Hart Ford
Hart Ford

Spring miracles

Lambs are a treat to watch and touch

HALE – Just south of Hale, down a dirt drive, inside the walls of an old red barn, one of Spring’s miracles is unfolding: baby Lambs! Around the first of May every year, lambs are born on the Barclay Ranch. Lots of lambs! 

Growing up, Eldon Barclay helped his mom and dad raise goats. Their herd grew to about 76 goats when Eldon was in the tenth grade. When Eldon’s grandfather retired, he began raising sheep, which Eldon’s father (Eldon Jr), Eldon (the third) and his brother Jim would help with. 

In 1988, Lynn and Eldon Barclay formed a partnership with his parents, and brother Jim and his wife. That fall, Eldon’s father started building a sheep flock purchasing a couple of small flocks from some older gentlemen who decided not to keep them anymore. He also obtained breeding ewes from Michigan Livestock Exchange. 

The couple moved to the farm in 1994. Before they arrived, tenants from the farm’s rental homes helped with some of the livestock chores, baling hay, and unloading wagons. After they arrived it was an all-in-the family operation!

In 2009 Lynn and Eldon bought out the partnership and the “Barclay Ranch” became official. Today, Lynn & Eldon get occasional help from son Jordan, Lynn’s brother Terry Ekkens,and brother-in-law Johnny Guy. 

As of this story, 110 lambs (from 73 sheep) are thriving in the barn, with 38 sheep yet to give birth. Eldon estimates they’ll have about 150 in the end. Twins are common and 3 sets of triplets have been born so far. 

Eldon said he plans to keep 35 ewe-lambs (females) to be future Mamas. 

lambs in pen
Lambs fill one of the pens.

“We sell some of our lambs direct to customers starting mid-August (when the lambs are weaned) and through September. Then we decide on 25 lambs to keep all winter and grow them to 130 pounds, to sell direct to customers next April. Whatever lambs we have left will be sold at auction through United Producers in October.”  

Spirits were lifted at Hale Creek Manor recently when Lynn took one of the lambs for a visit. Residents were delighted as they held, pet and fed the tiny creature. 

Over the years, the Barclays have welcomed many visitors and school children to the farm, sharing this spring miracle with the community. 

The Barclay Ranch is located at 2499 M-65 in Hale. For information call 989-728-6954. 

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