Four places to see lambs in Chicago

 
 

Nothing says Spring like cute baby lambs. We've found four family-friendly places to see the little guys around Chicago.

 

What child doesn't love baby animals? Even adults can't resist the feel of a soft, downy chick or the sight of a spindly-legged newborn lamb. Right now, sheep farms across Illinois are in the midst of spring lambing. Plan to spend an hour or two greeting the new arrivals, or make it a day by including other local points of interest.

 
 

Royer Farm

Bill Royer welcomes you to his 56-acre farm in Washington, about three hours from downtown Chicago, where he and his family raise Suffolk sheep. Bill is looking forward to the birth of nearly 25 lambs between late January and March. If you visit, expect to pet and hold, and possibly bottle-feed, a baby lamb. Call Bill at (309) 472-3231 or email [email protected] to set up a tour.

Also of interest:

Wildlife Prairie Park offers picnic areas and food to buy on site. Stop for lunch and see bison, elk and deer.

The Caterpillar Visitor Center in Peoria also is a worthwhile stop, full of interesting, family-friendly exhibits.

 
 

Pioneer Farm

Pioneer Farm in Hampshire is home to a flock of more than 60 registered Dorset sheep as well as goats and chickens. Every Saturday and Sunday in March, April and May, Pioneer Farm hosts Open Farm Days 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Watch sheep shearing, and hold a baby lamb or chick; shell popcorn grown on the premises and pop it on site. Visitor fees are $5 per person; $11 per family (up to four people).

Also of interest:

The Diecke Discovery Zone in Diecke Park, Huntley, features an engaging, special-needs-friendly playground. Eat lunch at the Old West Steakhouse at Donley's Wild West Town in Union.

 
 

Garey's Tunis Sheep Farm

Located just outside Atlanta, between Peoria and Springfield, Clint Garey and his son keep a flock of docile Tunis sheep. The Gareys have been in the sheep business for more than 25 years. Call Clint at (217) 648-2784 to arrange a visit to his freshly painted barn to see the spring lambs.

Also of interest:

The town of Atlanta is located on historic Route 66 and offers many interesting attractions, including a 19-foot-tall Paul Bunyan figure holding a hotdog, and the blue plate special at the 1930s Palm's Grill Café. See atlantaillinois.org for more information.

 
 

Clear View Farm

Sandy Schrader keeps a small flock of cormo sheep on her three-acre farmstead in Waterman. Walk through the original peg barn with Sandy as she shares the history of the farm and see the gentle cormo sheep, prized for their fine, soft fleece. Sandy will even demonstrate carding/flicking raw wool and spinning it into yarn. To arrange a visit, call Sandy at (815) 264-9047, or email [email protected]

Also of interest:

Chief Shabbona Forest Preserve offers beautiful nature trails, a playground and shelter houses.

Shabbona Lake State Park has picnic areas, hiking trails and abundant wildlife.

 

 
 

Meet Sandy Schrader

Eight years ago Sandy Schrader realized a long-held dream when she bought her own farmstead in Waterman. She planned to start with a dairy cow and some chickens, but it didn't quite turn out that way.

"I bought a few sheep to keep the cow company, and just never got around to getting the cow," Sandy says with a smile.

Schrader owns Clear View Farm, a three-acre homestead with the original farmhouse and peg barn. She keeps a small flock of Cormo sheep, a half dozen chickens, and a dog named Rusty.

Her know-how came from books, other sheep owners, and working on her grandparents' dairy farm.

There are no corn mazes or merry-go-round rides at Clear View Farm. This is a working farm, though Schrader welcomes visitors and the chance to share her love of the sheep and the farmstead.

Shading her eyes from the sun, she watches her sheep nuzzle the grass for stray bits of corn. She sighs contentedly.

"There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your flock out grazing, and you know that all is well for right now."

 
 
 







 
 
 
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