Counting Sheep After Hours

Angela Bodell’s idea of stress relief involves a pile of fresh eggs, a flock of sheep, and maybe a few ears of the sweetest sweet corn.

So when she finishes her work days in Hancock Health’s human resources department, she doesn’t mind going home to do even more on the family farm. When she gets there, the sheep are waiting—and so are chickens and horses and a vegetable garden.

“I usually don’t leave the barns until 9 or 10 p.m. in the summer months,” she said. “But it’s a different kind of work. It’s the kind of work that feeds your soul. Taking care of something and nurturing it satisfies a different part of you and helps you relax.”

Angela and her husband, Ryan, show their sheep locally and nationally; they sell them, too. Their fresh eggs and produce are a regular part of their diet and they give away anything that’s left over.

“I can’t tell you how many bags of corn have come to the hospital,” she said. “The back end of my area here in HR usually looks like a produce stand because I bring in fresh cut basil, tomatoes, and cucumbers. It’s just back there for whomever wants to take it home.”

Sharing the fruits of their labor is part of the joy of farming, said Angela. The Bodells also donate lambs to children who need them, but can’t afford them, for 4-H projects.

“It feels good to feed people. It feels good to share,” she said. “I think, when you have been given a lot, you have a duty to give back.”

Even with the workload they balance, Angela and Ryan are planning another project. They’re in the beginning stages of adding a new breed of sheep to their farm: Blacknose Valais sheep. The fluffy creatures, which originated in Switzerland, have long horns and white fleeces with black faces, knees, and feet. Angela and Ryan plan to raise the sheep for companions and who knows what else since they aren’t yet being shown in the U.S. But the breed, which grows to be about the size of a big dog, is used for its long fleece—they also make great pets because they are docile and people-friendly.

“Even people who have never thought of wanting a sheep will want one of these,” she said. “They’re referred to as ‘the cutest sheep in the world.’ It’s what they’re known for.”

Meanwhile, Angela is known for her sheep and the eggs and produce she gives as gifts. That’s just fine with her—it’s her way of giving back to the Hancock County community, a community she feels has given her family a great life.

“One of the beautiful things about working at the hospital is being so integrated into the community and all of the aspects of it,” she said. “It’s one of the best things about farming, too. We have such a community-driven environment here in Hancock County.”

If you enjoyed this story and know another one we should be telling about a Hancock Health associate, email your idea to hank@hancockhealth.org. It could be the next one we publish!