We are following along as Clara Domin, a Freeport High School junior, and her neighbors Molly and Isla York, who are in eighth grade and fifth grade, respectively, raise lambs as part of 4-H’s Market Animal Program.
The day of our second visit was warm and humid, and sun had broken through rain clouds. Clara, Molly, and Isla were preparing to show their market lambs at upcoming fairs, the first being the Ossipee Valley Fair. Plans to show at the Litchfield, Topsham, Skowhegan, Windsor, and Cumberland fairs were also being made.
Clara is caring for two market lambs – George and Willow – and Molly and Isla are looking after three market lambs – Hercules, Apollo, and Zeus.
During the day of our visit, Clara had sheared two sheep as part of fair preparations, which took around an hour for each sheep. Also on her checklist was readying the feet, nails, and ears of her sheep. Clara, who described taking care of her animals as a fun part of her summer, planned to show 10 total sheep at fairs, which include the market lambs.
The girls will have their market lambs until the beginning of October, when they go to auction at the Cumberland Fair. At that fair, the lambs will be weighed, shown, and auctioned off in order of what place they finished.
The 4-H Market Animal Program has been in existence for several decades and applies life skills taught in 4-H, including work ethic, patience, and marketing and business skills. Those that participate prepare their animals to be at their best for showing and as healthy as possible.
For more information about 4-H in Maine and to volunteer, go to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s 4-H website.