Cyclists whistle and point while going by the Shaffers' house west of Palisade. "You're not going to steal that one!" they joke as they pedal off.

It's true, confirmed Judy Shaffer. Not Linus or anyone in or out of the Charlie Brown gang is going to make off with their Great Pumpkin.

Shaped kind of like a gargantuan orange eggplant, it is 100 inches around the base, 80 inches around the middle and more than 24 inches tall.

"We don't know the weight because we don't have a scale that would go that high," Judy Shaffer said. "My brother and my husband couldn't lift it."

"We had to use a skid-steer to move it from the garden to the front of the house," Judy Shaffer said.

Then it took the three of them — Phil and Judy Shaffer and her brother, Jim Miller — 45 minutes to maneuver the Great Pumpkin onto its current throne, a small wood pallet covered with straw.

The pumpkin actually was supposed to go to the Shaffers' grandson's house, or at least that was the idea when Wheeler Shaffer, 6, gave them some Atlantic Giant Squash seeds for Christmas last year.

"We're farm people," Judy Shaffer said, so seed packets and a gift certificate to a greenhouse were perfect gifts for her and Phil.

And when Wheeler comes over to their house, which is often, he likes to go into the garden with his grandparents and care for the plants, Judy Shaffer said.

In mid-June, the Atlantic Giant Squash seeds were among those the trio planted in the garden behind the house.

"My goodness there were only six seeds in the packet," Judy Shaffer said. "They were giant seeds."

They planted them all and ended up with four plants, three in the garden and one in a big pot. The summer heat wasn't kind to the plant in the pot, but the other three plants spread vines and canopy around garden like it was their personal lounge, "so you really didn't know what was there," Judy Shaffer said.

"It was such a funny year for growing," Phil Shaffer said, and they weren't completely sure what was going to happen with the pumpkin plants.

Regardless, they fertilized the plants each week, warded off the deer and applied "anti-squash bug therapy," Judy Shaffer said. "We were determined that those four seeds would come to fruition."

Eventually, they saw that each plant had produced one pumpkin.

The Great Pumpkin, of course, was the biggest. "If we didn't freeze, the thing would have kept growing," Judy Shaffer said.

The smallest was at least 25 pounds "and it was only probably 15 inches around," she said. It went to Wheeler's house, and he plans to carve it for Halloween.

"And then we have a white one that kind of looks like a beached whale. It grew on its side," Judy Shaffer said.

You're supposed to stand a pumpkin up when it is young so that doesn't happen, but when they found it, the stem was "as big around as your wrist, and we were afraid to move it because the stem wouldn't bend," she said.

Wheeler has been "so tickled" about the whole thing, and it really has been fun, she said.

Each evening, they cover the Great Pumpkin with an old comforter to keep the frost off, Phil Shaffer said.

But as with all things, the Great Pumpkin will have to be somehow moved or dealt before it become mushy later in the season.

The walls of the large pumpkin have got to be 3 inches thick, and likely there are two to three pounds of seeds inside, Phil Shaffer said.

"We'll probably recycle it," Judy Shaffer said. "Technically, we could probably cut it up and bake it, but you know, I'd probably be doing that until the Fourth of July if I started now."

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