13 March 2015

The Year of the Sheep

Unless someone’s pulled the wool over your eyes, you’ll know that we’ve recently celebrated the start of the Chinese Year of the Sheep (or Goat or Ram, depending on your interpretation). Just like the rest of the flock, I couldn’t resist the temptation to check my Chinese horoscope and it seems – surprise, surprise! – this year I will be happy to lie down in a field, blade of grass in my mouth, as I watch the clouds go by.

Of course, coming from a country where sheep outnumber people by 7 to 1 (and that ratio used to be much much higher, at 20:1) and where roast lamb with mint sauce is the national dish, I can’t help but relate to sheep. Not only have they featured in our national culture from the beginning of New Zealand’s European history, sheep have also figured highly in my personal history.

My Scottish ancestors were some of the first shepherds on the high country sheep stations of New Zealand’s South Island, and one of my English great-great-great-grandfathers, an early immigrant to the Antipodes, even wrote a small publication entitled New Zealand versus the World as a Long Wool Producing Country: Comprising a table of calculations, explanatory remarks and data. By a Practical Sheepbreeder of English and Colonial Experience.

Given this background, it should come as no surprise, then, to learn that not only do I love knitting, I also take a lot of photographs of sheep. And what better way to share some of those photographs than to accompany them with some quotes by famous people, involving – you guessed it! – sheep!

Though the folks quoted below are infinitely more eloquent than I am, I do have one piece of advice for you – bookmark this blog! You may not share my affection for my woolly friends but, when the stresses and strains of daily life are weighing you down and you find yourself unable to sleep, you can at least return here and lull yourself to sleep by counting my sheep!


‘It's better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life.’ ~ Elizabeth Kenny

‘Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.’ ~ Winston Churchill

‘Geographically, Ireland is a medium-sized rural island that is slowly but steadily being consumed by sheep.’ ~ Dave Barry

‘In order to be an immaculate member of a flock of sheep, one must above all be a sheep oneself.’ ~ Albert Einstein


‘To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.’ ~ Mahatma Gandhi

‘To create man was a quaint and original idea, but to add the sheep was tautology.’ ~ Mark Twain


‘If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.’ ~ George Washington

‘Men are like sheep, of which a flock is more easily driven than a single one.’ ~ Richard Whately



‘Better to live one year as a tiger, than a hundred as a sheep.’ ~ Madonna