What's in the Dirt: A Lesson Learned

So, the weather in my part of the country has been pretty good for fall and into winter, over all. That means my kiddos have had many days to go outside, get some fresh air, run, scream, play, pretend. . . in a nutshell: be kids!

Part of their fun has been digging in the dirt to find "treasures." Here's one of their finds:
A tiny silver toy car.
So on they went around the yard, digging and scratching and having lots of fun. One day, they came in to show me the "shells" of some mysterious "nut" they found, perhaps walnuts, they reasoned. Me and my "city" eyes were like, "Oh yeah! It is a shell, but I think it's an old crab apple shell, not a nut." I told the kids that once they were finished playing with the "crab apple shells" to put them back at the base of the tree, because they will break down and help the earth.

The kids agreed and off they went, happy to have their "shell" collection. The left a few of them on the picnic table on our patio to show to Daddy when he got home. Here's where the lesson begins.

The "shells". . .or so we thought!

Daddy looked out the patio window and asked the children, "Did you guys put these things on the picnic table?" My youngest daughter proudly proclaims, "We did, Daddy! They're walnut shells; we wanted to show them to you!"

And so the nature lesson, began. . .

He informed the children (and Mommy) that those weren't walnut shells, neither were they the hull of a crab apple. Rather, they were pieces of horse manure that came from the compost that my husband spread around the base of the trees this fall. HORSE MANURE!!

The reactions that followed were varied. . .

I'm like, "Honey, those weren't crab apple shells, old crab apple shells?" as I slowly remembered that he did make a trip out "to the country" to get free compost from a horse farmer. It also dawned on me that we don't have "crab apple trees," so why would we all of the sudden have crab apples in our yard? (Also turns out that I didn't really know what a crab apple was either--goodness! What I always called a crab apple is really the unripened fruit of a walnut tree!)** 

My oldest daughter said, "Well, it's a good thing I always wash my hands after playing outside!" And she continued playing her computer game, pretending not to be phased by this in the least bit. (Yeah, right!)
My son said, "Eeewww!" And then proceeds to double over in a fit of giggles. He's five; things like this are always hilarious.

My younger daughter was completely disgusted. She said, "Daddy, you mean that was horse poop? Oh, no! Are you sure? Are you kidding, Daddy?" Then she began wondering if she was sure to wash her hands really well the day they found the "shells"! LOL

My husband explained to them what compost was made of and how he uses it to "feed" the earth around our bushes and trees. He told them that over time, it continues to break down and becomes very rich soil.

I think all were convinced, except one little girl!

**Mommy's science lesson on the difference between
walnut trees and crab apple trees. Never too old to
learn, right?!?

Walnut tree with unripened nuts. . .
I always called these crab apples. . .

THESE are crab apples. . .
I just won't even say what I thought these were!


  1. This blog is so great! I love it to read them. I think my kids love the same things. And no ... we are never too old to learn tings :-)

  2. That's right, Jedidja. . .never too old to learn something new! :)


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