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Icelandic sheep find a new fold in Juneau

Posted: August 6, 2011 - 6:29pm
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Betty (right) and Lilith, two Icelandic sheep recently "freecycled" in Juneau, are the newest additions to Babes in the Woods, an educational child care service.                                  Photo courtesy of Samantha Davis
Photo courtesy of Samantha Davis
Betty (right) and Lilith, two Icelandic sheep recently "freecycled" in Juneau, are the newest additions to Babes in the Woods, an educational child care service.

Two weeks ago, the Capital City Weekly reported on a pair of Icelandic sheep that were up for grabs for free on Southeast’s Craiglist (“Family experiments with sustainable farming on Douglas,” in the July 20-26 Capital City Weekly, visit http://bit.ly/ofEq9p).

It didn’t take long for the sheep to find a new fold right in the capital city, and a new mission beyond providing wool or meat.

Samantha Adams, owner and operator of TLC Child Care, a Juneau-based care and educational service for young children, thought the animals would make a great addition to her new program.

“The sheep are awesome,” Adams said. “The kids think they’re the greatest things ever.”

Kids in the TLC program range from 6 weeks to 5 years old. The new program, Babes in the Woods, provides a “graduate” level service for older children, 5-12 years old, with a strong focus on arts and nature. The care is available part time during the school year, and full time during the summer.

The sheep have already moved out to Adams’ location near Auke Bay. Adams doesn’t have a shell on the back of her truck, so they had to be transported in the back of her father’s vehicle, featuring the logo of his local business, Big Mike’s BBQ, as well as a 12-foot long meat smoker trailer. The operation drew the attention of at least one neighbor.

The sheep are unlikely to be turned into dinner any time soon, however. They have sparkly pink collars now, as well as names: Betty and Lilith.

“Ask children to name something and this is what you get,” Adams said.

The kids have already grown close to the sheep. One of the children in the program has been dubbed “The Sheep Whisperer” for her ability to approach and “tame” one of the more skittish animals.

Goats have also been added to her menagerie. Goats get grumpy when they’re lonely, Adams said. Originally she planned on getting two, but a third was added into the mix when it was potentially going to be slaughtered for meat.

While it would be a good way to teach about the food cycle, Adams said that the kids had already named the goats after characters from the film “Kung Fu Panda.”

One of the goats may have previously belonged to Lisa Daugherty, erstwhile owner of the Icelandic sheep, though Adams said she is still trying to figure out where it came from, playing the caprine version of “six degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

Joining Po, Uguay and Master Shifu the goats, and Lilith and Betty the sheep, is Jack, the resident hound. Adams has plans to expand her animals with a few rabbits soon.

Along with giving area children access to animals that aren’t commonly found in Southeast, Adams hopes to provide educational opportunities with her pets, through everything from basic interactions to feeding and veterinarian care.

Babes in the Woods fits in well with Adams’ philosophy of child care: to provide high-quality service in a safe, nurturing environment, something she said is in short supply in Juneau. TLC currently has a wait list for parents, who are already thinking of childcare prenatally. Part of the difficulty is that most families need to have two incomes to make it in the capital city, Adams said, and the “it takes a village” concept is important in the community.

TLC and the menagerie at Babes in the Woods have organic community roots. Originally a technical writer, Adams moved to Juneau in 2006 with her husband, a geological engineer, and began work at Noah’s Ark childcare program, which stopped its services six weeks after she began. The parents of her children were desperate to find somewhere safe they could have their kids stay while they were working.

“I said, ‘OK, why don’t you bring them to my house?’” Adams said. “Basically they never left.”

TLC seeks votes for grant

Adams is also seeking community support for a possible grant from All Terrain, a natural outdoor products business. If Babes in the Woods gets enough votes on the company’s website, she plans to use the funds to buy and install an 18-hole Frisbee disc course in Juneau. Adams plans on using crab pots for the baskets, and hopes it will encourage further exploration and outdoor activities, both for children in her program, as well as in the community at large. The voting for Babes in the Woods is open through Aug. 31 online at http://bit.ly/qrnTiM. Multiple votes are allowed.

For more information about Adams and her childcare programs, visit her website at www.tlcsoutheast.com.

• Richard Radford may be reached at richard.radford@capweek.com.

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