Here comes Halloween, bearing down upon us like a hearse with bad brakes, and your family is way behind in its fall rituals.
No worries. Here are three farms, all within 90 minutes of Los Angeles, that are all tricked out for the season with corn mazes, hay rides, pumpkin patches and something called a “pumpkin cannon.” Go forth next weekend -- or during the week, if you’re unbound by traditional school schedules -- and make hay while the autumn sun shines.
Faulkner Farm (a.k.a. Hansen Agricultural Center, 287 S. Briggs Rd., Santa Paula;  522-1884) is 67 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Festivities, run by the Rotary Club of Santa Paula, include pumpkin patch, a hay maze, red corn maze, hay pyramid, hay ride. Also petting zoo, mini-train, face-painting. Admission $5, children not yet walking are free. Open only on Saturdays and Sundays in October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Sunday the 27th, any child 12 or younger in costume is free.
Underwood Family Farms (3370 Sunset Valley Rd., Moorpark;  529-3690) is 49 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Fall Harvest Festival open daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Oct. 31. General admission $3 weekdays, $12 weekends, children under 2 free. Oct. 26-27 is “all about pumpkins” weekend with Zydeco and bluegrass bands. Underwood also has a location in Somis (5696 Los Angeles Ave., Somis;  386-4660) with an animal center and market.
Tanaka Farms (5380 University Dr., Irvine;  653-2100) is 44 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Pumpkin patch open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Halloween. Wagon rides. Petting zoo. ATV ride, pumpkin cannon. Corn maze. No admission charge, but individual items and activities may carry a price.