While the Nature Center, Gift Shop, and trails remain closed during this time, the farm will be open and we hope that you will continue to support the local vendors that we partner with to fill our gift shop shelves. Though you can’t shop through us right now, you can still easily shop directly with many of our vendors for all of your upcoming gifts, gardening, or grocery needs – it will be easy to see why we have been so proud to partner with them at Moose Hill.
The two current best ways to directly support Moose Hill are by joining us as a member, taking advantage of the new member special for just $32, and by joining our Organic CSA, where you can get 18 weeks of fresh vegetables worth $27-$32 a week. Guaranteed fresh vegetables without needing to remember to place an order each week – what a great deal! We will be starting our CSA program on time in late May. Arrangements will be made for a safe pick-up process for shareholders and farmers if the COVID-19 situation continues into the CSA season. By purchasing a CSA share now, you’re giving valuable support to our farmers as they continue to work to provide fresh, sustainable food for our community.
While we can’t physically sell the great products from our local partners in our shop right now, we want to help you reach them virtually, or contact free, and continue to show them some love. Visit the list below to check out what your neighbors and community members have available.
Michael, who worked part-time for Mass Audubon for 15 years before joining the Moose Hill team permanently 10 years ago, is our very own wandering naturalist. He is always on the move, notices everything in nature, and has a passion for sharing what he sees. Michael can make anyone see just how amazing nature is – no matter where you find that place – in your town, at the shore, in the mountains. As with all of us, he is enjoying some daily walks on the streets in his town and shares the spring activity that is happening outside now.
Early Spring: Late March-mid-April
Welcome to Spring!! After an exceptionally warm, and dry, January and February (8-9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 100 year average), this trend continued till late March when temperatures became more seasonable and precipitation more copious. This, in turn, yielded the beginning of an earlier Spring with daffodills and crocuses up by mid-March, and birds like Pine Warblers returning from their southern, wintering grounds. Here are some of the observations I’ve made over the past few weeks on my Wanderings in my own neighborhood and what I know is awakening at Moose Hill.
Red Maple flowers—male: Some of the earliest of our trees to flower, giving off a “reddish-orange” hue from a distance; Driving along our roads and highways, this is one tree that you can identify clearly this time of year; the male flowers usually appear before the female ones to spread their pollen; with all of the rain and wind during April, many have fallen to the ground, littering lawns and driveways.
Red Maple flowers—female: These bright red flowers tend to appear just after most male flowers have opened up AND for good reason, “Why bloom any earlier than you need to?” New seeds (and genetic potential for the species) will be produced IF they are properly fertilized during the Spring; And IF that happens like usual, flowing water will carry them to a scarified embankment so that they may potentially germinate; A few late freezes during early Spring (when morning temperatures drop to just below 32 degrees Fahrenheit) might keep these seeds from even forming, so I am monitoring a few trees carefully.
Willow flowers (male): this genus of plants (especially the shrubbier species) also inhabits our wetlands and displays its flowers nice and early; One of the most northerly of shrubs, willows are a hardy lot, so no worries about their being able to survive cold temps and snow! Just look at those little “pussy cat mittens!”
American Elm flowers: the Massachusetts state tree is one of the larger species to flower in the early Spring, also within wetlands and alongside streams & roads; still occasionally ravaged by Dutch Elm Disease in certain areas (western MA and up through VT), there are many healthy individuals in our neck of the woods IF you just look carefully enough—check out their classic form (below) and swelling flower buds as you drive along Rte. 27 (from Cobb’s Corner) up the hill to Sharon Center…there is a large individual on the left; Some are still in flower, while others are going to seed.
The “vase-like shape” of an American Elm: those 3 trees I just mentioned (in Sharon) possess some of this lovely form, but not quite like those that grow in more open areas of New England.
Green Grass and early Spring Wildflowers!—some grasses flower in open, sunny forests; on lawns (and in protected areas) dandelions have begun to flower; skunk cabbage leaves enlargen, hiding their early Spring flowers; Carolina spring beauty blankets the forest floor of our lower sugarbush—a truly unique habitat in these parts with its deep, alkaline (or “sweet”) soils and almost always adjacent to a flowing body of water.
Shrubs—flowering and leafing out. The spicebush (in swamps/along streams, especially those found along Moose Hill Street) are beginning to flower and add a lovely, yellow hue to these habitats; growing at our “eye level”, they are quite easy to see; tiny yellow flowers with a “lemon pledge” type scent. Huckleberries, lowbush blueberries, and a whole host of invasive, exotic shrubs have begun to leaf out as well; flower buds of highbush blueberry begin to swell and soon will open, attracting bumblebees and other insects with their sweet scent.
Red-Shouldered Hawks–I’ve seen a number of these hawks circling overhead and making that distinctive, loud “Kyah! Kyah! Kyah!” over the past 2-3 weeks, often in pairs; Like Robins, Phoebes, Tree Swallows, and a handful of other birds, these are your “long distance migrants” that overwinter down in the southeastern US; So great to hear and see them back again down in these parts! A pair nested in the swamp across the street from us last year and I am guessing that they’ll favor that again; A little smaller than your Red-Tailed Hawk with a tail that isn’t always so “broad”, besides the reddish coloration in spots and banding, are good field marks.
Along with the Yellow-shafted Flickers, Great Blue Heron, Killdeer, Woodcock, Eastern Phoebes, Tree Swallows, Field Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, and a few other species that have returned to their breeding grounds in our area (2-3 weeks earlier than in year’s past), the Pine Warbler has also made its return, filling the piney woods with its musical trill; more often seen than heard, although they occasionally visit bird feeders during April-May.
Spring Peepers!—the little chorus frogs have been calling over the last few weeks in the wetlands across the street from our home, as well as down the road in a much larger, Red Maple swamp; a high-pitched, “peep, peep, preeeep”, almost reminiscent of sleighbells in the distance.
Wood Frogs—these most-northerly of amphibians started calling (or “quacking”) in larger numbers within our Vernal Pools during the 2nd week of March this year, 2-3 weeks earlier than usual; usually, an “explosive breeder”, with males calling loudly over a few days period and determined to attract females; a few could still be heard chorusing along Moose Hill Street (and Moose Hill Parkway) during mid-April.
Eastern Garter Snake—the most northerly of reptiles, at least 2 individuals were observed basking in the sunshine along the Vernal Pool Loop back in mid-March.
There’s so much happening outside – what are you noticing on your wanderings around your yard, your neighborhood, your town?
While the Nature Center, Gift Shop and trails are closed during this time, there are still a number of ways you can support Moose Hill as we prepare for when we once again can welcome everyone back – join Mass Audubon (there’s a new member special for just $32 dollars!); join our CSA, with a regular pick-up worth $27-$32 a week, it’s a guarantee of fresh, organic vegetables this summer; support our partners:
With the gift shop closed, we wanted to take a moment to highlight ways you can still support the local businesses that you can’t currently purchase from through us. We know that things are tight for a lot of folks out there right now due to so many jobs being shut down, but if you find yourself needing some of the items that our vendors below offer, we implore you to shop local and support these smaller business that are being greatly affected right now.
Country Farm Candles just launched a Tealight Soy Making Candle Kit, which makes a great at-home craft project. They are also working on a video series of candle experiments that can be done at home with the tealights so be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Cilla’s Creations has been busy working on new cement pieces to brighten up your yards and gardens that will be available for purchase curbside with a portion of the profits still going to support us at Moose Hill. Follow her Facebook to learn more details.
Celebrations have become a little different in this time of quarantine but you can still buy gifts of unique jewelry through Ring by Ring Designs on her website. Our entire Nature Collection is available with some new designs that aren’t even in the gift shop yet.
If you are anything like me and have found yourself drinking a little more coffee than usual to get through these strange days, you may need a restock. Jim’s Organic Coffee is an excellent local company that is currently offering 15% off of their online orders. All of their coffee support independent farmers in their countries of origin and their Mexican Single Origin coffee is certified bird friendly with over 100 bird species and over 200 plant species on the farm. Once you get your hands on some of their coffee, be sure to check out all the different ways it can be brewed to perfection right at home.
I know some of you are missing our maple syrup but I have good news. Ward’s is now selling our bottles of certified kosher maple syrup and they are now offering no contact curbside pick-up and home delivery for some of their groceries, including our syrup.
Simpson Spring, located in Easton, is also doing curbside pickup of their local water, meats, cheese, eggs, and yogurt options. You can call ahead or send them a message on Facebook to place an order.
Our organic CSA will be a great way to get fresh veggies in the coming months. Join our summer CSA and receive 18 weeks of fresh, organic vegetables Pickups in Sharon and Mattapan. With shares equaling just $27 to $32 per week it’s a great way to support Moose Hill and the work we do. Register online today to secure your slot. If you have questions about this program, please feel free to email us at email@example.com.
Right now, we’re still planning to start our CSA program on time in late May. Arrangements will be made for a safe pick-up process for shareholders and farmers if the COVID-19 situation continues into the CSA season. By purchasing a CSA share now, you’re giving valuable support to our farmers as they continue to work to provide fresh, sustainable food for our community.
If you are running low on birdseed, you can support our local supplier and pick some up at Chickadee Seed & Feedon route 1 in Walpole. They have some limited hours but they are a smaller shop where you can go safely without much interaction with other people. Check their Facebook for updates on their hours and protocols.
Lastly, Tree House Farms has fresh eggs weekly and is taking orders to raise meat birds monthly. Check out her Facebook or Instagram for updates on how to order and message her on either platform with any questions or requests.
We can’t wait to see you back up on The Hill when we are able to re-open our doors, but we hope you are all staying safe and healthy in the meantime. As always, thank you for your support of Moose Hill and for supporting our partner vendors!
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
Throughout the next couple of weeks we will be featuring some of our artists on the blog so stay tuned!