Susan Luzzaro 5:30 p.m., Dec. 7
It was two years ago when we first fell in love with Oma's pumpkin patch. While a large portion of San Diegans are partial to Bates Nut Farm our family is loyal to Oma's. I love it for it's essentials: their corn maze, the hayride, an awesome hill of cotton that you can snowboard down on a saucer shaped sled, an assortment of obscurely colored pumpkins, a petting farm, a swing set, and above all affordability. But that's not what sold my kids on Oma's.
The reason they love Oma's has everything to do with the hayride. When I think of wagon rides I picture denim jackets, rosy cheeks, and camp fires. But this hayride has nothing to do with pumpkins or halloween for that matter. Instead it has everything to do with the smelly cows inhabiting the diary farm that houses the pumpkin patch. At Oma's you get sweaty pits, the smell of manure, and cows standing in poop. It's a fragrant ride to say the least. My children's first hayride was filled with fits of giggles.
Over and over again they were heard saying:
"whoa, look at all that poo!"
"That cow is taking a poo!"
"That cow is standing in poo!"
"Look at all their cow butts!"
"who farted! It stinks!"
and my favorite:
"That cow must have a lot of milk!"
They were mesmerized by the shear magnitude of poop. Half way through our ride the driver stopped to hop out and give us a informative history of the farm. He explained that the methane released by the cow's waste generated all the electrical power on the farm.
My boys were amazed! For weeks afterward, Jacob could not stop talking about it.
"Can we do that at our house, use poo for electricity?" he asked.
Andrew stopped eating butter for a couple of months because he learned that the butter we buy from Costco is made on what he called "that poo farm."
This year, when October rolled around there was no question as to which pumpkin patch we would go to. Bright and early on a Sunday morning we told the kids that today we would purchase our pumpkins.
"We are going to the poo farm right?" Jake asked.
And we were. We made the long trek out to Lakeside only to discover after driving down Oma's gravel entry way that it was closed on Sundays. Our daughter cried --a lot. She got over it when a 1/2 mile down the road we drove past the coolest park in the world. Not only did it have a tire swing, but it also had a see-saw, a trampoline built into the ground, a merry-go-round, and a cool looking wooden clubhouse structure.
"Can we stop. Pleaseeeee" she begged. We weighed our options, listen to a carful of fidgety, whiny children, or pull over so that they could burn off some energy.
"Do you think it's a public park?" My husband and I both wondered aloud since most of the stuff was straight out of the early 80's. It was the kind of playground equipment that schools no longer have due to insurance issues. Even though we had to drive down someone's driveway to get to it, we decided that it had to be public. There was a large gravel area that resembled a parking lot. and a commercial looking building behind it with trucks and other business related materials.
We parked our car amongst the tiny white pebbles and proceeded to have the most awesome time the five of us have had in months.
The trampoline was a hit. My husband taught the boys all sorts of terribly dangerous games like don't break the egg and the double bounce. He has a pretty narly scar on his forehead from a childhood trampoline trick gone wrong. I was certain that at any moment on of them would suffer a head injury. Luckily there was no blood.
I was the most thrilled over the see-saw. I still remember the devastation I felt as a child when see-saws were stripped from local parks due to liability. At age six, they were my playground equipment of choice. Unfortunately, there is no comfortable way for a thirty-year-old woman to play on a see-saw. It just doesn't work. I attempted to see-saw with Amelia but I have a good 80 pounds on her so it was pretty much a waste of time. The boys, however, see-sawed their little hearts out. They even did that thing where one person jumps off so that the other person is left dangling in the air. They thought they were being original. They were blissfully unaware that this was a playground ritual of all the kids I grew up with.
About a half an hour into our park visit, a car drove by slowly, rolled down the window, and appeared to really want to talk to us. After a minute or so they drove away. Weird, I thought.
Fifteen minutes later another car rolled up. At this point I realized we might be trespassing.
"Hey , I hate to bother you but this is our backyard." said the polite man in the car. "I built this playground for our grand kids. My wife and I have always joked that someday someone would mistake it for a real park."
"Are we the only ones who have?" I ask
"yep!" he laughs
We compliment him on the amazing park he has created for his grandchildren and politely make our exit. I write down their address so that later I can send them a thank you/apology letter.
For the kids, our yearly visit to the pumpkin patch may not have been as memorable as the poo farm . I for one will always remember the Sunday morning we spent illegally frolicking in someone else's yard.