Ever since Lillian was a year old, we’ve had a running family tradition where we visit a pumpkin patch in the fall. Last year, we visited County Line Orchard (details in this post), and the year before we visited Stade’s Farm Market (details in this post). And this year, we continued the tradition with a visit to Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm in Homer Glen, IL (a little under an hour southwest of us) with our three-year-old and new little baby in tow.
Our visit was on October 19th, meaning Rosemarie was just over one month old at the time. We’d been picking a different pumpkin farm every year, just to try something new, although Bengtson’s happens to be the one my family used to visit every year when I was growing up. I hadn’t been back there in probably 15 or 20 years, and a lot has changed from what I recall in those hazy childhood memories.
There was no shortage of pumpkins to be seen upon arrival, including pumpkins that had been arranged into fun shapes like a totem pole with gourds to make up the faces:
And those giant boulder-looking things behind the totem pole in the photo above are actually real pumpkins — probably some of the biggest ones I’ve ever seen! Here’s Joe and Lillian posing with one of them for scale:
For anyone curious, here’s a closer view of that sign — 1,692.5 pounds of real pumpkin, grown in Wisconsin and weighed at a Great Pumpkin Commonwealth weigh off. (Check out that website if you’re interested in seeing some truly gigantic pumpkins — the record is apparently over 2,000 pounds, making this one only modestly large by comparison!)
There were various Halloween-themed displays, like this animatronic skeleton band:
And the gigantic “Fun Slide.” Lillian wanted to go on this slide from the moment she saw it, since she loves slides and this has gotta be the biggest one she’s ever seen in her little life:
So I took Lillian on the slide while Joe stayed with the stroller and Rosemarie. The line was fairly long, and it took us a full 30 minutes to get through it, which must have taken all the patience a two (going-on-three) year old could muster. (Though she was remarkably calm and patient during the wait — must’ve been the promise of a ride down that gigantic candy colored slide awaiting us at the end.)
The way it works is you ride down the slide on these burlap blankets, and the littler kids had the option to ride on their parents’ laps, so me and Lillian went down together. Joe managed to capture this photo just as we were reaching the bottom:
Not too far from the gigantic fun slide was this little play area, with colorful pumpkin play houses, and a much smaller frog slide:
Another thing they had in plentiful supply (but not pictured in this blog post) is port-a-potties. These could be found all around the farm in clusters of three or four, and while on the one hand it was convenient to never be too far from a bathroom, on the other hand, if you’re visiting with a newly-potty-trained little one, the novelty may be too hard for them to resist. (Or at least that was our experience — Lillian must’ve insisted on using 5 or 6 different port-a-potties during the few hours we were at the pumpkin farm.)
Towards the end we went on the requisite hayride, which involved wooden seats in carts pulled by a tractor (so no actual hay, which I do remember existing during visits here as a kid):
I also have distinct memories of an actual pumpkin patch, but I guess with suburban subdivisions pressing in from all sides, there must not have been room for that anymore. Instead there was just this field with pumpkins that had been brought into it:
In all fairness, there was really no point to having the tractor ride, since the farm really isn’t big enough to need it. Walk another 20 or 30 feet to the left in the above photo and you’ll start running into the play area with the frog slide, and the gigantic Fun Slide beyond that — we actually walked through the pumpkin patch a few times before taking the tractor ride there again for completeness sake.
Overall, Bengtson’s Farm as it exists now seems to be very different from the place I remember visiting as a kid (mostly in the sense of it being smaller and more artificial)… but I don’t think those differences are too big of a deal for the next generation of visitors. Lillian had a blast.
And speaking of pumpkins, we couldn’t resist dressing Rosemarie up in this adorable pumpkin baby costume for the occasion:
I would say she’s a little grumpy about the costume, but Rosemarie has had one of the grumpiest poutiest little baby faces ever, pretty much since she was born. (She does smile sometimes, I promise! Even if photographing it is as difficult and elusive as photographing Bigfoot.)
Anyway, that was our pumpkin patch trip this year! And a long-overdue update to this blog, which unfortunately has been getting put on the back burner lately. While it may be tempting to blame this on the time-demands of having a new baby, the truth is that Rosemarie has been similar to her big sister in terms of being a fairly easy baby, and with Joe being a fantastic dad who shares in the baby-rearing duties 50/50, we’ve really been taking it all in stride.
No, admittedly the big distraction for me over these last few weeks has been job-related: I learned firsthand how stressful it can be to go on a (short, carefully-planned) maternity leave only to find that your job isn’t coming back when you expected it would, and to suddenly find yourself scrambling to do freelance work while sending out job applications. Thankfully it turned out to be only a delay rather than an outright layoff in my case (knock on wood) and it’s a relief to be settling back into things without having to worry about the possibility of unemployment at a time when our family just got bigger and we gained all the additional responsibilities and expenses that go along with that.
So that’s another thing to be thankful for — and just in time for Thanksgiving! Have a happy turkey-eating holiday, everyone!