shepherdUpon moving to Appalachian Ohio with their two small children, Richard Gilbert and his wife are thrilled to learn there still are places in America that haven’t been homogenized in Shepherd: a Memoir.

The Gilberts excitement over the region’s beauty and quirky character turns to culture shock as they try to put down roots far from their busy professional jobs in town. They struggle to rebuild a farmhouse, and Gilbert gets conned buying equipment and sheep – a ewe with an “outie” belly button turns out to be a neutered male – and mysterious illnesses plague the flock. Haunted by his father’s loss of his boyhood farm, Gilbert likewise struggles to earn money in agriculture. Finally an unlikely teacher shows him how to raise hardy sheep – a remarkable ewe named Freckles whose mothering ability epitomizes her species’ hidden beauty.

Discovering as much about himself as he does these gentle animals, Gilbert becomes a seasoned agrarian and a respected livestock breeder. He makes peace with his romantic dream, his father, and himself. Shepherd, a story both personal and emblematic, captures the mythic pull and the practical difficulty of family scale sustainable farming. (description from publisher)

adventuresCity and suburb dwellers sometimes dream about what it would be like to live on a country farm and raise animals. Adventures in Yarn Farming invites readers to participate vicariously in the daily life of a working sheep farm without ever having to muck out a barn, be chased by a recalcitrant ram, or lift a hay bale.

Told through the eyes of veteran shepherd and textile artisan, Barbara Parry’s stories follow her flock over the course of a year, showing all the facets of life connected to sheep and making yarn. Readers get a front-row seat to the sheep show – tending sheep on winter mornings, shearing day, the round-the-clock chaos of lambing season, preparing fiber for yarn – and a visit to Barbara’s dye studio, where she colorfully transforms skeins for hand-knit creations. With the growing locavore movement, the rising eco-friendly trend in sustainable farming, and the ever-increasing interest in crafting, this book is relevant on many fronts. It will draw readers who yearn for a closer connection with a rural lifestyle and who enjoy making things by hand. Through 13 projects, as well as sidebars and side excursions, readers get a slice of life on a New England farm. (description from publisher)