IT may be snowing...but spring has arrived early with a flurry of births in the barns at a South Yorkshire tourist attraction.
Twenty-four piglets, 12 goats and one tiny donkey have brought the new additions to 37 so far at Cannon Hall Farm in Barnsley – with many more on the way.
“We’ve got lots of sheep due in the next month or so. It’s incredible to see all the little ones running around – we’ve got baby fever!” said farm director Richard Nicholson.
“The snow and the cold can be quite off-putting, but those who brave it to visit us are in for a real treat.
“There’s nothing more likely to cheer you up, after a long and dreary winter, than tiny little goats staggering around on their 30-minute-old legs.”
The flurry of arrivals means the mouths to feed are numbering too many for exhausted mums, so farmer Roger Nicholson has stepped in to help.
“Our goats’ mums can’t possibly handle all the kids they’ve suddenly got, so I bottle-feed up to three times a day to help them out,” said Roger, who took over the farm in 1957, aged 15, when his father died suddenly.
Roger, now aged 70, is showing no signs of retiring – or even slowing down – and has been on 24-hour call for the past two weeks, attending to all the newborns being delivered.
“They much prefer feeding off their mum but they’ll grudgingly accept the bottle, while mum watches on protectively,” he said.
And, in-keeping with the new arrivals, the family-run farm itself is going through a rebirth of sorts too. A total of 50,000 square feet of land is currently being added as part of a £1m regeneration, which will extend the farmyard to four times its current size.
Seven new farm buildings have been designed for the farm, which sits on the grounds of Cannon Hall Museum in Cawthorne.
Purpose-built viewing galleries will allow an insight into the day-to-day workings of a modern farmyard and visitors will be able to see tractors and farm machinery in action as well as cows being milked.