Category Archives: Coverdale Farm Preserve

New Year, New Trees!

by Annalie Mallon, Education Intern

Happy New Year nature lovers! We hope you enjoyed the holidays (although if you spent them any way like we did, you did quite a lot of eating and lazy laying around). So that means it’s time to get up and get back outside into what FINALLY seems like winter weather! (Take a look at the picture of wildflower creek below, it’s all iced over!) 12506621_10154218455222923_711342281_n

So I have some pretty amazing news to share with all of you – this past November, the Delaware Nature Society was granted the opportunity to plant a whopping 1,000 new trees and 1,000 new plants on some of our properties! If you are thinking to yourself “holy moly that sounds like a LOT of plants,” you are indeed correct. And to add to this plant craziness, the team of planters was given only a few short weeks to get them all into the ground. Sound like a challenge? They succeeded!

Take a walk down some of our trails here at Ashland Nature Center and see if you can spot any of these new plants. What might look like a bunch of little sticks popping out of the ground are actually baby trees, or saplings, of many different species!



Here I am digging a hole to plant the sapling in the black container next to my foot!

Getting all of those saplings and plants into the ground took a lot of hard work and effort. First, large sections of dead vines and weeds had to be cut and mowed so that there was plenty of open land for planting. After mowing, the different species of trees and plants had to be distributed to these open areas according to their growing needs (for example, a type of tree that grows well in the shade was placed in a shadier spot). Then each and every hole had to be dug so that all 2,000 saplings and plants could be properly planted and snugly buried. Finally, hundreds of tree cages were cut, shaped, and carefully placed around the newly planted saplings to make sure they will not be eaten by deer and other animals this winter. All of this was done at Ashland Nature Center, Coverdale Farm Preserve, and Flint Woods Preserve within the span of only one month! Phew!


Alec and Joe cutting and shaping a few of the hundreds of tree cages!

I asked the planting team about their month-long planting adventure, and this is what they had to say about some of the trees that were planted –

“I like the persimmon tree because people doing programs and camps, or just visiting our trails for a walk will be able to enjoy the delicious fruit that it produces. My favorite tree that I planted is the white oak because they are beautiful and the deer love them!” – Joe Cirillo

“We planted some beach plums which will produce some really yummy fruit, and I like the paw paw tree because it has a great name” – Dave Pro

I personally enjoyed planting the Tulip Poplar saplings because the roots were a bright neon green color and they smelled super funky. The Tulip trees also produce beautiful flowers in the spring (pictured below) and they can grow to be up to 150 feet tall!! (I made sure that all of the saplings I planted were done with extra love and care, so they will most definitely grow to be that tall).

tulip tree flower

Tulip Tree Flower taken by Dave Pro

So there you have it! Planting thousands of trees is a lot of hard work (I might still have blisters on my hands from my attempts at making tree cages), but it will definitely pay off years from now when they all grow to become new homes for the many animals that live around here.


Can you see all of the new tree cages lining walnut lane?

Bring your family over to the Ashland Nature Center and join us this Sunday, January 10th, from noon to 3pm for our New Year’s Plant count! Discover how many species of plants can be found here in the middle of winter with botanist Janet Ebert, and see how many of these new trees you can find! Please bring a bag lunch and dress for the weather.

Register at or by calling 302-239-2334.


Gone Fishin’

The Young Naturalists have been busy exploring nature this spring! Once again, our Young Naturalists leader and favorite guest author, Kristen, wrote about what they’ve been up to.  Check it out!

The Young Naturalists Club went fishing at Coverdale Farm Preserve on Sunday, May 19th.  Despite the overcast clouds threatening rain, we grabbed our fishing poles and worms determined to catch some big Blue Gill! 

The Delaware Nature Society’s volunteer “Dream Team” completed this new dock at the pond this spring. Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

The fish were unaware of the gloomy skies and were happily biting the earth worms from our hooks!

Sara baits her hook in hopes to catch a fish! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

Joey really enjoyed his time fishing! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

Kari, Sara, and Connor all caught a Blue Gill! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.


As we were catching fish at the pond, we were serenaded by amphibians, specifically American Bullfrogs and Green Frogs. We saw a lot of Bull Frog tadpoles in the water and were lucky enough to catch two Green Frogs! Connor also caught a Red-spotted Newt in his net. Eastern Towhees were calling in the trees and Red-winged Blackbirds cackled near the waters edge.  A mother Canada Goose was warming her nest while the father kept a close eye on us.

This Green Frog seemed to enjoyed hanging out on the dock with the Young Naturalists! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

As the day ended, we hiked up the steep hill and spent some time looking at the piglets, calves and lambs at the farm! It was a great way to end this season of the Young Naturalists Club and we are looking forward to the fall session!

Thanks for sharing Kristen, we look forward to hearing about your fall adventures! If you’re interested in joining the Young Naturalists Club on their adventures, sign up now! Members can register online at or you may call us at (302) 239 – 2334.

Lambs, Chicks, Piglets, and Calves…Oh My!

How many of you have been to a farm before?  It’s spring time at Coverdale Farm Preserve, which means there are many families here! Do you know what animals might be found on a farm? Anna and I spent some time with the baby farm animals a few weeks ago.  Besides being totally overwhelmed with cuteness, we learned a lot about these animals that we didn’t know before.  Check out some of these awesome facts and come on a farm tour with us!

Our first stop was the sheep pasture. We visited with the mother sheep, called an ewe, and her two lambs. Ewes will generally have one lamb at a time but sometimes, as with these lambs, they have twins (and sometimes even triplets!)

The twin lambs, a boy and a girl with their mother.

These lambs are a combination of two different breeds (kind of like how some dogs can be two different breeds mixed together).  They are a mixture of Dorset sheep, which are sheep with white faces, and Suffolk sheep, which are sheep with blackish faces.  The mixture gives these lambs freckly faces, which make them pretty unique!

Before the lambs are allowed to be out in the pasture, the farmer will keep the lambs in with their mother so that the mother can bond with the lambs.  This way, the mother will be able to recognize her lambs and keep them safe even when they are all out with the rest of the flock. So how do these mothers bond with their babies? One way the mother can identify her lambs is by smelling the lamb’s scat. After the babies drink the mother’s milk, the smell of her milk will be in the lamb’s scat. The mother recognizes this very distinct smell and knows that the lamb is hers. (Gross, but cool, right?) After the lambs are about a month old, they are finally old enough to go out to the pasture to socialize with the other sheep in the flock. These lambs went out to pasture about a week after Anna and I visited.

These little lambs were very wiggly, I had a hard time getting a good picture of them!


Next, Anna and I went to look at the chickens. Baby chicks grow very quickly and grow bigger every week. You can really tell the difference between a recently hatched chick and one who is a few weeks old.

Check out the changes (especially in the feathers) of these chicks Anna is holding! Ages range from 1 week, 2 weeks, and 3 weeks from left to right.

After 1 week they look like classic fluffy chicks. After 2 weeks they grow some of their mature feathers on their wings  and on the tops of their heads. After 3 weeks they are much longer and leaner and have many more mature feathers throughout their bodies – they look like mini adult chickens!

At Coverdale, we have 5 different kinds of chickens, including blue hens! I couldn’t resist taking a picture with one of the adorable week old blue hens and give a shout out to my alma mater University of Delaware!

This little guy is ready to be a Fightin’ Blue Hen like me!


After the chickens, we headed to check out the pigs. The mother pig is called a sow and the baby pigs are called piglets. Each sow will have a litter of piglets anywhere from 8-15 of them. (That’s a lot of piglets!) Each piglet chooses a teat, what the mother’s milk comes from, and that will be the only one they use.  Stronger piglets will take the milk closest to the heart where more milk is pumped out, while the smaller piglets will take the ones farther from the heart. Piglets drink a lot of milk and grow one pound a day! Do you grow that fast?

These English Black piglets were pretty sleepy when Anna and I were hanging out with them. You can see one piglet taking a drink of milk before he gets ready to take a nap with his siblings!


Anna and I headed to our last stop on the farm to check out the cows – our favorites! First we went to visit Valentino, the White-faced Hereford Beef Calf that was born in February. (Click here for the blog Michele Wales, Farm Program Coordinator, wrote about Valentino’s birth a couple months back on the DNS adult blog – The Nature of Delaware!)

Check out Valentino’s picturesque pasture.  There sure is a lot of grass to eat!

Valentino spends his time in the pasture with his mother and his “Auntie” dairy cow eating grass in the field and hay from the outdoor barn  When he goes into the barn with them, he will eat grain in the stone barn where he sleeps, while the farmers do their chores.

Valentino is never too far behind his mother!

After spending some time with Valentino, we then spent some time with the two dairy calves. These calves come from Woodside Farm…you know, that place with the great ice cream.   The farmers there allow us to use them for education  programs at Coverdale.

Say hello to this dairy calf!

Most dairy cows are completely brown, but this little guy has got quite a bit of white on him!

Dairy cows only drink milk for the first 3 weeks of their life and then begin to eat organic grain or hay that we produce on the farm.  Coverdale’s adult dairy cow, a Jersey cow, produces about six gallons of milk per day!  These baby Jersey calves are bottle fed twice and day and are happy to drink her milk.  This way, the adult cow is able to be milked so that her milk will not go to waste since we cannot drink it, and the Woodside calves get a sweet treat for breakfast and dinner every day.

Of course, Anna and I couldn’t help but pet these baby cows.  Just look at those faces!


The Delaware Nature Society has designated 2013 as the “Year of Coverdale Farm Preserve.” This means that we are focusing on making fun programs for you to discover all the cool happenings at the farm.  From baby animals, like these, to gardening, to cooking classes, there are a ton of programs and events available for all interests.

Join us on Wednesdays (now through September 25th) for Farm Fun Days! Take a self-guided visit to see Coverdale’s animals, dig in the vegetable garden, and test your skills at a farm scavenger hunt. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy under the grand old oak trees! Farm Fun Days are free for Delaware Nature Society members and cost $5 per adult/$3 per children (ages 2+) for non-members. No pre-registration is required.

We look forward to celebrating this “farmtastic” year with you!

Summer Lovin’

The groundhog may be hibernating, but we sure are not! We are ready for the  Delaware Nature Society’s Summer Camps to begin!

Groundhog is ready for Summer Camp

Even the groundhog is excited about Summer Camp!


If you like hiking, catching frogs or butterflies, canoeing and kayaking, crafts, birding…

It's a bird...

It’s a bird…it’s a raptor…it’s Summer Camp 2013!

…cooking,  fishing, geology, building forts, archery, or just the general thrill of being outside in nature, don’t wait to sign up!


Tell your parents to mark their calendars, because Summer Camp registration starts this Friday!

February 1-14: DNS members with Household Plus level or higher

February 15-28: All other current DNS members with a Household membership.

March 1: Non-Member registration begins


Be sure to check out our website to see our awesome list of Summer Camp programs!


We’re ready to get our Summer Camp on, are you!?