Birth'n babies at Sankow's farm
On a rainy afternoon in late March, Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm in Lyme appeared quiet, with red-hued barns standing beside acres of farmland.
But as soon as farmworker Victoria Filimon opened the door of a greenhouse housing more than a dozen lambs, the farm quickly became a hub of activity.
The lambs bleated and tottered excitedly towards the metal gate where Filimon stood. The young animals - some just days old - poked their heads out of the gate. They nuzzled each other, or playfully jumped to get higher up. An adventurous one even later tried to wriggle out of the gate.
In a larger barn in another part of the 175-acre property, many of the lambs rested beside ewes, their mothers, near water and hay. The lambs were of varying sizes and colors of black, tawny-colored with spots, dark brown and white.
"They're all different," said Filimon.
The 262 lambs born so far this season are the newest additions to the nearly-century old farm on Beaver Brook Road. The farm welcomed the first lamb in mid-February and expects another 50 or so lambs will be born by the end of April, according to Filimon.
Lamb-raising is a tradition at Beaver Brook, which stands as the largest sheep farm in the state, according to Suzanne Sankow who runs the farm with her husband, Stan Sankow.
But this year's lambs - with two sets of quadruplets and at least 15 sets of triplets -stand out from years past.
"I'm lambing at 215 percent," said Suzanne Sankow. "I've never lambed that high before."
The farm's sheep breeds are East Friesian, Romney crosses, Border Leicester and Tunis. Sankow's sells the lamb meat, along with cheese, eggs, yogurts, milk, gelato ice cream and other assortments, but about 30 percent of the lambs will remain on the farm. In addition, the farm makes a variety of goods from wool and also raises Jersey Cows.
Sankow's sells at many farmers markets, as well as on-site at the farm. Often times individuals, or families and grandparents and grandchildren, will visit the farm to see the lambs, said Sankow. At times, the farm has hosted educational programs.
The farm raises the animals naturally and gives them access to outside pastures to roam, ensuring the animals are well-taken care of, said Sankow.
In addition, the farm gives extra care to the baby lambs that are not as strong as they could be, said Sankow. Presently, a couple of baby lambs are kept in a play pen inside their house on the property. The Sankows also gave one lamb a bath in their home's sink, after the lamb's wool became dirty.
"If the wool isn't fluffy, it doesn't keep them warm," she explained.
For the quadruplets and triplets, some lambs will remain with their mother. Others will be bottle-fed by the farm - four times a day for the youngest lambs, and three times for the older ones - to ensure that each lamb receives enough milk and grows strong. This year when it was very cold during some of the births, the farm also warmed the newborns with towels, said Filimon.
"The best thing I feel is being with the animals," said Sankow. "I enjoy that. I'm lucky to live on this part of the property."
More information on the farm at 139 Beaver Brook Road is available by calling (860) 434-2843 or visiting www.beaverbrookfarm.com.
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