I had a long post typed up venting my irritation over the North American vs British Soay controversy, but I decided it wasn’t worth spoiling the tone of my blog with a detailed rant about an issue that only a few people know exists and even fewer care about. Maybe someday I’ll post it, or I might delete it entirely, but for now it will stay in my draft folder where I can read it whenever I run across something particularly snobbish.

I kept trying to write, but it always ended up sounding angry and frustrated. So I decided to walk away from the keyboard and go outside for a while.


My wonderful little flock is happily grazing and blissfully unaware that a lot of Soay breeders think it’s wrong for sheep like them to exist. Nova’s ridiculously hard to photograph; she’s standing right behind Princess.


My exuberant puppy is relaxing for once, chilling under a tree eating a particularly yummy grass stem. Sometimes I think he interprets the term “sheepdog” a little too literally.


Even my regal ram is feeling magnanimous enough to share the Clubhouse shade with Barney. I’m hoping it’s the beginning of a trend.

I feel a lot better now. It’s just too nice a day to stay upset very long.


10 thoughts on “Perspective

    • I think so too! It’s frustrating that so much of the Soay community has this “all or nothing” attitude about registration, and act like it’s borderline criminal to refer to an unregistered Soay as a Soay at all.

  1. I’ve been wondering if any soay are in Germany. A couple of years ago where I lived there were animals that looked a little goatish only because they didn’t look very sheepish and were small. (I know strange wording) They looked very much like your herd and in the spring they rooed. I know because I convinced a couple of them to come to the fence and I could gently pull their fleece off in puffs (it was obviously coming off in clumps otherwise I would never have tried and I only took a very small amount total.). I never went up to the door to ask the farmer. If I had lived there another year perhaps I would have gotten my nerve up. “Um Gutentag, Was schaf sind diese?” (Anyone who can speak German is laughing right now especially if they could hear my accent.)
    Since reading your blog I think that those sheep must have been soay or something very similar. I always enjoy reading about your herd’s antics. And they are so petite. 🙂

    • Thank you, I’m glad you enjoy it! Petite, I like that word; it suits them very well.
      I don’t know of any Soay flocks outside of North America and the UK, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were some in other countries that just aren’t acknowledged or recognized as Soay by the UK registry.

  2. I’m intrigued. What’s all this about US v. UK Soays? If you don’t want to publish the tirade just give me a hint — I thought everyone wanted to increase their numbers — any sheep that doesn’t need shearing has to be preserved!

    • British Soay have complete pedigrees and are registered with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in the UK. American Soay usually don’t have complete pedigrees, are assumed to be graded up and can’t be registered. There are some who feel that American Soay are “polluted” and thus aren’t Soay at all. Which is silly, every breed has grade animals and unregistered flocks, that doesn’t mean the animals are “counterfeit” or that their breeders are doing anything dishonest.

      • They look like Soays to me! You’d think nowadays they could sort it all out with DNA anyway I suspect that historically the animals taken to the new world may well have been less polluted than those staying at home — like the language!

      • That’s exactly my point. It’s nonsense on a genetic level to say that if there was ever a non-Soay ancestor anywhere in an animal’s breeding it’s “not a true Soay”. Even if the American Soay are graded up, there’s a point where the genetic difference between a graded-up animal and a purebred animal is completely undetectable. The RBST won’t even allow sheep from the feral St Kilda/Soay island populations to be registered because they “don’t have pedigrees”, which I think is the height of ridiculous irony.

      • That is ridiculous but somehow it doesn’t surprise me! Varieties of sheep are not genetically absolute — I guess it’s the same old story of people protecting something that they consider their property — usually for economic reasons.

      • Yes. In this case I suppose it’s to justify the high price for registered animals? Though Soays are no different than any other breed in that respect, registered animals are always more expensive.
        The worst thing is that they’ve created an unnecessary schism in the Soay community, which is already small enough without further subdivisions.

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