A family-owned educational farm & pumpkin patch near Avoca, Nebraska
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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!
Posted by Teresa
@ 12:58 PM CDT
May and June have been a whirlwind and it is hard to believe July is just a week away. This has been a busy and exciting time on the farm as pumpkin planting time just ended. We started planting May 24 with some of the longer season hardshell (big green) gourds. They require about 120 days to mature, and we always try to time our plantings out with opening day of pumpkin season, so things are ripe just in time but not too early/late.
The bulk of our planting was done on June 3. It was a long day with the tractor and planter. Terry's parents were generous enough to let us plant a big plot on their farm and we're excited about what this land can yield for us if nature cooperates.
Final planting of shorter season squash and the tunnel and walls in the gourd garden was finished last week. Everything is coming up beautifully and we're very thankful for the rain and warm temperatures which have been perfect for pumpkin germination and growth. We planted a total of 39 varieties of pumpkins, winter squash and gourds and look forward to a lot of variety this fall.
Our junkin' adventure continues, too. We did a little flea market festival at Christ Lutheran Church on June 8. We had a good time at this very well-run event and made good sales of our farm relics/vintage/antique/"junque" merchandise before we were rained out late-morning. June 14-16 was Junk Jubilee West in Lincoln, NE, our first big show. We set up a 12 ft. by 22 ft. mini-store for three days and really enjoyed all the customers and other vendors we met. We handed out a ton of cards advertising the Pumpkin Festival and our second Rural Route Rust Sale scheduled for Nov. 2 & 3. We continue to "pick" and search for more great merchandise when we're not busy tending to the crops and farm animals. The barn this fall will be stuffed with new-old stuff as well as our usual selection of seasonal gifts and decor.
JULY 13 is our Barn Sale. 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Shop for vintage items, antiques and GOOD JUNK. Come out to score that perfect piece for your home or yard. There will even be a rough room/sale area. Hot dogs, chips, cold drinks & baked goods will be available. Also enjoy the Kids Corral, swings, and farm animals. Admission is FREE.
We hope to see you soon on the farm!
A bit of our booth at Junk Jubilee West...
Posted by Teresa
@ 09:02 AM CDT
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!
Posted by Teresa
@ 01:07 PM CDT
Mid-July already? What?? I can't seem to believe it's this time of year already, although the signs are all there. The cicadas are singing, we ate our first BLTs yesterday with our homegrown tomatos, the corn is all tassled and the pumpkins are blooming and starting to fruit.
Here are some photos of mid-summer on the farm. 65 days until the opening of our eighth-annual Pumpkin Festival!
First Gourd Harvest of the Season! This one grew as a volunteer on our burn pile.
Our first effort at broom corn looks like it will be a success!
Dave and Buster moved in with Gabby and they're getting along well.
Vines are starting to cover the gourd tunnel. That's a 'Silver Edge' pumpkin (a new variety for us) growing in front.
New planter around the sign at the end of our driveway
Have a great summer! Hope to see you soon on the farm!
Posted by Teresa
@ 01:32 PM CDT
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!
Posted by Teresa
@ 10:55 AM CDT
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!
Posted by Teresa
@ 10:18 PM CDT
We started our planting last Thursday (5/28) and finished up on Sunday evening. This is record time for us -- maybe after six years we're finally getting the hang of it! (KNOCK ON WOOD...I wouldn't want to jinx it for next year!)
We planted four "patches". One of the two big patches south of the house has all of our specialty colored pumpkin varieties, along with all the gourds and squash. That should be a fun one to watch. We planted a new pumpkin variety called "Knucklehead", one new large/bottle-type gourd variety, and three new, very decorative kinds of squash.
We're excited about offering hay rides for the first time this year! The second large patch to the south will be where we stop to let hayrack riders choose their pumpkins. It has the small pie pumpkins, the giant Big Max pumpkins, and two Jack-O-Lantern-sized varieties. I don't know if anyone will choose the giant pumpkins from the field (they weigh 50-150 lbs!) but it should make for some great photo opportunities.
Two more Jack-O-Lantern varieties went into the north patch by the Chicken House. The small patch by the schoolhouse will again be a U-Pick patch and has pie pumpkins, Turk's Turban squash, and some funky-looking Blue Hubbard squash.
The seedlings should start coming up this week, and then the bug and weed control begins. It's a labor of love for sure. We'll grow some good ones for you!
Terry planting in the north patch. He finished up just before a surprise hail storm hit!
Rocket gets excited about planting time, too!
Posted by Teresa
@ 09:28 AM CDT
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