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All sheeps and sizes Aspiring young farmer Laragh McTernan tells of joy at raising 'tiny' spring lamb over Easter

Maggie was the smallest of the litter and struggled after birth


Laragh and Maggie

Laragh and Maggie

Laragh and Maggie

For 13-year-old Laragh McTernan, this Easter Sunday will be like no other.

The Scoil Ui Mhuiri pupil and her family, from Dunleer, County Louth, have adopted a beautiful spring lamb, only days old, called Maggie.

When the wee lamb, the smallest of the litter, struggled after birth, Laragh and her family kindly agreed to nurse Maggie back to good health over the Easter period, to get her back into the field pronto, hopping around with her own family.

Speaking of how they came to acquire their new house guest, Laragh’s mum Deirdre said: “My eldest girl Samantha and her fiance, Greg, just got engaged a few weeks ago during lockdown - Greg’s uncles are sheep farmers around Dunleer. We are blow-ins. I’m from Dublin and my husband is from Sligo, but we settled in Dunleer.

“For years I’ve said I’d just love to hand rear baby lamb. Laragh loves horse riding and she has no problem mucking out, but because of lockdown all of that has stopped. Recently Greg brought her down to his uncle’s farm, and they were watching the lambs being born.

“They then came back to our house and Greg was saying he was going to get us a lamb to look after for a while. I thought he was joking at first, but I agreed. The pair of them went off again and Greg said he was away to get a lamb. I still thought he was joking, but they came back with Maggie!”

Deirdre said Maggie’s primary carer, Laragh, has been going above and beyond to make sure the Easter lamb has, quite literally, got back on her feet…

“When we first got Maggie, Laragh stayed up until five o’clock in the morning looking after her because she needs quite a lot of attention.

“I came down from bed just before seven in the morning and Laragh had left Alexa on playing soothing music for Maggie!

“Since then she’s been jumping around all over the place, and our floor is destroyed!”


Laragh makes Maggie's formula

Laragh makes Maggie's formula

Laragh makes Maggie's formula

Speaking of the challenge they faced in looking after little Maggie, given that it was touch-and-go when she was born, Deirdre said rearing her was similar to looking after a newborn child.

“It’s like having a baby in the house. Everyone is just sitting there looking at her waiting to see what she’s going to do next.

“Laragh makes up her formula, it’s the exact same way you would do it for a baby; it has to be heated up. She doesn’t really bleat too much, she only really bleats when she’s hungry. Laragh wants to leave school now and become a farmer, but she’s 13 years old, it’s not going to happen!”

She added: “Maggie was quite poorly whenever she was born. We were told that she might die because she was so small, but since we first got her and today there has been a massive improvement in her.

“She’s still only a few days old and she’s tiny - she was actually one of the runts of the litter. She was one of triplets and the mother didn’t have enough milk to feed all three of them. Because Maggie is so small, the bigger lambs were shoving her aside at the feeding reservoir.

“We thought we would be looking after her for a few nights, but now it looks like we’ll hang on to her for a few weeks, which will be just long enough to get her to go into the field.”

Deirdre also revealed how she broke the news to Enda, her husband, a haulier, who was away with work when Maggie arrived at her new home.

“I Facetimed Enda, and I started off by saying, ‘you’re looking very well’.

“He immediately said: “What did you do?” I was saying to him that whenever he comes home I might go and get him some nice beer. He responded: “Now I really know you’ve done something!”

“When I told them we had a lamb in the house he just kept looking at me and shaking his head.”


Laragh and Maggie

Laragh and Maggie

Laragh and Maggie

Having a small hungry farmyard animal living in your kitchen comes with its inevitable drawbacks - including the obvious!

“Maggie does her business when and where she wants. We’ve bought copious amounts of kitchen towels and spray for the floor.

The kids agreed between them that one was going to look after the wee and one was going to look after the poo. That’s falling apart now, and there’s been murder!”

Aspiring farmer Laragh also spoke of her delight at having her new adorable buddy kicking around the house with her.

She said: “Maggie is a lot of work. She’s a bit like a dog really, she’ll kind of follow you around everywhere. She’s very hungry all the time as well, and will do things like suck your finger thinking it’s food!

“With her being so young as well, you have to be really careful around the house. You could step on her and you wouldn’t even know it.

“We will have her for up to two weeks I think, it’s really nice to have a cute lamb over Easter and all my friends want to come and see her.”

Laragh laughed: “As we speak, I think she just peed on the kitchen floor!”

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Online Editors