Bloom Where You're Planted Farm

  (Avoca, Nebraska)
A family-owned educational farm & pumpkin patch near Avoca, Nebraska
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Looking ahead to our 10th Season!

Our tenth-annual Pumpkin Festival is fast approaching, and in under 8 weeks we'll be opening our doors again to our favorite people -- our customers.  

It doesn't seem possible that this will be our tenth season, but it is.  We have grown in ways we never dreamed possible since we opened in 2005, and we appreciate each and every person that has visited our farm and helped our dream to grow.

Dates for this year's Pumpkin Festival are Sept. 20 through Nov. 2.  With Halloween falling on a Friday we decided to extend a little past that date, and have a fun Thanksgiving food drive event planned for that final weekend.  Stay tuned for details.

New this year......more restrooms!  We're improving our concession kitchen by converting our original restroom into storage space, and building both men's and ladies' rooms onto the east side of the schoolhouse.  We'll still have a couple porta-potties and will hopefully do away with the long lines some of our customers experienced last season.  

We're also planning a couple new fun attractions which will be announced soon.  The gift shop will again carry lots of locally handmade items, yummy foods, fall decor, souvenirs, and antique/vintage/funky decor touches.  We're confident you won't find a store quite like ours anywhere else.  :)

Head to our Facebook page for the latest on the farm, the pumpkins, our newest (baby) farm animals, and events we have coming up.  Until we see you again, enjoy the rest of your summer!   

 

 
 

Counting Down!!

Our ninth-annual Pumpkin Festival begins in just over two weeks!  On Saturday, September 21st we open the doors for another pumpkin season. This week I've been working in the store, shopping for supplies, marketing, and getting the Schoolhouse Cafe ready to go.  Terry has been tending to the animals, building a porch swing, doing farm maintenance and helping out at his parents' farm as his dad is out of commission for awhile. There is quite a bit on our to-do list, but as of right now it seems manageable.  

That can always change, though, as it did the year a big hail and wind storm hit five days before we opened for the season.  You just never know what will happen when the success of your business is largely dependent on the weather!  Thankfully it has been a good year for growing pumpkins and we are excited by what we see in the patch.  There are some huge, beautiful orange pumpkins as well as lots of different and interesting heirloom varieties (white, red, tan, blue/green, flat, warty...it's hard to pick a favorite!)

We're looking forward to a fun season and can't wait to see you SOON at the farm! 

 

 

 
 

Counting Down...

When we get into the month of August we usually start our countdown.  How many days until opening day of the pumpkin patch season?  How long do we have to get everything on the "To Do" list finished?  There's a list on our refrigerator door with the days written out and we cross one off each night....30...29...28...27...

As of today we have 26 days to go.  Anything under one month really starts to feel like crunch-time.  The weather has been nice lately (that's one positive aspect of not getting any rain!) so we've been accomplishing a lot.  There's always some maintenance/fix-up issues to tackle, as well as building of new attractions, cleaning, mulching, painting signs, more cleaning, marketing, phone calls, arranging employee schedules, setting up the gift shop, planting flowers, etc.  As we get down to the last 10 or 14 days we'll start decorating around the farm, setting up attractions like the duck races, wheelbarrel maze and corn box, moving fences, getting the nature trail in shape, buying groceries and supplies, picking produce...

It's a lot to do but definitely exciting for us.  After the trying summer we've had, filled with record heat and worry about the drought, we're thankful fall is almost here.  We work all year for the moment when we get to open our doors to our wonderful customers once again.  So, see you in 26 days, and counting!

 

    

 
 

Late Summer

Despite how terribly dry and hot it has been this summer, our pumpkins have survived and seem to have fruited pretty well.  The drought continues but the temperatures have finally cooled off so they continue to bloom and grow.  We did lose some plants as we always do to bugs--and maybe drought--and the pumpkins may not be quite as large this year, but we will certainly be thankful for each and every one!  We continue to pray for rain to help them finish strong. 

It feels like fall this morning so I headed out with my camera to document their progress.  Our 8th Annual Pumpkin Festival opens September 15th...just over a month away!  There's much to do but we love the excitement that comes with getting ready to finally open our doors to our beloved visitors!

The gourd garden has new wood chips and is coming along nicely!

 

Bees are busy pollinating the pretty pumpkin blossoms...Did you know squash bees wait inside the flower for the blossoms to close, then stay there until the next morning when it's time to do more pollinating?

       

These photos show just some of the varieties we are growing:  Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins (a few which are ripening already), Black Futsu squash, Butternut squash, Cheese pumpkins, Hooligas, and mini bottle gourds which are new this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have lots of favorite varieties, but it's always fun when last year's cross-pollinated seeds "volunteer" in the patch.  You get some really unique results which are always popular with shoppers.  Here's an example:

 

See you in just over a month at our Nebraska Pumpkin Patch!

 

 

 
 

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!

 
 

Party on the Farm

I wanted to share a few more photos of springtime on the farm.  This is such a colorful time of year--the sky is SO blue, the pastures are so lush and green, the flowers are blooming and there are birds of every color, from bluebirds to orioles.  Did you know that we offer springtime and summertime campfire parties and field trips?  Imagine sitting under the stars on a warm summer evening, around the fire ring with your friends, family, sports team or other organization.  The frogs around the creek and pond will serenade you, and later in the summer they'll be joined by the cicadas singing.  All campfire parties include a hay ride.  The kids may even get to help us gather the evening eggs.  And, you don't have to do ANY of the work--we can provide the food and decorations if you'd like!  Click here to see pricing details and instructions for making a reservation:   

Hope to see you soon on the farm!

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The farm pond with a pair of geese

 

 

 

 
 

Spring Chickens (& Calves & Pumpkins)

This is a great time of year at Bloom Where You're Planted Farm.  Rain has been plentiful, the grass and trees look lush and healthy, and the iris and peonies are starting to bloom.  In the next week or so we'll start planting some of our longer-season pumpkins and gourds.  The full planting assault will happen around Memorial Day, hopefully finishing up the first couple days of June.  I can't wait to get out in the dirt!  Its so exciting to think about all the pumpkins we'll harvest, plus its great exercise!

On April 29 we brought home five hens, a cross between Rhode Island Reds and New Hampshires (so they're very East Coast but seem to be enjoying the Midwest!)  April 30 & May 1 was our second-annual Spring Open House.  It was good seeing the familiar faces of some of our loyal customers and friends, and exciting to meet some first-time guests, too.  The following weekend we held a "Barn Sale" -- basically a big yard sale heavy on the antiques and primitives.  We made room for all the "new" antiques, primitives and gift shop merchandise we'll be bringing in for this fall.

The most fun thing this spring has been the arrival of two baby calves.  Fern delivered her first calf on May 1, a bull calf we named Mayday.  Ten days later, Molly's calf Rosy arrived.  I surprised myself (and really surprised Terry, when I told him the story later) by jumping in to help pull her when I realized she was coming out rump-first and upside down.  Molly may have been fine without me, but ideally they should come out head/front feet first, and I got scared.  Both calves are perfect and they're SO darn cute! 

Mayday

 

Rosy

Well, I'd better get outside to enjoy this great weather and get something accomplished.  Have a great spring, and we hope to see you soon at the farm!

 

 
 

First Spring Photos

I like to document the changes of the seasons here at Bloom Where You're Planted Farm.  Here is photographic proof that spring has arrived!

Jasper and Emmett are enjoying the warm weather from atop their climbing tower.  They've grown a TON since last fall and are starting to shed their thick winter coats.

 

The gourd garden is cleaned up and ready for this summer's crop.  Notice Sully in the distance, wondering what I'm up to now, and if I have anything to eat...

 

Last fall's gourds are drying nicely.  It will still be another month or two until they're completely cured.

 

Frannie discovered a tiny snake sunning himself on the warm cement.

 

 
 

Sounds like Spring!

Well, the last time I posted we were expecting a snowstorm, and today the mercury should reach 70.  Signs of spring have really come on strong in the last week or so -- trees are budding, tufts of grass are greening up, the animals are shedding their winter coats, and the air is filled with the sounds of robins, red-winged blackbirds, and Killdeer.  If you don't know about Killdeer, they're described as "an upland shorebird that doesn't live at the shore" and there are a few pairs that return every summer to the soggy pasture area east of our big pumpkin patches.  They have a really distinctive call and it always sets them off when we work out there.  Besides for the sounds of frogs and red-winged blackbirds, the Killdeer call is one of the predominant sounds of summer for us.  I took a walk out there yesterday and they were back in full force.  It got me excited to start planting, but we won't start that for another couple of months yet.

We're planning our Spring Open House for Apr. 30, in conjunction with the "Get Lost in the Valley" tour of attractions in the Scenic Weeping Water Valley.  This will be a one or two day event (TBA) with free access to the farm.  You can visit the animals, play yard games, and we'll be selling lunch in the Schoolhouse Cafe.  Watch for more details in this blog or on our Facebook page.  The Scenic Weeping Water Valley Association also has a Facebook page and website, www.VisittheValley.org.

Enjoy the signs of spring!  Hope to see you soon at the farm!

 

 

 

 
 

Winter Downtime

A pretty snow is falling this afternoon and we're looking to get 2-4 inches out of this latest bit of winter weather.  We try to make good use of this down time, when it is impossible to get outside and start the physical preparations for our 2011 Pumpkin Festival -- planting, weeding, building, cleaning... 

Now is the time for aspiring, planning, and promoting.  Last week I updated our listings on a few websites and registered for a couple new promotional tools including Google Places.  I don't know how much of a difference these types of things make to our visibility, but I figure the more places you pop up on the Internet, the better, right? 

I really should be working on filing our 2010 sales tax, but instead I spent the day on the computer again, researching trade organizations and agritourism-related seminars.  We're always looking for ways to expand our horizons, learn from others, and be inspired.  We're thinking about going to St. Louis in March to the Halloween, Costume & Party show and Halloween and Attractions show.  We don't typically do a lot of "Halloween-y" activities but instead focus more on the "farm-y"/agricultural side of the fall season.  But, this might shake us up a little and maybe some good ideas will fall out! 

Well, I'll head back to those sales tax receipts now...  Until next time, stay warm!

 
 

Back in the swing of things...

Six days into 2011 and I'm finally starting to feel the inspiration that comes with the fresh posibilities of a new year.  I haven't written a blog since fall so there is much to report on.

We had the best pumpkin patch season we've ever had, thanks in large part to the AMAZING weather in October.  We sincerely thank each and every customer who visited the farm this past fall, whether a new guest or a loyal returning visitor.  This was our sixth season, and we celebrated the five-year anniversary of our October 1, 2005 opening day on October 3rd.  Three sky divers from the Lincoln Sport Parachute Club jumped in next to the south pumpkin patch, much to the delight of the many visitors who were on hand to watch.  We also had a face painter and handed out free ice cream treats.  We had a great time showing our customers how much we appreciate their support, which has helped us go from approx. 400 visitors our first year to over 3,800 this year.  It is humbling to think that this many people took time out of their busy schedules to visit our farm.

When the season was over, the pumpkins fed to the cows and goats, and everything put away, we took a short but really relaxing vacation to the Ozarks.  We got to enjoy the late-season fall foliage while we reflected on the past season and began making plans for our seventh Pumpkin Festival in 2011.

Our main focus for the coming season will be making our operations smoother, safer and more convenient for our guests (and ourselves).  This will include rearranging our retail and admissions area, adjusting the hay ride route, and adding more credit card terminals.  We also hope to make some improvements to the barn and make the nature trail even more scenic and inviting.  I'm sure we'll cook up more ideas in the coming months, but these are our thought so far.

We're excited because both of our adult heifers, Molly and Fern, are expecting calves this spring.  Gabby, Jasper & Emmett, our goats who were just 4-5 months old this fall, are growing fast and have thick, bushy winter coats.  The horses also have soft, shaggy winter coats to keep them warm.  Despite staying warm and cozy, I think we're all looking forward to spring!

We hope you had a wonderful holiday season and that your New Year is off to a great start.  See you soon at the farm!

 

 
 

Fair time & the first harvest

Yesterday was an exciting day, as we harvested the first fruits of this year's labors.  Our county fair is this week so we gathered up our contenders.  We ended up with nine entries between the two of us:  mini pumpkins, small gourds, one large pumpkin, an apple gourd, and the "monsters"--two Green Cushaw squash and two enormous and somewhat freaky-looking snake gourds.  It's fun and exciting to make the first harvest, but man are the pumpkin vines and leaves prickly this time of year!  My legs and arms are a scratchy mess!

Over the weekend Terry built permanent wooden benches on the hayrack.  This should be a safer, more comfortable ride for our guests, not to mention much less messy than the previous straw bale seats.  It's been extremely hot and humid lately, so we've been trying to do projects we can work on in the shade or indoors, including shopping for (almost) all of the rest of the materials we'll need to build the goat pens, chicken enclosures, and a new fence in the barnyard.  Most of the gift shop merchandise is in, including some cute and funny Girl Power/Witchy Woman decor pieces. 

It's crazy how fast it all starts rollin' this time of year!  Watch for our ads (thanks to a grant from Nebraska Tourism) in Lincoln Kids! newspaper, Nebraska Life magazine, and the Omaha-area's "Let's Go" magazine soon.  Those of you who attend the Cass County fair can pick up our new brochures at the Scenic Weeping Water Valley Association's booth.  We'll also be in the parade Saturday evening.

Teachers are starting to think ahead toward fall field trips and our calendar is beginning to fill up.  If you're interested in a field trip, birthday party, or campfire party this fall, call or email us and we'll get you on the schedule.  We hope to see you soon at the farm!

 

 

 
 

Really rollin' now!

Summer projects are in full swing, and we had a busy and productive three-day weekend.  I'm happy to report that the barn painting project is now done!  The north and east sides of the Pumpkin Barn & Gift Shop, and the west wall of the animal barn, are now sporting fresh red paint.  The other sides of these buildings have red tin siding so (fortunately) don't ever have to be painted.  Terry is a great painter, but I always seem to make a big mess of myself.

Also completed is the gourd garden project.  The final touches went onto the raised planter bed/bench.  The tunnel and wall panels have been finished for a few weeks and the gourds are growing quickly.  Soon they'll start their climb over the tunnel and walls and our vision of a living walled garden will become a reality.  We're really excited about this project!

Sunday was spent mowing, weed-whacking, taking care of a couple horse-related tasks, and weeding and spraying bugs in the pumpkin patches.  We even found time this weekend for church services and a wedding!  We don't do much relaxing this time of year, but enjoy staying active and putting our hearts into what we do.  We're continually working on improving virtually every corner of the farm and hope these many small touches will add up to an ideal fall experience for our customers!  Sixty Days 'Til Pumpkin Festival 2010! 

 
 

Rain Delay

WOW!  Have we had a lot of rain lately!!  Since noon on Sunday we've received over 7 inches of rain -- 5+ inches of it Sunday evening.  Between flashes of lightning I could see what looked like a river flowing through the southwest pumpkin patch, and I was sure most of our plants were doomed.  That's the U-Pick patch, too, probably our most important field.  When daylight rolled around and we were able to get out and survey the damage, it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd feared.  We're hopeful that most of the plants will survive and we can replant some short-season varieties in the areas that were washed out.

Our large nature trail bridge washed half a mile and ended up across the road in the neighbors' ditch.  It took out part of the electric fence around the cow pasture on its way through, and my dad called at 6:30 a.m. Monday to tell us that Fern, Molly and Alice were out in the road.  One of our neighbors happened by and helped Terry herd them back home.  The big bridge wasn't too damaged, and after a search we found the smaller bridge buried in debris in the pasture.  By the end of the day yesterday life was pretty much back to normal and we consider ourselves lucky.  There has been a lot of flooding throughout eastern Nebraska (and across the entire Midwest) and we send our thoughts out to all those dealing with real destruction and devastation.

We're looking forward to dryer conditions and getting back out in the dirt.  Our next project will be starting to build the structures for our new gourd garden.  There is also (always!) weeding to be done, and I may start ordering a bit of merchandise for the gift shop soon.  Its hard to believe, but there's less than 3 months until we open for the Pumpkin Festival!

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Join us on Facebook!  We'd love to have you as a fan of Bloom Where You're Planted Farm!

 

 

 
 

Time to get busy again...

Our family took its first "grown up" family vacation last week.  We went to the Manitou Springs, Colorado area with my parents, brother, sister-in-law and niece.  My mom turned 60 in April and this was her belated birthday trip.  It was lots of fun and we enjoyed some quality bonding time.  Here is a photo taken at Eleven Mile Canyon State Park near Lake George, CO.  Terry and I are on the right, in the red and orange.

 

Now its time to get back to work preparing for our sixth-annual Pumpkin Festival.  Our first order of business will be building a big trellis/tunnel for the Kids' Gourd Garden and planting the gourds.  We've been having nice rains these past couple weeks, and the pumpkins (& unfortunately the weeds, too) are responding well.  There is always some weed or bug control to see to, and every year we have lofty goals to keep on top of it better than the last season.  Will that happen?...?  We'll keep you posted! 

It is never too early to plan your fall party or get-together.  We also do summer field trips and campfire parties -- please let us know if there is anything we can help with.  Hope to see you soon at the farm! 

 
 
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