I spend a lot of time working with wool, yet know woefully little about the critters it comes from. I was intrigued and delighted to read Carole George’s book The Lambs.
Essentially a memoir, the book tells the story of the author’s journey from international lawyer to the owner of a flock of sheep which she added to her farm in Virginia because her father thought “poetry country” calls for sheep. The book unravels the question that “poetry country” might pose. The relationship between her and her father was beautiful and touching. They shared a deep love of poetry and other literature.
I enjoyed Carole George’s highly personal writing style. Her amazing accomplishments as an attorney are told with humility. Giving it all up in order to pursue her dream of having sheep seemed courageous and remarkable to me. One of the things I enjoyed the most about the book is that wonderful photographs of her farm and the sheep illustrate her narrative.
I also liked the way she scattered throughout the book what she learned about the special Karakul sheep. I felt like I was discovering their history right along with her. Common to Asia, where their curly pelts are used for coats, jackets and hats, the sheep have fat tails which help them survive in times of scarcity. I found an online source for Karakul yarn. Solitude Wool describes it as “fabulously feltable, exceptionally insulating and extremely strong, but, it’s quite coarse and has no elasticity. The undyed colors are heathered and beautiful, but it takes dye brilliantly.” It sounds like pretty hardy stuff!
It’s not exactly a spoiler alert to say that sheep do not live forever. As a matter of fact, it was hard to anticipate the life span of the Karakuls, as most sheep do not live out their natural lives, being slaughtered for meat and pelts. Carole George kept her sheep more as pets, but they had their share of veterinary problems as they aged. Even their maladies offered interesting glimpses into sheep physiology.
I highly recommend this sweet book. My favorite quote from it is, “…when the human spirit is in harmony with itself, it is, at the same time, in harmony with the intelligence of nature.” The author crafted a contemplative life for herself, allowing a deep connection with her flock.