Why do we keep sheep? Alex Lindén ruminates as he watches his sheep ruminating. Naive and inexperienced, he has ditched his doctoral studies in order to move to a fully working farm in the country with his family, where he is tasked with the responsibility of caring for a herd of sheep.
Lindén records his new life in his diary, as he tries to manage life on the farm, the ever-escaping sheep and the trials and tribulations that come with being a shepherd - shearing, lambing and confronting the slaughterhouse.
As time passes and he gradually settles into the rhythm of shepherding, his naivete fades away and is replaced with stark realisations about what is now his everyday life. He finds himself applying his experiences of animal husbandry to consider our place - as individuals and as a collective organism - in the universe. Is he really the one caring for the sheep, or are they the ones keeping him? Lindén finds both companionship in his flock and a sound, if complex, moral framework for examining the lives we lead.
The result is a sensitive and entertaining meditation on the small wonders in our world.
Axel Lindén was born in 1972. He lives with his family at their farm in Östergötland county in the southeast of Sweden. Counting Sheep is his debut.