Foreword by Garrison Keillor Preface to the Revised Edition Preface to the First Edition Introduction
Excerpt from page xvii.
Sheep are an ideal animal for the small grower. They thrive on care yet will utilize hilly, rocky land that other animals disdain. Given fencing to prevent their wandering away, and protection from predators, sheep will take care of themselves provided enough grazing, browsing, and water are available. A flock fo sheep will turn a brushy, weedy pasture into a place that resembles a well-groomed park. Their wool coat gives them such protection from the elements that they seldom require shelter, even in conditions that would be fatal to other animals
A ewe births and raises on eor more cudly lambs each year that grow up to be sturdy young sheep ready for market in four to six months. The ewe and her lambs provide a clipping of wool each year that can be sold or spun into yarn for garments. Indeed, many of today's small sheep flocks were started because the shepherd wanted some wool for spinning, and many a fiber artist finds that raising sheep is at least as interesting as spinning and weaving. Some of them become shepherds of large commercial flocks, as Teresa and I did.
The new shepherd soon realizes that sheep are not something to be dominated but finds instead that they have a wide range of capabilities that the shepherd must learn. A wise shepherd today adapts lifestyle and schedule to the biological timing and needs of his flock, just as the wise shepherds of ten millennia ago did. The observant herder adjusts his annual work cycle to the natural cycle of the ewe, one that is strongly seasonal compared to that of animals such as swine, cattle, or horses. The sage shepherd becomes the servant of his flock and alters her ways and those of the family to function in a mutually beneficial rhythm according to the ewe's cycle of estrus, gestation, and parturition.