Voices in Wool with Clara Parkes

From Broadway Divas to Shameless Escape Artists: Shepherds and their Favorite Sheep

January 14, 2022 The Wool Channel Season 1 Episode 6
Voices in Wool with Clara Parkes
From Broadway Divas to Shameless Escape Artists: Shepherds and their Favorite Sheep
Show Notes Transcript

It takes a special kind of person to choose a life with sheep. It's not easy. It's not glamorous. It's not the kind of career path that comes with stock options or a private jet.

It comes with something even better: Sheep.

Spend any significant amount of time with sheep and you're bound to form friendships, attachments, connections.

In this episode, we hear stories about favorite sheep. Whether they're from a shepherd or a daughter of a shepherd, the stories run the gamut—from a little lamb who appeared off Broadway to an escape artist who likes to brag about it.

What I love about these stories is that they don't just show how remarkable and just plain fun sheep can be. They also reveal a lot about the shepherds themselves, about just what kind of person dedicates his or her life to making sure that sheep have good lives too.

The voices, in order of their first appearance, are those of:

Siri Swanson, Yankee Rock Farm

Sara Dunham, the Crazy Sheep Lady

Rachel Atkinson, Daughter of a Shepherd

Theresa Walker, Great Bay Wool Works at Liberty Hall Farm

Kathy Oliver, Sweet Tree Hill Farm

Jennifer Kouvant, Six Dutchess Farm

Jennie Watkins, Ananda Hills Farm

Schuyler Beeman, Arbor Farm

Dominique Herman, Catskill Merino

- Music provided under license from Storyblocks -

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Siri Swanson (00:04):

My name is Siri Swanson and I'm the shepherd of Yankee Rock Farm in Orwell, Vermont.

Sara Dunham (00:11):

My name is Sarah Dunham. I am also known as the crazy sheep lady, my husband, Tim and I have a small farm in central Kentucky, just north of Lexington.

Rachel Atkinson (00:20):

This is Rachel from Daughter of a Shepherd. I live in Banbury just outside Oxford in England.

Theresa Walker (00:28):

My name's Theresa Walker. I'm in Durham, New Hampshire. We sell our yarn and most people know us as Great Bay Wool Works.

Kathy Oliver (00:35):

Hi, uh, my name is Kathy Oliver and I am at Sweet Tree Hill Farm in central Virginia.

Jennifer Kouvant (00:41):

Hi, I'm Jennifer from Six Dutchess Farm in Lagrangeville, New York, in the Hudson Valley.

Jennie Watkins (00:45):

This is Jennie Watkins, Ananda Hills Farm in Port Ludlow, Washington.

Schuyler Beeman (00:53):

Hi, this is Schuyler Beeman in Gilford, Connecticut. My farm is Arbor Farm.

Dominique Herman (01:01):

My name is Dominique. I take care of the sheep at Catskill Merino Sheep Farm in Amity, New York, which is a hamlet of Warwick, New York.

Clara Parkes (host) (01:12):

It takes a special kind of person to choose a life with sheep. It's not easy. It's not glamorous. It's not the kind of career path that comes with stock options or a private jet. It comes with something even better: Sheep. Spend any significant amount of time with sheep and you're bound to form friendships, attachments, connections.

Dominique Herman (01:35):

It's funny how some sheep will always be sons or daughters to me.

Clara Parkes (host) (01:40):

It's not always an easy or convenient arrangement.

Schuyler Beeman (01:44):

I was living in a carpeted basement in Nest Nyack, New York, with a untrainable bottle, baby peeing and pooping everywhere.

Clara Parkes (host) (01:54):

Yes, they're a different species, but somehow they find a way to fit in with the family.

Rachel Atkinson (01:59):

She'd put me and my sister in the back and Susie in the front and off we'd go off to the farm and Susie would hop out and go into the field.

Clara Parkes (host) (02:05):

Sometimes there's mischief.

Kathy Oliver (02:08):

He would lead the other lambs on escape, adventures

Clara Parkes (host) (02:12):

Or disagreements.

Jennifer Kouvant (02:14):

I had turned my back on Mattina and felt something very warm, dripping down my back.

Clara Parkes (host) (02:19):

But at the end of the day, their lives have become irretrievably meshed with ours.

Siri Swanson (02:25):

Eleven and I walked out of that show ring, absolutely beaming.

Jennifer Kouvant (02:28):

She's the greatest sheep friend you can have.

Kathy Oliver (02:31):

Especially in these days when you're not seeing people that often, at least I have my sheep that come and love on me.

Dominique Herman (02:36):

Everyone that met him instantly fell in love with him, but I would always say hands off, he's mine.

Clara Parkes (host) (02:46):

I'm Clara Parkes, and this is Voices in Wool, the podcast about people whose lives touch and are touched by wool. In this episode, we hear stories about favorite sheep, whether you are a shepherd or a daughter of a shepherd. From a lamb who appeared off Broadway to an escape artist who likes to brag about it. But what I love about these stories is that they don't just show how remarkable and, and just plain fun sheep can be, but they also reveal a lot about the shepherds themselves, about just what kind of person dedicates his or her life to making sure that sheep have good lives too. Let's get on with the stories.

Sara Dunham (03:37):

If we take the time, listen, every sheep has a story. Some sheep would tell just their own story. Some sheep would tell a story intertwined with our own. Much of our flock falls into that latter group. And some of those stories are so intertwined with ours that we can never be separated. My name is Sarah Dunham. I am also known as the Crazy Sheep Lady. My husband, Tim, and I have a small farm in central Kentucky, just north of Lexington. I run a small fiber flock of "sheep with character." And as I frequently like to add sometimes a bit too much character. We have a mixed flock of Jacobs, Cotswold crosses, Texel crosses, and a couple of whatever your best guess might be. Our sheep are here because, well, mostly because I love sheep, but also as strictly a fiber flock. We don't breed for lambs.

Sara Dunham (04:25):

And once you move here, you stay here your whole life. If you are a sentimental old shepherdess, there will be many stories that even with happy endings will still make you cry as you tell them. So I'm not gonna tell one of those. I'm gonna tell a story that never fails to make people laugh. And it starts the way all the craziest stories do. This is a true story. I work on a nearby sheep farm during lambing each spring. Several years ago, we had a lamb who'd had a bit of a tough birth and maybe gotten a little oxygen deprived. She was bright and cheerful though. And her mother tried to take care of her, but she just could not figure out how to feed herself. If you stuck her on the teat, she'd say, oh right here it is, and nurse away. And then 10 minutes later, couldn't remember where the milk came from.

Sara Dunham (05:09):

She was holding her mom and sister back from getting out to green grass. So Kathy, knowing I liked kitchen lambs, finally gave up and said, you might as well take that dummy on home with you. So I did. Lila peed on the kitchen floor one time that first evening. The second time she had to pee, she happened to be standing on some hay in her sleeping crate. And from then on, anytime she had to pee, she'd run into the open crate, squat and pee, and then come racing back out to play. If I took her with me somewhere in the car, she'd quietly ride on my lap. When we got where we were going, I'd carry her around to the back of my CRV, which I kept bedded down with hay, set her in there, tell her to go pee pee. And she would every time. I'm not sure how she figured out how to use a litter box, but honestly she peed on a floor just that one time.

Sara Dunham (05:55):

And I could take her anywhere. When Lila got to be maybe a month old, I started transitioning her from the kitchen out to our covered porch. I raise my bottle lambs like I am their real mom. They stay with me 24 / 7 until they're old enough to move out to the barn. And even then I stay with them for several nights out there. It probably sounds crazy, but don't knock sleeping in the sheep barn until you've tried it. I set my cot up on the porch and made up Lila's bed next to it. And everything seemed to be going along just fine for a couple of nights. The third night, we once again settled into our beds and promptly fell asleep. And then in the middle of the night, I woke to clump, clump, clump, clump, clump. Lila, what are you doing? Clump, clump, clump, clump. Lila, honey, go back to bed.

Sara Dunham (06:39):

Clump, clump, clump, clump, clump. She raced around the porch and then KABOOM. I jumped up and raced around the corner of the house and saw a big fire down at the neighbor's driveway. I'd assumed there'd been a bad wreck. So I ran to the house and told Tim to call 9 1 1 while I gathered up frantic, Lila. It turned out there was no wreck. Some punk kids had just decided to set my neighbor's mailbox on fire, using copious amounts of gasoline. How Lila could hear them down there - this was not a close mailbox - and know trouble was afoot - I will never know, but I will never forget her clump clump, clumping around the porch, trying to alert me to trouble. Here's the rub though. When Tim was talking to the sheriff, after everything had settled down, he told him "one of our animals" alerted us that something was wrong.

Sara Dunham (07:22):

Not giving Lila, a sheep, any credit. That was years ago. Now he'd probably just shake his head and admit one of my wife's stupid sheep. Lila had many great adventures and grew up to be one of my best babysitters. She helped transition several bottle lambs into the flock and even a couple of older sheep who moved in. I did go look up her last blog entry just to see the dates. And interestingly, her obituary was titled Another Story, and ends with, "even though she settled a bit into the background as she grew up, she became a part of so many other sheep's stories. Everyone loved Lila, probably because she told good stories."

Theresa Walker (08:12):

Hey, Clara, good morning! My name's Theresa Walker. I'm in Durham, New Hampshire. Our farm name is Liberty Hall, but we sell our yarn and most people know us as Great Bay Wool Works. We're here along the Great Bay, the estuary in New Hampshire. And thank you for asking about my favorite sheep. We've raised sheep for a long time. We have Romneys in natural colors, but we have one in our flock now that really probably is the best sheep we've ever had. Her name is Edie. She's a white Romney ewe. She was born in 2015 and like many shepherds who have lambs every year, there are lambs born in your barn that have, uh, just come out with a personality that you know is going to shine in your barn, in your field, in the show ring. And that's the case with Edie. She doesn't have the most beautiful fleece we've ever had on a, on a Romney.

Theresa Walker (09:06):

She's got a beautiful fleece, but it hasn't won many awards. But what she has is such confidence that we call her the concierge of the flock. She was in my son's show flock for two years and gave him confidence in the show ring just by the way she walks and held her head, how she looked at the judge and how she greeted people. She spent many weeks on the show tour season with her hooves on a bar and her head up high waiting for people by to rub her chin or to ask questions about her. So she's my favorite sheep for that reason. She's had beautiful lambs too, including Little Lamb, a premature lamb that was born earlier in February of this year, that struggled, but has the same personality as her mom. She just came into this world that a can-do spirit and an interest in all around her and a personality that shines through. So I nominate Edie as my favorite sheep in our flock for the confidence she brought to my son as a shepherd and to the joy she brings to knitters and her beautiful fleece and to just the friendship I have with her every day down in the field and in the barn.

Jennifer Kouvant (10:34):

Hi, I'm Jennifer Kouvant from Six Dutchess Farm in Lagrangeville, New York, in Hudson Valley. And we have a flock of Gotland sheep. And I would have to say my story would be about, uh, Mattina, who has some very, uh, non sheeplike behavior. For one, she is completely fearless, enormously curious and has some very unique facial features. We call her the bearded lady, um, for, uh, this mountain of, uh, fluffy wool, on her face and her lionlike mane of Gotland wool. She is always the first to volunteer for a vet check, no matter how unpleasant. And she will stick around the side of the vet while she checks all the other girls waiting, uh, to see how she can be of some help. And she is the first to greet strangers when the rest of the flock will, will hold back and hide.

Jennifer Kouvant (11:33):

And she is also the first to let you know, she'll give you time to feed and say hello to all the other sheep, but when you're done, it's her time and she'll expect you to come over and spend some quality time telling her how special she is and giving her the pets she wants. And if you don't do that, she will surely let you know next time that she is not pleased. Like the time I went and, knelt down on the ground and did my work feeding all the other girls and saying my hellos. And all of a sudden, I had turned my back on Mattina and felt something very warm, dripping down on my back. Mattina let it known that she was not very happy with me and, uh, and went to the bathroom all over my back. So, uh, that is our, our dear Mattina.

Jennifer Kouvant (12:24):

And she is quite the special, unique sheep. I often wonder if she were a human, what kind of person she would be? Probably quite a fun one with a very big personality. But I also know that she's the greatest sheep friend you can have. And whenever I may be feeling a little low or down, or need a little extra love or warmth on a cold winter day, I walk out to the flock and I'll sit with Mattina. She'll sit right by your side, look up at you, pet her as long as you want. And she will let you know that she is your best friend. And, that's all we can ask for. Sheep are pretty incredible animals with such unique personalities. And we feel very blessed to have them all here on our farm, Mattina most definitely included. Thanks.

Jennie Watkins (13:25):

Hi Clara. This is Jennie Watkins, Ananda Hills Farm in Port Ludlow, Washington. And my favorite sheep is my 19 and a half year old Shetland ewe whose name is Fir, you spell that F I R. She was one of the first lambs born here when I started shepherding almost 20 years ago. She's been here almost as long as I have, and she is the matriarch of my flock. She's an amazing little ewe, and she still is stomping around out there at 19 and a half, although a little bit frail, and we're bringing her in the barn at night. Fir has had triplets several times. She's never mismothered. She's always mothered her lambs without any difficulty. Almost two thirds of my flock -- which is 20 sheep -- most of them are related to Fir. And the reason for that is all of her daughters are incredible mothers.

Jennie Watkins (14:26):

All of her fleeces... Fir's fleece is outstanding. It's this gorgeous, uh, it falls between a moorit and a mioget, in the Shetland world. And I don't know that I've ever improved upon her fleece, which has been a breeding lesson. Every Ram I've paired her with I don't think has been any better than she has been. She has just been amazing. But all of her daughters are of high quality. I am so thankful I have them. I have some wethers out there from her. Everybody's temperament follows hers. She still leads the flock, although a little, um, perhaps a little more cautiously. She comes into what I now call the Airbnb in the barn every night with a pal who's a little chubbier than her. And they enjoy their stall at night, well protected from the northwest rains. And then she goes out with the rest of the flock during the day. She is an amazing little ewe, I have learned so much from her about the heartiness of Shetland sheep, the incredible mothering ability of Shetland sheep, the incredibly grazing ability of Shetland sheep. She is just an amazingly hearty, fun, in your face, looking for treats, little Shetland ewe, and I've learned so much about her.

Kathy Oliver (15:56):

Hi, uh, my name is Kathy Oliver and I am at Sweet Tree Hill Farm in central Virginia. I raise Shetland sheep, mostly, and a few Gotlands. And mine is actually a story of two sheep, a father and a son. Mostly Shetland sheep are, you know, pretty docile, not really interested in being friendly with their shepherd or any other humans, as long as they get their food, they're happy. But these particular sheep stood out to me because they were personality-plus. I'll start with the Ram, the daddy sheep. His name is Bowden, and he is a beautiful brown, very fine-fleeced sheep. And he has a habit of mealtime, especially grain, he gets so excited. He likes to jump and get crazy and leap in the air. And I'm amazed at his dexterity and how high he leaps being that, you know, he's a ram he's, you know, a little on the heavier side.

Kathy Oliver (16:57):

And, but that's what he does. He sees me coming with his grain and he starts his jig. He starts going back and forth, and finally he jumps and skips and leaps. And until I get his food. And then his son, though, we call him Teddy Monster. He is also a brown wether and he looks like a copper penny out in the field. And he started showing his personality when he was just a lamb. He would lead the other lambs on escape adventures. He would find a little place under the fence where he could scoot out and he'd encourage the other lambs in his generation to follow suit, especially his twin. And so he would get into mischief, but he wouldn't just be satisfied with escaping. He would have to tell me what he had done. So I might be feeding my rabbits or my chickens or over by the barn and he'd come and find me.

Kathy Oliver (17:53):

And then what he would do is he would stand in front of me and he would do a hop hop hop on all fours at once. Jump, jump, jump, almost like a nanny nanny boo boo kind of thing, and then run off and crawl right back under the place in the fence that he had found his escape hatch. And what that would do, at least it, would show me where I needed to shore up my fencing. So at least he was doing me a service. But this has continued into... He's now two years old. And every once in a while, he'll find a little place where he can escape from. None of the others do it though. He's the only one still doing it. And he again comes and finds to let me know that he's done it again. And so finally, my favorite thing about him though, is when I do go up in the pasture and I have to set up their feeding troughs, he does love to come and give me kisses.

Kathy Oliver (18:42):

He's a kisser. He loves to come up and rub on me, and he likes me to scratch his chin and his side of his neck, and rubs on me and loves on me. And, uh, he looks really sweet. Uh, he did have one little instance, I'll tell you, that makes him also stand out. He had horns that were starting to grow into his face, and because he's a wether, he has little short horns. And so we cut them off just enough, uh, to keep them from growing into his face. But now he looks like these two horns sprout out from his head, like little girls ponytails. It looks slightly ridiculous, but anyway, I enjoy him. He makes my day, he makes being a shepherd a pleasure. And especially in these days when you're not seeing people that often, at least I have my sheep that come and love on me, especially Teddy Monster and one that'll do a jig for me when I feed him. That's my story.

Siri Swanson (19:44):

My name is Siri Swanson, and I'm the shepherd of Yankee Rock Farm in Orwell, Vermont, where we raise registered Border Leicesters and Finn sheep. I had been raising Finns by myself for most of my young life as a glorified 4-H project taken off into a small sheep farm. When my partner and I took our relationship in a serious direction and were ready to move in together, that meant merging flocks as well. See, he had a similar 4-H project turned life passion with his flock of Border Leicesters. Before we met, I had my own feelings about the Border Leicester breed, not all bad, but they weren't a sheep that stuck out in my mind. Even so, love overcomes all. And I happily welcomed his longwool ladies onto the farm. Everyone got along well enough, but the Finns still felt like my sheep and the Border Leicesters his.

Siri Swanson (20:38):

No one particular Border Leicester ewe grew on me, even though my appreciation for the breed did increase. Now, let me take you to our first lambing season together in early March. One border Leicester ewe named Whitey surprised us all when she popped out three perfect little lambs. Triplets. Two white, and one black, the smallest of them being the black one. For those of you who aren't familiar with the lamb rearing norms, many ewes are only able to raise twins, no more, due to having only two teats to feed them with. While we expected to turn one of Whitey's triplet lambs into a bottle lamb, which is usually the smallest, we let the happy family go along without our intervention, but kept a close eye on everyone. All of our lambs are also assigned number at birth based on how many lambs are born up to that point. After a few weeks, the little black lamb number 11 was starting to fall behind the pattern of growth displayed by her two sisters.

Siri Swanson (21:40):

I quickly swooped in with twice-daily bottles of warm milk, but was met with an intense resistance. She flat out refused my kindness. This little runty lamb would let me grab a hold of her. Look me straight in the eye and then fight all of my efforts to get her more food. Finally, I gave up and we got to saying that 11 lamb, can't help her if she doesn't want the help. I admit I wrote her off. I even planned to sell her, had a buyer all lined up with a nice, easy pet home where all she would have to do is graze alongside some old retiree sheep. The runt of triplets usually never catches up in size and or health. But by late summer, I noticed 11 had become quite the plump lamb. Short, but just as filled out and energetic as the other lambs, plus the most bossy one in the barn.

Siri Swanson (22:33):

Lucky for me, the buyer did back out and I made the executive decision to keep her over winter, to have her as a yearling. Now, fast forward to summer 2021, my last year showing sheep in the youth division, which meant my last few times competing in showmanship. That's the class where the judge is all about you. Evaluating your ability to present your animal. You're at the center of the competition, but to show off your skills, you need to have an impeccable relationship with the sheep you bring in. I want to add here that none of our sheep had the proper show ring etiquette down because we had no shows to practice the summer before. So my expectations were nonexistent. I had some highs and lows throughout the season at fairs and festivals. And I told myself simply to enjoy my last round before officially growing up in the sheep show world.

Siri Swanson (23:28):

Come September, we're at the Eastern States Exposition, one of the best livestock exhibitions in the Northeast, and some would say the country. Showmanship is optional for youth at this event, which left me hemming and hawing all day about whether or not I cared to enter. At the last minute, I pulled out 11 and added my name to the entries. This is a big competitive class of the oldest, most experienced showmen. So I'm literally walking in with a mindset of, just have fun. I was at ease, 11 was perfectly alert, but calm, working with me in that impeccable unison every young shepherd works for. Our cool harmony was tested when the judge looked up at us and waved us into the top five lineup. I could not believe it. I still don't. Though we did not earn the first place honors, I was ecstatic. My little runt and I worked up to an honorable position at such a special event. Eleven and I walked out of that show ring absolutely beaming. That little sheep, who I wasn't even supposed to keep, elevated me to finish out my youth showing career at an all-time high. We're settled in for winter and soon lambing season now. And I am happy to report that 11 has been confirmed pregnant with twins. And yes, I'm very fond of all of our Border Leicester ladies now, thanks in no small part to that little 11.

Schuyler Beeman (25:05):

Hi, this is Schuyler Beeman in Guilford, Connecticut. My farm is Arbor Farm, and I wanted to tell you a story about my special little ewe Annie. I actually received Annie to raise for a show off-Broadway. In a previous life I used to work for the Broadway animal trainers. I had actually done this show, which is a Sam Shepherd show, back in 2013 in New Haven, Connecticut. And this is now 2019 and they were doing it at Signature Theater off Broadway. And I had, since that first time doing it in New Haven, worked with sheep for a few years, learned a lot more about sheep as compared to that first production of the show, and was asked again to do it because of all of my sheep experience. I received Annie in a spring morning. My boss's wife had gone down to New Jersey to find this little bottle baby that needed a home.

Schuyler Beeman (26:07):

And as soon as she got to my house, she was handed over to me and immediately she just fell right into my neck and stayed there. And, and it was, my mother actually took a picture of it because it was so sweet and special. Here's this little thing that doesn't know me for anything and has just traveled from New Jersey to Connecticut in a car, you know, who knows what. But I knew, and she knew, that we were gonna be together for the rest of her life, no matter what. And that was the exciting thing, was, you know, I was doing this show and I had already just decided that after this show I was gonna be finally starting my own sheep farm. I had already had two sheep from the, the farm that I used to work at, down in Maryland, Shepherd's Hay Farm, but this little ewe was gonna be my first sheep of my own.

Schuyler Beeman (27:06):

And we just, we just hugged for a little bit. And then I let her run around and we got going on figuring each other out. And it was, <laugh> a, a slog to say the least, uh, as that show is. Sheep should not be indoors, especially when she had an infection on her tail because of a bad docking experience. So I couldn't have her in a diaper, which meant that I was living in a carpeted basement in West Nyack, New York with an untrainable bottle baby peeing and pooping everywhere. So I had towels everywhere and sheets everywhere, trying to keep this pee and poop up off the carpet. And we finally got to a point where I just couldn't take it anymore. And I ended up actually moving back to my parents' house and living in the barn with Annie throughout the rest of May and throughout the rest of the production, driving in and out of the city, six days a week, with a lamb in the back of my car.

Schuyler Beeman (28:12):

And now fast forward to who she is today and who we are today. You know, whenever she sees me, I get a good, "hello mom!" And last year she raised two beautiful twins. she is definitely pregnant again today. She was a fabulous mother, which, you know, I was so worried about how she would be as a mom, not only because she was a bottle baby, but because I kind of raised her in this really strange, not ideal scenario as this indoor, you know, thing. And I had a lot of anxiety about, is she gonna be able to transition into being a real sheep. And she's still herself, there is no doubt about that. She is still her diva, sassy self, but in the grand scheme of things, she has turned out just fine. She is a fabulous mother. She's a beautiful ewe, produces fabulous wool. She brings so much joy to my life whenever I see her. And whenever I go into the pen and she immediately throws herself on top of me.

Rachel Atkinson (29:39):

This is Rachel from Daughter of a Shepherd. I live in Banbury, just outside Oxford in England. And I run a wool company started around five years ago. We, um, grew up with sheep, but not in the traditional sense of, um, farming. My dad actually a lingerie salesman and he bred border collie dogs too. And then he needed sheep to train the dogs on. So he had a small flock and used to rent fields and pieces of land from various people and also from the council and things like that. And every year they'd be lambs and you could pretty much guarantee there'd also be an orphan lamb who would come to live with us. And one year we had a particularly lovely lamb who became a pet, and we called her Susie. And Susie lived in the back garden until she got too big. We used to take her to the farm up the road, but, in order to get her there before we went to school on a morning, we would drop Susie off at the farm up the road.

Rachel Atkinson (30:49):

So she could spend time with a donkey friend. And I think there might have been another horse in the field as well. But, um, to get us there, mum used to put us all in her little old mini. And it was one of the small minis when minis were, were old and small. And, um, she'd put me and my sister in the back and Susie in the front and off, we'd go, off to the farm. Susie would hop out and go into the field and have a social time. And then at quarter past three, mum would pick us up from school and we'd drive up to the farm. And, um, Susie would be at the gate waiting to be picked up and open the gate, open the car door, and in she'd hop and we'd go back home. I wish there was a picture of it. I really do. Um, but we did that for quite a long time until she just got too big. And, she went to live with some friends in the next village who had a small holding and a place for her to run around and some goat friends. And I think there was geese. And she happily lived out her days.

Dominique Herman (32:08):

My name is Dominique. I take care of the sheep at Catskill Merino Sheep Farm in Amity, New York, which is a Hamlet of Warwick, New York. When Clara asked us to talk about a special sheep in our lives, I really had to think. There are just so many of them, past and present. But anyone that knows me knows there is one sheep that will always be a star in my life. His number was 36. The story begins in November of 2008, when another beloved sheep named Ugh tragically died in the electric fence. At the same time, little 36 had just lost his mother. His roommate, another orphan ewe lamb, had just died, and he was struggling to survive. In the midst of my grief over Ugh, I poured everything into taking care of 36.

Dominique Herman (33:28):

It's funny how some sheep will always be sons or daughters to me, but 36 quickly became my boyfriend. We were in love. He would just look right at me all the time. He wasn't that interested in other sheep, really. He just focused on me or Eugene, and strolled around the farm like he was the king. I would stand by and watch him at the feeders, using his beautiful horns to keep his space in the feeder so nobody else would eat his feed. I was just amusing. Beautiful. And so charismatic. Every one that met him instantly fell in love with him, but I would always say, hands off he's mine. He broke my heart and died in the summer of 2016 during a terrible heat wave. I dug his grave and buried him in my backyard, and still pay homage to 36. Eugene frowned upon naming sheep. So he always went by 36. But most of the time I just called him my love.

Clara Parkes (host) (35:31):

We have been listening to shepherds tell us stories about their favorite, most notable, most memorable sheep. For a complete transcript of this episode, as well as links to each of the farmers whose stories we've just heard, go to thewoolchannel.com/listen or check the show notes for this episode, wherever you get your podcasts. Voices in Wool is brought to you by members of The Wool Channel, a platform, publication community, and consumer movement dedicated to giving wool a voice in the world. To find out how you, too, can join the flock, visit thewoolchannel.com. I'm Clara Parkes. Thank you for listening. Until next time, bye bye