Dr Dotti at Cotati Large Animal Hospital is a wizard with the ultrasound. Every year, he comes in December and ultrasounds our flock and tells us not only whether each ewe is pregnant, but how far along the pregnancy is (30 days, 35, 40, 45, 50) and how many fetuses he sees. He is remarkably accurate. I make a spreadsheet that uses the date the rams went in, the day Dr Dotti came to ultrasound, and the average gestation (142 days for our East Friesians), and the spreadsheet predicts a due dates for each ewe. We use that spreadsheet to judge who we are expecting to lamb, and it is hugely helpful and accurate. This December when he came, three ewes appeared to be “open,” or not pregnant. If they had gotten pregnant at the very end of the breeding session, he might not have been able to see it yet, so we always bring him the open ewes in January to have them re-checked. In January, I brought Bonnet, Bunny and Galloway (so-named because she has a white belt, like a Belted Galloway cow), to Dr Dotti to re-check. He checked Bunny: open. Oh well. He checked Galloway: open. Sigh. Then I brought him Bonnet, and said “I’m SURE she’s pregnant.” Dr Dotti checked: open. He said he was so sorry–this was the first year all we’d had three open ewes. I said it was OK, they weren’t going to the slaughterhouse, just to the “pet flock” that lives at my house. So they came to live at my house. Fast forward to this morning…I heard Lisa come over on the ATV to feed the pets. Then I heard her motor away, really fast, then return a few minutes later. I had a funny feeling…and I went out to find Bonnet with triplet girls, and Lisa tending the delivery of the last lamb. I may need to tease Dr Dotti, but not to fault him: our East Friesian ewes are HUGE by sheep standards, and very deep in the belly. It is hard to plumb those depths with ultrasound and I’m still incredibly impressed with Dr Dotti’s accuracy, an error rate of just a fraction of a percent in all these years. And I’m delighted to have Bonnet’s triplet girls because Bonnet is the daughter of Panties, the best dairy producer we ever had.

Bonnet by the pet shelter with her surprise triplet girls

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