From March to May, lambing season warms the coldest of our spring days
Late Spring Lambs, Aries to Taurus
by Julia Rappaport
For some of the island’s sheep farmers, lambing season—the time of year when momma ewes have their babies—happens in the late spring. From late March to early May, in farmers’ fields and barns across the Island, wooly, wobbly-legged baby lambs take their first steps. When you drive by, from the road you’ll see them staying close to their mothers. Slow down. Better yet, ask a sheep farmer if it’s okay to have a closer look. Baby lambs are really cute, and the less-shy ones even like to pose for the camera.
According to Clarissa Allen of the Allen Sheep Farm in Chilmark, after she decided to forgo raising lamb for the Easter market, she went to lambing in the more reliable, warmer weather of late spring. “Once the weather is milder, all the sheep can graze outdoors in the fields,” she explains. “It’s nutritious for the mothers and less labor intensive for us.”
Susan Gibbs, shepherdess of MV Fiber Farm, plans on the late-spring lambing season as well. She schedules her ewes’ pregnancies and births to happen in May because, “If you do it too early, it’s too cold and there’s a risk of babies’ freezing to death.”
Still, for a lamb, it could be a cold entry into the world if the weather doesn’t cooperate. The best bit of advice Clarissa has for keeping lambs warm was passed down to her from Allen Whiting’s father, Everett Whiting. “He told me to give them a tiny bit of whiskey if the lambs are weak,” she said. “It just kind of warms them up.”