We’re away with the Wild Grandparents on the North Yorkshire Moors where this morning’s crisp air was a reminder that the nights are lengthening and, with the perfect skeleton leaves we found recently, Autumn is almost upon us.
Time to consider Hallowe’en costumes and whether to hold a party or go Trick or Treating with friends.
Then of course there’s the pumpkin. The Jack O’Lantern tradition stems from the Irish tale of a man called Jack who sold his soul to the devil. Upon death he was condemned to wander in eternal darkness with only a burning coal from hell for light, which he carried in a hollow turnip.
Pick your own
Last year, rather than buy a pumpkin from the shops, we decided to pick our own. It’s a simple way to connect with nature, show wild kids about food origins and extend the Hallowe’en fun. We found a local farm offering PYO (pick your own) and visited on a cool but sunny afternoon in late October.
It was great fun wandering along rows of deliciously autumnal oranges and yellows, choosing the size and avoiding any which had been nibbled (or perhaps discarded at midnight after an unexpected trip to the ball!)
Be warned Wild Parents, you may come away with more giant squash than anticipated – it’s hard to resist the different colours, shapes and sizes, not to mention your wildling’s excitement at picking their very own pumpkin, or five. You may also need physical strength for the journey home..
Top tips for perfect picking
- Don’t leave it too late in October or the best will be gone, but don’t go too early or your harvest might rot before Hallowe’en
- Gently press the flesh and don’t pick any that feel soft or squishy
- Avoid pumpkins with holes or nibbles in them; they will rot quickly
- Twist the stems to remove pumpkins from their stalks
Back home it was down to the task of deciding who carved which pumpkin and what the designs would be.
Wild Daddy is very arty – here is a selection of his most recent designs. For top tips on carving the perfect pumpkin see How to carve the perfect pumpkin
Caroline’s Trick AND Treat activity
With all the lanterns carved there was a glut of what Caroline calls pumpkin ‘guts’ so she came up with an ingenious idea for using it all up. Here is her fantastic ‘Trick and Treat Lucky Dip’.
You will need:
- Pumpkin guts
- Bowl, jam pan or other cauldron-like vessel
- Cover for above receptacle (recycled black plastic bag is ideal)
- Wrapped sweets (e.g. Haribo)
- Place guts in the ‘cauldron’
- Pour in the wrapped sweets
- Mix well with a wooden spoon
- Incant a spell or charm of goodwill
- Cover the stew with the plastic bag, taughten and secure in place with tape or yarn
- Slit a hand-sized hole in the cover
Now, when your Trick or Treaters come calling, offer them treats but only if they are brave enough to risk a possible trick and sticky hands!!
Our parenting philosophy means Caroline has used knives and scissors since toddlerhood, supervised from a distance and with relevant safety explanations. We have always trusted her innate sense of self and ability to take care of herself, but if you haven’t encouraged this level of independence from an early age then keep a close eye on your wild kids as pumpkins can be very hard which causes knives to slip around dangerously.
Is a pumpkin a fruit or vegetable?
Comment below for a chance to win a Kids of the Wild Hallowe’en colouring picture and unique pumpkin design template, winners chosen on October 21st. Good Luck!
Jack O’ Lantern?
We can’t wait for Hallowe’en because the son of some great friends is expecting his first baby, a boy, on October 31st – Wild Daddy wants a sweepstake with his guess on baby’s name being Jack!!! I take no responsibility for this terrible Dad joke…