Kathy Mealey once led a normal life. She and her husband, Mark Stephens, worked for the Postal Service, and she had a little antiques business. Then she bought two sheep because Mark didn’t like mowing the lawn. She put them in the back seat of her car and took them home.

Kathy Mealey once led a normal life. She and her husband, Mark Stephens, worked for the Postal Service, and she had a little antiques business. Then she bought two sheep because Mark didn’t like mowing the lawn. She put them in the back seat of her car and took them home.

In addition to the grass, “they ate everything else, too,” she says with a smile. They also escaped their fencing and wandered down to the beach. “But you had to love them.”

They moved to a 5-acre property on Slough Road in Brewster and Mealey bought more sheep. Then goats. And alpaca. Pretty soon she had 45 animals. All with names and personalities.

She currently has 14 alpaca, six blue-faced Leister sheep, one corriedale sheep, one cormo sheep she calls "crazy," two goats, two Yorkies, one Cairn terrier, a Bouvier, two ducks and a giant rabbit named Todd.

When a visitor arrives, the alpaca stare curiously, hay dangling from their mouths. Exotic-looking sheep blink and return to their breakfast. They are fed hay in the morning and grain and hay at night. Pablo, a Cairn terrier right out of “The Wizard of Oz,” barks at the gate. His job is to be sure no one enters, and he does an excellent job. As soon as a visitor is given clearance, the dog becomes a best friend.

Kathy Mealey, who is now retired, has become a shepherd and fiber lady who sells a wide variety of fleece (raw wool straight from the animal); roving (wool she has carded and washed); and yarn she has spun and dyed herself.

A member of the spinners guild, she makes sweaters the way pioneer women did, an amazing feat in a world filled with iPods and cell phones. Few items ever reach the marketplace.

“My kids take them, or I give them to friends,” she says. Occasionally she keeps a piece for herself when it is made from the fleece of a favorite animal. She likes the feeling of being wrapped in their fur. “You get fond of them.”

Mealey is also a weaver, and the various spinning, weaving and knitting machines blend into her rustic decor. Among other things in the wool community, she is the go-to person for Gaywool dyes and spinning supplies.

“I used to be an avid knitter. Now I’d rather do dyeing or spinning. Dyeing is my favorite.”

Animal husbandry is a big part of her life, too. She built barns and corrals near her house so she could see her animals run and jump.

“The blue face sheep are fun to watch.”

When the alpaca realize she is watching, they stop their tomfoolery and games of tag and stare back at her. Often she finds her favorite animals waiting on the front porch for her. Particularly one sheep. “Angus is cute, he’s my sweetheart.”

Although a veterinarian neuters the animals and gives them rabies shots, Mealey tends to the rest of their care. She also puts little coats on the sheep to keep their fiber clean and changes them three times a year as it grows. The shearer harvests the fur of the sheep and alpaca in the spring. Goats are sheared in the spring and early fall.

“It’s a lot of work. But it’s nice to see them all nice and clean. The alpaca look like giraffes!”

She has no idea how many pounds of fiber she harvests, and it piles up waiting for her to find time to process it. Instead, she prepares wool for other spinners and travels to half a dozen shows along the East Coast from Maryland to Maine. She finds herself overwhelmed at times but takes it in stride.

“I’m a novice,” she says. “I learn stuff every day.”

Cape Codder