Lambing at Chewonki

The entire semester gathered promptly underneath the large eastern white pines at 6:55 am as we do each morning. Annika, the leader of the day, shared a quote and we headed off to morning chores, sleep still in our eyes, bundled in rain jackets. News that one of the pregnant ewes was in labor spread rapidly through the Wallace. We gobbled up Chewonki farm bacon (not me though, because I am vegetarian) and French toast, and the school day began. By the end of our first block, two lambs had been born, one ram lamb and one ewe lamb. Both were healthy and took to nursing soon after emerging.

After classes ended, half of the semester headed off to field lab on the salt marsh, and the other half, including myself, prepared for work program. I pulled on my brown Carhartt overalls, caked in mud, the Maine Coast Semester uniform, and walked to the farm for what I expected to be an afternoon full of stacking firewood with my dear friend Kiera.

As we approached the barn, we saw a swarm of elementary and middle school students piled around the sheeps’ enclosure. Lucy, one of the ewes, was splayed out on the straw-covered floor. She was breathing heavily and licking the lambs in the small pens surrounding her, maternal instincts already kicking in. Kiera, Ella, and I stood, teeth clenched, heads on each other’s shoulders waiting anxiously for the lamb to emerge. Lucy pawed at the ground, stood up, and layed back down many times in the span of many minutes.

I cannot begin to describe how unique the energy was in the barn this rainy afternoon. There is an instinct to be as silent as possible in the presence of an animal going through a time as special as this one. I was amazed by the calm and collected appearances of the younger students. My friends and I were ecstatic but stayed quiet for Lucy’s sake.

After what seemed like a lifetime, a small black lamb emerged from the back of the ewe. It fell gently to the ground and Lucy instantly began licking its floppy body. Everyone held their breath, waiting for movement. I felt a release of tension in my body as its little ears twitched. Kiera and I headed off to work program teary-eyed and so grateful that we got to see an animal come into the world in a place as special as Chewonki.

Phoebe Fritz, Concord Academy, Concord, MA

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