Bats, Bees, and Butterflies: Week 2, Day 1

Hi everyone!

Since this week is Bats, Bees, and Butterflies week, everyday we are going to go through a different part of the butterfly life cycle. Today we are beginning as a butterfly egg. A cool fact about butterfly eggs is that sometimes if you look closely you can actually see the caterpillar growing in them. Most different types of butterflies lay different eggs, some are round, some are oval, and some have ridges.

Each of the different groups are part of the butterfly life cycle. The youngest are the eggs, next are the caterpillars, next are chrysalis, and then finally they are the butterflies.

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Chickens use their crop to chew their food because they don’t have teeth. The food sits in the crop for up to 12 hours, where enzymes and a grinding motion break the food up. Sometimes when the crop is full, it can be felt on the chicken. We saw what chickens ate and then each got to take a turn holding the chicken. We learned that a female chicken is called a hen and a male chicken is called a rooster. When chickens are young you can tell if it is going to be a rooster or a hen by whether its back feathers are even with its front feathers. If they’re all even, then it’s female, if they’re not then it’s male. Chickens lay eggs about every 25 hours, which means we get about 6 eggs per week from a chicken.

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We made ricotta cheese in garden kitchen using the chives we picked in the garden. We all learned how easy it was to make cheese! We just heated the cheese to about 160 degrees then added vinegar and the cheese began to solidify. We then drained it with a cheesecloth to separate the curds from the whey. After it was separated we mixed in the chives and enjoyed!

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We had graden time to learn more about the plants that bees, bats, and butterflies can help pollinate. We even saw some bee hives that are run by the farm’s beekeeping program. The experiment we did was to see how plants lose water as they “breathe”. We used clear bags to put over the leaves of the plant and we waited about a minute. The bags started to get a little foggy from the plants losing moisture from the leaves.

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We had a ruminant relay today! In the rumen, it can hold up to 50 gallons so we took water to a bucket and then ran back to the group to represent the cud that is chewed for up to 8 hours a day. Then we went to the reticulum, where hardware can build up and the magnets that the cows can hold to catch metal stays, we carried an egg to another hula hoop. The like the omasum filters, we sorted a stick and a rock from a bucket to hula hoops. The abomasum is the true stomach, because it is like the human stomach, and we ran to the tree. To show the end process, we hopped on one foot, to represent “plop, plop, plop”.

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We made a parsley and sunflower seed pesto with the parsley that each group picked from the garden. We also learned how to make pasta. The flour we used was semolina and all-purpose flour, then we discussed how flour is made from wheat but sometimes you can have it made from other things, such as quinoa. The pasta and pesto was so yummy! Most of the kids even wanted seconds!

Tomorrow is supposed to be a really hot day so don’t forget your sunscreen!

Garden Kitchen Recipes

Parsley sunflower seed pesto

  • 1/2 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds

  • 1 small garlic clove

  • 2 cups (packed) arugula leaves

  • 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons honey

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • Kosher salt

Rinse sunflower seeds, put in a small bowl or jar, and add cold water to cover seeds by 1 inch. Cover; soak overnight at room temperature. Drain and rinse seeds.
Purée sunflower seeds, garlic, arugula, basil, oil, honey, and lemon zest and juice until smooth. Season with salt. Thin pesto with water if too thick.

Homemade Pasta

  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups tepid water

Mound the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the center of the flour and add water a little at a time, stirring with your hands until a dough is formed. As you incorporate the water, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape (do not worry if it looks messy). The dough will come together in a shaggy mass when about half of the flour is incorporated. You may need more or less water, depending on the humidity in your kitchen.

Start kneading the dough with both hands, primarily using the palms of your hands. Once the dough is a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up any left over dry bits. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 3 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Continue to knead for another 3 minutes, remembering to dust your board with flour when necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes at room temperature. Roll and form as desired.

Ricotta Cheese

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

Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot such as Le Creuset. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I tend to like mine on the thicker side, but some prefer it moister.) Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

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