We utilized all of our senses this week, as we gathered around the fire, tracked animals in the sugar bush, and took in the warmth and spring feelings provided to us by the greenhouse. Farm Sprouts signed in by tracing rabbit trails to check on sap buckets. They voted for rabbit or squirrel tracks, both of which we discovered, as well as deer tracks. Opal and Eleanor, our rabbits, enjoyed the opportunity to spend the day in the classroom. Farm Sprouts will be responsible for their care on Tuesdays/Wednesdays during the maple sugaring, spring, and fall seasons this year. They love how soft they feel and watching their noses twitch!
Another animal care task involved inspecting our vermicompost bin and the red wiggler worms living within and “feeding” them some of our food scraps from our Sugar Bush Soup. Worms sparked a lot of interest and questions! We’ll be sure to investigate these questions more deeply in the spring season! Did you know, however, that we’ve entered the phase of the “Worm Moon” according to Native American and other historical traditions? It can also be referred to as the “Sap Moon!” Any thoughts as to why the moon we see in March received those names? Read on to learn more!
Other activities in the classroom included continued work on our Sugar Bush Mural and both work and play in our very own Sugar Shack. We gathered to dance and sing to the song, “The Water Cycle,” which included some great sun, cloud, rain, and snow additions thanks to the teachers. In our maple sugaring season, we interact with water in each of its states, from steam rising out of the Sugar Shack to sap frozen in a bucket. Weather is also very important to the sugaring process, so we spend some time discussing and exploring these concepts to build a foundation for future learning, from kindergarten and beyond! We brought it in to cheer each other on as a Farm Sprout community, preparing for action in the Sugar Bush!
We stopped to inspect tracks, roll in the snow, visit the horses, and more on our way to the Sugar Bush. It was a chilly day, so we were grateful to have the fire to gather around to enjoy our snack. (Thank you to Mr. Roy and Mr. Norb from our Operations Team for having it ready to go!) Ms. Darby is joining us for this Farm Sprouts season, but the ground is thawing and she’ll soon be returning to her regular work in our C.S.A. field. Will Jaquinde and Ms. Darby lead and coordinate our C.S.A. program. C.S.A. stands for community supported agriculture. Members of the community can buy a weekly share of produce during the growing season to support local farming and Michigan agriculture. Visit here to learn more! Our Farm Sprouts team collaborates with the Sustainable Agriculture team, which includes the C.S.A. program, to source as much of our snack ingredients as possible from MSU Tollgate Farm. Our soup included root vegetables stored from the C.S.A. through the winter, as well as tomatoes Ms. Darby canned from the farm. A big thank you to Ms. Darby for creating this delicious soup for us! We also enjoyed mint tea with Tollgate honey to help keep us warm. Animal tracking also helped keep our bodies busy. Some Farm Sprouts couldn’t get enough of the soup and requested we share the recipe:
Sugar Bush Soup (for Farm Sprouts)
1/2 large rutabaga
1 large turnip
3 medium-sized potatoes
1 large onion
1 quart or 2 cans diced tomatoes
2 boxes (or 2 quarts) of vegetable broth
fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper to taste
1. Dice rutabaga, parsnips, turnip, and potatoes.
2. Saute over medium heat in large soup pot. Add a little broth if the vegetables are sticking, stirring frequently.
3. Add a pinch of all of the herbs, plus salt and pepper.
4. Dice onion, add to the pot once the root vegetables have softened.
5. Pour in tomatoes and broth. Heat through.
The sap was not flowing today, but we know spring is on the way. We discovered just a little bit of frozen sap in the buckets. The day temperature remained below freezing and we’re figuring out that it takes temperatures below freezing at night and above freezing during the day for the sap to run. Farm Sprouts should see sap flow next week based on the upcoming forecast! We concluded with the story, Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee and our Farm Sprouts goodbye… complete with a lamb at our center.
“Hunters and trackers learn not only to understand intellectually a bunch of facts about the animal they
follow,but to feel their way into the very being of the animal.” – Iain McGilchrist