October 26, 2015

What Halloween traditions do you celebrate on your farm?
Andrew Storms/Flickr

Whether you’re a trick-or-treating family or an enjoying a quiet night at home with the lights off kind of family, there’s fun for everyone during the Halloween season. Here are a few happy, healthy, hearty things to make and do with your farm kids this week as you gear up for frolic and fun celebrating this peculiar holiday.


Upcycled Costumes

Make costumes from scrap fabric, boxes or other things you already have lying around the house.
Tessa Zundel

Without a doubt costume creation is my least favorite part of Halloween, but only because I’m such a wuss about sewing. Fortunately, there are great costume ideas for the craft challenged or those who simply prefer to recycle materials you already have on hand. Boxes, for example, make great costume materials and can be transformed into anything from a John Deere tractor to a spaceship with a little bit of glue and paint.

I don’t know when it happened that my kids took over making their own Halloween costumes, but they’ve become adept at recycling lengths of material into whatever they wish to become. My 7-year-old took an old dress from our costume box, added a few bits of material and called herself an Ocean Princess. My 9-year-old decided to be a Midnight Fairy wrapped in part of my fabric stash with a headpiece her jewelry-making sister fashioned for her. My son learned how to make a Ninja hood from a T-shirt. Try out these other no-sew kids costumes to get your creative juices flowing.


Halloween Foods

Barmbrack is a bread traditionally eaten in Ireland around Halloween.
Tessa Zundel

Families have traditional foods connected to every holiday, and I wouldn’t dream of intruding on those familiar flavors. Perhaps, though, I can suggest a few new favorites.

In our family, Halloween is celebrated with the first fireplace fire of the season and the first homemade chili with as many homegrown ingredients as possible.

We also try to sample some favorite recipes from other cultures. Barmbrack, a traditional Irish bread made for Halloween, is one of our favorites. “Barm” refers to the yeast in this bread, and “brack” means speckled, referring to the little bits of fruit that are included in it. I changed mine up a bit this year to resemble a cinnamon-swirl loaf bread, but the ingredients are the same. As is traditional, we bake this bread with a ring wrapped in paper hidden inside the dough. The person who finds the ring will, so the legend goes, be the one who marries first. You could also hide coins in the bread to portend great fortune for the finder.


Pumpkin Moonshines

Pumpkin moonshines—the precursor to jack-o'-lanterns—were often carved from root vegetables like turnips.
Anne Petersen/Flickr

An old-fashioned term referring to jack-o’-lanterns, pumpkin moonshines weren’t originally pumpkins at all. Farmers’ children would carve whatever was close at hand and up for grabs—most often a turnip or rutabaga. Traditional pumpkin moonshines were actually quite fierce and meant to truly scare away evil spirits, particularly Stingy Jack, a mythical creature known for his vile nature and a run-in with the devil. Gradually, the tradition changed into a lighthearted display and the vegetable changed over to pumpkins as the early American colonists had those in abundance.

Spooktacular Reading

Last, but not least, here are some great farm books for Halloween. Read these, hunkered down with some pumpkin hot chocolate.

  • Pumpkin Moonshine, written and illustrated by Tasha Tudor, is the story a young girl and her determination to have the best pumpkin moonshine around—just as soon as she manages to get it home.

  • Pumpkin Jack, by Will Hubbel, follows the fate of a jack-o’-lantern as he moves from Halloween in the house to winter and spring in the yard. This is a great book to teach about saving seed or re-seeding plants.
  • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything, by Linda Williams, is the fearless tale of a plucky, little lady who puts some wayward articles of clothing that are trying so hard to scare her to good use in her garden.

Have a mischievous, exciting and very safe Halloween!

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