What strange times we find ourselves wandering through. What once was up, is now turned completely upside down. This past week has been especially challenging for me. Unrelenting waves of emotion keep washing through me like a tide, so violent at times I fear I will be swept up in it all. Tossed by the waves, and completely exhausted, I feel drawn deeper down, into a sleep filled with equally turbulent dreams. One day reaches into the next, as lost as the one that came before it. Where does this path lead to now? With no way back, where does my heart lead me? Worrying about what comes next has got me caught in my head again. I know this place, I've been here before. This cold fragment of time in my mind, where nothing is possible. I stop, and realize I am not even in my body anymore. I'm completely ungrounded. I pause. I breathe. I try to feel my feet on the ground. Searching for that ancient connection to Gaia. I breathe the sweet air deep into my lungs, and release it down into the earth. I continue to hold space for myself in this way, breathing into Mother Earth through my feet. I know she is always there supporting me. I place my hand on my chest and I feel my warm heart, beating inside. I am still here. I am still alive. I am still whole. Patience love, this too shall pass.
This past week was a difficult one for me. My emotions were raw and I was overcome with a feeling of helplessness. This was from having to turn away those who are seeking help and support through this difficult pandemic. When you're told you can't help people, when your sole purpose for being in business is to HELP PEOPLE, it's gut-wrenching. That reality was not something I ever prepared myself to face. It hit me hard, admittedly. It's OK, I'm human enjoy being a student of life. Today I am fully present and start the first baby steps towards the process of reimagining this place. Since opening my doors a year ago, the world sure has changed. This lockdown is offering me an opportunity to reevaluate my programs and adjust them to better fit the changing times and needs of my community. We worked hard to get here and are not ready to throw in the towel just yet!
Hang in there friends, I know times are tough, but we have to keep going!
Sending love and light,
Welcome to another week, and another story featuring one of our herd members. This week I have chosen to share the story of one of our oldest Matriarchs, beloved Carmela. No other doe has contributed more to the growth and development of my herd than this regal beauty. This very special doe was the first that I found and purchased back in the early days of creating my herd. There was something very special about Carmela right from when I first met her, and I knew she had to be a part of what I was building. It took some convincing of her owners, as she wasn't for sale. Fortunately for me, after sharing my journey and vision for creating this herd, my dear friends Debbie and Shain agreed to sell her. Carmela was the first of three special does that I would add. Her paternal sister Maisie (Tripping Billies Loo) joined us in 2012, and has been actively involved in my programs since she was just months old. Finding goats that were "naturals" at connecting with people was essential for me in my goals. It takes a very long time to breed, raise and train a herd of goats to do equine therapy, and there was no guarantee it would work. Looking back at the beginning days of this journey and standing here today, it feels very surreal. Carmela is a many, MANY times Great Grandmother to more than half of my current herd. The white and gold coat and those almost white blue eyes - yep, that comes from Carmela.
It is fun to dig back through old photos to find the ones to share in these posts. I get to see the progress I've made and remember all the special moments I've shared with my herd. In the early days, while I was still in school earning my degree, I spent quite a few years competing with my herd in the show ring. This was partly because it is fun and I thoroughly enjoy the people, but also to get my name out there and spread awareness of what I was trying to create. I spent years being laughed at, told I was dumb, that it would never work, you name it - I heard it. If it wasn't for Carmela and her sister Maisie, I don't think I would have had the stomach to carry on. Those years on the road competing in shows were a great deal of fun and learning despite the negative comments. There were equally as many supporters as there have been naysayers along my way. Those years in the ring helped me to build my confidence while I studied and earned credentials. It was a great and valuable way to pass the time and I am so grateful for my "Goat Show Family" that still exists today. Goat people are good people ✌❤🐐
Carmela is easy to spot in our herd as she is rather wide through the middle. She has quite the "runway strut" and is often mistakenly thought to be pregnant by first time visitors. This is not to say that Carmela is overweight, because she actually isn't. Carmela has what I affectionately call "Mom Bod", the shape she earned from having some extremely large babies. Her last two pregnancies produced some of the biggest triplets I've had born here not surprisingly earning her new shape from the ordeal. To give you all some perspective on just how big Carmela was, here are a couple of pregnancy shots taken of her in 2013 and 2014. She carried like a champ!
Carmela won some pretty impressive titles during her years in the showring and is actually my most highly decorated doe having earned more than any other, including many National titles. Here is her 2013 Reserve Grand Champion Nigerian Dwarf photo. What a looker!
Carmela was retired from my breeding program in 2015, due to an unfortunate diagnosis of melanoma. She manages well through her treatments and takes everything in stride. Nothing seems to stop this girl. Carmela is a true beauty Queen, complete with dignity and grace.
My reason for choosing Carmela this week as my GotW, was motivated by the state of world affairs and the impact I see it having all around me. When I find things too overwhelming in my human life, I often seek solace and wisdom amongst the animals I share my life with. There is profound teaching and wisdom that can come from animals, if we are open to receive it. I spend a lot of time in meditation with my herd because they help me solve almost every problem I bring to them. I also learn through observation of how my large herd lives together. I see many parallels to our own human existence. Not that long ago, we all existed in communities that functioned very different than they do today. If you were lucky enough to have grown up in the 70's or 80's you'll know what I'm talking about. It literally did take a village to raise a child back in those days, otherwise not many of us would have survived! Nowadays it is more common to NOT know your neighbours. How can that be? What if you needed to borrow a cup of sugar? I don't want to spend too much time on that, as this is about something more. Magic happens at bedtime in the barn, and it is most prominent to see in Carmela's family. She will lay down and it is like a signal goes off through the herd to all of her relatives that it is now bedtime. Like a reverse ripple in a pond, when Carmela lies down, all of her family come and join her. I have to point something out here - Carmela has no sons or daughters currently in my herd - only grand children and beyond. How interesting that they ALL come and sleep with her, even a grand daughter (Everlily Maples Tootsie Roll) who was born on another farm and joined our herd when she was 3 months old. It is pretty mind blowing when you think about it.
Most of my herd observations bring me to realize how disconnected many of us are from our own home communities. Now more than ever during this pandemic, I think it is community support we all need. When I get caught up in anxiety and stress (meaning I've watched or read the news), I remember that I can't impact or change those larger things that are happening in the world. I remind myself that if I want to change what's happening in my world, I need to change how I am living and supporting those in my own community. They are in fact the people I do have a chance of directly helping, supporting and impacting. Narrowing my world view to be that of a community view immediately changes how I feel. When my world becomes smaller I am much better able to stay grounded and aware. If I can focus on things I personally can do to help my local community, I know I can make a positive impact and in doing so feel better overall. My herd, like all others, rely on each other to survive. We too need each other to survive. Let's all try to find ways to be better. We all are suffering and struggling through these difficult times. A simple pause to consider, before reaction. Choose kindness and walk with love 💖
Happy Monday everyone and welcome to another GotW. This week I am so excited to feature a very special little lady, who has quite the fan following at our farm. Please allow me the pleasure of introducing you all to Sky River Meadows Pipsqueak. Guaranteed if you've visited the farm, you've met our dear little Pip. When people first greet Pip, I often hear "Oh what's wrong with her leg?" or "Is she OK?" Let me tell you although Pipsqueak was born with a rare condition and a leg deformity, there is absolutely nothing wrong with her. Known by a few nicknames on the farm, ie: Sergeant Pippers, Pippersnipper, and most commonly just called Pip. No doubt if you've had the honour of meeting this little darling, she certainly left her mark on your heart ❤
Sky River Meadows Pipsqueak was born on August 10th, 2014. Her dam (mom), Taylorside's Coconut was pregnant when I acquired her through a rescue situation. Having had no personal part in the breeding of Coconut, there was no way to know when she would give birth. I was very grateful to have been home when the momentous occasion did occur, especially when Pipsqueak was born. Pips twin sister SRM Mystique was born first and at a healthy size (2.1 lbs) considering how tiny her mom was. When Pip was born I was immediately terrified for her. At first I wasn't sure she was even alive as she was so small. At birth Pip weighed in at only 10 ounces! She was by far the teeniest, tiniest baby goat we had born up to that point. Fortunately she was breathing and other than being super small, all appeared OK. When an unusual birth occurs at my farm I always put out a call to my vet to come do an examination on them - just in case. My vet Dr. Kelli Drost has been my vet for a very long time and she knows me well. What she said to me that day was one of the hardest things I have had to hear from my vet. She told me NOT to get attached! After her exam it was discovered that Pip had some health issues caused by her additional dwarfism gene. The news wasn't good at all and I was told she may naturally just pass away within a couple of weeks. I am so glad that Dr Drost was wrong! Pip is a true warrior and has fought through a lot to make it to her sixth birthday last year!
So although Pip was born with some physical issues that challenge her daily life, she is otherwise a very happy, healthy little goat! She plays, runs and fights with her herd mates just like the rest of them. One thing that perhaps Pip isn't aware though, is that the herd seems to really look out for her. No one in the herd bullies or is mean to her. If anything they all treat her with amazing respect. I think my favourite Pip story comes from the summer of 2018 when we first moved to the Woodfield property. Where we had moved from we had a lot of tree cover and shade. At the farm we have wide open fields and skies which the herd had a hard time adapting to. They did not want to walk or explore the property and would barely leave the shelter of the barn for the first few weeks. Pip must have been born an adventurer because she was the ONLY goat willing to walk with me for the first few weeks. Each day I would open the gate and call the herd out, hoping that they'd walk with me, something we'd been doing for many years at our old home. Only Pip was willing lol. I did start to worry that perhaps the move was a mistake. If the herd wouldn't walk, I wasn't going to be able to run my summer programs. In the end it was Pip, who did it! She would plant her tiny hooves and scream her little head off until the herd came. Each time the herd would stop and try to head back to the barn, Pip was there to motivate and encourage them. This photo is a still shot from a video I took of Pip calling the herd to follow her. Pip does have some impressive vocals for such a wee lady. Her ability to command the herd in this way, earned her the nickname of Sergeant Pippers ✌❤🐐
The summer of 2014 when Pip was born, we had 32 baby goats born on the farm. Pip was the last born, the youngest and smallest by far. My concerns for her as she grew up were many. That was a rough, tough gang of kids born that year! My concerns were for nothing as Pip was well looked after within the herd too. Her twin sister Mystique was always beside her, often fighting Pips battles for her. Also born in 2014 was Sky River Meadows Geordie, who by all rights is considered to be Pipsqueaks "husband". SRM Geordie was a breeding buck of mine that was castrated in 2017. My breeding males live completely separate from my main herd. When Geordie became "fixed", he rejoined the main herd and was reunited with Pipsqueak. I'd call it love at first sight--again! Pip and Geordie are the cutest goat couple - seriously. They are always eating together whether indoors or out, and they absolutely sleep cuddled up to each other every single night. They both snore, which seems to suit them and they always seem to find a place to sleep directly under a hay feeder so they can enjoy late night snacks together as well. Whatever reason these two had to fall in love, I 100% support it! We have a few "couples" in our large herd, but this match is by far my favourite. I think they are blessed to have found each other ❤
In all seriousness, I want to mention that I would never breed Pipsqueak. In my humble opinion to do so would be harmful to her and any potential babies she would have. We have 5 "dwarf" dwarf goats in our herd and none are in our breeding program. However, ALL are heavily involved in our therapy programs here at the farm.
So against all the odds our dear sweet Pipsqueak is still with us. She turns 7 this summer! I can't say if she'll be blessed with the average life expectancy of a goat (15-17yrs), but I can say that while she is here, she'll get everything that she needs. This past summer it became obvious that she is slowing down and starting to feel her age in her joints. She is a fiercely independent little miss though, and insists she can do things by herself. She is sweet enough to be asked to be carried up the hills though and I am happy to oblige her! I have purchased her a chariot that I intend to teach her to ride in starting in the spring to allow her to still come on our herd hikes, but to skip all the hiking part. She can catch a ride to where we are going, then get out and browse with the herd. I am hoping by training her to accept this "help", that it will take a lot of pressure off her joints. There is no guarantee that she'll agree with any part of my plans lol. Pip keeps it challenging for me as she can get chubby pretty easily, so finding that proper, healthy balance for her to still get enough physical activity, and maintain a healthy weight for her joints. It is my hope that Pipsqueak will be around for many years to come. She has so much to share and give! Regardless of how long I will get to share my life with her, I will always be grateful she came to share my life. This little goat has taught me so much about life. Her biggest lesson to me has been that we can't control what happens to us in our lives, but we can absolutely choose how we react to it. Pippers takes on life with zest and enthusiasm each and every day. Not once for a single second has this little goat ever felt sorry for herself. Larger than life, as brave as they come with an absolute heart of pure gold. Thanks for teaching me about, and showing me your amazing authenticity Pip! ❤
What better way to start off 2021 then by bringing back the Goat of the Week posts? Life is hard, times are strange and I feel the need to continue to share the stories of my beloved herd members. I always find it much easier to talk about my animals anyways, and although I am completely biased, my critters have some pretty awesome stories to share. I wouldn't be a good human friend to my animal colleagues if I didn't use my voice to help spread their messages of love and hope, and so I feel it is my duty to do so. They all have such special, sweet souls, and it is my pleasure to be their voice. When deciding to start these stories back up again, it was a very easy decision on who I'd want to start with. So without further ado, let me begin...
Godric was born on June 18, 2018. He was the first born of triplets, born to SRK Cosmos (Sire), and SRM B'elanna (Dam). He and his two sisters were the first of our Sky River Meadows herd to be born at our new home on the Woodfield property. The birth of Godric and his sisters, Rowena and Ariana, was unique and memorable for me. Their dam had two breeding dates, one week apart, which appeared to have resulted in two conception dates. I'll explain of course. Each birth requires special care and attention, including a close physical exam of each baby soon after birth. This is to ensure that all is well and everything is where it should be. During my exam I noticed that both Godric and Rowena were very healthy, both weighing just over 3 pounds each, and both having their teeth erupted - which is what you want to find. Ariana in comparison weighed in at just over 1.5 pounds and had no teeth pushing through her gums yet, a sign of prematurity. How incredible! After the triplets were born, B'elanna passed two separate placentas. One had contained twins - Godric and Rowena, the other contained a single - Ariana, further evidence to my hunch about their birth. The size difference between the three was obvious, and I was deeply concerned that it would be a challenge for Ariana to strive while competing with her siblings for milk. Under normal circumstances I think she would struggled more, however she had Godric for a brother and he seemed to look out for Ariana right from the very beginning.
It is normal to observe siblings fight over the teats when it comes times to nurse from mom. She does only have two teats to feed her babies from after all, so when there's more than two mouths to feed this can be a problem. Often when triplets are born, I need to pay special attention that ALL the kids are getting enough to eat while they grow, and intervene where necessary. Fortunately for Ariana, and a credit to Godric, her biggest competition was her sister Rowena. Godric seemed content to defer to either of his sisters, and instead spent his time defending them aggressively from all the other baby goats in the herd. Godric was NOT fond of sharing his sisters and if either of his sisters was found playing with the other kids, Godric would step in and pick a fight ending all play very quickly. Godric was AMAZING at being a big brother, but really struggled socially with the other "Harry Potter" kids. For this reason it took him longer than most to find his place within the bigger herd as he matured.
Right from the beginning Godric was quirky, just like his mom. An independent thinker and happy to go his own way, Godric was always unique from the other wethers (fixed males) in my herd. With no interest in playing with anyone but his siblings, one could think of him as anti-social. If he wasn't with his older siblings Earin and Gandalf, he would ALWAYS be found with his mom ❤ Perhaps it is the common interest they both shared in finding tasty things to eat, or the fact that Godric inherited his mother's beautiful, soft amber eyes, but to me I think he is most like her of all her children. B'elanna and Cosmos have had 9 children together. Twins, Earindil & Gandalf in 2017, triplets: Godric, Rowena & Ariana in 2018, and quadruplets: Yara, Girly, Margaery & Melisandre in 2019. This large family has been very helpful in my research and the development of my herd. It's through sharing my lives with families like Godric's, that exist within my herd, that I have learned so much about animal bonds, love and relationships. Make no mistake, the loving bonds that we share and experience as humans are not so different from what our animal friends share.
Winding our way through life, we rarely come out unscathed. We all earn bumps, bruises and scars along life's path. This is true even for animals which Godric learned first hand a few weeks ago, as some of you may have seen or read. Godric tripped coming out the gate at evening chores and the entire herd trampled over top of him in their own hurry to get to dinner. Poor Godric really took a beating, being rolled over and over while being stampeded over. When the herd passed, my son and I were able to assist Godric to his feet and move him to a box stall to wait to be seen by our vet, Dr. Kelli Drost, who confirmed my fears - he had broken his leg. Godric has been proudly sporting his new cast for a few weeks now and is doing remarkably well. I personally think the isolation with his sisters appeals to him. He has learned to adapt to the weight of his big cast and has found ways to sleep comfortably. He has almost reached the halfway mark to getting the cast removed. Until then, Godric must rest in isolation with his sisters. The irony of his situation and the parallels to what we are all facing in our own lives has not escaped me. Godric is in a lockdown of his own and can't visit with the rest of his herd. I feel you buddy. ❤ I long to see my herd again too.
Life is hard and going into 2021, it doesn't look like it will be any easier than 2020 was. The challenges of the last year has taken it's toll on many. My business which had barely even opened it's doors has been faced with two lockdowns and loss of ability to even connect with my main clientele. Lockdown or not, these guys need feed and care 24/7. A big part of the commitment I make to my animals, is that I will always honour them. Although my herd is happy, healthy and love the work we do, you might be surprised to learn that not all of my herd WANT to be therapy goats. There are some distinct opinions amongst some members of my herd that when the right family comes along, they would like the chance to move on. I have faced this situation a couple of times in the past where a bond and connection was created that was undeniable. Who am I to stand in the way of true love and connection? I'll tell you, I'm NOT one to stand in the way or to try to deny truth. When a bond is made, and a relationship begins, it truly is a beautiful thing. I mention this now because I have made the difficult decision that Godric and his sisters Rowena and Ariana will be leaving my farm this coming spring. A friend and volunteer has offered them the loving home that I know they've been waiting for. My heart is sad knowing that I will miss seeing them daily, but it is happy knowing they will get more attention and spoiling where they're going. I was hopeful it would be a good fit and when this family of 3 met my trio, it was love at first sight. Honestly it couldn't be more perfect. Godric and his sisters will have the quieter life that I know they've longed for, which will also benefit Godric if his leg gives him any more trouble down the road. Best part is that they are staying local so I can visit. 😁 There is something very special about this goat family. I know that they will freely share their love and it will spread with them where they go ❤❤
A beautiful crisp morning greeted me as I stepped out into the new year. The air was clear and deeply refreshing, and there were no sounds but that of the sleeping forest. As I stood there dazzled by the beauty of the morning, I quietly sang to the morning. As I stood in quiet reflection, I was filled with deep gratitude for the beauty of the morning and a the peace that existed in that moment. Looking back on 2020, I am actually in awe of the challenges overcome, the strength and resolve found, and the magical connections and friendships that were cultivated during one of the most challenging years of any of our lives. I had been planning and working towards 2020 as the GOAL year when I would see all my years of hard work pay off. Instead, 2020 became the year that I became grateful for everything that I already had. Suddenly I am not so driven to succeed, because I realize I already have. I did achieve my goals, they just didn't look the way I had anticipated, as it happened during a pandemic. There may still be some obstacles and roadblocks but I recognize they are temporary. I still have my heart, and unrelenting passion to help others achieve their personal goals. The year ahead will continue to be one of healing and growth for me. I am beginning a new 30 Day Yoga Challenge again today and vow to get rid of my harmful vices. I want 2021 to be the year I become the healthiest version of myself, and to really get deeply in touch with my body. In order to be whole, we need to take care of all parts of ourselves - mind, spirit and BODY, something I tend to forget. Since there are still a few weeks left to this lockdown, it is the perfect time to start.
Wishing everyone a wonderful New Year! I hope this year brings an abundance of connection, laughter, light and love to you all ❤