Soay Sheep

Small Sheep for Small Acreage

Rural lifestyle amidst amenable creatures Many of us who have chosen to live in a rural setting with a few acres of green pastures, some trees, clean air, perhaps an outbuilding or two, tranquility and so on made our choice in part because we wanted to be able to keep animals of one sort or another, or will come around to the notion sooner or later. Odds are you already have thought about Soay sheep, or you would not be here reading these words. You are on Read more … ► the right track. These small, gentle, easily kept heritage sheep can enrich your life and improve your land.

Frequently Asked Questions

Finally it has dawned on us to add a FAQ list to this site. Check it out via the nearby link. We hope to add new entries as FAQ …► they come up in phone calls and emails.

Choosing your Soay Sheep

Blue Mountain Astro

read more ►Thinking about getting a flock of Soay, but feeling a bit bewildered? Here is a guide to the common types of Soay sheep flocks we and other breeders have put together to meet our varying goals.

Soay Sheep Husbandry

Husbandry Pages ► We continue to add pages on how we keep our Soay sheep. We write them as we go forward on the Soay Calendar, scrambling to get our thoughts together enough in advance so that you may may find them useful as the seasons progress.

Keeping Sheep as a Lifestyle

Paulina in tall grass Our city friends ask us all the time, “Why on earth do you live way out in the country and burden yourselves with a big flock of Soay sheep?” The answers could fill a book, but we think the following thoughts put to paper thirty years ago by a In the words of Mme Benoit …► renowned Canadian food writer, editor, chef, and shepherd capture the essence of the matter better than we can express it anew.

What's New for 2014

Spring lambs

Lambing Predictions and Outcomes

Back in the winter, we laid out our charts of prior years’ lambing and chose a past “ram-in” date similar to our plans for this year (November 5). Using that year's lambing as the predictor, we expected the 2014 lambs to begin arriving about April 5 and end about May 10. Our benchmark year included two clusters — a typical pattern and one that reflects the 17-day cycle for female sheep.

With lambing complete, we super-imposed our predictions with the outcome, as shown on the combined graph. We draw only three conclusions. The overall progression of lambing is roughly the same as last year. To our surprise we had no second wave of lambs and instead a bunch of ewes who mostly were bred at about the same time. And most important, there is a happy ending to the tiny outlier you see over there on the left, born March 28, only 143 days after we put the breeding groups together. A seriously premature lamb whose legs had not even firmed up enough for him to stand, he nonetheless was full of spunk and life force and it took only a couple of assisted feedings on colostrum in the first couple of hours to get him on his feet and raring to go. Not for the first time were we amazed at the hardiness of our heritage Soay sheep!

Soay Ram Lamb Thornbury

The Soay Sheep Chronicles

Priscilla's blog, where you will find a whole lot of useful information about Soay sheep, has undergone a major facelift. Now that it looks like a 21st century blog rather than a historical artifact of the days when even the word "blog," never mind the concept, was new, Priscilla promises to keep it updated and whenever possible to answer real questions from breeders and would-be breeders. We hope you will enjoy exploring The Chronicles.

Starter Flocks

Even our trusty crystal ball (a.k.a. data) can't tell us what ewe lambs we will have for sale this summer, but what we do know is the pool of mothers who will deliver them up, including some of our best seasoned twinners: Galice, Jenner, Carole, Lilly, Vieva, and Libretto. And don't forget little Patterdale, who to our amazement produced her first set of twins last year. We also have a few first-time mothers, including Clovelly, Hele, and Bovey, who we will watch carefully. We do not expect them to twin right away, but many first-time mothers on our farm have produced stunning single lambs from the get-go.

In the ram department, we have both newly-retired flocksires and yearlings to match up with the ewe lambs for starter flocks, or for breeders looking to add new rams and new genetics to their flocks. The rams pictured here are representative of the group from which we will select rams to sell and a few to keep here based on issues of genetic diversity for both our customers and our own flock.

Historic Ranch, Historic Sheep

Old Saltmarsh Barn The old Saltmarsh Ranch is nestled at two thousand feet among the northern foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains in southwestern Oregon, astride the Little Applegate River. Arthur B. Saltmarsh, the original homesteader who settled in the 1880's, built the barn and several other outbuildings still in use. He and his heirs lived here for almost a century.

Weavers feeding sheep Soay sheep have a much longer history. They are descendants of a feral population of primitive sheep living for at least hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years in complete isolation on the island of Soay in the St. Kilda archipelago located off the northwestern coast of Scotland in the North Atlantic Ocean, some 4581 miles from here.

Today's Soay sheep at Saltmarsh Ranch provide us with many satisfactions, foremost among them the rare opportunity to help preserve an endangered variety of attractive small sheep.

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