Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet

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Overview

What do you do when you love your farm . . . but it doesn?t love you? After fifteen years of farming, Catherine Friend is tired. After all, while shepherding is one of the oldest professions, it?s not getting any easier. The number of sheep in America has fallen by 90 percent in the last ninety years. But just as Catherine thinks it?s time to hang up her shepherd?s crook, she discovers that sheep might be too valuable to give up. What ensues is a funny, thoughtful romp through the history of our woolly friends, ...

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Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet

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Overview

What do you do when you love your farm . . . but it doesn’t love you? After fifteen years of farming, Catherine Friend is tired. After all, while shepherding is one of the oldest professions, it’s not getting any easier. The number of sheep in America has fallen by 90 percent in the last ninety years. But just as Catherine thinks it’s time to hang up her shepherd’s crook, she discovers that sheep might be too valuable to give up. What ensues is a funny, thoughtful romp through the history of our woolly friends, why small farms are important, and how each one of us—and the planet—would benefit from being very sheepish, indeed.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this follow-up to her first memoir, Hit by a Farm, Friend details the challenges of balancing a writing career with sheep farming in southeastern Minnesota, where she lives with her partner, Melissa. As she ponders the content and meaning of her life, Friend regales readers with funny and fascinating tales of daily life on a farm, from the humor and peril unique to sheep shearing to viewing death as "part of the job." Tidbits on sheep in history and literature add color; for example, the author argues that sheepherding is actually the oldest profession and points out the animals' presence in our language, via expressions like "fleeced" and "dyed in the wool." 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. (May)
From the Publisher

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.”

Rachael Herron, How to Knit a Love Song
“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.”
 
Meg Daly Olmert, author of Made for Each Other
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.”
 
Joanne Seiff, author of Fiber Gathering and Knit Green
“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.


New York Times Book Review for Hit by a Farm
“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.”

Library Journal, 3/17/11
“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.”

Booklist, 4/15/11
“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.”
 
Publishers Weekly, 4/4/11
“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.”
 
Kirkus Reviews, 5/15/11
“The author's humility is engaging…Friend ably weaves together comical stories, strands of self-help, historical and environmental facts. Like sheep themselves, the author’s account often wanders outside the confines of the pasture and into the readers’ hearts.”
 
Ode, Spring 2011
“A witty collection of farm life tales and an examination of the world’s “other oldest profession” shepherding.”
 
MinneapolisStar Tribune, 5/8/11
“Friend writes with honesty as biting as a cold apple, and a sweet self-deprecating good humor…This memoir is special…a humble page-turner.”
 
RochesterPost-Bulletin, 5/2/11
“Fans of Friend’s previous books about her farm adventures and what she’s learned on that farm north of Zumbrota will like Sheepish.”
 
San Francisco Book Review, May 2011
“Plenty to enjoy.”
 
Examiner.com, 5/19/11
“Slip the book in your knitting bag. It is a perfect read for the beach.”
 
“The Bookworm Sez” nationally syndicated column, 5/30/11
“Imagine a serene pasture filled with contented, nameless sheep. Then imagine a reluctant shepherdess at the helm, add in llamas, cats, dogs, chickens, a peacock, frisky calves, knitters, and Elvis, and you've got a good yarn.”
 
Books, Yarn, Ink, and other Pursuits (blog), 5/11/11
“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!”
 
PortlandBook Review, 6/6/11
“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.”
 
Curled Up With a Good Book
“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.”

BiblioBuffet.com, 7/4/11
“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.”

NorthfieldPatch, 9/20/11
“Honest, thoughtful, and often times very funny.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11/26/11
“A charming and very funny sequel to Hit by a Farm.”

Country Folks, 4/2/12
“A fun story about wool and why small farms are important.”

LN-Lesbian News, May 2012Sheepish is both hilarious and touching…This is a book not to miss.”

Feminist Collections, Summer 2012
“Witty.”

Kirkus Reviews

What is the common thread between road rage, Elvis and socks?

The answer: wool, writes Friend (TheCompassionate Carnivore, 2009, etc.) in this memoir about raising sheep with her partner. The story begins with an anecdote about a man who, during a visit to the author's farm to purchase beef, became riveted by a sign that read, "Warning Electric Fence." It's the perfect extended metaphor for Friend's adventures on the farm—that caution often gives way to curiosity, demonstrated soon after as the man reached out and was shocked. Like her customer, the author has been intrigued by adventures into unknown territory. In her latest installment of life on the farm, the author focuses on the middles, the times not often celebrated, ruminating on being both mid-career and middle-aged. The author's humility is engaging, and she is well aware that sheep farming isn't the broadest of interests: "If people are relying on me to show them the way, they're in big trouble...basically because I've begun turning to memoirs myself in search of direction and encouragement." But she's quite wise, as well, offering severalinsights into what humans can learn from sheep. Friend ably weaves together comical stories, strands of self-help, historical and environmental facts.

Like sheep themselves, the author's account often wanders outside the confines of the pasture and into the readers' hearts.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306818448
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 488,769
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet 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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Table of Contents

Part 1 The Muffins Go Farming

Shocking 3

Sheepishness 7

No Snowballs on This Farm 14

Getting Naked 19

Freakishly Exotic People 23

Spinning in Circles 27

Sheep Sex and Other Natural Disasters 32

The Failed Environmentalist 38

Minnesota Cranky 43

The King and I 47

Brokeback Farm 49

Searching for Memoirs by Moonlight 55

Part 2 Telling Farm Tales

To Sproing and Worfl 63

The First Pasture Goddess 67

My Nursery 74

A Gaggle of Goddesses 78

A Cure for Writer's Block 84

Enough Happy Endings? 89

Does This Bale Make Me Look Fat? 94

Tending the Vineyard 98

The Perfect Nest 102

The Farmer's Wife 106

Just Ducky 110

The Incredible Shrinking Jeans 115

This Is Your Brain on Oxytocin 119

Part 3 Spinning Yarns

Woolology 101 127

Turquoise Treasure 133

Super Sheep 138

The Fuzzy Patriots 143

The Queen of Do-It-Yourself 148

Greener Than You Think 152

And Photogenic, to Boot 157

Of Warp and Woof 163

Counting Bed Mites 167

A Recipe for Carpal Tunnel 171

The Stealthy Flock 175

Re-cycle. Re-create. Re-enjoy. 179

We Are the Champions (of Sheep) 184

I'd Turn Back If I Were You 189

Part 4 Unravel

Something's Up 195

Adventures of the Backup Farmer 198

Holy Hanky Panky, Batman 202

Dividing Up the Cake 206

More Babies 210

Not Exactly a Goddess 214

Focus on Feet 217

My Head Is Full of Colors 221

An Intimate Secret 224

Part 5 The Love of You Sings

Real, Not Virtual 231

Wave of the Future 235

Listening to Sheep 240

Rhubarb Sauce and Candy Corn 244

Freaks 'R' Us 247

Sheepish and Proud 251

Acknowledgments 257

Sheepish Mitten and Hat Patterns 259

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 6, 2011

    So down to earth, honest about her faults, and downright funny!

    Sheepish continues the wild , sheep farming tales started in Hit By a Farm. Catherine and her partner Melissa are still living on the farm, but beginning to struggle making ends meet. Their bodies are protesting the heavy farm labor and Catherine still questions her commitment to the farm. But everytime doubts arise there is a warm, cuddly lamb to be bottle fed or some heroic friend stops by to help out. Catherine uses this latest installment in their farming adventures to explore the idea of middles. Why is the middle of something so hard to get through? In the middle of her farm life, in the middle of her relationship, and in the middle of her life she feels marooned, unsure of what she wants and which direction to head in. As in Hit By a Farm, Catherine intersperses hilarious sheep and duck stories with serious reflection on her life and emotions. She also examines her relationship with the environment trying to reconcile her desire to be good to the earth with an utter lack of the shear time and energy required to recycle, compost, and reuse every possible thing. In the end, of course, the answer comes back to sheep.

    I just love Catherine Friend's non-fiction! She is so down to earth, honest about her faults, and downright funny! Her stories of life on the farm with her tough and stubborn partner are ultimately so heart warming that you can't help but want her to make things work. Her foray into the world of fiber freaks gave me a new, if skeptical appreciation for wool and knitting. I ended this book feeling like I had reconnected with old friends and was pleased to see them doing so well. I will recommend this book to every animal lover, eco freak, knitter, and person just looking for a good laugh.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2012

    Great book!

    I loved reading this. It is so funny, and very informative. I didn't realize how eco-friendly wool was, but I will sure be spreading the word now.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2012

    Good book

    This book was informative and funny!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2012

    Snowstar

    The old shecat, the oldest cat in starclan, pads down to cedarstar. Her pelt shimmers bright white and her ice blue eyes have stars in them. She sits infront if cedarstar) yes what is it? - snowstar

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2012

    ?

    Whos chatting with who?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    Ally

    I like talking to people in private can w cha her pleeezee

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

    Really Enjoyed This Book

    Humorous. Green. Educational.

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  • Posted February 2, 2012

    Wonderful

    Such a great read, easy, light and fun. This author is a gift to the literary world, without seeming to understand that. If you love animals you will laugh and cry, and be genuinely happy you read this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2011

    Highly recommended

    This book is hillarious!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2011

    Real life on the small farm

    Farmers and non-farmers will enjoy the realities of their adventures. Laugh as they find their inner strengths and how they solve the tougher choices - "call the vet".

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    Posted March 20, 2012

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    Posted November 14, 2011

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    Posted August 9, 2011

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