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Shepherd’s Sight: A Farming Life

US Publisher: ECW Press

A restorative and resonant memoir of a year in the life of an aging shepherd

For 50 years, Barbara McLean has tended a flock of Border Leicester sheep on her small Ontario farm, Lambsquarters. In Shepherd’s Sight she shares the crises, pleasures, and challenges of farm life over the course of a year. Now in her 70s, McLean faces a new problem: how much longer she can continue with the physically taxing work that is her central source of meaning and satisfaction.

Through her unsentimental gaze, we witness the highs and heartbreaks of delivering and rearing lambs, the shearing and spinning of wool, the wildlife in the woods (and occasionally in the house), and the garden produce moving from seed to harvest to table. Even after half a century on this land, McLean is still making fresh observations, and she shares them in evocative, elegant prose. As she moves through the calendar year, she also reflects on years past, offering a long view on climate, stewardship, and agriculture.

With its vivid description and absorbing storytelling, Shepherd’s Sight offers an unforgettable glimpse of a life lived on the land.

Barbara McLean has been a lecturer in English Literature and has published literary book reviews, essays and poetry. She is...