Skip to main content
site map
our facebook page
Wednesday, June 24 2020
The Ties That Bind

     I recently received this little needlefelted donkey in the mail. He was a gift from a friend - a friend I have never met. Like others among us, we are bound together by sheep. Our friendship is one more string on the web of women tied to each other by this mystic connection between women and sheep. There is something about sheep, a magical something, an earthly something, a something that only another person touched by that magic can understand. From the shepherd who tends the wool on the animal, to the fiber artist who creates with that wool, the wool tendrils of the sheep bind women together. 


There is a magic in wool - the magic of friendship. The wool leaves the hands of the shearer and the shepherd to continue its journey. Each hand that plunges into a bag of raw wool sizzles with magic as that fiber carries the sunshine of the sheep with it. The wool waits patiently for the touch of another woman destined to be part of the web, part of that network of women joined by the magic of fiber- the smell of the sheep.   

Sheep connect women. Many years ago a stranger came to my Farm Fresh Forensics Farm blog, drawn to me by my sheepdog and my sheep. We were soon joined by an invisible web of fiber as she became my elder, my Sheep Mother, and she led me along the path of sacred sheep, teaching me the ways and the magic of this life. There I found other women, dear friends of hers, women whom she had never met in person, women who had bought wool from her sheep, women who were now connected to her and her sheep, and as it happens, now to me and my sheep. 

Last summer a large box showed up at my front gate. Too big to fit in the mailbox, it was left on the ground beside the gate, where it patiently waited for me like an obedient dog. Puzzled, I carefully cut the box open. There I found magic and it moved me to tears. In the box was a drum carder, a most expensive tool used to process fiber before spinning it into yarn. As I gingerly lifted it from the box, tears welled in my eyes. I cried for the woman who sent the box - a woman who had lost a mother. I cried for her mother, a dear friend of my Sheep Mother, women who had never met but who were bound together by the fiber of sheep. Theirs was a friendship born in sheep. Just like she and I, they were spun together to form a yarn of close friendship. They had never touched fingers and yet they were forever entwined. A woman I had never even spoken with sent me this because such is the tie of sheep that holds women together. And in time, I will also pass down this drum carder to another woman bound to us all by sheep. 

I see the patterns in this spiderweb of women and sheep now. The sheep and the wool bind us, but as we age and lives change, the daily care of the sheep moves to younger women who are led by the wisdom of elders. In turn, we share these sheep and their wool with our elders.  The sheep are not ours to own, but belong to a community of women bound to each other. The wool we harvest is shared with our elders who no longer manage their own flocks. In turn they share their wisdom and stories with younger women along the web. And at the center of the web is the humble sheep, this gift from the Creator that cares for and binds generations of women together. 


When I first posted this on my Farm Fresh Forensics Farm blog, a reader sent me a note to speak up for the men - the line of male shepherds and fiber artists, who also make up the tendrils in that web of people connected by sheep. She was very correct, although I first wrote this piece about women joined together by sheep, there are just as many men in that web too. It has been said that sheep were a gift from our Creator and that if we take care of them, they will take care of us. They will also bind us together as a community. 

Posted by: Sheridan Rowe Langford AT 08:54 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email