Category Archives: Maple Sugaring

for any and all things that deal with sugaring: season, events, school programs

Supporting Our Local Vendors

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 moosehillcsa@massaudubon.org.

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 & Feed on 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!

Reflections of the Sugaring Season

The Sugar Shack

This year, we were not able to share one of our most favorite seasons, the sugaring season with you. While we ran a few programs in early March, our beloved Maple Sugaring Weekends were cancelled – we missed seeing you all out on the trails learning about the history of sugaring and tasting that oh, so sweet treat. However, even though programs were cancelled, the sugaring season went on and we had a great year for producing our own maple syrup.

Vin, whom some of you know as our property steward and who is an incredible birder, also leads our sugaring efforts. We had a few changes to our operation this year and we asked Vin to share his insights on sugaring at Moose Hill over the last 12 years.

Vin demonstrates tapping a tree

When I started here we had about 80 taps (some trees have more than one tap) and made approximately 10-15 gallons of syrup for a couple of years. We steadily increased the number of taps and in the past few years, we were up to 155 taps. During this time, the taps have been rotated to other trees in the same season when the original taps showed signs of slowing down, bumping our number of taps up to about 250. These increases brought syrup production into the 35-40 gallon range.

the new evaporator

In 2018, we purchased a larger (30 inch by 8 inch) evaporator which made it possible to expand production even more because this new, larger, and more efficient, evaporator could process sap much faster. The old evaporator boiled off 20 gallons per hour, but the new evaporator boils off up to 70 gallons per hour.

a traditional system – tap and a bucket

In 2020 (this season), we decided to increase the number of taps by 115. As we have always used a traditional bucket collection system that would mean a larger increase of work. However, this would be done by using tubing as opposed to the traditional buckets. Tubing is a more efficient way to obtain sap and yields more sap per tap than buckets. The reason behind the yield is because tubing is considered a “closed” system, allowing very little outside air to infiltrate the area where the spout goes into the tree, resulting in less buildup of microorganisms. These microorganisms eventually cause the trees to stop the flow of sap prematurely so the tubing helps to extend the sap season. Once a tree is tapped, a traditional spout that has a bucket generally runs for about five weeks. Attached to the tubing system, that same spout will run for about 8 weeks or more, ultimately providing more sap. Another advantage of the tubing system is the natural vacuum that is created within the tubing which also increases the yield. This is due to the sloping terrain in the section of sugar maple woods that we tap (our main sugarbush). The weight of the sap in the small diameter tubing (3/16 inch) is what creates this vacuum and in year one has outproduced the traditional buckets at least two to one, if not more.

a tubing system – lines in the woods

We installed five main (lateral) lines with about 20 tapes per line. These five lines flow down to a low spot in the sugarbush into a 300 gallon holding tank. From there, the sap is transported to the Sugar House holding tanks, and then into the evaporator for processing. The last two seasons have been average or above average for sap flow. In 2019, an above average year, about 2,800 gallons of sap were collected. This year, which was an average flow, the additional 115 taps on tubing yielded close to 5,000 gallons. The 2020 season also turned out to be a short season for sap flow. The trees were taped at the end of January (traditionally, on average, it is the first week of February) and slowed considerable by the end of the first week in March due to the weather being too mild. I wasn’t able to rotate any of the buckets to other trees this year to extend the season, which further illustrates how effective the tubing system functioned in year one.

All in all, I’m very pleased with the tubing. There was a large learning curve to a new system and there are still many bugs to work out, mostly in transporting sap. But, as we look forward to next year, we will retire the bucket system in our main sugarbush. Don’t worry, all the places we go to for programming and the Maple Sugaring Weekends will still feature the traditional buckets. But, by converting the rest of our main sugarbush to tubing, and using the same amount of taps, our production will likely go up even higher.

Our next challenge to work on – the bottling operation. This is a time consuming job that was developed based on past production. With an increase, we will need to think about how we make that more efficient.

With the large increase in sap production, you might wonder how that actually translates into syrup volume. As you might remember, the traditional formula for sap to syrup is 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. Over the years, we have noticed that it is often more like 45-50 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. There are a number of reasons why this might happen, but that’s a story for another day.

Here are a few stats from our last four seasons of maple syrup production. In 2017, we produced 37 gallons of syrup; in 2018, we produced 35 gallons of syrup; in 2019, we produced 53 gallons of syrup and then this year, 2020, we produced 76 gallons of syrup.

We don’t sell our syrup by the gallon, but in 8 oz bottles and 1.75 oz maple leaf bottles. This year, our 76 gallons of syrup translated into 1,100 bottles and 335 maple leaf bottles. Now that’s a lot of syrup!

With Moose Hill and our Gift Shop currently closed, you might wonder how you can get some of our delicious maple syrup to enjoy. We have once again partnered with our neighbors and friends at Ward’s Berry Farm and they are selling Moose Hill syrup – so another reason to support a local farm and get a sweet treat from us.

March Happenings at Moose Hill

It’s hard to believe that March is here! How did that happen? In a winter that has been a true roller coaster ride in temperatures but with a lack of real snow, at least in our area, it has been a great winter to get outside and explore. We’ve noticed a lot of things that have been different – from the sounds we are hearing to the birds and animals that we are seeing. What have you been noticing on your outdoor adventures this winter?

As each day gets a little longer, that weather that we truly look for in mid- to late- February and into March has arrived (at least some of the time). When we begin to see consistent nights below freezing and days that warm to 40-45 degrees F, we turn our programs and hearts to the sugaring season. Even as we enter March, we have already had an incredible start to the season. Maybe it was the tubing we added to parts of our operation, maybe it has been the right combination of temperatures, but either way we have SYRUP. The evaporator has been going and we are delighted with the bottles lining our shelves waiting for you in the Gift Shop. Stop on in, plan on pancakes or waffles tonight or this weekend and enjoy the sweet season!

There are lots of programs to choose this month – but remember, register early to secure your spot. Love a program and want to make sure it really does happen? Grab a friend or two and register together. Most programs need a minimum of 4-6 people and some programs will sell out quickly.

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. While sessions have begun, we still have some spaces available and you can still register. Contact Patti, 781-784-5691 for the prorated pricing.

Fledgling Fridays – March 6, 13, and 20, 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. In March, we explore many different aspects of the sugaring season!

Climate Cafe: Birds and the Changing Climate – March 10, 5:30-7:30 pm: Join Mass Audubon’s Director of Bird Conservation, Jon Atwood and our TerraCorps member, Maddy, for an evening of discussion. Snack and drinks will be provided at the FREE event held at the Sharon Public Library.

Maple Sugaring Behind the Scenes – March 13, 7:00-9:00 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!

Maple Sugaring Weekends – March 14, 15, 21 or 22, tours between 11 am and 3 pm: This 90-minute outdoor, guided tour includes meeting people portraying characters from the past as they go about their daily tasks, including sugaring. Conclude your tour at our operational sugar house and enjoy a taste of the final product. Head back to the Nature Center to get your own bottle of Moose Hill syrup in the Gift Shop and purchase pancakes, sap dogs or maple sugared popcorn. This program often sells out, so be sure to register to secure your spot!

Nature Nerd Trivia Night – March 18, 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! March’s theme Small Things in Nature.

Junior Conservation Commissioner Program – begins March 25, 4-5:30 pm: In partnership with Walpole’s Conservation Commission and the Walpole Recreation Department, Moose Hill is excited to provide children ages 9-11 years old a chance to become a Junior Conservation Commissioner. This five-session science and civics program led by Julia, a teacher naturalist from Mass Audubon’s Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, will take place at Blackburn Hall in Walpole with one scheduled field trip to Moose Hill.

Moose Hill Walkers – begins March 30, 8:00-9:00 am: Join Patti for a weekly walk to see the arrival of spring while learning the trails for walks later on your own. A great way to kick start your day and the best value is to register for the series!

Curious about what’s coming? April is just around the corner and so is April Vacation Week – plan early to secure your child’s spot in our popular vacation week programming. 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 and Summer CSA registration are in full swing!

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-7:00 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.

Sugar on Snow from a Vermonter’s View

by Danielle Lanson, Administrative Assistant and Office Manager

that sweet, sweet steam

As a Vermont native, maple syrup wasn’t just something you put on pancakes. It was a tradition, a season, and a way of life. I’ve traded chickens for it, I’ve been paid for home improvements with it, and I’ve sat around pots of boiling sap in a room full of white beards and flannel passing down stories while the sweet steam seeped into my clothing creating memories to cherish in years to come. Maple syrup was about community, more than it was about creating a product. As I got older and my life got busier, there was less time to spend hanging out in sugar shacks but one tradition that always remained was sugar on snow.

getting ready to pour some on snow

Every March, the entire family got together to go experience the essence of Vermont in its chewy and caramelized form over hot cocoa, cider donuts, and laughter. The winters are long up in Vermont, so we celebrate the horizon of spring by pouring piping hot maple syrup over packed snow to create the iconic Sugar on Snow that has become a well-loved tradition signaling the end of winter and the beginning of mud season, which then gives hope for spring.

In honor of these northern traditions, we are excited to offer a Sugar on Snow program for all here at Moose Hill to bring you the full experience of the sugaring season.

Want more? Check out all the great Maple Sugaring Programs: Maple Sugaring Weekends, now two full weekends (great for everyone!); Behind the Scenes tour of our sugaring operation (for the adults); and Fledgling Fridays programs (for you and your child age 3-5 years).

We hope to see you here, enjoying our sweetest season!

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.

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.

March Happenings at Moose Hill

It’s hard to believe that is already March 7 – where did the time go? Don’t worry, there are still some great happenings and plenty to share this month.

Chickadees!

March, a time when most of us really start to think spring, getting outside, enjoying the days getting longer, a slow warming happening. Meteorologically speaking, March 1 was the start of spring…but…then we had our snow finally hit home in a big way this past weekend. So it feels like winter has actually just settled in. And yet, we do truly begin to see those freezing nights and those days warming above forty degrees and the sap is flowing!

So as you begin to enjoy the change of season, the up and down of weather, take time to get outside and explore Moose Hill. Check out what’s happening this month.

Knee High Naturalists – want your 3-5 year old to have a little more nature in their day? Miss Patti and our youngest naturalists will explore Moose Hill – each week will have a new nature- or science-related theme. We still have spaces in either the Tuesday or Thursday morning sessions. Come once a week or come twice – the activities on each day will complement the other day!

Exploring and having a little fun with Ms. Julia

Fledgling Fridays – spend some great quality time with your child. Create art, participate in STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) activities, listen to stories, and explore the outdoors every Friday afternoon. This hands-on, nature-based learning program is designed for children ages 3-5 with an adult. Each Friday we will have a different theme focusing on sensory development. Come for one, or come for all of them!

March 15: Maple Sugaring Behind the Scenes – during this 2-hour adult program we will have a maple syrup tasting, try some Mead made with our own honey and maple syrup, see our reverse osmosis machine and learn how it works, and get an up close tour of the evaporator in action.

March 16: Bag It – Is Your Life Too Plastic? – As part of Sustainable Sharon Coalition’s challenge to Bag the Bag in March, Moose Hill is excited to collaborate with this group and offer this free screening of the award-winning documentary. While this program is free, please register as space is limited.

March 20: Nature Nerd Trivia Night – Shawn and Julia have been busy preparing the next round of trivia questions. Grab a friend or two, or sign up on your own and make some new friends on another Wednesday night at Moose Hill! This 21+ event is always full of laughter and learning.

tapped sugar maples

March 17, 23, and 24: Maple Sugaring Weekends – Moose Hill has shared the magic of turning sap into syrup with the community for 47 years! Join us to experience the sugaring process from tree to table and to learn how sugaring has evolved from Native American to colonial to our own current procedures. Spaces fill up quickly so grab your friends and register to secure your spot!

March 25: Moose Hill Mondays – not quite ready to commit to Knee High Naturalists, a 15 week program but still want an opportunity to add some outdoor time to your child’s day? This monthly 2-hour drop-off program for children ages 3-5 will feature a new seasonal nature theme each month with plenty of outdoor exploration/play complimented with indoor activities and crafts. Morning or afternoon programs available!

Not sure you want to pre-schedule your time? You can always come and enjoy a hike on our trails between 7 am and 5 pm – make sure to wear the proper footwear and have your water! During the winter months use caution as trails, walkways, boardwalks, and play areas as they may be icy. The boardwalk in our red maple swamp on the Billings Trail is flooded and often icy – please avoid that section!

the Nature Center at Moose Hill

When you come, be sure to stop in the Nature Center and check out our Discovery Room – there are a number of touch tables to explore and the focus this month is around maple sugaring! I notice: what details do you notice about the items on the tables? I wonder: when you look at the items, what questions do you have? It reminds me of: do these items look like any other things you are familiar with?

Continue to the Blue Room where Mr. Turtle is just looking for visitors – this red eared slider has been a part of Moose Hill for 4 years now; read more about why we have him when you visit! On your way to the Blue Room, be sure to stop and take a selfie at the Moose Antlers – if you line yourself up just right, you can capture yourself with a great Moose rack (don’t forget to tag us if you get a great photo; we want to see how much fun you are having)!

And be sure to check out our updated Gift Shop – honey from our fields, rocks and minerals, local artist pictures and products, water bottles, baseball caps, bird feeders, bird seed, and more. We also have a new collection of items as we welcome some new artists and their works on sale here at Moose Hill. Stop in and see the selection.

fresh, organic vegetables

Are you daydreaming about summer? The Farm at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary runs a summer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program with fresh, organic vegetables over 18 weeks. Registration for this program is now open! Pick-up options available Monday, Wednesday, or Friday evenings from 4-7 pm.

Thinking about summer camp? Registration is open for our 70th summer of day camp fun. It will be another great summer with a few new programs!

No matter how you spend your time with us at Moose Hill – we look forward to seeing you here, exploring the nature of Massachusetts at our sanctuary!

Already looking ahead to what’s next? Check out all our upcoming programs starting in March and beyond – there’s always something happening. And, remember, March is sugaring month. Register early to secure your spot in our Sugaring Weekends and check out the new programs developed as we celebrate our sweetest season! Wishing for a particular program? Tell us, we might be planning it for the future!

Want to be sure you know what’s happening at Moose Hill? Follow us on Facebook: facebook.com/MassAudubonMooseHill or on Instagram: instagram.com/massaudubonmoosehill Learn about programs, see the beauty of Moose Hill and experience the fun we have!


It’s Sugaring Time!

Trees are tapped and now we have the hardest job of all…waiting. We watch the temperatures so closely this time of year looking for temperatures to drop below freezing at night and days that warm above 40 degrees. That formula is the key to our sugaring season and signals our collection of sap to begin the process of creating maple syrup.

George and Martha, our 250+ year old sugar maples are tapped and ready to go

This year we will once again host our Sugaring Weekends, but we are adding a variety of new programs to help you enjoy, and learn, about the sugaring season with us. Oh, how sweet it is! Be sure to register early so that you can enjoy any, or all, of the fun.

Fledgling Fridays – designed for children ages 3-5 years and their adult(s), this program focuses on STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) activities. In March, we will focus 2 sessions on our sugaring season:

  • March 1 – this session will focus on maple trees and sap with an art activity and a hike to our sugar shack to see what is happening!
  • March 15 – this session will focus on maple syrup with an art activity and a hike to the sugar shack to check out the evaporator in action!

Maple Sugaring: Behind the Scenes – this adult program will focus on learning a bit more about the sugaring process. We will taste maple syrup; try some Mead made from honey from the hives here and our very own maple syrup; learn about our reverse osmosis machine; and enjoy an evening in the sugar shack under a maple cloud. There are two evenings to choose from: March 1 or March 15.

The maple cloud begins as water evaporates

Sugar-on-Snow – This sweet treat of hot syrup quickly cooled over snow (or ice if snow is lacking) is a true sign of the season. This program on March 3 is designed for anyone over the age of 6 and celebrates an iconic maple sugaring tradition!

maple syrup – a New England tradition

Cooking with Maple Syrup – Wondering how to incorporate maple syrup into your cooking? Looking for a healthy alternative to processed sugar in your kitchen? Curious about the different grades of maple syrup and how that can be important? During this adult program, we will do a tasting, learn about the benefits of maple syrup, make a few recipes and more!

Maple Sugaring Weekends – Moose Hill has shared the magic of turning sap into syrup with the community for over 45 years! Join us to experience the sugaring process from tree to table and to learn how sugaring has evolved from Native American to colonial to our own current procedures. Great for families, individuals, or scout groups! Pick your time slot and register for March 17, 23, or 24.

sugaring during colonial times

Maple Sugaring Season – are you a small group looking for a Friday afternoon activity? Visit Moose Hill’s maple sugaring operation during this magical time as winter turns to spring. Learn first-hand that trees make sugar and the process needed to create syrup! This one and a half hour program will be offered March 1 or March 15 with a start time of either 3:30 pm or 4:00 pm. Please call 781-784-5691 extension 8102 to learn more or to schedule.

School Groups – want your students to learn more about the sugaring operation? Check out our varied sugaring programs offered in February or March, or call to let us help you find the program that best fits your curriculum!

the sugar shack at Moose Hill

And while you are here, don’t forget to stop in the Gift Shop. We have a number of season-related products and gifts, and beginning mid-March, we will have our maple syrup on sale!

February Happenings at Moose Hill

Are you starting to notice any changes? Groundhog Day marked the halfway point between the winter solstice and the the vernal equinox. The winter solstice, for us here in Massachusetts and in the Northern Hemisphere, is when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the sun and we experience our shortest daylight of the year. The vernal equinox is when the center of the sun is directly above the equator and usually marks the beginning of spring.

No matter how you look at this month, we are starting to see changes. Some birds are beginning to establish their territories and we hear an increase in some song chatter. The days have been getting longer, and here at Moose Hill, the sap has begun to flow for the sugaring season!

Regardless of the temperature – be it cold or a warm snap – we always look forward to getting outside and exploring Moose Hill. Check out what’s happening this month.

busy squirrels still finding nuts!

Knee High Naturalists – want your 3-5 year old to have a little more nature in their day? Miss Patti and our youngest naturalists will explore Moose Hill – each week will have a new nature- or science-related theme. We still have spaces in either the Tuesday or Thursday morning sessions. Come once a week or come twice – the activities on each day will complement the other day!

Fledgling Fridays – spend some great quality time with your child. Create art, participate in STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) activities, listen to stories, and explore the outdoors every Friday afternoon. This hands-on, nature-based learning program is designed for children ages 3-5 with an adult. Each Friday we will have a different theme focusing on sensory development. Come for one, or come for all of them!

February 10: Brunch with the Eagles – travel with sanctuary directors Doug Williams and Karen Stein as we head to the Connecticut River in Essex. This day trip is all about the eagles and brunch at the historic Griswold Inn. Last year was an amazing year for spotting eagles (and lots of other birds), plus we had great conversations along the way.

looking for eagles

February 10: Sunday Saunter – experience Moose Hill with staff Teacher Naturalist Michael. Your curiosity, along with Michael’s knowledge and energy, will make for a great day exploring!

February 13: Nature Nerd Trivia Night – Shawn and Julia have been busy preparing the next round of trivia questions. Grab a friend or two, or sign up on your own and make some new friends on another Wednesday night at Moose Hill! This 21+ event is always full of laughter and learning.

February 18-22: February Vacation Days – sign up for one day or the whole week. Each day has a topic of focus and, weather permitting, we will spend as much time outside exploring as we can!

creating our own nests for ice eggs

February 25: Moose Hill Mondays – not quite ready to commit to Knee High Naturalists but still want an opportunity to add some outdoor time to your child’s day? This monthly drop-off program for children ages 3-5 will feature a new seasonal nature theme each month with plenty of outdoor exploration/play complimented with indoor activities and crafts. Morning or afternoon programs available!

Not sure you want to pre-schedule your time? You can always come and enjoy a hike on our trails between 7 am and 5 pm – make sure to wear the proper footwear and have your water! During the winter months use caution as trails, walkways, boardwalks, and play areas as they may be icy. The boardwalk in our red maple swamp on the Billings Trail is flooded and often icy – please avoid that section!

When you come, be sure to stop in the Nature Center and check out our Discovery Room – there are a number of touch tables to explore. I notice: what details do you notice about the items on the tables? I wonder: when you look at the items, what questions do you have? It reminds me of: do these items look like any other things you are familiar with?

Continue to the Blue Room where, coming soon, you can see pictures taken by sanctuary staff as they have been out and about exploring and teaching at Moose Hill. On your way to the Blue Room, be sure to stop and take a selfie at the Moose Antlers – if you line yourself up just right, you can capture yourself with a great Moose rack (don’t forget to tag us if you get a great photo; we want to see how much fun you are having)!

And be sure to check out our updated Gift Shop – honey from our fields, rocks and minerals, local artist pictures and products, water bottles, baseball caps, bird feeders, bird seed, and more. We also have a new collection of items arriving near the end of the month as we welcome some new artists and their works on sale here at Moose Hill. Stop in and see the selection.

just a few of the treasures to be found in the Gift Shop at Moose Hill

Are you daydreaming about summer? The Farm at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary runs a summer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program with fresh, organic vegetables over 18 weeks. Registration for this program is now open; register before February 28, 2019 and take advantage of early bird pricing!

early season harvest

Thinking about summer camp? Registration is open for our 70th summer of day camp fun. It will be another great summer with a few new programs!

No matter how you spend your time with us at Moose Hill – we look forward to seeing you here, exploring the nature of Massachusetts at our sanctuary!

Already looking ahead to what’s next? Check out all our upcoming programs starting in March and beyond – there’s always something happening. And, remember, March is sugaring month. Register early to secure your spot in our Sugaring Weekends and check out the new programs developed as we celebrate our sweetest season! Wishing for a particular program? Tell us, we might be planning it for the future!


January Happenings at Moose Hill – Happy New Year!

It’s that time when we cannot help but reflect back on the year and all that happened. Who can forget the three back-to-back storms of March and the impact that they had on us and our natural spaces? Then we dove into a summer of heat and heavy storms although that didn’t stop our campers and counselors from having fun and exploring Moose Hill. And as we come to a close on this year the story has certainly been the rain. It’s odd to walk about the property and see our vernal pools at their spring levels (without the lovely sound of spring peepers and wood frogs) and our Billings Loop boardwalk flooded. But we have navigated through it all – both nature and people are more resilient than we think and while there has been work to clean it all up, we still see visitors enjoying the beauty of Moose Hill – from the flowers to the views to the mosses and leaves, we are so grateful to see you here enjoying Moose Hill and sharing your love of this land with your friends and family!

As we enter 2019, why not make a New Year’s resolution to spend more time outside, with us, learning about Moose Hill, enjoying the trails, and continuing to share your experiences with friends and family? In case you need a little inspiration, here are our January offerings; most programs require registration at least 3 days ahead of time so we can best plan for the day. Make sure those programs that you love run, sign up early and grab a friend of two to join you!

Knee High Naturalists – want your 3-5 year old to have a little more nature in their day? Miss Patti and our youngest naturalists will explore Moose Hill – each week will have a new nature- or science-related theme.

exploration happens in every season – there’s always something to discover!

Fledgling Fridays – spend some great quality time with your child. Create art, participate in STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) activities, listen to stories, and explore the outdoors every Friday afternoon. This hands-on, nature-based learning program is designed for children ages 3-5 with an adult. Each Friday we will have a different theme focusing on sensory development. Come for one, or come for all of them! Programs begin at either 1:30 pm or 4:00 pm!

January 5: Saturday Morning Hike – Hike Moose Hill the first Saturday of each month! Led by our newest addition to the staff, Teacher Naturalist Julia Signorella, the hikes will focus on the changing seasons, local geology, conservation at Moose Hill, and Mass Audubon Quests. The program is great for individuals or families – everyone is welcome. Come for one or all of them!

January 16: Nature Nerd Trivia Night – Do you think you know nature? Can we stump you? This is a fun evening – gather friends to square off against or just come and we will divvy up the tables. Snacks and drinks will be provided for this 21+ event! These trivia nights have been a blast – from random questions (we literally pull from every possible source including nature, science, literature, and even art) to random, and sometimes very funny, answers.

January 22: Full Moon Hike – Discover the beauty of Moose Hill under a shining full moon. We will call for owls, test our night vision, search the skies for constellations, and experience the sanctuary after hours. Great program for families with kids age 6 and older as well as adults!

Nothing like a hike under the full moon!

January 27: Tracks and Traces – 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. This program is designed for families with children ages 6 and older, but all are welcome!

January 28 – Moose Hill Mondays – Not quite ready to commit to Knee High Naturalists but still want an opportunity to add some outdoor time to your child’s day? This monthly drop-off program for children ages 3-5 will feature a new seasonal nature theme each month with plenty of outdoor exploration/play complimented with indoor activities and crafts. Morning or afternoon programs available!

Not sure you want to pre-schedule your time? You can always come and enjoy a hike on our trails between 7 am and 5 pm – make sure to wear the proper footwear and have your water! During the winter months use caution as trails, walkways, boardwalks, and play areas as they may be icy.

When you come, be sure to stop in the Nature Center and check out our Discovery Room – there are a number of touch tables to explore. I notice: what details do you notice about the items on the tables? I wonder: when you look at the items, what questions do you have? It reminds me of: do these items look like any other things you are familiar with?

Continue to the Blue Room where you can see pictures taken by sanctuary staff as they have been out and about exploring and teaching at Moose Hill. On your way to the Blue Room, be sure to stop and take a selfie at the Moose Antlers – if you line yourself up just right, you can capture yourself with a great Moose rack (don’t forget to tag us if you get a great photo; we want to see how much fun you are having)!

And be sure to check out our updated Gift Shop – honey from our fields, rocks and minerals, local artist pictures and products, water bottles, baseball caps, bird feeders, bird seed, and more. Wish we were carrying something else? Leave us a suggestion!

Are you daydreaming about summer? The Farm at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary runs a summer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program with fresh, organic vegetables over 18 weeks. Registration for this program is now open; register before February 28, 2019 and take advantage of early bird pricing!

early season harvest

Thinking about summer camp? Registration will open for our 70th summer of day camp fun in mid-January! It will be another great summer with a few new programs!

No matter how you spend your time with us at Moose Hill – we look forward to seeing you here, exploring the nature of Massachusetts at our sanctuary!

Already looking ahead to what’s next? Check out all our upcoming programs starting in February and beyond – Vacation Weeks, Tap-a-Tree, Maple Sugaring, Weekend Hikes – there’s always something going on. Wishing for a particular program? Tell us, we might be planning it for the future!