When Life Gives You Destruction: The Pumpkin Massacre

Each year, we grow our own pumpkins for Halloween and winter pumpkin puree-based desserts. Most years it goes well, but this year’s results left much to be desired. It all started out so good…

We planted Rouge Vif e’Etampes (AKA Cinderella’s Carriage) and despite our gloomy overcast summer dishing out gobs of powdery mildew, they thrived. We had three pumpkins in one cluster growing gangbusters.

Rouge Vif e’Etampes much like the one we grew this year

Rouge Vif e’Etampes much like the one we grew this year

Then, well past the point of pollination infancy, one 5″ small pumpkin withered and fell off. Why? No idea. The others were going strong, so we shrugged it off.

Next during a flurry of activity cleaning up the pumpkin patch, cutting off leaves infected with powdery mildew, I accidentally cut through the vine holding the smallest pumpkin that has already turned orange. ARG! I sat there cursing myself, but took the pumpkin home to see if it would survive in storage.

 

Small squash makes a great centerpiece

Small squash makes a great centerpiece

So far so good. It seems to be surviving and is in good company with all the other squash that didn’t grow to full size this year.

Then it happened. The day after we stood in the garden and said, “Tomorrow we’ll pick that,” we arrived to find this:

Raccoon? Squirrel? Zombie? It's hard to tell.

Raccoon? Squirrel? Zombie? It’s hard to tell.

The biggest one yet, disemboweled so unceremoniously, lay dying in its bed. We were too stunned for tears. There would be no jack-o-lantern this Halloween, no pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, no delicious pumpkin bread at Christmas time.

But we were not about to let whatever creature did this get the last laugh. There was still a purpose for our pumpkin.

Pumpkin is a great snack for chickens, and the seeds help prevent worms.

Pumpkin is a great snack for chickens, and the seeds help prevent worms.

Thankfully the gals loved it. Slowly at first, they investigated the strange orb. They tested a few seeds, then poked in at the flesh. By the time they were finished, only the skin remained. At least someone got to enjoy it.

The moral of the story is, as it turns out to be again and again: pick the darn thing today! Critters always know when it’s ready before we do.

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