My husband Alex, our two kids and I didn't set out to McLeod Farms
to fling pumpkins hundreds of feet from an enormous slingshot. We actually went to explore the 10 acre corn maze, whose theme this year is "Grand Ol' Pumpkin."
We had a blast running through the tall rows of corn, finding our way through the dead ends and twisting curves, and following the clues along the way. We almost didn't take the hayride out to the pumpkin patch, past the corn fields and peach tree orchards, to get some pumpkins for jack o' lanterns. It was late afternoon, and we thought we'd be out there for just a few minutes before we headed home for dinner.
We all wandered off into the twisting green and brown vines to look. After a few minutes, the young farm hand who'd driven the tractor approached me with a grin. "Do you want to chunk a pumpkin?" he asked.
"Of course," I said.
He grinned. "Come on." We walked over the deep furrows filled with pumpkins beginning to rot towards two telephone poles set in the middle of the enormous patch. I hadn't really noticed them. I suppose I just assumed they were electrical poles, but once I was close enough, I saw that they weren't connected to any wires. They were maybe 10 feet apart and 40 feet tall, and between them a small pouch made of duct tape hung from two long black bungee cords.
He scooped up a small pumpkin and handed it to me. "Put it in the pouch and pull it back, then let go."
The pumpkin flew maybe 20 feet through the air.
I didn't need to call my children over. They came running as fast as they could. They knew exactly what it was: Angry Birds come to life.
"Can I do it again?" my daughter asked as soon as her pumpkin smashed on the dirt.
"Yup," the farmhand replied. That's a little kid (and, let's be honest -- adult!) dream come true.
For the next hour, as the sun dropped to the pines lining the enormous fields, we chunked pumpkins, and not just the piddling 20 feet of my first attempt. Within a few minutes, my husband, son, and our new friend the farmhand were trying to see how far back the bungee cords could be pulled and were falling to their knees in the dirt as they let go of the taut cables. The pumpkins whined as they flew past us and splattered on the red soil 100 or more yards away. It was my son who finally hit and demolished the scarecrow that had been set up in the path of the catapult.
Both children declared it was the best pumpkin patch they'd ever been to.
McLeod Farms is in McBee
on S.C. 151. Pumpkin chunking will be happening this Saturday, Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the McLeod Farm Fall Festival.
The corn maze will be open through Nov. 3. Corn admission is $7 for adults, $6 for students and seniors, and free for children 3 and younger. Pumpkin picking is available through November, along with horse drawn wagon rides and a farm stand with lots of pies and ice cream, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.