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It’s Pumpkin Patch Time

You know inflation is affecting the price of everything in America today when it reaches all the way down the economic ladder to impact Worshrag’s Pumpkin Patch.

“I think we need to raise the price of pumpkins this year,” I told Honey, and she agreed.

So did Miss T and Seed, parents of Bob and The Favorite, the two grandsons who currently are proprietors of the seasonal pumpkin business we started 24 years ago for our youngest son, Worshrag, when he was 8.

That summer I had planted pumpkins in my garden for the first time.

“If you’ll sit at the barn and sell pumpkins, I’ll put a sign down at the end of the road and you can have all the money,” I told Worshrag.

So after school he would sit down outside the barn with my mother, Ol’ Food, and sell pumpkins, and people bought them because it was a little kid selling them. He made $60. Worsh had dollar signs in his eyes, and I learned that people spend more for fall and Halloween than for any holiday season except Christmas. Next year I planted more pumpkins, plus Indian corn, cornstalks, gourds, and squash, all of which we sold on weekends in October out of our 1849 barn on Gas Valley Road.

We offered straw when we could get it from a neighbor farmer, and added colorful broomcorn cornstalks as a signature item that nobody else sold. I began taking customers on free tractor rides through the farm fields, pulling a small trailer behind the 1948 Farmall C tractor that my grandfather Fred bought new.

I told people our motto was, “I do all the work and Worshrag gets all the money,” which was not entirely true. He did get the money, but he did plenty of work, too, just as the grandsons who are current proprietors do. Working at it through high school, the pumpkin patch most years brought in a couple thousand dollars or more. Worsh bought his first car, a rebuilt Alero, with pumpkin money. He paid income taxes and Honey started him a Roth IRA. Folks who ran a pumpkin festival down in West Virginia were so impressed by his story they gave him their $2,000 annual college scholarship.

Beyond the money, beyond learning work ethic and dealing with the public, the pumpkin patch became back story for the Worshrag mythology of a state champion wrestler, elite-level weightlifter and strength coach.

How’d he get to be so strong, people would ask. He’d tell them, “Lifting pumpkins.”

HONEY AND I kept the pumpkin patch going for a few years after Worsh went away to college. We finally gave it up one year, but revived it when grandsons Rufus and Bob, Seed’s older two boys, got the money lust and were big enough to do the work. Rufus, who now has started college classes, has supposedly handed over his stake to their younger brother, The Favorite, age 9, but Rufus still pitches in for the work, like he did on Saturday morning when we picked the gourd field. It was also the day we weighed and priced the several hundred pumpkins we had put in the barn a couple of weeks ago.

Our system is to price pumpkins, no matter what kind, by the pound, and put them in piles marked one dollar, two dollars, and so on to whatever the largest one is, which in this case is $16 at 45 pounds, one of the bigger ones I’ve ever grown.

For 24 years we have been selling pumpkins for 30 cents a pound, so raising them now to 35 cents seems reasonable. Yes, you can get cheaper ones at Walmart, but it’s not the same as going to a pumpkin patch. Parents who came to ours as children now bring their kids.

I’ve heard that some of the large pumpkin patches charge upwards of 50 cents a pound, and also charge a hefty fee for tractor rides. If I had to make a living at it, I’d probably do that to, so I don’t begrudge them. Farm businesses need everyone’s support. That’s where we get our food.

WHILE PICKING GOURDS with Bob and The Favorite, age 9, we discussed whether to raise the price on gourds, too. For years we’ve sold small ornamental gourds at three for a dollar.

The Favorite thought it was a good idea. “We could sell four for a dollar,” he said.

Bob and I decided we would keep them at three for a dollar, in part because we have a surplus of small gourds. We also decided it will be a long time before we let The Favorite make decisions regarding money.

When Bob, who just turned 14, ages out of pumpkin patch ownership, Shark’s two boys, Lamppost Head, who just turned 10, and The 747, age 8, are waiting eagerly in the wings to join the family business.

As long as I’m able, I’ll do all the work and they’ll get all the money, as our company motto says.

Cody’s Pumpkin Patch opens this weekend. Visit the Facebook page.

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