Strawbery Banke welcomes Spring by opening early to showcase a variety of more than a dozen heirloom breeds of Baby Animals (and their moms) that would have been familiar to earlier generations. The event is a family-friendly opportunity to learn more about domestic livestock typical on coastal northern New England farms from the 17th century to present day.
Baby Animals: Heritage Breeds at the Banke
Runs daily Saturday, April 20 through Sunday, April 28 from 10:00am to 5:00pm.
Peter Cook, who assists with the coordination of animals for the museum’s NH Fall Festival, is curating the event, securing breeders from NH, Maine and MA farms who are expert in heritage animals including lambs, kids, calves, piglets, bunnies, chicks and ducklings. The participants answer visitors’ questions, explaining the developmental needs of the babies, the various aspects of husbandry that are required to raise them and why they have chosen to preserve these sometimes-endangered domestic animals for future generations.
The Baby Animals event showcase heritage breeds of livestock that became popular during different centuries as settlers from the UK, Ireland, Europe, Africa and South America contributed to local agrarian cultural heritage. The 2019 Baby Animals: Heritage Breeds at the Banke showcased:
- Newly-hatched baby chicks, turkeys and ducklings in specially-constructed viewing brooders.
- Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs that arrived in New England in the 1900s and are often referred to as “orchard pigs” for their delight in foraging in fall groves. From Lovell Farm
- Mulefoot Pig from Dogpatch Farm
- Lincoln Longwool Sheep from Tare Shirt Farm
- Gulf Coast Native sheep from Heart Stone Farm in Milton NH.
- Soay sheep, one of the oldest domesticated animals known to man and now quite rare. Native to the St. Kilda group of islands west of the Outer Hebrides. From Hermit Thrush Hill in Fonda NY.
- Shetland Sheep from Echo Valley Sheep Farm in Cornish ME.
- Jacob sheep, identified in the Book of Genesis and prized in New England for their soft dark fleeces that are ideal for many weaving projects. From Marsh Mallo Farm in Fort Plain NY.
- Nigerian Dwarf goats, introduced to the US in the early 1900s and very popular in New England as they are easily-trained large milk producers that are easy to keep in small areas. From Tiny Hill Farm, Milton Mills NH
- San Clemente goats from End of the Road Farm
- Oberhasli Goat from Lovell Farm
- Newfoundland Pony from Villi Poni Farm
- Silver Fox from Kerfluffle Fiber Farm in Lebanon ME
- Kerry cattle from Buckhill Farm
In addition to the animals, visitors can participate in family activities in some of the historic houses and the TYCO Visitors Center where hands-on weaving programs will take place. Figtree Kitchen Café is open daily, throughout the event.
Tickets are $10 for adults; $5 for children 5-17; and free to children under 5, members and active duty military and their families. Group visits are encouraged.
Children’s Breakfast with the Animals
Children’s Breakfast with the Animals — a special program for kids is offered Monday, April 22 through Thursday, April 25, and Sunday, April 28, from 9 to 10 am.
Led by a heritage animal breeder and educator this program, presented for an hour before the animal tent opens to the public each day, is designed to give children age 4 to 8 (all ages admitted) an opportunity to meet the baby lambs, kids, chicks and other animals, up close. Participants will learn about milking, feed the animals and create a fiber craft gift to take home. Ticket includes a breakfast snack and all-day admission to the Baby Animals event. Tickets are $25 per child (must be accompanied by a responsible adult, at no additional cost. Snack is for children only). Program is limited to 12 children per day. To register, click here.
BABY ANIMALS: Heritage Breeds at the Banke
14 Hancock Street, Portsmouth NH (603) 433-1100
Saturday, April 20 – Sunday, April 27, 2019; 10:00am – 5:00pm