Monday, October 18, 2010

Hitting the Patch

Ahhh... We have lived here for seven years and now hit at least one (if not more!) local farm a year - for pumpkins, apple picking, berry picking, peach picking... you get the idea! The last couple of years I have tried to hit a farm with a corn maze. Now that the boys are older, I don't have to coax them through it and can let them run a little more safely. So here are the farms we've visited, and our thoughts on them. I am not including pricing because prices change, of course, but I will include web links!

This is one of the more popular farms in the Columbia area - and so frequently crowded. Clark's is located off of Rte. 108. We've been there for pumpkins, Christmas trees, hay rides, and games. We also went with friends one year for a birthday party.

The hayride is one of the better ones we've been on. They take you on a trail through the woods and along the trail are old faces salvaged (saved) from Enchanted Forest over on Rte. 40. Enchanted Forest is closed now, but the dragons and other characters are being preserved by Clark's for all to enjoy. As you ride along, sitting on the hay bales, you hear shouts of joy and surprise as new faces are spotted. The ride ends at the pumpkin patch where you disembark to pick your gourd.

Clark's also features animals to feed, a horse ride and a haybale-type city for the smaller children. There is not as much to do for the oldest children, but all do enjoy the hay ride and it is not too big for the youngest, who might tire out more easily.

Larriland is also one of the better-known farms in the area and frequently very busy, especially on the weekends. The best time to go? When there is a light drizzle - then you practically get the place to yourself (better bring a jacket though!) Larriland is open most of the year and has multiple fields that they rotate through, depending on the crops and the season. It is a good idea to check the website before going so you can see what is ripe and ready. We have picked apples, peaches, blackberries, spinach, and pumpkins there ourselves.

Standard Fall/Hallowe'en things at Larriland include apple fritters and cider, a hay ride, pumpkin picking, a small hay maze for the youngest kids, and a haunted house. Their hay ride is also pretty good and winds along around parts of the farm and a small lake on the property. Along the way are signs to read, ghosts hanging from the trees and riddles to solve. All of these enhance the ride as you keep an eye out for what's next.

The haunted house is short but the kids enjoy going through multiple times and you do hear occasional shouts and screams coming from within! I usually have a small child with me so have not gone with my olders so have not seen the inside. The hay maze is where the kids tend to go... and stay. The walls are tall enough that the kids cannot see over so for them it is great fun as they usually get a game of hide and seek going or something along those lines. The older kids get bored a little more quickly but enjoy it all the same.

This is where we went this year. As it seems to be with most "corn maze farms", the biggest draw for North Run is the corn maze. I'll get to that in a second. North Run features two corn mazes - 0.4 miles and 2 miles - and you solve a mystery while inside. They also have a hay ride, pumpkins, animals and a couple of "hay structures" for the children to run on, around, and through.

The hay ride is ... "eh." It goes in a simple squared-off circle around a smaller corn field and then you get off. It's too short to be exciting, you don't really sit on the hay unless you sit in the middle (benches line the two sides) and except for the youngest riders, it's just kind of dull.

Bruiser on a crawl tube in the mini-maze
Some of the pumpkins here had HUGE vines attached. Wowee! They had "regular" pumpkins, white, purple, and all the various gourds you would normally see at a fall farm scene. They also had a selection of apples that were very tasty but not too many of those. There was a mini-hay maze for the very youngest kids, with short walls that made it suitable for even our 22 mo. old Buttercup to go through and walk on. In another section, they had half-tires set up into the ground for the kids to climb around on. They had a corn teepee the kids could go into (and back out of) and then "Hayland" for the biggest kids to climb and jump around on.
Maestro and Smeagol jumping down at Hayland

As I said though, their big draw is the corn maze and the North Run folks put the bulk of their effort into that. To the left (this year) is the 0.4 mile maze. As you go through the maze, sound is muted, breezes are largely blocked off an you enter a kind of creepy little world! You take a maze guide in with you that shows the path and where certain clues are located. There are additional unmarked clues scattered throughout as well. The remainder of the clues are located in the 2-mile maze. They do a different shape each year and this year the maze is in the shape of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I do believe we hit every tooth! We had a good time looking for the clues, but being with the youngest child in our group (22 months), did not finish. Two other groups that we were with did finish though, including the group with the five year old. The teens petered out before the fivers
- go figure!

Those are the three that we've been to most often or most recently. I hope they are helpful to some!

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