Snow aside, newborn lambs a sign spring is getting close
By Denise Moran For The Courier-News March 6, 2013 11:40AM
South Elgin couple Heather and John Sabatino and their daughter, Alyssa, 2, share a moment on the farm.
Updated: April 8, 2013 7:07AM
HAMPSHIRE — Tuesday’s snowstorm may have shown winter isn’t ready to loosen its grip just yet.
But there is at least one sure local sign that spring is on the way — newborn lambs at the Enjoy Pioneer Farm near Hampshire.
The spring lambing season has begun at the farm, at 17N400 Big Timber Road.
The farm’s annual “Open Farm Days” kicked off on Saturday. People who visit the farm from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays in March, April and May can hold and pet a lamb, goat, rabbit and chick.
Admission is $5 per person. Families with up to four people pay $11, while families of five or more pay $20. In addition to holding barn babies, visitors can also watch a sheep shearing.
“We had two lambs born yesterday,” Carol Burnidge said earlier this week. Burnidge has owned the farm with her husband, Lane, since 1978. “There were three born the day before.”
The Burnidges have 100 head of Dorset sheep and goats. One of their ewes recently gave birth to triplets, which is unusual for the breed, according to Lane.
The farm originally was homesteaded by the VanVleet family when Native Americans still lived in the area. The barn was built in 1901. Lane’s family settled in Kane County just after the Black Hawk War of 1832. Carol’s family once ran the last farm in Broadview.
Lane and Carol’s son, Martin, 16, helps take care of the sheep, goats, a bull calf named Sharpshooter, and a border collie named Rocky.
“I like living on a farm,” Martin said. “I plan on becoming a farmer.”
The farm raises and sells goats, sheep, lambs, chicks and chickens. They also sell eggs, pumpkins, 40 kinds of vegetables including sweet corn and tomatoes, fall mums, hanging baskets, Indian corn, Indian popcorn, Christmas wreaths and greens, and perennials.
A “U-Pick” farm garden allows subscribers to pick fresh vegetables on a weekly basis during the warmer months. Wool from the farm is sold to Groenewold Fur & Wool Co.
People can make appointments for guided walks at the farm, where they can see a wigwam, teepee, wildlife pond and pioneer wagon. The farm has been visited by public school students, home-schooled children, and senior citizen day care groups. Enjoy Pioneer Farm can also bring farm animals to meetings, parties, schools and churches.
“We’ve been to Prairie View Grade School in Elgin, Twin Oaks Baptist Church in Sleepy Hollow, Learning Tree Child Care Center in Huntley, and Lil’ Wonders Development Center in Hampshire,” Lane said.
“We participated in the nativity scene at Church on the Rock in Huntley,” said Carol. “They said our lambs stole the show.”
Carol said that some of their farm animals will appear at Randall Oaks Golf Club & Banquets in West Dundee this month when an Easter brunch is held there.
Michelle Soland, a third grade teacher at Westfield Community School in Algonquin, came to the farm on Saturday with one of her students, Rayyan Alhagi, 8, of Algonquin. Soland has been bringing her students to the farm for the past six years.
“This is my best day ever,” Rayyan said. “I’ve petted a bunny before, but I never petted a lamb or a goat.”
Soland has been a teacher for 35 years. She likes to keep animals in her classroom for her students. She started off with a turtle named Casper. Her classroom also has housed chickens, ducklings, a Chinese water dragon, and a bearded dragon. She once brought a duck from school to her home.
“Dot the duck lived in my house for a year,” Soland said. “She would follow me to the mailbox. We eventually gave Dot to a petting zoo in Hampshire. We now have Madagascar hissing cockroaches in my classroom.”
Enjoy Pioneer Farm also has a “Rent-a-Chick” program that costs $30. The farm will supply two chicks, feed, bedding and a box. Participants need to provide a clamp-on light, a place in their home away from direct sunlight, and make sure that the chicks receive daily feed and water. After two weeks, people receive a free dozen eggs when they return the chicks to the farm.
More information is available by calling 847-683-2863 or visiting www.enjoypioneerfarm.com.