3.5 out of 5 stars

The publisher provided a copy of this, free of charge, in return for an honest review.

It is said that if you never want to work again, then make a hobby you love a job. I am not totally convinced by this reasoning, as I think that I would probably end up disliking it. For me, a hobby is something that you can use to escape the world and pressures of modern life. But for some people it works, though I think if Jane Cooper knew quite how things would turn out, she may have done things differently.

It began with knitting and the discovery of rare-breed wool. Further research led to a whole new world of rare breed sheep that she knew nothing about. She travelled around the country collecting fleeces from those that had rare breeds and meeting the sheep in question. And slowly but surely she fell for one of the breeds.

The one that sparked her interest was the Orkney Borerary a tiny but robust and hardy breed that can trace its heritage way back to the Vikings who first brought this breed to the islands off the Scottish coast. It is one of the few surviving breeds of primitive sheep and they are hardy and much smaller than the sheep you will see in fields.

Before long she was hooked and she wanted a flock of her own. This prompted a move from Newcastle to the islands itself and this book is her story from taking on a handful of sheep to a flock of over 100. However, her enthusiasm is infectious though and she has persuaded a number of other crofters to adopt the sheep in their flocks.

I liked this book. It is an interesting story of how someone who followed her interests and passion and ended up becoming the sole custodian of a flock of this rare breed of sheep. It has not been an easy journey, there have been setbacks, the abattoir being closed on the island by a short-sighted council being one of the challenges they have had to face. Cooper is one of those people who should be celebrated for her tenacity in keeping the Orkney Borerary alive.

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