I woke up this morning and checked the barn camera and there was Melinda, who is on the early shift, with lambs in the barn. I called and asked “who is it?” She replied, “Blackbird. And you aren’t going to believe this: five girls!” Blackbird had our first quintuplets ever, and they all were girls! Blackbird has an interesting genetic history–she is the daughter of Bullneck, and Bullneck’s mother was one of my original stock from Everona Dairy in Virginia. Bullneck’s mother was one of a “litter” of SIX! And she clearly got the prolificacy gene, because she had triplets in her first year. Bullneck was never that prolific, but Blackbird had triplets last season as a yearling. There is another, less desirable trait that seems to run in that line; Bullneck’s mother managed to accidentally lay on and smother one of her triplets when she was a yearling. Bullneck never smothered anyone, but her first daughter, 0048, smothered one of her twins, and last season, Blackbird slept on and smothered one of her triplets. It is SUCH a sad thing when this happens, for all of us, including the hapless ewe who makes the error. Given this history, we gave Blackbird a double-sized pen for her and her quints, and after watching them carefully for a few hours, decided that since we would be pulling three of the quints at three days of age to raise in the lamb gang, since we don’t let any mother raise more than two lambs herself, it might be a good idea to just pull them right away and raise them on colostrum we’ve milked from other ewes, just to ensure their safety. So three of the five are with the lamb gang now, and I’m going up in the middle of the night to feed them for a few nights.
Our day began with quints, but it certainly didn’t end there. Just as Melinda hung up the phone from telling me about the quints, she turned around and Long Tall Sally’s water burst. Sally, a yearling, went on to have a single. Melinda went off shift and Lisa and I took over. We were just recovering from taking care of the morning’s lambs when I took the horses out to their pasture and found Lolita in labor in the shelter. She had twins, and I left Lisa finishing up with them while I ran to the post office. I was only gone a half hour, but in that time, Snagglepus went into labor and delivered a single. I told Lisa it felt like the grand finale of a fireworks display! Four ewes and nine lambs today, and only 3 ewes left to lamb. And the day is not over yet.