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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mama on a Budget- Benton Farms

I have never loved the fall; it means summer is over and winter is threatening.  My husband, a fall aficionado, tried to get me hooked on the smell of a crisp morning or the beauty of the changing leaves but was finally successful a few years ago when we cooked and pureed pumpkins to use fresh pumpkin in a variety of different recipes.  Since that fall, it has been my personal mission to eat as many pumpkin-flavored items as possible and to find the perfect fall pumpkin farm.  This year, I think I may have succeeded.

While it may not exactly be a well-kept secret, Benton Farms in Walton, KY is an incredible experience.  Since 1941, the farm has been opening its operations up to the public and educating city-kids like Knox and, well, me, on the farm-life.  Sticking with the cheap-skate theme, the cost for entry was only $7 per adult (plus the near tank of gas to get you there) and kids three-and-under are free but we more than made up this cost with the price of the pumpkin.  Every other farm we’ve attended in past years (Neltner’s, Anderson Farms, Burger Farms, etc.) charge by the pound for pumpkins but Benton charges $7 maximum for a large pumpkin.  Considering someone found a 52 pound pumpkin the weekend we were there, this is quite a deal.
Every barn on the property is open to the public with some different farm activity to do.  We first went into the sheep and llama barn and were able to feed both.  Knox loved the feeling of the sheep tongue on his hands.  Next up was the cow to pet, the rabbit, the chick hatchery and then the sheep to shear.  Knox also got to collect eggs from the chicken coop and even milk a cow.  We then saw the goats and headed over to the hayride (included in the cost of admission).
The hayride tractor took us to the pumpkin patch just over the hill where the pumpkins (still attached to the vine, crucial in my husband’s mine) were ripe for the picking.  We spent a long time finding the perfect “Knox-size” pumpkin and then even longer trying to find the largest pumpkin in the world.  My husband found one that he struggled to carry so he was certain it must be their largest of the season.  It was not.  It was 35 pounds but, as he made sure to emphasize, it was not a reflection on his lack of strength, the weight was just distributed awkwardly (needless to say, he lifted weights immediately upon getting home).
In addition to the activities included in the cost of admission, they also have pony-rides for an additional $3 and lunch was cooking on the cauldron (beef-stew).  We did not eat but it smelled delicious.  At night, the front-house is a haunted farm-house and from the look of it in the day time, it would be quite scary.  
In all, there are five or six buildings on the premises in addition to the barns: a few residences, an educational building (used often for school events), and a picnic shelter.  Their website advertises for weddings and wedding photos on site and the beauty of this rustic environment would be really nice for this.  What was really neat is the fact that it is an actual operating farm, the “farm-hand” who was pulling our tractor is a fourth-generation farmer, and the 71-year old second generation farmer is on-site quite often.
The farm house is less than 3 miles off the Richwood exit on I-75 and had ample parking, making access quite easy.  Their website is but trust me, the quality of their farming far exceeds their web-design.  I highly recommend this for your fall family outing.

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