Thursday, October 22, 2009

Our Annual Fall Pumpkin Hunt (and More)

Pumpkin HuntingEvery October, we take the kids to a local pumpkin patch to pick out the pumpkins they will carve into Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns. Since moving to Indianapolis two years ago, we have had to find a place to do our pumpkin hunting, and I think that this year we have finally found just the place.

Corn MazeThis morning we got the kids up and ready and headed out to Tuttle Orchards, a nearby fruit farm. We got there early enough to avoid the rush of families whose kids our out of school on fall break. Rain threatened, but the temperature was perfect and the sun was not out to bake us, which made for the perfect pumpkin hunting conditions, if the rain would hold off.

Corn MazeAfter checking in and paying the modest admission (a total of $10 for our family of four), we started off in our traditional way: letting my son guide us through the corn maze. Posted throughout the maze -- something that Tuttle Orchards does differently from other places we've gone to in the past -- were signs with short multiple choice apple trivia questions. Choosing the correct answer would point us down the correct path, while choosing the wrong answer would send us off in the wrong direction.

Pumpkin HuntingAfter successfully navigating the corn maze, we grabbed a wagon and headed out into the pumpkin patch to let the children choose their own pumpkins. Sure, we could run over to Meijer, Walmart, or Kroger and get our pumpkins -- and they might even cost less -- but there's just something special about trudging through the tractor tracks to the back of the pumpkin patch and trying to find just the right pumpkin that makes the whole thing worth it.

Pumpkin HuntingWe've picked out our pumpkins this way for every year of my son's young life (except the first, when he would have been only two months old), and have continued the tradition since my daughter was born, and they both look forward to it with great anticipation -- "Are we there yet?" the entire trip from the house to the farm.

Pumpkin HuntingOf course, my daughter is always the first one to select a pumpkin. I don't know if it's because she's better at spotting the perfect pumpkin, less picky than my son, or just more eager to choose her pumpkin and get on with other activities. As she's enjoying her ride in the wagon through the pumpkin patch, she'll suddenly pipe up with "I want that one," and the whole caravan will come to a stop for her to jump out and run to her pumpkin choice.

Pumpkin HuntingOur number one pumpkin hunting rule is that the kids cannot select a pumpkin that is too heavy for them to pick up. It's just that simple. It can sometimes be more of a challenge for my son than my daughter, as she likes the little dainty looking pumpkins and, like most boys, my son wants the biggest one he can wrap his little arms around. So to ensure the rule is followed, they have to heft up their pumpkins and load them into the wagon by themselves. My stubborn son, of course, always finds some way to get the biggest possible pumpkin he can without breaking the rule.

Apple PickingSomething new this year, since we were at an orchard and not just a pumpkin farm, was apple picking. Tuttle Orchards has a large apple orchard with over twenty-two different varieties of apples -- meaning there is almost always something in season. Best of all, they give you a basket and let you head off into the orchard to pick your own apples for just seventy-five cents a pound. Again, at the grocery store you can often find apples for forty-nine cents a pound, but grocery store apples have been picked by someone else, waxed, and shipped around the world to reach the grocery store -- likely picked early and artificially ripened, as well.

Jonathon ApplesAgain, there's just something special about going into the orchard and picking your own apples straight from the tree. We picked Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Ida Red, and Jonathon apples. I ate three apples before even leaving the place, and they were by far some of the most delicious apples I have ever eaten! I only hope we get such delicious apples from the two trees we planted in our yard this year.

Sunflower MazeAfter letting our kids run through the sunflower maze and play in the kids area, and a visit to the farm store (where I picked out some good peanut butter fudge) and the greenhouse, it was finally time to load the kids up and head home.

Thankfully, the rain held off, and we had a wonderful family outing together.

We plan to carve the pumpkins this Sunday, so check back for more pics this weekend.

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