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Tuesday 23 October 2012

Fall Harvest Time: Pumpkins

Less than 10 days until Halloween so it's time to get cracking with the preparations. The first thing on our list? Carving jack-o'lanterns! But before we can carve said jack-o'lanterns we needed to find the perfect pumpkins for the job.

Last year we arrived in America less than a week before Halloween. By the time we got over our jetlag and were somewhat settled in we had little time to go all out with the Halloween preparations. We made sure to carve jack-o'lanterns, however as we had left it so late we were left with the dregs of the season's pumpkins at our local supermarket. This year I was determined that we wouldn't let that happen again. We decided to get in a little earlier with the pumpkin selection and rather than just walking downstairs to our local Trader Joe's supermarket we hopped in a Zipcar and headed to the countryside. Dotted all around the countryside at this time of year are pumpkin patches. You don't need to travel very far out of an urban area to find them. In fact, there are even pumpkin patches within cities. I thought we'd go for the slightly more authentic option and get out of the city.

So on Saturday we headed to Petaluma, almost an hour north of San Francisco. Here we visited Petaluma Pumpkin Patch for our Fall harvest time fun. We started by selecting our pumpkins: Two medium sized pumpkins, three mini pumpkins and one swan gourd - a gourd that looks like, you guessed it, a swan!

Here's a look at our day of pumpkin fun!

Rolling pumpkins is easier than carrying them when you're little

It's a little heavy...

Lola wanted this big pumpkin

Time for a nap on a pumpkin!

Ava found her perfect pumpkin

Pumpkins made good seats

Ava loves the pumpkin she chose

Pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes!

Lola wanted this crazy pumpkin

Ava practises good posture

I can do it too!

Kim balances a slightly bigger pumpkin on his head
Determined to copy Daddy!

The best way to carry a pumpkin?

Crazy gourds

So many shapes and colours

Ava liked riding in the wheel barrow although she was a little scared.
Lola was too scared to get in at all.

With our wheelbarrow full of pumpkins safely in the car it was time for a little entertainment. Most pumpkin patches offer much more than just pumpkins. Many have corn mazes, hay bale mazes, petting zoos, pony rides, bouncy castles, hay rides... Petaluma Pumpkin Patch offers most of these fun things (minus the hay rides) so there was a lot to keep us busy. After a little bite for lunch the girls made their way to the petting zoo where they met goats, sheep, cows, llamas and a horse. Then they were off to climb the hay bale "mountain" which provided much fun and, unfortunately, much sneezing! The corn kernel sandpit was a much better option. Lola is usually not a fan of playing in sandpits as she hates getting sand in her shoes. The corn kernel sandpit was a huge hit with her though. The kernels were too big to get all through her shoes and they were nice and smooth to run her hands through. The girls both enjoyed making "corn angels" without getting a single grain in their hair like they would have if it were sand.

The girls liked climbing on the hay bale stack although it was a little sneeze inducing!

Corn kernel filled "sandpit"

Making corn angels

Lola really liked the corn sandpit

The highlight for me of our trip the pumpkin patch was the corn maze. Four acres of corn with narrow paths winding their way through. I must admit that we cheated a little and purchased a map to avoid getting lost for too long. By the time we started the corn maze Lola was about ready for a nap and we figured the sooner we could make our way through the maze the better. The girls enjoyed running through the corn maze. It was a nice break from the hot sun too.

The corn maze was a great way to keep out of the sun!

Ava makes her way through the corn maze 

Lola in the corn maze

Children of the corn!

The girls and I in the corn maze

Four acres of nothing but corn and blue sky

I've noticed that as well as corn, the pumpkin patches all seem to have a lot of sunflowers growing as well. Petaluma Pumpkin Patch was no exception and there were many beautiful sunflowers growing around the place.

Sunflowers at the pumpkin patch


So now that we have our pumpkins I guess it's time to get carving. Stay tuned for plenty of jack-o'lanterns carving pictures coming soon!

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