We've had something of a love affair with merino sheep.

At present, we don't have any merino sheep, and, most of the time, I'm okay with that, but, every once in a while, I get that yearning to have . . . just a few.  Maybe a ram and a couple of ewes.  Or a couple of rams and five or six ewes.

And our involvement with merinos began when, for Rhichard's 24th birthday, I took him to Morehouse Farm, near Rhinebeck, New York, just to see a flock of merinos!  On the ten-hour drive down to Morehouse, I kept reminding Rhichard . . . "We're just going to look!  We're not going to buy!'  So we get to Morehouse and Margrit Lohrer, one of the owners, took us on a tour that began with an introduction to a number of merino rams in a paddock across the road from the house.  There were seven rams in the field.  As we approached them, six walked away and the seventh walked up to us and I scratched his forehead, between a magnificent, massive pair of horns.  And I totally stunned Rhichard when I asked Margrit "How much is he?'  And when Margrit said "He's not for sale", I was totally hooked.  So, rather than just staying there for the day, we stayed for three days, while I worked on Margrit and her husband, Albrecht, and finally got a commitment that, if they did sell, after they'd finished showing him at state fairs, I'd have first chance at buying him, and I cemented that by saying that, whatever the price, it was fine.  And that ram was Peppino.  And after Peppino came to live with us, along with six ewes we purchased - and more on them later - we met Martha Robinson (my favourite artist, and more on Martha later!) and Martha painted the portrait of Peppino that graces the skein tag of Rhichard's fingering weight yarn and a half life-sized painting of him that hangs in our living room.  Perhaps the gentlest animal I've ever met in my life.