Autumn Bullock has idea after idea after idea for the pumpkins she picked out Saturday at Double R Farms.
“Some will be friendly, some will be scary, some will have wings — some with faces and wings, and others just wings, no faces, just wings!” said Autumn, age 6, who clearly plans some of her jack-o’-lanterns to match her fairy princess Halloween costume.
How many pumpkins are you buying?
“Five!” she said.
Two weeks before Halloween, pumpkin buying gets serious. Hundreds of people pull on rubber boots and head out to a handful of East Pierce County farms. They pick large pumpkins, throw small ones with slingshots, and get lost (and found) in corn mazes.
Double R Farms, just off River Road on 44th Street East northwest of Puyallup, had a line out the barn door all afternoon Saturday as people waited patiently to weigh and pay for fall’s signature gourd.
Thea and Christopher Morrow of University Place happened upon Double R on their way to another farm.
“We found a random pumpkin patch on the Internet, and passed this one on the way and thought it looked better,” Christopher Morrow said. The couple picked just two pumpkins that weighed more than 50 pounds together.
Those two were among 15,000 or so grown at the 19-acre farm, said co-owner Ric Ruiz. The farm has been in his wife’s family for decades, and the two of them began farming together about 10 years ago after their daughter was born. Ruiz still works full-time for the City of Seattle, and uses his time off and vacation to work on the farm. They grow pumpkins and corn, and fresh flowers in the summer.
The cool, foggy fall air was infused Saturday with the smell of barbecue, sold on site by Christina and Daniel Gorton. They’ve run Bonanza BBQ using their portable smoker for five years.
“We take that smoker anywhere there’s a party,” Christina Gorton said. She and her husband had two of their eight grandkids working with them Saturday, teaching them the business.
Other pumpkin farms charge food service providers a percentage of gross profits during the hectic fall season, Daniel Gorton said, but not Double R. The Gortons and the Ruizes just work together to bring more customers for both businesses.
“They’re such a nice family,” Daniel Gorton said.
As 6-year-old Autumn’s mother paid for those five pumpkins, Autumn and her father, Shawn, dug in to a plate of Gorton’s ribs. Autumn contemplated a reporter’s question about who, exactly, would carve up all these pumpkins under her direction.
She finished a rib, then declared, as her father smiled, “My dad is my servant.”