There's always something new to discover at FortWhyte Alive.
Scientific Name: Ondatra zibethicus
A muskrat is a small, beaver-like rodent. Its total body length including tail is approximately 60 cm (2 ft) and can weigh between 0.5 and 1.8 kg(2-4 lbs). Muskrats have dark brown, dense, glossy fur with white areas under the chin and belly, and a rat-like tail. Their eyes and ears are small, and have hind feet that are partially webbed, perfect for life in the water.
Muskrats’ favorite foods are cattails but they eat many other plants, such as sedges, rushes, water lilies, and pond weeds. They can sometimes have be seen dragging their food out to feeding platforms composed of cut vegetation, floating in water. At FortWhyte Alive they help keep cattails from overrunning our wetland banks.
Muskrats are found all across North America near wetlands. They dislike currents and avoid rocky areas. Their homes are called “push-ups” and are made of cattails, bulrushes, and mud that can be up to 2.7 metres in diameter and 1.7 metres high.In winter, muskrats don’t hibernate like numerous other rodents, they stay awake and find food under the ice.
Females produce 1-2 litters per year of 4-7 young, with a gestation of 3-4 weeks. The young are born blind and with no fur, which starts to grow about 1 week after they’re born. At 2 weeks, their eyes open and they begin to learn how to swim and dive. They are weaned at 4 weeks and are driven away by the mother to find homes of their own.
FortWhyte Alive is excited to announce a new partnership with local award-winning company Diversity Food Services, to operate all on-site restaurant and catering services, beginning November 1, 2014.
Diversity’s Chef du Cuisine, Kelly Cattani, winner of the 2013 Manitoba Gold Plates competition, will be the primary on-site manager of the Buffalo Stone Café and all catering. In keeping with the missions of both organizations, menus will feature local, organic and sustainable foods cooked from scratch, including those grown at FortWhyte’s own on-site farm. Diversity recently received certification from LEAF (Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Food Service), demonstrating their commitment to sustainable practices in all aspects of their operation.
“FortWhyte is thrilled to be partnering with an organization such as Diversity whose commitment to sustainability fits so closely with our own” said Ian Barnett, FortWhyte Alive’s Director of Operations. “We look forward to sharing this new direction with loyal and new patrons of the Buffalo Stone Café.”
“This new partnership with FortWhyte represents a tremendous opportunity for Diversity to showcase our sustainable cuisine to a whole new audience” said Ian Vickers, Chief Operating Officer of Diversity.
In preparation for this new direction, the Buffalo Stone Café will be closed for daytime service from October 14-October 31, reopening on Saturday November 1.
One of Canada’s foremost environmental education centre’s, FortWhyte Alive is dedicated to providing programming, natural settings and facilities for environmental education, outdoor recreation and social enterprise. In so doing, FortWhyte promotes awareness and understanding of the natural world and actions leading to sustainable living. The Buffalo Stone Café will operate Monday – Friday 9 am-4:30 pm and Saturday/Sunday 10 am-4:30pm.
Established in 2009, Diversity Food Services is a joint venture between the University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation and SEED Winnipeg. The social enterprise delivers nutritional, local food while providing meaningful employment for new Canadians, Indigenous peoples, downtown community residents and University students. Find out more at: www.uwinnipeg.ca/index/food-services-overview
Volunteers Joy Goertzen and Dayna Graham have been part of the FortWhyte Volunteer Program for over six years. Why would they have volunteer their spare time while working at full-time positions? Joy was drawn to volunteering through her love of nature and being outdoors helping and encouraging a variety of people. Dayna wanted to protect a few hours of the day with “more green and less screen” and be surrounded by people who also love to visit FortWhyte and who inspire her to share it forward. Before volunteering Dayna and Joy were acquainted, and they became close friends while working together at various FortWhyte events. Now, they enjoy volunteering side-by-side at the weekly evening Open Paddling in the summer and at Sunset Goose Flights in the Fall. They use the on-line sign-up program to choose a day and time to volunteer at the same event in order to spend some catch-up time together. With these activities booked in their calendars, they know that they are guaranteed to get some outdoor time in the natural FortWhyte environment. In the fall, Joy and Dayna can often be seen biking to FortWhyte to get some exercise before starting their evening Goose Flights shifts. They work with the ten other volunteers who are needed each night to run the concession stand, take admissions at the front gate or act as information rovers. Joy’s work experience in helping the public and Dayna’s position as student support at Red River College provide them the experience and skills to be excellent customer service ambassadors to our FortWhyte visitors. The next time you are at a FortWhyte Goose Flight event, watch for Dayna dressed in her grandma’s knitted goose curling sweater and Joy offering a bright, welcoming smile. Dayna and Joy will be more than welcome to answer your questions about the geese and their lakelanding patterns and give you directions to a cup of steaming hot chocolate on a crisp autumn evening.
Nature, outdoor recreation, and sustainable living are yours to discover at FortWhyte Alive!