Pumpkins, pumpkin ice cream - and squirrels

Pumpkins, pumpkin ice cream - and squirrels

I didn't really plan to spend $18.25 on pumpkins.

We got into Halloween decorating in a big way last weekend, so the kids and I trekked out to Negangard's Pumpkin Patch near Sidney with some friends. The prices are so cheap we sort of went overboard.

It wouldn't have been too bad, except I saw this giant one for just $7 that I thought would look great on our porch. And we had to get the daddy, mommy, brother and sister pumpkins, and the cute little ones you can paint or decorate with marker, and the white one (because it was cool) and the variegated one (for contrasting green color), and this gourd my son found that looked just like a snake which would be perfect for the pumpkin- (or gourd-) decorating contest at school....

Anyway, we tried to transport the giant pumpkin with one of Negangard's red wagons, but the weight of it broke the wheel (oops). We managed to roll it down the hill to our van and heave it in the back -- where it still sits because (a) I'm waiting for my husband to take it out of the car (b) once we do, the squirrels are going to eat it anyway.

Negangard's was busy, but not overwhelming. Unlike Curtis Orchard in Savoy or the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, there's not a lot for kids to do there, but it's also less crazed on the weekends. And the stacks of huge pumpkins make great fall photo ops.

To top it off, we drove into Sidney for a visit to the Dairy Barn, where I tried the Pumpkin Tornado, complete with marshmallows, whipped cream and caramel (they were out of graham crackers, unfortunately). Yum.

If you're going to go, don't wait. The Dairy Barn closes after this weekend.

But never fear: my colleague, pumpkin afficionado Jodi Heckel, tells me the pumpkin custard at Cozy's and the Pumpkin Pie Snowstorm at Jarling's Custard Cup are equally tasty. I guess we'll have to try them (you know, for reporting purposes).

Meanwhile, all of our pumpkins are sitting in our breezeway until I can figure out some way for them to avoid being squirrel food. I've tried red pepper and other home remedies. No luck. These squirrels are hardened pumpkin warriors.

Suggestions, pumpkin veterans?

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Photo: Kiersten Reasor of Sadorus pulls Brie Goudie of Villa Grove in a wagon at Negangard's Pumpkin Patch southeast of Philo. Negangard's is open 9 a.m. to dark, seven days a week, through Halloween. News-Gazette file photo by John Dixon

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Meg Dickinson wrote on October 14, 2010 at 2:10 pm
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I spent a lot more than that last year at Negangard's, and I don't even have kids! Love the Dairy Barn, too. Sorry, don't have much advice on the squirrel food dilemma. I'm lucky enough to have an enclosed porch, so my pumpkins sit in the windows, tempting the squirrels.

Julie Wurth wrote on October 14, 2010 at 3:10 pm
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My daughter suggested leaving acorns out for the squirrels, so they don't eat the pumpkins. I'm thinking they would just think it was a squirrel smorgasbord and call all their friends.