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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October Family Traditions

October is such a fun month.  Nights are cooler, but it still gets warm enough to enjoy the outdoors during the day.  All of nature turns the most brilliant warm, fall colors, and there seems to be a plethora of activities and events to participate in.  Just as we have our summer traditions on and around our farm, we also have our annual fall traditions, and most of them occur in the month of October.

We visit farms and orchards, sometimes as a family and sometimes on school field trips.  At this orchard, first graders got a tour and were able to fill a bag with their pick of apples to take home.

We usually get to go on at least one chilly hayride in October.  I grew up going on hayrides in the fall, bundling up and often sipping hot cocoa on the way.  Our children still love these and never seem to grow tired of them.

Sometimes our hayrides occur at a local corn maze.  This particular farm has a different theme each year, and this fall it was set up as The Hundred Acre Woods from Winnie the Pooh.  As we walked---or should I say, ran---through the maze, the children had to stop at various spots to find a clue that would lead them to the end and tell them whose birthday it was.

Sometimes the clue simply informed you that you hadn't solved the mystery and must continue on.

This farm also has games, play areas, face painting, food and hot cider, a dark maze, pedal carts, and a pumpkin patch.

It even had these creative little tractor pull rides that our teenage son and other adolescent friends squeezed themselves into.  My kids never seem to outgrow this place.

Our family loves all things pumpkin, so it is our tradition in October to try as many new pumpkin products as we can find.  I think there are more this year than I've ever seen.  Last week we found Kellogg's Pumpkin Spice Frosted Mini-Wheats, Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter, and the adults enjoyed the Pennsylvania Brewing Company's Pumpkin Roll Ale.

We couldn't get through the month of October without my baking at least one batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  Now that my oven is repaired and working again, I have no excuse, so I'd better get to making some more this week before the month is over.

I don't know if other areas of the country have "turkey shoots," but here in the Allegheny Mountains they're kind of a big deal.  They don't actually shoot at turkeys, but they use shotguns to shoot at targets, and the top three participants win eggs (third place), potatoes (second place), or a big frozen turkey (the grand prize.)

My husband and our eldest two sons went down to the nearby Sportsman's Club to give this a try.  Last year was the first fall that we did this, but I think it is now a part of our fall traditions because...

...our 22 year-old son made the best shot and won us a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner!  I have to admit that during all the years I lived in suburbia I never heard of a turkey shoot.  There were foxhunts in the local public woods every year, but you needed the proper gear---namely, a horse---for that.  For the turkey shoots, you simply come with your shotgun, ammunition, and $20 to participate, and you might go home with free food.  Mostly, it gives the locals an excuse to hang out, shoot guns, and eat.

Although the younger children can't participate in the turkey shoot, everyone gathers on and around our king-size bed to watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

I remember eagerly anticipating the airing of this movie, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and The Wizard of Oz when I was a girl.  Now that we own them on DVD and video, it's not quite as exciting, but we try to wait until October each year to watch them.  I still love to snuggle up with my kiddos to watch all the classic Peanuts Gang movies.

Our teenagers are starting their own October traditions as they are now attending costume parties and dances with their classmates and friends.

Naturally, carving jack-o-lanterns is one of our traditions this month.  We still need to carve our pumpkins this year.  The above photo is actually from last October when we were fighting off our loose goats who kept sticking their heads in our hollowed out pumpkins to eat the seeds and pulp.

Our October traditions will be completed on Halloween night when we go trick-or-treating.  We live so far out in the middle of nowhere that no one comes to our house to trick-or-treat.  We either have to go with friends who live in neighborhoods or walk through the streets of the nearest little town.  Personally, I wouldn't mind giving up this tradition since I'm not in favor of all the candy the children get and want to devour immediately, but they still love it too much.  I just do my best to ration the candy, which means it's still on top of the refrigerator where they can't reach it until Christmas or my husband and I pick out the best chocolate and eat it when they aren't looking.  Unfortunately, that latter option works against my attempts to keep my waistline from expanding.  

What annual October traditions do you and your family share?

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