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.

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