Beavers build lodges from woven sticks, grasses, and moss plastered with mud. These architectural marvels can be up to 8 feet wide and 3 feet high inside. A lodge is designed with at least two underwater “doors” to provide instant swimming access, while a “skylight” hole at the top lets in fresh air. There are two main rooms inside – one near the entrance that is used for eating and drying off and another used for sleeping and raising the young. On average, between four and eight beavers live in a lodge.
Information posted at Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary’s Crocker Barn states:
“Built in 1925 by the Crocker family, this barn formerly housed a herd of prize-winning Milking Shorthorn cattle. It was designed by farm manager Paul Beardsley and was state-of-the-art for its time, featuring a ground floor milking parlor, a trussed, gambrel roof that provided vast interior space to pile loose hay (hay balers were not yet invented), and an overhead tramway system to easily move manure to a separate barn for storage. No longer present, but visible in the historic photo notice the twin silos, the four rooftop ventilators, the additional hay wagon ramp, and the small milk house in the foreground.
Currently, the Cow Barn provides storage for the materials, tools and equipment needed for sanctuary habitat management, and to maintain our trail system, buildings and grounds. Planning is underway to fundraise for renovations that would allow us to welcome visitors and program participants into this wonderful and historic space.”
Pine Grosbeaks usually inhabit Canada or the far West of the United States. However, this was an “irruption year”, when large numbers of the birds flew south in search of more available food. This bird took no notice of me as I walked up close to her to take pictures. Instead, she focused on an easy meal of crabapples ripe for the taking.
Eastern Cottontail Rabbits do not hibernate in the Winter; they are active all year. These rabbits were seen daily near the bird feeders, in all types of weather, often sharing fallen seeds with the sparrows.
This barn dating back to the 1800s is a Holden, MA landmark. The structure, with almost eight surrounding acres and a pond, was donated to the town in 2000. Now maintained by the non-profit organization, The Friends of the Red Barn, it is a center that helps people understand New England’s agricultural past while encouraging the appreciation of nature.
Six gardens are maintained on the plot by member/volunteers, and markers around the site educate visitors about the farm’s history. Farm Days offer a wide variety of events to experience farm life close up.
The Great White Oak at the Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary stands in a clearing on a popular forest hiking trail. It is considered a “near champion” at over fifteen feet in girth and over 250 years old. The nearby bench lends a quiet place to view it more closely.