premiering it's famous PULLED PORK for our season finale party on Saturday, October 18 from 2:00pm-6:00pm! Come for the pork, stay for the pumpkins! To help Prairie Fire BBQ plan it's pork properly, let us know if you are planning on partaking in a pulled pork sandwich by sending an email to!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A good problem to have!

Some of you may have seen our news story on KCWE! If not, you can check it out online or on the news this weekend! We thought you might be interested in the reason for the story! So here goes...

QUESTION: Why are you picked out so early in the season?
ANSWER: 3 reasons - Demand, Supply, Location!

Demand: We believe the overwhelming demand for pick-your-own produce is being driven by 3 factors:
1 - There is a huge push to buy local. This is exacerbated by the Grocers' Buy Local marketing campaigns. Grocers will buy local produce at a premium. For example, we have opened our property to U-Pick visitors and sell our apples for approximately $1 per pound. However, we could sell that same fruit to a grocer for $2 per pound.
2 - So many people are looking for the experience of picking fresh produce. There is a nostalgic component that accompanies that too. Traditions, old and new, are being relived and created here at Wagon Wheel Orchard.
3 - The Easter Freeze of 2007 makes the first 2 components stand out even more. Since no one could get local produce or continue their family tradition of picking apples in the fall of 2007, everyone wants to do it more than ever in 2008!

Supply: We are a relatively young orchard. Our trees have not yet reached their peak production. We are also different than other orchards. Not all of our fruit matures and is ready for picking at the same time. To make it easy for our guests to know what to pick, we flag those trees that are ready for picking at any given opening! It is our hope that our guests honor our picking guidelines and leave the fruit on the trees that will mature for their visit and others later in the season. Year after year, we will continue to see an increase in the volume of fruit on our trees...Mother Nature cooperating, of course!

Location: We are the only U-Pick orchard in Johnson County to our knowledge. There are others in the region but they are quite a bit of a drive for Johnson Countians! It may seem like we are out in the middle of nowhere but in reality, we are only 15 minutes from Olathe Medical Center, 10 minutes from the I-35 Edgerton or Gardner exits, and 10 minutes from the K-10 Eudora Church Street exit!

The Demand, Supply and Location factors have created excitement at having a new orchard in the area which resulted in us being picked out before the season is over! Though the season isn't quite over...we still have one more day of picking apples and pumpkins on October 18 from 2:00-6:00!

QUESTION: How are you going to prevent being out of fruit this time next season?
ANSWER: We are going to continue to educate our guests about our picking guidelines so they are only picking the highest quality of fruit available at that time. This will allow the fruit that should be picked later in the picking season to mature as it should and to be enjoyed by visitors later in the season! Remember, Here at Wagon Wheel Orchard, the rule is simple! NO FLAG, NO PICK.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Check out this Granny Smith!

Wow! We have seen big apples before...but never THIS BIG! This is a Granny Smith apple off of one of our trees in the front orchard. We were curious as to just how much it out came our postal scale! 14.2 ounces! Just 1.8 ounces shy of a whole pound! There is probably an apple on that tree that weighs a pound but we will save it for one of our valued customers to pick!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

We have Pawpaws!

When I think of pawpaws, I start singing, "Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch!" And now I think of pawpaw as another fruit we can offer you - fresh and local! We were surprised to discover that our pawpaws have yielded a nice quantity of fruit that should be ready for harvest mid month!

What is a pawpaw? It is a genus of eight or nine species of small trees with large leaves and large fruit - a large edible berry with a flavor somewhat similar to both banana and mango and with more protein than most other fruit. It is native to eastern North America and includes the largest edible fruit indigenous to the continent! They are typically understory trees found in deep fertile bottomland and hilly upland habitat. And did you know that the Common Pawpaw is the only larval host of the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly!

Pawpaw pulp is used primarily in baked dessert recipes - pies, cheesecakes & breads, as well as for brewing pawpaw beer. Pawpaw can be used in place of bananas in many recipes! Check out these sites for some fantastic recipes:

We will be harvesting the pawpaws soon and will sell them out of our Trading Post shop during our open hours. Because the fresh fruit is so rare and very difficult to get, we will be taking pawpaw "reservations"! Simply email with your name, phone number and quantity of pawpaws desired. They are $3 per pound (approximately 3 fruit per pound). We will fill the reservations in the order in which they are received. If your reservation is unable to be filled, we will call you to let you know!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

We will be CLOSED Sunday 08/30 & Monday 09/01!

Thank you so much to everyone who came out today and picked our Liberty apples! They are one of our favorites! So many of you enjoyed your Saturday afternoon with us and picked our Liberty apples clean! Therefore, we will not be open on Sunday or Monday as there are no other varieties ready for harvesting this weekend.

We have so many apples and peaches that are getting ready and you all will be able to enjoy a bountiful harvest in the coming weeks! Thank you so much for your understanding and support! Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


After evaluating our crop tonight, only Liberty apples are ready for harvesting this weekend. As a result, we have had to make changes to our hours for the holiday weekend. Thank you for understanding and for your patience as Mother Nature continues to prepare the rest of our crop.

Our late fall varieties including Fuji, Granny Smith, Stayman Winesap, Golden Delicious, Arkansas Black & more all look fantastic and bountiful and should be at their peak for picking from late September through October (depending on the variety).

Remember to check our picking report to the right for an up-to-the-minute status of our availability!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

In case of rain...

Happy weekend to you all! We were blessed with some good rain this morning and there is more forecast for this weekend! So here is the case of rain...

*We will be open - rain or shine!

*We will still have our famous peach slushies and cherry cider slushies and Prairie Fire BBQ!

*If it is actively raining, the hay-rack will not be running for safety reasons! Wet wood is very slippery. The hay-rack ride will resume when the rain has stopped and the wood has dried out.

*It is only a 7-10 minute walk to the back orchard. If you have children, you may want to bring an all-terrain wagon!

*Bring your umbrella or rain gear!

*Be prepared to get muddy! It is not that wet this morning but the potential is there for it to get muddy in the low spots! We are not envisioning walking through mud up to your knees, just getting your shoes and the hem of your jeans muddy a bit! So dress accordingly!

*Have some fun with singing in the rain!

We have discovered that fruit picks the same in the sunshine and in the rain. You still twist & lift and the fruit still tastes yummy! We have also discovered that with an umbrella, you don't really get wet while picking your fruit! And we know that if you are coming for the experience of having some good old-fashioned fun with your family and enjoy some fresh, home-grown fruit, you will find it here at Wagon Wheel Orchard, rain or shine!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Half-Price Peach Seconds on Sunday!

WOW! We just got back from vacation to find the peaches in overdrive! Last week was good for the peaches with the hot hot hot humid weather and the 3 inches of rain! We have SO many huge peaches that our limbs are going to break if they aren't picked soon!

We will be open as scheduled from 1:00pm-6:00pm on Saturday, August 9! So brave the heat, pick your peaches, and let the warm juices run down your chin as you chow down on your pickings all the way home!

And we have decided to go ahead and extend our hours this weekend and open from 4:00pm-6:00pm on Sunday, August 10 (we were originally scheduled to be closed that day). If you are a peach-canner or baker and would like to pick up pre-picked seconds for half price, Sunday is your day! First come, first served! When they are gone, well...they are gone! You can still come out and pick your own, too, but we will not be running the slushie machine or heating up the grill! Sunday is for the folks who just want the fruit! See you this weekend! Till then, it is fair week! Watch the posts for information on our entries!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Our first visitors!

We were so thrilled to welcome the Dwyer family of Gardner, KS as our very first visitors on opening day! They were here a few minutes early and got to watch our grand opening "ceremony"! They also got to pick the very first peaches! Thank you for sharing our special day with us! We know how long you have been waiting for that fresh fruit!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thank you to everyone who visited on opening day!

We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day to open Wagon Wheel Orchard to the public!

It brought tears to our eyes to have Rick's grandma hang that open sign. She was so proud!

We had great weather and great customers! It was so nice to greet everyone who came to visit. We love getting to know the people who are enjoying the fruit from our trees. The peach and cherry cider slushies were a hit as were the honey straws and the Prairie Fire BBQ!

We are working hard now to irrigate the rest of the peach trees so they will be ready to pick in a couple of weeks! Keep checking back for highlights from our opening day as we prepare to open for the rest of the peach harvest! Happy trails!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Whacha need to know before you come out!

If you are coming out tomorrow to help us celebrate our GRAND OPENING, here are a few things you should know!
  • We only have a very limited quantity of peaches available for picking on Sunday, 07/13.
  • Picking 101 - the proper way to pick tree fruit is to twist gently and lift up - do not pull down on the fruit or you will damage the fruit and the tree.
  • We take cash and checks payable to Wagon Wheel Orchard.
  • Parking is limited so please park to allow as many vehicles in as possible.
  • The Trading-Post shop will be open whether there is fruit for picking or not.
  • We'll have hay rack rides to tour the orchard.
  • Prairie Fire BBQ will have combo meals and a la carte items available from 10am-1pm.
  • We do have a porta-potty with hand sanitizer.
  • You may wish to bring bug spray and sun screen.
  • If you have little ones, you may want to bring a wagon.
  • We are a "working" farm. Equipment, implements and supplies may be laying about. Please do not disturb.
  • We do have neighbors and ask that you respect their privacy and property.
  • Enjoy watching the horses on the neighboring property. Please do not feed them. They do not belong to us and are not ours to feed.
  • We will identify trees with fruit ready for picking by tying a ribbon to the end of a branch. Please do not pick fruit from any other trees even if it might look ripe.
  • Many of our trees and plants are very young. To keep them safe and healthy so you can enjoy picking from them in the future, please do not touch them unless you have been taken there to pick.
  • Enjoy the gourd maze during your tour of the back orchard but please do not touch any plant growing at the base of the maze walls - these are the gourd plants that give the gourd maze its name.
  • Our chickens are for laying eggs. We are supporting the older ones in their quest to become ugliest chicken at the JoCo Fair. There is nothing wrong with them, they are just molting and are supposed to look that way.

We appreciate all of your continued support as we work to create a fun, family-friendly orchard!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Prairie Fire BBQ will be cookin' up some grub on Sunday!

We are excited to announce that the award-winning Prairie Fire BBQ will be cookin' up some grub for our opening day! Jim Savage will be grillin' up some hot dogs with chips and pickles wagon train style! Choose a combo meal or get your favorites a la carte! Come and get your grub from 10:00am to 1:00pm while the fire's hot!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

We hang the OPEN sign on Sunday, July 13th at 10:00am!

We built the frame for our rather large sign and installed it today! There is still a little tweaking to do but it is in the ground! Rick's grandma, Mrs. Charles Greuel, from Macomb, IL is in town and will hang the OPEN sign for the very first time on Sunday, July 13th at 10:00am!

We are still hoping that the peaches will be ready to pick! If they aren't quite ready, we are still going to celebrate opening our orchard to the public! We'll have hay rack rides touring the orchard every 30 minutes, slushies, eggs, herbs, our own From the Farm dip, cobbler & crisp mixes & several other goodies in the Trading Post shop. You'll be able to wind your way through the newly planted apple-shaped gourd maze and feed the goats, chickens, ducks, and catfish!

This all started many years ago when Rick’s Great Uncle William Essex developed the famed Fulton County (Illinois) apple in 1847. Rick’s grandparents, Charles & Doris Greuel, established an Illinois farmstead and apple orchard in the 1940s. Charles built and operated The Wagon Wheel Trading Post just outside of Macomb, IL, which Doris still runs today. So it just makes sense that she hang the OPEN sign on this Wagon Wheel!

We've had another busy week getting ready! We'll post more about all of the activity in the coming week and of course, we'll keep our eye on the peaches! We've added a picking report to the top right of this page so you'll know how things are lookin'!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Oh my gourd!

The kids & I have been working on cleaning all of last years dried gourds - snake, goose neck, bottle, birdhouse, kettle, dipper, turtle & many other varieties! If you think this looks like a lot of gourds, you should see the enormous pile around the kiddie pool! Yep, we're givin' 'em a dip in the kiddie pool, a good scrub with a steel scrubbie plus a little elbow grease to make them ready for crafting or decorating! We've got a few designs of our own to paint up for the shop in our spare time!

We have had a busy weekend! We cleared some parking space for a few more cars, worked on removing more of those old tree stumps, assembled some display racks for the Trading Post on the porch of the barn, bought all of the wood to rebuild the deck of the hay rack we recently purchased at auction, moved & cleaned the refrigerator & turned it on for ice cold refreshments, oh yeah - we took care of the trees too - some thinning, pruning, mowing, staking, labeling & more!

We're getting excited! It's been a great week! We look forward to what this coming week will bring! Happy trails!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Artifacts on the Farm by Ricky

When we go planting, I like to take my metal detector and search for artifacts on the farm. Some of the things I found were: an old horseshoe, an old spoon head, some teeth from animals, some peices of crocks and some of the things I found I don't know what they are! Some of my favorite things to find are things from long ago, when our house burned down and things from ancient times. Some day I want to look for artifacts from ancient Egypt and ancient Greece and all sorts of ancient places! In the meantime I am going to keep searching for artifacts on the farm.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pumpkins, Zucchini & Watermelons (oh my!)

We planted and planted and planted all weekend long! We planted many varieties of pumpkins (big ones, small ones, blue ones, white ones, Jack-O-Lanterns, Bitty Boos, Small Sugar, & more), zucchini, watermelons (Small Sugar). You can see those rows in this picture! The girls look like they are helping but really, they are looking for frogs!

We also planted the gourds around the gourd maze which is in the background of this picture! From the air, this maze looks like a great big apple with a stem & leaf at the top!

We gave the golf cart a good washing (still trying to come up with a good name for the golf cart) so when our visitors hitch a ride back to their car from their tree with a full bag of fruit, they have a clean ride.

I spent most of the day Sunday scrubbing & cleaning a whole bunch of dried gourds from last year. Just as I felt I had really made some progress, Rick pointed out another huge stash of them in the barn! There are still 4 more boxes of them in the garage too! They will all get their dip in the kiddie pool when this first batch is done! Then they will be all ready to turn into bird houses or to craft to your heart's content. I "plan" on painting a bunch of them this fall to sell out of the Trading Post or at our booth at Old Settler's Day in Olathe!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rain, rain go away!

And give us a few dry days in a row! This is a look at some stormy clouds above our barn! We have seen this view many times this season! But we look forward to the sunshine forecast in the coming weeks! We are making plans for our opening weekend! We have ordered our sign (the one to go by the road so you know you made it here!). We've scheduled delivery of the portapotty. We decided on the bags for picking & have finalized some of the items for our Trading post - delicious From the Farm dip, cobbler & crisp mixes, peach & cherry cider slushies, handmade hardwood cutting boards, and more! I am sure we will come up with a few more things before that opening day rolls around! It'll be here before we all know it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's cherry-picking time!

Mid-June is cherry-picking time and the kiddos had a blast picking the tart pie cherries! Unfortunately, we lost all of our sweet cherries to splitting as a result of too much rain near harvest. This is a major source of crop loss in the cherry industry and we experienced it first hand. We were able to pick enough pie cheries for a few pies. But by the time the kids were done eating more cherries than they put into the bucket, we'll be lucky to have enough to make one small pie!

Monday, June 16, 2008

This weekend was buzzin'!

That's right! This weekend was buzzin' with the sound of a chainsaw cutting down dead trees and branches. We are making room for parking and making sure that branches snapped by the recent high winds don't land where they aren't wanted! There are several trees that were here when we bought the property that might seem "in the way" of things but they are a part of history and as long as they are safe and healthy, we'll just work around them! Those dead ones, though...they went up in smoke! And we were covered in sawdust!

We also started to clear off the porch of our barn, the future home of the Trading Post. We will set up shop on the porch for the first year or two! We'll see how things go and as we grow, we might just move things inside the barn!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The last couple of days...

Rick has spent several evenings after work staking up trees to combat wind damage from these crazy storms over the last few weeks. It's a good thing because we are currently under a tornado watch (again) with tornado warnings just a few counties to our West! The Dutch Clover is starting to come up! We planted it around the root zone of our trees to naturally supply them with nitrogen instead of using artificial fertilizers. The bees will be very happy to see all those blossoms! And just think of all the luck we'll have with the 4-leaf clovers!

We did it!

What did we do, you may ask? We picked a GRAND OPENING date! Now, we just have to hope that Mother Nature cooperates so we can pick our peaches! Sunday, July 13th is the big day! 10:00am-6:00pm. We plan on having some Cherry and Peach flavored cider slushes! Yum! We hope you all come out and visit!

We also decided to have some regular hours for picking throughout the season, too. We've posted those to the right! Of course, you should call to check on availability first! Wow! It seems so official now!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

It's been a wet & windy spring!

We have been combatting the effects of hurricane force winds & inches of rain day after day after day! We really weren't expecting this kind of a spring. But severe storms continue to be forecast for our area. We are working hard to protect our 1,000 trees so you will have a bountiful harvest from which to pick this summer and fall! We've been adjusting the support for the younger trees that have not yet established a solid root system. With the hard freeze last year that killed off all the blossoms, the trees went into overdrive with limb production. We have been thinning the fruit on those young spindly branches to keep them from breaking!

We just finished planting the pumpkins and gourds in our big pumpkin patch and gourd maze right before tonight's storm. We are excited to grow more award-winning entries for this year's Johnson County Fair!

Well, that's the spring-to-date in a nutshell! Stay dry!

Welcome to Wagon Wheel Orchard!

Thanks for stopping by! We hope you enjoy our tales of planting, pruning, watering, staking, & picking! This blog has been created to let you know what is happening here at Wagon Wheel Orchard! We have never blogged before so we will be learning as we go!
Here's to a great season!
Rick & Suzie Godsil