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

By Catherine Friend

Da Capo Lifelong Books, Paperback, 9780306818448, 263pp.

Publication Date: April 2011


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.

About the Author
Catherine Friend left a career in technical writing in Minneapolis to move with her spouse to a small farm in southeastern Minnesota. Her adult memoirs, Hit by a Farm and Sheepish, chronicle her many adventures and mishaps in the country. Her children s picture book, The Perfect Nest, was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best read-aloud books of 2007. While she s not always comfortable with every aspect of farming, Catherine is proud that she s learned to take the wool from her sheep s backs and knit it into very cool socks.

Praise For Sheepish

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.” Minneapolis Star 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.” Rochester Post-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.”, 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!” Portland Book 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.”, 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.”

Northfield Patch, 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 2012 Sheepish is both hilarious and touching…This is a book not to miss.”