Saturday, October 29, 2011

Not your ordinary trip to the Pumpkin Patch: Love Creek Orchard

When you go to a pumpkin patch in Texas, you just might get to ride a horse, y'all!

We spent the day at the Great Hill Country Pumpkin Patch at Love Creek Orchards in Medina, Texas , and we got lots more than just pumpkins. In fact, pumpkin hunting and gathering was the least interesting part of the trip. We did so much more....

Hay maze:

We did some crafts and heard stories told by some Texas Cowboys. We learned about Native Americans and saw them dance. Took a few hayrides (which were VERY hard on the allergies):

Fed some cows, donkeys, and even got to see a llama doing her banking:

Native American dance party:

Heard and saw an actual Mexican Free Tailed bat "house." (Can't believe I didn't get a picture of that, and all the poop under their house.)

The best part of our day was when we learned about apple tree grafting, growing dwarf root stock trees, cleaning, sorting, packaging and production. I consumed about 24 oz of FRESH (literally pressed through a cloth right in front of us!) apple juice. It tastes NOTHING like what you buy at the store.

This fabulous lady, Genie Strickland, has been with the orchard for TWENTY years. She told us about the importance of buying local and what that means for the commuinity and the quality of the produce. I loved that Genie took the time to TEACH us what they do using scientific terms and providing a historical perspective. Kids may be little, but they are smart and will remember this part of the day more than any other. Genie knows this, and did a great job.

Genie also gave many examples of how the workers at the orchard don't throw anything away. Even scrap branches and rotten fruit have a useful purpose. She asked the kids to come up with alternative uses for everything that one might throw away.

Maddie got a chance to load the apples into the apple washer/polisher/sorter thingamigiggy. The kids were told to quickly (and gently) dump the apples onto the conveyor belt, but Madison decided to line them up one by one. Zak and I couldn't help but to steal a sideways glance and quiet laugh at our very meticulous daughter. Even when the tour guide suggested Maddie didn't need to line them up, she looked at her smiled, said "okay," and continued doing it exactly the same way.

Our girl likes ORDER.

On the way home, I was talking about the unsung work that goes on on local farms, and Zak wondered if I secretly wanted to be a farmer or rancher. NOPE. Clearly, I don't have the work ethic it takes, but I'm in awe of how much a local farm can do for the community. Due to the most severe drought in Texas history, the farm suffered a near total loss of the late apple harvest. Literally, the orchard's WELL DRIED UP. Employees of the orchard don't just work there year round, they must take on several jobs to make ends meet.

Spending the day (and lots of money) at the orchard was the least we could do to support the work that happens here, and hope we'll be able to return again next year to see the lush green property with trees full of apples to pick and take home!

That is Victor Strickland (Genie's husband!) driving the girls around. I think he had more fun than the kids did!

Honk yer Little John Deere tractor horn if you love farmers!

Better yet, BUY LOCAL if you love farmers.

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