Pumpkin palooza!

Each year as the local stores fill with pumpkin displays for Halloween, I begin my trek around town, trying to line up pumpkins for our sheep. There isn’t much that our flock loves to eat more than pumpkins — and after Halloween, many stores find that they had more than they could sell. I talk to store managers throughout the month of October, trying to make arrangements to pick up their extras after the holiday sales are done. In the long run, it’s a win-win: the store isn’t stuck with the cost of hauling hundreds of pumpkins to the dump, and our flock has hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds of one of their favorite foods!

Because of my trip to Curacao in late October, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be as successful in this year’s attempt to snag pumpkins for the flock. I had made pretty firm arrangements with four different stores, but when I visited two of them on the Monday after Halloween, they had no pumpkins left, having given them to other farmers. The third store had very few and would likely be able to sell what they had, so that left only one drug store on my list with a good number of leftover pumpkins. I intentionally made myself visible to the manager several times that week, buying small items and always asking about their display. By the time I called on Thursday the 5th,  the manager had decided that I could have whatever was left on Sunday, November 8th. We arranged to have our good friend and regular blog reader, Terry, meet us at the store that morning with his truck to help with the cleanup. I had no idea how many pumpkins to expect!

Rick and Terry load up the bins in the back of the garage with pumpkins fro the first truckload for 2015.

Rick and Terry move the first truckload of 2015 pumpkins into the bins at the back of the garage.

It turns out that there were plenty of pumpkins for our flock that Sunday morning! We filled both truck beds with good pumpkins and the back seat of our truck with another fifteen or so partly softened pumpkins to feed out that very day. By the time we had filled up the pumpkin bin that we had built in the back of the garage, we had over three hundred pumpkins — and more waiting for us in boxes on our driveway. Those had been dropped off by the employees of one of the local jewelry stores! I had stopped there just after Halloween to pick up a ring, and I asked what they were planning on doing with the pumpkins from their fall display. I had left one of our business cards, and although the display pumpkins were meant to feed the local deer, one of the employees had dropped off their family’s pumpkins for our use!

Even better, unlike the pumpkins of the past couple of years, this year’s treats are not pie pumpkins, but the usual carving pumpkins. The pie pumpkins have a hard rind that is hard for me to break and cannot be eaten by the sheep. Instead of crunching the entire rind, they must gouge out the soft inner flesh and leave the hard outer shell for me to pick up from the fields. This year’s pumpkins have a soft outer skin that the sheep can easily bite through with their lower teeth — meaning they can eat the entire fruit except for the dried, brown stems! Less work for both the sheep and for me!

So my sheep will once again be slurping pumpkin seeds and crunching pumpkin rinds far into the month of December! With about one and a half tons of pumpkins now safely stored away in our garage, our flock will be able to enjoy their orange fall treats nearly until it’s time for their other favorite castoff: Christmas trees! Bon appetit!


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  • Erika says:

    Nice treat! Do you have to break apart the pumpkins? Or can the sheep handle that too.

    • Dee says:

      Well, yes and no… Many of the adults can chew their way into an intact pumpkin if they are jack-o-lantern pumpkins with the softer rinds. The problem, however, is that most of the lambs and many of the 2-3 year old girls haven’t yet figured out how to get into an unbroken pumpkin – and I really want ALL of our sheep to get some of this very nutritious treat. As a result, I do break most of them on days when I have time. On busy days, however, I just drop off ten whole pumpkins and let the flock do it. If we get pie pumpkins (little ones with very hard shells), then i have to break them all open as i feed them iut – but they do last longer in storage! Oh, and a somewhat humorous aside: if I give them whole pumpkins, some of the ewes will roll them all around the pasture with their noses before breaking through the flesh – obviously the ovine version of soccer!

  • Erika says:

    Ha Ha! So nutrition and exercise!

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