Sunday, February 26, 2017

Shepherd: A Memoir by Richard Gilbert

"A sincere, heartfelt memoir that is emotional and earthy, 
taking you into the herd, into the life of a true shepherd."

Shepherd: A Memoir  
by Richard Gilbert

Upon moving to Appalachian Ohio with their two small children, Richard Gilbert and his wife are thrilled to learn there still are places in America that haven’t been homogenized. But their excitement over the region’s beauty and quirky character turns to culture shock as they try to put down roots far from their busy professional jobs in town. They struggle to rebuild a farmhouse, and Gilbert gets conned buying equipment and sheep—a ewe with an “outie” belly button turns out to be a neutered male, and mysterious illnesses plague the flock. Haunted by his father’s loss of his boyhood farm, Gilbert likewise struggles to earn money in agriculture. Finally an unlikely teacher shows him how to raise hardy sheep—a remarkable ewe named Freckles whose mothering ability epitomizes her species’ hidden beauty. Discovering as much about himself as he does these gentle animals, Gilbert becomes a seasoned agrarian and a respected livestock breeder. He makes peace with his romantic dream, his father, and himself. Shepherd, a story both personal and emblematic, captures the mythic pull and the practical difficulty of family scale sustainable farming.

My Review…
Migrating to rural Appalachia from Florida, author Richard Gilbert shares his dreams, perils, and joys while raising sheep. Gilbert tells the story of how he and his wife purchased a seventeen-acre farmstead in the rolling hills of southeastern Ohio. Relishing the beauty of the landscape, his descriptive narrative is spot-on. His realization of Appalachia’s poverty and isolation is on target, too. Shepherd is about Gilbert’s interaction with sometimes quirky neighbors and sometimes quirky sheep… although not always, and the story unfolds as a life journey that embraces the excitement of lambing to the struggles of shepherding. Gilbert writes, “…I was embarrassed by my squeamishness over slime and blood and birth fluids.” A sincere, heartfelt memoir that is emotional and earthy, taking you into the herd, into the life of a true shepherd. Recommended reading.

Shepherd: A Memoir was honored as a 2015 Ohioana Book Award Finalist in Nonfiction. Richard Gilbert's essays have been published by Brevity; Chautauqua; Fourth Genre; Orion; River Teeth; and Utne Reader. His articles have appeared in Farming: People, Land, Community; The Shepherd; and The Stockman Grassfarmer. Gilbert was marketing manager of Ohio University Press/Swallow Press. Before that he was a newspaper reporter in Georgia, Florida, and Indiana, where he won awards for public service and feature writing. He holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College, Baltimore.

Shepherd's Pinterest page has photos and updates:

Richard Gilbert's web site and blog:

Special note…
Dear Richard... Congratulations on your great success as a writer, mentor, and guide. Thank you, Richard, for your wisdom and support in my literary endeavors. Your insight has proven to be a great asset. Best wishes always…
Gina, Riding & Writing

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