Skipping in to spring

It’s hard to keep track of the number of sheep on Mark Gerber’s farm lately because more lambs are being added by the day.
Last Friday afternoon, three more lambs were born. Gerber could only estimate the farm had “40 or 50 sheep with the young ones.”
The farm bustles during lambing season. The newest birth was extra special because the ewe had triplets. Usually, ewes give birth to two at a time.
“It’s nice to have three,” Gerber said. “The little ones always make a good picture and it’s a sure sign of spring.”
Immediately after they were born, the lambs were out in the fresh air but when the afternoon grew colder, Gerber brought them in under the heat lamp—the barn yard version of a maternity ward.
The cold also prevents Gerber from shearing sheep, explaining it’s more comfortable for the sheep to be sheared during warmer weather. Shearing the mother before birth also makes it easier for the lambs to suckle.
The sheep have 15 different colours of wool.
“We send it to Carstairs [Alta.] and get it sent back for knitting wool and we slaughter for sheep hides,” he said.
Gerber’s wife, Mary, gets the skeins back after the wool is cleaned and processed to knit sweaters.
The farm took on a form of organized chaos after the delivery. Gerber had to find the mother to bring her in the barn, he had to give her grain, one of the barn doors came off its hinges, and there were a couple of ducks in the “maternity room.”
“The ducks always make a mess,” Gerber laughed while fixing the barn door.
Mark Gerber has been on this farm on River Road for 10 years. His father began farming in the area more than 40 years ago.