The new lambs pictured shortly after being born
There was great excitement on the farm of Donegal sheep farmer James Toland, Cashelogary, Inver in recent weeks.
Well into the lambing season, there have been great celebrations too over the last seven weeks, on the holding James shares with his partner Bridget McCormack.
Rosie, one of the farm's prize ewes, has delivered the farm’s first quintuplets (five lambs) of three ewes and two ram lambs in over six decades. .
That was the end March and seven weeks on, mother and five offspring are hale and hearty and doing well.
“There was great excitement the morning they were born,” says Bridget, James’s partner of four years.
Bridget McCormack and James Toland. 'Rosie', one of their farm's prize ewes, has delivered the farm’s first quintuplets
“I hopped out of the bed straight away when James told me. It was just after 6 am. He had called me the morning before to tell me one of my other ewes had three lambs.
“James gave me Rosie and a number of other ewes as a present and I was naturally very excited as it was all new to me,”explained Bridget who is a native of Glenfin, but spent the best part of 50 years working in the UK.
“It is only my second year owning the sheep. James was very excited too, because in all his years farming it is the first time to have quintuplets.
“Quintuplets are quite rare, but even more rare is the fact that three of the lambs are black and two of them are white.
Out in the field when they were a couple of weeks old
“They are a real handful and there is a lot of work with them. Naturally, the mother is not able to feed them all. She is feeding two and we are feeding the other three. They get a bottle three times a day, morning afternoon and evening.
“But they are making great progress and are very healthy and are slowly being weaned off the bottle. They are eating grass and feedstuff and are less demanding than they were in the first five or six weeks.”
Bridget has already given them all pet names and reels all five names off the top of her head when asked.
“Jake, Sam, Daisy, Bluebell and May are their names.”
Bridget plans on keeping the three ewes for breeding while they will sell the two rams, that is if she can bring herself to let them go.
James is a former Donegal Tunnell Tiger, who worked a large slice of his working life digging tunnels in London, and has a wealth of experience farming sheep.
“Put it like this, I paid three shillings and six pence each for my first two ewes which will give you an idea how long ago it was. It certainly was not today or yesterday.
“In all those years, It is the first time I have seen quintuplets. The most I’ve had before that was twins.
“It may be beginner's luck but Bridget does seem to have it.There is an old saying you have to have success with sheep.
“Rosie, is a North Country Cheviot and when you take into account she had four last year she is a prize ewe.”
James and Bridget between them farm in the region of 100 ewes, on the scenic farm high over Donegal Bay, on the Wild Atlantic Way.
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