February Happenings at Moose Hill

winter can be beautiful!

And just like that we are half-way through January! In our little area of the state, we’ve had some mild weather and it shows. Weekends have been filled with people getting outside, taking a hike and enjoying the mild winter weather. We love seeing you here at Moose Hill – don’t forget, stop in and say hi to our great staff at the front desk (they can even make suggestions on new hikes for you depending on how long you want to be out), warm up (if you need to) and check out the Gift Shop for snacks and drinks.

February is on it’s way and we can’t help but think about Groundhog’s Day. Did you know that Massachusetts has an official groundhog? Mass Audubon Drumlin Farm’s very own Ms. G. We’ll have to see if her prediction (based on shadows don’t you know) will follow along with Punxsutawney Phil of national fame or will it be different?

Finding a mouse house in the bushes.

But no matter what February 2 brings from these furry prognosticators, we do know that there will be lots of things to explore at Moose Hill – from outdoor happenings to programs and vacation week camp! While you are out exploring, what signs are you seeing? Tracks of squirrels, coyotes, red foxes, fisher, raccoons? Are you hearing new things? Some birds will begin their territorial song and woodpeckers will be heard drumming away as they establish their territories. Will you see us out as we tap trees for sugaring season? Who says February is a slow month – so much happening and we even gain an extra day in this Leap Year:

Brunch with the Eagles – February 2, 8 am-4 pm: Sanctuary directors Doug Williams and Karen Stein are excited for their annual outing to Essex, CT in search of bald eagles and a tasty brunch at the historic Griswold Inn.

Knee High Naturalists – Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays, 9:30 am-noon: Using games, songs, art, and plenty of outdoor hands-on/minds-on activities, Miss Patti explores the nature of Moose Hill with your 3-5 year old through the changing seasons.

Mead variety

Introduction to Mead Making – February 6, 6-8 pm: Curious about the oldest fermented beverage ever produced? This class takes you through the history, the variety, the simplicity (or complexity) of making mead. You will leave class with everything you need to begin making your own mead at home.

Tap-a-Tree – February 8, 10:30 am-12:30pm OR 1:30-3:30 pm: This hands-on class takes you through the very basics of tapping a tree in order to collect sap – from selecting your tree to hanging your bucket. We will then take over the hard part of sap collection and boiling it down for the sweet treat we all love.

Cell Phone Portrait Photography – February 8, 2-5 pm: love taking selfies or capturing you and your friends and family while your out on fun adventures but your pictures never quite work? Have we got the tips and tricks for you.

Barred Owl

Owl Moon – February 9, 6:30-7:30 pm: Experience the magic of Moose Hill after dark with a full moon in the sky! This program is especially designed for families with children ages 3-6 although all are welcome.

Fledgling Fridays – February 14 and 28, 1-2 pm: Designed for you and your child aged 3-5 and focusing on sensory development, each program has it’s own theme all while creating art, participating in STEAM activities, listening to stories, and exploring the outdoors.

Conversations and Cocktails: Maple Bourbon Apple Cider – February 15, 4-5:30 pm: Let’s talk maple sugaring while enjoying some snacks and a cocktail. Did we mention that sugaring season is right around the corner and as we gear up for producing our very own maple syrup, let’s enjoy that sweet treat in front of a fire in a few different, tasty ways.

Black-capped Chickadees

Late Winter Bird Identification – February 16, 1-3 pm: From which birds overwinter in our forests to what long distance migrants you might see, join Teacher Naturalist Michael Scutari for a hike to see, and hear, what is happening at Moose Hill and learn some simple techniques for bird identification.

February Vacation Week – February 17-21, 9 am-4 pm: It’s out-of school time that’s fun! Each day has a different theme and we will explore outside as much as the weather allows. Sign up for one day or for all five – before and after care options are available.

stoking the fire

Maple Sugaring Behind-the-Scenes – February 28, 7-9 pm: This program is designed for the adults! Learn about how we turn raw sap into maple syrup, complete with a variety of tastings of maple – drinks, waters, syrups – plus visiting the sugar shack at night is an experience you don’t want to miss!

Digital Photography for Beginners – February 29, 3-5:30 pm: Leap Day seems like the perfect day to learn more about that DSLR camera and gain the confidence to have full control over the image that you are creating. This class has both indoor time and a hike to gain some hands-on experience!

Star Gazing Nights – February 29, 7-9 pm: Let’s check out the stars on this Leap Day!

Curious about what’s coming? March is the height of sugaring season and there are a lot of programs to explore in our busiest, sweetest season! We are always adding new programs so check out the calendar often or follow-us on Facebook or Instagram. Have a program you would love to see us do? Let us know, we might just have something in the works.

OR are you already hoping for summer? Summer Camp registration has begun! And, Our summer CSA early bird registration last through February 29 – register before the price goes up in March.

Scheduling your time seem too much – no worries. Come for a hike on your own. Our trails are open when the parking lot is open (7:00 am-4:00 pm), 7 days a week. Stop in the Nature Center before you head out and let us help you plan your hike.

And while you are here, check out our Gift Shop. We have a wide variety of nature-themed products for sale, many from local artists. We also have Moose Hill branded items and snacks and drinks to enjoy.

No matter how you choose to spend your time this February, we hope that Moose Hill will be a part of your plans – we look forward to seeing you here.

January Happenings at Moose Hill

Chickadees – ever resilient in the winter

Winter is here! The weather is bringing us all the fun mix of winter options – snow, sleet, hail, ice storms, winds – and yet each day we are gaining a little bit more daylight (can you feel it?). As with most things this time of year, take time to think back and reflect…on your nature journey. Did you find time to spend time outside? There are so many ways to enjoy and appreciate the nature that is all around us. Perhaps you enjoyed a walk or a hike in a new location, or maybe you were in just the right spot to capture that wonderful sunset that filled the sky with amazing color, or perhaps nature inspired a story or a poem within you. However you connected, we hope that it was a wonderful year!

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. – Albert Einstein

As we usher in 2020 – a new decade – check out some of the programs we have put together for you:

Fledgling Fridays – January 3, 10, 17, and 31; 1:30-2:30 pm: This program designed for 3-5 year olds with their accompanying adult explores something new each week with STEAM activities, stories, and outdoor exploration. Come for one, or come for all.

Full Moon Hike – January 10; 7:00-8:00 pm: Discover the beauty of Moose Hill under a full moon. This program is designed for ages 6 and old, as well as adults – come call for owls and search the skies for constellations.

learn to paint the nature at Moose Hill

Sip and Paint Nature Night – January 11; 5:00-7:00 pm: Sip, socialize, enjoy a cozy fire, and get creative as local artist Jennifer takes you from a blank canvas to your own masterpiece, brushstroke by brushstroke. You will create a wintery scene inspired by the nature at Moose Hill; perfect for time with friends or family. 

School’s Out Nature Days – January 20; 9:00 am-4:00 pm: Spend your school day off here at Moose Hill. Each Nature Day has a different nature topic and will include outdoor exploration, nature play, crafts, stories, and fun activities. Before and After Care options available!

Nature Nerd Trivia Night – January 22; 7:00-9:00 pm: Enjoy a fun evening of nature trivia. You will learn about the passions of the Moose Hill staff and their curiosity – every night brings laughter, discussion, learning, and fun! January’s theme is mammals.

Star Gazing Night – January 24; 6:30-8:30 pm: Join astronomers from the Astronomical Society of Southern New England for a look at the stars and other night objects through their big telescopes.

coyote tracks in mud

Tracks and Traces – January 26; 2-3 pm: There are many animals that call Moose Hill home, but where are they? Start with the basics of animal track patterns and then head outside to look for evidence of our resident winter wildlife in this family friendly program.

Knee High Naturalists – new session begins January 4 or January 5! Designed for your 2-5 year old who will begin to explore Moose Hill with Miss Patti through games, songs, art, and plenty of outdoor, hands-on/minds-on learning experiences.

summer camp is coming…

Curious about what’s coming? February has plenty of programs to explore as we gear up and head into our busiest, sweetest season in March – sugaring! We are always adding new programs so check out the calendar often or follow-us on Facebook or Instagram. Have a program you would love to see us do? Let us know, we might just have something in the works. OR are you already hoping for summer? Summer Camp registration begins January 3 and our summer CSA registration begins January 7!

Scheduling your time seem too much – no worries. Come for a hike on your own. Our trails are open when the parking lot is open (7:00 am-4:00 pm), 7 days a week. Stop in the Nature Center before you head out and let us help you plan your hike.

And while you are here, check out our Gift Shop. We have a wide variety of nature-themed products for sale, many from local artists. We also have Moose Hill branded items and snacks and drinks to enjoy.

No matter how you choose to spend your time in the new year, we hope that Moose Hill will be a part of your plans – we look forward to seeing you here.

Reflections on the year

It’s hard to believe that 2019 will soon be coming to an end. The holiday rush is on, and yet, I still find time to take a step outside, enjoy a deep breath, and explore the nature at Moose Hill – a perk of working in such an amazing location.

On a recent walk as I was reflecting on the year and I am amazed at all of the programs, events, and activity that happened – it was a good year. One of my favorite programs is a trip I do with fellow sanctuary director, Doug, from Stony Brook down to Essex, Connecticut to search for Bald eagles every February. This year didn’t disappoint and the brunch at the Griswold Inn is always worth the trip! But February always turns our attention to the maple sugar season as trees are tapped and we wait for that weather to turn just perfectly for the sap to begin to flow.

This past year, we added a whole array of new programs to celebrate this short, but sweet, season. All programs that you will once again find this coming February, March, and early April. Tap-a-tree is for anyone who wants to try their hand at tapping one of our trees – the reward, your own bottle of Moose Hill maple syrup fresh from the season. Then we added, Sugar-on-Snow (an iconic tradition), Sweet Treats from Nature (cooking with maple syrup), and Maple Sugaring Behind the Scenes (an evening in the sugar shack). And, of course, we will continued our Maple Sugaring Weekends, a tradition now heading into its 48th season!

But new programs during the maple sugaring season was just getting us started – we continued Forest Bathing programs with Forest Therapy Guide Tam of Toadstool Walks; had fun with Nature Nerd Trivia Nights; re-invigorated the Gift Shop working with local artisans; started a new preschool-aged program for families, Fledgling Fridays to supplement our Knee High Naturalist program; added an artisan fair to our Native Plant Sale; partnered with Patriot Place to lead guided nature walks at the cranberry bog; enjoyed another summer concert with our favorite local band, The Second Precinct Jug Band; started our 70th summer of Nature Day Camp; had an amazing growing year on our 15 year-old organic farm; added Farm Conversations and Cocktails to enjoy the season; worked with friends and an amazing Chef from Farmstead Table Restaurant to highlight the many resources around us in our first Field Meets Fork dinner; welcomed an AmeriCorps team for just over four weeks; enjoyed another Halloween Prowl; developed and ran several nature photography classes; and installed a new electric vehicle charging station thanks to a program through Eversource and the generosity of Horizon Solutions. Like I said, it’s been a good year and this doesn’t even talk about all our school programming and the Youth Climate Summit held with sister sanctuaries Oak Knoll and Stony Brook at Wheaton College. We have a lot to be grateful for this past year.

And yet programming is not all that we do here. We have been charged with stewarding this property – almost 2,000 acres of forest, fields and wetlands. Working with our science team at Mass Audubon and through the efforts of property staff and volunteers, we continued work on several fields removing and keeping down invasive plants. During the Statewide Volunteer Day, we removed debris from the fields and seeded new native flowers and grasses as well as pushing back field edges creating that early forest/field edge habitat that is so needed for a number of native plants and animals. With the help, ideas, and skill of several regular volunteers, we were able to raise the boardwalk through the red maple swamp after it had been under water for almost 6 months following the wet Fall of 2018 and continued wet Spring of 2019. And, thanks to a generous donor, we built and installed a new tower for Chimney Swifts – we truly hope that because we built it they will come.

So how can we accomplish so much? Because of you – our volunteers, our members, our program participants, our shareholders, our visitors, and our donors. As you reflect back on this year, we hope that you find that you enjoyed time in nature on a walk, in a program, at an event, and that you consider making a donation to Moose Hill. Every dollar does count and as you can see, together with you, we can accomplish so much. We thank you for your support.

December Happenings at Moose Hill

bird bath in the fresh snow

Can you believe it’s December already? And we are seeing our first significant snowfall of the season? December is the month of holidays, invitations to parties, and lots of time with family and friends. With the hectic schedule, you may need some time to just unwind and take a breath – nature therapy is here. Check out all our happenings this month.

Fledgling Fridays – December 6, 13 and/or 20: each Friday from 1:30-2:30 pm, spend some time with your 3-5 year old exploring Moose Hill. Create art, participate in STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) activities, listen to stories, and explore the outdoors every Friday afternoon. Each week has it’s own theme – choose one, or choose all of them!

Moose Hill Walkers – December 9 and 16: take a stroll with Ms. Patti on the trails at Moose Hill from 8:00-9:00 am. This relaxed pace hike is a great way to start your week!

Nature Nerd Trivia Night – December 11: grab a few friends or come to meet some new friends from 7:00-9:00 pm. You will enjoy an evening of laughter, discussion, learning and fun with snacks and drinks too!

Digital Photography Editing for Beginners – December 14: love taking pictures but wish that they were just a bit better? Editing can often bring your pictures to life. Join us from 1:00-3:00 pm for this beginners guide to organizing your galleries and editing your pictures.

Star Gazing Nights – December 21: We are fortunate to have have some wonderful astronomers from the Astronomical Society of Southern New England who love sharing their passion of looking at the stars and other night objects through their big telescopes with you. Enjoy the night sky between 6:30 and 8:30 pm; weather permitting!

December Vacation Days – December 26, 27, 30, and/or 31: out-of-school time can be fun with Moose Hill. We will explore the sanctuary and see what winter is bringing us this year. Sign-up for one day or all four!

Scheduling your time seem too much – no worries. Come for a hike on your own. Our trails are open when the parking lot is open (7:00 am-4:00 pm), 7 days a week. Stop in the Nature Center before you head out and let us help you plan your hike.

And while you are here, check out our Gift Shop. We have a wide variety of nature-themed products for sale, many from local artists. We also have Moose Hill branded items and snacks and drinks to enjoy.

No matter how you choose to spend your time December, we hope that Moose Hill will be a part of your month – we look forward to seeing you here.

Planning ahead – check out the many programs coming your way in 2020. We are always adding new programs so check out the calendar often or follow-us on Facebook or Instagram.

Holiday Shopping at Your Local Gift Shop

If you are looking for unique gifts this Holiday season, be sure to come check out our ever growing and changing gift shop right up at the Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Center. We are proud to support a wide range of local artists with items such as handmade jewelry, wood burned art, cement garden art, hand poured soy candles, greeting cards, nature and vegetable prints, wool dryer balls, ornaments, hand knit and crocheted hats, and more! Keep checking back throughout the season as new products, including some of those pictured below, arrive in the shop.

On top of all of the lovely local art items, we also have Moose Hill branded items like shirts, hats, water bottles, and bags – most of which were printed locally at Inkd in Mansfield!

We are also getting restocked with plenty of nature themed items that make excellent stocking stuffers! These will be arriving at the shop towards the end of November – keep an eye out on our social media pages for our announcement of their arrival.

At Moose Hill, we strive to support our community and offer as many local items as possible, even down to the soda and bird seed that we sell. So you know that when you shop with us you are not only supporting a local conservation organization, but also a local business or artist. And don’t forget – if you are a member then you get 10% off of most things in the shop, including the bird seed!

We hope you are all having a lovely transition into winter as the sun sets earlier, the nights get colder, and the landscape changes once again. Our 25 miles of trails are beautiful year round with something new to see in every season so be sure to keep us in mind as you plan out your weekends!

Moose Hill CSA – Radishes and Arugula recipes

The CSA has had a great start and lots of radishes and arugula each week. You may find yourself looking for a change-up in how you can use your bounty of these items. Previously we posted a great recipe for Arugula Pesto and we have told many people about the wonders of roasting your radishes – so good!

A fellow shareholder, Sue, sent in these recipes for a few additional options – enjoy everyone! these sound delicious.

Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad

1 cup pearled farro (6 ounces)

1 cup fresh apple cider 

2 bay leaves 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1/2 cup good olive oil 

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios, whole or chopped 

1 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley 

1 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves 

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved through the stem 

1/3 cup thinly sliced radishes (2 to 3 radishes) 

2 cups baby arugula 

1/2 cup shaved Italian Parmesan cheese 

Flaked sea salt, such as Maldon 

Directions:

  1. Place the farro, apple cider, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, until the farro is tender. (If all the liquid is absorbed before the farro is tender, add a little more water.) Drain the farro and transfer to a large serving bowl. Discard the bay leaves.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt (many recommend reducing to 1/2 tsp), and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir the vinaigrette into the warm farro and set aside for at least 15 minutes to cool.
  3. Before serving, stir in the pistachios, parsley, mint, tomatoes, and radishes. Add the arugula and lightly fold in the Parmesan so as not to break it up too much. Sprinkle with the sea salt and serve immediately.

Grandmother’s Radish Leaf Soup from Epicurious

Ingredients

3 large bunches radishes

1 tablespoon butter

1 very large onion, chopped

4 russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, chopped

3 cups water

2/3 cup milk (can omit if you would like)

Preparation

Cut leaves from radishes and wash well. (Reserve radishes for another use.) Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add radish leaves and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add potatoes and 3 cups water. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Puree soup in batches in blender. Return to saucepan. Mix in milk. Stir over medium heat until hot. Season soup with salt and pepper.

It has also been noted that you an add in the garlic and scallions to this soup!

Moose Hill CSA – Arugula Pesto

A number of people remember this recipe from last year and loved it so we thought we would share again now that you are getting some great arugula. Do you have a favorite arugula recipe? Share it with us!

Arugula Pesto

Ingredients:
4 cups packed fresh arugula
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup pure olive oil
2 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted, plus 1 tablespoon
1/8 teaspoon vitamin C (optional)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions:

Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl, and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put the
arugula in a large sieve and plunge it into the boiling water. Immediately immerse all the arugula and stir so that it blanches evenly. Blanch for about 15 seconds. Remove, shake off the excess water, then plunge the arugula into the ice water bath and stir again so it cools as fast as possible. Drain well.

Squeeze the water out of the arugula with your hands until very dry. Roughly chop the arugula and put in a blender. Add the garlic, salt and pepper to taste, olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts, and the vitamin C, if using. Blend for at least 30 seconds. In this way the green of the arugula will thoroughly color the oil. Add the cheese and pulse to combine. The pesto will keep several days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.

Pull out before dinner to get to room temperature. Before serving, add the remaining 1 tablespoon toasted pinenuts.

Gift Shop – Artist Feature

Our featured artist this week is Cilla Kitay of Cilla’s Creations. You can find her creative cement art in our Gift Shop year round. You will also be able to see an expansive inventory this Saturday at our Nature Center from 9 am-4 pm at our First Annual Artisan Fair!

Cilla Kitay started Cilla’s Creations from a simple desire to to make garden pots for her many plants. Little did she know that quest would lead her to fall in love with the unusual medium of cement. Her adventure in creating cement art and sharing her passion through teaching began in 2016. Cilla creates cement art for gardens, gifts and decor, and holds classes for children and adults in her studio. Having always loved nature, she sees it as a challenge to incorporate elements from the natural world into her art, often using large leaves, buds, and blooms in her creations.

Cilla lives and creates her art in Sharon, MA. For more information, visit Cilla’s Creations on Facebook.

Gift Shop – Artist Feature

Our Featured Artist this week is Rita Stuopis of Catbird Design. You can find her nature themed cards and gifts in our Gift Shop and you can come see her full inventory on June 8th at our First Annual Artisan Fair!

An Interview With Rita

What is Catbird Design’s mission:

To evoke an appreciation for nature and to educate about the beauty of our natural world, through my images of birds, insects, plants and animals;

To bring awareness of the important role that all species have within their ecosystems and how dependent they are on each other and on their habitats;

To inspire people to support conservation efforts.

How did you get started?

Throughout my life, I’ve always needed to express my creativity: through architecture, graphic art, silk screening, gardening, illustration and photography. In 2015, I completed a series of cat and penguin (cat and bird) illustrations, which I combined into a calendar, then started really getting into nature photography – and my small business – CatbirdDesign was born. Although I’ve felt a connection and a respect for nature since childhood, the more time I spent observing, photographing, and researching her creations, the more aware I became of how amazing yet fragile the habitats that support our fellow creatures really are…I soon developed an emotional attachment to my subjects and felt compelled to share their stories, their beauty, and their struggle to survive through my photography and through educational, interesting articles and images on social media.

What are your current products?

Nature themed cards, prints, jewelry, and gifts – all created using my photographic images.

Where people can find you online?

https://www.facebook.com/CatbirdDesign

https://www.etsy.com/shop/CatbirdDesign2015

What upcoming events will you have a booth at?

Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary Artisan Fair – Saturday, June 8th, 9 am-4 pm. 293 Moose Hill Parkway, Sharon, MA

Amazing Things Brick Market – Saturday, June 1, 2019 from 10am-4pm. 160 Hollis Street, Framingham MA 01702. Market takes place in the parking lot behind the Firehouse.

2019 Blue Hills Boosters Holiday Fair – Saturday, December 7th, 2019 10am-3pm. Blue Hills Regional Vocational High School, 800 Randolph St., Canton, MA 02021

Blue Hills Trailside Museum Fall Festival (early October) 1904 Canton Ave, Milton, MA 02186

Amazing Things Holiday Market (Late November) 160 Hollis Street, Framingham MA 01702

Gift Shop Updates and Artisan Fair

If you have been up to visit us recently, you may have noticed that the Gift Shop has undergone some changes. We have been diligently working on adding more Moose Hill branded merchandise along with a large amount of consignment. We love supporting our local artists and are proud to showcase their hard work in our shop. If you are looking for that perfectly unique gift that was made with love, look no further! We have new items coming in all the time so be sure to check out what’s new every time you visit.

With that, I am excited to announce that this year we will be hosting our First Annual Artisan Fair! On Saturday, June 8th, from 9 am-4 pm, we will have vendors set up alongside our Annual Native Plant Sale. So come on down and meet the artists behind the beautiful work in our shop. They will have a larger inventory with them than we typically carry in the store so it is a wonderful chance to learn more about everything they offer and how each item is crafted.

Cilla’s Creations Cement Owl

Throughout the next couple of weeks we will be featuring some of our artists on the blog so stay tuned!