Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pumpkin Picking

Today I picked my own pumpkins. From a pumpkin patch. On the edge of a cornfield. With no one else around. That’s country life for you! 

While I was with my kids in the car on my way to visit the guys in the field, Grant called me and said that his high school friend offered us pumpkins out on his property. Since I was near, Grant gave me the directions: go down the gravel road, take a left at the t, go around a bunch of curves and look for a green and white shed. (That’s usually how directions go when it comes to telling me where to drive among the corn and bean fields.) Sure enough, I couldn’t miss the shed, drove around it and looked for a bunch of pumpkins laying around for me to take home. There were no pumpkins in sight. I called Grant asking if I had to actually find a pumpkin patch and go out into the field and pick them. Sure enough, as I rounded the corner, I spotted pumpkins that looked like they were out of “It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”! They were huge and still attached to their vines. 

I got out, took a look around, and discovered beautiful pumpkins scattered among vines throughout a large patch next to the corn field. I found a few that looked to be the right size for carving, stepped through some vines and went down to reach for a pumpkin. Who knew that pumpkin vines and stalks were sooo prickly! It was the same discovery six years ago when I went to pull my very first zucchini in my own vegetable garden: I came into the house with a bag full of zucchini but an arm full of itchy scratches form their vines. But these pumpkins were different. The only place I could touch without getting stuck in the arm or hand was the pumpkin itself. I had no gloves or my strong farmer husband to help me. Just me, corn fields, a bunch of pumpkins still in the field, and my two toddlers in the car watching a movie (thank goodness for dvd systems). 

My pumpkins!
If I was going home with pumpkins, I had to find a spot where I could step into without getting too scratched up on my legs and bend down to take hold of a pumpkin while pulling it from its vine. After managing some athletic moves and crushing vines to the side with my shoes, I found a few good sized pumpkins to take home for fall decorations and Halloween carving. In order to get them free and load them into the car, I had to roll them over on their sides until they broke from their vines. There was no way I was touching those stalks with bare hands. 

This was a country experience at its finest. I was alone in a pumpkin patch, my hands and pants were dirty, I was sweaty from all the work of pulling the pumpkins loose, there was a beautiful red barn in the background, and I was surrounded by the sweet sound of silence. I even used the opportunity to get the kids out of the car to see the Charlie Brown sized pumpkins and take a few pictures. 

My pumpkins this year aren’t bought from a local pumpkin patch or road stand, but I picked them myself. And this afternoon, they adorn my front steps waiting for Grant to bring home straw bales and corn stalks from our family farm. 

*And a special thanks to Luke for letting me experience my very own pumpkin picking from his farm! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Red Tractors

Okay, so I keep telling myself that I need to post to this blog more often. Life just doesn't seem to give me much time for writing (for fun). But I just HAD to write a blog post today because I came across something definitely "Farm Notes Worthy"! I still can't believe it.

Grant came home from the IL Farm Show last month with a flyer about a new Red Tractor book that details all the red tractors (Case IH) from 1958-2013. He said it would be a great idea for his dad's birthday present in October, and I agreed.

Since I'm spending some time at home today due to a sick child, I started cleaning off my desk and came across the flyer that was buried under magazines that I have yet to read from this summer. Good thing I found it because October will be here before I know it and I'll need that birthday present!

I went online to the website advertised on the flyer, browsed through the different Red Tractor books available, and stumbled upon a video link that had "Burr Ridge" in the title. Why is this significant? Well, I spend most of my middle school, high school, and college days at home in the Burr Ridge/ Willowbrook/ Darien/ Hinsdale area. I drove past the CaseIH water tower almost everyday, I played softball and watched my brothers play baseball in Harvester Park next to the CaseIH headquarters, but yet I never knew what exactly went on in there. I remember when my mom got remarried that a family friend from Switzerland flew in for the wedding and her husband went to the CaseIH building during their time in town because he was in the "tractor business". Then, when I married Grant, I remember my parents mentioning to him that CaseIH had a plant near by--the same tractor company that he used on his farm.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I clicked on the video link that I found today and found footage of the Burr Ridge CaseIH site and what Burr Ridge used to look like long before the suburban sprawl. Growing up, I didn't realize the significance that location played for famers around the world that use CaseIH equipment or for other industries that use their technology.

Little did I know, while playing softball games as red tractors drove by in the distance in a plot of land outside of the CaseIH building, that I'd marry a farmer that drove those same red tractors. And, it just hit me today that duh, "Harvester" Park is named after the location of where they tested tractors for harvest time. Wow, am I a quick one, or what?!

After 6+ years of marriage to a farmer husband, I'm still amazed at the connections I find in my background to farming. However isolated I was from the importance of agriculture in my life, it was still all around me. It took me marrying a farmer to understand just HOW important agriculture is to all of us and how it is EVERYWHERE we may find ourselves, even if we are living in big cities or suburbs.

Here's the link to the video...the information and footage is very cool!

Take a look at the red tractors from our life on the farm...

June 2007: A CaseIH combine out for display during our Farm Wedding Reception

Harvest 2010: Dinner in the field when Gavin was a baby
February 2011: Doug plows us out of our house during the Blizzard!

Spring 2011: Gavin's 1st tractor ride of planting season
 September 2011: Sidney's birthday party in the field!
Harvest 2011: tractor and combine rides
Harvest 2011: Visitors love taking combine rides during harvest
Spring 2012: Planting with Daddy
Harvest 2012: Family picture after bringing pizza to the field
Harvest 2013: These days, there's a variety of colors in our fields