Bloom Where You're Planted Farm

  (Avoca, Nebraska)
A family-owned educational farm & pumpkin patch near Avoca, Nebraska
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Late summer on the farm

August and September are two of my favorite months here on the farm. Being in the pumpkin patch business I love October, too, but it comes with mixed emotions of the season drawing to a close.  August and September are busy and sometimes stressful, but I love the anticipation of another Pumpkin Festival approaching.

August begins with the county fair, which is going on now.  I harvested our first pumpkin of the season yesterday to take to the fair.  Cutting that first stem of the season and carrying the "prize" back to the house is still exciting and very rewarding.  The pumpkin, squash and gourd vines grow visibly every day and the fruits are forming nicely.  It's been a little on the dry side, but we were lucky to have rain last week and it is WAY better than last summer's drought.  And, we planted more ground than ever before so are hoping for a big harvest.  

August also brings lots of planning and to-do lists.  We start working a little harder and faster to get everything done as our Sept. 21 opening day draws closer.  We've been doing a lot of weeding out in the U-pick patch.  I've been ordering merchandise and looking for vendors selling local crafts.  And, I've been talking to our seasonal employees and working out their schedules for the season.  

With the start of school we'll soon be hearing from teachers booking field trips and groups booking campfire parties.  If you're thinking of scheduling something it is never too early to contact us -- be sure you get your preferred date and call soon! 

Things are coming along, but there is always something to do.  Once we hit September it really becomes crunch time, so I'm trying to get as much done this month as I can and enjoy the process.  Pumpkin season is what we live for and I'm trying to savor the anticipation.    

We look forward to seeing you soon at the farm! 

  

 
 

Bring on Spring!

We survived the long winter, and although we're still melting from a surprise snowstorm over the weekend we know Spring is just around the corner!

We had a very successful fall 2012 season.  So many new friends came to the farm and we are thankful for each and every one!  We were also thankful for each and every pumpkin after a summer of drought.  As of today we are just over 6 months from doing it all over again and although it might be another dry year, pumpkins are pretty resilient and we have high hopes. We're waiting on one more seed catalog and should have our ordering done soon.  Late May/early June is planting time for our pumpkins, squash and gourds, and we can't wait to get out in the dirt again.

We spent the winter building a different part of our business, one which has always been in the background but is stepping to the forefront for our off-season.  If you've been to our gift shop or in the pumpkin barn you know we love to collect farm primitives, antiques, and fun rusty stuff (like the clawfoot bathtub we keep our mini pumpkins in, or all the old farm tools and signs hanging around the barn).  We've always kept a small inventory for sale in the store, but we've been collecting and searching all winter and now have a big, fun pile of "good JUNK"!  

On April 13 & 14, 2013, we're opening the barn doors and farm gates for our first-annual Rural Route Rust sale. Besides for our own selection of primitives, garden junk, "man-tiques", vintage textiles and kitchen goods, repurposed lighting, industrial accents, and leather cuffs handmade from vintage belts, we've rounded up about a dozen other vendors that share our love of this kind of merchandise.  There will be a great selection of vintage, antique, repurposed, upcycled and handmade goodies and we're excited to support our fellow small-businesspeople while providing a one-of-a-kind shopping experience for our visitors.

We'll be holding our annual spring open house in conjunction with the sale.  The Schoolhouse Cafe will be open, serving chicken salad sandwiches, soup, hot dogs, pie, brownie sundaes and other homemade yummies all day long, and the young and young-at-heart can explore the farm and visit the horses, goats, chickens & cows.  Admission is free all weekend, and hours are 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.  

We're currently booking field trips and parties for fall 2013, so contact us anytime to be sure you get the best dates.  Whether in April for the Rural Route Rust Sale & Spring Open House, or in September for the Pumpkin Festival, we look forward to seeing you soon at the farm! 

 
 

Pumpkin Planting is Done!

As of yesterday, there are just 3 months left until opening day of the 7th season here at our southeast Nebraska pumpkin patch!  I can't believe how fast time can fly.  We've been very busy on the farm and finally got all our pumpkins, squash and gourds planted just a few days ago. 

The weather has been perfect--lots of warm sunshine with just the right amount of rain for the seeds to sprout quickly.  We had some issues with mice and/or voles actually digging our seeds out of the ground and leaving nothing but several seed-sized holes in dozens of hills.  They seemed to particularly like the squash and white pumpkin seeds.  Using traps, poisons, cellophane bags tied to sticks, and repellents, we seem to have that problem licked (we hope!)  So, after re-ordering seeds and replanting, we can move on to the next phase, watching the seedlings sprout and grow while trying to protect them from bugs and keep the weeds under control.

We've started work on several projects including repairs to the barn roof, rebuilding and painting the loading chute (the ramp kids climb on to reach the big round haybales) and fixing fences.  We have all the materials on hand to start building an overhang on the south side of the barn, where we'll move the admissions counter and pumpkin weighing station.  Today we made a trip to Lincoln after landscaping blocks to improve the fire pit.  And, I've started ordering new merchandise for the gift shop.  Its a very busy but exciting time as we work to make the farm and pumpkin patch the best it can be for our fall visitors.

Speaking of visitors, yesterday we hosted a field trip for Sandee's Place daycare out of Lincoln.  There were about a dozen 1-4 year olds who really seemed to enjoy their visits with the horses, goats and chickens.  Their morning ended with a hay ride and sack lunch at the picnic tables.  You can check out the photos on our Facebook page.  So, you don't HAVE to wait until fall to come and visit -- we welcome groups of all ages for field trips or campfire parties in the spring and summer too!  Our website has all the details.  Hope to see you soon at the farm!

 
 

The Latest from the Farm

Lots of exciting things have been happening here on the farm!  All of our pumpkins, squash and gourds are in the ground.  We were pleased to be done about a week ahead of our usual schedule.  Planting began on May 15 with the giant pumpkins, hard shell gourds (such as the apple & swan varieties), and a few types of squash with longer growing seasons.  We added a Cushaw squash and Blue Hubbard squash, both which can grow to be quite large.  Our goal is to have a big pile (or piles) of fantastical giant pumpkins and squash for photo ops--now our part is done and Mother Nature takes over!  We hope for plenty of rain and warm temperatures to give all the seeds a good start.  The May 15 seeds are all sprouted and some are starting to put on their third and fourth leaves already.

On May 22 we hosted a field trip/play date for a group from Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, NE.  We took them on a hayride to see the horses and everyone enjoyed meeting our calf Alice, who is a month old already.  She is mischievous, ridiculously cute, and growing by the day.

With all the seeds in the ground we used this long Memorial Day weekend, which we usually spend planting, to do some painting on the barns.  The animal barn is done, one of the two wood-sided walls of the big barn is done, and the second side is power-washed and ready for primer.  This second side is the most intimidating, so we may drag our feet a little on getting that one done...J   We'll keep you posted!  Hope to see you soon at the farm!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Favorite Things About Our Old Barn

I love old barns.  I photograph them on vacations and use a barn in our farm's logo.  I really love our old barn.  Not because it has any particularly flashy architecture or stands out amongst other barns -- I just love it because it is OUR barn. 

When we moved to the farm, even before we decided we wanted to open an on-farm business, we knew preserving the barn would be a priority.  I'll cover more of the before & after of restoring the barn in a future post.  Today I wanted to share with you one of my favorite parts of our old barn.

 

The barn overall is very "no nonsense" and practical, without any real bells and whistles.  That's why I love these support straps on the sliding hay loft door so much.  Their decorative star cutouts are an exception to the strictly-business hardware on all other parts of the building. 

 

To learn more about barn history, preserving a historic barn, or for a really cool barn-related road trip, visit these links:

National Barn Alliance

The Barn Journal - "Dedicated to the preservation of traditional farm acritechture."

Sac County, Iowa's Barn Quilts

 

 
 
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