Category Archives: Maple Sugaring

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

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!

Volunteer Opportunities

Fall is here and there is so much to do – we are looking for some new volunteers to join us. Learn more about Moose Hill, our mission, and our programs and events!

Visitor Services 

For a rewarding opportunity to experience the many aspects of Moose Hill and interact with our visitors and staff, join us as a Visitor Services Volunteer. We currently have positions open on weekdays Monday-Friday. Applicants must enjoy working with visitors of all ages and be able to interact in a friendly and professional manner. Duties may include: welcoming and assisting visitors, providing information about the sanctuary, explaining regulations, answering telephone inquiries, processing memberships, and gift shop sales. Familiarity with the sanctuary is a plus. Nonsmoking environment. We offer ongoing training and support. Minimum age 18.

Available Shifts: weekdays either 9 am-12:30 pm or 12:30-4 pm, Monday-Friday


Halloween Prowl Volunteers

We are looking for volunteers to help with our popular Halloween Prowl scheduled for October 26, 27, and 28, 2018. Volunteer one, two, or all three nights. We appreciate any and all help.

Volunteer opportunities include:

  • Portraying a character: Characters perform their 5 minute skit 12 – 20 times per night (depending on which night you are volunteering). Costume and script are provided. Friday, volunteers are needed from 5:30-9 pm; Saturday, volunteers are needed from 4:15-9 pm; and Sunday, volunteers are needed from 4:15-8:30 pm. This is an outdoor task at an assigned station.
  • Leading the campfire sing-a-long: Lead songs around a fire after participants enjoy the guided walk. Guitar helpful, but not necessary. Volunteers are needed on Sunday from 5-8:30 pm. This is an outdoor task in our side yard, near the Visitor Center.
  • Leading groups along the trail: Guides lead two, hour-long walks per evening along our Prowl trail. Training and a daytime walk thru provided. Volunteer hours are varied according to our needs and your schedule. This is an outdoor task, walking along candlelit paths, sometimes over uneven ground with limited to no flashlights.
  • Carving pumpkins: help us carve LOTS of pumpkins on Thursday, October 25, 2018 anytime between 1-8 pm; stay as little or as long as you wish to carve. This is an indoor task unless the weather is amazing! A great opportunity for scouts and other community groups; we supply the pumpkins, you bring your favorite carving tool (we have a limited supply to share). Stop by after the event weekend – beginning Monday after 9 am and up to noon on Tuesday to claim your pumpkin for your own Halloween celebration.
  • Serving refreshments: bag pre-popped popcorn and make hot chocolate for participants to pick up after their tour. Friday, volunteers are needed from 6:45-9 pm and Sunday, volunteers are needed from 5-8:30 pm. This is an indoor task.
  • Checking in participants: Greet and check-in arriving participants/groups. Friday, volunteers are needed from 6:45-9 pm and Sunday, volunteers are needed from 5-8:30 pm. This is an outdoor task at an assigned station; table and chair provided.
  • Keeping the candles lit: Help us light all the candles before the event starts. We will provide clicker lighters. Initial lighting: Friday, volunteers are needed from 5:00-6:30 pm; Saturday, volunteers are needed from 4-5:30 pm; and Sunday, volunteers are needed from 4-5:30 pm. If you are available to stay throughout the event we greatly appreciate the help relighting candles and blowing out candles at the end of the night. This is an outdoor task, walking along candlelit paths, sometimes over uneven ground.
  • Helping set up the luminaries: We set up the luminaries on Friday, October 27, 2017 beginning around 1 pm. Typically this takes an hour or so to complete; you are walking on our trails following the truck of supplies over uneven ground.
  • Help with the S’more fire: Help at the S’mores fire by managing the fire and offering extra marshmallows should one drop into the fire pit. Parents are responsible for helping their child make their S’mores. It’s a gooey fun time! Sunday, volunteers are needed from 5-8:30 pm. This is an outdoor task in our side yard, near the Visitor Center.
  • Taking pictures during the event: Help us capture images of the costumed characters, the event stations and groups of participants. Looking for photographers who have experience with night photography; hours are flexible during each night of the event.


Sugar Shack – Fall

Though our sugaring season doesn’t start up until early spring, the sugar shack crew always needs volunteers to help split and stack wood in the fall so that it can properly dry throughout the early winter and be ready to boil sap in February.

Typical hours are Wed & Thurs from 10 am to noon.

Sugar Shack – Spring

We need volunteers to help collect sap from the sugar bush, boil the sap in the evaporator, and share maple knowledge with program participants. Most volunteer hours are weekday mornings and training is provided. Start date will be updated as we near spring.

Maple Sugaring Weekend Events – Spring

Lead groups along the event trail, portray a character, pop popcorn, manage indoor activities at the Visitor Center, help in the sugar house, and/or sell maple-related treats. Training is provided. Specific dates and times will be updated as we near spring.

Want to learn more about any of these opportunities? Please contact Danielle Lanson, Volunteer Coordinator, for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Another Maple Sugaring Season Wraps

As the final sap buckets are stored away for the season, it is worthwhile to take a moment and reflect back on the 2017 maple sugaring season here at Moose Hill.

Sap buckets waiting to be stored in our barn.

During this season’s seven week sap run, that began on February 9 and ended on March 30,  we collected approximately 2,240 gallons of sap from about 140 taps. From this volume of sap, we yielded 37 gallons of maple syrup, which is approximately a 60:1 sap to syrup ratio. When talking about making syrup, the usual ratio you often hear is 40:1, but it can go as high as 80:1 – so what does this mean? Was this an impact of the drought last year? Was it an impact of the gypsy moth or winter moth infestations? Was it an impact of the few heavy rainfalls that we have seen? Or is this simply more typical for us?

Comparing this to last year’s season of roughly the same length of time, February 2 through March 28, we collected about 1,815 gallons of sap from the same number of taps. From this volume of sap, we yielded 34 gallons of maple syrup. which is roughly a 53:1 sap to syrup ratio. For both years, we have been delighted with the final results!

End of the season view of the sugarbush.

If the throws of nostalgia still have you hankering for this season’s maple syrup, please stop by the Moose Hill Visitor Center and pick up a bottle before they are gone!