Howdy. I’m Stephany and West by Midwest is my personal blog about sheep shearing, knitting, sewing, writing and other miscellany.


I am a tiny flock sheep shearer. I was certified as a Beginner Level 2 sheep shearer by the University of California ANR in Hopland, CA in May 2015, after receiving Beginner Level 1 certifications in May 2013 and 2014. I am also a certified Level I Wool Classer, having met the requirements of the American Sheep Industry (ASI) Association’s Certified Wool Classing Program in May 2014. You can learn more about my professional and educational background on LinkedIn and can contact me at stephany [dot] wilkes [at] gmail [dot] com.

On the left, a white blonde woman in a white hat and long colorful shawl. On the right, a tall white man with glasses, plaid shirt, and jeans.

My best guy and me.

The name West by Midwest tells part of my story. I migrated from Detroit to San Francisco by way of a six-year stop in Chicago. The logo was designed by my very talented brother-in-law over at Transit Design.

I write for work and for fun. I’ve completed a book, Raw Material, about sheep shearing and the U.S. wool industry and the manuscript is currently under consideration with a couple of publishers. Cross your fingers!

I write for a variety of publications, when I’m lucky. My short story, Township, was published in the Summer 2014 issue of Midwestern Gothic, and I am a regular contributor at Hobby Farms where I write about sheep. I’ve also written for The Ag MagThe Billfold, The New Stack, and the Fine Woodworking blog (here, here and here). My dissertation research was published as a chapter in Learning in Virtual Worlds: Research and Applications from Athabasca University Press.

I miss the smell of fresh Great Lakes water in a primal way and, in fall, want to return like a salmon. I can’t believe I live in a place where I depend on snowfall for water but wonder how I could ever live without mountains.

A white woman in a navy baseball cap with a blonde ponytail, wearing a blue shirt and tan overalls, bent in half over a large, brown Wensleydale sheep that is has been flipped over on its side, and is laying on plywood.

Shearing a very large sheep, May 2017.

5 Responses to “About”

  1. Petra

    And, I’m thinking of moving to either Denver or Missoula! Go figure. After almost 20 years in Chicago I contemplating a real change.

  2. Santhiran

    Aloha,I saw your piece on the llama for guardian anlmais with your sheep on the PCC discussion group this morning then linked to your blog. I was wondering how you run your sheep; are they run in with the cow herd or are they separate? We run about 1800 goats and 400 sheep but they are separate from the cow herds. I’m just trying to find information on anyone that runs their herds together, I’d like to talk about any problems that they might have come across when they started this. I read a few of your blogs before I found this it has been very interesting especially the one on changing your diet. I’m 55 years old and have the same problem of losing 20 pounds that I think would also help me and some of my health issues. Thank you for your time and I think I’ll put your blogsite on my favorites so I can see your life on a ranch in a completely different environment than mine.Greg Friel

    • anysteph

      Hi Greg – Thanks for the comments, but I think you may have me confused with someone else. I am not a member of the PCC discussion group, don’t know about the llama and guardian dog piece you mention, have no sheep, and have not changed my diet nor am I trying to lose weight. 🙂 I am sorry for any confusion my blog may have caused.


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