Five lambs are million-to-one sign of spring for Cumbrian farmer
A Geltsdale farmer couldn't believe it when a million-to-one sign of spring arrived on his farm.
This playful group of quintuplets are among the newest additions to Keith Brown's heard at Greenwell Meadows Farm at Castle Carrock, near Brampton.
The farmer admits he was shocked when he discovered the Texel-cross ewe had delivered five lambs - on her own.
He said his ewe had successfully delivered three lambs on Tuesday but when he checked on her the following morning, he was stunned to find she'd had two more through the night.
"We put her into a pen on her own. She was scanned for three. She had her three and it wasn't until the next morning when I came that there were two more," said Keith, 54.
"At first I thought maybe two lambs had got in."
But he explained that the two newborn lambs had no iodine marking and there was no way they could have got into the pen from somewhere else.
All five lambs are still on their mother and have needed no assistance with milk, but three will eventually be found new mothers.
Keith, who also runs NK Brown coaches, has been involved on the farm since he was a boy. It was when his dad Norman, passed away in 1993, he stepped up and took it on full time.
The newest additions are among offspring of about 60 ewes at the farm, where there are another 240 still to lamb.
He has another ewe which has been scanned for four and in previous years he's twice seen quadruplets delivered. But this is the first time in his lifetime on the farm he's witnessed quintuplets.
"We're stowed out with lambs," he said. "It will probably never happen again.
"I know that there is a lot of lambs around this year. A lot of people with good scanning because we've had a good winter and the sheep are in really good condition this year. It's a contributing factor.
"All our ewes that are having triplets, we're not feeding the lambs, they've all got lots of milk."
Mel Brown, who is married to Keith's cousin Martin and who helps out during lambing season, said: "I couldn't believe it. It was a surprise when I came in and found there were two more.
"It was amazing. She didn't need help to lamb all five. She did it all on her own. It's so exciting."
While quintuplets are a rare occurrence, Keith's aren't the first to be born in Cumbria this season.
In early February there was no easing into the lambing season for Eden Valley farmer Chris Purdham, who farms at Gamblesby, when three of his ewes produced at total of 14 lambs.
The were two sets of quintuplets and a set of quadruplets but unfortunately not all of them survived, with two lambs from the first quintuplet set dying shortly after they were born.
Elsewhere Lorton farmer Andrew Nicholson wondered how many were coming when his Swaledale ewe produced five lambs.