Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Pumpkin Patch

I did not grow up in the St. Louis area. Though I've been here since I started college (13 years now...boy do I feel old saying that), there are still a lot of things around town I am still learning, and many places that I never knew existed. Last week, Charlotte's daycare took a field trip to the pumpkin patch at Thies Farm. I had no idea this place existed. We really don't live that far away from the Creve Coeur location, and though I realized that there was some farmland and at least one nursery in that part of town, I didn't know there was a farm that was open to the public with a farmer's market, pumpkin patch, strawberry fields, etc. Not to sound like a commercial for the place, but I'm just mystified that I had no idea that it was there. I will have to remember the farmer's market in the future--they had a lot of good looking veggies in there, including beautiful bell peppers that were grown right near the pumpkins, instead of from Isreal like the ones from Schnucks seem to be.
The field trip was a lot of realy exhausting fun. For once, my "regular" work schedule was a benefit, as the group went on Thursday, one of my days off. I had signed up to go along and help, and was able to leave Trystan for the morning at the daycare while I accompanied Charlotte's class. We arrived around 9am, and I got to watch some of the class room dynamics as the kids finished breakfast and were branded (on their backs with stickers containg the school's address and phone number) and herded first to the potties and then towards the waiting collection of school vans and parent vehicles. Charlotte rode in my car--had she needed to ride in the school van, it would have been a pain as they only have booster seats and she's not heavy enough for one yet. I would have had to install her carseat myself in their van. Our group had 36 kids between 3 and 5 years old, and 11 adults--about half teachers and half parents. There were two school vans and at least a half dozen parent cars, and we looked like an odd sort of funeral procession as we drove the short way to the farm.
Each parent and/or teacher had 3-4 children to keep watch for in the farm's Pumpkinland play area--a neat kiddie play area constructed from haybales and tractor tires. If you havent' been there, it's a lot more impressive than that sounds. I had Charlotte and two other 3 year olds, and I decided that day that I'm thankful not to have triplets. At any one time, two girls would run one direction, and the other would run in the opposite direction. But, I didn't lose anyone and they all had a blast climbing through tunnels, across rope bridges, through the hold of a hay pirate ship (CinderCharlotte nearly lost a shoe there), down a big slide, and more. They had over an hour of playtime before it was our turn for a hayride. We had a tour of the farm, and the driver talked about all of the various things that they do (strawberry festival, Christmas trees, etc). Afterwards, there was a greenhouse with baby farm animals that the kids could look at. Then we all piled back into our caravan, and after all heads were accounted for, drove back to school. The kids got pumpkins and a mini coloring book to take home.
We enjoyed the farm so much that we went back again on Saturday, this time with my husband and Trystan, and some friends of ours. It was such a nice day Saturday that I think half of St. Louis County came also. Charlotte and our friend's son had more playtime in Pumpkinland. We skipped the farm tour hayride this time and instead hopped the wagon to the pumpkin patch to pick a few pumpkins of our own. They had obviously seeded the patch with pumpkins from another field, but there were still plenty on the vine, and all of them looked quite nice (not so bruised and beaten as the grocery store ones always are). I had Trystan in our front carrier the whole time, which made carrying a pumpkin kind of difficult (had one on my head for a while...that hurts). My husband would have carried them, except somehow we came away with three good sized pumpkins, and a very worn-out 3-year-old, which is more than one man can carry. Before we left, we browsed the farmer's market and picked up some fresh-picked sweet potatoes, pumpkin butter (like apple butter--there's no actual butter involved, just spicy pumpkin-y spread), apples (from Michigan as the Missouri crop was nonexistant this year, but yummy nonetheless), and a few other odds and ends. Both kids crashed in the car on the way home.

Charlotte, Trystan and I posing by a pumpkin horse.

This is Charlotte, looking for a little pumpkin amongst the giants. She's been very taken by a book called The Littlest Pumpkin.

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