Posts By: Branch Hill Farm

MMRG Families Followed Coyote Tracks, Enjoyed Sledding

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH 03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 1/10/2020

MMRG Families Followed Coyote Tracks, Enjoyed Sledding

The snow-covered fields and snowy woods of Branch Hill Farm made for a fun morning outside, enjoyed by a couple dozen parents, grandparents and kids signed up for a ‘Family Snowshoe Tracking’ activity. The event was offered by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways as part of its MOOSE-ies for Families program and co-sponsored by Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (BHF/CSFCT).

From infants in backpacks up to late elementary school kids, children and their families had a great time. Kids, wearing snowshoes provided by MMRG, followed a line of coyote tracks heading straight across the field up to the edge of the icy pond. MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren explained, “Dogs tend to wander as they walk, but coyotes can’t count on regular meals so typically walk in a straight path to conserve energy.” Indeed, the coyote had continued straight across the ice. The families, however, skirted the pond and headed into the forest on a woods road, where they encountered more coyote tracks coming from the forest. The children observed that the animal had approached the opening to the field but turned around, perhaps reluctant to venture out into the open.

A hike through the woods was rewarded with a view of the scenic Branch River and the call of a blue jay. Afterwards, the children got a thrill out of sledding on a variety of flying saucers and sleds generously provided for the day by the Terry family. A few initial runs created a track on the hill of fresh snow, and then the sleds flew down at high speed, to the great satisfaction of both children and adults.

MOOSE-ies for Families events are a membership benefit for MMRG member families, but non-members are encouraged to try out their first family activity for free. The 2020 MOOSE-ies for Families series includes Birdhouse Building (March), Using a Map to Find Your Way (also in March), Following a Stream (May), the annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival (second Saturday in August), Night Time Walk (September), Photography Scavenger Hunt (October), and Natural Holiday Decorations (December). Interested families may join MMRG with an online donation of $25 per household per year at www.mmrg.info or inquire about available scholarships by calling 603-473-2020.

Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org. MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land and offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources; see www.mmrg.info.

 

Frankie Dineen pointing to coyote tracks (Photo by Rachel Towne)

Frankie Dineen pointing to coyote tracks (Photo by Rachel Towne)

Snowshoe walk (Photo by Rachel Towne)

Snowshoe walk (Photo by Rachel Towne)

Orchardist John Bunker: ‘A History of Apples in New England’

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH 03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 1/7/2020

Orchardist John Bunker: ‘A History of Apples in New England’

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (BHF/CSFCT) will present orchardist, gardener and apple historian John Bunker for a presentation about the history of apples in New England. The workshop will take place at 11 am on Saturday, April 4 at the Town of Middleton Old Town Hall, 200 Kings Highway, Middleton, NH.

In the early 1980’s, John Bunker started the mail-order nursery Fedco Trees, a division of the cooperative, Fedco Seeds. In 2012, he founded the Maine Heritage Orchard in Unity Maine. His recent book, Apples and the Art of Detection recounts his forty years of tracking down, identifying and preserving rare apples. Branch Hill Farm Executive Director Jared Kane is thrilled at Bunker’s planned visit, saying “John is the pre-eminent expert on heritage apples and we are so privileged to have him come speak to us!”

From the 17th to the early 20th century, thousands of varieties of heirloom apples (malus domestica) dominated the New England landscape, yet today only a handful are found in our grocery aisles. Bunker will address what has become of this historic wealth of varieties and what made them so special. He’ll give examples of lesser known apples such as Nodhead, Milden, and Granite Beauty and what they have in common. Anyone interested in apples and pears, agricultural history, New England history, cider, or simply curious about the old tree in their yard is encouraged to attend and bring questions.

Kane adds that the workshop with Bunker is a kickoff to the planting of a new Heritage Orchard at Branch Hill Farm in Milton Mills. Explains Kane, “This holistically managed orchard will feature historically grown apples and pears in the Moose Mountain and greater New England regions. Many of these will be cloned from old trees still surviving in back yards and fields. If you have an old apple tree you think should be included or have more questions about the Heritage Orchard please contact me at jared_kane@branchhillfarm.org.”

The workshop is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is helpful but not required. For more information or directions or to register, contact MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at 603-978-7125 or email mmrgnh@gmail.com.

Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org. MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land and offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info.

Photo of Bunker, taken by Russell French

Photo of Bunker, taken by Russell French

 

Susan Morse Presents “The Cougar Returns to the East”

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH 03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 1/8/2020

Susan Morse Presents “The Cougar Returns to the East”

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) will present renowned wildlife expert and photographer Susan Morse for a weekend of events that will delight all who are fascinated by North American native wildlife, especially the elusive cougar. On Friday, February 21, Morse will give a 75-minute slide show introduction to cougar biology and ecology at Kingswood High School Auditorium in Wolfeboro. Two wildlife tracking workshops on Saturday, February 22, will provide opportunities for learning from the expert in a small group setting out in our local woods.

Cougars are unquestionably returning to eastern North America, with cougar dispersals and occupancy now documented in a growing list of eastern states and provinces. Along with her magnificent photographs of cougars in the broad diversity of habitats where she has studied them, Morse will give the lowdown on the latest confirmations of cougars in the east, including the suitability of wild habitats from Maine to Georgia. Sam Evans-Brown of NHPR’s Outside/In will moderate the Q&A discussion that follows.

Morse’s workshops and lecture/slide shows are popular throughout New England. Jane Winn of Berkshire Environmental Action Team affirmed, “We bring Sue Morse back every year with different programs, but the cougar presentation attracts the most people. And she always adds something new! It’s both entertaining and educational and has her amazing photos of cougars of all ages.” Winn concluded,” You’re going to love her presentation!”

The wildlife tracking workshops are part of Morse’s award-winning ‘Keeping Track’ program that teaches concerned adults and children to observe, interpret, and record evidence of wildlife in their region. Participants will get to explore our local forests, identifying and tracking our native species while asking questions and learning from Morse’s lifetime of experience. MMRG volunteer Cindy Barstow, who has taken several ‘Keeping Track’ walks, offered this description, “She’s great at bringing alive all the nature stories happening right outside your home every night!”

‘The Cougar Returns to the East’ slide show on Friday, February 21 starts at 7 pm at Kingswood High School Performing Arts Center Auditorium, 396 South Main St, Wolfeboro. Tickets are $10 general admission or $5 for youth/students with ID, available at the door or in advance online at www.mmrg.info.

The Keeping Track workshop will be offered for a cost of $35 on Saturday, February 22; participants may choose a workshop from 9 am – 12 pm or from 1 – 4 pm. Advance registration is required by 5 pm on Wednesday, February 18; online signup is available at www.mmrg.info or call MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at 603-978-7125. Participation is limited to 20 people in each workshop so early registration is encouraged. Workshops will require moderate hiking and other outdoor physical activity in potentially inclement weather. The location within MMRG’s seven town service area will be chosen based on conditions just prior to the event.

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land and offers regular educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. More information and a calendar of upcoming events are available at www.mmrg.info. MMRG would like to thank Meredith Village Savings Bank and Eastern Propane for sponsoring this Sue Morse program of events. Space is still available for additional sponsors. Businesses interested in learning more about sponsorships may contact Jill Eldredge, Executive Director, at jill.mmrg@gmail.com.

Photograph © Susan C. Morse

 

Photo of Sue Morse

Photo by Sue of cougar leaping river

Photo by Sue of cougar leaping river

Snowflake Workshop and Walk with Professor Jennifer Jacobs

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 1/8/2020

Snowflake Workshop and Walk with Professor Jennifer Jacobs

On Saturday morning, February 8, Moose Mountains Regional Greenways and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (BHF/CSFCT) will offer a fun and educational outdoor workshop about snowflakes. Professor Jennifer Jacobs will lead the walk at Branch Hill Farm in Milton Mills to look at snow and share information about how the warming climate is affecting snowfall and the structure of snowflakes.

Jacobs is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of New Hampshire and Founder and Director of The Infrastructure and Climate Network. Her interest in the impact of climate change on snow has been stimulated in recent years by noticing snowflakes engorged to excess size after falling through alternating cold and warm atmospheric layers.  Scientists want a better understanding of how such differently-shaped flakes affect snow melting, which in turn may impact our water resources and landscape.

The workshop will take place 10 am – 12 pm on Saturday, February 8. It is free and open to all ages but pre-registration is required by noon on Friday, February 7.  For more information, directions and to register, contact MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at 603-978-7125 or email mmrgnh@gmail.com.

Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org. MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land and offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info

Snowflake on Kari's breezeway door

Snowflake on Kari’s breezeway door

Jennifer Jacobs

Big snowflakes on teneriffe

 

Snowshoe Tracking — first event of 2020 ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ Program

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways

Box 191, Union, NH  03887

603-473-2020

info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 12/23/2019


Snowshoe Tracking — first event of 2020 ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ Program

On Sunday morning, January 18, Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (BHF/CSFCT) will jointly offer a kids’ snowshoe walk and tracking activity. Snowshoe tracking is the first event of MMRG’s 2020 ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ program, intended to encourage the next generation of conservationists by offering families ways to have fun together outside while learning about the natural world.

At MMRG’s previous family snowshoe event, kids went sledding, tried out walking in snowshoes, listened for bird songs at the edge of the woods and crowded around the leaders as they pointed out signs of wildlife along a snowy trail. Anticipating the upcoming event, MMRG’s Educational Outreach Coordinator Kari Lygren says, “We’ll look for signs of wildlife and talk about the animal stories that we can read in the snow. We always have a great time because kids are so curious and love to explore!”

The Snowshoe Tracking event will take place from 10 am to 12 pm at Branch Hill Farm in Milton Mills, led by MMRG staff and volunteers.  Kids-sized snowshoes will be available as well as a few loaner snowshoes for adults. Children of all ages with their families are welcome but pre-registration is required. ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ events are a membership benefit for MMRG member families, but non-members are encouraged to try out their first family activity for free. For more information, directions, and to pre-register, call MMRG’s Educational Outreach Coordinator Kari Lygren at (603) 978-7125 or email mmrgnh@gmail.com.

The updated 2020 ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ series includes Birdhouse Building (March), Using a Map to Find Your Way (also in March), Following a Stream (May), the annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival (second Saturday in August), Night Time Walk (September), Photography Scavenger Hunt (October), and Natural Holiday Decorations (December). Interested families may join MMRG with an online donation of $25 per household per year at www.mmrg.info  or inquire about available scholarships by calling 603-473-2020.

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. For more information and a calendar of upcoming educational events, visit www.mmrg.info.  Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org. ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ events are made possible in part through the generous support of local business and community sponsors. If you are interested in sponsoring this program on behalf of your business, please contact Jill Eldredge, Executive Director, at jill.mmrg@gmail.com.

 

Identifying tracks by Kari Lygren

Identifying tracks by Kari Lygren

Looking at animal scat by Amy Gardner

Looking at animal scat by Amy Gardner

Looking at tracks by emily Lord

Looking at tracks by emily Lord

Families looking at signs in the snow by Emily Lord

Families looking at signs in the snow by Emily Lord

Branch Hill Farm Hires Jared Kane as New Executive Director

Branch Hill Farm

Contact: Jared Kane, Executive Director

307 Applebee Rd, Milton Mills, NH 03852

603-473-2535

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Submission Date:  December 4, 2019

 

Branch Hill Farm Hires Jared Kane as New Executive Director

 

Jared KaneBranch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust is pleased to announce that Jared Kane of Milton Mills, NH has been hired as the new Executive Director. He started the job on November 4th.

 

“We are thrilled to have Jared Kane as our new Executive Director,” said Cynthia Wyatt, who is soon to retire as Branch Hill Farm (BHF) Managing Trustee, but will stay on as Chair of the BHF Board of Directors. “For the last two years, Jared has generously donated his time and expertise to teach our apple tree grafting workshops, which have been extremely popular.  Last summer, when Jared presented his idea to plant a Heritage Orchard at Branch Hill Farm, I was very excited. The orchard would be a new direction for BHF while meshing superbly with our mission and educational outreach programs.  Jared has all the values and qualifications to be an excellent Executive Director for Branch Hill Farm.”

Kane is a New Hampshire native, with a BA in History from the University of New Hampshire. Although his work experience is primarily in the tech field, he dedicates much of his free time to preserving and identifying antique apple varieties on ancient trees in our region. Since moving to Milton Mills in 2013, Kane has been building up a cider specific apple orchard and currently grows over eighty varieties.  His natural hard cider has won international awards. 

 

 Kane also developed passions for conservation and outdoor recreation from a young age. He enjoys regular hunting and hiking trips in the Maine North Woods and has been fly fishing around the world. He lives in Milton Mills with his wife Ashley and baby daughter Kenna.

 

Kane is enthusiastic about his new position. “I’m beyond excited to have joined the team at Branch Hill Farm and to support the many great projects and efforts already in place. I look forward to learning from and collaborating with our partners to ensure the continued success of the Carl Siemon legacy in conservation, education, and community.” 

 

He added, “The Heritage Orchard at Branch Hill Farm will be my keystone project.   Not only will the orchard be a repository for long forgotten heritage apple varieties, local homestead apples in the Moose Mountains region, and new experimental wild stock, but we hope to lead by example in showing that holistic and sustainable practices can be utilized in an orchard setting.”

 

Kane concluded with an expression of appreciation for Cynthia Wyatt’s leadership at Branch Hill Farm. “For more than 25 years, Cynthia has been both an inspiration and constant in the community when it comes to conservation, stewardship, and sustainability.  Her dedication to creating greenways, conserving important natural resource areas, and the education of future generations in our region through both BHF and Moose Mountains Regional Greenways is unmatched.  It is my hope that over the coming years we continue to advance all of the great things Cynthia has accomplished.  It is a real privilege to partner with her as we move forward.”

 

Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices. For more information about the BHF mission, upcoming events and the Regional Heritage Orchard project, see www.branchillfarm.org.

 

Your Apple Tree Can Be a Part of Living History!

The Carl Siemon Charitable Family Trust and Branch Hill Farm are excited to announce the establishment of a Regional Heritage Orchard to be started in the Spring of 2020.  The orchard will be designed to be a repository for heritage apple varieties, local homestead apples in the Moose Mountains region, as well as locally-discovered experimental wild stock.

As biological diversity shrinks over time due to mass commercial farming, this orchard will be an oasis of apples of all colors, shapes, and sizes that once abounded throughout the New England landscape.  The orchard will also be a learning center for annual BHF classes on grafting, holistic orcharding, and pruning.  The new heritage orchard will adhere to a strict Holistic approach and utilize a combination of historical and experimental techniques to manage the orchard without the use of chemical sprays.

Do you have an old or interesting apple or pear tree on your property?  If so, it may qualify for grafting into the orchard!  An Heirloom apple tree can live up to 200 years in the right conditions, so you may have living history right in your yard.  To learn more or share your tree, please contact Jared Kane at 603-502-1875 or Jared_Kane@branchhillfarm.org.

 

Your Apple Tree Can Be a Part of Living History

An ancient apple tree in Milton Mills, that still gives an abundance of fruit each year.

This is just one example of a tree that will be grafted and included in the orchard.

New Hampshire’s Forest Health and Red Pine Scale

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH 03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 11/4/2019

‘New Hampshire’s Forest Health and Red Pine Scale’

On Tuesday evening, December 3, Moose Mountains Regional Greenways and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (BHF/CSFCT) will offer an educational workshop on forest health starting at 6:30 pm at the Greater Wakefield Resource Center in Union, NH. The presentation will concentrate on the current issue of red pine scale infestations and be of particular interest to all who own woodlots or acreage with stands of red pines and to citizens who love NH forests.

The presenter will be Kyle Lombard, forest health specialist with the NH Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Division of Forests and Lands. He has 25 years of experience working with forest pest issues across New Hampshire. Says Lombard, “Join us for information on the current forest health issues in New Hampshire with a focus on the red pine scale now present in the Milton Mills, NH area. Learn what to look for, what can be done for infestations and what is the future of red pine in New Hampshire.” Following about an hour presentation, there will be time for discussion and Lombard will answer questions. Pre-registration is not required.

The motivation for this workshop was the discovery of red pine scale in the red pine plantations owned by Branch Hill Farm. Red pine scale is an invasive insect; its infestations produce yellowing or discoloration of pine needles leading to death of weakened red pine trees. At the recommendation of consulting forester Charlie Moreno, Branch Hill Farm will undertake a salvage operation timber cut, which will be noticeable along parts of Applebee Road.

Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org. MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land and offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info.

 

 

Forester Charlie Moreno Led ‘A Walk Through Time in a Local Forest’

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 9/25/2019

 

Forester Charlie Moreno Led  ‘A Walk Through Time in a Local Forest’

Forester Charlie Moreno knows that a forest is more than the trees. In this case, the forest he was showcasing was Branch Hill Farm’s Salmon Falls Woodlands in Milton Mills and he wanted to share a long-range historical perspective of how the forest, wildlife and land have changed over millennia. This natural history tour, which attracted a multi-generational group of twenty-four, was offered by local conservation partner organizations Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust (BHF/CSFCT).

Moreno had placed markings along the Salmon Falls Woodlands trail to graphically illustrate the time frame of evolutionary processes at work on the land. The group was carried aboard the Branch Hill Farm hay wagon out to a peninsula between the Branch and Salmon Falls Rivers, where evidence of former ice age geology was apparent in the form of a large glacial erratic at the edge of the Branch River. Moreno encouraged participants to use their imaginations: “Think of glacier ice a mile thick above us. As it retreated, it dropped off this huge rock, a rock that was probably scraped off a ridgetop many miles away!” 

Moreno explained that as the glaciers retreated, they left behind an abundant supply of rocks, many of which are used in the field stone walls emblematic of the NH landscape. Earth’s climate gradually warmed and cooled and some animal populations thrived while others became extinct.  Eventually, humans arrived, established travel routes and seasonal encampments, used controlled fires to manage vegetation, and planted crops on river terraces. 

Another feature Moreno pointed out was a flat steplike feature in the landscape, about 20 feet

above the river’s edge. Such natural terraces along waterways were used by Native Americans for planting maize or squash or as campsites during their migratory travels between ocean and inland. Moreno commented,” It would be great to do an archaeological study in this area. I wouldn’t be surprised to find traces of Native American campsites or forest trails.”

In more modern times, arriving settlers found abundant resources, cleared the land and started families. 1950s aerial photos show that the Branch Hill Farm peninsula was clear cut at that time although it is now completely re-grown as a pine forest.  As the group walked back along the woods road, they stopped near the Salmon Falls River at the Applebee cemetery and cellar hole, which date to the 1800’s. Cynthia Wyatt, Managing Trustee of BHF/CSFCT, credited logger Larry Hersom with clearing the historic sites so they are now visible from the trail. 

Workshop participant Joann Coskie thought the hike setting was beautiful and reflected afterwards, “The first few inches of history only took us back a few centuries.  A hay wagon ride was necessary to journey back to the ice age!”

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro. Throughout the year, MMRG offers many educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info.  Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org.

Cemetery

Studying Appebee cemetery

Mile thick ice left boulders

 Charlie outlines plan of walk

 

Families Had Fun Under a New Moon with Moose Mountains Regional Greenways

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887
603-473-2020
info@mmrg.info

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 9/30/2019

Families Had Fun Under a New Moon with Moose Mountains Regional Greenways

What can you do outside in the dark? A lot, it turns out, as discovered by a dozen parents and children who joined Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) for a Family New Moon Walk on a warm September evening at Branch Hill Farm in Milton Mills. The outing was part of MMRG’s ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ program of six nature-related activities per year, designed for families to have fun outdoors together and to encourage a new generation of conservationists.

As twilight fell, families walked along a woods road through the Branch Hill Farm forest. One child picked up a pine cone, which became an opportunity to identify and learn about pine trees. When the forest transitioned from softwoods to deciduous, trip co-leader Tom Gardner pointed out the differences between leafy trees and trees with needles. Other senses came into sharper focus as twilight deepened. When co-leader Kari Lygren pointed out the soft moss under their feet, one little girl opted for the full sensory experience and lay down in it. Further along, where the path opened up to a field, everyone spontaneously grew quiet and listened.

The destination was a secluded meadow enclosed by woods, perfect for stargazing while lying on blankets or for frolicking around on the grass. Kids had a great time chasing and capturing crickets while adults enjoyed seeing the stars gradually appear in the darkening sky and learning to identify various constellations. Everyone was interested in trying the red flashlights (red cellophane taped over the light bulb end), which made it easier for eyes to adapt to the dark.

Earlier, Gardner had discussed how our eyesight is based on rods and cones and why red and white light has different effects. He gave examples of animals with different types of sight: nocturnal animals, such as owls, bats and raccoons, that come out and hunt only at night; crepuscular animals such as deer, active at dawn and dusk; and the many diurnal animals that humans are familiar with because we’re all out and about during daylight hours. By the time families made the walk back from the field to their cars, night had fallen and children noticed they could see better when the lights stayed off or only red lights were used.

Reflecting on the evening, Lygren reported, “We threw out most of the structured activities we had planned, because kids were having so much fun playing in the field and being outside in the dark. That’s the point after all, for us to enjoy and value what nature has to offer us!”

‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ stands for Members Only Outdoor and Social Events for Families, a membership benefit for MMRG member families. Upcoming MOOSE-ies events include a Bonfire Evening of stories, music and games on Friday, October 25 and a Saturday morning walk to gather greens and make natural decorations on December first. Families can join MMRG for $25 per household per year at www.mmrg.info/become-a-member/ or call (603) 473-2020 to inquire about available scholarships. MMRG would like to thank MRP Manufacturing, LLC in Pittsfield, NH for sponsoring the 2019 ‘MOOSE-ies for Families’ series, and the Dorr Foundation, which supported the program with a grant.

MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro.  MMRG also offers educational opportunities to inform all ages about the benefits of our region’s natural resources; see www.mmrg.info. Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchhillfarm.org.

 

Two year old toddler in grass by Amy Gardner

New moon walk group entering the field at twilight by Amy Gardner

Little girl in grass at twilight by Amy Gardner

Kids running in field at twilight by Amy Gardner