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P. W. Morgan is offering folks the opportunity to have some fun down on the farm.
Morgan’s farm has a large pumpkin patch and a corn maze with 2,370 feet worth of trail winding through it.
“I drew the design and I did it myself,” Morgan said of the maize maze.
Morgan drew it out on graph paper. The design includes the letters VT in the center. Morgan, a big Virginia Tech fan with season tickets to home games, has no regrets about this in spite of his team’s recent gridiron performance.
The corn is green, thanks to irrigation. The pumpkin patch is full of lots of big pumpkins for the same reason. The irrigation water came from a pond that was built to irrigate tobacco, the farm’s original cash crop.
The pumpkins were planted the first week of June and the patch has a large supply. Families can go in the patch and pick their own. Morgan notes that children really enjoy this.
People that want to pick up something faster can find pumpkins in a barn facing the pumpkin patch. If nobody is there to handle the purchase, people can pay for their pumpkin on the honor system. There are pumpkins of various sizes that allow customers to price their choice.
“It works really well to have it like this,” said Morgan.
By the way, you don’t have to make jack-o-lanterns. Morgan said these pumpkins are great for pies. In fact one variety he has, called Long Island Cheese, is especially good for pies. It’s a flat pumpkin and Morgan said that, back in the days before mechanical corn pickers, people used to plant these among the corn rows. They last a long time in the field and, after the corn was harvested, people would have these ready to make Thanksgiving pies out of. Morgan has these, although most of his pumpkins are of the big orange variety.
Hay rides are also available, with a wagon pulled by a big, green antique John Deere tractor. People can see livestock — pigs and calves. They also have banty chickens and miniature donkeys.
The corn maze and pumpkin patch are open seven days a week through Oct. 31. An antique tractor pull is scheduled for Oct. 9.
Morgan’s farm is a working family farm. He was born there in 1946, grew up on the farm and his son, Eric, currently operates the farm full time. His parents bought the place about a decade before he was born.
“They raised tobacco and milked cows,” Morgan said.
Flue-cured tobacco remained a cash crop until 2003. Presently, they grow 100 acres of wheat as a cash crop. In addition to selling the wheat, the wheat straw is sold in square bales. Morgan said that they are good for erosion control.
The field where the corn maze is located, was a wheat field up until late spring. They threshed the wheat, then planted the corn using no-till planting, a method that reduces erosion. The pumpkins, right next to the corn, were planted the same way. The planter plants corn four rows at a time, and the pumpkins two rows at a time due to the different space requirements for the two crops.
No-till still requires the soil to be broken up from time to time. This is done by V-ripping, rather than traditional plowing. It brings lower levels of earth up and helps the soil absorb water better, while still leaving it less vulnerable to erosion than traditional plowing.
Erosion control is important to Morgan. He works for the Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District as a conservation specialist.
Morgan also rotates the location of the corn field and pumpkin patch each year.
The corn maze isn’t his only corn field. The farm has 300 head of beef cattle and the family raises corn, as well as hay, to feed them. This is normally done in the winter, but pastures went dormant with the dry weather the area has experienced, forcing him to dip into this feed supply.
“When you’re feeding wintertime feed in the summer, it makes you nervous,” he commented.
Both Morgans put out fires. P. W. and Eric Morgan are members of the Saunders Point Volunteer Fire Department, where Eric currently serves as the chief.
The Morgan farm is located at 2004 Tolers Ferry Road in Huddleston, not far from Whitehouse. Call (540) 297-4764 or (540) 871-0911 for more information and directions.