Guests join celebration of new lambs at Port Republic folk art center

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From left, Mom, Meghan, and Lucas Jackson and grandmother Joy Hooper enjoy holding an eight-day-old lamb. All live in Port Republic. From left, Mom, Meghan, and Lucas Jackson and grandmother Joy Hooper enjoy holding an eight-day-old lamb. All live in Port Republic.

PORT REPUBLIC – Despite a record turnout in cold weather for the fourth annual Lamb Celebration Days at Swan Bay Folk Art Center and Farm, a third day has been scheduled: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22.

“We had over 300 people – something like 350,” Niki Giberson said the day after the event, Tuesday, Feb. 18. “But people are calling and emailing that they weren’t able to get out and can we have another day.”

Giberson raises sheep for their wool which is sold and used to make items that are sold at the farm – one of three sites where Giberson regularly gives crafting lessons. The property has been in the family of her husband, Mayor Gary Giberson, since 1637.

She started the Lamb Celebration Days to give people the chance to experience life on a farm.

“It is a free event where people can handle and take pictures of our lambs with their own cameras,” Giberson said Sunday. “Free hot chocolate and doughnuts are provided.”

She said the annual event has become one of her favorites.

“It’s so much fun sharing our experiences,” Giberson said. “It’s great seeing little kids holding the lambs. The lamb days and sheep shearing day are our best times. We usually have about 300 people.”

She said there were six lambs born within the past couple of weeks at the farm. They ranged from eight days to two weeks old.

“We have a few more expecting,” Giberson said. “There’s one set of twins. There can be one, two or three in a litter.”

Having raised sheep for years on their property, her husband is noted for spinning yarns while Niki Giberson gives lessons in spinning yarn and how to make things from the wool.

“People don’t know about farms anymore,” Gary Giberson said. “The ewes come in season on the first cold evening – the first frost.”

The breeding is followed by five-month pregnancies and the predictable births in early February.

“They’re born right in the snow at six degrees,” the man known as Mayor Gary said. “The little lambs stand right up in the snow.”

He said that felting and felting kits have been very big sellers of late.

“It’s helped us let the sheep pay for themselves,” Giberson said. “We used to have a pet farm. The sheep business is all Niki. She does a wonderful job with it.”

Niki Giberson teaches and sells crafts at their home-farm here and at Tuckerton Seaport and the Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton College in Galloway.

She said sheep shearing is scheduled for the morning of April 12, weather permitting.

“We have a shearer in from Pennsylvania,” Giberson said. “He comes here in the morning, shears all the sheep and then goes off to do other jobs in New Jersey.”

Stay updated at handsonhistory.com.

Photos by Shelby Wessner

Sheep and lambs huddle for shelter on a chilly morning, Sunday, Feb. 16. Sheep and lambs huddle for shelter on a chilly morning, Sunday, Feb. 16.

A little lamb quickly joins the flock at the Swan Bay Folk Art Center and Farm in Port Republic. A little lamb quickly joins the flock at the Swan Bay Folk Art Center and Farm in Port Republic.

Joy Hooper of Port Republic holds an infant lamb. Joy Hooper of Port Republic holds an infant lamb.

Guests start arriving Sunday to see the lambs step out. Guests start arriving Sunday to see the lambs step out.

Jack and Doreen Kelly of Port Republic on their first visit to see the lambs. Jack and Doreen Kelly of Port Republic on their first visit to see the lambs.

Meeting lambs are, from left, Salvador and Taylor Huaccamayta, Hermelinda and Arnold Emciso. Meeting lambs are, from left, Salvador and Taylor Huaccamayta, Hermelinda and Arnold Emciso.

Two of hundreds visiting lambs at Swan Bay Folk Art Center and Farm in Port Republic Sunday and Monday, Feb. 16-17. Two of hundreds visiting lambs at Swan Bay Folk Art Center and Farm in Port Republic Sunday and Monday, Feb. 16-17.

Awww. A little lamb makes a face for its visitors. Awww. A little lamb makes a face for its visitors.

Tara Inghan holds a lamb. Tara Inghan holds a lamb.

A.J. Brown of Port Republic enjoys holding a young lamb. A.J. Brown of Port Republic enjoys holding a young lamb.

Hannah Clayton of Mullica Township with a two-week-old lamb. Hannah Clayton of Mullica Township with a two-week-old lamb.

Tara Inghan of Port Republic with a little lamb. Tara Inghan of Port Republic with a little lamb.

Dennis Emciso of Port Republic with a lamb. Dennis Emciso of Port Republic with a lamb.


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