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Lambs Galore at Apple Creek Merinos!

Learn about the joys—and frights!—that come with being a shepherdess during lambing season at this family farm in the Pacific Northwest.

Debbie Blair Apr 12, 2024 - 13 min read

Lambs Galore at Apple Creek Merinos! Primary Image

Kiwi is one of the most special ewes on the farm. She and her lamb, Pixie, pose for the camera. Photos courtesy of Laurel Stone

It’s that time of year in the United States—lambing season. As a city girl who comes from a long line of farmers, I’ve always delighted in tales my father and grandfather would tell about raising pigs and sheep and cows, about sowing the seeds and harvesting the crops, and about what life was like on their farm in the middle of the Great Plains.

As a spinner and knitter, I’ve been interested in learning as much as I can about where our fiber comes from, especially the beloved Merino I like to spin and the endearing alpacas a friend raises. I was first introduced to shepherdess Laurel Stone of Apple Creek Merinos through her Instagram page, which displays adorable pictures of her lovable lambs, her playful pups, and her gorgeous fleeces and knitted garments.

Laurel started raising sheep because she’s an enthusiastic knitter who decided she wanted to raise her own fiber animals, and she has become passionate about cultivating exquisite Merino fleeces. She keeps her lambs for breeding or sells them to other fiber flocks for breeding, showing, or just being fiber pets. According to Laurel, Merino wethers make fabulous fiber pets because they are super friendly and easygoing and can put all of their energy into growing wool. I caught up with Laurel and found out what farm life is like during this busy time of year.

Little Scarlet appears to be curious!

Farm & Fiber Knits: When does lambing season fall at Apple Creek?

Apple Creek Merinos: I try to split my lambing into two main groups, basically December and February. However, it rarely goes exactly to plan, and since I used some younger ram lambs for many of my ewes this year they didn’t all take the first time, so I ended up with lambing spread out more than is really ideal. I ended up with three main groups between mid-December and early March, with a few extras spread in between. I’m very tired!

FFK: How many ewes lambed, and how many lambs did you get?

ACM: I had 23 ewes give me a total of 38 lambs. I had almost all twins in my earlier lambing and almost all singles in my later lambing, which was strange. But 38 lambs is plenty!

Get a closer look! Click the video or any image in the gallery below to open it in full-screen mode.

Clockwise from top left: Airlie snuggles with her lamb; Nova keeps a watchful eye; Sasha enjoys getting her nails done (video); and this year’s lambing yielded triplets!

FFK: Do the most common colors and patterns of the lamb groups change in your flock over time?

ACM: This is a tough one to answer, as I have been selecting for recessive color traits that include spots, moorit, and dilution. So to some degree, yes, as I have gotten lambs that display these characteristics the colors in my flock have changed. But I also keep lambs that are really outstanding in other ways too, so while I have more moorit in my flock than anything else, I have lots of solid colors and black-and-white sheep, too.

FFK: Did you have any surprises this year like unusual colors, quads, or special lineages?

ACM: I did get my “holy grail” colored lamb this year: a ewe with bold body spots and dilute moorit color—that’s a set of three recessive color traits all stacked—so her arrival was pretty exciting!

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