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Retiring Our Beloved Red Fox

Photo by Sean McMahon

After 11 years as an animal ambassador at Drumlin Farm, our silver-phase red fox is retiring. He will live comfortably in our Wildlife Care Center, where our staff will take care of him for his remaining days.

We’d like to take the time to tell you a little bit more about his story.

2004: When it All Began

Our fox has been with us since January 2006, and he has proudly reached his retirement age of 13 years old. He was originally brought into wildlife rehabilitation in 2004. He was underweight, emaciated, and suffered from seizures. The owner, who had bought the fox to keep him illegally as a pet, left wrong information and disappeared.

After almost two years of constant care by a certified wildlife rehabilitator, the fox was back to health and needed a permanent home having never learned how to survive in the wild. Drumlin Farm was happy to introduce the fox to the Drumlin Underground exhibit where the fox lived, at times, with another red fox.

Signs of Age

Wildlife Care staff noticed the first signs of age-related decline two years ago and has been monitoring the fox ever since. We had hoped that having a new home at the New England Wildlife Explorations exhibit would have eased some of his age-related ailments, but time seems to have taken a toll on the fox.

So now, after 11 wonderful years as one of our animal ambassadors, the fox will move to a new quiet retirement enclosure in a section of the farm closed to the public. The fox joins a crew of retired animals that include our oldest animal, the 42-year-old (at least!) turkey vulture that joined the farm in 1977 when he was already at least two years old.

Drumlin Farm’s Wildlife

Healthcare benefits for the captive wildlife at Drumlin Farm are very good. It’s free, enrichment is given regularly, and delicious meals are provided to all residents. Retirement is also part of the benefits package. Retirement age varies depending on the species, but a comfortable and quiet retirement home is planned for all.

Drumlin Farm is home to more than 70 wildlife animals, representing 37 species native to New England. These animals are non-releasable due to physical or behavioral challenges that prevent them from being competitive in the wild. Some of the animals are unable to capture their food, or escape a predator, and some never learned the social cues needed to interact with members of the same species. Young, healthy animals help our teachers in fulfilling Mass Audubon’s mission of protecting the nature of Massachusetts. Older animals, starting to show signs of physical decline, move into the Wildlife Care Center for retirement.

We don’t purchase our animals, but rather provide a good home to wildlife in need that cannot survive in the wild. We hope to fill the New England Wildlife Explorations exhibit soon with another fox.  We have been in the process of finding a companion for our silver-phase fox, and as I write, we have a solid lead on two red foxes that might join the Drumlin Farm family soon. We’ll announce their arrival on Facebook!

Until then, we here at Wildlife Care want to thank our fox, and our visitors, for a great 11 years.

Flavio Sutti
Wildlife Care Program Coordinator

6 Date Night Ideas at Drumlin Farm

Photo by Ian Maclellan

Move over, Dinner and a Movie. We’ve got date nights that’ll make anyone swoon.

1. August 18: Summer Concert with Lula Wiles

Even the classic picnic dinner doesn’t stand a chance. Bring your romantic meal with you and chill out on the hill while Lula Wiles does the serenading for you.

2. September 6: Full Moon Yoga and Campfire at the Farm

Your post-namaste treat? S’mores, duh.

3. September 8: Friday Evening Hayride and Campfire

Yes, you’ll be sharing your date night with some families and kiddos, but if you’re a kid-at-heart, this is a cute way to spend your Friday evening with that special someone. Because s’mores.

4. September 19: Wild Edibles Walk

Scribble down notes as Russ Cohen shows you allofthethings you didn’t know you could eat. Then munch on snacks he’s prepared, like stinging nettle fritters, Japanese knotweed crumble, and black walnut bars. Stop at Lincoln Kitchen for dinner afterward.

5. September 23: Moon Over Drumlin

Tastings from award-winning Boston chefs, guest appearances from our animal ambassadors, and wine. Lots of wine.

6. Flowers from the Market

OK. It’s not really a date night. And it’s not at the farm. But every Saturday, we’re at the Union Square Farmers Market slinging gorgeous bouquets. And bonus for all you single folks: Treat. Yo. Self.

When a Hive Loses Its Queen

By Beekeeper Mel Gadd

Learning Garden Hive

Since our spring update, several people noticed that the activity at the Learning Garden hive has dropped considerably. Initial inspection indicated that the bees might have abandoned this hive, as the normal busyness we are use to seeing this time of year is not happening.

So I performed a full inspection—opened the hive, pulled out bars with comb, checked the comb—to figure out the status of the hive. This is what I found:

  • Number of bees drastically reduced (just a handful left).
  • Very little stored honey, but a large amount of stored pollen.
  • No brood (egg, larval, or pupal cells) in the hive.
  • A number of open queen cells in the middle of the honeycomb. (Workers create these “supersedure cells” when they need to replace the queen. On the other hand, if the workers create “swarm cells”—queen cells at the bottom of the honeycomb—the hive is overcrowded and getting ready to swarm. This hive has no such cells.)

All of this indicates that the queen died or disappeared and the workers were not successful at raising a replacement before she was gone.

What’s Next

Within the next couple of weeks, I will add bees from one of the Skinny Field hives and buy and install a new queen. Both Skinny Field Hives (5 and 6, if you’re looking at the map in the spring update) are doing extremely well, which would allow me to split the bees in one of them. I will then merge these bees with those in the Learning Garden hive and introduce the new queen.

Feel free to visit the Learning Garden hive and open the windows and see if you notice the change in activity.

Questions? Contact Mel.

Drumlin Farm Crops Update Vol. 6

Heatwave #1

Looks like the first heat wave of the year has arrived. It’s 95 in the field where volunteers Anne and Shelia are crawling along over the hot soil thinning beets—amazing! The heat will push the strawberries and peas along, and we’ve moved Strawberry Day to June 24 because not enough of the berries will be ready by this weekend. We do plan to pick strawberries for the first time tomorrow morning and bring them up to the stand.

Google Volunteers Planting Dahlias

This past week we got lots of great help from three large groups. On Thursday, volunteers from Google planted dahlias. Their company made a donation to help us purchase the plants from a nursery. After planting the dahlias, the volunteers thoroughly weeded four beds of celery and celeriac. Thanks for the help!

Thanks, Camp Counselors!

On Friday morning, Zach and Emma brought the camp counselors to the field to learn about our crops program and to get trained for the upcoming “Weedouts”—the mornings when campers get dirty and pull weeds. Thanks counselors for making camp a rewarding first connection to Drumlin for so many kids and families, and thanks for pulling those weeds in the radicchio and peas!

Storm Volunteers

On Friday afternoon, Care.com brought volunteers to the field just in time to plant the sweet potato slips. A thunderstorm passed through, but the gang brushed it off and happily set 2,500 plants in about an hour. Thanks for all your great work and for the donation!

Summer CSA Countdown

The summer CSA opens this week just as many new crops are about to come in. We are close to our first harvest of chard, beets, carrots and garlic scapes. We’re excited to see what’s ready come Wednesday morning. If you’re interested in grabbing a last-minute share, visit massaudubon.org/drumlincsa.

Your Farmers

Drumlin Farm Crops Update Vol. 5

By Crops Manager Matt Celona

Plantings for the Week

The continued gray and cool weather means we’re twiddling our thumbs waiting for the first peas, beets, carrots and strawberries to come in. In the meantime, we’ll continue planting: watermelons, sweet potatoes, and dahlias are all scheduled to go in the ground this week.

Last week, volunteer groups planted dahlia seedlings, the second round of sweet corn, and our only popcorn for the year—5,300 plants! Thank you to all of our volunteer groups who helped by donating both time and money to our planting efforts.

Those Pesky Potato Beetles

We’re hoping to delay our first spraying of the year by relying on some old-fashioned pest control (squishing them). But when the first round of eggs hatches, and the larvae start to munch on the plants, we’ll begin spraying our bacteria-based, OMRI-approved pesticides (Organic Materials Review Institute).

SNAP Dollar Approval

Mass Audubon has received approval to accept SNAP dollars (formerly Food Stamps) for Drumlin Farm’s CSAs and for our market loyalty program at Union Square Farmer’s Market. Improving access to nature and—in the case of Drumlin Farm—to locally-produced food, is an important component of Mass Audubon’s vision. We hope that more people will be able to enjoy our food as a result of the expansion of this program.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gifts at Drumlin Farm

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

[Pause for gasp]

Here’s what to do:

1. Drive to 208 South Great Road in Lincoln, MA.

2. Walk to the admissions window.

3. Ask to see the selection of cow milk soap ($3–4.50 depending on the weight). Pick 2 or 3 of your favorites.

4. Grab a wool skein while you’re at it ($10).

5. Put it all in a Drumlin Farm tote bag ($5).

You’re welcome.

When Students Become Leaders

We hear it almost every day: Our kids are our future. But what does that mean? What does that look like? And when does a common phrase become a sign of action?

For our TREES (Teens Representing Environmental Excellency and Stewardship) students, that phrase is just one of the many ways to describe what they do during this after-school program at Lowell High School.

On Saturday, March 11, TREES students hosted their first-ever Youth Environmental Conference, inviting teens from the Merrimack River Watershed in Massachusetts to meet, talk, learn, and share ideas about how they can work together to protect the Merrimack River watershed.

“We felt that a conference would be the best setting, giving students an opportunity to meet, share their work, and learn more about our watershed,” said Sarah Silva, TREES student and Lowell High School senior.

Sally Farrow, Drumlin Farm Teacher Naturalist and TREES coordinator, has watched these students grow and learn over the last four years.

“From start to finish, the students led the Youth Environmental Conference,” she said. “We’ve had them since they were freshmen, so we’re witnessing this growth—and that was so inspiring to see. This is what gives me hope.”

To open the conference, TREES students hosted a Jeopardy game to get everyone in the mood for the day’s workshops: Urban Open Spaces, Environmental Careers, Pollution, and Water Testing. Among the workshop leaders was Dai Kim of Mill City Grows, who shared his experience with us:

“The world needs more educators, believers, dreamers, and leaders, and what the Youth Environmental Conference did for me has reinstated my believe that we’re going to be all right.”

Participating in the conference was Concord Carlisle High SchoolGroundwork Lawrence Green Team, Lowell High School Compass W.I.L.D. program, and Girls Go Green from YWCA Lowell.

We would like to thank Lowell High School for hosting this event, and of course to the TREES students! To learn more about our TREES program, contact Sally Farrow: sfarrow@massaudubon.org.

Drumlin Farm Friday to Friday: February 3–10

With Ms. G’s forecast behind us, it’s time to look ahead! After all, what’s winter in New England without maple sugaring and woolly adventures?

Take a look at what’s in store:

Friday, February 3

Stew and Brew | Adults | 6:30 pm
Feast on hearty stews made with Drumlin Farm meat and produce (including a vegetarian option!) as you imbibe on local brews from Rapscallion, Jack’s Abby, and Peak Organic.

Wednesday, February 8

Winter Wonders: Winter Coats | Family | 11 am
Feed hay to the sheep with their fluffy winter coats!

Thursday, February 9

Pigs and Blankets | Family | 10 am
We will explore pigs and blankets, taking care of the sheep as well and make a wee little blanket to take home.

In Search of Winter Raptors: Lecture | Adult | 7 pm
The lecture will cover physical and behavioral traits to help us identify hawks and owls. On the field trip, we will explore the Merrimack River, Plum Island, and Salisbury State Park.

Friday, February 10

Own Moon | Family | 7 pm
Search for wild owls by the light of February’s “Owl Moon,” then warm up inside and enjoy a visit from one of our resident owls. Listen to the beloved Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.

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

5 Gift Ideas for Locavores

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With just about one week left before gift-giving time, we have a handful of items that just about any locavore would love.

1. Drumlin Farm CSA Share
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has been around for a few decades and has become one of the most convenient ways to get locally grown produce directly from the farmer. This might be the best way to ensure that your locavore pal (or you!) will have fresh, sustainably grown, local produce throughout the summer.

If the full Drumlin Farm Summer CSA share is overwhelming, we have new options! Our Spring Share is only four weeks long, and our Every-Other-Week Share is ideal for smaller households. Tip: Split your full share with a family member, friend, or neighbor!

2. How-to Workshops
Do you have a budding locavore itching to learn how to cook and bake using local ingredients? We offer a root-veggie class, fermentation class, sourdough breadmaking class, and even a cooking class for kids.

With all of our classes and workshops, we do more than just cook! We use Drumlin Farm produce, and oftentimes go outside to harvest veggies from our fields.

3. Food. And Beer.
If your locavore friend isn’t the hands-on type, we have something for them, too. How about an evening of hearty stews and locally crafted beer? At Stew and Brew on February 3, all you have to do is show up, eat, and drink.

For those looking for just a smidge of a hands-on experience, there’s our sausagemaking and beer tasting workshop in March. Enough said.

Tip: Make a personalized gift certificate like this one and stick it in an envelope!

4. Mass Audubon Membership
Maybe your locavore friend already has a CSA membership closer to their home. Or maybe they’ve already mastered their culinary skills. By gifting them with a Mass Audubon membership, you’re directly funding our farm and nature programs (including our CSA!)

Take a look at the perks of being a Mass Audubon member.

5. Mass Audubon Gift Card
Still don’t know what to get the locavore in your life? You can never go wrong with a gift card (and talk about portable). Stop by our admissions window during regular business hours to grab however many you need and load them up!

Best of all: You can apply the gift card to anything related to Mass Audubon, whether it’s a program, summer camp tuition, or a treat at the Audubon Shop.

Happy Holidays!

Patio Dining + Drumlin Farm = Perfection

One of the best perks of summer is when all of our favorite restaurants open their doors and break out the patio dining, serving up grilled eats, ice-cold drinks, and all the twinkle lights you can handle.

Did you know that nearly 20 restaurants in the Boston area receive produce from Drumlin Farm? And oh yes, some of them even have patio seating.

Here are four local spots that combine (what we think) is the best of summer: Patio dining and fresh Drumlin Farm produce!

The IndoThe Independent | Somerville
Brunchers, get ready for an Irish breakfast, roasted beets, and baby kale salad. Sunscreen optional.

Bronwyn | Somerville
If you’re looking for a cozy, casual patio experience, stop at Bronwyn for some knödel with hakurei turnips, radicchio salat, and pickled eggs with beets.

CBC

Cambridge Brewing Company | Cambridge
The pizza specials at Cambridge Brewing Company are amazing: fig and arugula or peach and dandelion greens? One of each, please!

Brass Union | Somerville
People-watch your way through a meal at Somerville’s new Brass Union. Their brunch menu features roasted veggies, and chorizo with scallions. Pair that with coffee and orange juice and you’ll be set for the weekend.

Can’t get enough Drumlin Farm produce in your life? Feast at Moon Over Drumlin, where some of Boston’s top chefs will prepare our produce and meat to perfection. Tickets are going fast!