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May Festival

Dane, Ann and Harbour standing with the Wendemuth Meadow display at the North Brookfield May Festival

Dane, Ann and Harbour standing with the Wendemuth Meadow display at the North Brookfield May Festival

Yesterday, the center of North Brookfield was a happening place! Tents on the church lawn, people wandering through the library and everyone supporting local businesses. We were there too! Talking about land trust activities, especially things of interest to folks in North Brookfield…. Wendemuth Meadow and the fundraising challenge from a local supporter. Right now, every dollar donated to permanently protect Wendemuth Meadow will be matched, up to $4,000.

Fundraising thermometer for Wendemuth Meadow that will go up thanks to generous supporters.

Fundraising thermometer for Wendemuth Meadow that will go up thanks to generous supporters.

The Friends of Wendemuth group is nearing the end of their fundraising push. They secured $40,000 already. Just another $10,000 to reach their goal of $50,000. Yesterday people dropped 5s, 10s and 20s into the jar, raising over $200 that will be doubled. You can help too by donating now! Use the button on the side bar or go to the Wendemuth page. Thank you!

Railings up!

IMG_4221webThanks to Mark, Bud, Linda, Rod, Trevor, John, Rick, Kianna and Cynthia for their work on Saturday.  The first layer of railings is up! Each piece is custom cut, matching the distance between each post.

There is at least one more work day needed to finish up the railing system. The coated wire mesh will arrive in a few weeks and then we can install the mesh and face boards! We’re thinking Memorial Day weekend is the likely time for a next work day. Please join us if you can!

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Thanks to everyone that helped install bluebird boxes at Wendemuth!

Thanks to everyone that helped install bluebird boxes at Wendemuth, Shelby, Rick, Vicky, John, Jane, Mick, Christine, Harbour, Ann, Donald, Brett, Doris, Harrison. Missing from the photo is Dick and Cynthia.

In a matter of an hour 21 bluebird boxes were installed at Wendemuth Meadow yesterday! Many thanks to Harrison for providing all the boxes, hardware and know how to get it done!!

Bluebirds are a declining species in Massachusetts primarily because of loss of habitat, meaning that their natural tree hollows and open fields with lots of insects to eat are in limited supply. Well, Wendemuth Meadow is a perfect place for bluebirds, if there was some place for them to nest. Now there is, thanks to Harrison and the volunteers that installed them.

 

Shelby is screwing in the fasteners.

Shelby is screwing in the fasteners to keep the box snugly on the pole.

Rick is pounding in the pole.

Rick is pounding in the pole for a box along the wetland edge behind the barn.

Most of the crew taking a picture break after lunch.

Most of the crew taking a picture break after lunch.

A huge thanks to the terrific crew of volunteers yesterday! All 52 railing posts and50 pieces of curbing were installed at the pony truss bridge spanning the Ware River between New Braintree and Hardwick! That’s the first and second step to getting the railing completed.

Everyone hopped right on projects, hauling and rearranging the posts, marking and drilling holes, hammering in the bolts, measuring, cutting and lugging the curbing pieces, and of course, ratcheting on the nuts and washers. Adding it all up, we installed 4 bolts per railing post and 4 per curbing piece. That makes 408 drill holes, bolts, washers and nuts to put into place. Plus a lot of sore arms today! There were only a few miscues with a post facing the wrong way or a curbing piece that needed to be reworked. Those were solved and the installation completed.

Ric and Ken working on a curbing piece.

Ric and Ken working on a curbing piece.

The next steps are the railings themselves. People are eager to get back to work and finish the project up, so we are planning to reconvene next Sunday morning, April 19th starting at 9am. Please join us if you’d like to be part of the effort!

Trevor tightening up on the washer and nut for the railing post.

Trevor tightening up on the washer and nut for the railing post.

 

 

Rick is measuring the space for curbing pieces.

Rick is measuring the space for curbing pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a hard days work from lots of volunteers the railing posts and curbing pieces are installed at the pony truss bridge.

After a hard days work from lots of volunteers the railing posts and curbing pieces are installed at the pony truss bridge.

 

Do-si-do and promenade

First thing was to learn some of the basic dancing steps. Here is the promenade with your partner.

First thing was to learn some of the basic dancing steps. Here is the promenade with your partner.

About fifty people (it was hard to tell as people came and went at different times) congregated at the West Brookfield Town Hall to go barn dancing Saturday night. Thanks to Mark LeDoux for teaching the many steps and calling the dances. We worked through circle dances, square dances and contra dances, with lots of smiles and laughter as we made mis-steps or got it right! It was a great evening to meet new people and have fun on the dance floor.

Oh, and the food was excellent! Thanks to the Town of West Brookfield for the use of the great hall for the dance and for all who attended!

Learning how to make a left-hand star. Left-hand and right-hand stars were used consistently in dances all night.

Learning how to make a left-hand star. Left-hand and right-hand stars were used consistently in dances all night.

 

Thanks to the musicians that provided fabulous music to dance with!

Thanks to the musicians that provided fabulous music to dance with!

 

Tracking along…

Mink and Grey squirrel tracks along the river.

Mink and Grey squirrel tracks along the river.

Saturday afternoon was a beautiful sunny time along the rail trail and Ware River. Overnight it was cold so there weren’t any new tracks to find. But the group still identified tracks of skunk, fox, and mink. After debating one set of tracks that crossed over the river, we went round the bend and caught sight of a mink patrolling the far bank! Proof positive of what we were looking at!!

Snow Shoers searching for tracks on Rail Trailweb

Snow Shoers searching for tracks on the rail trail

 

Linda describes the meaning of negative space in a track.

Linda describes the meaning of negative space in a track.

Rail Trail Planning

Rail Trail Info NightEQLT will be hosting a Friends of the Mass Central Rail Trail Information Night occurring on Thursday, March 12, 7-8PM at the East Quabbin Land Trust Office at 120 Ridge Rd Hardwick MA.   This information night is regarding the Hardwick- New Braintree portion of the trail. We are looking for interest from the community to form this group which will meet periodically to discuss trail matters including maintenance days, educational programs, and family events. All ages are welcome. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming part of something that benefits everyone who uses this beautiful stretch of trail, please join us.

If you cannot make it and would still like to be notified about future updates of the Rail Trail Friends group, please contact Shelby Braese at servicelearning@eqlt.org.

Also, save the date! April 12th is our next rail trail workday to begin installing the railing at the pony truss. We’d love to have your help!!

Looking for Bald Eagles

100_5362webAbout twenty people congregated at Quabbin Gate 35 on Saturday morning. The snow flurries held off for the morning, so there was a clear view over the Quabbin Reservoir. Chris Buelow lead the group on our annual hike to look for bald eagles getting ready to nest for the season. Unfortunately the eagles were somewhere else that morning. But that just means that we’ll need to head back out in a couple weeks and check again! The group did see two coyotes out on the reservoir, and fox tracks on the way in to the water along with a ravens nest.

Dianne Davis describing eagle behavior when two bald eagles fight over the same piece of food.

Dianne Davis describing eagle behavior when two bald eagles fight over the same piece of food.

Bald eagles do nest at the Quabbin Reservoir; there are seven known pairs. Dianne Davis and her husband Bill Davis were instrumental in raising eagle chicks in the early years of their reintroduction to Massachusetts. Dianne recently published her memoir Eagle One: Raising Bald Eagles that chronicles the summer of 1985 when she lived alone at the Quabbin Reservoir raising eagle chicks.

Dianne shows the audience how the primary feathers overlap and aid in eagle flight.

Dianne shows the audience how the primary feathers overlap and aid in eagle flight.

 

 

Dianne is a wildlife veterinary technician at the Ecotarium and also worked at Tufts Wildlife Clinic. Her memoir includes lessons learned throughout her career caring for eagles, polar bears, deer, squirrels, loons, owls and a whole host of other wildlife species that have needed rehabilitative care. Dianne’s goal is to return the animals to the wild if possible, but she is also experienced with live animal presentations to educate young and old about the  many animals that share the planet with us.

Winter Species Sampled

Part of the group after cataloging species for the morning.

Posing after cataloging species for the morning. Thanks to Shelby, Dick, Caren, Ann, Cynthia and Becky. Marshall and Tom are not shown.

The morning was cold and there weren’t many birds moving, but that didn’t stop the small, but hearty crew from walking around the 43 acre Pynchon’s Grist Mill Preserve today. All told we registered 65 species of vascular plants, 7 birds, 5 mammals, 5 tree lichen, and several insects. A good total for a cold day in the middle of winter. Other Bioblitz events are scheduled for May 23rd and July 18th to capture other species, like spring wildflowers and breeding birds, that use the land during warmer times of the year. More details about those events will be available closer to their dates.

Of course included in the plants are a whole host of invasive species – the kind we really don’t want on the property, and unfortunately several were more widely spread than expected. For instance, burning bush or winged euonymus has made its way up the hill sides, spread by birds and other animals enjoying the seeds. Invasive plant control will be an ongoing stewardship practice for the foreseeable future!

IMG_3997webBack in December Shelby and several Clark University students visited Pynchon’s and took water samples. The goal being to document the many small phytoplankton, zooplankton and insect nymphs in Sucker Brook and the mill pond. Today we looked at the samples under microscopes after lunch in the West Brookfield Town Hall. Mostly we’ll need an expert to identify what was found, but we did see nymphs of dragonflies, mayflies and stoneflies. Finding those means that the water quality is good!

 

Susan Gainley describes what she found about the Frohloff Farm after researching the deeds, probate and town records about the land and people that lived on the land.

Susan Gainley describes what she found about the Frohloff Farm after researching the deeds, probate and town records about the land and people that lived on the land.

Nearly fifty people packed into EQLT’s meeting space yesterday afternoon to learn about the history of the Frohloff Farm. Over the past year, Susan Gainley spent significant time working through the registry of deeds searching the ownership transfers since the original colonists claimed the land in the 1700s. She also spent time searching for wills, reviewing the History of Ware and Ware census information among other sources.  All of these pieces of information put together a picture of how the land moved from one family to another and how many people lived in the house and what products they made.

Here’s some interesting pieces of her research:

1. For a period exceeding two hundred and seventy-five years, the property known as the Frohloff farm changed hands more than fifteen times.

2. The only family to own the farm through multiple generations was the Frohloff family. It was lived in by three generations for nearly one hundred years, from 1913 until 2007, before being sold to the EQLT.

3. Three times the farm was sold from one brother to another.

4. The longest any one family owned the farm before the Frohloff family was twenty-three years.

5. Eight men who once owned the farm died while in possession of it.

6. Two owners came into possession of the farm through marrying the widow of the previous owner.

7. According to census records the greatest number of people living in the house at one time was thirteen in 1840.

8. At least twice there occurred a shared ownership of the property, including the house.

9. Except for the last two generations of Frohloffs, all who owned the farm were farmers by occupation.

Ed Hood with an image of the Frohloff Farm house, circa 1800.

Ed Hood with an image of the Frohloff Farm house, circa 1800.

With pictures during the recent renovation coupled with his architectural knowledge of early building construction, Ed Hood placed the farmhouse construction in the Federalist period between 1780 and 1830. Ed shared details from Benjamin Asher’s construction guide that provided builders with design patterns and details for fine homes of the era. The design guide included house layout choices and details for mantels, window and doors, and wainscoting among other architectural details. We know the current ell is an addition because in the attic the original main house roofing is still visible where the ell roof matches the house. However, there must have been a single story ell originally because sections of hand hewn lathing and other sections of machine made lathing uncovered in the current kitchen area. Plus the second door from the kitchen to the formal parlor has different trim that is not as fancy as the original entry. Ed shared these details, plus plenty more during the talk!

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