the Journal of an Improbable Shepherd
I am a farmer in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains. And have been for nineteen years.
The winds blow, unobstructed from the north through the valley where my house, barn and carriage
house are sited, and where I live with 150 sheep, fourteen goats, one Border Collie, Glencora MacCluskie,
my house cat Peabody, one barn cat, unnamed, a dozen chickens and a donkey, Giuseppe Patrick Nunzio MacGuire.
Farming came to me unexpectedly, in all ways that the words mean. I bought a house with more than 25 rooms,
plus a barn and carriage house and 85 acres of land with the intention of serving afternoon tea to my family
and friends while wearing finely tailored wood crêpe dresses in winter and linen ones summer. I would sew
the dresses, of course, in between planting a perennial border, complete with stone paths, 130 feet long,
little rectangular vegetable gardens, bordered as well by stone paths, with black currant bushes on the outer
edges, and Rugosa roses along the stone walls. Some of that happened. All of it, in fact, except
the dresses. The muddy footprints of loving dogs, the drips from bottle lambs held in my lap, the ever
present barn boots instead of English country shoes did it, in effect, spelling the impossibility of wool
crêpe and linen. Not impracticality but impossibility. I've traded the luxury of beautiful colors and an
immaculate house, constantly being redecorated, for another luxury. The presence in my life of sheep to whom
I can say with humility in my heart, I knew your grandfather. My beautiful dogs who still haven't finished
educating me. The deep rich black of composted manure in a thick pack created by the livestock. And a sense
of peace, joy and correctness of place
I've never known elsewhere. This is my story
Signed soft cover edition are available through PayPal
There are more journal entries in the the
Farm Stories Archive.
For the ongoing story of Sylvia's Farm see the
New Story page.
Sylvia's Farm can now be found on Facebook
To see more photos of Sylvia's Farm please vist Flickr.com
It was an honor to have an excerpt from Sylvia's Farm the Journal of an Improbable shepherd chosen to be included in Willie Nelson's book Farm Aid: A Song for America. I am deeply touched. I would love to share it with you.
(click here to read the excerpt)