March 28, 2013
March Madness at George Washington’s Mount Vernon has nothing to do with basketball, but is just as exciting as March is the month that we welcome the lambs and piglets. It is also the time that our dedicated livestock crew suffers sleep deprivation while they monitor the condition of the expecting mommas-to-be 24/7. This year 26 Hog Island ewes are expecting, as well as two Ossabaw Island sows.
Genesis was the first of the Ossabaw Island sows to give birth, and she had seven piglets on March 24th. We’re still watching with baited breath for Annabeth’s piglets to arrive.
So far this year, 18 of the 26 Hog Island ewes have given birth to 26 lambs! Though our livestock crew does not have a lamb bracket to fill out before the madness of March begins, they do have an annual pool for guesses as to how many they think will be born; this year’s guesses range between 34 and 38. After last year’s epic lamb count (a total of 47 lambs were born) the livestock crew vowed, never again.
Besides enjoying the lambs’ playful antics, we also enjoy the yearly naming of the little ones. Each year, a new theme for the names is chosen and the more unusual markings on the lambs are often reflected their names. Some of our favorite names come from the years that the themes were music related. “Bette Riddler” was named for the marking on her side that resembled a question mark, “Waltzing Matilda” had a boomerang marking on her forehead, and her brothers and sisters were named “Sweet Melissa”, “Bernadette”, and “Jumping Jack Flash”.
The naming theme for 2013 is cities. Our two lambs born on St. Patrick’s Day were given the names Dublin and Galway. Some of the other names you’ll hear around Mount Vernon are Honolulu, Dallas, Brooklyn, Savannah, and Bombay. One of this year’s lambs has markings resembling the letters M.I.T. on his side, so it seemed only appropriate to name him Baaaston.
March Madness at Mount Vernon is an exciting time and there are no losers in this event, just a whole lot of adorable baby lambs and piglets. If you are planning a visit to Mount Vernon this Spring, don’t forget to say hello to the newest members of our family who are on display along the paddock road.
J. Dean Norton and the Amazing Livestock Crew
Department of Horticulture