With Halloween nearing, I traveled to a pumpkin patch to do something festive that would not have me running away in fear.
It turns out, even pumpkin patches can be frightening.
I arrived at Carpenter Farm LLC, 75 Carpenter Lane, Linden shortly before noon, and as is the case for most of this year, a rain began trickling, causing the dirt roads to turn to mud.
Sun-Gazette reporter Alyssa Murphy, left, gets a taste of being a pumpkin farmer as she helps Zachary, middle, and his father John Carpenter of Carpenter Pumpkin Farm unload a truck full of pumpkins Wednesday.
I just missed a group of nursery school children picking their pumpkins and since there is never any downtime in a farm, Edith Carpenter put me right to work unloading pumpkins from a truck.
It felt like a balancing act, and I am no circus performer. I kept grabbing pumpkins from the top of the large pile, only to have smaller pumpkins sneak out of crevices and threaten to fall. I placed them in the wheelbarrow, but they kept tumbling over each other. I moved only a few feet with the wheelbarrow before John Carpenter came to my rescue before it tipped and sent all of the pumpkins falling to the ground.
Next I helped Edith pull gourds. Her advice was to pick the pretty ones, but leave the ones that weren't ripe. I stepped carefully over vines to avoid falling facefirst into the gourds. When I looked around the patch, nothing looked the same. I saw yellow gourds, orange gourds, minuscule gourds and gigantic gourds.
Edith said the only way to realize if a gourd was ready is to feel the vine. If it felt hard, it was ready. If it didn't, let it keep growing.
After filling my basket, I stumbled back with my heavy pickings, once more trying not to fall.
Then I was given a choice if I wanted to feed the pigs.
The first and last time I saw real, live pigs were at the Lycoming County Fair this summer when I walked by the enormous creatures. They seemed pretty tame and I took on this column to experience new things, so I agreed.
When we crept into the building where the pigs lived, they lay fast asleep. Great, I thought, I can dump their feed, run away and still brag that I fed pigs. The only problem was I made too much noise, not something new for me, and they awoke, only to see me preparing their food.
Of course when any animal sees food will shortly be delivered, it usually gets excited. It was no different for these pigs.
They ran over to their troth just as Edith passed me the scoop full of their food. She said sprinkle it throughout the troth, which seemed easier said than it was. I poured it too fast, a reason why my cooking never comes out correctly, and even managed to get some on the pigs' heads as they tried eating.
I thought I was done, but Edith wanted to really challenge my nerve. She wanted me to pet the pig. She lured them with the thought of milk and I slowly advanced, not sure how or where to pet them.
Maybe like horses, pigs can smell fear because whenever I tried to touch one, they wanted to go back to their food. When I finally managed to barely touch one between the ears, not daring to go for the nose, it jumped and put its front legs on the fence between us.
I, with the courage of a city girl, ran away as fast as I could.
Next month, I will have to work somewhere away from animals.