Thought I’d surprise ewe

Hay baby: Soay ewe Heather with her new lamb, Poppy.
Hay baby: Soay ewe Heather with her new lamb, Poppy.
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SAY hello to the new arrival!

Staff at Heeley City Farm in Sheffield were in for a surprise when they started work to find one of their ewes had unexpectedly given birth overnight.

The new Soay lamb – named Poppy – is the latest addition to a flock of the rare breed.

Sarah Hardy, from the farm, said Poppy and her mum, one-year-old Heather, are getting along ‘fantastically well’ and that the little one has already started taking a keen interest in visitors.

“Heather was okay when we left in the evening, but when we came in in the morning there was a new lamb waiting for us,” Sarah said. “It was an unexpected surprise.”

Sarah said farm staff weren’t sure if Heather was pregnant or not, and they also thought they’d just missed her being in season.

“We weren’t expecting it,” she said. “Holly isn’t tame, but she’s inquisitive and curious about visitors. Heather’s being a brilliant mum and Poppy is really sweet.

“Little children absolutely love her – one little baby tried to get into the pen with her!”

Heeley City Farm have nine Soay sheep, including eight males and one female, and began to keep the breed 15 years ago. They are a hardy variety of sheep originating from the remote island of Soay off the Scottish coast and there are between 900 and 1,500 in the UK today.

“They’re classed as ‘at risk’,” Sarah said. “They’re the link between wild sheep and domestic breeds. Soay is Norse for ‘sheep island’.”

She said Poppy, now one week old, is likely to be the last Soay sheep to be born on the farm for a while.

“I think that’s probably it for this year!” Sarah said.

The farm is open daily from 9.30am until 4.30pm.