I spent a great deal of time trying to determine who I should write about when I picked these GotW stories back up. Due to the severity of the CV-19 situation in the world, I wanted to pick a goat that had a great story to tell, one that was full of humour. No goat comes to mind faster when I think of humour than our beloved SRM B'Elanna. Named after a Klingon from Star Trek, and the only goat to have ever left my farm as a bottle baby, B'Elanna has an interesting story to share, that I think most of you will really enjoy. "Beefcake", "Beef", or sometimes even just "B", for those who have visited the farm and taken in a goat walk, you are sure to have had the company of our dear Beef, who much prefers the company of humans over the smelly goats that I force her to live with. She may have even tried to go home with you when you left, especially if she smelled "city" on you. In order to explain who B'Elanna really is, I need to back up several years to the day that she was born and the events that helped to shape her unique and interesting life.
Prior to kidding season in 2014, I was contacted by someone who was looking to purchase a couple of bottle babies to raise in their home, for their own reason and purposes. I had not pulled any kids up to this point during my time raising goats, so did not feel I could help them, but kept their info just in case. I prefer to let my goats raise their own kids and I will support or assist them as needed. However, in 2014 we had 32 babies born! Wouldn't you know it, a first time mom, gave birth to triplets. This is one of the few situations where I feel justified in pulling a kid from their mom. It takes some of the pressure away by lessening the number of kids for them to raise. So, the decision was made to choose the strongest of the female kids to leave and move to the city. At two days old, right after this picture was taken, B'Elanna left our farm and lived for a couple years as a house goat, in the city. Fate it seems had other plans for this city goat however, and with changing circumstances, I was contacted to bring B'Elanna back to the farm. I knew this would be a challenge for me, as trying to integrate a "new" goat into an existing herd is tricky, as goats love to fight and nothing will stop them from establishing the herd hierarchy. Each new birth or addition to the herd causes a shift and a ripple effect. Outside animals can also bring in outside behaviours or habits, some of which I have worked hard to not have in my herd. B'Elanna was not happy returning to the farm initially, and it was quite an adjustment to say the least for her. I expected her to live in a BARN??? With filthy ANIMALS??? Life for B'Elanna had taken a very sudden shift and there were many challenges ahead for her as she adjusted to farm life.
The first thing that became apparent to me when I met adult Beef, was that this goat did not know she was a goat at all. This was a 4 legged person! Convincing her to live in the barn was very challenging and for the first several months you constantly had to watch behind you. B was a secret ninja that could slip out of any gate behind you without you noticing. She would then silently slink away to do her own thing and you'd eventually find her wandering around, leaving you scratching your head, wondering how she got out. Other times - and I am not exaggerating here, she would sneak into the house hot on your heels, silent and undetected....until she was found rooting through the cupboards, or eating the newspaper. Now don't get me wrong, I admire smart animals and how resourceful they can be, but those first few months with B were super challenging. This goat knew stuff that no goat should know and she used it to her advantage! At that point in time I was yet unaccustomed to having to outthink a ninja goat on a daily basis. Especially one that refused to accept that they were in fact a GOAT - just like the rest of the goats in the barn. Day after day, week after week, B'Elanna refused to socialize with the other goats. She seemed literally disgusted by their filthy habits and could not wait to get as far away from them as possible. So, what a challenge. A herd animal who refuses to be a part of her natural herd, but wants to change species and be a full time human? Umm...no. I can make a lot of concessions and bend the rules and even bring goats and baby cows into my house, but even I need to have some limits and discipline, so after a certain age they all have to live full time in the barn. Otherwise I'd have them ALL living in my house and I can't do that, there would be no room left for me lol. After about six months of fighting with B to accept her place in the herd, I decided to breed her. My plan was to allow her to have kids - that were goats - that she could focus on and hopefully through raising them, she would learn to be a goat too..... Well, it seemed like a well thought out plan at the time!!
In 2017 B'Elanna gave birth to twins, and the decision was made to keep them both so that she would no longer have to be by herself, but would always have the company of her kids. My hope was that as she became a mother, she would bond with the other goat moms and make some friends. NOPE. Not this goat. In 2018 I decided to breed her again thinking that surely this would help. She gave birth to triplets! All three are still in my herd... You see where this is going.... Last year in 2019, B'Elanna gave birth to quadruplets! She chose to reject one of those babies at 4 days old and VOILA! That is how I ended up with Yara as my bottle kid. Beefcake is the biological mom of Yara, and the grand daughter of my first therapy goat Maisie. Out of all of the genetic lines in my herd, for whatever reason, this gene pool is really easy to housetrain! Lucky me I guess :) As for B'Elanna's kids, out of the nine babies that she has given birth to since rejoining my herd, we have eight of them here. With the exception of Yara, who tends to sleep in the middle of the biggest pile of goats, the rest of Beef's seven children always sleep with their mom every night. One big pile of Beef kids lol. B'Elanna has an incredible ability to clone herself once each birthing. Her 2017 daughter SRM Earendil, is so much like her mom I actually nicknamed her Beef3 (Beef Squared). Her daughters Rowena (2018) and Yara (2019) are all very much like her in personality. Unlike their mother, her children all know they are goats.... well except for Yara maybe lol.
Beef hasn't changed a bit since returning to the farm. All of my attempts to "normalize" or "rehabilitate" her have failed. Thank goodness they did too, as she wouldn't be her authentic self if my misguided ideals at the time succeeded. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her. She is different from the others, but then so many of us in life are right? The Black Sheep maybe? An outcast, or an outlier of sorts. I myself am a Black Sheep in my family. In that same sense I guess B'Elanna and I are kindred. Two freaks in the world, just chilling and enjoying each others company. I have admired B'Elanna throughout the years since she has returned. She has taken everything in stride. All of the big changes and adjustments, she never let it get her down. She is proud of WHO SHE IS and will not let anyone tell her that she is not a person! She is confident and stands out for all to see how amazing she is. She has a wit and determination like I only wish I had! She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to risk espionage to ensure she gets it. She has no apparent plans to give this habit up either as she managed to sneak right into my kitchen behind me just the other day, while I popped in to set something down quickly while I walked to herd past the house. She is good! I am always grateful to discover her when she sneakily does that. I can only imagine the things she'd get up to, aside from the mess she'd leave for me if left in the house by herself for a time lol. She is also exceptionally quick to try to hide when I am putting the herd back in the barn after being out for a walk. She loves to "disappear" and blend into the background so she can stay out and eat whatever she wants - usually my flower bed. When doing a head count, regular checks to ensure B'Elanna is where she is supposed to be is on that check list. My volunteers learn about this girls ninja abilities pretty quickly. It is easy to see where Yara gets her mischievous ways, when you see Beef in action.
No doubt that B'Elanna has an important place in my therapeutic herd here at SRM. Most people connect with Beef as she is always curious about people, as each new visitor may be a potential new home opportunity or snack. It is a running joke here, as B'Elanna does tend to try to stow away in vehicles that are headed back to the city. When it comes to working with people, and making a connection during a goat walk, B'Elanna leaves an impression on almost everyone she meets. She is comical, chubby and loves to have her butt scratched and will happily continue to wag her tail as long as you continue to scratch. She also is not afraid to pilfer through your belongings, including purses, strollers and diaper bags, as she has learned over the years that these are good places to seek snacks. She may act deaf if you're trying to get her attention, but crinkle a wrapper of any kind and SURPRISE - B'Elanna also possesses the super power of bionic hearing apparently and will be upon you quicker than a blink in the hopes of a tasty treat. Highly food motivated but not starving by any means, she is still content to hang with humans - even if they don't have food to share. For the next few years, I am giving B'Elanna a break from breeding and raising kids and just letting her be a goat. The last year B'Elanna seems to have finally bonded with two other females in the herd and she is sometimes observed with them while browsing, so perhaps she'll become a goat one day yet. Until that day though, I hope she continues marching to her own drum and forging her own path, so she can continue to inspire me to do the same :) <3 Angee
This morning I woke feeling strange. I felt like I was in a different place, and it was a different day. I was discombobulated until I was dressed and smelling coffee. Ah! The simple clarity that comes with that beautiful cuppa morning joe! I did feel strange though. I took some quiet moments to go deep within and find my breath. I have learned that I need to ground and breathe if I am ever to function through my normal daily anxiety. I am so grateful that I now have these skills to help me. I wanted to examine this feeling I had, to determine if it was something I could fix. One thing I am learning to recognize in myself is that I do not like change. Change alarms me. It causes me to have immediate anxiety and my mind fills with all of the "what-if's" of a million possibilities. Change is inevitable however, so I continue to work at adapting to these strange times. I soon realized that I was actually quite comfortable, relaxed and calm. It was then I realized that there wasn't an issue within me, but that there was an issue with the changes that are happening around me! This was a HUGE ah-ha! moment this morning! This feeling was my body adjusting to the "new normal" that life had become. Today is Day 10 of my self isolation. This Covid-19 crisis has forever changed the world we live in. No one knows what tomorrow will bring, and we don't know when life will get back to normal. Will it? Do we want life to go back to the way it was before COVID-19? I see a lot of ways that our society needs to change and I think that there is an opportunity in front of us all to create a new "normal" Perhaps even one that is in balance and harmony, not only with our planet but also with each other? There is always a bright side to everything, and in this situation I am searching for it daily. Our news feeds all filled with fear based messages, panic buying, photos of empty stores and really sick people on ventilators. We are hit with the staggering numbers of infected and dying on an hourly basis now, and as this virus spreads it will only continue to get worse. We need to be mindful of how much we allow the things in our world that we can't change, to have a negative impact on us. We can choose to turn the screen off. We can choose to put our phones down and go outside. For my own mental health, I am choosing to limit the amount of time I allow myself to read the news and check in on the figures. The rest of the time I only allow myself to connect online with some of the local groups that are helping to connect and support people in my community. I have always been very passionate about my Muskoka community and it is so comforting to me now during all this uncertainty, to see my community come out to support one another. There are many wonderful groups that are being formed and people are staying connected, and finding ways to help and support each other, without coming into any contact with each other. Absolutely amazing and inspiring stories are out there and all around us. Choose to find them and brighten your own day! Better yet - find ways to spread joy and cheer to others. We all need as much of it as we can spread right now.
During my time at home, I have been making good use of decluttering areas of my life that need it. I am in the midst of an entire life declutter! I am working on going through all of my belongings and doing another purge. I am organizing the mess of my paperwork/receipt/mail/yuck mess a teeny tiny bit at a time. This is actually a daunting task for me as I am coning to terms with the fact that I legitimately have an issue with an abnormal fear of my mail. Sounds weird I am sure, but this is legitimate and very annoying in my life. I am working on fixing this during this time in isolation :) Basically I am working on decluttering my life physically, mentally and spiritually during this time. I know that I have a lot of personal work I can be doing and the universe just pressed "pause" on planet earth. So why not use this time to work on myself while I can't be working on helping others feel better? I am so grateful for this time because it has allowed me the break I have been desperately needing for many years. This forced down time is allowing me to reconnect with the herd. I can take them for a walk or into the bush to browse and we are all able to relax. For once there is no agenda for my herd. They get to go back to just "being". Amazingly, I realize that right now I too get to just "be". I can't control, or fix anything that is happening around me in the world. What I can do though I control my reactions to these new circumstances. I can encourage and inspire others. I can create new ideas and discover new possibilities. Likely for the next several weeks anyways, I intend the make the most of each and every second of this time I have been given. Although these are frightening times, if everyone does their part to stay home and not spread the virus, we will see the other side of this. I have started a list of all of the things that I want to do during this time, and the list grows each day. Although this entire situation is stressful and very scary, I am also seeing the golden opportunity that sits in front of each and every one of us. We can CREATE! <3
In the past week I have been reading posts and hearing from people in the community that say they are already suffering from boredom while they are in isolation at home. I struggle to understand this concept because I can't even recall the last time I was bored but I assure you I was likely in the single digit age. When we have been given this time at home, why not use it to our advantage and work on ourselves, our families, homes and personal environment? When will we have this opportunity in our lives again? We don't have to be scared and just sit around waiting and be BORED. We can make the best of it I say! So, for anyone who is reading this that finds themselves saying that they are BORED. I want to challenge you to consider some of the items on the following lists to see if you can try to be inspired to make some small adjustments or improvements in your life. (nothing on this list will lead you to binge watching anything)
Physical: How is your personal hygiene? Why not pamper yourself to a spa day? Pluck those eyebrows yourself (if you fail, they'll have time to grow back! ;) ) Google make at home face masks and try some out. Be cautious though as our healthcare system may not be able to assist you if you go overboard with experimenting! If you've often thought about starting an at home fitness routine, why not check out YouTube for a ton of different classes you can do from home for free. Personally, I am a HUGE fan and supporter of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube and recommend her to anyone who has ever considered adding a home yoga practice to their lives. She is an angel and truly gifted at what she does.
Mental: How are you? No really, how are you? Check in with yourself. What do you need? What can you do for yourself right now to help you fell your best? Now is the time for you. Do you meditate? What can you learn in order to help support yourself through this time?
Spiritually: Again, same questions as above. Check in with yourself. What do you need to do to fill your spiritual needs at this time? Is there a new practice you could explore or adopt that would help you?
Education/Training: Is there something you've always wanted to learn? A skill you've always wished you had? What are you waiting for? Now is the perfect opportunity for all of us to learn a new skill! With the internet at our fingertips we have a powerhouse of knowledge and possibilities in front of us. Learn something new. Put it to use if you can! How many times have we all said to ourselves "I'd love to learn ___ if I only had the time". Well...go for it! Want to learn to paint? Sew? Change your own oil? Do home renos? Learn Kung Fu? How about a second language? Really, why not?
Now might be the perfect time to repair relationships, strengthen communication and learn to come together as a stronger, healthier community. What relationships do you have in your life that need work? What can you do to start repairing them today? Is there someone you've lost touch with? Why not reach out now to try to reconnect? Do you know your neighbours? How can you help to connect your neighbourhood to support each other through these next few weeks and beyond? Do you know of people in your community that need help and support? Is there a senior you know that you can support? Is there someone you can call to reach out with a friendly "hello" of connection and support? What can you do in your community to help lift the spirits and encourage others to do so during this time of social distancing. None of us have to feel alone, but many of us will and do. If you are bored, I encourage you to reach out to someone who is likely lonely and afraid. Help shift their mood and you'll feel better too!
How is your home? Is it spotlessly clean? There's never been a better time for a full house disinfect! Do you have clutter in your home? Can you work at organizing your home and space more efficiently? Do you have items that you no longer need that you could use to trade or donate to others? What useful items can you find in your home that you can repurpose? Do you know someone that can use something you no longer need or use? Go through each room in your home to see what you can do to reorganize and create a new and healthier environment for your whole family. Once you've done the inside, go outside and do the same thing. How is your garage? Your yard? What about beyond your personal space? Are there things you can do in your neighbourhood while still practicing safe social distancing?
During these past 10 day, I have gone through some pretty wicked emotions at times. These are scary times! Energetically the air is alive with the negative emotions humanity is feeling. As an empath I feel almost physically battered, but on an emotional level. I can only control and change my direct environment though, so I will work to do that. I think that we all need to individually work to dispel this negative force, so that collectively we can make a shift happen. Although the first few days were especially rough as I wrestled with accepting the need to shut down my business and by doing so, cut off my income stream. Do I know how I will make ends meet? Nope. Am I resourceful, capable and gifted? Yes! So somehow I will find a way. We all will. Each day is a new opportunity to do something positive for ourselves, and also for others.
This past week has proven to be really interesting for me. I have had some of the BEST conversations! I have had to run a few essential errands to the feed store and to source a few items for my family so we can sustain during isolation. I have had some wonderful and authentic conversations with strangers from my community discussing ways that we can all stay connected and ensure we all pull through. I have also had some wonderful connections with my local neighbours, speaking to some for the first time as I am relatively new to this neighbourhood. I have been able to trade some of the eggs our hens produce for some hard to find yeast from one neighbour, and for fresh maple syrup from another. I have other neighbours that are soon to arrive from wintering in Florida and their needs and home have already been stocked by another neighbour so they can go straight home after crossing the border later this week. Everywhere I look I see people pulling together - it isn't all ugly greed, selfishness and virus fear out there. Each day I have heard or witnessed small miracles all around me that are helping me to remain positive and to not give in to the fear. There really is so much right in front of us everyday to remind us what is important in life. We can't change what is happening around us, but we can choose how we react to it. For me, I want to spend this time as wisely as I can. To me that means I will do my best to improve my self, my home, my environment, my relationships and anything else that comes to mind. I may not ever get an opportunity like this again. Seriously, I haven't had a vacation in twelve years and now I am forced to take some time. I am open and surrendering to it. The thought that came to my mind earlier today was that we have all been given a beautiful gift in which we can return to our childhoods and reimagine if we want, any change we want to make in our own lives. It is spring and soon we will be able to stop and smell the flowers - literally. We can fly a kite or climb a tree and go back to a simpler time for a little while. What a wonderful way to reset.
The little things in life really are the BIG things.
Stay safe everyone!
And PS - I am searching for a ukulele. If anyone has one lying around that they are not playing and would like to trade it for some farm fresh eggs or future services of mine, please hit me up! I would LOVE to take this time to learn to play the ukulele!
With love, Angee
Hey everyone, I may not return to the Goat of the Week stories for a few weeks yet. I am still struggling with the emptiness in my heart, and in my barn without Gigalo. Besides, at the moment there are plenty of other things for me to write about with all of the stress and fear everyone is feeling with the COVID-19 situation, myself included. It is hard not to be stressed when we are all impacted no matter where we live in the world. A week ago I was riding a wave so high I felt like things were turning around, and today I am faced with a very new reality. One where we may need to adjust to a new normal. Hopefully we can make a better new normal in the world!
This morning I woke extremely stressed. My heart and mind began racing the moment I opened my eyes. Worries about my loved ones at home and abroad filled my head. My mind racing in a thousand directions, I could feel my control over anxiety slipping. The best place I know when I am this stressed is to be with my animals or go into the forest. Where I live I have close access to both, of which I am so grateful. I stood out in the crisp morning air, listening to the sound of happy birds in the trees, and the soft nicker of my mare Cheyenne asking for her breakfast. While I stood there on my driveway, halfway to the barn, the sun on my face, a steamy cup of coffee in my hand, I took a very long and slow deep breath. I felt the rising fear and uncertainty of the current times dissipate and fade into the background noise of my brain. Anxiety is always close by for me, and it is something I work hard at keeping at bay. I instead focused on the sound my feet on the hard frozen ground while I continued walking. I felt the impact of my feet on the sturdy ground, the musical sounds of the birds, the crisp late winter morning smells on the breeze, the way my lungs felt as they filled with the frosty morning air. I took notice of how it felt to be alive and said some prayers in gratitude for my life. With the COVID-19 crisis literally all around us right now, it can become very overwhelming quickly if we spend too much time dwelling on the realities. Instead, I take stock of what is real around me. I think about what I can actually do in THIS moment as opposed to thinking about all of the things happening that I can't control. I remember that I am only able to impact my world directly through my own actions and that if I focus my energy on the things that I CAN do, I don't focus on the things I CAN'T do. One of the things I can do right now is continue to take care of myself to the best of my ability. Caring for myself ensures I can care for my family and community. I will admit I do not take the best care of myself yet but am going to make a few more changes to improve that.
As this virus continues to spread, none of us really know how long our lives will be disrupted. I don't believe there will be a single person left standing that is not impacted by this situation in some way. On a personal level, the COVID-19 outbreak is devastating to my business. I have had no choice but to cancel bookings, and shut down my entire operations. Financially this is a very scary reality and puts a huge strain on me, as I personally fund all of my operations, and we have a rather large herd to feed and care for. I am grateful that the snow is almost gone and the goats will be able to browse freely again soon, and the other large animals will be back on pasture. That will be a huge help and savings. This past weekend I managed to coax the goats into the bush and up the hill for a small walk so I know we are getting close :) I plan to use the next few weeks getting the herd back into shape for hiking season! As walking with my goats has been my life saving personal therapy for many years now, I can't tell you how passionate I feel about being able to get back to this activity. I am hopeful that we will be able to continue to operate so others can join me! The benefit of walking in nature with a large number of animals is pretty remarkable and is something that needs to be experienced personally. I have been so stoked and pumped that I am finally open for business and able to share the herd with everyone - and now this. SO! I think it is definitely time for a pause. The alternative choice is to risk exposure and spread of the virus which we do not want to do. So for the next couple of weeks I will have plenty of time to get caught up on all of the things I never have time for. I have separate lists for the farm and for my personal life, and I have already come up with a short list for where to get started and I plan to expand this list later as I come up with more ideas. This time in isolation will not be wasted! :) A few personal goals and plans I have to help me pass this time away:
* I may UNPACK!! I have lived out of boxes for two years now and been so disconnected from my stuff that I haven't even unpacked yet. I am hopeful that the majority of what I packed I now no longer want. I am excited to purge more from my life that I don't need. Moving so many times in recent years I have purged a lot and I am looking forward to doing more.
** I still have not hung any pictures on my walls. This goes along with unpacking - when I do that, I might actually hang up some pictures!
*** I may actually choose colours and paint my walls! Also a fun project that I am looking forward to.
**** Over the course of the last 10 years I have acquired a great deal of books that I have yet to find the time to read. I am longing to find all of these hidden un-cracked treasures and see what marvels hide within their pages :)
***** I have been saying for years that I would dedicate some real time to writing more. If this new pace for the next few weeks allows, I would like to write more, which means blogging more. I guess we will see where this one ends up.
****** Just last night I started a new 30 Day Yoga challenge. I want to continue to give myself at least that time every day to take care of my body. Yoga has impacted my life in such powerful ways I want to ensure I continue to dedicate time to my practice each day.
******* I am also choosing to dedicate more time each day for one on one time with my herd. The last few years as my herd numbers have increased I have noticed that I have less time to continue to connect and bond with them individually. This is one area I wish to improve greatly on as without my herd, I have no business to run. I owe them everything and they deserve my attention and care.
In the days ahead, I think it is imperative that we all remember that we are not alone. We are all feeling the same fear, and uncertainty. This is all new territory for everyone and we are all in this together. Even if we are experiencing quarantine or self isolation from recent travel, or if as a family you are choosing self isolation to do your part to stop the spread. We can all remain connected through our technology. We can pick up the phone and connect with our loved ones. We can skype or zoom, we can inspire and uplift each other online through our individual social media accounts. We can each individually make a choice to be a positive impact through these dark times. We can each individually find ways to better ourselves during this time of isolation so that when we all emerge afterwards, we are all stronger, better people. There are small and big ways that we can all make improvements in our own lives, in our relationships, in our interactions with our planet and with others. What a perfect opportunity we all have to make the best out of a terrible situation by choosing to improve ourselves during this time so that as a community we can be better and stronger together. Imagine if we all took use this time and use it in ways that improved our lives, made our families stronger and connected our communities in ways that we have yet to see. As scary as this virus is, it does come with a unique and beautiful gift that we all have been given to transform our society and humanity in ways that can really have a positive and lasting impact on our world. We can bring back a sense of community that has been missing when we reunite with our neighbours and share resources. When we connect online to support and share - even just in words, that say we are not alone in how we all feel right now. We can all use this time to come together and really reshape the world. I have a great deal of faith in humanity and I believe that when we work together there is no task that can't be accomplished. We are a highly skilled society and if we all work together to share the skills and resources we each individually have, we can get through these hard times. I love my Muskoka community and am already seeing the beautiful signs of my town coming together to support each other. I hope that wherever you are at this moment that you take in your surroundings and see what you can do to help. What can you do or offer to someone? We all have skills. We all have strengths. We all need to learn and recognize the strengths we all individually possess and as a community band together to make sure that we all come out on the other side of this health crisis stronger as a community. Let's all make a commitment to each other, that we will empower each other by pointing out each others gifts and abilities - as many of us do not recognize our own. Let's share the beautiful lights we can all shine and in shining together we all come through. I myself am committed to finding ways to uplift my community through these dark days. One thing I have ready access to is GOATS!!! I promise to fill your news feeds with goat pictures, goat videos and silly goat antics to help get you all through these days ahead. With all of the stress inducing news on our screens, we can use a healthy dose of goat joy. I am sending love out to all who are reading my words. Let's do all we can to help each other <3 In beauty, Angee
This week I have decided to take a pause, to not pick or write about another GotW in order to honour my boy Gigalo for one more week. For those who have not yet heard the news, my dear sweet Gigalo passed away peacefully. My heart is not in the right place for me to be able to focus on another goat at the moment while I mourn him, so rather than force it, I will take this week to reflect on things and update you all with the farm happenings and when everyone can expect baby arrivals for 2020. There has actually been a ton happening around the farm these days, and in my life in general, so an update kind of post is in order for this week.
So first I'd like to take a few moments to pay my respects to my dear Geordon, who would have celebrated his 53rd birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday to you my love <3 With Gigalos passing a few days ago, I have really felt Geordon's presence strongly here at the farm. While I held Gigalo during his last moments, I know I was not alone in the barn with him. It was actually quite a touching, the few moments I had to share with my sweet old (very smelly) man in the end. As I held his tiny body I was overcome by a sense of peace and love akin to what one would feel from a grandfather. I felt that Giggy knew it was time for him to move on, as I was now OK to continue to journey without him. I felt Geordon there beside me and knew that he had come to take Giggy home. There honestly are some moments in life that can never be put into words - those moments that are there for us, and us alone. To experience. To feel. To hurt. To learn and to grow. I think Geordon came to support me while I said good-bye, as he knew how hard it would be for me. Holding that space for Gigalo to take his last breath, I couldn't help but reflect back on his amazing life and just how grateful I was for being able to provide that for him. I know there are many that think I'm a nutter, but the service I give to my animals is out of love, gratitude and deep respect for who they each are. The well being of the herd is paramount to all of the work we do here, so when one of them passes away, it matters. I believe in honouring the life that lived rather than mourn too long for the passing of it. I know there is still joy within our memories that we can continually share, long after they've passed on.
I don't want to dwell on the sadness of the past week, I really want to focus on all of the amazing an positive things that have been happening here. I recently launched a new program I am calling "Goats on the Go!" and it is going better than expected. We have been visiting local retirement homes, residential homes, drop in programs, and almost anywhere else we are asked to come. The goats seem to be enjoying the outings as much as we are. Each day we go out we are bringing smiles and joy to people's hearts. We feel the excitement when we arrive - and within minutes you can fell it settling and becoming calm. Often by the time the hour is up, the goats are chewing their cud and even lying down with people for cuddles. Our biggest challenges to these visits are dealing with the excited energy when we arrive at a location - it often makes the goats a bit jittery, but they trust and take everything in stride knowing we (myself and my wonderful team) have their backs and that they are safe. We limit the length of time that each goat works (max 2 hours daily, with at least 1 hour break in between), as well as how many days they work per week. This ensures they are never over worked, overwhelmed, or stressed. Our other challenge to the visits is bathroom breaks. I train my goats to go to the bathroom on command so that they essentially "empty" outside, before going inside. When this works, my whole team is delighted!! The flip side to that is when we arrive and we have a mutiny and no one wants to go to the bathroom before we go in. Well then what? I love my team and they put up with a lot of shenanigans from me around here. Without them, the goats and I would be running wild through the streets! My team keeps things civilized ;) Accidents do happen, but they are rare.
So the last week around here has been very busy. Now that we are on the road and becoming active in the community, word is spreading. It is really exciting to watch something I have worked years towards, start to grow into what I dreamed of. In only a few short weeks I am already seeing the positive effects that my herd is having on the individuals we see regularly. I always try to take the same goats to the same repeat locations so that relationships can be built over time. In some circumstances there hasn't needed to be any time - those relationships were apparent, immediately. In the past several weeks my team and I have been moved to tears on multiple occasions by the magic we are witnessing. Saying I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my job would be an understatement. With the recent travels, word is starting to get around. In the past week we have been featured in the Bracebridge Examiner, on CTV News Barrie, and just this morning I did an interview on CBC Radio, Ontario Morning with Wei Chen. I will post all of the links to the media coverage below. It has been a very big week, with a great deal of exposure and excitement. Add the passing of Gigalo into the mix and it is no wonder that I am feeling a bit run down these days. I dream of a vacation. The barn feels so empty each and every time I go in there. I know that will pass with time. I try to hold onto the positive and amazing things happening with my business and dream, and know that Gigalo is proud of all of the work we are doing.
So 2020 is here, and with that is normally an announcement of when we can all expect the next batch of Sky River baby goats. This past winter and breeding season has been one for the record books for me. With the unexpected passing of my main herdsire Jose back in November. Without him to carry on my breeding plans it left me with very few options. I had intended to add a new buck this year anyways for this reason, but had wished for more time. Jose had other plans. So where does that leave us for babies this year? We still are not sure. I am hoping for confirmation of at least one pregnancy this week. Everyone will have to wait a bit longer, but at this point we know for sure that we will not have any baby goats born on the farm until July and into August. Animals are funny and no matter how much planning we try for, there are curveballs thrown our way you just can't prepare for in advance. I am desperate for confirmation of a pregnancy though. My herd has gone ballistic with hormones this winter. With no one bred, all of the does are now trying to be bucks to breed each other....It is not working. It is CHAOS somedays though! I long for warm sunny days and kicking this band of hooligans back outdoors again. I wish I had better news on the baby goat front, but it will have to wait just a wee bit longer. The warmer weather is upon us, the clocks have once again been changed (when will the insanity stop??), and I've noticed a great increase in birds returning to the area lately. I know that before long we will be full on into mud season on the farm - otherwise known as shedding season, or big spring clean up season.. Either way it guarantees the return of warm weather and that also means the return to our active on farm animal programs! I have big plans and new ideas that I am hoping to launch and introduce. With it all, I plan to stay positive and keep shining! In beauty ~ Angee
Bracebridge Examiner: https://www.muskokaregion.com/news-story/9872560--who-knew-they-would-be-such-a-hit-goats-aid-muskoka-s-mental-health/?fbclid=iwar3t97ldwlnzvxuwyzalrfzepzokvjnrku1wzfianqevdrrd8u42pg7jpnw
CTV News Barrie: https://barrie.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1916827&jwsource=fb&fbclid=IwAR0M-ClGXi0vfWVe7jTZ--K-fwtPDT4iqUk21LxlDnBFHhLYD8iL3vbmL_A
CBC Radio, Ontario Morning with Wei Chen: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-112-ontario-morning-from-cbc-radio/clip/15764693-ontario-morning-monday-march-9-2020-part-3?fbclid=IwAR1bQi-DgpNFYzxG6L4-umR5DrGS3vYRUrabuIJulKD8f5fvDkNhSNVvnxM
On this weeks edition of GotW, I am so honoured and pleased to introduce you to one of the most important men in my life. This little guy stands a whopping 18.5 inches tall and although he is heavy, I am sure that is just the weight of his amazingly impressive horns! This tiny little gentleman is sweet, gentle and so very level headed. Giggy as he is know here at the farm, was part of the inspiration behind my breeding program. Without him to do the important work of making babies with some carefully chosen ladies, we would not have the herd that we do today. This little guy is so special to me that he has even been immortalized forever on my shoulder as part of my tattoo work. Perhaps I'm a little more than goat crazy, but this little man is worth it. Gigalo has been retired for a few years now and I am sad to say that he is definitely showing the signs of his advanced age now. I fear my old boy may not see the spring, but I hope I am mistaken. The average life expectancy for breeding bucks is surprisingly low at about 8 years. My main man Gigalo here will turn 11 in April of this year. What a legacy this small but mighty buck has made for himself! Within my herd are his many times great grandchildren. He joined my herd and my life right back at the very beginning of my crazy idea about building a herd for the purpose of therapy work. He has witnessed the birth of many generations of his progeny come to be, and he has survived long enough for us to make a new home at an amazing new location. For Gigalo, I can't imagine anything else he would need in order to make his life complete.
I purchased Gigalo in the spring of 2011, along with our Herd Queen Bonnie from a friend and breeder in southern Ontario. That was back before the Nigerian Dwarf Goat became the highly sought after goats in Canada that they are now. Finding males or females for sale was rare at that time, so I jumped at the chance to buy both Bonnie and Gigalo. Little did I know that my friend Sue was very happy for my jumping and her unloading them both lol - I am sure that was all due to Bonnie though. Gigalo has always been a sweet and quiet little guy at my place. For many years Gigalo has kept the peace within the buck herd, always ensuring that the boys were all respectful to each other. Fights have rarely broken out amongst my boys over the years, and even though Gigalo has not been top dog in the herd for a long time now, it seems to me that all of the younger males respect and take care of Gigalo - in their way of course. If you track Gigalo's records on the CLRC, you can trace his progeny to many herds, including 4 of his sons that are herdsires for other breeders herds. Within my own herd, Giggy's grandson Cosmos replaced him when Gigalo was retired from breeding, and his daughter Cassiopeia was one of our main foundation does, who has since also been retired and two of her daughters have taken her place to continue on the lines within our herd. Nine years later it amazes me to see how solid the temperament on this little mans genetics are, and that many generations down the line it is still evidenced each and every kidding season by his progeny and descendants here, as well as on other farms.
Over the years on the farm Gigalo was almost like a hidden secret. UNless you came to visit us at the farm, chances are you didn't even know about him. Due to his horns we were unable to show him as it against show rules, so unlike my other boys that were able to compete and earn titles, Gigalo was not. His Grandson, Sky River Meadows Cosmos on the other hand did very well in the ring winning 1 Grand Champion leg and 3 Reserve Champion legs to date. I honestly don't think Giggy would have placed well in the ring anyways. I chose Giggy for his brains not his confirmation. He sure is a cutey though, and always has been a gentleman. Over the years Giggy has done some crazy things to keep it interesting having a buck with horns like his. I will never forget the year he used those impressive horns to push himself THROUGH the page wire fence to access the girls on the other sie. We were already well into our breeding season by that point and had to intervene on a few unwanted breedings. My boys have always kept me on my toes and with the biggest learning curve too. Trying to stay 10 steps ahead of raging testosterone such as theirs during full rut is a challenge some years. I've been grateful for Giggy's leadership amongst the boys - cool level head and all. As much as I love this old man, I do know that a day will come soon when I will have to say good-bye to him. As sad as I will be when that day comes, I know I will not mourn him for long. His legacy is incredible and within my herd are many pieces of the great Gigalo, who's incredible amber coloured eyes and amazing calm personality shine through. When the day comes that this great king passes away, his children, grand children and many times great grandchildren will be here to remind us all of him. Until then my Gigalo, enjoy your continued retirement and please never stop strutting your stuff <3