SMALL TOWNS: Reedsville brothers share love for pumpkins

Two Reedsville boys have become quite the little businessmen each fall leading up to Halloween.
Published: Oct. 5, 2023 at 6:30 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2023 at 6:37 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Two Reedsville boys have become quite the little businessmen each fall leading up to Halloween. But their work begins long before that, and their dedication is second to none.

This week in Small Towns, we catch up with them in their pumpkin patch at harvest time.

Knee deep in pumpkins and vines, Sawyer and Wesley Gill conduct one final inspection.

“There’s a really big white one down there, and there’s some big orange carving pumpkins,” points out Sawyer.

“And these are the white, warty gourds,” adds Wesley.

At 8 and 10 years old, Sawyer and Wesley are already pumpkin and gourd experts.

They started helping their mom and dad haul them when Wesley was just out of diapers.

“When I was four, we had this little pedal tractor thing and a wagon that attached to it, and I’d haul Wesley around,” recalls Sawyer.

Four years ago, the boys discovered they could make a little money off their fall passion.

“When I was in first grade, I had this really nice teacher, Mr. Sodenberg, and we would sell some to him, he really liked them,” says Sawyer.

Last fall, Sawyer and Wesley convinced their parents to let them take over the pumpkin patch, who in turn figured it would be a good life lesson for their sons.

“Sticking with something you start and seeing it through, and things do require physical work and that’s ok,” says mom, Crystal Gill.

After a successful first harvest, the boys doubled the size of their patch this year.

Things got busy in May when it was time for Dad to till the soil, under the watchful eyes of Sawyer and Wesley.

“They tell you if you make a mistake,” says their dad, Mclaine Gill.

“When do you make a mistake?” I ask.

“All the time,” says Mclaine, laughing.

Around Memorial Day, the brothers grab the seeds they germinate in early spring.

“We make hills for the pumpkins, and we put four or five in each hill,” explains Sawyer.

And there’s one trick they practice when planting.

“And we put flowers in them, and that kept all the bugs away so that bugs wouldn’t come and eat the pumpkins,” says Sawyer.

Once the seeds are in the ground, the boys say they enjoy a little break before they really get busy.

“Once they come up you have to weed them, and you got to pretty much do a lot of work. You got to water them. You got to check them for bugs,” says Wesley.

Of all the pumpkin chores, there’s one that’s definitely the least favorite.

“Weeding, because it’s always so hot when we do it,” says Wesley.

“Yeah, there were some hot days out here pulling weeds and they weren’t happy about it, but they did it,” adds Mclaine.

Early summer turned out to be so hot that the boys worried their pumpkin patch might be in trouble.

“I thought we were only going to have one wagon, not two wagons. There’s easily two wagons in here,” says Wesley proudly.

When September rolls around, Sawyer and Wesley say their pumpkins let them know when they’re ready to be picked.

“Some will turn orange, some will turn white, some will turn green, but the trick with the green ones is it’s hard because they’re green, but they turn green,” says Sawyer next to a green gourd.

The gourds give different clues when they’re ready.

“They have funky shapes, so once they get that funky shape, and some will have bumps, wrinkles in that, once they get bumps and wrinkles and the color and everything, then you can,” says Sawyer.

As for all the varieties in the boys’ expanded patch this year, Mom and Dad say it’s been hard to keep up.

“Oh gosh, I don’t even know. I know they’ve got probably six different types of pumpkins and probably 20 different types of gourds,” says Crystal.

Last year, in their first year selling pumpkins, the brothers hauled in $700. Half went into their savings and the other half became their own fun money.

“We’ll go to some fun places, Pizza Ranch is fun, oh yeah,” says Sawyer with a smile.

Looking over their pumpkins, just before harvest, the boys are still mulling over this year’s prices.

“That’s a nice one right there,” I point out.

Yeah, that’s one of the ones that you would carve,” says Sawyer.

“What do you think that would sell for?” I ask.

“I don’t know. I don’t know yet. We haven’t figured out the prices yet,” says Sawyer.

“You haven’t? What determines the price?” I question.

“Size, breed, color, that stuff,” responds Sawyer.

Once all the pumpkins and gourds are out of the patch, Sawyer and Wesley get their first pick. The rest are then hauled on wagons to two different locations.

“We’re going to sell some at Mertz’s Auto Shop on K, and then we’re going to sell some by our uncle,” explains Wesley.

And in just a few weeks, after five months of hard work, the boys know what that means.

“More fun money,” says Wesley with a smile.

With their pumpkin patch likely expanding a little more each year, Sawyer and Wesley will have even for fun money to enjoy, and to put in their savings for their futures as farmers.