Mid-Winter Break Camp 2013 – Day 5

Hello, my little Peppers!

It’s a bittersweet day, here at Tollgate Farm. We have so many wonderful, culminating activities for you today, but that also means camp is coming to an end. My tiny Peppers have learned so much this week; we don’t want to see them leave (I’ll be waiting for their return at Spring Break Camp)!

This is my last report to you, Peppers, and I, Murphy the Calf, am so lucky to have been able to share in all your camp adventures this week and especially today! Here is a recap of today’s amazing activities.

At around six o’clock this morning we received a wonderful little gift from Mother Nature. We woke up to snow! Several inches of it too! It was even snowing into my barn; it was wild! The Yellow Peppers were very excited about this. So, first thing this morning, they went outside and made snow angels. The Peppers were having the time of their life! Andrew was rolling all around the ground and Alexandra was doing somersaults while the rest of the group decorated the roof of the activity center.

Everybody's doing it!

Lucy and Julia L.

Although I love it when I get to see my Orange Peppers, the highlight of today’s morning chores was feeding the goats. Peter was given the honors of filling up their food dish and placing it in the goat pen. He had to be extra careful because the goats were pretty frantic this morning. Peter sneakily set the dish down and the goats pounced on their food. They acted as if they had never seen food before! They gobbled it down so quickly!

Be careful, Peter, they're hungry!

Miss Rachel had lots of questions for the Orange Peppers today. Questions like, where milk comes from on a goat, and why goats have horns and not antlers and the differences between the two. The Peppers piped up answering each question and learning so much. They finished up their chores checking on the goats’ water tank, making sure it wasn’t frozen and locked up the gate. On to the next one!

She was so nice too.

Meanwhile the Yellow Peppers had started their lesson in Garden Kitchen. Today the Peppers were having a go at making their own bread! How exciting! Everybody chipped in and helped with stirring, measuring and pouring. Helena and Ava were given the task of measuring out the honey, which proved to be very difficult. They patiently waited for the honey to work its’ way down the bottle and into the measuring cup, taking turns squeezing the sticky bottle. The Peppers even learned about yeast and how its special reaction when combined with dough and heat, makes the bread rise.

Squeeze that honey, Ava!

It's magic (not exactly)!

Once the bread was off baking in the bread maker, the Peppers were lucky enough to try another animal product. The bread was not going to be ready for another three to four hours, so Mr. Alan let the Peppers try goat’s milk and goat’s cheese! I am so proud of my positive little Peppers; even though most had never tried these two products before, they were not afraid to try something new. Alexandra, Julia L. and Emma liked the milk so much they even asked for seconds! When asked what the goat cheese tasted like, Emma replied, “It tastes like…goat cheese!”

The same thing happened when the Orange Peppers came inside for garden Kitchen. My adventurous Peppers tried new food, and most of them liked it too. Even though Alayna was skeptical, she gave it a chance, stating, “This smells like Dorothy the goat!” She is right; goat’s milk has a distinctly different flavor and smell than regular cow’s milk. Sydney drank so much goat’s milk, she ended up with a milk mustache. And Madisyn chimed in saying, “I’m going to ask my mom to buy goat’s milk for me!”

She even got a milk mustache!

Next up on the chores list was taking care of the chickens. The Yellow Peppers trekked out to the barn to give some TLC to my good friends (I received some very necessary attention as well!). The Peppers that wanted to, got a chance to go inside the chicken coup, assisted by Alana, and search for eggs. The Peppers would very quietly and very gently, search through the chickens’ bedding to find the eggs. Anir explained how they ending up collecting five eggs, three brown ones and two white.

Our eggs

Miss Mandy treated the peppy Peppers by introducing them to her special friends. First, she brought out Lucy the chicken. The Peppers took turns feeling how smooth Lucy’s beak is and how scaly her feet are. Next, Miss Mandy brought out Hazel the goose. “Is she a girl?” Pepper Lucy asked. Miss Mandy explained to everyone that Hazel is in fact a girl; that’s why she is called a goose. The male version of Hazel is called a gander.

Miss Mandy being very gentle with Hazel.

Miss Mandy being very gentle with Hazel.

The Peppers also let Hazel and the ducks outside. They got a chance to go swimming in their small pool and to wash off. Miss Mandy started explaining the differences between males and females and how you can tell them apart. One duck hopped on top of another duck and they began “playing” as Miss Mandy puts it. The Yellow Peppers had a nice laugh at them and then it was time to go!

The Peppers were getting a little cold at this point, so our good friend, Mr. Elliot, started a fire for us out in the fire pit. It was so warm and cozy and gave a chance for all the Yellow Peppers to dry off their wet gloves! Each tiny Pepper took a turn adding a piece of wood to the fire, while sharing riddles and stories about camp. They went around the circle and shared their favorite part about camp. It was no surprise that most of the Peppers loved Garden Kitchen (and me too, of course!).

Ants on a log

Everyone sharing riddles

After reflection time, the Yellow Peppers headed back to the Activity Center, while the Orange Peppers were in the Volunteer Center working with seeds! Each camper made their own seed pot out of newspaper and tape. They had a great selection of seeds ranging from lettuce, spinach, eggplant and peppers too (obviously!)! The Peppers planted some more seeds in a large tray for the farm to grow and plant once they get bigger. They decorated and labeled sticks to differentiate the plants from one another.

One seed in each hole

It's finished!

Back in the Activity Center, Mr. Alan had one more special treat for the Peppers. Miss Mandy asked, “What else can we make out of milk?” Several hands raised, “Cheese!” Julia L. rang out. They were going to make cheese! First, they needed to heat the milk up to 180 degrees F. Mr. Alan had special helpers keeping track of the temperature of the milk to make sure it was warm enough. Next, the Peppers added white vinegar. The Peppers all looked on in awe at the changing milk. It started curdling! Mr. Alan kept stirring and the curdles kept coming! He placed the cheesecloth over the sieve and poured the milk into it. Here, the milk separated into the curds (or cheese) and the whey (the water left over). Just like little Miss Muffet!

What is the temperature of the milk

What is the temperature of the milk?

The Peppers were lucky enough to eat their cheese with their warm, homemade bread and even some leftover jam from yesterday. It looked delicious!

It's curdling!!

Yummy, yummy!


Dishes were washed, tables were cleaned and shirts were passed out. Lessons were learned, friends were made and camp was a success! I am going to miss my perfect little Peppers so much. The farm will not be the same without all of you! Thank you for all your help, care and love this week. You are welcome to stop by and visit your good friend, Murphy any time (…How about tomorrow?)!


This is Murphy the Calf, signing off one last time.

Until we meet again, Peppers!

Murphy the Calf


Today’s Recipes

Ricotta Cheese

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar
  • cheesecloth
  • sieve


  1. Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen two layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.
  2. Pour the milk and cream into a microwave safe bowl. Stir in the salt. Bring to 180 degrees F in the microwave, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for  one minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).
  3. Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl art room temperature for 20 minutes until the whey has drained.
  4. Serve with bread or crackers.


Homemade Bread

  • 1 1/8 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • fresh herbs of you choice (herb butter)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • small mason jar


  1. Pour warm water into a small bowl
  2. Add in the honey and salt and whisk together until salt dissolves
  3. Pour mixture into the bread machine.
  4. Add your chopped butter, flour, sugar, dry milk powder and active dry yeast.
  5. Turn on bread maker, the light or quick setting. Ours took approximately 3 hrs and 40 mins.
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