While there were many, many, many things that I never knew about becoming a mother (read: cleaning poo off baby testicles. O! the search terms that will come in), one thing I was pretty dead set upon was having some traditions in my new family. After Ben’s first visit to Santa–in a jaunty red Santa suit, I must add–I broke down and purchased a whole mess of Christmas cards, painstakingly wrote a personal message in each, and enclosed an adorable picture of my young son in what is certain to be blackmail fodder for years to come.

Before Christmas, however, came Halloween (I know. I am so SMRT). And with Halloween comes pumpkin patches.

We all loaded up young screamy Ben into the car and trundled off to get the first of many pictures of My Kid In The Pumpkins: Isn’t It Adorable (no question mark).

While I’ll tell The Internet that I live in Chicago, I don’t really. I live in a SUBURB of Chicago which has the same name as a more well known suburb of Missouri (St. Charles, ILLINOIS), and as we’re far enough away from the city proper, plentiful farmlands abound.

And several of these smaller farms run pumpkin patches in the fall to bring in some extra cash. We were delighted to go to a real! small! farm! that year and pick us out some pumpkins to carve for Ben (since at age 3 months, he shamefully had NOT mastered his Knife Skills. Obviously an unfit mother am I). Pictures were snapped and plans were made for a Brand New Tradition.

The next year, we bundled ourselves up, grabbed a toddler Ben and trundled off to the pumpkin patch again. This time, I noticed that the farm had set up a tiny little area housing some dried corn (yay?), some of those pictures that you put your head through and suddenly you’re a sexy chick in a bikini (or maybe you were before), and some dilapidated animals. Ben, sweet non-verbal Ben, indicated that he would like to look at one of the animals.

I then noticed that there was a sign indicating that entrance to this sad little area was $10 a head. And upon realizing that my one year old would not be in anyway entertained by the other “features” (I use that loosely here) for the $20 it cost to bring us both inside, I asked if I could just show him one of the animals (remember, the attention span of a toddler is comparable to that of a flea. Who presumably has a short attention span. Or at least a short LIFE span).

The frightening beast at the ticket window inhaled off a long cigarette, blew the smoke in my face and informed me that there was no way in hell I was going to get in without my hard earned cash no matter HOW old my son was.

Leaving in a slight huff, the following year we returned. And in the barn that had previously housed the scale and cash drawer for weighing and paying for the pumpkins, was now a mini-Halloween themed store. Why, for a mere $11.95 I could buy a sugar cookie mix! Quite a steal since the package boasted that they would be SPOOKY cookies! How could I say no?

Now, next to the barn stood a concession stand, where for the sweet price of $6.00 I could purchase a dixie cup of cider served up by a surly teen. I’d use it, of course, to wash down the $14.00 bag of salted popcorn that I could also buy there.

The following year we dutifully returned, a 4 year old child now in tow. A 4 year old child who was THRILLED to note that the pumpkin farm now boasted a moon bounce! And a gigantic inflatable slide! Which, for the cost of $10.00 a person, we could go on for about 30 seconds. And wait! Hay Rides! For another $20.00 a head, we could sit in some sneeze-inducing hay and be driven around the parking lot for 2! whole! laps!

Thankfully Ben didn’t notice when we quickly ushered him out of there with our pumpkins.

At age 5, we noticed that the formerly dirt road leading to the pumpkins had been surfaced, and was now swarming with all sorts of other yuppie-mobiles. The dirt and gravel parking lot now had been expanded so that a sea of SUV’s were occupying all of the spots, and in order to find a spot to park in at all, we would have to perform a maneuver I like to call “stalking” people.

You know, where you spy someone leaving and then follow them to their cars slowly and creepily inching along behind them? Yeah. And that was when we turned around–not before seeing the pony rides and small carnival rides that were now offered–and left.

While I understood that the farm had to make a bit of extra money–and I know how expensive farming can be–the small, sweet pumpkin stand had turned into a major tourist attraction. I know that to some families, this is a fun day trip, just like the county fair, but it’s just not my bag. I don’t really want to pay $3.00 a head to go through a corn maze that at least two members of my ($3.00 a head) family will hate (Alex + whomever is watching him. Because toddlers aren’t really into mazes, sad to say).

Thankfully, we stumbled upon a small family farm where you could pick your own pumpkins from the vine. THIS was more my speed. There were some family animals–2 inexplicable donkeys–but I didn’t have to pay to show either of the boys how much we really, really need to have a donkey. It was a riot, searching through the garden to look for the perfect pumpkin and we all had a blast.

The following year we returned, only to be informed that this was probably the last year we’d be able to pick our own pumpkins at that location. The family was having too hard of a time competing with the local Jewel to stay in business. I don’t need to tell you how sad we were to hear this.

Today we visited another pumpkin patch, one that I’d remembered being sort of small and homey feeling. And before I could say “KEEP DRIVING” Dave pulled into a Phamily Phun Pharm again, complete with several different inflatable creations, a crappy corn maze, and $10.00 jugs of cider.

I really wanted to have a good time going to this farm, really, I did. But my crusty old balls self couldn’t shake how annoyed I was to be spending $40.00 on some pumpkins, because I couldn’t disappoint my 7 year old son (even I have feelings. Sort of) who was in! love! with His Pumpkin. And I needed pie pumpkins for the holidays. Like next Tuesday, when I bake pumpkin bread from scratch (I cannot cook, but I can bake with the best of ’em). That’s a holiday, right?

So, I don’t really know if it’s me or if it’s them. Because, if all the Yuppie Mobiles in the parking lot are to be believed, other people DO enjoy these sorts of things. And maybe if it was what I’d been expecting, rather than some Real Norman Rockwell farm family, I wouldn’t be so annoyed. Maybe I just need to loosen the hell up, get my credit card out, and have some damn fun.

And maybe I just will. As soon as those gol-darn kids get off my lawn!

(oh wait. Those are MY kids). Shit.

40 thoughts on “Pumpkin$

  1. Oh, lighten up, Old Balls 😉 We’ve got both kinds of farms around here in Podunk, and we generally go to the one where you can pick your own apples, pick your own pumpkins and have a free hay ride. The corn maze only costs $2, and my son loves it. Unfortunately, it’s always pretty crowded.

  2. We always go to Randy’s, on Randall up thisaway, where the worst problem is the bees that insist on sharing my caramel apples.

    A’course, we’re so far past the moon bouncy maze petting zoo pony ride scarecrow thing that I wouldn’t notice if those things were there anyway. As long as nothing gets between me and the caramel apple, I’m good.

  3. Last year was the first time I took my boys to a pumpkin patch. They’d gone with their various schools before, but not with me. We had tons of fun, especially when we went in the corn maze and my sister got scared. SCARED of being in a corn maze!?! Yeah, we totally razzed her about that. It was a small place, though, and I think I spent about $25 for all four of us to go through the maze (which took forever) and get two big pumpkins and some small ones. Last weekend, my sister told me about another place that had more things to do, and I just couldn’t get excited about it. Of course she said it in front of the boys, though, so they want to go. I can’t get excited about spending lots of money on stuff like that, either. Oh, and lmfao at “gol-darn”

  4. I KNOW!!! We just came back from the patch, minutes ago, and I am writing a post about the same darned thing (stalker), and also? The same place has Christmas trees that used to be cheap and now are outrageous…good thing we switched Christmas tree farms a long time ago, to one that’s only 30 bucks for a 6′ Noble, instead of 60.

  5. i say you but some varnish on that damn pumpkin and use that bitch again next year!

    put in in the yard and let him hunt for it. trick or treat meets easter egg hunt meets pumpkin.

    it’s genius.

  6. I’m also lucky my son is past the tourist trap age. I like carving pumpkins more than he does at this point. I absolutely hate the sucker you have to do this because your kids are young and blah-blah-guilt-blah-guilt-blah places that pop up at every holiday opportunity. Do what feels right, and nothing more.

  7. well @ least you try, I really don’t have any family traditions for me and son yet, I really would like to, like maybe the santa picture thing.(last year was the 1st time I got it done) and it was adorable. I can’t wait to get one this year. This will be the first year son goes trick or treating too. So don’t be hard on yourself, you do more than me, and I’m not even pregnant.

  8. I love me some pumpkin patch. There’s one at every methodist church in our part of town. They charge an arm and a leg for the pumpkin but it’s worth it for those pictures of my kids looking in the other direction and picking their noses in them.

  9. Yeah, I don’t do the pumpkin patch thing – as far as the Evil Genius is concerned, pumpkins come from the grocery store. I’d like to go to a patch, but they have become a sort of madness for which I am not prepared.


    Shade and Sweetwater,

  10. Took the littles just today thankyouverymuch. I got robbed, blind. No cooking pumpkins…only carvers. But the bouncers, donkeys (and chickens), mazes, slides and lame assed hayride.

    They loved every minute of it. Sigh.

  11. I kinda feel like I was ripped off.

    I don’t ever remember going to a pumpkin patch as a kid.

    But that’s okay. Pumpkin’s can be heavy, and knowing my parents, they would have made me carry ’em.

  12. Ah, just did the apple orchard/pumpkin patch experience last weekend. Thankfully we discovered a non-circus place that is committed to staying non-circus. And I gave up on carving the silly orange things a long time ago. Cheeks either paints them or sticks Mr. Potato Head parts into them. No knives, no mess, no smell. 🙂

  13. I’m with you. I don’t find the overblown absurdity at all fun or entertaining. I don’t understand why the other people do. My kids seem to go for it, but not unlike with the birthday parties… I just can’t bring myself to do it.

    Sadly we moved to a state with no pumpkin patches this year, FROM a state where we were surrounded by them… so now I can’t even find a big obnoxious one, let alone a cute happy little family one! 🙁

  14. Went this morning. Luckily, our patch totally rocks – absolutely free! They make their money from upping the price on the pumpkins. One of the only smart things I did when the Boys were younger, we never actually bought a pumpkin there – just lots of pictures and free fun.

    I’m still stuck on the fact that you use actual pumpkins to make pies and bread. Seriously. The canned stuff is really good, I promise. And the kids don’t get all scarred from watching you butcher the defenseless gourds.


  15. I’m not a fan of spending a fortune at pumpkin patches either. $150 later, I arrive home cranky and desperately needing a hard drink.

    Oh, and the pumpkins we used our children’s college fund to pay for? Eaten up squirrels who then nap in it’s remnants, with a pumpkin hangover.

  16. We took Jackson to one of those the other day. They had so many different ticket options for different things, and it was all so expensive! Luckily he is too young to know the difference so we just went to the pumpkin patch, took a few pics, and left! Who knows what we will do next year!

  17. This is hysterical, sad, too in a way, but hysterical.

    Luckily for us, we have a farm practically around the corner that sells pumpkins. Just pumpkins. And that’s where we will visit tomorrow.

  18. Oh Becky, how I’ve missed you and your “Crusty Old Balls” self. Ha ha ha. I have never been to a pumpkin patch. I tend to buy a pumpkin at the grocery store, forget I bought it, and carve something crappy into it on the 31st. Then I forget it’s on the porch and have to bring it in sometime around Christmas after a small child has been scarred for life because of the evil, possessed-looking shrunken head on my steps. I am awesome.

  19. When we went to the pumpkin pacth and encountered the $16 dollar bag of apples (?!?!?), we backed the hell out of there, scurried home, set up some lawnchairs in the backyard, called it a maze and let the kids go through it for free.

    Ok, so, really, the $16 apples and the getting the hell out part is the truth. By the time we got home, battle scarred from the morning’s bickering, no one was too into the whole maze business, which was a-ok by me.

    I just bought three huge pumpkins on sale for $7 bucks today. I told my boys they better worship those damn things because I got such a bargain.

  20. Yikes. Thanks for the heads-up. I live in the sort of liberal area that prefers its pumpkins and donkeys to be free-range and Montessori educated, so we may be moderately safe, but this is definitely the sort of thing I’m dedicated to avoiding.

    I buy a lot of cheap pumpkins and invite friends with kids (or not, but mostly with) over to carve them. And feed them (the friends, not the pumpkins). It’s been pretty fun so far — we’ll see how it works as the kids get older.

  21. Great big beautiful pumpkins at my Aldi’s for $1.99. Same pumpkins at Kroger for $5.99. I didn’t even buy one this year. Nobody around here cares. I bought my one gallon of apple cider and didn’t have any caramel ice cream topping to put in it because we lost it in the power outage and I haven’t replaced it. Shaping up to be a kind of pathetic Halloween season for me.

  22. We actually found a Pumpkin Patch in the desert – haven’t been yet but I will have to let you know how it works out.

    Carving sucks for us. We give in to buying each DIVA one and because they are divas, they won’t touch the seeds. So we carve them. While they watch us and dance around to Miley. Shoot me now.

  23. There are pumpkin patches and there are pumpkin patches. Here in rural Virginia we have all kinds – from the $10 to walk around a tiny hay maze & climb in the bounce house, with one small gourd included, to $10 getting you a decent 10 minute hay ride and access to a very good sized hay bale maze and one small pumpkin (extra, larger pumpkins available for $4 and up, you pick), to the bash we attended today. $2 per head hayride, 15 minutes long, $6 all day pass to hay bale maze, hay bale mountain and collection of bounce houses. $4.50 a bag apples, you pick from large variety in huge containers of prepicked apples (or for $4 you can go out to the orchard and fill the bag from the trees). Pumpkins ranging from $3-10 by size. Free live bluegrass music all day, food available. $6 a gallon for fresh pressed cider. Now that is a pumpkin patch.

  24. Aw man, I never enjoy doing shit that’s supposed to be such “a blast”! It’s usually more like torture, expensive torture. And yes, that includes pumpkins. You get straw up your ass and down your back when you ride on the tractor and the pumpkins always have an ugly spot on them, no matter how much they cost.

    My daughter, of course, thinks she LOVES it all. She’s 11 and it is never going to end.

  25. we went to a big pumpkin patch, with animals, photo ops, a train, maze, etc etc…..the day cost us $50 but my son LOVED it………. so to me it was worth it.

  26. Living in the country there is a pumpkin patch everywhere you turn, and I have been to some of those 3 ring circus patches that you describe– and you DO drop $60 befor eyou can get out of there…

    Luuckily there is a patch down the road that is perfect. Pumpkins only. A red wagon to ride in, a pair of snips to cut yours off the vine– or piles of pumpkins to pick from.

    It is a half hour trip (at most) and everyone is not exhausted when it is over….

  27. There’s only one way to solve this. Rip up a little lawn and throw in some pumpkin seeds next spring. Next fall you want have to go anywhere or pay anyone anything.

  28. Holy crap… who knew that St. Charles Illinois was just down the highway from Arvada Colorado… I am certain we have been going to the same pumpkin patch — I really loved it back in the day!

    *Actually last year… ours put in a GREAT maze for FREE, and did away with the a la carte entertainment!…and as I have overly competitive half geek/half athlete teens, we had to literally run the mazes in a race to see who would finish first and win the prize of the $6 piece of pumpkin bread — I did though only have to buy ONE piece of punkin bread and 5 stewarts cream sodas.

  29. Oh yeah. We are Pumpkin Patch Rip Off Victims ourselves.

    The only real farm around here is really close to our house, but it’s a frickin’ nightmare to fight the other Yuppies to get in there for the cute shots. The cars get literally 40 deep.

    So we go across the road to the Happily Eccentric Semi Farming Family, who have purchased pumpkins from the real farm and then resell them at a profit to us, along with the cider and the cupcakes and the donuts. But they also have chickens, turkeys, albino peacocks, goats, rabbits and a tiny little horse, on a tiny little farm.

    Because I live in the Stripper Capital of the Universe and actual family activities (you know, not involving g-strings and/or liquid latex) are at a premium here, we’re more than happy to shell out a wad to feed the animals, have some mediocre cider and cart home a few overpriced squash.

    What really sucked was someone stole Bean’s pumpkin out of my husband’s truck.

    Back we go to the Money Pit!

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