Wednesday, September 30, 2015
We normally save our pumpkin patch visit for a weekend in October, but this year our October weekends have quite a few more obligations, and the September weather was too good to pass up. So with a free and sunny Sunday, we decided to head west of town about 30 minutes to visit the Barn Stahl farmstead.
I love the tradition of visiting a pumpkin patch every fall. We have gone to one or another ever since Jaden was a baby, and the progression of pictures from year to year make me smile. In fact, I still place Jaden's first pumpkin patch visit - and Brandon's first pumpkin patch experience - in frames in our living room every time the Fall décor comes out.
It's a day I look forward to every single year. There's something so sweet and simple in these little day trips. I love the corn fields in the background, the way Brandon always navigates to the smallest of pumpkins, or as he calls them - the baby pumpkins, the way our family picture looks and changes every year - though always surrounded by hay bales or corn stalks. How my kids know this is a tradition they can count on every year and even how I know these experiences are fleeting. Eventually the boys will feel they are too old for days like this, but even as they grow, I hope they always relish in the special moments like these that are made for family and togetherness.
Barn Stahl was a new experience for us this year. Last year we drove two hours for a much bigger pumpkin patch experience, a much more commercialized - and crowded - day spent at Center Grove Orchard. And though that day was filled with memories and plenty of fun, sometimes less is more. I wanted something more simplistic this year, and we found it. I love Barn Stahl. I loved that there weren't many others there besides us. I loved that we had plenty of room and time to freely roam at our own pace. I loved that there was just enough to do without being overwhelmed by too much.
Moments of our day...
There was no shortage of animals. From the baby kittens wandering around, to the hedgehog and baby skunk to the camels and zebra that were a little intimidating, to the goats and ostrich and bunnies. And even the tortoise! We spent lots of time feeding, petting and visiting all of them in between all of our other activities.
The boys absolutely loved the barn and loft. Just inside were the goats to feed and the hay maze to bike through. And upstairs was a dream. A full-sized basketball court equipped with balls and hoops for Jaden - and a hay palace perfect for Brandon. He could have spent hours crawling through the secret hay tunnels and loved taking the flashlight app on Daddy's phone with him through the dark and twisty turns. Other kids joined in later, and Brandon acted as their little navigation guide when they weren't quite sure where to go.
Papa Tim left his mark...
The racing ducks were another favorite. These boys of mine are not competitive at all... ;)
Oh, the corn maze. This was actually our first ever experience at trying to make our way through one of these things, and we sincerely got lost in there! At one point Daddy and the boys got separated from me, Tim and Deanne, and after the three of us made our way out - back through the entrance since we couldn't find the exit - Deanne and I each stood at the entrance and exit and called out the boys' names for a good 10 minutes before we could hear their voices again! This maze was no joke!
From inside the maze... I love this picture of him.
...and our view from the top!
A seriously powerful pumpkin cannon and a corn ear cannon just the right size for the kids. Brandon managed to hit both the face and the tire of the bus in his four tries. Harder than it looked!
And of course, a hay rack ride through the actual pumpkin fields. Because the day wouldn't have been complete without it.
And probably the best part of our day - the enlarged tire swing. I am telling you, we laughed until we cried. It looks tame and probably would be - if Papa Tim and Daddy weren't the ones in charge of the pushing and spinning!
They got us going so fast by the end that Jaden was screaming of terror, I was screaming and laughing of the thrill of it and Brandon flew off of it right into Daddy's arms right at the moment that Papa and Daddy realized they'd probably taken it a little too far. ;) But these pictures and those memories... some of my most favorites.
Our day also included snacks of sliced apples drizzled with caramel, chocolate and chocolate chips (yum), caramel corn - and of course, baby pumpkins to take home for decoration.
It was a good one.
It was such a good afternoon that I think we'll find another free Sunday in October to do it again at another one of our favorite pumpkin patches. You can never have too many pumpkins. Or family pictures in the middle of a corn field. :)