Fall gets all the love when it comes to festive fun on the farm, but Murray Family Farms wants to remind you they have plenty of holiday activities — and delicious fresh fruit — for the month of December.
Murray Christmas on the Farm kicks off on Friday and will last through the end of the month, open every day except Christmas. Weekend activities include "sleigh" hay rides, roasting marshmallows over a bonfire, a Christmas craft and visits with Santa, among other things.
"It's easier to think about the farm in October, but we want people to have a tradition (of coming to the farm) in December too," said owner Vickie Murray. "It's just darling, quaint, sweet (and) cute."
A few days before the Christmas fun starts, Murray was hard at work getting the farm ready, doing double-duty while she talked on the phone to a reporter. Giant ornaments will soon hang around the farm, and fall pumpkins have gotten a holiday makeover in Christmas colors and glitter. Eight-foot-tall scarecrows will be transformed into 8-foot-tall Santas, as part of the giant Santa story guests can walk through.
"I'm tying bows as we speak!" Murray said. "We're getting there."
The farm's regular hay ride will transform into a "sleigh" ride, with wooden cutouts attached to the sides to give it a festive look. Kids can also make salt dough cookie ornaments, which firm up for a souvenir that will last for more Christmases to come. When he comes to the farm, Santa will be found in the butterfly house.
While guests are there having fun, they can also do some shopping. Fresh Christmas trees will be available to buy, and the farm's Big Red Barn will have tons of items perfect for gift-giving, Murray said, like jams, fruitcakes and lots of fruit.
Winter is all about citrus, and Murray Family Farms will have all kinds: oranges, mandarins, pomelos, grapefruits and more in different varieties.
"(We'll have) every shape and size and color of oranges you can imagine," Murray said, adding that because all the fruit has only recently been picked, each one is extra sweet.
"For a great-flavored gift, come out and get some amazing citrus," she said. "You'll be the talk of the town as (giving) the best presents around."
There will also be persimmons and, if you're lucky and depending on the weather, avocados.
While there's more excitement on the farm on Saturdays and Sundays, it's also open during the week with fewer activities and a cheaper price.
This is the farm's third year doing Murray Christmas on the Farm. Murray said it's not attended like the farm's October Halloween events. After getting around 5,000 people the first year, last year's attendance was half that, she estimated, because of the rain.
"I was thrilled because the drought was over but it definitely took a bite out of Murray Christmas," Murray said. "We're hoping to get more people out."
Another one to mark on the calendar is coming up in March. The farm will hold its second Dog Daze, an event geared toward canines and their owners. Murray said the first one, held earlier this year, was a lot of fun, with a talent show and costume contest.