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Monthly Archives: February 2018

Notes from Donker Farm: Eggcellent Eggs

At the end of last month, I stepped into the chicken coop to tidy up and came upon a most welcome sight—the first egg of 2018.

Chickens often take a break from laying in the winter months. The shorter days and cooler temperatures trigger the birds to turn their attention from reproducing (winter is a rotten time to raise chicks) and put their energy and resources into molting—the process of losing old feathers and regrowing new ones. This can take a few months—often just long enough for the days to start getting a bit longer again. I was told that the chickens would start laying again sometime in February. Sure enough, a few days after the first one, we found two eggs in the coop, then three. The last time I was there, I collected four.

And so begins the fun of trying to figure out just who is laying and who is still on “winter break”. We keep a variety of chicken breeds at Donker Farm: Black Australorps, Black-laced Wyandottes, Barred Rocks, a Welsummer and few others, each with their own distinct looks, personality and eggs. Narrowing it down to a small group of suspects is easy, but pinpointing the individual is a bit more of a challenge.

I took the picture above during our first summer on farm, and we still collect a similar rainbow of colors during the peak of laying season. It might not feel like spring yet, but the chickens insist it’s coming and so are the eggs!

Interested in helping out at Donker Farm or general volunteering? See our Volunteering section!

In the News: Lake Quinsigamond Commission

This week State Rep. Hannah Kane of Worcester’s 11th District and Michael Moore of the Massachusetts State Senate saw their bill, updating the charged responsibilities and rights of the Lake Quinsigamond Commission. This bill will help the commission to carry out their mission to preserve and improve our beloved Lake Quinsigamond.

To view Lake Quinsigamond from GWLT properties, check out the East Side Trail!

Photo by Jeremy Shulkin, WoMagNorthern Terminus Trail Head

Volunteer News

Did you ever wonder how those beautiful GWLT signs and timber frames were made?

Did you ever wonder if there was a place in Worcester where old school hand tools are in use?

Did you ever wonder if you could feel the joy that comes from working with wood while   listening to a cascading waterfall?

Wonder no more — there is a place where all that happens — right here in Worcester!

Several years ago, when I first became involved with the Greater Worcester Land Trust, I also wondered where those big beautiful property signs came from.  And then, I participated in my first Sign and Timber Work morning.  What a thrill!

There I was, watching GWLT volunteers shape a log into a square post by using hand tools I had only seen in books and movies (yep – Little House on the Prairie type stuff!)

A volunteer was standing on a log using an adze.

Another was using a chisel and mallet to shape tenons on a cross bar.

Someone else was painting lettering on a beautifully routed sign.

There was so much activity! And because of the silence of the tools, there was conversation and laughter.

The morning was an absolutely amazing experience.

After some schooling on the use of an adze, I had the opportunity to try my hand at log hewing.  And, it was fantastic!  I was certainly no expert, but there was no pressure to excel immediately.  In time, the motions of my hands and the tool became a little smoother.  I was hooked!

Then I discovered that sort of thing happens on a regular basis.

And there is more!

There are times when we must collect black locust logs from the forest at Cascades West.  That sort of morning gives you an opportunity to use the Junior Log Arch to drag the log through the forest, or to use a two-man crosscut saw to cut the log into 8-foot sections, or to debark the logs using a bark spud.  At some point, you will be carrying the log using a two-man log timber carrier after you used a peavey to move the log into place.

What a blast!

All while working side by side with volunteers that are also enjoying the experience.

These are certainly things you do not expect to do in Worcester, but you can, thanks to volunteer opportunities with GWLT!

GWLT Sign and Timber Work mornings happen every other Thursday morning from 9 am to noon at Cascading Waters (135 Olean Street).  Be sure to check the event listing on our Facebook Page or our online calendar to confirm the date and location.  (The location will change if we are installing a completed sign — which is just another awesome experience with GWLT!)

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