Friday, February 10, 2012
I just finished a book that gave me so much pleasure I had to tell you about it. In turns it managed to be informative, educational, touching, and laugh-out-loud funny. The book is Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep & Enough Wool to Save the Planet, by Catherine Friend, and it's a wonderful read, whether you are a woolly person, a back-to-the-Earth kind of person, a farmer, or someone who has even one time entertained the fantasy of what it might like to have a farm. At the risk of sounding a tad like a stalker-groupie, I'd love to know Catherine & Melissa, would love have them over for dinner. Catherine's writing feels like your good friend bustling in from the cold and sprawling in front of the fire regaling you with the latests joys and mishaps of her day.
Friend gives us a history of sheep in the US...who knew that Thomas Jefferson was totally revved by merinos? She also shares factoids and statistics; it saddens me to see sheep farming on the decline, although one can take hope in the increasing numbers of small sheep farmers. I'm amazed at how many people I encounter with small flocks. These facts and figures are sprinkled painlessly and with great purpose amidst the real-life stories told with emotion, humor, and blunt honesty. Whether sheepishly sharing her transformation from anti-knitter to 'fiber freak' or the pain of deciding to sell a large portion of their flock, one feels connected to Friend and her partner.
I was put off, but only momentarily, by the essay-style of the book (a personal preference); most are only a handful of pages long. However, because of Friend's relaxed, informal style of writing, I quickly came to really appreciate the way the stories were told. Although not exactly chapters, each is obviously another stitch in the whole story, and I loved being able to grab a few minutes here and there to read one essay. It helped draw out what I otherwise would have gobbled too quickly, the difference between a decadent box of chocolates savored over several days vs. being gone by day's end.
At the risk of sounding cliched, I laughed and I cried...and laughed again. I've already ordered another of her books, and am awaiting it eagerly. I can't recommend Sheepish enough, whether you're a sheep farmer, knitter, spinner....or just want to read the real story of real people leading a woolly life. Enjoy!