Spring Lambs

March 20, 2013

This past Saturday I went on a farm tour with the PCC Farmland Trust to see the new lambs at Camelot Downs on Whidbey Island.  This was my second visit to this small, organic sheep farm.  (You can see an earlier post from February 2011 here.)  This year there were 22 lambs, a sure sign of Spring.

Spring lambs at Camelot Downs farm

Spring lambs at Camelot Downs farm

Gary and Lois Fisher, owners of Camelot Downs, raise two old breeds of sheep — Romney Marsh and South Down whose heritage strings back to Colonial days.  This was their last weekend in their winter coats.  Shearing would take place this week.

“The new lambs all have the same little bony body, the same strange combination of fragility and resilience, the same jumpy immediacy.  On their suddenly vast green grassy playground, they perform from time to time a startling leap, all four legs in the air, a quiver along the tensed back, a sudden blowing off of the synapses, for no real reason and always followed by a look of bemused horror.  Why did my body do that?  What is this sensory, jerking, stuttering of which I am a part?  Where’s my mother?”
— Adam Nicolson, Sea Room

Spring lambs, Camelot Downs

Spring lambs, Camelot Downs

South Down ewe and her lamb

South Down ewe and her lamb

Sticking close to mother

Sticking close to mother

Romney Marsh ewe

Romney Marsh ewe

Gamboling in its vast green playground

Gamboling in its vast green playground

Sheep farm at Camelot Downs, Whidbey Island

Sheep farm at Camelot Downs, Whidbey Island

Heritage breeds

Heritage breeds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gamboling spring lambs, Camelot Downs Farm

Yesterday I toured a sheep farm with the PCC (Puget Consumer Co-op) Farmland Trust staff (http://www.pccfarmlandtrust.org/).  The Trust holds a conservation easement on Camelot Downs Farm, an organic sheep farm owned by Gary and Lois Fisher.  This easement arrangement ensures that their 15 acres will continue to exist as organic farmland under any future owners.  The Trust is responsible for ongoing stewardship of the land.

Gary Fisher, sheep farmer, shares his story.

Lois Fisher, veteran sheep farmer

It was a real pleasure to meet the Fishers, who have raised “Colonial” sheep breeds on this acreage for over 20 years.  They define “Colonial” as stock descended from sheep brought to America between 1620 and 1820. They currently raise South Down sheep and Romney Marsh sheep.  This is lambing season, and we saw 11 lambs gamboling and suckling as we wandered through the barn and sheep pens.  More pregnant ewes grazed peacefully nearby.

Sign at Camelot Downs Farm on Whidbey Island

South Down ewe and twin lambs

Mother checking up on her baby

 

Romney Marsh ewe and lamb

Romney ewe and offspring

Spring lambs at Camelot Downs Farm

Following like sheep

The Fishers are active in 4-H and freely share their knowledge and experience with small and aspiring farmers throughout the state.  They are real Living Treasures, and I am so thankful to have spent a delightful day touring their farm.  Camelot Downs is one of the farms on Whidbey’s Country Farms map and guide, produced by the Northwest Agriculture Business Center (you can link to http://agbizcenter.org/ or http://www.psfn.org/ for more information about farm visits).

Lois Fisher, sheep farmer, with one of her lambs

I loved the shimmering iridescent feathers on this farmyard fowl.

Dolly Llama guards her flock of sheep, Camelot Downs Farm

Camelot Downs Farm tour with the PCC Farmland Trust