Sheep Shearing at AGCS
The Back Pasture
The AGCS Micro-Farm's back pasture is home to a flock of Shetland and Finn sheep, goats, and even two alpacas.
Spring is an exciting time on the farm! We have an active sheep breeding program and love welcoming lambs to the farm each year. A professional sheep shearer comes and our students learn about the process first-hand, watching our fluffy flock get a close shave for the coming hot days of summer. Our high school spinning club demonstrates how to clean, comb, and spin wool into yarn and thread.
We have two breeds of sheep in the back pasture: Shetland and Finn. The Shetlands belong to AGCS, while the Finns are our guests as part of a special breeding program.
Our flock is a continual source of wonder for our students! The presence of sheep on our campus helps to connect AGCS students with the natural world and our region's rich agricultural tradition in a deeply meaningful way. Shetland sheep are a small, hardy breed originating from the Shetland Island in northern Scotland, where they enjoy a long, cool winter with a short, mild summer. They're easy to handle and love attention - especially having their chins scratched. They were first imported to North America during the 18th Century; Thomas Jefferson owned one of the first documented Shetland flocks in the new world.
We chose Shetland sheep for the AGCS Micro-Farm because they are:
- Small and easy to handle, so they don't intimidate children
- Hearty and can easily endure Pennsylvania's extreme seasonal temperatures
- Normally able to lamb without difficulty
- A rare breed in need of the support of non-traditional, non-commercial programs like ours
- Genetically fascinating and provide ideal real-world subject matter for our high school's Biology and Sustainable Agriculture students
- Thrifty - during the warm season, they do not require grain or specialized feeds. Shetlands thrive on a diet of grass, hay, legumes, and forbs (herbacious flowering plants)
Meet our Sheep - Click on the images to learn more!
Two wethered (neutered) male Alpacas, Ron and Wastell, were donated to the AGCS Micro-Farm. They are a great addition because their wool can be used in our High School Fiber Arts program - their fleece is as soft as cashmere! Alpacas are beautiful, intelligent, inquisitive, peaceful animals. They communicate with a calming hum and are considered safe for children because they have padded feet, are submissive and easy to control, and they only have bottom teeth, so a bite is much less likely to injure. They don't require a tremendous amount of care because they are efficient eaters, dining primarily on pasture grasses. Alpacas originated in South America, they weigh 100-150 pounds, and their average life span is 15-20 years.
Ron and Wastell
Goats have been a part of the AGCS Micro-Farm since it opened. Currently, we have one Alpine goat, Lynne.Fun Facts about Goats
- We all know baby goats are called kids, but did you know that like deer, female goats are called does and males are bucks?
- Goats are intelligent, curious, social, independent, stubborn, and demanding; while at the same time they're loving, gentle and loyal. They're especially wonderful with children.
- Goats are highly social and prefer to be with other goats. When they're left alone, they get bored and lonely. They will let out a loud "behhh" when they want companions.
- When goats are bored and lonely, they get into mischief... just like human kids! Bored goats are great at climbing, jumping, running, chewing, and escaping.
- Goats hate getting wet and will jump over or go around puddles. They like nice, dry living spaces.
- Like cows, goats have one stomach with four digestive chambers. After they eat, they regurgitate the "cud" and chew it all day long. Contrary to popular belief, they do not eat tin cans and are, in fact, clean eaters - they prefer clean food that hasn't been on the ground.
- Goat horns are very dangerous - even deadly - during play with other goats or humans. For this reason, most caretakers choose to have the horns removed (a procedure called disbudding) when they are very young, before the horns attach to the sinus bones.
An Alpine doe, Lynne was born March 10, 2015. She is tan and black and has an attitude! She can be troublesome at times. Her diet consists of hay, pellets, various green grasses, and treats of corn.