Laughing to see a lamb in school
“Mary had a little lamb; its fleece was white as snow. And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go. It followed her to school one day, which was against the rule. It made the children laugh and play to see a lamb at school.”
This paraphrase of a familiar nursery rhyme became reality Thursday at Centre Elementary School, except that “Mary” was “Susan,” and the lamb was a “hair” lamb without fleece. Susan and her lamb were invited.
Susan Mueller started her classroom visit by reading a book about a lamb. Sammy the Lamby was in a carrier outside the classroom door.
“Do we get to pet him?” was the first question the children asked.
They were full of questions like, “How old is he?” “Does he just drink milk?” “How big is he going to get?”
Susan provided more facts about sheep —a “ewe” is a female, a “ram” is a male, etc. — and then brought Sammy into the room to interact with the children.
Sammy is a Katahdin, a breed of sheep that has hair instead of wool. Susan likes the breed because the sheep don’t have to be sheared, and their tails don’t have to be docked, which is done on wool lambs to control parasites.
The Katahdin is a breed of domestic sheep developed in Maine and named after Mount Katahdin — the state’s highest peak. The breed was developed during the second half of the 20th century by crossing selected St. Croix sheep from the Virgin Islands with various other breeds, including the Suffolk.
Besides a flock of 20 ewes and 16 lambs, Susan has five other bottle lambs. At first glance, they might all look the same, but to Susan, each has its own name and uniqueness.
Cloudy has a coat that is very fluffy, Velvet has a black patch on her nose that looks like velvet, Curly has a band of curly hair across his shoulders, Freckles has freckles on his legs and lips, and Big Boy is bigger than the other lambs.
Susan takes lambs and other farm animals to area schools and nursing homes every year. The family farm south of Herington is home to 50 rabbits as well as horses, donkeys, pigs, chickens, goats, ducks, and turkeys.
She has been involved with 4-H all of her life and has a degree in ag journalism. She likes to share her knowledge of agriculture and farm animals.
“I enjoy working with kids,” she said. “I like going to Centre. I know many of the families. I feel like I’m helping to teach people about agriculture, which is important for those of us who like to eat.”
Why do the lambs love Susan so? Because Susan loves the lambs, you know, just as the nursery rhyme says.
Last modified April 1, 2021