Halloween came and went and between Bryan’s work travels, weekend crowds, and uncomfortably hot temps, we never made it to our favorite local family spot for fun on the farm. In past years, we’ve gone to the Fall Festival at Underwood Farms in Moorpark to take photos with pumpkins and scarecrows, but every time we tried to make it work around Halloweentime 2014, it just wasn’t in the cards. Fall on the farm can be a magical time, though, so I didn’t want time to get away from us.
With a seemingly appropriate Thanksgiving harvest digesting in our bellies (and thighs and tush and chins), we decided to pick our own harvest during Thanksgiving weekend after the turkey had worn off. Visiting Underwood Farms after the rush of the Halloween/Pumpkinfest craziness was a huge relief — no crowds, nice weather, cheaper admission.
We hopped on a tractor ride that took us way out into the fields so we could pick our own vegetables. We weren’t sure yet what was out there, but decided we’d cook with whatever we picked in the days to come. Lennie and George would be so proud of us living off the fatta the land. If only Gary Sinise was out there with us to make it really cinematic (and sexy).
We picked some carrots straight out of the ground — dirt and all — and I already began seasoning them in my mind, ready for roasting. (Olive oil, Kosher salt, cracked pepper, 375 degrees for 30 minutes — you’re welcome). Then we found the broccoli and navigated our way through the rows of tall, flowering bushes/plants/trees. This was much more nature-y than the produce aisle at the market with the little sprinkler mist that comes on every 30 minutes. We knelt down and only Bryan was strong enough to twist — with two hands — the broccoli head off the bush/plant/tree. The rows were so tall with crops, we had to really climb through to find the perfect pickings. Even Princeton was not too sure about the leaves that were triple his size. We also ended up with butter lettuce, beets, and green beans, and already felt healthy and detoxed just carrying our loot, especially after three consecutive days of Thanksgiving meals and leftovers.
Once out of Eden, we decided to enjoy some time with animals. Madelyn rode a pony named Candy and is ready to star in City Slickers III. She loved going around in circles, and I know Candy appreciated it when the official handlers stopped the wheel so she could take a dump. It was especially exciting when this happened in the first of 12 rounds so that all the kids could remark on the smell for the rest of the rodeo. Madelyn was like, “Whatever, guys. This is way more realistic than the horse you can ride for a quarter outside of Rite Aid.”
Once Hopalong Madelyn’s ride was over, we decided to take in more wilderness with the petting farm. It was a little weak on inventory; usually there are sheep and chickens and rabbits, but this pen was only populated with goats. It took everything in me not to steal one in my purse. I really want a goat. I hear they make great pets. How cute would Princeton and a goat be together frolicking in my backyard?
Madelyn loves to play Goat Beauty Parlor every time she visits the petting corral. She makes a dash for the brushes and then goes to town on their coats. The goats are so patient and tolerant, especially when she brushes their hair in the opposite direction — gah! Kill me! I can’t handle that! — but they really don’t seem to mind. Goats, like Candy, also happen to be extra poopy, so we had to watch out for the deceptive chocolate chips that piled out of them on the go. I’m always impressed by animals who can make doody while walking; no magazine or anything. Those guys are efficient. One little girl in the petting area wasn’t as swift about avoiding the poop avalanche. Thank goodness Madelyn has been well trained or she and her wardrobe would’ve been enjoying a spa treatment in a bucket of Lysol by now.
The sun was starting to set and the vibe was calm and peaceful at the farm. Madelyn played on a few more of Underwood’s attractions. Meanwhile, Princeton relaxed in the wagon and waited patiently for his sister to burn off her energy. He got lots of smiles and compliments from the people who passed by as he watched Madelyn play and his beard blew in the breeze. I swear, that dog is a constant source of happiness for me. I think he would’ve made a really good farm dog, but I’m so glad he’s with us in suburbia.
The farm folks began to gather the wagons that peppered the grounds and close shop on the various attractions as they prepared for their evening work. As we purchased our produce and wrangled our own fruits of our labor — our human and canine children — I was reminded again how thankful I am for my growing family and our special days of togetherness.