Just a short drive away from St Louis is Eckert’s farm in Millstadt, Illinois. Flying down Highway 163, one can almost forget they just came from a major city. The type of businesses one usually associates with “the sticks” line the road – used car lots with names like “Pay Later” and auto service centers selling used tires. There might have been a dilapidated sandwich shop that had not yet open for the day’s business as well. And once you make the turn – assuming you don’t miss the sign, Brian – there is nothing but fields on either side of you. “I want to live on a farm someday,” I said at least once.
I can’t honestly remember if I’ve ever been apple picking before. Certainly, I’ve never been as an adult; but had I ever gone when I was little? I’m sure there were many opportunities for me to do so – there was even a pick-your own farm right near my dad’s work – but did I ever go? I don’t think so. We had an apple tree in our yard, there was a plum tree in the field by the storage unit, we had strawberries and blueberries and blackberries growing either in our yard or nearby, so why would we ever need to go to a “real farm.” And despite the fact that I’ve lived in St Louis (off and on) for the last ten years where Eckert’s is an autumn tradition, I’ve never been. This past weekend, since fall decided to make a bit of an appearance, it was time to rectify this.
There were trucks with hay bales and “souped-up” tractors to pretend to ride on. Also, a “Jack-o-Lobber” which is a pumpkin cannon. It’s as awesome as it sounds.
Mountains of pumpkins dominated the center of the main pathway. If you continued down past the country store and the food stands, there was a petting zoo.
That camel on the left bit me. Yes. I was bitten by a goddamn camel! Almost every time I told someone about the camel biting, they did not believe me. That camel was a real jerk though.
A hay ride cart – pulled by a nice John Deere tractor – transported us away from the “Fun” Farm and into the orchard. Despite the screaming children running wild among the trees, it was very peaceful. Brian and I wandered away from the big crowds and picked some Jonathan apples (soon I will make them into a pie).
We also scored some really delicious golden apples. It was a really wonderful fall day and I hope we get to turn it into a family tradition. A few more of my favorite shots from the day: