It all seemed so harmless, a few years ago, when my cousin Gretchen was given a few sheep for free. She then proceeded to cultivate what she describes as a most decidedly un-free hobby, and began writing a blog about her experiences. We would visit, the kids would pet the sheep, the sheep would look at us with dewy eyes- and then we would leave. No big deal.
Then, last year, my dear friends Katrina, Sue and Dan collectively purchased a small flock of Icelandic sheep with fleeces so gorgeous they verged on the obscene. (Note: being an obsessive knitter and fledgling spinner myself, I am helplessly drawn to fiber like a moth to flame.) Katrina began emailing me pictures of adorable furry sheep faces and talking about her favorite ewes in the rapturous tones usually reserved for newborn babies and kittens.
Then, this past September, I made a fateful trip to the Shetland Islands. Owning sheep in the Shetlands is kind of like having oatmeal in your cupboard- it’s really, you know, not such a big deal. And because Shetland sheep are ridiculously hearty and have no natural predators on the islands, not to mention the fact that farmers are given a subsidy from the government for every sheep they own, the darn things are everywhere, dotting the verdant landscape like so many grains of rice on an endless perfect putting green.
So increasingly I feel like I’ve been on a crash course in the ovine arts. My love for animals and knitting, coupled with the fact that we just happen to have a couple dozen unused pasture acres surrounding our house… (Did I mention that our property used to be a sheep farm many moons ago? No?) Well, let’s just say I’ve been having… thoughts. Continue reading The Perils of Sheep Fever