While driving in The Nature Conservancy caravan, Tricia and I passed Caraway Farm in Stout, Ohio, in Adams county's Blue Creek Valley, a tobacco and specialty pumpkin operation buried deep in the gorgeous southern Ohio hills. The photo-op chimp in me began to pant-hoot and I howled as we rolled past, wanting only to sink my lens into those tableaux.
So when we got separated from the group, it was only natural that we'd head back to the punkin farm for a little shopping and scenery. All who wander are not lost. Some of them are just joyriding, shopping, digging the scenery, taking photos, or doing a little of all that.
Smart shoppers among you may note the prices on the signs, which are oh, about one-fifth what you'd pay in my town at least. $1.50 for a striped Cushaw squash (a big winter squash, Cucurbita mixta)? Not in Marietta!
These glowing behemoths were $10 each, even the white ones. You can see why I went a little crazy. Apparently, I'm not the only one. We heard the cautionary tale of a woman from Cincinnati who arrived with a panel van last year and loaded it up with what turned out to be a couple of tons of pumpkins. Of course, she had plans to resell them at Urban Prices (something I hadn't thought of, wouldn't think of, but that's why I'm a starving artist). The farm proprietors, well aware of what she was up to, happy to sell a lotta pumpkins, but worried for her, warned her that she might break an axle, and to drive extra slowly and carefully.
Weighed down by enormous moment of a couple of tons of pumpkins, she was unable to stop her vehicle at a light and rear-ended somebody on her way into Cinci. Whoops. Sounds like a cautionary Aesop's fable, doesn't it? The Lady, The Van, and The Pumpkins. I only hope the pumpkins that weren't busted in the accident helped pay for the repairs. I can tell you that a Subaru handles a little differently with a back seat full of pumpkins--I can only imagine how that van must have careened.
I decided to stick with the smaller pumpkins. These glorious gray-blue creations called Jarrahdales caught my eye. Yeah, $2.50 each. I wanted to buy ten! They have a fabulous, fine brilliant orange flesh and make a terrific pie. Too bad I'm not a piemaker. Cobblers are more my thing. But it's nice to know you can eat them as well as swoon over how they look. I may yet make a pumpkin bread from them, if I can bear to cut into them.
photo by Tricia West
As fun as pumpkin shopping is, it's way more fun with a friend. Tricia West and I had such a ball pointing out especially cool gourds and pumpkins to each other, and trying to figure out how to get all our prizes in the Subaru, which was already (typically) full of my stuff. Here she is with part of our haul. We couldn't resist the gooseneck gourds.
The dew was still on the pie pumpkins. Each one with such a pretty stem, so carefully grown and cut. You don't see that in town, either. All hail Caraway Farm! (Click the link for directions!) And you can now follow them on Facebook. They'll be open through October 31, 11 AM to dark, and they're still picking pumpkins--they were glowing in the fields all around. Sigh. What a beautiful place.
Dig these crazy gourds--I loved the apple gourd that looks like a mutant Delicious, only green. And way too big. And probably not very tasty. Hard on the teeth.
Chiot's Run about cooking with Cinderellas.
Happy shopper. Photo by Tricia West.
It caused me real pain to be without my kids at the Caraway Farm Fall Festival. We'd just stumbled upon it. I knew Liam would be over the moon in that pumpkin patch, just like his mama. He loves all things autumnal; he even had a countdown going on the dry-erase board in our house, counting down to the first official day of Fall. He counts Halloween decorations on our way into town, adding them up in some mysterious way each time we drive in. He's up to 63.
So I decided to bring that sweet boy a huge, perfect white pumpkin that would make his eyes pop out. Never spent a better tenspot. He literally whooped and sang with delight, and spent the next hour arranging and rearranging his treasures on the porch. Yes, there's hope for the plugged-in youth of America, and it's in his sweet head and heart and his passion for beauty of color and form.