BABY ANIMALS: Heritage Breeds at the Banke
April 22nd - 30th
10 am to 5 pm
Strawbery Banke welcomes Spring (and school vacation week for some) 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, which takes place under a tent on museum grounds, April 22nd through 30th 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.
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. Many farms are family projects enthusiastically supported by multiple generations of caretakers. The emphasis is on educational and interpretive information but there will also be opportunities to interact with some of the animals who are accustomed to being handled.
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. Among the 15 or more types of animals participating are:
- Newly-hatched baby chicks, turkeys and ducklings in specially-constructed viewing brooders. From heritage breed hatcheries.
- Gloucester 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 Bittersweet Farm in Lyndeborough NH.
- Large Black pigs, once almost extinct. From Hogwash Farm, in Norwich VT
- 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.
- Clun Forest sheep, an old breed from Shropshire in Northern Wales, introduced to the US with migrants from Nova Scotia. From Riverbank Farm in Salisbury NH.
- 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 Hogwash Farm, in Norwich VT.
- Nigerian 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
- Alpaca from Elf-Paca Meadows Farm, Rochester NH
- Rabbits from Kerfluffle Fiber Farm in Lebanon ME
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.
Strawbery Banke is also hosting several special programs in conjunction with the event.
Heritage Breed Lecture Lunches
On the two Sundays, the museum welcomes two authorities on rare breeds of animals for lunch programs that include a guided visit with the expert to the Baby Animals tent, a Figtree Kitchen lunch and an illustrated talk in the TYCO Visitors Center lecture hall. Tickets: $35 ($25 for members). $10 for lecture-only ($5 for members).
Each guest lecturer discusses his personal experiences raising rare breed animals and the importance of heritage breed preservation, and answers visitor questions.
Sunday, April 23, 11 am - 2 pm
In Quest of Survival: Preserving Heritage Breeds in New England, presented by Peter W. Cook, Curator of Baby Animals: Heritage Breeds at the Banke. Peter and his wife, Nancy (presenting fibre arts programs during the event), own Tare Shirt Farm, dedicated to craft interpretation and the raising early breeds of domestic livestock.
Sunday, April 30, 11 am - 2 pm
Heritage Poultry: Legacy and Creativity, presented by Joseph Marquette, poultry historian, owner of Yellow House Farm in Barrington NH and member of the Society for the Preservation of Poultry Antiquities .
Meet the Animals Special Program for Kids
Monday, April 24 through Thursday, April 27, 9-10 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). Program is limited to 12 children per day.
“Strawbery Banke is delighted to bring the heritage breeds of animals back to the Puddle Dock neighborhood where many of them would have been familiar sights during the past three centuries,” said Lawrence J. Yerdon, museum president and CEO. “The first Baby Animals event last year was so popular, we decided to add a few more breeds of animals and expand the interactive program so children can understand how these animals contributed to daily life, even though they can’t touch the animals because of safety concerns.”
Strawbery Banke welcomes visitors to Baby Animals: Heritage Breeds at the Banke from 10 am to 5 pm daily, April 22 through 30. 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.