Hello, my name is Amber. My 5 year-old daughter has a very good question. She and her class carved a pumpkin a week ago, and its still cold to the touch after sitting inside for a week. her question is "Why do pumpkins stay cold?" I haven't been able to find an answer for her so if you have one it would be a big help!
I think science provides us with an answer. And you're in luck, because I'm a science dog -- a black Lab. You know, like in... laboratory. First of all, remember that the pumpkin is at room temperature, probably about 72 degrees. But your fingers are at body temperature -- 98.6 degrees. So any non-warm-blooded thing in the room is going to be cooler than your fingers. Despite that, not everything feels "cold" when we touch it. Some items feel cold to the touch because of the material they are made from. A metal doorknob, for instance, feels colder than the wood of the door. That's because metal is a good conductor of heat, so it draws heat away from our hand, and makes our hand feel cold. Wood, on the other hand, is not a good conductor of heat, which is why when you cook you can hold onto a wooden spoon or wooden pan handle without burning your hand.
Are pumpkins made of metal? No, but they are mostly water. If you dried one out, you wouldn't have much left. (Think of how a plump, juicy grape is turned into a raisin.) And water is good at absorbing heat from our body. Think of how water feels cool to the touch even when it's at room temperature, like in a fish bowl, or a glass of water left out all day.
If you touch a moist part of the pumpkin, it may feel cool because it makes your finger damp. When our skin gets wet, it makes us cold because the evaporation of the water draws heat from our skin. That's why getting wet can make us so cold, and also why sweating helps to cool us off.
All this may be too complicated for a 5-year-old (in people years). You might try explaining that when she touches the pumpkin, she warms it up by giving it a little heat from her fingers. That leaves less heat for her fingers, so they feel cold. And just like how a metal doorknob feels cold because metal absorbs heat well, so does the water in the pumpkin.
Hope that helps. Thanks for writing.
I'm doing a pumpkin report for school, and I need to include how many seeds in an average pumpkin. Can you help me? (Ben H.)
Thanks for writing. I'm not very good with numbers bigger than 4 (I count on my paws), so I don't think I can help. But why don't you ask some of your friends and neighbors to save the insides of their pumpkins for you, and you can count the number of seeds that were in each pumpkin! Make a nice chart or graph and you'll have a doggone good report! (A pumpkin pie chart would be appropriate, but I don't know if it would apply to this study.)
My name is Daisy Downing!! How did you get your name?? I am named after the cow. (Daisy Downing, Somerset, England)
I checked with my humans, and they said I was named after
a dog that one of my owners, Andrea, had when she was a little girl. So
we are both named after animals!
Who picks all those pumpkins?
Some of the local teenagers are hired for the task. We've used various crews, including the Braham Bombers football team.
How big is the pumpkin field?
We planted about 17 acres this year.
When are the pumpkins planted?
We plant the pumpkins in late May. But first, the ground has to be worked up to get rid of weeds and provide soft soil for the seeds.
Do you have to do anything between planting and picking?
Yes. We have to fight off the weeds. And some years we have hauled water to the field when there hasn't been enough rain.
When are the pumpkins picked?
They are picked at the end of September and piled in farm buildings to protect them against freezing weather.
What do you do with left-over pumpkins?
There haven't usually been many left-over pumpkins, but
they either get worked back into the soil in the field or go to a neighboring
farm to be fed to pigs.
What's your favorite place to relax on the farm?
That depends. When it's cold out, I like the kitchen floor. When it's hot, I like to dig a hole in Grandma's flower bed. Unfortunately, no one else seems to appreciate that as much as I do.
You say you're the lead dog on the Downing Farm. Is it important to be lead dog?
As my cousin Yukon Charlie the sled dog says, if you're not lead dog, your view never changes.
Is it OK to wear white after Labor Day?
If you like. Personally, I always look good in my basic black.
What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
What do you mean? African, or European swallow?
Kids: Send your own questions to Daisy. She's glad to answer your questions about pumpkins or any other questions you have about the farm. E-mail her care of:
daisy ["at"] downingpumpkins [.com]
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(or Daisy or the cows)
5323 Royalton Road
Braham, MN 55006
Dave & Tammy Downing
e-mail: mail ["at"] downingpumpkins.com