Monday, May 23, 2011

We have an update on Nate's plants. It's been a tough road for them. We start 25 seeds. About 8 survived to be planted. The corn never sprouted and the cats ate the leaves off the bean plants. Several of the plants did not survive outside. Our yard is very uneven and dry, making it hard to make sure they get adequate water, even with a drip hose. We are now down to two plants and are keeping our fingers crossed for them to continue to grow.

Here is Nate's update, his words in green. The hose is watering the plant. There are holes in the hose. This one has big leaves. It is a new plant. This plant still has it's first leaves. I planted more seeds when we lost the outside plants, hoping to have more survivors.
This one is older. It has smaller leaves. It's a different plant. This is the only remaining plant from our original inside planting. Joshua stepped on it this weekend. So, we are really keeping our fingers crossed that it hangs in there. I think both of the remaining plants are pumpkins.

We tried to turn them different colors. We used food coloring in water. I bought a bouquet of white carnations to make the corsage and boutonniere for Shawn's prom. We decided to experiment with the rest.

In a little while the flowers started to change colors. Why did they change color? The food coloring made them change. Remember what the stem does? The stem is like a straw. The stem sucks the water up to the flower part. Here are the carnations after being in the colored water over night.

Since we got very little color change in the carnations. We decided to try it with some fresh cut white roses from our back yard.

They started changing very quickly. They are a different kind of flower so they got more of the water to the flower part. Actually, I think the carnations were very dry when I got them and even thought I re-cut the ends, they did not suck up much water. The fresh cut roses starting pulling up water right away. We talked about this possibility.

Here are the roses after being in the colored water overnight.

We will continue to update on the plants periodically (as long as they continue to grow). But, we are not moving on to our next science project. ROCKS! Watch for the first installment...coming soon.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nate completed the CAT/5 test yesterday and we got it in the mail for scoring. Today was a great day for a field trip. We visited Bravo Farms Cheese Factory in Traver, CA, just south of Kingsburg. They make cheese on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. So, today we got to watch them make cheese. Nate will illustrate the process (in blue) and I will fill in the details.
That's the milk getting mixed. This vat holds 800 gallons of milk. Culture (bacteria) and salt is added to the milk. It is stirred slowly for a couple of hours as small curds are formed. We had lunch (and visited the gift shop and ice cream shop) in between checking the progress of the cheese.

That's the milk when it's acting like Jell-o. As the curd formed, they used these to cut the curd into small pieces. What you cannot see is the this wires about 1/4 inch apart. They cut the curd in both directions.

That's the milk getting drained. They drained the liquid from the curds. The liquid is called whey. Now you (and I) know what curds and whey is.

That's them stacking the curd up. After the whey is drained, they stir the curds to get as much liquid out as possible.

That's the curd when it was completely drained. They packed the curds along the sides and squeezed out more liquid. Then they cut the curds into chunks and moved them to another container to dry further.

Those are stacks of curd in the tub. The chunks are turned periodically to allow them to dry more.

They were cutting the curd up. Then the chop the curds up into small pieces. They gave us some cheese curds to taste at this point. It was a bit salty and had the texture of mozzarella, although it was white cheddar. I guess it needs to age for full flavor.

They were putting the curd in the boxes. They put the curd in these boxes, then put them in a hydraulic press that compressed the curds into 40 pound blocks of cheese.

The cheese factory also has this awesome tree house. You can go in and climb all the way to the top floor. The staircases inside were quite narrow. But, I managed. It was really neat.

There was also a lot of old farm and dairy equipment. This wagon was cool.

Definitely a fun field trip and close to home. I think we will this again sometime, maybe when Jacob is on vacation. It will be fun for him too. We brought home some fresh cheese and some chocolate treats. You can't go wrong with that!