Hello, everyone! Today was Fishy Thursday as well as a very rainy day here at the MSUE Tollgate Education Farm Center. Although it was very wet outside we didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits! Mr. Alan and the counselors found the perfect way to show the peppers how life on the farm can be fun in rain or shine.
Before heading off on a fishing adventure, the peppers learned a bit more about the environment fish live in, the pond. The organisms in the pond’s ecosystem are broken down into three categories: producers, consumers, and decomposers. The producers are the plants that grow in the pond like phytoplankton, which are microscopic algae. The consumers include invertebrates (animals without backbones) like centipedes and zooplankton as well as vertebrates such as fish and frogs. Decomposers are the bacteria and algae that break down the dead plants and animals to release the nutrients back into the water and air for the plants to absorb.
Now that the peppers knew a bit more about the fishes’ home, it was time to go fishing! Rainy days can be a great time to go fishing because fish are generally more active in low light conditions. While there are both omnivorous and carnivorous fish, the peppers caught all carnivorous fish: sunfish, bass, and bluegill.
After an exciting morning of fishing in the rain, it was time for a snack to warm up the peppers’ bodies. Ms. Robbin had a special treat for the peppers to make: vegetable soup. The peppers chopped fresh tomatoes from the Hoop House and other vegetables to add to the soup. The delicious soup was the perfect way to warm up the peppers to prepare them for more adventures on the farm.
To end the morning, the peppers learned how to identify different animals by their footprints and made their very own print moldings. The counselors explained how tracks can provide some detail to an animal such as size, weight and adaptations. For example, a raccoon’s front paws are nimble and similar in structure to human hands. This provides them the ability to easily hold items and even tie knots or open doors. A raccoon’s back paws are larger than its front paws giving it the ability to run faster and balance when its front paws are in use. All of this can be determined just from looking at a raccoon’s tracks! Now when peppers observe the ground in their backyard they’ll be able to determine characteristics of the animals that left their tracks behind.
In the afternoon, the rain outside gave the peppers the perfect excuse to spend some quality time with my friends Mocha and Wendy, the rabbits. The peppers gathered in a circle in the barn while Wendy and Mocha hopped about in the middle. Wendy is a lionhead rabbit named for the long hair that makes it look like she has a lion’s mane! Mocha is a lop which the peppers can identify by her floppy ears. Wendy and Mocha were very excited to have so much space to roam that they did many binkies in the air. Binkies are kicks in the air and a rabbit’s way of expressing joy. The peppers were also very excited and gave Wendy and Mocha many affectionate pats on the head.
Once it cleared up outside, the peppers had the opportunity to go on a walk near the pond and practice their pepper skits for tomorrow. During the walk, the peppers found snails and grasshoppers on the path. Snails can usually be found just beneath the surface because they need to stay out of the sun to keep from drying out. When it rains they come to the surface where water is less saturated to keep from drowning, so it’s no wonder the peppers were able to find so many snails on their walk!
In the Garden Kitchen, the peppers made another delicious snack: fruit pizza. The peppers used oatmeal for the crust, cream cheese and yogurt to represent cheese, and fruit for the toppings. Many of the peppers said this snack was their favorite snack of the week!
To end the day, the peppers met in the barn and continued the sheep activity from Ruminant Wednesday. The peppers carded wool, took a look at carded wool under the stereoscope, and used a drop spindle to make yarn out of their wool. Making yarn takes time and skill, but the peppers did a great job at learning the trade.
I’ve had such a great week with my new pepper friends and tomorrow will be the best day by far! I can’t wait to see what skits the peppers have been practicing. I’m off to get my rest so I won’t miss anything tomorrow! Check out the gallery below to see our day together!
Clifford the Calf