Steve Baumann in his pumpkin patch west of Lander. (Kelsey Dayton photo)
(Lander, Wyo.) – The land sat empty, picturesque with the Wind River mountains as a backdrop, but unused.
Steve Baumann wasn’t a farmer, but he didn’t want to waste his land off Squaw Creek. Hay prices were low. So in 2009 he planted pumpkins.
Pumpkins are easy, needing only a little fertilizer, water and 100 days to mature. The first year he sold his harvest to Mr. D’s. The second year deer ate almost all of his 1,200 pumpkins.
Baumann developed a deer proof fence the next year. Last year he filled the area with about 400 pumpkins and opened it to the public. He sold out in two weeks.
This year, using a retrofitted corn seeder to place seeds four feet apart, he doubled his crop.
He has, he says, become a “hack farmer.”
In 1968, Baumann’s dad, Richard, flew him from their home in Wisconsin to Dubois for a vacation to Yellowstone National Park. They happened upon a Wyoming Game and Fish presentation on big horn sheep. After, staff directed Baumann’s dad, an avid hunter, to Lander to speak to a hunting expert.
The people at the Lander airport lent them a car and were so nice the Baumanns began returning each year to hunt and backpack. Baumann’s parents eventually moved to Lander.
Baumann, an engineer, worked in gold mines. In 2005, while working in Guatemala, Baumann and his wife decided they wanted to raise their son in Lander, so they moved.
Baumann built the family house and then turned his attention to his land, not knowing he was starting what for many has already become a fall tradition. Baumann is Ok with that. He plans to plant pumpkins every year indefinitely. He loves seeing how happy it makes people, he said. “And I’ve invested so much in the fence.”
Baumann has grown small sugar pumpkins perfect for pies and giant howden pumpkins ideal for jack-o-lanterns. Prices range from $2 to $4 a pumpkin depending on size. The pumpkin patch is open after 5 on weeknights. Call Baumann at 349-2900 to schedule a visit.