Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Lesson in Pumpkin Economics with an Alpaca Bonus

Our pumpkin patch fizzled this year.  And by fizzled I mean that Brian planted hundreds of seeds and nary a plant nor pumpkin survived.  Last year we had great success but this year it succumbed to bugs, weeds, and neglect.  We just didn't have the time to put into it this year.  So last weekend we attempted to get some outside fall-y family time and headed out to a pumpkin "patch."  Except that this patch that I remembered from my youth as a quaint little nostalgic field in the country had turned into a high high high cost tacky pseudo-fair thing.  It was disappointing.  We ended up leaving pretty quickly after having to tell the boys over and over that each thing was too expensive and we weren't going to pay 12 dollars each for the wrist band that would let them bounce or ride the tractor and then more for food and then get gouged again for the pumpkins themselves.  Seriously, $20 each for jack o lantern size pumpins.  Eh, no.  Not gonna be plopping out my weekly grocery budget for some pumpkins and a few rides, you know?  

I just kept thinking the whole time what a sad thing it is that so many families are now used to the prices for things being like this and now both parents feel they have to work if they're going to provide their kids with just a little thing like a trip to the pumpkin patch.  But it's this crazy cycle.  People are willing to pay it, so they charge it, so people think that's what things cost nowadays, so they work more, so they earn more, so they spend more, so the cost of living and inflation goes up, so they end up really do needing more money for the same things and on and on and on.  Meanwhile it gets harder for those who are on one income to make it work when two incomes are the expected norm.  Anyhoo, enough of my economics lesson.  We were already thinking what a sweet deal this is that you can work hard for about two months out of the year and I bet the owners are able to live off that the rest of the year.  I could see the gears in Brian's head turning while we were there.  "But," he said "we would make it a place where normal families and people with lots of kids could afford to come and have fun."  That's my man.

 {real}


We ended  up trying to find some of the two dollar size pumpkins in the pick your own patch.  (We couldn't get to the farther fields because you needed a wristband for the hayride there.)  The two dollar pumpkins were smaller than pie pumpkins so the boys scoured the field and all we found these two gourd things.  So we got those.  And then the sweet old man at the entrance to the field said we could have them for free.  I think he felt sorry for us.  He must've heard the boys yelling over and over "is this one a two dollar one?"  

{happy}
It was free to watch the cider press so we did that for a little while and it was neat before it got a little slow.

I have to take a moment to commend my boys for being so great about stuff like this.  I can see how disappointed they are but they don't complain or beg or throw a fit.  They see the other kids doing these super cool looking kid things and I'm sure that's hard for them and it hurts my heart a little that they can't just join in all the time but I know in my head that it's good for them, too.  They find something else to do and they make the best of it.  I feel so proud of them when it comes to stuff like this even when it's hard.

So we left with our oversize gourds and munched on pretzels and apples in the car.  And then on a whim decided to stop at an alpaca farm on the way that was having an open house.  Because why not?



They are so incredibly soft!  And the owner was happy to show them off.  I would love to be able to knit with alpaca yarn but it's pretty pricey.

{funny} 
The owner insisted on taking a family picture of us with the alpaca.  It sort of looks like we're the ones in the cage.  This year's Christmas card?  Blog header?  Should I blow it up real big and Mod Podge it onto a canvas and hang it over the mantel?  

David would like to show you that alpaca eyeballs are very big. 

{pretty} 
I love all the colors but I think I can admit that orange, the theme for Theme Thursday, is my least favorite.  Unless, of course, it's in nature and especially this time of year.  Michael helped me get our fall decorations out a few weeks ago and we added a few things to the living room.  When I stepped back I really loved how the touches (or should I be designy and say "splashes?") of orange made the room feel.


I show a picture of my chinese lanterns every year, I'm sorry.  I just love how neat they are.  These are actually the ones from last year.  I never got new ones this year and Blogger is showing them much oranger than they look in my original photo.  We did try to save some of the seeds from some of them last year and plant them but alas, another gardening fail for the year.





Again linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter and Clan Donaldson!
Get ye there.




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33 comments:

  1. It's so sweet what you said about your boy's behavior. A mother's heart is so pained in moments like those, where you want to give your kids the moon, but you know you shouldn't (or can't). We went to a Cranberry Festival, and they had free train rides, free bus rides out to the cranberry bogs, and even free pony rides! My kids wanted to get their faces painted, so we stood in the long line, and when we got up close to the front I realized the face painting was not free. In fact, it was between $6 - $10 depending on what picture you chose. I said to the lady in front of me, "Is that right? $10 for one face paint?" and she looked at me as if I was the crazy one, and said "Yes, this is their business, that's how they make a living." I understand that, but when you have to think about 5 kids multiplied by $10...I'd rather spend $50 on groceries. So we got out of line and went over to the free train ride, and my kids whined a little, but overall were so understanding and thankful to be there that it didn't last long.

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    1. This is another big problem; People trying to make a living at things that aren't meant to make a living at like face painting. Just silliness!

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    2. Ah - the $10 face paint. My little girl loves to have her face painted, but she knows now (after we've been disappointed more than once) to ask mommy if' it's free before she gets excited. I told her once that we'd paint her face at home, because it was too expensive. She thought that was fine, but then forgot all about it when we got home. The art of distraction...

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    3. Face paint at home: use water color pencils. Dip the tips in water and they draw beautifully! We learned this at a birthday party a couple years ago and my kids still do it a couple times each month.

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  2. That's too bad about the pumpkin patch. We have some crazy ones here that cost lots of money, but we also have some that offer all the activities for free. That's where we went on Kay's birthday. There is another really small one close to us that is family owned and only charges $2 a person for the hayride. That's where we went last year. I don't mind paying a little bit, especially if it's small and local.

    I've found that the pumpkins at Trader Joes are cheaper than the ones in the fields here.

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    1. I saw that and thought about getting some there but just yesterday a friend of ours gave us some that they grew :)

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    2. I forgot to say....I love your minimalist mantel : )

      And that family photo is hilarious. You really do look like you are fenced in.

      I try to grow a pumpkin or two every year but have NEVER had success. I like to get a couple fancy pumpkins at TJs because they are the most expensive everywhere else, but only $5.99 at TJs. I remember I got mine last year when you and I went!

      Our girls are very used to hearing us say no because of expense. I think it helps them learn and understand what our priorities are when it comes to being good finanical stewards.

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  3. O come on.I get the cost v.number of kds,but constant denial absolutely breaks hearts.eat macaroni for a few days but just don't say no ALL the time

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  4. And business owners have costs you can't see.so much is seasonal and they have no income some months.people are v generous but not charities

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    1. I'm fairly certain you're not a regular reader of this blog if you think my kids are living with "constant denial" but I appreciate your concern for them :) And we're also small business owners and buy as much as we can local so yeah, I get that.

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  5. Ooh, I know exactly how you feel about the pumpkin patch! (Except that pumpkins here are $20 because they don't grow easily here and thus must be shipped in from places afar. Harumph.) Someday I will take them somewhere else in the fall, so they can experience the joy of finding your own pumpkin in the patch....maybe we'll come to yours! ;-) It is hard to tell the kids no when they see other kids doing it. But mine, too, often make the most of it and find something else. Kids are amazing that way!

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  6. Please forgive me.I came from LMLD and two of my pet peeves from my own childhood was always ”doing without” and secondly I'm a small craft business owner and people don't appreciate hidden costs and the hours to produce goods. I don't suppose face painting is mega skilled.$20 sounds steep here in the UK. God bless and sorry!

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    1. It sounds like there's quite a story you have behind you. God bless you for the struggles you've gone through and I'm glad you took the time to stop by. Peace :)

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  7. Love those chinese lanterns..so pretty.

    That family picture with the alpaca is adorable!

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  8. Oh yes, you hit a nerve with me and the simple pleasures being warped into designer prices....it makes me very sad.
    I do love your take on the 'orange' theme though - very pretty lanterns!

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  9. I'm also not a fan of overly commercialized family fun. I'd come to your pumpkin patch in a heartbeat!
    I LOVE the family picture!
    And, if I ever get my house cleaned and decluttered, will you be my decorator? Please?

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  10. I think my comment got lost, but your house is beautiful.

    I don't know the story of the farm you visited, but here is a thought: There was a family in my hometown that lived on a hobby farm. The dad died when the children were still in the house, and in order to save the family home and allow the mother to not work elsewhere, they turned their hobby farm into a money making business. They held farm classes in the summer, pumpkin patch with hayride in the fall, etc. It was a bit pricey, I admit, more than we wanted to pay. (Maybe not as pricey as the farm you visisited.) But it was simply what it cost to keep the place and the family paid for, so to speak. It is hard to make a living off the land these days. Just a thought.

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    1. Yeah, I know. It does get harder and harder it seems, doesn't it? It looks like it's necessary for lots of these places to add on bells and whistles when we'd really just like an old-fashioned farm. I definitely don't blame them but just not our thing and not what we can spend our money on!

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    2. Euh, just read done of the other comments and hope mine didn't come off uncharitable to you. For the record, I'm with you, that would be a crazy use of your money to spend at the commercial farm and we know and live the struggle of Fun x # of kids and it is no, well, fun. I just remember people complaining at the prices at this little hobby farm and knowing what went into running it. Sorry if it came across as a criticism of you.

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  11. I have just started a pumpkin patch on our three acres this year! Only about half an acre is actually in pumpkins, and I've dragged in some gourds, ornamental corn (formerly called "Indian corn"), loofahs, raspberry starts, and catnip from the rest of the property. We charge about 50¢/pound for the pumpkins (we round to the nearest dollar), and some people are incredulous that a pumpkin would cost $36. Well, it's a 73-pound pumpkin, so yeah . . .

    But I don't charge admission except for field trips. Then I give the group an age-appropriate and enjoyable talk/tour and a scavenger hunt with a prize at the end. For that, I charge each person $1. Kids can run and scream and play in the upper field, which is about 100' x 100'. I'm renting a porta-potty. There's one picnic table.

    I don't use any artificial chemicals except to kill poison ivy. We're a local business, and any money you pay goes straight to our mortgage and other stuff like that. The only other worker lives across the road, and she and I both sell some knitted and crocheted stuff that we made. There's a photo cut-out thing (what do *you* call them?) that a local artist painted. It's pretty anti-corporate and low-key. I'm sorry your pumpkin patch wasn't more budget-friendly!

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    1. Your patch sounds lovely! I definitely know there are lots of hidden costs and I certainly don't fault the owners for getting what they can out of it. Just not our thing and it can get tough for bigger families at stuff like this! There is a very real part of my husband and I that would love to do something like this so maybe we'll be hitting you up for tips someday!

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  12. Can you come decorate my house?? I am so horrible at that!

    We went to an apple farm while in your area and the prices were not too bad. I remember even remarking how I could actually let the boys do the hay ride and some of the other things without breaking our budget. But, we may have gotten a deal because my mom had taught the owner's children!
    While we do not typically go to pumpkin patches here, we did last year and had the exact same experience, except we had gone with friends that decided to buy their kids the bracelets. My boys were so sad and as their friends headed into the moon bounce and pumpkin bowling, etc, we headed to our car. I agree, I do think it is good from them. We live in an "I want it and I want it now society" and it is good for our children to learn that you cannot always get what you want and it is good to deny yourself.

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  13. Oh, I so agree with the cost of living and income stuff! Amen sister! Pumpkin patches are reasonable here. We went to one when visiting family that was just outside a large city and I about fell over at the prices! City folk thought nothing of the prices because it was so out of the ordinary for them. Country folk don't pay for a hay ride, lol!

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  14. We don't do the expensive stuff either. We're more of a "let's have a bonfire in the backyard and you can invite friends and have a cookout" because a day at the pumpkin patch, something that we always did when I was young (and from a dual income family of 4), is just not financially responsible with a single-income family of 8.
    But! The kids look around and realize that what they don't have in terms of adventures like that, they make up for in other adventures. $50 to have a hayride vs. $50 in gas to drive to Boston and explore the city's free Freedom Trail. Or going to the ocean on a weekday. Or having a zipline in the backyard.
    I try to frame it for my kids as a "look at the experiences you DO get to have" rather than feeling badly about the ones we can't give them.

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  15. We made the same choice this year--we could go to the big bells and whistles pumpkin patch which would have been $16 just to be there--never mind food, pumpkins or certain activities. (Our 1 year old was still free but next year he'd be another $8) The activity I was the most looking forward to was the corn maze but that would have been ANOTHER $8. We decided that was nuts so we went 20 minutes in the other direction to a smaller farm with a corn box, tiny corn maze, hay bale maze and a wagon ride and it was $19 for 4 pumpkins and the wagon ride. I am glad we had that option, sorry that you did not. I love that family picture with the Alpaca!

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  16. I wrote a very similar post this week. For me, it's not about denying my kids anything. They have a wonderful life and get lots and lots and LOTS of treats. It's the principle of having fun even when it doesn't cost any money, or very little in the case of the $2 pumpkins. In our case, we went home and watched a $2.99 classic, the Wizard of Oz, snuggled on the couch and ate a wholesome dinner. We will get cheapie $3 pumpkins at Trader Joe's and the kids will have a blast carving them. Just not at the expense of our whole family grocery budget.

    I love the family photo. Mod podge!!! ;) And those lanterns are guh-OR-geous!

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  17. Those chinese lanterns are so crazy! Are they similar to pineapple tomatillos? I can't believe I never heard of these!

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    1. I had to look up pineapple tomatillos! They look very similar except that the lanterns only have a much smaller inedible seed inside. They're purely ornamental. They must be related though!

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  18. Wow, lots of comments. I liked your post, with 5 kids and one income we have to be choosy about our family outings too. I'm blessed to live near St. Louis, which has lots of free stuff (like, say the zoo and art museum) that families can do. I grew up thinking that all zoos were free admittance, ha! We also belong to a large homeschool group that sets up group discounts for field trips, which has been a big blessing. I'm thinking of taking my kids to a small local farm to pick pumpkins tomorrow. We haven't been there for a few years so we'll see how it goes.

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    1. I went picking at that farm over the weekend...7 pumpkins, 3 mini gourdes, 2 bags of fresh kettle corn, picking and playing on their playground...$14!!! Happy, happy, happy...I posted the pics and gave you credit for the idea...
      http://consecratedhousewife.blogspot.com/2013/10/happy-happy-birthday-with-pumpkin.html

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    2. Yes! That's awesome, good for you!

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  19. Everyone has a website nowadays and if the site does not, we don't go. It takes a little bit of the adventure away from me, but this way I am able to price everything out before we go and make sure it within our budget. That way, there are no disappointments.

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