Dairy Diaries: The First Pumpkin Toss

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Our farm has it’s own holiday.

Every year in October, for nine years now, my husband and I can be found at the local grocery store, picking out a handful of bright orange pumpkins. Not that unusual of course – these fabulous gourds can hardly be avoided this time of year. But our chosen pumpkins are not meant for decoration.

We’re going to go home, throw them against the ground, and feed them to our goats.

Well, that’s a little silly, I’m sure you think. Which of course isn’t a bad thing – it is rather silly. If we want to feed the goats some pumpkin, why not just cut them into chunks? Obviously smashing a pumpkin sounds fun (and it is fun) but we’re supposed to be mature adults – right?

The Pumpkin Toss is tradition – one with very humble beginnings.

It was quite early in our herd, and there were just a handful of does. Hope, the mother of our herd, and her wether companion Uno. Joining them were Cowbell, a brown doe whose belly hung further than I’ve ever seen, Rudy, a little brown and white doe named for barbeque, and Cowbell’s black and white daughter, who could scream “nooooo!” in a childlike voice. In the pen next door was Buckly, our handsome buck.

Like most in the beginning, I was very interested in doing things in a “natural” way. Time would teach me that this often isn’t the best way to walk with goats, but that’s a topic for another blog. Regardless, at the time, I had stumbled upon something I found quite interesting.

“We should get some pumpkins for the goats,” I told my husband next time we were at the grocery store. By this point, he’d become brainwashed – I mean, accepting – of this new goat venture, and he paused to consider my words.

“Why?”

“I read that the seeds are a natural dewormer, and the flesh is good for digestion,” I’d read it on several websites, so it was surely true.

He immediately looked concerned, “The goats have worms?”

I hurried to reassure him, “No, no, no. At least, I don’t think so. But they will like it.”

My husband brightened, “Well, if they like it, yeah let’s get two.”

So we did. Arriving home, we shoved the rest of the groceries haphazardly into fridge and cupboard and skipped outside, clutching the pumpkins. We presented them to the does with an air of parental affection, and received puzzled looks in return. Chagrined, we realized our mistake quickly enough. Of course – we needed to open the pumpkins, so they can get at the guts.

My husband and I looked at the pumpkins.

“Do you want to go get a knife?” I asked. My husband frowned at the idea of walking all the way there and back – unwanted exercise – and shook his head.

“Nah, let’s just throw them.”

Here is where a sensible wife would say, “Don’t be ridiculous. They’ll smash all over the ground. Go get a knife.”

Here is what I said, “That sounds hilarious. They’ll smash all over the ground. Do it!”

My husband picked up the first pumpkin, and the goats craned their necks to look up at him curiously. Now, my husband is quite a tall and strong fellow, but even I was impressed at how high he heaved that gourd. It flew clumsily into the air, spinning a bit, then fell down twice as fast, hitting the ground with a hollow thump. It cracked in half, spilling seeds into the grass, and suddenly the goats were much more interested.

Delighted as we were with the result, the second pumpkin quickly took a flight as well, splitting into several chunks as it met the ground. The goat herd was truly engaged then, and they dived into the bright flesh of their treats, tearing huge mouthfuls of stringy guts to gulp down. From time to time one paused to hit her neighbor rudely, horns clattering together. Before long they were chewing on the rinds and we deemed the entire affair a success.

I know now that the dewormer effects of pumpkin seeds is negligible at best, though the flesh has indeed been useful, though more easily obtained in canned form. But it sure doesn’t stop us from repeated this adventure every single year, some time in late October on a pretty sunny day.

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