Not one just like the other

20160519_100149 (1)Right now, as the sun sets on Saturday, Sophie is rooting grasses for a bed to sleep under the stars. In a week’s time, she seems to have developed a penchant for the outside rather than her nest inside her outbuilding. Her stint as visiting ambassador at Sauder Village, for porcine everywhere, and here on The Quarry Farm for two days of welcoming two schools from two counties, must have made this so.

As for me, my voice is gone, but the temporary loss is well spent on two full days of spring fields trips with over 170 people painting lasting leaf t-shirts, getting up close and personal with macroinvertebrates as water quality indicators, and meeting a six-spotted tiger beetle, pot-bellies, turkeys and Sophie herself.IMG_1184

Thursday morning, preschoolers and parents from the Pandora area hiked around the Red Fox gardens to select interesting leaves. With a little help from the adults, the children arranged dandelion, violet and burdock on their white shirts and spritzed paint around the greens. Several malfunctioning spray bottles later, there were some very colorful shirts, not a single one exactly like the one next to it.IMG_1213

Third graders from Chamberlin Hill Intermediate School in Findlay arrived on Friday in two shifts. The first 70-some got off the bus around 10 a.m., made their shirts (using all new spray bottles) and hung their finished wearable art in the bushes and trees before hiking down the hill, along Cranberry Run and splitting into two groups at the north gate. Half went through the gate to meet the farm animals, the other to see dragonflies, damselflies, crayfish and the amazing boneless swimming acrobatics of fish leeches.

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Thanks to Zoe for showing everyone that fish leeches won’t suck human blood, even after 10 whole minutes.

With a lot of paint left in the bottles after the second bus drove away south on 7L, we tackled the north picnic table with splashes of red, purple, green, and blue. The other table remains for another visit and another day.IMG_1221

Pause here for P-G

P-G Third Grade 2015Before we continue along the trail in a search of wildflowers and wild mushrooms, let’s take a moment to highlight a Friday adventure that we shared with the third grade class from Pandora-Gilboa Elementary School.

Although the school is just around a few corners from The Quarry Farm, this is the first time a class has been able to pay us visit in a while. This morning, the sun rose in a clear blue sky, the tortuous winds that we’ve had of late held their breath for the most part, and 41 students descending the bus steps to join us for the morning.

At three different stations, these curious kids learned about herbs alongside the butterfly garden, beneficial insects that spend much of their life in and along Cranberry Run and Riley Creek, and met some of the animals of the sanctuary.Herbs

At Station 1, Laura talked about past and present uses for herbs, and the pollinators that live amongst them in the Red Fox Cabin gardens. The students chose snipped samples of their favorites from a selection of culinary and/or fragrant herbs, zip-lock bagged the cuttings and labeled the bags for the journey home.

Steve brought on the dragonfly nymphs, or at least a bucket of them, at Station 2. He talked about the life cycles and habits of these predators, Macrosas well as others like damselflies and water scorpions. He pulled the old arm-covered-with-leeches trick, asking, “How long will it be before these leeches suck all the blood from my arm?” The answer? Never. The leeches he displayed were fish leeches.

Bronze turkeys Humperdink, Inigo, and Miracle Max were the greeting party at Station 3, the farm animal sanctuary. Johnny the Canada goose joined in, too. Most of the residents were lying low — in outbuildings and under trees — due to warm, sweaty temperatures, but Buddy the donkey came out. Potbelly Carlton and Lucy the donkey made their large group debut as well. Carlton rolled over for a belly scratch and Lucy leaned in for ear whispers.Lucy

Captain John Smith the Virginia opossum was the special guest “speaker” during the lunch hour. Half of the class met the Captain at Christmas time during a classroom reading of Jan Brett’s The Mitten. We thought it only fair he should meet the whole class on his own turf.

Here are a few more images from the day. Thank you to Nikki Beckman for sharing photos, Jessica Arthur and Jill Henry for sharing your class time, and top Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative and First National Bank of Pandora for supporting this educational program. If anymore photos arrive in the email box, we’ll add them to the show.

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Long Sleeve Weather

In the upland with Tri-Moraine Audubon

The air was chill but the sun was high on Saturday, October 6 for the “Wetland Wonderland” (see WORKSHOPS AND PRESENTATIONS) Tri-Moraine Audubon Society field trip to The Quarry Farm.  The group was led by Quarry Farm Friend Dave Betts.  All the Thursday rain put water back in the oxbow, enough to yield a sampling of aquatic macroinvertebrates that included a scud. This freshwater crustacean was the first such mini-shrimp seen and held by participants. Got to love that. I did.

Want to know more about scuds? Come to the Quarry Farm in the spring, but check them out here while ice covers the vernal pools: http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/scud.htm

The water continued to rise in Cranberry Run while the Tri-Moraine Audubon Society walked the trails on Saturday. But by Monday, October 8, the creek had dropped back into its banks in time for 30 Pandora Cub Scouts, accompanied by their siblings and parents, to visit for a presentation and a tour. The “show” consisted of meet-and-greets with Buddy, aquatic macroinvertebrates, a juvenile opossum, a walk to the creek, cabin, and a cider-and-cookies finish around the fire bowl. What are some of the things that we hope the Scouts learned? That fish leeches won’t drain your arm of blood, that baby dragonflies eat lots of baby mosquitos, that opossums are nature’s garbage collectors, and that Northwest Ohio sunsets are the best. What did we learn? That you can cover a lot of ground in an hour. Beautiful night.

After cider fire