November 1st

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

As the rising sun broke through the clouds this morning, I was walking into my kitchen.

By the end of October, it’s habit for me to look out into the pumpkin patch, looking for parents and kids on the hunt for the perfect one. Many times, especially early in the morning, nothing is out there. Most times, my brain plays tricks on me, and I think I see something, but nothing’s there.

Today was different.

I walked by the window, and almost fell over because I double-taked (is that a word?) so hard. There was either a large dog or huge coyote walking through the pumpkins.

Spoiler alert: it was a massive coyote.

We’ve had huge population issues around our house – my parents have woken up multiple times over the past couple weeks to Henna facing down packs of over 3 coyotes in their front yard. One morning, they were between the house and the barn; for those of you who know their farm layout, that’s basically as in the middle of the farm yard as you could get. They aren’t shy. The opposite is true, actually – they’ve become extremely bold.

I took this image at 8:30 this morning – that’s on the later side for a coyote to be out. He also stood out in the middle of tarnation, right on our driveway, for over a minute. They aren’t afraid. And this one was by itself, so that raises the “bold bar.” He even noticed I was watching him at one point, and didn’t budge.


And, for those of you wondering, no he wasn’t interested in my chickens. Maybe he was interested in the neighbor’s chickens (he was heading that way before he saw me),  but I watched him come across the field, and he didn’t even glance in the direction of our coop. That doesn’t mean that in the future he wouldn’t notice it, but at least for this morning, the girls were fine.

Also – don’t take this as fear mongering. The moment I walked outside, he split. A healthy coyote is not a danger to you or your kids. However, I’m not a fan of having so many around. They rotate territories, so soon they’ll move out, but they’ll be back after a few weeks again. Hopefully by then, they’ll have feasted on gut piles left behind by deer hunters, and be satisfied staying out of the farm yard.

September 26th

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

The saying goes on the farm that it doesn’t matter the day of the year – holiday, birthday, or anniversary – if work needs to be done, it gets done. Most years, this applied for doing first cutting of hay on my birthday every summer.

Today, same goes for when you’re sick.

I’m feeling better today, but can definitely tell I’m still experiencing muscle weakness. Pumpkins seemed to weigh 3x what they should have, which was frustrating, as I love picking pumpkins, but that’s the way it goes. Paul stepped up without complaint to do all of the heavy lifting today.

We had a method – I searched them out, cut them off the vine, and Paul hauled them out of the field.

It felt like it took longer than it should have, but it was all worth it – take a look at this beautiful ornamental wagon!

Over 100 Jack Sprats, hundreds of gourds and Casperitas, 40+ Jarradales, and 30+ Wartys. We’ve never had a full ornamental wagon, and we’re loving it!

And behind me when I took this picture is our “normal” wagon – pre-picked $5 pumpkins for those who don’t want to pick from the field.

The sun was shining, and you can’t ask for more than that…

Except when you can.

Paul and I had just finished putting everything together, organizing, pulling down carts and clippers, posting signs, and we had a car pull up. Out they came, out to the field.

We aren’t technically open until Friday, but people are READY. We were obviously out of town last weekend, but multiple people messaged me saying they stopped out “just to make sure” we weren’t open yet.

We waved to the family as they walked out to the field, laughing to ourselves because we felt like we were being stalked a bit. And we couldn’t stop smiling, because you can’t help but feel the joy of the season. Especially when you watch the kids race out to the field, screaming with laughter.

We looked at each other, shrugged, and said “The customers have spoken. I guess the ‘OPEN’ sign is going out early.”

So, friends, we are indeed OPEN! Now through Halloween, anytime during daylight hours. We can’t wait to see what the weekend brings!

September 24th

Monday, September 24th, 2018

With wedding #1 down, Paul and I are spending this week getting the patch ready for opening on Friday.

I was walking the field picking Casperitas and gourds when I heard a bird chirping. This isn’t abnormal, as many birds have nests and take cover  in the patch. However, this bird was following me and was very insistent in its chirping.

I looked up and was pleasantly surprised to see this sweet male Downy Woodpecker. I stood up and watched him for a bit, and he was just as interested in me and I was in him.

The only camera I had with me was my 24-105mm, not ideal for birding. That lens is much better suited for landscapes, not for zooming in on pinpointed subjects. You have to be relatively close to your subject for them to fill the frame.

With wild birds, that’s pretty much always a no-go. They never let me get that close.

However, I got ten feet away from this guy, and he wasn’t concerned. He simply hopped from sunflower stalk to sunflower stalk, continually chirping at me.

It was so neat!

September 6th

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

I am soooo behind in doing a self portrait (sorry friends!), so here we go!

Pumpkins are always such a huge undertaking every spring. I love shopping for the seed; paging through the catalog, selecting what varieties we want to try each year, I love that. The planting, weeding, and praying for good weather patterns throughout the summer? Not my favorite.

But each year, we get to this point in the season, and know that it was all worth it.

I absolutely LOVE picking pumpkins. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Massive, 50+ pounders? Bring it on, I’ll work on getting them out all day. Hunting for hours for our small, elusive, camouflage Daisy Gourds? I’m your girl. Stomping weeds, cleaning off hundreds of pumpkins to put on the wagon, hauling them up into the Ranger through ankle-deep mud, arranging and re-arranging the display on the wagons everyday in October? Please, please, pick me!

They become my babies. I talk to them when I’m walking through the field, and I definitely have my favorites. Honestly, I put some pumpkins on the wagons in October and am really sad to see them go because I watched them grow all summer. But I love pulling them from the field, knowing that Paul and I grew them. There’s a lot of gratification there.

It may be the most cathartic thing I do all year. It really is my happy place.

Today, I was out in the patch picking Casperitas (mini whites) and Daisy Gourds. Last fall, Kya had mentioned how much she’d love to have small pumpkins and gourds as parts of their centerpieces for their wedding at the end of this September. So as part of their wedding gift, Paul and I said we’d purchase seeds and grow some for them, and they’re ready for picking! Hard to believe it’s already that time, Ki! Wedding in T-Minus three weeks!!

So, an hour or two later, over fifty Casperitas, and over sixty gourds picked and ready to go – we’re ready to party!


August 30th

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

This was the only photo I took today. The day got away from me, but I can give a little patch update today.

I was out in the pumpkin patch this morning pulling weeds, and I saw this beauty. Not as large as others in the field, but a gorgeous orange color, nearly perfectly shaped, just the right amount of ribbing.

We have so many great pumpkins out in the patch this year. We always do, but this year’s growing season seemed to be just the right amount of rain and sun. Both the plants and the pumpkins are massive; I attempted to walk out across the patch today, and the plants were very dense – they were waist high!

The vines are still healthy and pumpkins are still growing, so it’s hard to see just how many pumpkins are out there (especially when many of them are still green!). I’m looking forward to when the vines start to die back and we can really see what we have out there.


July 10th

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

My dad was my super hero today.

I hadn’t been home for long this afternoon when my dad pulled up with the tractor. I knew he had taken the day off today, but was puzzled by why he came over with the tractor.

Paul had tried to till our pumpkin patch over the weekend, but we could only do half the rows because of how wet the field still was. He has been on a trip this week, so he hasn’t been home to finish the rest of the rows now that the field is dry enough. While he comes home tomorrow, and could’ve easily done it then, our window for tilling between rows is closing rapidly. Our plants are flourishing and beginning to vine out. Once they do that, we can’t get between the rows anymore.

The goal is to get in the field right before vining, so that all of the weeds get chopped up, making a clean row for pumpkins to expand into. It also eliminates competition for water and soil nutrients for the pumpkin plants. It also helps make the field look cleaner too.

Dad had just finished tilling our outdoor arena, and was going to finish tilling the pumpkin field for us.

On his day off, he came to help us check this task off our list.

So I ran the rows and moved plants that had already started to vine out while he tilled. It only took us about an hour, but that hour will help tremendously with weed control and pumpkin yield.

If you’re reading this, thank you Dad! I love you!

June 22nd

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

When you have company, it makes work more tolerable.

Paul and I spent most of the day in the pumpkin field today, weeding. Paul started with our garden tiller to get closer to the pumpkin plants than our seven foot tiller can, while I hoed and hand pulled weeds between the plants.

Three acres of pumpkins to weed.

We didn’t get to all of our rows, but the ones we did finish look great!

While we were weeding, I kept noticing these black and yellow striped caterpillars. I didn’t really think much about it (there are many bugs in the field, what’s one more?), until I noticed one on almost every other pumpkin plant.

I looked up what they were, and they’re Monarch caterpillars! I’m hoping they don’t want to eat our pumpkin plants; none had any marks like they were being fed on.

I was excited to see so many pollinators! We have lots of milkweed around our field, so I’m hoping there’s enough to support cocoon building for as many caterpillars as I saw.

A fun find, that’s for sure!

June 15th

Friday, June 15th, 2018

We were up with the sun today to beat the heat.

With a heat advisory that started at one this afternoon, and a field full of pumpkins to till, we wanted to be done as soon as possible.

When I took this picture, we were about three quarters done when the tiller needed a break to cool down. We walked up to the house for a water break, and looked back. The three acre field doesn’t seem that big until you see the tractor out in it.

October 28th

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

The snow stuck around overnight!

That just confirmed it for me – I’m not ready for snow and winter. It was fun to get a little snow just for something different, but I was disappointed when I woke up this morning and it was still there.

Oh well. All in good time.

So in that spirit, I did a little flat lay this afternoon to hang onto fall.  We grew those lovely little Daisy gourds in our patch this year, and these are our last two. They’re so festive and fun – they will be making a reappearance in the field next year for sure.

Paul and I have a beautiful little Burning Bush in front of our front porch that is always brilliant this time of year so the leaves came from that.

Trying to preserve as many of the little bits of the season via photographs as I can.

October 27th

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Well, this is a new one for us.

Snowy pumpkins. Three inches of snow today as a matter of fact. The wet, heavy, super sticky stuff.

Are you ready for winter? I don’t think I’m quite there yet. It was a cozy day at home with Paul – we were able to get a lot done and feel nestled in at home. I do love that feeling, but I love fall equally.

June 1st

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

The seeds are in the ground!

We are so thankful for the clear skies over the last couple of days. We could see the field drying out. So we hopped to it – it took nine hours between prepping and planting for a three acre field. Cultivating, tilling, planting, cultivating again; we were out until one this morning. But it’s done!

May 21st

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

We had a meeting of the minds today.

For those of you who don’t know, Paul and I run a pick your own pumpkin patch. My family ran it when I was growing up, but as of last year it was passed on to us. Our first season was a VERY wet one. We would get five inches of rain at a time throughout the summer. It was so wet that we were picking pumpkins in September trying to bail them out of standing water so they didn’t rot. Unfortunately, this year is off to the same start.

In Minnesota’s climate, the best time to plant pumpkins for their growing cycle is late May to early June. Too early and your pumpkins don’t last until Halloween, too late and they may not have the chance to turn orange before the first freeze. So even though we knew the rain was coming last week, there was nothing we could do about it. We just had to pray that we’d end up on the lower end of rain potential.

Well, we were on the high end. Four inches later, we have standing water everywhere. So we met up with my dad today to talk through options. We already knew that we’re going to have to push back planting at least a week, and because of that, the corn more than likely won’t go in. By that time, it will be on the late end to plant sweet corn, and the neighboring field has field corn this year, not soy beans like we had planned for. Although cross contamination/pollination between corn is unlikely, we’re not sure that we want to risk the seed that we have.

We roll with the punches here at Dream Acres Farm.

All we can do at this point is leave it in God’s hands and hope that he’ll give us some good drying weather for the next 7-10 days. We’ll see what happens!