Catherine Friend


“Our farm has its ups and downs, but I believe that it's lasted fifteen years because of the thread of joy that runs through those farms where the animals are happy, calm, and contented. You can't be around such animals without absorbing a bit of their zen.”

The paragraph above comes from Sheepish, Catherine Friend's latest book (readers may recall the review of one of her earlier works, Hit By a Farm). Subtitled Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet, it's a funny and thoughtful romp through the history of these woolly creatures and why small farms are important. She continues:

“Despite my current confusion over what I want to be when I grow up, without sheep in my life I would greatly miss the joy. Two of the most blatant animal joy indicators on a farm are sproings and worfls.

Animals jump, leap, and spring, but they also sproing. If you've ever watched cartoons, you've likely seen an animal sproing, but few nonfarmers have been lucky enough to see an actual sproinging. When an animal sproings, all four legs leave the ground at the same time and the animal bounces way up into the air. An animal will often sproing when it's excited – wheee! Of if it's the last one through the gate, it might sproing to confuse me in case I'm a wolf.

Four legs up, four legs down, four legs up. It's one of the most surprising things you'll ever see an animal do. Talk about defying gravity. Many marketing campaigns use the tired, worn out 'Think Spring!' A truly innovative marketer would switch to 'Think Sproing!'”

Then there's the question of the worfl. Ever heard the term? Ms. Friend writes about it this way:

“The second thing that happens on a sheep farm is worfling. A worfl is a sound I've heard for fifteen years but didn't know there was a word for it until I found it on a farmer's Web site. It may not be a widely accepted term – perhaps this shepherd merely adopted it on her own – but worfl deserves to be more widely used. It's a great word.

When a ewe is in labor, she'll bleat loudly because it hurts, damn it, but also, now and then, nicker softly in her throat. When the lamb is born and only seconds old, as the ewe is licking off the lamb she makes the same throaty, deeply contented sound. It's a sound that's unique to her, a sound that the lamb will recognize among a chorus of other ewes. That sound is worfling.”

From sproinging to worfling, Sheepish provides a great look at a way of life few of us will ever experience. It's a yarn you'll definitely enjoy, so be sure to read all about it!

Copyright 2012, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.