Sylvia's Farm 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