Whitehouse Farm Tour

Today we attended a tour of Whitehouse Fruit Farm.  We have done this tour twice before, but we always enjoy seeing the farm in fall.

We started out in a tent with the rest of our homeschool group.  The tour guide talked to us about the kinds of fruits and vegetables they grow at this farm.  This time of year, they have fresh apples, peppers and pumpkins.

Next, we got to take a walk through the orchard. 

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We saw the peach trees, which have been painted white at the base of their trunks.  We learned that this is like a “sunscreen”, to keep the bark from being burned in the winter when the leaves are not there to protect it.

In the cold storage area, we learned that apples will keep many months if kept at about 36 degrees F and with some humidity.  There is a puddle of water in the center of the storage room to provide the necessary humidity.  We also learned we could simulate that at home by putting a damp sponge in our home refrigerator drawer along with our apples!

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Finally, we had a treat: a cinnamon donut and some cider.  The kids enjoyed a chance to run around at the play area on a beautiful fall day.

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Let’s Zoo Science October 2013

Today we attended “Let’s Zoo Science” at the Akron Zoo. S9 was in the older class, and they covered the following topics:

Ages 9-12 Pouncing Predators
-What Makes a Predator?, Bears, Wolves & Otters, Oh My!, Hunting is Hard

O7 and her friend, D, were in another class:

Ages 6-8 Nature Detectives
-Lunch for a Bear, Wildlife Treasure Hunt, “Whoo-t” Loot

Both groups got to do a short tour of the zoo and had an animal encounter in the classroom. They both got a chance to dissect an owl pellet.

Later, S9 went to her last soccer practice for the season. We have a game this weekend and next, and then soccer will be over until next year.

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Today we went to Ford Nature Center in Mill Creek Metroparks and participated in a digital scavenger hunt.  The participants were given a list (they had an “”easier” list with more common items as well as a challenging one with rare or unusual items).  Most of the hikers were adults, but there was one other group that had three kids.  It turned out that we knew one of the kids from our playgroup, and her friend had on a jacket from our gym, where she took classes until this year.  The kids hit it off pretty quickly and we ended up going together around the Nature Center.

We opted for the “easier” list, since we weren’t sure what to expect.  I also got a copy of the challenging one in case we decided to try it out at our woods here at home another time.

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Our hunt included the following items:

  • Acorn
  • Feather
  • Yellow Maple Leaf
  • Red Leaf
  • Pine Cone (big)
  • Animal Hole
  • Moss
  • Worm
  • Pine Cone (small)
  • Caterpillar
  • Grasshopper
  • Stick shaped like the letter Y
  • Sow bug (roly poly)
  • Shelf Fungi
  • Scat (animal droppings)
  • Spider Web
  • Creek
  • 2 different types of birds
  • Flower
  • Something you think is beautiful

We found almost everything on our list except the caterpillar, grasshopper and sow bug.  We find those a lot in our own yard, but we must have been doing too much walking around to find them on this hike.

S9 took the camera she got from Nana earlier this year. O7 borrowed her dad’s camera, and I took my big digital to play around with it.

Dad's camera is cool

We found moss on the roof of the nature center’s garage:

Moss

flowers right at the entrance to All People’s Trail:

Flowers

red leaf:

Red leaf

S9 wanted to take a different loop on the trail by herself, so I went the opposite way with O7.

All People's Trail

our big pine cone (with our shoes for scale):

Pine cone- big

cardinal on the bird feeders behind the house:

Cardinal (male)

you can see both the male and female in this shot:

Cardinal (female)
Photographing the birds

a giant worm at the entrance to the trail behind the nature center:

Big worm

stick shaped like a “Y”

Stick shaped like a Y

spider web:

Spider Web

We finished All People’s Trail and decided to take the trail behind the nature center down to the creek. S9 finally agreed to walk with us.

Path behind FNC

some wildflowers behind the nature center:

Wildflowers behind FNC

Photographing the flowers

we found two logs on the ground with tons of shelf fungi. i took quite a few photos of these as they are one of my favorites.

Shelf fungi

Shelf fungi close up

Shelf fungi

We hooked up with the other kids at this point and spent the rest of the hunt walking with them. We walked down to the creek, followed a culvert, then crossed the road below the nature center and followed it back up along the creek to where we started.

Creek

The kids had a lot of fun and found several more worms, which led to some general silliness and lots of screams when S9 draped one over the pen that was in her mouth.

Even more worms

They also found a newt, which was equally squeal-worthy:

Newt

acorn:

Acorn

It was a great day just to be outside and we had a really nice hike.

Climbing

O7 & K on the path

Under the bridge

Dry culvert

Scoping out the culvert

It’s hard to see, but there’s a while feather in the left center of this photo:

Feather

Our second bird was a duck:

Ducks on the creek

And everyone agreed that the creek was something beautiful.

Checking out the creek

Park Pals

This week O7 attended the “Park Pals” two-day camp at Mill Creek Metroparks.

Over the two days, the kids did several nature-themed activities at the Ford Nature Center.  They also went on two long hikes and did a scavenger hunt.

O7 got stung by a bee on the second day.  Several kids did, actually.  They unwittingly disturbed a ground hive as they hiked by.  Fortunately, O7 was not allergic.  It did not hurt too badly because it stung her on the ankle, but she was wearing socks.

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Man vs. Wild Day 3

Today S9 attended the 3rd of four camps at On Target Outfitters.

The weather was pretty sketchy for much of the afternoon, so they stayed close to the pavilion and worked on a nature journal and made walking sticks. The nature journal is a publication of the Ohio Division of Wildlife and has some good resources that we may incorporate into our regular nature studies.

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While S9 was at camp, O7 took her violin lesson. She worked on polishing May Song. Tina is going to videotape her playing it for her violin school website. We also worked more on Etude. She played the entire song through, and just needs to polish it more and memorize it. She has been listening to the CD version a lot in the car this week, and it really shows.

Man vs. Wild Day 2

Today S9 attended the second of four “Man vs. Wild, Jr.” camps at On Target Outfitters.

For today’s camp, the kids were allowed to bring a locking-blade pocket knife. They used the knives to make wood shavings for starting camp fires. They learned how to build a fire and also how to be safe with it (don’t leave the fire unattended, build it in a ring or other contained area, etc.) Again, they split up into teams. S9’s team made a “heat trap” out of bark and were the first ones to have a successful fire- a challenge, since we have had a lot of rain lately.