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Families searching for a place to have some Halloween-themed fun this year will not have to look far. Heavenly Haven Farm, owned and operated by Delaina and John “John Boy” Russell, offers a corn maze, pumpkin patch, hayride and petting zoo and all right here in Taylor County.
“Owning my own farm is something I’d always wanted to do growing up, and I really wanted my kids to grow up on a farm,” Delaina said.
After her daughter, Haiden, now four, was born, Delaina said she wanted to stay at home and decided to quit her job as a veterinarian’s assistant. However, she said she was used to staying busy and quickly became bored. That is when she and her husband decided to look into purchasing some farmland.
In 2009, the Russells purchased a 147-acre farm at an auction. After a few months of cleaning up, Heavenly Haven Farm opened to the public that September.
Delaina said one of her continued goals is to make the farm a safe and welcoming place for school field trips.
She has made an effort to visit local schools and introduce herself to principals and teachers so she can let them know the educational, as well as recreational, opportunities that Heavenly Haven Farm offers children.
“I thought to myself, ‘Why would they bring kids to my farm if they didn’t know anything about it?’”
Delaina said this has paid off because the farm has gradually received more visits from schools and several more classes are scheduled to come this month.
“We do a lot of interactive things for the kids - show them how to milk a cow and how a pumpkin grows,” Delaina said. “We want everyone to have a good time.”
She said a lot of children are surprised when they learn that there are many more types of pumpkins than just the standard jack-o-lantern variety.
According to Delaina, there are more than 100 varieties of pumpkins. She said “knucklehead” pumpkins, easily identified by their gnarly rinds that appear to be covered in wart-like growths, have become a crowd favorite.
The Russells plant the pumpkins in June and July. They did not grow any giant pumpkins this year because they have to be kept inside and planted early so they will have enough time to grow.
“I do have the seeds for them, but we just didn’t get around to it this time,” Delaina said. “But we would like to maybe do that next year so people can come and take pictures in front of them.
To help in the process of selecting the perfect pumpkin, visitors get to ride on a wagon to the four-acre pumpkin patch.
To test their navigation skills, visitors can go through the five-acre corn maze. Delaina said that it can take people anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to find their way out.
“People haven’t got so lost to the point where they’re calling me, but several people have come out through the entrance,” Delaina said.
For groups with young children, guided tours are available. She added that the corn maze is wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs.
Delaina said that after the farm closes for the season on Nov. 3, the corn will be harvested and then fed to the animals that live on the farm.
“We have to have this corn. If we don’t have it, we’re not going to be able to feed all the animals,” she said.
The farm is home to several goats, pigs, emus and even miniature horses. Delaina said that all of the animals are friendly and love attention.
She said her family was fortunate to not have encountered any major challenges with the farm, although there was an incident the first year that turned out to be a learning experience.
“The sheep got out [of the fence] and ate all the corn, so we improvised and made a round hay-bale maze,” Delaina said. “It worked out well.”
She said farming is hard work, but they have always made sure to get everything done and have no regrets about starting the farm.
She is also glad that Haiden and her son, Lucas, 15 months, are getting to grow up on the farm.
“You have no idea how much work it is until you get into it, but I’m not complaining about the labor at all because it is so rewarding for people to come out and thank you for having something like this so close to home.”
For information on hours of operation and admission prices, call (270) 465-9597 or visit their website, www.hhfarmfun.com.