Posted May 2, 2022 at 7:30 pm by Kristen Arnim
With average temperatures more than ten degrees below normal, it has been an unseasonably cool April. And if you’ve been layering on wool sweaters, you’re not alone. Cady, the lamb, has been too.
It was shearing day when we visited Oak Knoll Farm and the barn was noisy and bustling with humans, sheep, a guardian llama, and a dedicated sheepdog. The newly born lambs are close to their mothers, securing their bond and learning each other’s calls. With long, wobbly legs and huge, fluffy ears, it’s hard to get much cuter than a newborn lamb. Except when you put a sweater on one of course.
Sarah Pope and her family took over the historic farm in 2017. Established in the 1970s by Joan Roberts, Oak Knoll and the flock of North Country Cheviot Sheep had dwindled when Sarah and her family were called to take it over. It was a steep learning curve becoming shepherds, but they have revived the flock and now have around 120 Cheviots, Finn Sheep, and Finn crosses.
The lambs don’t always have to wear a sweater, Sarah told me. But Cady, named after Cady Mountain here on San Juan Island, was born small and needed a little extra care to make sure she maintained a good body temperature her first few days of life. I asked Sarah how to find a knitting pattern for a lamb sweater. She told me she pretty much invented this one but you can find many patterns for dogs that will fit a lamb. Altering an old sweatshirt can also work and two babies born Thursday night donned this style.
Asked if there are other ways she feels like a sheep mother, Sarah laughed and said she is definitely a sheep doula, trying to be there for each birth of a new lamb and helping the mothers if needed. If there is a problem with getting milk, the lambs are bottle fed. “Bottle lambs” are more comfortable around humans, which is evidenced when we visit the pasture. A cute little guy followed us and nudged our hands to check if we had anything for him.
It’s clear that Oak Knoll and the Cheviot breed that Joan Roberts fostered have been given a new life with loving caregivers. You can find their fiber and yarn and more about their story at SanJuanWoolWorks.com.
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Categories: Around Here