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picking pumpkins at tanaka farms

I was that girlfriend that insisted my boyfriend Jordan visit the pumpkin patch with me each October. Yeah we didn't have kids, and sure, we lived in a tiny apartment with little room to spare (especially for giant pumpkins), but this girl LOVES holiday traditions, and this is one I couldn't possibly part with.

We discovered Tanaka Farms after moving to Orange County. Living a little further from the sprawling pumpkin patches we could visit in the places we used to live (Julian and Buoye Farms are a thing of the past for us), we were looking for a place that didn't feel like busy bustling coastal California.

We found it off the 405 freeway - widely reported to be the busiest interstate in America. Can you believe that?? Tanaka Farms, established in 1940, is a hidden gem with hay rides, sunflower fields and corn mazes. Oh, and a pumpkin cannon. No, like an actual cannon. And you can give a nice old man a ticket to launch a pumpkin hundreds of feet into the sky and back down into the rolling hills. It's pretty dang awesome.

We were living in San Francisco last October, so it was great to be back in Southern California this fall, to carry out this tradition with our cousins, niece and nephews.

Ava was VERY into the whole pumpkin patch situation this year. She ran through the corn maze, rolled with the sheep in the petting zoo (more on this later), and tripped over countless pumpkin vines... only to get right back up and keep running down the rows of beautiful orange gourds.

This farm has a huge petting zoo, and knowing the animal lover little Ava is, we HAD to buy tickets. And boy was it worth the price of admission. I don't know if we have ever laughed so hard... watching Ava chase the goats around the pen (this girl has ZERO fear), and then proceed to snuggle with a herd of sheep. I can't make this stuff up. But in case you think I am... I have photographic evidence below)!

Aside from pumpkin picking, one of the things we MOST look forward to each year, is the u-pick veggie farm! For a few bucks you can visit each crop and grab a handful of fresh-as-can-be carrots, turnips, green onions, cilantro and radishes. It's become a little tradition to take these veggies home and use them to make Jordan's famous Chili.

Yes it was hot, and yes, Jordan complained about the 689,325 pictures I took. BUT it really was such a fun family day, and a special memory with little Ava that we'll hold close to our hearts for years to come. She won't be little forever and she'll likely grow out of laying with the sheep (probably a good thing), but I won't grow out of sharing these family traditions with the people I love a whole lot.


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