Almost as many sheep live in North Frisia as there are people. There are 94,308 sheep for around 166,000 inhabitants. The sheep are omnipresent there. Anne Hansen still had no connection to them, even though she grew up in Husum. Until an illness caused her to move her center of life from Berlin back to North Frisia. The author wanted to stay in her old home with her husband for a year until she was fit again. But then a sheep named Lammchen came into her life. The animal encounter changed Anne Hansen’s life significantly. Today she is doing well again – and after more than 20 years she has finally turned her back on Berlin to start a new life in Husum with a bird identification book and a collection of rubber boots. Here she tells her story:

“I woke up one day and immediately realized: Something was wrong. My head felt like I had gotten into a fight at night. I was so jammed that I went straight to the doctor. I came to the hospital and the doctor There I was given a lumbar puncture. This essentially involves taking cerebrospinal fluid from the spinal cord. He thought I might have meningitis. Unfortunately, this puncture went completely wrong and increased my symptoms even further.

It really didn’t work anymore – I could only lie down. Every attempt to get up resulted in an inhuman headache. I had low cerebrospinal fluid pressure, something like low pressure in the brain. Yes, and so I really spent a few weeks horizontally. Suddenly my world became very small. I was lying in my apartment on a four-lane road in the middle of Berlin in Prenzlauer Berg. Until then, my husband and I were typical city dwellers. We loved going out to eat, being in the middle of everything and taking advantage of everything Berlin has to offer. But from one moment to the next I had nothing left of this city. Everything that I previously enjoyed so much fell away. The noise suddenly bothered me.

So it occurred to me that I might as well be in Husum. Here at home by the sea, I wanted to give my body and mind a complete boost. So we packed our bags in Berlin, sublet our apartment and headed to North Frisia. A contrast program: instead of the noise of engines, there was only wind and silence.

To help me get back on my feet, my husband forced me to take a walk every day – no matter the weather. During one of these walks we sat on the grass by the dike because I needed a break. Suddenly one of the lambs from the flock came towards us and we were completely blown away. Because sheep are not normally pet animals. Here in Husum you can regularly see tourists desperately trying to take a selfie with the sheep, but they run away. So we really froze so as not to scare the lamb. But it was completely fearless and sniffed us out from top to bottom. Things got even stranger – the lamb even let himself be petted. From that moment on, all I really wanted was to see the lamb again. Meeting the flock of sheep and our little lamb was my motivation to get up from the sofa every day.

In a very short time I became an absolute sheep connoisseur and got to know the entire herd. What really impressed me is that the sheep have an incredibly intrinsic motivation to spend time with you. My husband and I never took them food and never gave our little lamb anything to eat – they really wanted to spend time with us. And I was surprised at how different everyone was in character. There was ‘party boy’ who hung out on the dike until the afternoon, apparently hungover, then turned up the heat and had nothing but nonsense on his mind. The affectionate ‘Heidi Klum’ – the most beautiful lamb in the whole herd – or the devious ‘Saul Junior’, who was part of a gang of lambs and constantly encouraged even the brave ones to eat something again.

Not only did The Lambs provide tons of entertainment (better than any movie!), but they actually gave me a different perspective on life. A small awakening experience for me was that sheep really live in the moment. When I was with Lammchen, he was really happy. It was the greatest thing for him. And when we left, of course I would have liked him to run after us, mourn us or stick his head through the gate. But: He just went on and ate grass. It might sound banal at first, but I thought: Man, it’s just as right to really live in the moment and not ponder what happened or what can come.

This also gave me a new perspective on my illness. Before, I struggled with it for a long time because I thought, man, if you had gone to another hospital, maybe you would have gotten through this examination better. Or if another doctor had been on duty. So I spent a really long time with these thoughts until I realized that it is just the way it is. The sheep – especially the lambs – helped me to stop thinking about why it happened to me of all people. The water on the dike is calming anyway, and if you have a sheep at your side that you can scratch, it slows you down and totally calms you down. And every day that I got to know Lammchen better, I fell more in love with him. So it could have been very nice if Lammchen hadn’t been a goat. Male lambs usually end up at the slaughterhouse. For me it became more and more horrifying that our little lamb would end up on the slaughterhouse.

And so the search began for the farmer who owned the herd. However, he was anything but enthusiastic about the idea of ​​my husband and I buying the lamb. We called him often and even scripted what we wanted to say beforehand. At first he always brushed us off. He probably thought: What these city dwellers can think up! But we stuck with it and at some point we got him to the point where he met us and the sheep at the dike. For strategic reasons we had my mother, who speaks Low German, with us. To increase our street credibility – after all, the farmer also speaks in flat language. And it actually worked. Lammchen probably also did his part: We lined up in a circle on the dike. Lammchen stood in the middle and alternately ran from me to my husband, to my mother and to the farmer, as if he knew what a big moment was taking place, and wanted to be petted every time. I think it was also obvious to the farmer: This sheep cannot go to the slaughterer.

At that time we thought: Now there has been a happy ending, we can buy this sheep. I had already researched in advance where he could go. But the refuge that had already promised me suddenly turned me down and I had to learn that it is almost impossible to accommodate a male sheep anywhere. Nobody wants a male ram – even a castrated one. I called in vain through all the stables and paddocks in North Frisia. It is said that bucks always become wild and aggressive at some point – whether they are neutered or not. But in the end there was really a happy ending – for me and for Lammchen: He was allowed to stay where he grew up and is now like an Italian who still lives at home at 40 – by the way, still as deeply relaxed as ever ever. And I was also saved, so to speak: through him I not only learned what healing power animals have and how to get through crises better, but also that happiness is often found in small things. In my case: sitting on the dike, looking at the sea and petting a sheep.”

Transparency note: Penguin Verlag belongs to the Penguin Random House publishing group, which, like stern, is part of the Bertelsmann Group.