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Bad Pumpkins

For the past few years, the local 4H chapter has been helping a church group that sets up a "Pumpkin Patch" to raise money for various charitible causes. If you've never been in involved with a few thousand pumpkins before, they need to be rotated every few days so you don't end up with Bad Pumpkins. This doesn't mean they have developed criminal tendencies, only that they have a soft mushy spot on one side which prevents their going to a good home. Anyway, the Bad Pumpkins used to be tossed in the dumpster, but thrifty soul that I am, I asked for, and received permission to take as many as we could lift up over the tailgate of the Trusty Dodge and haul home. {The tailgate latch is broken, and so everything has to be lifted over}

Lately however, the Trusty Dodge has been somewhat less than reliable as a source of transportation, and rather than find ourselves stranded with a bed of Bad Pumpkins {which sounds like it might make a pretty good country and western song}, we have been driving a tiny yellow two door Nissan. Obviously, this downsizing is going to substantially cut down on our free pumpkin harvest. Even with strapping one into the baby's car seat I figure we will only be able to fit maybe eight inside the car with us before I run out of room to shift gears.

Since the actual display hasn't been up long enough to have any pumpkins in need of disposal, my figures are only guesses; I'll have an exact count once we really have a chance to move some. I have carried home a couple of past-their-prime watermelons, and will freely offer my personal advice if you are contemplating hauling Questionable Produce of any kind in the family sedan; bring a damp towel to wipe your hands, and several plastic garbage bags to put between their squishy undersides and the upholstery. You'll thank me later, when you don't have huge stains on your Sunday-go-to-meetin' suit.

Anyway, in case you are wondering what to do with a load of Bad Pumpkins once you get them home; at our house, the ones that aren't too far gone usually spend a couple of days sitting around somewhat decoratively arranged on the front porch with the unswept leaves that have blown off the Elm. Add a few loose chickens, at least one pair of muddy boots, the cat's food bowl and hoof pick, along with the broom that I was going to use to sweep those leaves with before I got distracted, and you have the perfect recipe for that "Down Home White Trash does Martha Stewart" effect. It's so festive, it's scary. You can also add an optional empty beer can and a sprinkling of cigarette butts to the display for the popular new Redneck variation.

Alas, not even calling them "Art" will make Bad Pumpkins last forever; there comes a day when the pumpkins themselves begin to sag and droop noticeably, and it is time to allow the creatures of the field to enjoy the benefits of that high fiber, natural anthelemic properties and vitamin A. The best way we've found to feed them is just heave them over the fence into the pen, and step back fast. Sometimes, rather than simply cracking open, they "explode" upon impact, much to the delight of the younger children. The larger animals eat their fill, and then the poultry take over until there are only clean shells left to be picked up and composted. As a bonus, we had "volunteer" pumpkin seedlings all over this past summer, which the sheep and goats relished.

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