Minnesota Historical Society

Keeping Watch: 30 Sheep, 24 Rabbits, 2 Llamas, 1 Alpaca, and a Shepherdess with a Day Job

$ 24.95

A middle-aged woman leaves her day job and becomes a full-time shepherdess, raising a wild mix of animals with equally wild personalities.

In our fast-paced modern world, quitting one’s job to live off the land is a common if often unrealized dream, but Kathy Sletto and her husband Terry know that one of them will simply have to. They were both raised on farms, they own a picturesque parcel of land, and they love the sheep they are raising on the side, but the work with the animals is taking over their lives. She is the fiber arts specialist, and she jumps at the chance.

Besides, they got into this predicament because of Sletto’s crazy love of animals. An initial purchase of two sheep quickly grows to an entire flock with the addition of llamas, an alpaca, and way too many angora rabbits— each treated more like family than livestock. It’s a fault Sletto recognizes when she can’t bring herself to cull her favorite sheep for the good of the flock, put down a roaming dog, or give up on a lamb born blind. She sees in these animals distinct personalities, respects their quirks, and recounts their adventures in hilarious tales—Tony the lonely, lambloving alpaca, Steve the possum-playing rabbit, Mack Dawg the llama with berserk male syndrome.

When freelance grant writing promises to balance the household books, Sletto must counterpoise new demands with the old, showing how the most modern and most ancient of work can coexist in this American life.

“Kathy Sletto brings new meaning to the concept of going green and going broke, and the story about how she finds her way will break you up, too—with laughter. The world would be a more cheerful place if we all lived in Sletto’s neighborhood so that we could witness in person the antics of her flocks, both animal and human. Reading this book is the next best thing.” Suzann Nelson, coauthor of Growing Up Lutheran

“Like a knitting project that cannot be put down, Keeping Watch sweeps the reader into a compelling engagement with small-scale farm life. The author deftly spins fibers and story, and her strong, warm, and resilient characters, both wooly and human, will linger as a welcome presence in your heart.” Cat Bordhi, author of A Treasury of Magical Knitting


  • By: Kathy Sletto
  • Publisher: MNHS Press
  • Format: Cloth book, 224 pp., 5 1/2x8 1/2
  • Product ##: 9780873517706

Kathryn A. Sletto is a shepherdess and grants administrator who lives near Alexandria, Minnesota.


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