Sunday, October 3, 2010

Farmer for a Day

We try to have a family day once a week and just enjoy each other. It's been a wonderful tradition and helped us spend a lot of quality time together. It's not a day for running errands, house work, projects pertaining to any job or obligation. It's just about family and fun. Some of our fondest memories come from those days, such a treasure, and probably a whole blog post of how it's the essence of simplicity, avoiding-- or at least trying to keep from--running the rat race.

This week we thought it would be fun to go spend the day at a local farm that we had heard about. We looked into several that have all kinds of fun harvest festivals and fall activities, but decided on one that on top of all the farm-fun, allows you to pick your own vegetables with the price of admission. Remember the deal-seeking think I have going! ;) I thought, what better way to get some produce then to include it in our family day and make it a learning and enjoyable experience as well! Brilliant, I know! ;)

Wow! I had NO idea how great it would turn out. First of all, we had an absolutely wonderful day together. The kids LOVED the farm activities which included a petting zoo, jumping balloon, hay bale towers and slides, tractor trains, and all sorts of great things. We packed a picnic and the kids hardly stopped playing long enough to eat even a half of a sandwich.

Then, we went on a hay ride, pulled by a tractor, into the fields to pick our vegetables. Each person was entitled to six 10-lb produce bags for the $15 adult admission price. Our kids were still free. As we were observing the group before us get off we noticed a lot squash, pumpkins, onions and corn. Not super thrilled by the choices we were seeing, we hoping for better results then they had, but were intending to make the best of it.

We get going and our first stop was at the tomato patch. Most of them had obviously seen better days and it was starting to look like slim "good" pickings, but there were a lot of them! Since our main goal was to use them for canning, they didn't need to be pretty and a few bumps/bruises wouldn't hurt. We tried to find as nice of ones as we could without being terribly picky and came back to the tractor with 2 1/2 bags worth! We were off to a great start and we were getting excited! The kids really enjoyed it as well. Our oldest was busy picking as quickly as she could and very proud of each one she found to put in her bag. Next stop onions. These babies were HUGE and every where. Three 10 lb bags were filled in no time. Then, potatoes. Our driver dropped us off in what seemed like an empty field until he came around with another tractor that suddenly made all kinds of potatoes come popping out of the ground. We all scrambled to gather them up and fill another 3 bags worth. We were loving this, what a great way to teach our kids about where food comes from and for them to be part of the picking it. Such a great experience. The next field had a whole variety of vegetables ranging from beans to celery, leaks, eggplant and cabbage. There were other things too and we gathered up all that we wanted again. We gained a new appreciation for bean pickers, that is a time consuming and tiring job. I'm certain we'll enjoy our bag of beans a little more this year, knowing how much effort went into gathering them. Back on the tractor again and we had a lot to show for our work! We couldn't believe they would let us take this much produce for $30 and it wasn't even over!! :) We came to the carrot patch, 2 more bags. Corn, we went light on knowing that processing it wasn't necessary worth our time and we had already gathered plenty to work on! Then we got just one little pumpkin that our oldest chose for herself. Finally we stopped at the pepper patch and again, 2 more bags were filled with some peppers that were also nearing their final days, but will be perfect for roasting and canning. This picture was taken before we were finished:

 Here it is all loaded up in our car:
This is why I've been busy in my kitchen this week! :) 

Can you tell how excited we were?!?! It was a great day. We spent about 1 1/2-2 hours picking a crazy amount of vegetables after spending a wonderful time playing and enjoying the fall on a farm. It was a wonderful family day. It was extra great because not only did we get to have a bunch of fun, but we got to stock our pantry and freezer in the meantime. 

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