Sheepapalooza -The FARM Institute Celebrates Spring On Martha’s Vineyard

There are certain things to look forward to during the Spring on Martha’s Vineyard. The FARM Institute’s Sheepapalooza is one of those events.

By this time, the lambs have all been born at the FARM. There’s a total of 58 this year, and they are certainly a reason to celebrate a bit.


For four years now, The FARM Institute has been celebrating Spring with Sheepapalooza which includes all things sheep. There’s all sorts of fiber arts including felting, spinning, weaving, and even dying. There’s sheep shearing, sheep dog demonstrations, and more.

Soon as we got to The FARM Institute, we had to see the chickens, which were near the parking lot. The last time we saw most of these chickens, they were only a couple weeks old. Then, it was on to a baby calf, Rocky. I love being able to get so close and interact with the farm animals here.

Then it was on to egg dying. The staff had hard-boiled dozens of eggs for kids (and adults too) to dye with natural dye including tumeric, hibiscus tea, Kool-Aid, and red beets. All of the eggs dyed are going to be used for the Easter egg hunt happening at the FARM on Saturday, April 19th. Dying the eggs was defintely a favorite for most kids.

Then it was on to fiber crafts. You could work on the loom with yarn, do felting, make bracelets from the wool and more. It was nice to be able to work so closely with the natural wool from the sheep we were going to see sheared.

There were lots of things to see and do, and there were lots of friends at Sheepapalooza. There were some new faces but a lot of familiar faces. It felt like a true community event. Parents and kids had big smiles and seemed to be having tons of fun.

But, before shearing, it was time for a wagon ride. The Oxen, Apollo and Zeus, were supposed to be pulling the wagon but they were stuck in the Chappy ferry line at the time we were at The FARM. Not to worry though. We were able to have a tractor ride.

I was a little sad not to see Zeus and Apollo because they were leaving the day after Sheepapalooza to spend the Summer in Maine at a children’s camp. We’ll miss these big guys. We’ll just have to wait for the Fall.

We packed that wagon full and went into the fields. The sun was shining, the ride was bumpy, and it was pretty fun. There were a lot of laughs on that ride.

Herding sheepWhen we got off the wagon, Rick, the Boarder Collie, was ready for a sheep-herding demonstration. We were all mesmerized by this dog’s ability to corral the sheep and steer them in whatever direction he was commanded to do. The patience Rick had was amazing. I could learn a thing or two from this dog.

After all the oohs and aahs, it was time for sheep shearing. In the barn, Andy Rice, their shearer extraordinaire, was shearing away.

The man could get that sheep from an overgrown cotton ball to a lim, trim, ready for Summer sheep in less than five minutes. It was pretty amazing to watch. Also, I got to see him trim the sheep’s hooves as well, and I thought cutting my kids nails was tough. Wow.

With all these farm activities, one works up an appetite. Luckily, and a little sadly, you could get lunch at Sheepapalooza.

I say luckily because there were lamb and beef burgers and Shepherd’s Pie with some of the freshest meat you could possibly get. I say sadly because we were just hanging out with these types of farm animals.

A couple of yummy burgers and some salad with Mermaid Farm cheese, and we were feeling full and happy. Throw in one more visit to the lambs, grab a couple cartons of FARM eggs, and it was a great way to spend a Saturday in April on Martha’s Vineyard.

The FARM Institute is such an asset to our community, between farm shares, farm chores, Wee Farmers (which starts April 19th), and more, it helps us city folks feel connected to the farm and excited about knowing where our food comes from.

If you missed Sheepapalooza, you’ll just have to wait until next year’s but in the meantime there’s always something to see and do at The FARM Institute.

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