What is the common thread between road rage, Elvis and socks?
The answer: wool, writes Friend (The Compassionate Carnivore, 2009, etc.) in this memoir about raising sheep with her partner. The story begins with an anecdote about a man who, during a visit to the author’s farm to purchase beef, became riveted by a sign that read, “Warning Electric Fence.” It's the perfect extended metaphor for Friend’s adventures on the farm—that caution often gives way to curiosity, demonstrated soon after as the man reached out and was shocked. Like her customer, the author has been intrigued by adventures into unknown territory. In her latest installment of life on the farm, the author focuses on the middles, the times not often celebrated, ruminating on being both mid-career and middle-aged. The author's humility is engaging, and she is well aware that sheep farming isn't the broadest of interests: “If people are relying on me to show them the way, they’re in big trouble…basically because I’ve begun turning to memoirs myself in search of direction and encouragement.” But she's quite wise, as well, offering several insights into what humans can learn from sheep. 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.