Savor the wonders of spring in Santa Fe, while reading, dancing, planting, bird-feeding, cooking, observing nature, playing math and, perhaps, finding the silver linings of a monstrous year!
By Gloria Valdez
1st Place, Travel Article - Gloria Valdez, 2020 NMPW Contest; Honorable Mention, 2020 NFPW Contest. Celebrate fall’s splendor with a trip to McCall’s Pumpkin Patch.
Anneliese and Andrew pick the perfect pumpkins, feed farm animals and find more to do, eat and see at McCall's Pumpkin Patch.
Every year, I fall in love with fall. I love the excitement of a bountiful harvest, the smell of roasting chiles, the vibrant orange, red and yellow leaves on the trees, the chill in the mornings, cozy sweaters and beautiful hot-air balloons in our blue sky. Fall provides us with memories and traditions.
Every year, my family travels to McCall’s Pumpkin Patch, in Moriarty, on a mission to find the perfect pumpkins. As we drive out to the country, you can feel the anticipation coming from 13-year-old Anneliese, 5-year-old Andrew, Lori (the kids’ mom), Grandma (that’s me) and even Papa, who is 80. It’s a great way to celebrate the harvest season, the hard work of farmers and gardeners, and the blessings of rain and rich soil.
As we pull into the parking lot, we’ve already mapped out in our heads where we want to go first. Ever since she was a very little girl, Anneliese’s favorite thing to do has always been to go down the giant slide. (By the way, she identified with the Scottish princess Merida in the Disney movie “Brave.”)
Andrew will be itching to get to the track as quickly as possible to race a pedal kart. Lori loves animals, so she’ll want to spend time at Bunnyville and the goat bridges. Papa will have a vision in his mind of a small, white box filled with his favorite chocolate fudge.
My plan? While they’re picking out pumpkins, I’ll be in the Country Store, undisturbed and unhurried. I love getting ideas for country decorating for my home, and in addition to looking, I love shopping! There are lots of Halloween decorations to consider, too.
There is so much to do, eat and see for the young and young at heart. Over the years the kids have played in the corn box, found their way through the 16-acre corn maze, ridden the cow train, explored a fort or a princess castle, fed the farm animals, launched a pumpkin, mined for gemstones and watched the pig races or the singing chicken show, just for starters.
When we need a break, there are picnic tables and concessions that sell drinks, hamburgers, hot dogs and lots of other family favorite foods. Visitors are also welcome to bring a picnic.
Of course, with all these other activities we don’t want to forget why we came here: to get our pumpkins! The kids and Papa will take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch and pick their pumpkins from the field.
Once we’ve done everything we set out to do — had fun, laughed, spent time outside together in the crisp fall air and gotten everyone a pumpkin or two (plus an extra one; see recipe) we’ll load up the car with our pumpkins and head on our way home. Lori, Anneliese and Andrew will be anxious to carve their pumpkins with the scariest faces ever, as they do every year. I’ll look forward to our traditional fall dinner of pork chops, homemade applesauce and Jack-o’-lantern Rice. I have been making this rice since Lori was little. She makes me so proud because she has been carrying on the tradition of making this rice since Anneliese was little. I’ll host the dinner, make the pork chops and applesauce, and Lori with bring the rice.
So how do you get to this wonderful place? The address is: McCall’s Pumpkin Patch, 34 McCall Lane, Moriarty, New Mexico. From Santa Fe, it’s about an hour away, and 53 miles. Go south on Route 41 off US 285, turn right on Abrahams Road, and follow signs to the farm.
While McCall’s is a private farm, it opens to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends from Sept. 21 through Oct. 27, 2019 as well as Columbus Day. The farm also hosts schools, Scout groups and other scheduled visitors from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the week.
Admission is $11.95 per person in September, $14.95 from Oct. 5-20 and $12.95 on the final weekend. Children 2 and under get in free.
For more information, visit mccallpumpkinpatch.com.
1 medium pumpkin (large enough to hold 6 cups mixture)
1 pound bulk pork sausage (green chile pork sausage is excellent in this)
3 cups cooked rice
1 tart red cooking apple, cored and chopped
½ cup each chopped onions and celery
½ cup raisins
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon each ground allspice and cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cut off top of pumpkin; remove seeds and fibers. For a jack-o’-lantern effect, paint a face on pumpkin with a permanent marker or acrylic paint. Set aside.
Cook sausage in skillet, stirring to crumble. Drain well. Combine sausage with remaining ingredients; spoon into pumpkin shell.
Place pumpkin shell on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until the pulp inside pumpkin is tender. Serve the rice and sausage mixture directly from the pumpkin shell. It makes a beautiful presentation! Makes about 10 servings.