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Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet Paperback – April 26, 2011


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Frequently Bought Together

Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet + Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn + The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love
Price for all three: $32.05

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306818442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306818448
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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)

Review

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.”
 
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!”
 
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.”

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.”

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.”

Feminist Collections, Summer 2012
“Witty.”

More About the Author

A former 'city girl,' Friend lives on a small farm in southeastern Minnesota, where she and her partner Melissa raise sheep and cattle. She writes adult nonfiction, fiction, and children's books.

"The Compassionate Carnivore" won the Minnesota Book Award in General Nonfiction. Her memoir, "Hit by a Farm," was selected by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as one of the best books of 2006. Her children's picture book, "The Perfect Nest," was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as one of five best 'read alouds,' and was nominated for numerous state reading awards. She was awarded a Loft/McKnight Artist Fellowship for Writers, and her adult adventure novels have won awards from the Golden Crown Literary Society and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Friend has a M.S. in Economics and a B.A. in Economics and Spanish. She does chores, teaches writing workshops, and speaks at libraries, yarn shops and fiber festivals, professional organizations, and schools. She's discovered that farm chores and snowshoes make Minnesota winters bearable, and is especially proud she's learned how to take the wool from her sheeps' backs and knit it into very cool socks.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 83 customer reviews
This book will have you laughing out loud!
Cis Hancock
Catherine Friend is a creative and talented writer with the rare ability to spin life's ordinary details into extraordinary stories.
Mary
I enjoyed the book, An easy read and very interesting..
Emma

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Mary on May 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I guess I am a sucker for any book that makes me laugh out loud. I laughed many times while reading Sheepish, and, really, who can ask for more than that simple pleasure? Catherine Friend is a creative and talented writer with the rare ability to spin life's ordinary details into extraordinary stories. She weaves interesting details about Sheep and the history of Sheep farming into her chronicle of life on a Minnesota farm, while also telling the compelling love story that is her life. I found her devotion to her partner, her farm and her animals truly moving. Also, the quotes at the beginning of each chapter were fabulous!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By P. Olson on May 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
After having laughed til I cried with "Hit By A Farm", Catherine Friend's first memoir, I couldn't wait for this sequel. I was not disappointed.

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.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M. Grigsby VINE VOICE on September 29, 2011
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This is a delightful book about many sheep, two women, and the life they have made on a farm. The author is a reluctant farmer, but has a committed relationship to her partner and to her writing career. She isn't convinced that the farm life is for her, but she grows to love and know the sheep they raise, and describes the animals, the mistakes they make, and the choices they make with much love. She starts getting interested in the wool provided by the sheep and starts knitting, which she had avoided for years. After finishing this book, I wanted to go visit a farm and scratch some sheep. She made me fall in love with the idea of living near sheep. I have been completely engrossed with pictures of sheep (and learning more about the different breeds)ever since. And the love she has for her partner shines through the entire book! I recommend this book to others. I was totally charmed!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By post modern on September 28, 2011
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A lovely memoir well told with humor. As a woman who is on the brink of purchasing a farmette in the near future (at the age of 58) this is a good splash in the face with some cold water, for which I am grateful. anecdotes are very informative and are funny with a dash of pathos. will now read the authors other books. and am now anxiously awaiting the next installment of the ongoing memoir. thanks to the author for a great read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Boyken on May 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book gives a whole new meaning to the word "sheepish."

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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brooks on September 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really didn't know what to expect when I bought this book. My husband and I had come to the realization that we missed the boat on farming by waiting until our retirement years. SHEEPISH gave me the "farm-fix" I needed. I read a couple of chapters each night, trying to make it last as long as possible. I laughed out loud, especially at the part where Catherine turns into the finger shaking, flipping-off vigilante. I was reminded of Lewis Grizzard's ELVIS IS DEAD AND I DON'T FEEL SO GOOD MYSELF. I loved all the facts about sheep, I loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter and I loved the obvious care and devotion between Melissa and Catherine. I have tried without success to knit, but Catherine has inspired me to try again. I'm also thinking of buying wool underware. I'm a convert!
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