Category Archives: Musings up on the Hill

fancier word for news

Autumn Happenings at Moose Hill in September!

As the hustle and bustle of summer camp ends on this last day of August and we begin to transition into a new season, it always seems so quiet here on the hill. But don’t worry, there is still a lot to do in September and hopefully the cooler breezes of Autumn will be upon us!

Here are a few things to explore at Moose Hill throughout September – we look forward to seeing you on the trails and at programs!

Moose Hill Walkers – join Patti on Mondays for a walk on our trails as we watch autumn arrive at Moose Hill. This is a great way to learn more about our trails for future explorations on your own – you can register for the series (the best deal!) or pay each time you come along.

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.

September 8: Mt. Watatic Hawk Watch – Join Stony Brook sanctuary director Doug Williams for our annual pilgrimage to North Central Massachusetts for a chance to observe some of the thousands of hawks that migrate south through the area each fall. If you have never been on a hike with Doug, you have missed out! Not only will we observe hawks but, as an exceptional naturalist and botanist, you will learn a bit about the northern hardwood and hemlock forest along the way.

September 15: Star Gazing Night – if you have never joined us for this FREE program for all, you have been missing out! We’re already watching the forecast and hoping for clear skies.

September 16: September Bug Count; Late Summer Choristers – Join naturalist and “bug guy” Michael for an early evening walk to learn about, listen for, and identify these chorusing invertebrates!

September 20 and 27: Birding the Farm Fields – Join Vin Zollo as we look at what birds are taken advantage of the open farm fields during fall migration.

September 26: Nature Nerd Trivia Night – Do you think you know nature? Can we stump you? join us for 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!

Plus, the Farm at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary has a Farm Stand, open on the weekends from 11:00 am-3:00 pm. Get your fresh, organic veggies right here!

Not sure you want to pre-schedule your time? You can always come and enjoy a hike on our trails between 7 am and 7 pm – make sure to have your bug spray, sunscreen, and water! Have younger kids? Bring them for a little unstructured play time in Cookie’s Garden, our nature play area or go for a hike along the UnNatural Trail. Just stop in the Nature Center and our Visitor Services staff will point you in the right direction!

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!

Gift Shop Changes

You may have noticed some changes afoot in our Gift Shop at the Nature Center. We are in the middle of a complete revamp so the selections have been a little on the leaner side but that is all soon going to change! We have plans for a grand re-opening in the fall that we will be announcing soon.

The first major change that we are making involves bottled water. Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary will no longer be selling bottled water in order to continue Mass Audubon’s efforts in lowering our carbon footprint. We will instead have an assortment of Mass Audubon and Moose Hill water bottles that you can easily fill at our filtered bottle filling station next to the public bathrooms in the Nature Center. We will have a few different styles and sizes to fit everyone’s needs.

Next, in addition to the Moose Hill honey and maple syrup that we offer seasonally, you will soon start seeing a lot more Moose Hill branded hats, shirts, pins, and other smaller gifts. Our book selection will also be expanding with more options for young and old alike. We will be a great stop come this gift giving season with plenty of novelty options that your friends and family will enjoy for years to come. As we are building up our inventory over these next couple of months, drop in and let us know if there is anything you want to see us selling in the shop. We have a suggestion box next to the cooler in our shop and appreciate hearing your recommendations.

The shop will be closed for the first week of September in preparation for the grand re-opening, so we apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause. But once we get everything all cleaned, painted, and organized, we will be having sales every weekend in October on different select items such as bird feeders and books so be sure to stop by!

the Harvest Grows

As the harvest on the farm continues to increase, we often receive a number of questions about what happens with all the crops that we are growing. We wanted to be sure that our shareholders are aware of the many things that this farm is doing with the harvest.

The Share Bin

Unlike a farm market where a person can choose the vegetables they love, a CSA provides a mix of the vegetables. The farm chooses what vegetables to grow that season (some based on experience, some based on the availability of sourcing organic, and some based on shareholder interest). As you can imagine, there will always be vegetables that everyone loves and there will be vegetables that are not loved as much. That is where a share bin comes in – shareholders can “give” to fellow shareholders the vegetables that they don’t want and likewise they can take vegetables form the share bin that they do want. By actively using the share bin, this leaves less “extras” at the end of the night that will then either be composted or packed for a food pantry. Our Farm Apprentices have reported that as the season moves on, the share bin has been quite successful this year!

But, there are times when vegetables are not properly moved over, so our apprentices are keeping track of how many shares still need to be picked up and how much is left in the distribution bins. If they find that there appears to be lots of “extras” of any vegetable, then they will move more over to the share bins. At the end of the night, the vegetables not claimed are packed and taken to local food pantries.

Food Pantries

Each year, we make a commitment to plan for and harvest additional crops to donate to food pantries. As the season gets in full swing, we will add unclaimed vegetables at the end of distribution to the food pantry deliveries. This usually begins in July, when we start to see more vegetables coming in. This year, we are delighted to be delivering to Isle Marks in Stoughton (which is also the food pantry for Sharon), a family shelter in Attleboro, and the Foxboro Food Pantry. Thank you to those shareholders who have committed to helping us in this endeavor by picking up and delivering – we appreciate your help.

Buy-a-Bucket

As with any farm, we are always looking for opportunities to reach new audiences and diversify our income stream to create a sustainable financial future. There are so many rising costs of running the farm and we need to look at ways to bring in new income. Diversifying helps us to keep the cost of the share at a mid-range when compared to other local CSAs and still balance our expenses. The Buy-a-Bucket program is one way to help offset these costs. Our shareholders still get their fair share at distribution but if they are looking for an extra volume of a crop for canning or preserving, this is it. Plus, by offering the Buy-a-Bucket on the weekends, we get to introduce our organic farm to others; it is definitely a win-win! Whether you are a shareholder or new to our farm fields, this is a great deal for these crops and we don’t have to watch vegetables go to waste in the field. For this program, we always offer a special rate for our shareholders and a higher rate for non-shareholders. If a shareholder stops by on the weekend to take advantage of the Buy-a-Bucket, just be sure to tell Jesse or Matt that you are a shareholder to receive the special rate!

the Farm Stand

Another opportunity to diversify our farm and to reach new customers is with a Farm Stand on the weekends. In the past, we only harvested on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – the days of distribution. Even though we had a Saturday pick-up, we did not harvest that morning. In essence we had 2 full days that the fields were left alone. As many of you already know, 2 whole days of not harvesting can mean the loss of some great vegetables that over-ripen by the Monday harvest. With the Farm Stand, we harvest each morning and can continue to get the most from our fields. Don’t worry, we planned for the Farm Stand with our farmer – we planned 300 shares for shareholders and an additional 100 shares for Farm Stand, Food Pantry, and Buy-a-Bucket programs.

the Farm Table

At the end of the Farm Stand sales on Sunday, any remaining vegetables are stored and then placed at a Farm Table located at our Nature Center for camp families and visitors to purchase. Once again we are increasing the awareness of our farm, and helping to cut down on waste.

Over the last 13 years, there have been many changes to our farm and we are sure that in the future there will continue to be additional changes. But, our farm began with a focus on a CSA, and that continues to be our main focus. As you may know, each year we assess the CSA through an end of season survey. It is from these surveys, conversations with our farmer, and our experiences in the fields that some of our decisions for the future are made. Most importantly, we are looking at long-term sustainability and trying to balance all the varied requests and needs of our shareholders while making sure that the goals of The Farm, Moose Hill, and Mass Audubon are best met.

We look forward to seeing you on the Farm!

Summer Happenings at Moose Hill in August!

We are embracing the heat and humidity because what else can you do! So go on, get outside, explore, and sweat through the fun with the rest of us.

Here are a few things to come and explore at Moose Hill this August – we hope to see you soon:

Guided Nature Hike at the Bog – join us on Fridays for this FREE program for all and explore the cranberry bog at Patriot Place in Foxboro with Moose Hill Teacher Naturalists!August 10: Concert on the Hill – We are excited to welcome Doug Day, our featured artist during Music week at our camp! Doug plays a mix of folk music interspersed with stories and choruses for all to join in. Doug is the founder of the Sweet Chariot Music Festival in Maine, which has been running for 25 years on Swan’s Island. Bring a blanket, a picnic dinner, and join us for this FREE concert brought to you in part by Sharon Credit Union.

August 18: Star Gazing Night – if you have never joined us for this FREE program for all, you have been missing out! We’re already watching the forecast and hoping for clear skies.

August 25: Family Camp Out – not sure if camping is for you? Just want to get away for the night? Join us for an easy camping experience! Space is limited and registration is required.

Plus, we still have some space in our summer camp – we run camp through August 31!

AND the Farm at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary has opened a Farm Stand on the weekends from noon-2 pm.

Not sure you want to pre-schedule your time? You can always come and enjoy a hike on our trails between 7 am and 7 pm – make sure to have your bug spray, sunscreen, and water!

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!

Last Call for Native Plants!

We still have a few of our native plants left that are strong, healthy and have been loved for the past month, but it is now time for the last call to purchase native plants!

Stop by the Visitor Canter before July 16 for the final deals of the summer on our native plants!  Add beauty to your garden and support Moose Hill.

Christmas Fern

Christmas Fern

  • Part to full shade
  • Rich soil
  • Grows 1 to 3’ high
  • Evergreen…great border plant
  • $7

Red Columbine

  • Part shade to part sun
  • Any soil
  • Grows 1 – 2’ high
  • Blooms April – July
  • Hummingbird favorite!
  • $5

Beardtongue

  • Sun to part shade
  • Any soil
  • Grows 2 – 4’
  • Blooms May – July
  • Butterfly favorite and deer/rabbit resistant!
  • $5

Pale Spiked Lobelia

  • Part shade – sun
  • Med wet – med dry soil
  • Grows 1 – 2’
  • Blooms June – August
  • White to pale blue flowers
  • $5

Summer Happenings at Moose Hill in July!

Summer is officially upon us – kids are out of school, vacations are planned, family reunions will be happening, cookouts are scheduled and the summer camp season is upon us.

The summer offers a wide variety of options for people to get outside, enjoy the weather (yes, even the heat wave), and explore the nature all around them.

We hope that you will join us for a few things this July at Moose Hill:

Guided Nature Hike at the Bog – join us every Friday for this FREE program for all and explore the cranberry bog at Patriot Place in Foxboro with Moose Hill Teacher Naturalists!

July 7: The Bog at Poutwater Pond – this adult program requires registration; there’s still time – sign up today!

July 7: Star Gazing Night – if you have never joined us for this FREE program for all, you have been missing out! We’re already watching the forecast and hoping for clear skies.

July 12: Concert on the Hill – once again we welcome back the 2nd Precinct Jug Band for a rocking evening for all! Bring a blanket, a picnic dinner, and join us for this FREE concert brought to you in part by Sharon Credit Union.

July 21: Family Camp Out – not sure if camping is for you? Just want to get away for the night? Join us for an easy camping experience! Space is limited and registration is required.

July 25: Bats! An Evening of Exploration – join us as we learn more about the bats found here at Moose Hill! This program for kids age 10 and older and adults does require registration – sign up early to secure your spot in this night program.

Plus, we still have some space in our summer camp AND the Farm at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary has opened a Farm Stand on the weekends from noon-2 pm.

Not sure you want to pre-schedule your time? You can always come and enjoy a hike on our trails between 7 am and 7 pm – make sure to have your bug spray, sunscreen, and water!

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!

The Bog at Patriot Place

Have you ever taken a hike at The Bog behind Bass Pro Shops at Patriot Place in Foxboro?

If you haven’t, you are missing out on a beautiful location! Recently Moose Hill has partnered with Patriot Place to bring you a series of Friday walks at The Bog. This 32-acre cranberry wetland system and wooded area features a half-mile scenic walking trail.

Join Moose Hill Teacher Naturalists as we explore this last remaining active cranberry bog in the Town of Foxboro every Friday. As you slow down and look, our Teacher Naturalists will share with you skills that you can use on your own future nature adventures.

Check out all the dates and mark your calendars. We can’t wait to explore with you!

Spring is coming!

The beginning of March has certainly come in like a lion! In just under two weeks we have seen three major storms – Quinn, Riley, and Skylar – that each packed their own wallop to New England. After a storm of heavy rain and high winds, we dealt with heavy, wet snow, and finally a blizzard. Here at Moose Hill, we are truly ready for Spring to arrive – how about you?

It’s hard to believe that the Spring Equinox arrives on March 20. What we do know is that people will be ready to shake off this end of winter blitz and dive into warmer days and longer sunlight! Need a little inspiration as to what to do? We have you covered – come and take a hike at Moose Hill, breathe in the fresh air, bask in the sunshine and warmth, and enjoy time in the outdoors. Want a little more than just a hike? We have you covered there too – check out our programs and register for something today. What a great way to welcome in the new season!

Maple Sugaring Weekends – March 17, 18 and 25. This popular special event sells out each year so be sure to register an ensure your spot!

Family Programs – night hikes, star gazing, egg hunts and more!

Kids Programs – drop off programs that will get your child out and exploring a number of different themes.

Adult Programs – a number of ways to get out on the sanctuary and explore, plus a Mead making class; who could ask for anything more?

Summer Day Camp – are you already looking ahead to the summer? Want some great options for time spent in the outdoors, making friends, connecting with nature, building experiences? We just bet we have a camp session that your kid(s) would love! Never done camp with us? Join us at an Open House, meet our Camp Director Shawn, and have all your questions answered.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) – The Farm at Moose Hill offers 18 weeks of fresh, organic vegetables. Shares are selling fast so don’t delay on your registration. Curious about our CSA? Join us for an Open House to learn more – you can even register that night.

We look forward to seeing you here soon!

Wildlife Habitat Management Happening Here!

Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary has received a Wildlife Habitat Management Grant through the MA Department of Fish and Game (Mass Wildlife) to increase upland habitat diversity and improve early successional habitat for plants and wildlife.

Work has begun – how will this affect your visit?
The fields and forest edges along Billings Loop will begin to change over the next few months. You may notice a number of marked trees and other plants. We will be removing invasive trees and shrubs and thinning some forest edges to increase open field, shrubland, and young forest habitats, facilitate shrub and forest understory regeneration, and to support a healthy and diverse natural landscape within our sanctuary.

We may have to temporary re-route trails as contractors and staff work in these areas. Please always check in at the front desk for updates before you head out, or Like us on Facebook to receive updates.

Want to know more?
Join us for a presentation by Mass Audubon regional scientist Gene Albanese on either Thursday, March 1 or Thursday, March 15.

Join sanctuary director Karen Stein for a walk to the fields to learn more about the work that has been done on Sunday, March 11 or Friday, March 16.

Winter adventure!

I love winter in New England and I always have. Let me be more specific. I have lived in Missouri and the Bay Area of California and I do not enjoy those winters as much. Winter should be cold, full of snow, and provide opportunities to get outside and embrace the season! And even if you are not as enthusiastic about the winter season as I am, there are plenty of outdoor activities you can take part in to experience winter in Massachusetts and all over New England. If you are looking for ways to get outside this winter and experience nature in a different way, consider these activities to do by yourself, with your family, or with a group of friends.

Cross Country Skiing
For me there are few activities like gliding through a winter forest landscape on a pair of cross-country skis. You get to experience the woods and fields in a different way. Faster than a walk, but not so fast that you miss details such as tracks or bird calls. You can become wrapped in the blanket of winter sounds and sights as you explore.
If you have never been cross country skiing I suggest renting a pair from a local ski resort or an outdoor store that does rentals or offer classes. Start slow, and don’t try and ski 10 miles your first time out. Take it slow. And if you want to challenge yourself, there are races too. One thing to remember with cross country skiing, and many winter activities, is that you will work up a sweat as you go so dress accordingly. Wear layers and when you start off, being a little cool is a good plan. Bring a warmer layer for when you stop to rest, you will cool off quickly. Also make sure you have a way to carry water and food. Dress for success.

Snowshoeing
If you are looking for an activity that has a lot of similarities to cross country skiing and has some very distinct differences, go snowshoeing! It is not as graceful as cross country skiing, and you get to experience nature a little slower. The best part of snowshoeing for me is the adventure of not knowing how deep the snow is under your feet! In many places you can find groomed areas for snowshoeing which can be great and allow you to move at decent pace. And there are other places where you can go explore “off trail” and this is where the adventure of discovering snow depth can be found.

Tracking
Getting out and seeing what animals have been there before you can be a rewarding experience. Tracking in winter can be done on foot, skis or snow shoes. It can be done as a standalone activity or a great additional activity to do while you are doing something else. In winter learning to read tracks on the landscape when there is snow, even a dusting, can be a rewarding experience. You can go tracking almost anywhere, including your backyard, and learning the basics of tracking and identifying prints can be done fairly easily.

Check out our upcoming program, Tracks and Traces!

Maple sugaring
There is nothing like tasting real, pure maple syrup. And the smell of the sugaring process is almost magical! In New England there is a multitude of opportunities to see the sugaring process first hand. It is a great opportunity to experience a food to table process and get a great treat as well. Maple sugaring is a great group experience as well. Head out as a family or as a group of friends and find a local sugaring operation and learn more about this great New England tradition.

Check out our upcoming programs and events on maple sugaring!

Astronomy
The night sky in winter is a wonderful treat. Not that the summer sky isn’t grand, but the sky tends to be clearer in the winter. The challenge comes from staying warm while essentially standing still in the cold night air.

There are a few reasons why the winter sky is thought of as a special treat for backyard astronomers. The first is that cold air doesn’t hold as much moisture as warm air can. A second reason is that nights are also longer in the winter, giving us a greater window in which to enjoy the beauty of the night sky. And a third reason is in December, January and February, the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere looks out to the edge of our galaxy where there are fewer stars clustered together.

Check out our next Free Star Gazing Night!

For all of these activities there are some things to keep in mind in terms of being outside safely in winter weather. Remember this number; 98.6. That is the temperature in Fahrenheit that you want to keep your body as close to as possibly. Being safe outside in the winter boils down to keeping your body warm and dry and avoiding hypothermia. One of my favorite sayings about being outdoors goes something like this: “There is no bad weather, only poor clothing choices”. I have these words of wisdom in my head whenever I am planning on being outside for any real length of time, but especially in winter.

1) What is the level of my exertion going to be?
2) How long am I going to be outside?
3) How much fuel am I going to need? How much food and water should I take?
4) What are the temperatures and weather forecast?
5) What are the chances of things going wrong?
Answering these 5 questions will help you decide what you need to bring on your adventure. In general this will help you decide what clothes to wear and bring, how much food and water to take, and what other equipment you might want. Regardless of what activity you are doing, making good choices around these topics, can greatly increase the enjoyment of your activity.

Clothing is really a portable shelter. What we wear can make a huge difference in how we regulate our body temperature. In winter if you are going to be outside and you want to be warm and dry try to avoid wearing cotton. At least as a base layer. Cotton tends to hold in moisture and keeps it next to your body causing your body to spend energy trying to heat that moisture. Synthetic fabric or wool can keep your warm even when it is wet. If you are going to be moving slow, or maybe sitting for longer periods of time, say while you are tracking or looking for the northern lights, you are going to want clothing that has a lot of insulation. Something like a good base layer of synthetic fabric or a wool or wool blend layer. And then layers of insulation. A fleece or down layer, and then a shell or water proof layer. One quick point about down as an insulator – down is amazing at keeping you warm, unless it gets wet. Many companies now make down jackets and vests with a water resistant shell. If you are not moving much or very quickly, dress for warmth. Good gloves or mittens, a warm hat, good boots, and layers for your body.

If you are going to be moving a lot and generating body heat, then start your activity off feeling a little cool. As your body warms up and starts perspiring, you want to let that heat escape. Have extra layers available for when you stop to rest or refuel. You don’t want to let your body cool down too quickly. When I have been dog-sledding the high temperatures were around 5 degrees, but I was only wearing a thin base layer and light weight fleece on my top with a thin fleece hat. I had water proof pants with a thin under layer and warm boots and gloves. When we would stop to rest or eat, I would put on enough clothes to look like I was on Mt. Washington in January. Invest some time and maybe some money to make sure you are warm and comfortable.

Making sure that your body has enough fuel and water to stay warm in winter weather is very important, and can be lots of fun. You need to make sure that you are replacing the calories that you are burning while be outside. We lose a lot of body heat and moisture through simple things like breathing and sweating. And in the winter we can also lose a good deal of body heat through convection, radiation, and conduction cooling. When the air temperature is below 68 degrees Fahrenheit the body can lose a good deal of heat through radiation and conduction-the movement of heat from a warmer to colder environment. You need to keep those internal fires burning!

One of my favorite things about outdoor winter activities is that it gives me a reason to eat more. Even on a short run or cross country ski jaunt, it can be a good idea to make sure you give yourself some extra calories to burn. On average we burn between 1500-3000 calories a day. Winter camping or backpacking can burn upwards of 4000-5000 calories a day. Even if you are just out for a couple of hours of skiing or taking winter photos, make sure you pack enough food to keep you going. And make sure you have enough water! Even though you might not be sweating, your body is losing water through cooling and respiration. And if you are going to be out in really cold weather, make sure your water is kept warm enough to not freeze.

In addition to whatever equipment you need for your activity, you might consider bringing along a few extra things just in case. A basic first aid kit, a phone, a small thermal emergency blanket, a way to start a fire, a map of where you are going, and a good whistle. Not a lot of extra weight, but the essentials in case something does not go according to your plan. Or if you meet someone else whose plans have gone awry.

As for all the activities you can do during the winter, get out and enjoy them! Take classes, rent equipment, try something new. Go explore your local Mass Audubon sanctuaries and see what they look like in winter, and explore the classes we offer. Winter is natures’ way of slowing down and recharging it’s systems to get ready for the explosion of spring growth. Take this opportunity to do some recharging of your own. Go outside and explore!