Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Girlie Sheep has Leap Year Triplets

February 29, 2012 is a bonus day, a leap year day. People that are born on leap years only have one birthday every four years. What about sheep?

In the morning to feed our pet sheep and let them out of the barn where they are kept at night during the winter. We put the ram, a dorper x katahdin, with the ewes on October 4th last year, the earliest due date would be March 4th, but it is not uncommon for ewes to give birth a bit sooner, and so I have been expecting lambs for about a week now.

This morning Girlie sheep (yes her name is Girlie) was not interested in her breakfast. I went out later at about noon to check on the sheep. It is nearly the end of winter, but we just had 6 inches of snow over the weekend, three days earlier. All the sheep, the donkey, and llama, were in the shed. Or where they? I counted, and counted again, one was missing. Who was missing? Girlie!

I knew where she would be. The sheep like the shed in the day it is roomy and interesting – lots to look at, but they also have access to an older barn, one that is dark, but secure, they often go there alone when having their lambs, if lambing in the day (it is more common for sheep to lamb at night). I spoke softly as I entered the old barn. There she was with two... no, three, lambs. Two white ones and a black one. One of the white lambs was larger than the other two lambs.

I was alone so I picked up all three lambs at once and Girlie sheep followed, she is one of the more friendly ewes, not prone to panic, but naturally concerned. I had to carry the lambs so she would follow me to the other barn. Naturally this got the attention of the other sheep, donkey and ultra curious llama (she just loves lambs). I got them into the barn and set them up in a stall that had been prepared earlier in anticipation.

Taking pictures did not go so well. I took about 12 and all but one were blurry; I need a better quality camera! My husband went out and tried to get some pictures too but it was hard to get all 3 lambs and mom together.

By the time my husband loaded my pictures on to the computer and I could see only one was not blurry, her placenta had come out, you can see the white lamb standing on it. 

The biggest white one is a ram lamb, the other two are ewe lambs. Triplets are not as common as twins but not especially rare in sheep. Congratulations to Girlie on having leap year triplet lambs.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


You may remember Blackie sheep, she was one of the twins born a few winters ago and left to freeze to death when her mom wanded off.  She, and her sister, had to be bottle fed.  We sold the sister and kept Blackie.

Blackie sheep is due to have her lambs in about three weeks time and is getting bigger every day.  She sure has calmed down.  It use to be when I would go outside she was always running to see me, baaing loudly, even after she was more than a  year old.  I guess she is all grown up now, but she is still friendly and likes to have her head scratched.  She sure is not black any more though, all that wool has faded.  Only her face and legs remain as black as when she was a little lamb.

Look how big her tummy is.  That is her mother standing in behind her. 

It looks like a mild spring, well hopefully at least, the winter has been very mild and lacking of snow.  If you remember last winter we had snow up to their tummies.  Poor ewes had to struggle through the paths just to get anywhere. 

So that is pretty much it for now, just waiting for a few more days until the lambs start arriving, then I will have lots of pictures to share of all the wee ones. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lambing Time Almost Here

Today is February 15, 2012, in a little over 2 weeks our ewes are due to have their lambs.  This year we wanted to make sure the lambs were not born in January so we got a ram a little later than we had in the past, putting him with the ewes on October 4.  In previous years lambing in the middle of winter was hard work combined with the extra feed needed and risk to lambs being born in the cold.  Ironically this winter has been the mildest ever, we hardly have any snow, and temperatures have been pretty good for central Alberta!

With the sun shining and the girls all having big tummies I thought it would be a good day to take some pictures, so that is exactly what we did.  Actually my goal was to get a picture of the ram trying to charge me, he has been the first ram we have had that even tries this.  He only does it if I am not looking but on this day he didn't seem interested.  Normally I have to be very aware of where he is and if I feel he is planning a sneak attack, and turn, he pretends he was not up to anything at all.  Quite funny really, also he is small so not really a danger.

Anyhow for a while I had been worried that the ewes were not getting big, if you recall the first year we had sheep the ram we bought was infertile - I don't want to go through that again!  But in the last couple of weeks the ewes started getting bigger and there udders were showing.

Most of the ewes are getting udders, a few are bigger than others.  Diamond sheep is the largest, she usually has triplets, only once did she have twins.  Blackie, and Girlie are pretty big too.  In this picture you can see Diamonds rear end, and her swollen tummy.  You may also note how there is no snow, last year at this time it was up to above there stomachs, I had to shovel paths for them in some areas;  this year, next to nothing.

We only have 9 ewes, that seems like a more manageable number for our small hobby farm (we are not big time sheep breeders).  It is hard to get sheep to pose for their picture, but I think my husband did a good job getting some of them looking in the right direction for this shot. 

Here is another picture, this time you can see Diamond sheep facing amost head on, with Mrs Brown Katahdin to the left and the ram to the right (our right, not Diamond's). 

Aggie the donkey is in behind.