Farmer Boy, Chapter 11

Science
Spring
It was now springtime on the farm and the days grew longer. Day and night are caused by the earth rotating on its axis towards and away from the sun. But the axis isn’t straight up and down; it is tilted, so as the earth is also revolving around the sun, the amount of sun hitting the earth changes. So as we move from spring, to summer, to fall, to winter, the length of the time the sun hits different parts of the earth differs, making spring and summer days longer than winter days. Spring the time from mid-March to mid-June.

What are the sights, smells, and sounds of spring?

This is a nice poem about spring:

"Spring "
by William Blake

Sound the flute!
Now it's mute!
Birds delight,
Day and night,
Nightingale,
In the dale,
Lark in sky, -
Merrily,
Merrily, merrily to welcome in the year.

Little boy,
Full of joy;
Little girl,
Sweet and small;
Cock does crow,
So do you;
Merry voice,
Infant noise;
Merrily, merrily to welcome in the year.

Little lamb,
Here I am;
Come and lick
My white neck;
Let me pull
Your soft wool;
Let me kiss
Your soft face;
Merrily, merrily we welcome in the year.

Potato (Solanum)
Potatoes grow by underground root systems called tubers. You can plant them by using seed potatoes that are basically the runts culled out of the crop. Or, you can use regular potatoes, cutting them up making sure there is an “eye”, or sprout, in each piece. Potatoes like cool moist weather, and Colorado potato beetles like potatoes.

The edible part of the potato is the bulging tuber. The leaves, stems, and berries are poisonous.

Freshly dug potatoes contain 78% water, 18% starch, 2.2% protein, 1% ash, and 0.1% fat. The potato is a valuable energy food, and is also important for the manufacture of adhesives and alcohol.

Carrots (Daucus Carota sativis)
Carrots are hardy biennials that are grown as annuals. They have fern-like leaves, and a fleshy taproot, which is the part we eat. The roots can grow up to 10” long and range in shades of orange.

To grow carrots, seeds are planted early in the season when it is still cool. From planting to harvest takes 55 to 80 days. Carrots are high in nutrients, especially vitamin A.

Wheat 
Wheat is a tall, annual cereal grass reaching 4’ in height. Winter wheat is sown in the fall to be harvested in the summer, and spring wheat is sown in early spring and harvested in late summer.

Wheat is often called the staff of life because it is the most widely grown and consumed grain in the world. The wheat berries, which are removed from the tall stalks, are used in many different forms. The most popular use is to grind up the berries for flour, which is used in breads, pastas, and baked goods. Wheat berries can also be boiled or steamed as is to make what is called bulgur. Wheat also goes through other processes to make couscous, wheat germ, wheat bran, flaked wheat, and farina (cream of wheat). Wheat is very nutritious, containing high levels of calcium, protein, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.

Wheat is discovered in many things: Twizzlers (yup-the candy!), particle board (often used for shelves), paper, adhesives (postage stamps), packing peanuts, plastic bags, charcoal, golf tees, make up, hair conditioner, laundry detergent, whipped topping, and coffee creamer.

Things to do for this unit: Have some Twizzlers.

Watch this video about wheat:
South Dakota Farm Bureau wheat video: Bread from the seed to the store

If you have some time later, this is a very informative 42-minute episode:
Discovery How Stuff Works : Wheat

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