Monday, October 15, 2012

Celebrating Columbus Day at Mayne's Tree Farm

Here in Virginia, we get pretty excited about Christopher Columbus. I mean, he DID discover our continent. Well, maybe a little after Erik the Red.....and thousands of years after the Native Americans, but somehow, in Western European culture, he gets credit for the New World. Virginia thinks this is so cool, we get a holiday from school and work. In the middle of October.

 I have come to love this, as it gives us a day every year to appreciate how spectacular fall in Virginia truly is. And trust me. Spectacular is usually the word for it.

Source (Unfortunately this one isn't mine) 

This one isn't mine either. My husband took it though, so that makes it almost mine.

My family has developed the tradition of going to a pumpkin patch on a farm in Maryland every year to celebrate not being in school on Columbus day. More specifically, we head to Mayne's Tree Farm, in Buckeystown, MD. (Also home of Chartreuse and Company, my favorite of all the barn sales.)We have been doing this for about 15 years now. Al and I read about it in the Washington Post's list of fall activities soon after moving here from the West, and we have always come back. It really is that good.

Mayne's Tree Farm has that wonderful balance of then and now. There is a corn maze, and a moon bounce and other modern farm delights.

But there is also the beauty and simplicity that comes from just being a farm. You walk or take a hayride on a tractor bed to the pumpkin field. You walk out amongst the vines in acres of pumpkins to find just the right one.

After discovering a million that you want to take home, you look at your wallet, decide how much you really want to spend pumpkins, and buy all of them in your wheel barrow anyway, just because it is so stinkin' fun to be in a giant patch of pumpkin vines instead of at work or at school.

At some point your kids will notice the large bales of hay that they can climb on. Let them. This is super fun for some reason.

They will also notice the line of old tractors across the field from the parking lot. Let them run free over there and "drive" a real tractor for a while. They are full sized and make you feel very tall and farmery when you sit on them. Go on! Climb on up! You know you want to.

The corn maze is always fun, although there is an extra charge for it. It won't be as much as a lot of the other places though. The Maynes try really hard to keep their prices reasonable for families. We usually do it, and I always walk away with some wicked good black and white photos. Corn husks are an amazing back drop for kid's (and adult's) photos.

Especially B&W.

See how cute the corn maze makes me look? I think this may end up as my bio photo.

I have to say though, our favorite thing by far, other than the pumpkins themselves, is the mini pumpkin slingshot. They have a bucket set out in a field, and if you get your mini pumpkin in the bucket, they'll give you one of the giant pumpkins for free. You get three shots to do this. I think it cost $2 for the three shots this year.

We have never won yet, but someday, someday that huge pumpkin will be sitting on my doorstep for little Halloweeners to climb over if they want their candy.

Oh, I almost forgot. You MUST buy the apple cider. Just go for the gallon. If you only buy the half and then drive off before you try it, you will just end up going back for more anyway, so save yourself the gas and time and just buy the big one. Nectar. of. the. Gods. Seriously. Go get you some.

Mayne's Tree Farm also has year round activities. They have pick-your-own berries and produce in the summer. And as their name suggests, they are a Christmas tree farm. You and the family can go wander the fields until you find THE perfect tree. And their wreathes are amazingly low priced. Like think Home Depot pricing, for a way fresher, prettier wreath. Just check out their website for what's in season when. Here's the link again, just for the people standing in the back.

If you decide to go home the Point of Rocks way, by turning West on rt 85 (and this is recommended if you are a barn saler, as this puts you on the very road that goes in front of the Old Lucketts Store and On A Whim), you will pass another delight. Rocky Point Creamery. Now if you've never had farm fresh churned ice cream before, you really should stop. It has a texture like nothing else. it is closed on Mondays, but we just happened to stop while the owner was talking to some friends outside the building. He took pity on our car full of hungry kids and let us come in and buy whatever he had pre-served. On his day off. What a great guy. Thanks Mr. Fry!

And thus tuckered out with an abundance of country goodness, we drove back to Virginia, land of gratitude for the man who discovered "India."

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