Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet Paperback – Apr 26 2011
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Lambda Literary Award Finalist
Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City
“Fans of Hit by a Farm will get another dose of Catherine Friend’s signature wit and moxie with Sheepish, as she faces a rough patch on the farm, but still manages to be hilarious. In the end, Friend’s enthusiasm will make you want to raise sheep, or at least wear wool undies.”
“A graceful collection of farm-life vignettes becomes a whole even greater than the sum of its lovely parts as Catherine Friend . . . builds the story of a partnership rich in love, humor, and perhaps most importantly, sheep.”
“Sheepish is as smart and funny as its title. Catherine Friend takes us along on her quest to master the other ‘oldest profession.’ Warning: It may make you want to drop everything and go tend a flock.”
“Wry, witty, and honest, Sheepish describes a magical personal transformation—from urban to rural. Catherine Friend finds meaning in the middle of life, love and even knitting projects. Friend brings out the urge to farm in knitters, spinners, and ‘fiber freaks’ everywhere, teaching us to find joy and contentment in the small, sheepy parts of our world.
“A charming memoir . . . [with] magical moments.”
Garrison Keillor on Hit by a Farm
“A sweet and funny book in the classic Hardy Girls Go Farming genre, elegantly told. . . . It has dogs, sheep, a pickup truck, women’s underwear, electric fences, the works.”
“Chock-full of wild and wooly stories about the vagaries of sheep, this series of ruminations on life at Friend's farm also offers a glimpse into the world of fiber freaks. Friend's light tone does not prevent her from addressing weightier issues such as mid-life angst and heart-breaking aspects of life and death on an animal farm.”
E: The Environmental Magazine, April 2011
“A meaningful and informative narrative on the forgotten art of shepherding.”
“As provocative as her reflections are, it is Friend’s acerbic wit that keeps the reader turning the pages. A perfect choice for book groups, this is a look at the road not taken with a guide that pokes as much fun at herself as she does at the world around her.”
“Friend regales readers with funny and fascinating tales of daily life on a farm…Tidbits on sheep in history and literature add color…Her voice is wry and funny; she's self-deprecating and thoughtful, and strikes a balance between teasing and kindness, whether her subject is pregnant sheep, yarn-loving ‘fiber freaks,’ or spirituality and nature.”
“Fans of Friend’s previous books about her farm adventures and what she’s learned on that farm north of Zumbrota will like Sheepish.”
“Catherine Friend brings another wonderful tale of life on her Minnesota farm. With laughter and a few tears, Friend weaves together her stories like the threads on a loom, and as any fiber freak can tell you, this is a yarn we like to spin!”
“Whether you already know Catherine Friend from her exploits in fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature, or if you’re just discovering her, this latest laugh out loud memoir on farming is a can’t miss read.”
“Witty, warm, outlandish, and revealing essays…One of those gentle books that packs an emotional wallop as the author shares her highs and lows…The reader [will] want to hold onto it and keep reading forever.”
“A warm and fuzzy memoir…Friend’s quirky sense of humor is the thick yarn that knits Sheepish together.”
Vogue Knitting, Fall 2011
“[A] delightful, laugh-out-loud memoir.”
“Honest, thoughtful, and often times very funny.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11/26/11
“A charming and very funny sequel to Hit by a Farm.”
“A fun story about wool and why small farms are important.”
About the Author
Catherine Friend is the author of Hit by a Farm and The Compassionate Carnivore, as well as seven children’s books and three novels. She farms in Minnesota with her partner of twenty-eight years.
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From the first chapter on of "Sheepish", Catherine's dry sense of humor when telling of the adventures that can be experienced while running a sheep farm, is hilarious, entertaining, and not to be missed. Read the beginning story, and you will be laughing out loud and sharing with anyone sitting close to you.
All is not peaches and cream, or better put, soft and fuzzy when dealing with these four footed farm creatures and the work necessary to keep a farm operational. While providing us with a delightful look at the humorous events that can go on out in the country, Catherine does not shy away from the realities of keeping a farm solvent and a relationship going through the 'middle' of things. As she has said, beginnings are fun and exciting, but when the novelty wears off, and times get tough, that is when observing and appreciating what is around you to help you survive, will make or break who you are and where you will be headed in the future.
Ms. Friend uses her knack as a witty observer of life, to show us the funny, challenging, and redemptive aspect of being a modern day writer and shepherd in southern Minnesota.
A book worth reading more than once.
No, seriously. The author starts off by proposing that, instead of sheepish meaning embarrassed and awkward, we think of it to mean "Of sheep," much like "Spanish" means "Of or relating to Spain."
The interesting thing is that, at the beginning of this memoir, she's really not very much "of sheep" at all. Oh, sure, she raises sheep. She admits that the lambs are adorable and appealing and that there are worse lifestyles, but she just doesn't understand the appeal of things connected to sheep. Things like knitting, or spinning. We knitters have all been asked at least once, "Why knit it if you can buy it at Walmart for just a few dollars?"
As the book progresses, though, she decides that even if she doesn't have the passion to help in the field when things get too intense, she should at least be interested in what their sheep can DO. Or, rather, what they can grow. She takes up spinning. She takes knitting classes. She learns how to weave and discovers the wonders of hand-dyed yarn.
Like any good memoir, the book progresses through some major life changes and growth experiences. (Although it's refreshing to read a memoir that does not center around a relationship crisis or catastrophe.) The journey here is more about making the most of the life she's already in, not about giving it up to try another one.
As a knitter/spinner/wool-fan myself, I loved watching the story unfold. The author tells an entertaining story, and each step on the journey comes with touching anecdotes and heart-warming moments blended with a seesaw of self-confidence varying with self-doubt, but always with humor, and always with love and support given to and from her partner Melissa.
By the end? I don't want to give it away, of course, but I'll just hint that she's not going to be mocking people for knitting their own socks any longer.
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