Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Full Moon Hayrides

Farming is a strenuous and continuous activity. Village folk in rural Karnataka (South India) had a beautiful word for it, though it not used that frequently now. In Kannada language, the occupation was called Aarambha (ಆರಂಭ) which literally means "The Beginning". Sanskrit, Hindi and many other Indian languages also use this word in different contexts, with the same meaning. As children we often heard use age of this word to describe the occupation of farmers. It is always "Beginning" as there is no end to it! The activity is like a circle that has no starting point. It is all round the year and starts with picking and packing the seeds at harvest time for the next crop. A farmer is always busy and does not enjoy the luxury of holidays and weekends. 

Farming work depends on the season and linked to weather and time of the year. It may be preparing the land for sowing by tilling and mixing fertilizers before the seeds or saplings are planted. It may be watering or removing of the weeds sometime later. It may be protecting the crops from birds and rodents a little later. Then it is harvesting and thrashing for separating the grains from the chaff, followed by transporting and storage. Moving the surplus produce to the market and selling it follows thereafter. Those who grow seasonal vegetables have these activities in "Fast forward" mode. This cycle repeats several times a year for them. While they are harvesting the fruits and vegetables in one part of their land, another piece of land is ready for sowing while a third piece is being taken care of with crops grown midway that can be harvested a little later. Weather often dictates a farmer's timetable and he has to respond quickly to changes in the surroundings.   

Does all this mean that there is no leisure and recreation for the rural folk and farmer families? Man always finds methods to find interesting ways and means to overcome monotony in the routine, whatever the nature of the job or occupation is. Farmers are no different and have many innovative methods for recreation. Harvest time is one such period when the families of agriculturists can relax and enjoy their time a bit. The pleasure of watching the fruits of their hard work indeed doubles the joy and merry making festivities. During our childhood, we looked forward to harvest season and many festivals associated with it. We had the pleasure of being taken on a ride in bullock carts with Paddy or Ragi hay spread for seating us in the cart. We had rides to the lands where the harvested crops were heaped. There were festivities, contests and village games played around the harvested crop heaps. At the end of the day, the crops were filled in the bags and moved to houses on the same carts. These were the hayrides we had over five decades ago.

The little girl was excited about the "Hayride" she was being taken on, three days ago. I was also wondering as to what is this "Hayride" was. She was going on this hayride for this first time just as I too was. We were driven to a rural Pennsylvania farm and on our arrival there it was the same harvest festival atmosphere. It was a large farm extending to several hundred acres with various crops. The land was in a valley with several crops grown in the vast area. The central place in the farm adjacent to the parking lot had big permanent structures housing a farmers market, a decorated pumpkin yard, a shop place for selling various processed farm items like juices, pies and pastries. The farm had many different activities for the visitors, each having its own excitement quotient for the children and adults alike. There are many such farms in nearby areas that provide hayrides to children and adults for a small fare during these months.

The farms have their own "Pick Your Own" system. The visitors are given a basket on arrival at the base point and they can proceed to the orchards that have vegetable and fruit crops. There are also Apple and Strawberry special tours for this activity. Seeing bunches of fruits and vegetables is indeed thrilling. They can choose and pick the fruits and vegetables they like and return to the base. The items in the basket are weighed, valued and visitors can take them home on payment of the amount. The pleasure children and adults alike get when plucking ripe apples, strawberries, blackberries, pears and vegetables is invaluable. Children also understand how these items come to the market and the efforts made to grow them. The farm saves the efforts in harvesting and transporting the items whereas the visitors get fresh fruits and vegetables of their choice.

The farms also provide various "Hayrides" in the evening hours. They have Full Moon Hayrides, Witch House Hayrides, Blossoms Hayrides, Daytime Hayrides etc. Visitors are taken in big tractor trailers with hay spread in them as seating arrangement. The tractors ride through the various parts of the farm showing the fruit gardens, vegetable growing areas, crops like maize or wheat, areas for keeping various farming equipments and machinery, yards for keeping animals and livestock etc. These Hayrides are a big hit with children and adults alike. The rides have their own charm during daytime as one can see the various plants and fruit laden trees. The night rides have winding roads with lighted displays of ghosts and witches. 

At the end of the rides visitors are taken to an area for relaxation. Apple pie, pumpkin pie and fruit juices are on sale here. Fireplaces lit for baking marshmallows at the end of a long stick are very popular with children. They have the freedom to bake the marshmallows in the flames under adult supervisions. The visitors then visit the Farm Market for buying the freshly plucked fruits and vegetables and other farm produce. Apple pie, Pumpkin pie and bakery items are liked by children. With the "Halloween Festival" round the corner, there would be a huge demand for Pumpkins. The big Pumpkin yard provides an opportunity to buy pumpkins of any size depending on the buyer's desire and size of the car boot. One can also buy different plant saplings in the Garden Centers maintained in the farms. A Hayride visit to a nearby farm is a time well spent for the entire family. It is entertainment as well as education. 

For details about Halloween Festival and its similarities with Indian celebrations, Click here.


  1. Very inviting. You are making the best use of your stay in the US. Enjoy

    1. Yes. By posting such articles in the blog, Sir, you are also taking us decades back as to how we all used to enjoy such hayrides. In the West, they really know to tap an opportunity to the fullest potential - something which we lack. Enjoyed reading the post. Miss those hayrides now!!!

  2. Nice and informative blog.

    R Jagannathan

  3. Sir, your article takes us back to memories of our child life !!!

  4. You must be reliving your childhood. Enjoy!

  5. Very I normative for tourists to this place

  6. Wish our farmers can do something like this for our children, it will provide a learning experience. Very well brought out article !!

  7. Very interesting. It reminds of our childhood practical activities we used to do. Thanks for reminding us our farming activities.