Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkins!

Let me start out by saying that I find it terribly ironic that I consider the annual visit to the pumpkin patch to be an important activity even though I don't really remember pumpkin patch visits as a kid. I come from an upbringing full of holiday traditions--pumpkin carving, Easter egg dyeing, advent calendars, Christmas morning picture at the top of the stairs, certain foods for certain holidays, etc. Some were obviously more intentional/forced than others, but all of those seemingly small, insignificant activities all add up into the holiday memories we keep with us forever. And even though we carved a pumpkin every single year, I don't really recall going to a pumpkin farm each year. I think I remember going to one with my Brownie troop during my very short-lived Brownie experience, but beyond that I'm wondering if all of our pumpkins came from the N.T. Farmers' Market. We did take a field trip there every year, but I don't recall bringing home a significant pumpkin (at least nothing more than a gourd or a really small pumpkin), so we either went to the market on a weekend or it just appeared out of nowhere one day and I was just excited to carve it. It's odd, and maybe my mom will have more insight into this one, but regardless, the annual trip to the pumpkin farm is a must for our little family.

To be fair, the whole agricultural entertainment thing has really exploded in recent years, and I don't think there was anything even nearly that exciting at any pumpkin farms I may have experienced as a kid. And really, this insistence on doing the pumpkin thing was a bit accidental. Let's rewind back five years ago, to the first year that Craig and I lived in our house. I was determined to get a pumpkin (from a farm stand) to carve and put out for trick or treating that year. But then life intervened. The weather stunk whenever I had time to go pick one, and then my grandma died a few days before Halloween so I ended up being in Buffalo on Halloween night. Craig worked that day and gave candy out for a bit, then arrived in N.T. that night for the funeral stuff the next day. I do fondly recall that evening, as my mom, brother and I sat out on the porch for trick or treating and laughed at the people scared by our neighbor's crazy decorations. I can't remember how the next year went. But in 2007, we ended up going to Stokoe Farms. Thanks to a summer promotion Craig had done with them at a lacrosse game, we ended up with free tickets to go in the fall. Little did I know at the time, but I was probably about a week pregnant when we went. And the whole time we kept thinking about how fun it would be to bring a kid there someday.

The year Jacob was born, we never did make it to a pumpkin patch, but I did enjoy going to the N.T. Farmers' Market and finding the perfect little pumpkin for Jacob to hold for pictures. Last year I was determined to get to a pumpkin farm, and we actually did. In the end we probably just could have gone back to Stokoe since that was our picture of a perfect one, but we chose a different one. And while we had a great time, I couldn't help but look forward to this year when we could do it "right". Fortunately, a Groupon deal came up a month or so ago offering two-for-one tickets at Stokoe, so everything fell into place. Lori had mentioned she wanted to take Jacob to some sort of fall-themed activity, so I invited her to come along with us. I spent most of the week praying that the rainy weather would subside in time to prevent the farm from being a giant mudpit, and thankfully the rain stopped Friday night and the wind seemed to take over enough that things were mostly dry. Thank goodness.

As soon as we got there, we checked out the alpacas and tried to encourage Jacob to climb the haybale mountain or go down the big slide nearby. No dice, so we opted to hop on the hayride out to some of the activities. Here's a happy face from that ride...and yes, the hockey stick came along.
We skipped the pedal go-karts and the corn maze (I didn't even want to think about Jacob in one of those), wandered past the pumpkin patches (most of those pumpkins were in bad shape), and up to a playground area. Jacob climbed up a big ladder all by himself (with me spotting him) and the proceeded to stay up there despite our pleas to come down. Here he is, thinking he's funny.... (grrrrr...)
Once he was bribed down, the grownups did a zip line (so fun!) and then we headed to the goats. Here's Jacob looking cool while waiting for Lori to come back with a handful of goat feed...
Jacob really liked feeding the goats. He had a hard time grasping the concept of how to hold the feed, though. We tried to show him how to hold his hand out flat, but every time we gave him more pellets, he'd close his fist. The poor goats probably thought he was taunting them. Here's a pic that I like--it not only shows Jacob's poor technique, but also has this cute big hand-little hand, father-son thing going on...
After checking out the goats and large birds (peacocks, guinea fowl, turkeys, etc.), we wandered back closer to the front of the farm and rode a little train. Jacob seemed to like that, too, based on the smile on his face...
We checked out bunnies and a cow before heading over a footbridge into a kid area with a tricycle track (Jacob perferred the Little Tikes car), a duck race (three water pumps set up to send rubber duckies down waterslides into a trough), a gravel pit equipped with toy trucks, and a big tractor set up for a photo op (Jacob wasn't into it). By this point we were getting hungry, so we practically had to drag Jacob out of the car to finish up in this area before heading off to stuff our faces. Along the way we saw a bunch of piglets (complete with the poor nursing mama) and the some chicks. Incidentally, the chicks were the thing that really made me look forward to someday bringing Jacob here. Of course, this year they weren't letting the kids hold the chicks (apparently one got sick and died), so that was a bummer. We also looked briefly at pumpkins on our way to get food, and Jacob picked out this one, which he was trying to lift. He did manage to nearly knock it over...
After lunch, we headed back out to one more spot with more kid-friendly activities, including a straw crawl, a corn box, and "cow milking". Jacob liked throwing the corn in the corn box, so we didn't stick around there for too long. Here he is in joyful mid-throw...
We finally finished up by picking some pumpkins out of the many they had on display...
We took home three (plus a couple treats and the object of desire from the aforementioned bribery), and I'll have a picture of the pumpkins tomorrow. I think this is enough for one day!

No comments: