Glacier Rock Farms: A History
GRF is a family owned and operated farm and always has been. Bob and Lori Schilling along with their four children started working on the farm in the summer of 2000. The reason for starting the farm was two-fold. First, Bob and Lori’s two sons are developmentally disabled; hence they would probably never hold a typical job. Bob and Lori wanted to do something with their land and farm that would allow their sons to always have a place to work and live. The other reason for starting the farm was a love for animals and the want to share that with others. Bob and Lori’s two girls had been in the local 4-H club for years and the Schilling family had many animals on their “hobby farm” already. So the jump to a full petting farm seemed a natural next step.
In the fall of 2000 the family opened the farm and gave their first classroom tours, hayrides and pony rides, with thousands more to come. At first GRF only operated in the fall as a petting farm and pumpkin farm for school fieldtrips, however, in the spring of 2002 Glacier Rock Farms expanded their season to include school tours in the spring. This allowed the children to experience all the baby animals typically born in the spring.
In the fall of 2002 GRF expanded again. For the first time they opened their barn doors to the public. Open weekends in the fall for families to come experience the fun too. Also in 2002 the trail for the 15 minute hay ride was changed to pass by kettle ponds; the home of muskrats, sand hill cranes, Canadian geese and wood ducks. It would now go around and through a pine forest that many deer call home; along corn fields and pumpkin patches and across the top of a glacial drumlin from which you can see for miles across the Rock River Valley. In the spring and summer you can see many farms perched on the hill sides and in the fall the view is spectacular as the entire valley explodes in color.
Bob and Lori continued to make improvements to the farm. The pony building and ring was built and the little critter canopy became permanent fixtures on the farm. In 2006 the dairy barn was finished and Dottie the milking cow now had a permanent home on the farm instead of being transported everyday from a neighboring dairy farm.
The fall of 2004 was the next big expansion…The Haunted Hayride. Offered on Friday and Saturday nights during the month of October, patrons could come to the farm and ride the haunted wagon through the back side of the farm for spooks and thrills. Every year the Haunted Hayride grew a little bit and transformed from the original hayride to the hour long haunted house, hayride, woods walk and corn maze that it is today, The Dark Side Haunt.
The next addition to the farm was the Corn Maze in the fall of 2005. Bob and Lori wanted to offer more things to do on the farm for the slightly older children. Every maze is uniquely designed each year and is still cut into the corn by hand today. The corn maze is a lot of work but a great addition to the farm.
In 2007, the store was built giving the farm a public entrance. The most recent addition is the big barn, started in 2008 and completed in 2009; it is a 10,000 square foot building that can house all the animals during those cold winter months. It also serves as a tour group site for rainy weather days and a warm, dry waiting area for The Dark Side Haunt during the month of October.
Bob and Lori’s daughter, Ann, and her husband, Ryan and their children, joined Bob and Lori full time in the spring of 2011 to run and operate the petting farm, the haunt and the farming activities that are all a part of Glacier Rock Farms. There are many employees that have also been with Glacier Rock Farms from the start and are like family. The Schilling Family also employs a number of developmentally disabled individuals year round to help foster a learning environment along with an enjoyable place to work.
GRF looks forward to continued growth in the future. Our love of animals and of maintaining a nurturing, learning environment will always remain cornerstones of our farm. We look forward to your visit!