Category Archives: Animals

lamb

Virtu-wool-apalooza!

While we can’t gather in person to celebrate our favorite fiber-festival of the year, we hope you can still join us virtually to learn more about the story from sheep-to-sweater, shop local fiber vendors, and enjoy some of our favorite Woolapalooza moments through the years.

In Massachusetts, sheep are raised on small family farms in flocks of varying sizes, ranging from a few ewes up to about 400 on the largest sheep farm. Sheep do well on Massachusetts land and require very little labor to produce a quality product that fits well with the New England climate. They’re also considered good for the environment and can help improve the ecosystem when managed with sustainable agriculture principles. Sheep are the perfect tool for controlling weeds and brush, helping land managers avoid mechanical and chemical means of control. They work so well that corporate and government land managers have adopted or hired flocks to help in reforested areas, watersheds, ski slopes and under power lines. You’ll often see our sheep in different fields throughout the year, doing their part to keep the pastures free of over-growth.

The Sheep-to-Sweater Process

Each year, master sheep shearer Kevin performs our shearing, removing each sheep’s wool with large hand-held shears. The wool is removed in one piece, called a fleece. Sheep are usually shorn in the spring, when they can survive without their warm coat. The fleece is then spread out and skirted, a process that removes large pieces of soiled wool, hay, etc. Each fleece weighs 8-14 pounds fresh off the sheep, and a 10-pound fleece might weigh only half that after it’s washed to remove the lanolin and soil!

After the fleece is washed, it’s then carded, which involves combing the clean, dry wool to straighten the fibers. Every wool fiber is a molecular coil-spring covered with microscopic scales. The springiness of the individual fibers can be seen in the curliness of a sheep’s fleece.  

The carded wool can then be spun on a wheel, where the fibers are drawn out and twisted together to form yarn. Wool clothing is highly durable, easily dyeable, breathable and temperature regulating, resists wrinkles and retains shape, flame resistant, and naturally water repellent. It truly is an amazing fiber!

Shop Fiber Vendors

Please support our amazing local fiber vendors who annually make Woolapalooza such a special event:

Our Favorite Woolapalooza Moments

Wool Crafts at Home

Get hands-on with wool and learn something new! Try out these step-by-step tutorials on wool-based crafts:

Lambing & Kidding Updates

As lambing and kidding season begins, so far we have had two baby goats and one lamb arrive on the farm. Like and follow our Facebook and Instagram pages for more updates as the season progresses!

5 Fall Farm Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

Getting Here

208 South Great Road, Lincoln, MA

By Train: We’re a short walk from the Lincoln MBTA train station on the Fitchburg line. Follow the town trails from the station to the farm, and stop for pizza or a coffee on your way back! Take advantage of the $10 weekend MBTA pass for a weekend beyond-your-backyard adventure.

By Bike/Walking Trail: Lincoln boasts a fabulous network of walking and biking trails that run through the town’s beautiful sights and vistas, connecting greenways and natural areas. What’s better–Drumlin Farm is conveniently located along the paths on Lincoln and Codman Road. Get your steps in for the day by walking in, or park your bike at our bike rack.

By Car: Take advantage of the 4 newly installed electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lot. Charge your car while exploring the property and return to a full battery at the end of the visit.

1. Exploring by Hayride

There’s no better way to cover the trails and explore the farm loop than by sitting on a hay bale, traveling by tractor hayride. With the sun shining down and the crisp autumn air around you, this fall-classic is a nostalgic thrill you can’t find everywhere. Grab your tickets at admissions, hop aboard outside of the Red Barn, and enjoy! Hayrides run on Saturday and Sunday until Thanksgiving weekend.

2. Shopping the Farmstand

Crisp leafy greens, squashes and gourds, and a variety of seasonal fall-favorites can be found at the farmstand by admissions. Drumlin Farm-raised meats, yarn made from our sheep’s fleece, honey from hives on site, and eggs from our chickens can also be purchased. Take a little farm home with you by making delicious fall recipes using local, sustainable ingredients!

3. Witnessing the Changing Season

What makes a wildlife sanctuary unique from other outdoor trails you might visit? Our property is managed with wildlife and habitat health in mind, which makes trail explorations teem with natural encounters. Watch and listen for migrating fall birds in the meadows and forests and catch glimpses of scampering critters beefing up before the winter. Perhaps you’ll see our resident family of wild turkeys that roam the property, or take a walk up the drumlin–one of the highest point in the greater Boston area–where you can take in a beautiful vista and see the outline of Mount Wachusett, over 30 miles away, on a clear day.

4. Visiting Native Wildlife & Livestock

Meet the animals that make up our New England landscapes and history! Sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, and cows teach visitors about the ins and outs of farming and our historic connection to these important animals. Bird Hill (hosting owls, hawks, pheasants, and more) and the New England Wildlife Exhibit (with rabbits, snakes, foxes, and more) feature our animal ambassadors that teach us about native animals and their role in creating healthy ecosystems in Massachusetts.

5. Dropping-in for Interactive Activities

You could meet a raptor, mammal, or reptile; see a pony grooming demonstration; feel real pelts and furs; and more at our drop-in activities, included with the price of admission. Teacher Naturalists stationed around the farm engage visitors in hands-on learning opportunities to answer all your farm and nature questions and introduce you to a side of nature you may not have seen. Drop-in activities take place at 10:00 am, 11:30 am, and 2:30 pm on weekends.

Bonus: Tales of the Night, Our Spookiest Farm Festivity

If you want a classic fall experience, there’s really nothing quite like a spooky adventure through the farm and a haunted hayride. If you’re free Friday or Saturday, October 25 and 26, plan a night at our annual special event, Tales of the Night. Travel through candle-lit paths and jack-o-lanterns, meet animals and story book characters, and try some witches brew and ghoulish treats! Tickets sell out for this popular event, so early registration is recommended.

Springing Ahead: 5 Signs of Spring on the Farm

Daylight Savings Time arrived on the second morning of our annual Sap-to-Syrup Farmer’s Breakfast. Hearty pancakes topped with real maple syrup alongside Drumlin Farm’s roasted potatoes and sausage were enjoyed in sunny, snowy, and muddy weather throughout the weekend. Thanks to our volunteers, staff, and sponsors that helped make this event possible, including our premiere event sponsor Whole Foods (Sudbury), as well as PEAK Event Services, Karma Coffee (Sudbury), Market Basket (Waltham), Roche Brothers (Sudbury), Donelan’s Supermarket (Lincoln), Stop & Shop (Wayland). Now that we’ve explored and shared the joys of maple sugaring, a traditional end of winter crop, we’re looking forward to the rest of what New England Spring has in store…

1. Spring Lambs & Kids

One of the many special things that makes Drumlin Farm a unique experience is our resident livestock. If you’ve visited recently, you were probably met by the very pregnant sheep and goats still in their thick winter coats. With spring comes the arrival of the newborn lambs and kids, and watching them walk, hop, and play is one of our favorite cornerstone spring activities. Such a favorite that we’ll be celebrating all things fiber and sheep related at Woolapalooza, our annual farm, food, and fiber festival. Visit on March 30th for sheep shearing, sheep dog herding demonstrations, local wool vendors, and a chance to visit the new spring babies!

2. April Vacation Week

February Vacation Week had us looking into the science of snow and winter, but it’s warming up in April! During one day or full week sessions the week of April 15-19, children will explore the thawing ponds for amphibians, take care of the wildlife, prepare and plant the garden, and meet in the kitchen to whip up some tasty treats. April Vacation on Drumlin Farm is always alive with the sounds of laughter and amazement at the new lessons we find.

3. Leafy Spring Vegetables

The spring growing season begins with crispy leafy greens. Bursting with an array of tender head lettuces, herbs, scallions, and salad radishes, we’re excited to start making fresh salad every week. Our spring CSA program allows you to share in the bounty of harvest, and you can pick up Drumlin Farm grown vegetables every week for your own kitchen. As the fields warm, shares will fill out with the first of the season’s carrots, sweet salad turnips, and (weather permitting) sugar snap peas, strawberries, and beets. Taste the difference between store-bought and farm-grown for yourself!

4. The Start of Spring Series Programs

Pencil in Drumlin Farm to your weekly schedule with the arrival of spring Child, Adult/Child Pair, and Family Series programs so you can visit the farm every week! You can spend time with your children in a social, educational environment and explore our habitats and wildlife together with programs like Farm Family, Family Explorations, and Old MacDrumlin’s Farm (families with children ages 2-6). Learn first-hand about “where does my food come from” and experience the farm-to-table process in Drumlin Cooks (ages 9-12), Kids in the Kitchen (ages 6-9), and Cooking Together (families with children ages 3-5).

5. The Return of Vernal Pools & Amphibians

Vernal pools are temporary bodies of water in our forests filled by melting snow and spring rain. Within these muddy, murky waters live a world of life including tadpoles, fairy shrimp, and dragonfly larva that will metamorphose into adults before the pools dry up. Come see for yourself in Polliwogs & Frogs (families with children age 2), Tadpoles & Toads (families with children ages 3-5), and Afternoon Kids Club (ages 4-6).

A Note from Renata Pomponi, Sanctuary Director

The daily news doesn’t often focus on science, but for a day or two last November, scientific exploration took over the headlines as the InSight Lander arrived on Mars. The first mission designed to probe the interior of another planet, InSight traveled more than 300 million miles over seven months. Watching the livestream of those final moments, my family and I found ourselves cheering along with the engineers in the control room as they celebrated their success.

This type of “Big Science” victory is one that my kids and I will remember for a lifetime. But just as important are the “small science” moments that happen every day: a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis or a snowflake crystalizing on a mitten. When we stop to look, we start to wonder. That wonder can begin as a sense of amazement at the “magic” of nature, especially in our youngest visitors, but it can lead to more when presented as a question: I wonder how that caterpillar transformed into an entirely different creature? I wonder why that snowflake formed so differently from the one next to it?

Major scientific breakthroughs may occur only a few times in our lives, but the natural world offers up daily opportunities for us to question, to think, and to learn. What’s more, having a formal scientific degree or engineering background isn’t a prerequisite, only your own curiosity. You don’t even have to know the “right” answer to your or your child’s question; their asking is the most important part. We hope that the inquiries that start here at Drumlin Farm, whether you experience them on your own or alongside our educators, will bring discovery and delight, along with inspiration for all of us to become strong environmental stewards.

Wishing you a year of small-science wonders,

Renata Pomponi
Drumlin Farm Sanctuary Director

April-September 2019 Program & Events

Our new programs and events catalog for April-September 2019 has arrived, filled with new programs to get you and your family and friends outside exploring. Highlights include:

Double the Foxes, Double the Fun!

A big welcome to the newest member of the Drumlin Farm animal ambassador family, a female red fox! Like our resident male fox, she was found as an orphaned kit (young fox) in Illinois. Upon her discovery in February 2018 she weighed only 1.5 pounds. During her rehabilitation, she became habituated to her human caregivers and was deemed non-releasable, unable to survive on her own in the wild. She’s grown a lot since then and is adjusting well to the East Coast move, now weighing in at a healthy 10 pounds.

The new female fox joins the ranks of the many honorable animal ambassadors that call Drumlin Farm home and work to connect our visitors to the natural world in unique ways. Many Drumlin Farm visitors have never even seen a fox in person before, and know surprisingly little about these sly canines. Next time you visit, we invite you stop by the New England Wildlife Exhibit to see them up close. You can distinguish the female from the male by the relatively smaller white tip on her tail. As foxes are mostly nocturnal, the pair are often most active during early in the morning and at night, but our two foxes can regularly be seen exploring the exhibit, observing the cows in the pasture, or napping throughout the day. Check out the Fox Cam in our exhibit space to see the night-vision camera collecting data on their after-hours behavior. You can also explore inside our newly opened Fox Den viewing area, with its plexiglass window for a clear look inside the enclosure. Either way, don’t miss your chance to say hello to the newest member of the Drumlin Farm family!

Welcoming Our New Red Fox

Drumlin Farm recently welcomed our newest animal ambassador: a curious and rambunctious red fox! This male kit (young fox) was found alone in an Illinois cornfield last spring. After being examined by a vet, it became clear that his vision issues make him unable to survive on his own in the wild, but a wonderful candidate for Drumlin Farm. Our animal care staff drove to meet the wildlife rehabilitation center at a halfway point—in Ohio—and brought him back to his new home in our New England Wildlife Explorations exhibit (NEWE).

We’re happy to announce that the fox is now healthy and active, settling into his new home well. While he was originally found dehydrated and malnourished, he’s now enjoying quick scurries through his enclosure, along with a full omnivore diet of mice and veggies. Our Wildlife Care Staff did their usual amazing job in slowly introducing him to his pen using positive reinforcement. He’s joined the team of animal ambassadors at the farm, where his presence acts as an educational tool for visitors to learn about local wildlife.

Red foxes are generalists, so they’re found in a large variety of habitats and aren’t picky about their food. They adapt very well to new environments and can be found in forests and grasslands, as well as in cities like Boston. Check him out, along with other native animals, at the NEWE exhibit, where you can learn about the interrelationships of native wildlife in a New England forest/field edge habitat. You’ll see animals that the red fox would normally come across in the wild, like our cottontail rabbit, box turtle, and house mice.

The exhibit also features a “FoxCam”—a video stream of the fox’s inside pen, where you can speedily rewind and fast forward through the footage using a computer-controlled dial. This footage allows us opportunities to study the fox’s behavior as he adjusts to his new environment. Plus—it’s really fun to play with! He is in his “teenager” phase, so you’ll also see how much he loves to sleep.

While he would not have been able to survive in the wild on his own, he’s now thriving at Drumlin Farm. As an animal ambassador, he’s been given an opportunity to teach us about local wildlife and the natural surroundings we share. Stop by NEWE to say hello and welcome him to the farm.

New Additions: Meet Mick and Prince

Welcome, Mick!

We recently brought home two new rams, Mick and Prince. These woolly gents came to us by way of Kate Collins, who does the sheep dog demos at Drumlin Farm’s annual Woolapalooza celebration in March.

Drumlin staff prepared for their arrival by building a little shade shelter out of recycled materials behind the red barn and setting up an electric fence that extends from the equine pasture to the maple grove.

Over the weekend, 10 ewes joined Prince in the Maple Grove and five were brought to the equine pasture to accompany Mick. By Sunday night all were settled in.

Breeding season has begun! If all goes to schedule we’ll have new lambs in late March.

7 Things To Do at Drumlin Farm: May 12–19

Katrin Roush

Don’t let this weekend’s grey skies block your view of what looks to be a spring-tastic forecast for next week. We have things for you to do while you’re staying cozy at home (Especially on Sunday. Yikes.) and when you finally emerge next week.

7 Things to Do at Drumlin Farm this Week

1. As you watch the rain (and favorite Netflix/HBO/Amazon/Hulu series) plan ahead for our Summer Concert Series. With Katrin Roush, Damn Tall Buildings, and Lula Wiles lined up to play at the farm this summer, tickets are sure to sell fast!

2. While you’re multitasking, sign up for our Summer CSA. Here’s the math on that: $33.75 per week for enough sustainably farmed veggies to feed a family of four. Take that, Whole Paycheck.

3. Be a farmer for a day and learn how we keep our livestock happy in this family favorite: Afternoon Chores and More. Pro tip: Bring rain gear and be prepared to puddle hop.

4. Take advantage of the first sunny, warm day in who-knows-how-long during our Tuesday Evening Birding excursion. It starts at 5:30, so chances are the sunset will be epic.

5. Meet our new kids! They. Are. So. Cute.

6. Fact: Spring allergies are a drag. Fact: There are herbs that can help. Take our Aromatherapy & Tinctures class and blend your own essential oils to fight the itchy eyes and sniffles.

7. Fingers crossed that the sunshine holds up through next Friday, because our first Friday Evening Hayride and Campfire is at 4:00! If you can’t make it by 4:00, there’s another one at 6:00.

Woolapalooza 2017: That’s a Wrap!

We have another Woolapalooza in the books!

While we didn’t get a triplet birth like last year (much to Farmer Caroline’s relief, we’re sure), this year’s Woolapalooza was a huge success. The day started off with a touch of rain, but that didn’t stop more than 1,000 visitors of all ages from lining up for our annual sheep-shearing festival.

Here are some highlights from the day:

Kevin Ford shearing all of our adult sheep.

 

Learning and crafting along the Sheep-to-Sweater Trail

 

Talented fiber artisans from all over Massachusetts.

 

Delicious food.

 

Skillful sheep herding.

 

And of course, the stars of the show: Our lambs!

 

Thank you to all of our volunteers, vendors, sponsors, and staff for another great Woolapalooza. We hope to see you again next year!

Drumlin Farm Friday to Friday: October 21–28

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Fall at the farm is in full swing! The maple trees have fiery hues and our lambs are looking extra fluffy. Our staff is busy preparing the farmyard for our annual Tales of the Night special event—try to spot something spooky as you walk around the farm!

We hope you can visit the farm in the next few weeks before all the leaves disappear and make way for snow.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Friday, October 21

Teen Night at Drumlin Farm | Teens | 7 pm
Explore Drumlin Farm’s trails by moonlight, stargaze at the top of the drumlin, and listen for owls and night creatures. Learn about natural history, play games, listen to music, and bring a snack to share by the fireside.

Saturday, September 22

Food Day | All ages | 10 am
Join us for a day of tasty fun as we join the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources in celebrating our own statewide Food Day!

Teen Birders: Owls at Drumlin | Teens| 3:30 pm
Visit the resident owls at Drumlin Farm! As evening approaches, learn about the tiny (and adorable), elusive northern saw-whet owl and participate in a banding demonstration.

Tuesday, October 25

Owl-o-ween | Ages 0–8 w/Adult | 3:30 pm
Have you ever wanted to be an owl and stay up all night? After visiting an owl, we’ll create owl masks and prowl about! Whooo’s ready for Owl-o-ween?

Thursday and Friday, October 27 and 28

SPECIAL EVENT: Tales of the Night | All ages
Put on your favorite costume, grab a flashlight, and join us for the silliest, spookiest, and most family-friendly Halloween tradition! At Tales of the Night, you are sure to find seasonal excitement for everyone.

 

For all of our upcoming programs, visit massaudubon.org/drumlinprograms.