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

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,365 ratings  ·  271 reviews
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, ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Da Capo Lifelong Books (first published March 21st 2011)
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3.93  · 
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 ·  1,365 ratings  ·  271 reviews

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Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that makes you say, "What is wrong with me that I like this book so much?" I can't explain it, really -- it's about things like sheep and wool, serious farm girl nerd stuff. But Friend is such a witty and engaging writer, plus I just like that she -- like me -- writes fiction, non-fiction, and children's books, which makes her seem multitalented (whereas it just makes me seem like I have a bad case of ADD). If you knit, if you like sheep (in a platonic, non-gross way, ...more
Mar 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, ladyish, blogger
This book is an quick, easy memoir. The subject matter interests me immenesely- a lesbian-run sheep farm is one of my most precious secret dreams. The author is clearly a skilled writer. And yet this book was just "ok" to me. It reads a lot like a blogger's book, and I found out halfway through that the author in fact keeps a blog about her sheep farm. I would guess that a lot of the blog material is given a second life in this published form.

Here's one of my favorite passages:

We stick by our '
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
I came to like the author as a character over the course of the book, but overall the writing was a reminder of how hard it is to do funny, self-deprecating, engaging memoirs well. The short choppy chapters, short choppy thoughts, and short choppy jokes don't hold together to make a particularly compelling read. I got the feeling that Friend's personal despair and the problems in her relationship were deeper than she really wanted to share in full, making for a weird ricocheting back and forth b ...more
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Friend is a truly fantastic writer, but I'm deducting a potential fifth star as the book was just too long for me, with my interest starting to flag beyond the halfway point; animal people shouldn't have such a problem. I'll give her a bit of that back though for the way she deftly handles the sexuality issue, so that it's neither hidden "Where's Waldo?" style, nor trumpeted as "Yo! Dykes ahead!"

Definitely read Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn first.
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: saving-the-world
this book was a really fun ride and i'm compelled to throw out my whole wardrobe and replace it all with wool - i mean, i couldn't be happier with all of my merino wool clothing from icebreaker, so why not? i so appreciate all of the wool and sheep trivia i have in my brain as a result of reading this one.

i still can't decide if i loved or disliked how short all of the chapters were. instead of flying through the book, it stalled me a bit, but if you like to pick up and read in small bites, this
Nostalgia Reader
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: buzz-complete
This didn't seem to be sure whether or not it should be a farm memoir, a craft memoir, a history, or an environmental manifesto. Also, even though they were focusing on farming for meat, the fact that they didn't even fathom selling the fiber until many years later was, imo, stupid. As Friend points out, wool is used in a wide variety of objects, so just throwing away (*cringe*) all that fiber every year was just throwing money away. Maybe it was just Friend's hatred of "fiber freaks" and their ...more
Apr 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Sheepish takes us back into the life of Catherine Friend, following the successful memoir Hit By a Farm. More than a tale of rediscovering the joy of working with sheep, Sheepish takes us through several vignettes of life on the farm. In between stories of sheep sex (success and failures), lambings, hay bales and fencing comes reflections on recycling, on her relationship with her partner, Melissa, on writing and on discovering FarmVille. Friend gives highlights in the history of sheep and wool, ...more
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the sheepish and bleating hearts
Catherine Friend starts life on a sheep friend without farming experience, wearing cotton clothing and no knitting needles. Her memoir explains how that changes through revealing humorous anecdotes and plenty of hard-learned lessons, sore muscles and tears. Friend doesn't skirt issues regarding her own sexual orientation, although she isn't militant about it. Her honesty also shows as she pokes fun at herself regarding her inability to consistently recycle and reuse. I appreciated her openness i ...more
Mary Beth
May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Amy and Val
This book was very fun to read. It is written with humor. The story is about 2 women who decide to start a farm and end up with a lot of sheep. They sort of figure it out as they go along and somehow manage to survive while doing so. The writing is good and done sort of as essays, although each one moves the book along in a chronologic order . I did enjoy reading this and I was glad to discover that Catherine did get to become a fiber "Freak" as she puts it. She also becomes a mad sock knitter. ...more
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
A funny, frank memoir that makes me appreciate sheep, their positive impact on the environment, and the importance of family farms. I really enjoyed this book and I've been having fun reading it with my family!
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Whether you're a knitter, spinner, or farmer-wanna be, you'll love this book!
Jun 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 mi ...more
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I find this author's writing style completely captivating. I started reading this book as a fun break from studying for the CPA exam, and ended up spending most of the next day finishing reading the book! We get to see more of life on the farm that Catherine Friend and her partner own together. Her description of the sheep on the farm was endearing. This book follows her discovery of a love of fiber arts, including spinning, dying, and knitting. I enjoy knitting, so I enjoyed her descriptions of ...more
May 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was drawn to this book because I have a friend who has shorn sheep, and I had a mother who, on her death, owned enough wool to save the planet - or at least enough to knit it an eclectic-looking cozy. I was not disappointed. (By the book. Or my friend. Or my mom, for that matter.)

Catherine Friend is a reluctant farmer's wife who isn't a big fan of hard labor, dirt, or oogy bodily fluids. But she came to love sheep ("in a healthy, platonic, and non-gross sort of way" as she is fond of saying) a
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another goodreads member wrote that this author could make a book about watching paint dry entertaining; I think she may be right, in fact, I just ordered a (used) copy of another book of hers (The Compassionate Carnivore), not because I'm on the fence about being a carnivore or anything, I'm just looking forward to reading more of Catherine Friend's writing.
Sheepish is the second of her memoirs of being a (reluctant) sheep farmer I've read, and it was immensely enjoyable, written with great goo
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a book I found at the Denver Post sale, and my sheep -- and now WOOL -- fetish won out. I was very pleasantly surprised. Friend is an excellent, funny writer a la Bryson, and her stories of being stuck in the middle (not the beginning of an experience, nor the end) are honest and endearing, making me laugh out loud. The essays are loosely compiled into a narrative of sorts, of finding one's focus and renewing one's energy through growth and creativity. I almost gave this a 5. I really, ...more
If I weren't horribly squeamish about 50% of the tasks required to be a shepherd, this book would have made me want to get some lambies and make some wool!! Each individual story flowed nicely and I laughed out loud a LOT - I love how its a book about two lesbian farmers (one very enthusiastic, the other not so much). My only criticisms are that the super short chapters made the book feel choppy and sometimes I wasn't sure if she was talking about one particular event or the events in general (s ...more
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this book because the title made me think of my mommy, and I decided it was time to read something that wasn't fantasy. It was an enjoyable read about farming, raising sheep, and falling into the dangerous world of fiber arts.

I now have a greater appreciation of wool and feel like I should go and buy things made with it. (Turns out it's much better for the environment than cotton, doesn't get smelly, wicks moisture very well, and won't let dust mites grow.) However I still feel safe from
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I was utterly charmed by this book. I laughed out loud multiple times and felt compelled to read aloud portions to others around me. The writing is personal, hysterically funny in many places, and in others recognizable as a reflection of things in my own life. It's a great read for fiber artists to want to know what a life with animals might be like. This book has encouraged me to love sheep even more...""in a healthy, platonic, and non-gross sort of way" that is.
Vashti Braha
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Savored this book cover to cover, slowly. It's layered, contemplative, authentic, and subtly revelatory - my favorite kind of writing.
One interesting layer is an exploration of the "middles" of things (of a life, a relationship, a venture such as a farm). I also enjoyed the author's slow, resistant progress toward producing yarn from her sheep. And, her layered self awareness of how she resists.
I hope to visit her farm some day.
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I laughed out loud reading this book, and sometimes laughed until I cried. I don't know if being a knitter made it more enjoyable for me than it might be for others, but I can say I recommend it. The second half has considerably fewer laughs, but lots of information on the benefits of using wool rather than other fibers.
Jena Gardner
Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I am pretty sure I would be well entertained by Catherine Friend if she were to write a book about watching paint dry. I find her style funny and engaging. I like the way she writes in short vignettes. I really enjoyed this and plan to read her other work as well. I laughed out loud several times in the first few pages alone...give it a try!
Donna Jo Atwood
The subtitle pretty much covers it. There is a bloggish sort of feeling to this book about 1. sheep in general, 2. a specific sheep farm in Minnesota, 3. the women who run the farm, and 4. saving the planet, or not, from global warming. This was a fun read AND very informative.
I thank Catherine Friend and Melissa, and all other hard-working farmers out there.
Nov 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
a fun book (true) about 2 women who, in their 30's, bought a farm and started raising sheep. The book opens as they are nearing or in their 60's. Lots of funny and heartwarming stories about their experiences and much interesting information about wool. it made me reconsider my decision to replace wool sweaters with fleece!
Jun 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book very much. I found the descriptions of life on the farm fascinating. The book became a bit disorganized in the later chapters, but by then I wanted to know what would happen next to the writer, so this was not too annoying.
Nov 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fiber Freaks
Shelves: memoir
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this memoir of life on a small sheep farm in Minnesota. Friend actually had me laughing out loud. She shares her trials and tribulations while providing an historic perspective on the wool industry. A Must Read for any and all Fiber Freaks!
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Knitters, spinners, weavers, tree-change dreamers - read this book! A memoir of Catherine and her wife Melissa's life as sheep (llama, duck, chook and steer) farmers. Humorous and real. And featuring the conversion of a nay-sayer to full on fibre-freak.
May 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Loved this just as much as her previous two memoirs, even though her descriptions about aging make me think it might already be too late for me to start my own farm. :) Catherine's warmth and wit draw you into each short chapter--I laughed out loud frequently and already want more.
May 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! I find her writing style very easy to read, so it's not suprising that I devoured it this weekend.

It's also a reality check about farming, aging, responsibilities and creativity all wrapped into one.

Highly recommend!
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
loved it, can't wait to read her other books and maybe get my hands on so of that wool!
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Ravelry Knitters: February 2012 Group Read - Sheepish! 12 83 Feb 24, 2012 02:30PM  

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Catherine Friend had what she calls a "boring" childhood, but she says that boring was just fine -- because it gave her more time to read. She read so much her parents had to set a "no-reading-at-the dinner-table" rule. She was slightly shy as a child, but enjoyed playing Beauty Parlor with her sister, taking family trips, and watching STAR TREK and TIME TUNNEL.

She studied Economics, but because
“If I start doing more things with my hands, whether that's woodworking or gardening or knitting or baking cookies, I might fall into the condition made famous by the psychologist with the impossible name: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. That condition is "flow." It means becoming completely involved in an activity not for the sake of the outcome but for the sheer joy of it. It means feeling alive when we are fully in the groove of doing something. According to Csikszentmihalyi, the path to greatest happiness lies not with mindless consuming but with challenging ourselves to experience or produce something new, becoming in the process more engaged, connected and alive.” 2 likes
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