Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Adventures in the pumpkin patch

I love fall. Autumn is by far the best (and obviously my personal favorite) of all the seasons. To celebrate the change in seasons, on Saturday, October 13th, Steve, Caden and I went to the pumpkin patch! I knew we were going to have a great time but I never expected to have quite so much fun!

We went to a farm about 20 minutes west of town – there are two parts to the farm… an apple orchard and a pumpkin farm. They had already picked pumpkins available at the barn store but if you wanted to pick your own pumpkin from the patch you had to pay to get into “Scarecrow Acers”. We opted to pick our own pumpkins and we wanted to spend some time at the farm so we went into that section of the farm first.

They had so many activities! Caden isn’t quite old enough to enjoy most of them but he still had a great time… There were pony rides, hay bale mazes, peddle tractor derby, giant hay mountains to climb on, petting zoo, play grounds, giant sandboxes filled with corn kernels, rompin’ roundup where kids could practice with a lasso, hay wagon and tractor rides, Haunted forest, woodland walk, little corn mazes, and of course the pumpkin patch just to name a few.

First we took Caden to the playground where he got to play on a big wooden tractor. Next we took him to play in the giant corn filled sandbox – Caden loved it! Of course we had to cork him with his pacifier otherwise he would have had too much fun trying to eat the kernels, but he had a blast nonetheless. He loved digging his feet and hands into the kernels and was so fascinated by everything… we couldn’t even get him to look up for a photograph! Once Caden had had enough of the corn we headed over to the giant hay mountain… Caden loved playing in the hay even more than the corn! He laughed and giggled as he kicked around in the hay.

After all the hay kicking fun we decided to take Caden to the petting zoo and stopped at some of the many photo opportunities along the way. The petting zoo was really cute - They had little cows, goats, sheep, chickens, lambs, and even a fat pot belly pig. All of the animals were so friendly and the little goats were rather intrigued by the PookASaurus (aka Caden ;) ).
Once we had our fill of friendly little barnyard animals we washed up and headed into the Haunted woods – which were young child friendly of course! There were animated Halloween scenes set up and sounds so it was nothing too scary for Caden, though a cawing crow did startle me at one point. At the end of the haunted woods was the trail for the woodland walk that we would have gone on but there were steep inclines and strollers were not allowed. So, we had to pass that portion of the farm by.

After playing around the farm and getting a scare in the haunted forest we grabbed a little red wagon and finally made our way to the pumpkin patch. We wandered through the patch for quite some time trying to find just the right pumpkins. We selected two large pumpkins for our pillars out front and then a medium sized, perfect little pumpkin for Caden.

On our way back to pay for our pumpkins we stopped at the CornCrib CafĂ© for some hot apple cider while Caden snacked on some cheerios. We then headed to the barn store and Caden played with some of the already picked pumpkins – he loved touching them! Daddy saw these cute little stripped pumpkins and decided to buy one of those for Caden, too.
There was even a little station set up with water and brushes to scrub your freshly picked pumpkins clean… of course we forgot this part and at some point soon I need to give our pumpkins a little scrub ;)

At the barn store we also bought a half-peck of apples fresh from the orchard to bring home and then took our wagon to the scales to pay – our 3 pumpkins came to 70lbs! We had a coupon for a free small pumpkin so when we finished paying we got to select a little pumpkin from the big wagon outside the store. Steve picked out a perfectly round pumpkin with a long curvy stem.
We then headed to the car to drop off our pumpkin loot before heading over to the giant corn maze.

The corn maze was located on the other side of the farm and we had to walk past the orchard to reach it. As we worked our way through the farm and past all of the apple trees we saw at least 20 different varieties of apples – the majority of which we’d never heard off… (I didn’t know there were quite so many, hehe). We sipped our cider and decided we would definitely be making time for apple picking on our next trip but at least today we still got to bring home some fresh apples even if we didn’t pick them ourselves.
We headed over to the corn maze and were surprised yet again – we expected to walk around lost in the corn for a while but the farm incorporated many other activities into the maze, too. The theme for the maze was “Old McDonald’s Farm” and we were given a flag to carry that had our team name on it (we were the “Mad Mazers” with a red and green flag). The flag allowed us to signal and communicate with the people running the maze if we had a problem or we wanted to leave. Hidden throughout the maze were clues to a crossword we could complete and 9 mail boxes… in each mailbox was a puzzle piece. Once completed, the puzzle was the map to the maze. Once you completed the maze you exited by meeting Mrs. McDonald on victory bridge where you would have to sing “e-i-e-i-o” to leave. The maze had 2.5miles worth of trails and on average took 45 minutes to complete, and hour and a half-ish if you decided to find all the crossword clues and puzzle pieces.

We accidentally cheated and found Victory Bridge in only 5 minutes! There was a small path in the corn that wasn’t supposed to be there but we weren’t sure and took it anyway… it was a shortcut to the end. We were having fun so we decided to turn around, get lost again, and try to find our way out for real. We ended up getting quite lost among the corn stalks and before long my feet were killing me. 45 minutes later we didn’t find the true way out but I did manage to find the accidental cheating shortcut again so I decided that was good enough and took it, hehe.
Next year we are going to do the corn maze again but we’ll do that first next time. I have heel spurs and my feet were already hurting when we began the maze from all the time spent in the pumpkin patch! Even so we still had a lot of fun… Caden did too but he did seize the opportunity to take a short nap.

Once we winded our way out of the corn we made a quick stop at the orchard bakery and gift shop. They had such adorable crafts and decorations and the bakery smelled wonderful from all the fresh baked treats and pies. We decided to treat ourselves to some fresh homemade apple cider donuts… they were delicious! We decided to grab another cup of hot apple cider to sip on the way home and headed back to the car.

On the ride home we decided that we were definitely going to make this a yearly family tradition. I can’t wait to go back next year! We are going to make sure to go to the apple orchard, too, but we might make a separate trip for that. The maze and the pumpkin farm took the better part of a day and by the time we got home and ate dinner we were beat! We played with Caden for a bit, put him to bed, and ended up passing out on the living room floor for a little bit.

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