It takes a community — and pumpkins!

I love shepherding, but I could not do it alone. So many people help to make Peeper Hollow Farm what it is, ranging from my dear husband Rick (who, when he married me, could never have imagined that he would move from the city of Detroit to rural Iowa to raise not only two children, but also a flock of sheep!) to the customers who buy our wool and sheep (supporting us financially), the neighbors who call when they see something amiss in our fields, and the many kids, teens, and young adults who have volunteered to help, in ways large and small. We are more than lucky — we are blessed!

Rick and I were away this past weekend on a quick trip to Virginia and returned late last night. The timing of the trip wasn’t the best, since last Wednesday’s Halloween meant that the many pumpkin-selling venues where I had left business cards would be calling to get rid of their remaining squashes and gourds over the weekend. Over the years I’ve learned that they don’t like to call immediately following Halloween, because they are hoping that people will still stop in for a discounted pumpkin. Within a few days to a week after the big day, however, they just want them gone — and they are happy to call me to come and take them away.

When we returned to our Virginia hotel on Saturday evening, I noticed that I had an email in my inbox from a friend whose young daughter likes to help us with shearing. Since I don’t normally hear from her other than around our Winter Shearing event, I opened that email to see what was up. She had sent me a screen grab of a posting on Facebook by a pumpkin farm about 45 minutes to the north of us reading:

FREE PUMPKINS FREE PUMPKINS…
at the ***** Pumpkin Farm!

ACT FAST — First COME First SERVE!
Farmers wanting to feed their livestock — just bring your trucks and trailers and start loading them up. PUMPKINS only please — not squash.

We have lots of 40 to 60 pound good quality pumpkins left — PERFECT for those of you who want for target practice or just for the fun of blowing them up! (Please no shooting or blowing up at our place though — you gotta take them and do it somewhere else.)

My excitement as I read the post was mixed with regret: there was no way that any would be left by the time I got home and was able to get there today. That’s when I got an idea! What if I contacted our farm-sitter, Seth, and asked whether he was willing to go and check things out? Seth has been driving for a while now, and I was willing to let him take my truck if he was willing to go. A few texts later, not only had Seth volunteered to go and check out the pumpkin situation, but so had his sister Phoebe! I had no idea whether they would get there in time, but they were willing to find out, so Rick and I just waited and hoped.

My truck bed full of the pumpkins that Seth and Phoebe scored from the pumpkin farm yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon as we made our way through rental car returns and airports, I got confirmation of success with the pictures you see here! Seth and Phoebe were not only able to get pumpkins for our sheep, but they got really nice pumpkins — and big ones! They got a whole truck full of them — including the back seat! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The back seat carried those pumpkins that didn’t fit in the bed of the truck.

As Rick and I returned home after dark last night and drove up the driveway, the sheep were already bedded down for the night in various places on the lawn, where they have been grazing. As our headlights swept over the area, we could see bits of orange — a sure sign that the ewes had gotten their first taste of pumpkin for the  year! Even better, I got a call this morning from one of our usual pumpkin sources — a local drug store — and they have a pile for me to pick up today! This will be a great year for our flock when it comes to fresh pumpkins — their favorite fall treat!

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