Monday, October 8, 2012

For Grandpa Toppe

** Thanks to everyone that commented or e-mailed after the last post, your ideas got me going again. Stay tuned for more regular updates. **

My Grandpa Toppe had a farm in my hometown. He raised some cattle and chickens. However, the livestock were gone by the time I came around. What sticks in my memory is his pumpkin patch. Every year he would grow pumpkins behind the barn and garage. Most years they did really well. There were enough pumpkins in that patch for my parents to throw a party and have their friends, and all their kids, come to the farm and pick their own. 

So, my goal at our farm has been to grow pumpkins, just like my grandpa. But that goal has proven to be a challenging one. Over the years we've lost pumpkin plants to fungal diseases, squash-vine borers, and general neglect. This year we thought the same thing would happen. The patch was overtaken by weeds (purposefully put there by the gas company?) so we didn't have much hope. 

But, look what we did yesterday! 

I've never harvested anything with tears in my eyes, but I did yesterday. I guess I wanted pumpkins much more than I thought. It was a dream coming true and I was filled with joy.

We loaded them up and took them to the house to clean up and set on the porch. They are nice decorations for now, but we'll eat some of them eventually. 

I was thinking about Grandpa Toppe all day, and I hope he would be happy with our harvest. 


  1. Happy with your harvest is an understatement! He is happy with your LIFE!
    How thoughtful of you to decorate your front porch for the enjoyment of your soon to arrive Midwest farm hands. You and John look great searching for the Great Pumpkin!

  2. After reading the blog this morning I have tears in my eyes, too.

  3. That is amazing. What a great living memorial. (Plus Toppes = Pumpkins: kind of rough & tough on the outside, but very sweet & versatile on the inside ... and obviously worth all the effort!)

  4. You need some Kershaws in that patch next year!

  5. It is fun seeing this tradition being carried on in West Virginia. Some of the pumpkins Grandpa Toppe grew were from seeds we carved out of our Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns and sent him. I remember getting to go to Rockford the next fall and see the harvest. Two of those pumpkins defintely came back on the airplane with us to California. I have a feeling that when Milo and Maxine see this, they are going to be cashing in their frequent flyer miles to come see you.

  6. Lorraine in WisconsinOctober 9, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    How great you have the whole family reflecting on memories of Grandpa Toppe. You told me once, while standing in your tool shed, that at times you felt you were "channeling" Toppe. While that's a bit "airy-fairy" for me, I know he had a great influence on you and your life choices as he did for many, myself included. You can bet your sweet life he is happy with your harvest and with your farm too.

    And let's not forget Grandma Toppe had a big tom-cat she called Pumpkin-Head!

  7. This is just one of the best tales of the farm yet Mollie! Excellent. That farm didn't == within my lifetime == really grow many pumpkins. It's time it did.

  8. I think it's the things I do purely because they remind me of those gone before me that give me the most satisfaction of all. Enjoy your pumpkins! -Anna


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