Here at C-A-L Ranch, we love carving pumpkins as much as the next person. It’s one of those Halloween traditions we look forward to all year. Unfortunately, Jack O’ Lanterns start to mold and stink up our doorsteps after a couple weeks. It won’t be long until we start seeing rotting pumpkins smashed across streets and sidewalks. Sure, smashing pumpkins is relatively harmless, but it’s not the best use of your old Jack O’ Lantern. Here are five economical ways to reuse and repurpose old Jack O’ Lanterns.

Feed Pumpkin to the Local Wildlife

Animals will eat more than just seeds; they’ll eat the whole pumpkin. This can also be a tasty snack for backyard chickens. Some animals are capable of eating the pumpkin whole, but you’ll need to cut it into pieces for smaller animals. Make sure there’s no paint or mold on your pumpkin before leaving it out for wildlife.

Make a Pumpkin Birdhouse

Carved out pumpkins are prefect for bird houses. The pumpkin is already hallowed out and the walls will trap in heat. If there’s not already an entryway big enough for birds, grab a knife and cut one out. Also poke a couple holes in the bottom for drainage. Then just place pumpkin the in a tree and you’re finished. Birds will appreciate having a warm place to sleep.

Bake the Pumpkin Seeds

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Most people, when carving out their Jack O’Lanterns, take the guts–seeds and all–and toss them in the trash. What a waste of tasty pumpkin seeds! Simply coat them in butter and salt and any other seasoning you might like (cinnamon sugar is always a crowd-pleaser), spread them out on a cookie sheet in a thin layer and bake for about 45 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit or until the seeds are golden brown.

Make a Bird Feeder

Making a bird feeder is easy and squirrels will enjoy it, too. Cut a hole around the top of the pumpkin. Pour bird seed inside and nestle the gourd in a branch or loop rope through openings at the top to tie it up in a tree.

Compost It

Decomposing pumpkins act as a great nitrogen-based component to your compost pile. Since they are mostly water, they break down easily. Use a shovel or hoe to break down the gourd into small pieces that will break down faster. Be sure to take out the seeds; leaving them in could result in an unexpected pumpkin patch next fall.

Instead of wasting your old Jack O’ Lantern, repurpose it. There are many different ways you can recycle your pumpkin and benefit the environment. It can be fertilizer for your garden or a tasty meal for animals. Just promise us you won’t throw it in the garbage!

Happy Halloween and good luck with your pumpkin carving, everyone!