Bloom Where You're Planted Farm

  (Avoca, Nebraska)
A family-owned educational farm & pumpkin patch near Avoca, Nebraska
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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!




Yee-Haw!  We're finally going to get back to normal temperatures this week, in the low to mid-30s!  Before the melting starts I wanted to share some photos following our third major snowstorm of the winter.  We were finally able to get out on Saturday afternoon, and just going to the mini-mart in our small town was a treat!  

Our "Knight in John Deere Armor", my Dad, who rescued us with his tractor and loader.  Thanks, Dad!


Nebraska, or Alaska??

We had a really unusal Christmas here on the farm.  It was white, and beautiful, and peaceful...  But we were all alone.  Snowed in from Christmas Eve (when we did manage to get one family Christmas in before the roads drifted too bad) until Monday the 28th, when we finally got the driveway cleared.  Our little tractor wasn't big enough, and we had to wait until the snowplow came through the road and my dad could dig their driveway out and bring his bigger tractor over. 

It reminded me of what Christmas must have been like in the "old days", and it was actually kind of nice for the first couple of days.  I did lots of cooking (luckily we had plenty of advance warning and bought lots of groceries) and we had a romantic Christmas dinner at the dining room table, looking out through the windows drifted in the corners with snow.  The power stayed on, which was a real blessing.  Staying warm was the first concern, of course, but it would have been a LONG weekend without television!  There was our departure from the "old fashioned" Christmas!

We are having a very strange winter, more like Alaska than Nebraska.  It has been a strange weather year overall.  The summer was cooler than normal, which was great.  We had our first snow in October, which was NOT great.  And now we've had two big snowstorms and snowfall every few days.  I'm undecided how I feel about this, but I'm trying to keep a positive attitude and pretend we've moved north somewhere.  I wonder if there are any pumpkin patches in Alaska??



Snow Ponies

Our snowstorm last week brought around 12-14 inches of snow, followed by bitter cold temperatures and single-digit highs.  While the cows, cats, dog and humans around here have been staying inside being lazy, the horses are having a ball.

Here are some photos I took during the heaviest part of the snowstorm:

 Sachi (left) and Sully


Sully, just after having a good roll in the snow.

The whole gang out for a run


Love those Freebies!

I call these unseasonably warm days we've been having "Freebies".  It's winter, it's supposed to be cold....but suddenly, for one or two glorious days, we get a glimpse of spring.  Its warm enough to go for a walk outside without a coat.  We can sit on the porch in the sun, enjoying the heat without humidity, bugs, or worry of a sunburn.  And the best part is, since its only for a few days, there's no time to get any real work done outdoors--so we can just relax!  If we do decide to work on a project its a pleasure, and we find ourselves saying over and over, "Wow, this weather is great!" or "Can't believe how nice it is out here!"

We had a Freebie yesterday, and are looking for more today and tomorrow.  Then I'm sure we'll be back to winter for awhile, but it never seems as bad after that.  There is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel!




Bird Watching

It's almost creepy, the amount of birds that are around our yard this time of year.  The grass and flowerbeds this morning were absolutely teeming with Yellow Finches, Dark-Eyed Juncos (a.k.a. snowbirds), Cardinals and sparrows.  At the same time on the trees I saw a Nuthatch and several Blue Jays.  I even saw a chilly-looking Robin who was probably wishing he was somewhere further south. 


This fellow is a Red-Bellied Woodpecker.  He came to our corn feeder several times while I watched.


These are Northern Flickers.  There were three all together, rooting around my Stella de Oro daylillies.  I don't see them around here very often, especially that many at once.


You just can't beat the beauty of the male Cardinal!  It's one of the best things about our Nebraska winters.




A Visitor

I spend most of my time indoors during the winter -- especially this week, as it has been at or near zero degrees during the day for the past couple of days.  There's nothing I love more than being outside during the spring, summer and fall, but winter I can do without.  As I walk through the house I'm constantly glancing out the windows looking for wildlife.  I really got in the habit of this last winter when we had a major beaver infestation around the creek.  I desperately wanted to spot one of the little boogers but never did.  Thankfully, they left in the spring and haven't returned, but the habit is still with me. 

Snow on the ground makes it easier to spot visitors, which are usually birds or the occasional squirrel.  Yesterday I spotted this guy stopping by the creek for a drink and a rest.

Have a great weekend!




Stayin' Cozy

I just stepped outside the back door and took this photo across the field.  It is snowing big, pretty flakes, and they're blowing around in a sort of mini-blizzard.   I'm looking forward to a cozy evening in the house eating comfort food.  Stay warm!



Horsin' Around

Happy 2009!  Now that the holidays and the first week of the new year are behind us, our thoughts begin to turn toward this fall's Pumpkin Festival.  There is so much to do in the next 9 1/2 months!  We have lots of plans, and although much of it can't be started until warmer weather arrives, there are plenty of office-type tasks to keep me busy inside.  Sales tax, income tax, insurance quotes...  Besides our farm business, Terry is a self-employed building and remodeling contractor and that makes for even more fun and exciting recordkeeping duties.  Although these tasks aren't my favorite, it sure feels good when they're done! 

The weather this morning was sunny and relatively warm, without any of that good old Nebraska wind that seems constantly with us in the wintertime.  So, I grabbed my camera and headed out to visit the horses.  They were enjoying the weather and feelin' downright frisky. 

Did you ever wonder what horses do for fun, when they think no one is watching? 





They walk around on two legs!  Or maybe Sully was just raring up, I can't be sure. 

They also enjoy a good roll in the hay ... literally.


I hope you find plenty of time in this new year for horsin' around!



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