When St. Patrick’s Day is near, you know it’s lambing time! We usually start welcoming the first babies of Spring in mid-March, and soon the pasture at the Settler’s Cabin is filled with bouncing, playing lambs. Our Shetland sheep usually have twins, and they’re wonderful mamas. Shetlands are unusual because they come in all different colors, but most of their lambs are born black. After a couple of months they start to change color and may end up cream, red-brown, silver—or even black.
Sometimes a lamb will get separated from its mama and we have to come to the rescue. This little fella, about two days old, had rolled under the fence and couldn’t figure how to get back. We helped make a happy reunion.
Late March is the time for early planting—potatoes, greens, and onions. But first we plow the ground that’s been resting all winter, and chuck out our biggest “crop”—mountain rocks—from the furrows. Come April we’ll get in some more early planting, lettuce and peas, and the asparagus will start shooting up—a happy day! Here in the mountains, the more tender plants will wait for Mother’s Day for planting, since there’s always a chance of freeze until mid-May.
After lambing time it’s flower time! Tulips and daffodils are everywhere, and the woods are full of early wildflowers. Hens are setting on eggs, and before long we’ll have chicks everywhere too.
Our goats start kidding toward the end of April, and babies keep coming until nearly June. With their knobby legs, sweet expression, and incredibly long ears, there’s nothing so cute as a baby goat. And best of all, they love to be cuddled!
Our free range hens—and guineas, and ducks—lay their eggs wherever they think looks like a good spot. Unfortunately, sometimes other folks think it’s a good spot too! Not much of a problem until the time comes for setting on the eggs. Every now and then we have a “battle for the nest”, with three or four mamas all trying to set on the same nest. Here’s a battle royal with a Buff Orpington hen, an Old English Bantam, and a Guinea all setting together.
Sometimes it’s not just poultry that sets on the eggs. Here’s Merlin the barn cat giving Black Hen a break from setting.
A barn always needs barn cats, and Spring brings a new crop of kittens. When they get about this size their mama starts bringing in mice to help them learn their job. Later, through the summer, they’ll delight our visitors with their friendly ways. They spend a lot of time being carried around!
Spring means baby ducks too, with proud mamas leading their babies all in a line. We provide tiny “wading pools” for the ducklings to try out their swimming skills before Mama takes them to the creeks and ponds.
Every now and then we have a bottle lamb who calls the barnyard home. They hang out with the other babies and play some cross-species games.