BLUE CREEK DAIRY FARM

Review: Sheepish

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Title: Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep & Enough Wool to Save the Planet
Author: Catherine Friend
Occupation/Association:
Writer, shepherd
Publishing Info: 2011, Da Capo Press
Book Type: Memoir, Light History
Catherine is a lesbian, sheepfarmer/writer from Minnesota...that is a pretty specific niche.
Yet, her true and engaging writing voice makes you feel like you are sitting at the kitchen table catching a chat before she has to go help Melissa with lambing. I have not (yet) read her previous book Hit By a Farm, but assume that has more to do with the beginning of her farming story. Sheepish is more about the middle, and almost end, of their shepherding story. Catherine writes so frankly sometimes about her inner fears and relationship struggles, that you feel like you are in her corner, urging her on. The beginning of the book appears to be more structured as she takes you on a light historical tour of sheep, the importance of wool, and the parts that make up a successful sheep herding operation. The second half delves more into the struggles, such as lambs coming at the wrong time and health woes, and digresses a bit but is still enjoyable.

My favorite part was riding along with Catherine as she entered the world of the “fiber freaks” and basically became one herself. They originally sold their sheep just for meat, but Catherine found their particular cross breed actually produced a valuable fleece. So she sent some away for prep, and was so shocked to see it all sell quickly. Catherine also took up knitting and spinning.

This is a good book for those interested in sheep or knitting, but not so much for those looking for an light-inspirational-damn-it-next-year-I-am-going-to-farm book. She does have some funny insights about non-farming folk, like how they always want to test the electric fences!

Key Quote:
Our farm has had its ups and downs, but I believe that it’s lasted fifteen years because of the thread of joy that runs through those farms where the animals are happy, calm, and contented. (63)