Randy is in Belgium…….Belgium! On business. And I have been reduced to a lonely, pitiful shell of a person. I tend to go a little mad when I am alone too long and this is the longest we have parted since we got married five years ago. Luckily, I have had some diversions thanks to my friends and family including a visit to my grandparents house (hi Grandma and Grandpa!), releasing my “inner artist” with Chris (more on that next post), and the following adventures out on the farm with my sister, Kelli.
We were both craving some fall atmosphere after our searingly hot, parched, and long summer, so we set off to Yellow Springs, Ohio, which is near Dayton, to Young’s Jersey Dairy for their Fall Pumpkin Festival. And we were not the only ones – the farm was crawling with people, its ice cream parlor with lines of customers pouring out the door at least 20 people deep. We were lucky to score a very close parking space and were greeted with the scenes we so viscerally yearned for…..wide, crisp, blue skies, rusty-red barns, green fields, mountains of pumpkins.
We strolled along the paths of the farm and were delighted to find a goat petting zoo full of little characters eager to meet their public and receive treats from those who sprang for the $0.25 goat snacks dispensed by gumball machines next to the pens. We didn’t indulge their appetites, but we did stroke their egos by making quite a fuss over them
These goats were all watching a group of lively children with great interest, no doubt hoping they would come closer and shower them with tastey treats. I’ve not spent much time with goats, but these reminded me of dogs – eager to show off and be fussed over. I think I would like goats if I got to know them.
After making friends with the goats we checked out some of the produce and considered purchasing this “snake gourd”. I have never seen anything like it and at $2.00 it seemed like a bargain. I had visions of painting eyes and a split tongue on it and displaying it on my porch along with pumpkins. In the end my laziness won out and I decided not to lug it out to the car with me.
After enjoying juicy, handmade caramel apples, Kelli and I journeyed on down the road to Peifer Orchards, a cozy and picture perfice little spot we happened to find as we drove by.
Their store is in an old barn packed with atmosphere but not overdone. I was happily surprised to find a large display of handmade socks for sale at crazy low prices – I wish I had taken a picture. They also host quilt shows and sell locally made quilts from time to time.
In the end, Kelli and I both purchased mini hay bales and I got five pie pumpkins to use in my fall decorating. More pictures of that later (my fall decor masterpiece is not yet fully complete!)
From the Orchard we were lured next door, to Stutzman’s Nursery and Animal Refuge . At first we were attracted by the mums bursting with color and the picturesque displays of huge pumpkins perched on hay bales atop large, wooden wagons. We didn’t know that we were, in fact, stepping into a mini-zoo. A beautiful and eclectic spot where chickens and cats roam around with the customers, tending to their young among the pansies and black-eyed-susans that were watiting for gardeners to take them home.
As well as identifyable birds like chikens and peacocks, we were acquainted with several members of the poultry family that I can only describe as chicken-duck hybrids. They literally look like the offspring of star-crossed chicken and duck couples – with chicken-esque faces, duck bodies, and webbed feet with chicken-like claws/talons (what is the right lingo for chicken toes?). Strangely enough, we have history with these strange birds. During college we would frequent a small local lake where we enjoyed feeding the ducks. We made friends with an outcast – a chicken/duck hybrid we named…..what else….Chuck. He was there every time we went and we always saved some bread especially for him. We never thought we’d run into some of his cousins.
It turnes out that the animal refuge houses and adopts out llamas, horses, donkeys, pot-bellied pigs, sheep, goats, rhea, emus, chickens and roosters, turkeys, peacocks, Indian runner ducks, rabbits, a tarantula, cats, iguanas, and fish. We didn’t see all of these animals, but we did meet some goats and iguanas. Luckily we didn’t encounter the tarantula, but we were warned about the apparently ferocious frogs.
We left the nursery and refuge feeling charmed and lugging a cart full of big pumpkins (two apiece for our porches) and scads of mini-gourds. It really was the perfect autumn day – the colorful, simple sights, the campfire smell in the air, the crisp blue horizon….the only thing it was missing was Randy.