This weeks blog will be one of the hardest that I have written in a very long time. I apologize in advance as I fear this blog post may bounce around much like my emotions lately. I am not going to lie, the past couple weeks have been really difficult for me, and this past week has been especially challenging. For that reason, this week I will not be telling a GotW story, but I will be memorializing a recent one. Sadly this past week, we had to say goodbye to our dear SRM Aphrodite. This is not a loss that I am taking well, and to be honest it has had me going through some big waves of emotions. I'll get back to what happened to Dite, but first I need to address something else.
This past week has also been especially painful and difficult as my entire country comes to terms with the mass shootings that occurred in Nova Scotia, and the terrible and tragic loss of so many lives TAKEN by a very ill person. My heart breaks for the victims of such terrible violence, and also for the loved ones left behind. As the information about the events that took place come out, I admit I am stunned speechless. This can't be real! Not in Canada! My brain is really struggling to cope with all of the suffering that occurred, and at a time when the entire human race is struggling to cope through a pandemic. This is all honestly too horrible to bear at times.
Emotions are at an all time high everywhere. Countries are struggling to balance between protecting the health of their people vs the stability of the economy. Small businesses are closing at an alarming rate. The vulnerability of our aging and elderly populations, and the conditions of the care homes they reside in. The heartbreaking stories of loved ones dying alone in hospitals or long term care facilities due to the restrictions of social isolation. Everywhere we turn right now, we can't escape the realities of the current situation. This level of stress definitely has a HUGE impact on everyone and the effects can be long lasting. As the days pass and the lockdown continues, what more will we have to face? One thing is for sure, although some of us go through more hardships than others through life's journey, no one gets through life without some level of loss, suffering and/or sacrifice.
Something else has also been sticking out to me lately as I speak to people. Although we are "all in this together", we are not all necessarily going through the same experience. The challenges and struggles we each face will be very different from each other. While some may face a major financial crisis, they may not be suffering from the isolation aspect. Alternatively, someone who may not be struggling to make ends meet, may be suffering a major emotional crisis while being isolated from everyone and thing familiar and comforting. Some of us will be directly impacted by the virus and may become sick, or know someone who does. For others, they may never know someone personally who was ever infected with it. I have friends who have had to choose to send their own children away for safety due to being front line or essential workers. Others who don't have that option face the additional fear of potentially bringing the virus home to their own loved ones. We may all be facing the same storm during this crisis, but we are not all facing the same daily choices, challenges or obstacles. This is why I feel that love, kindness and compassion are even more important right now. Regardless of age, race, economic status, religion, political leanings or otherwise, we are all impacted. How can we not all feel compassion for one another at a time like this? I consider each group and the changes and adjustments in everyone's lives, and I see how devastating and dangerous the ripple effects of this crisis will have on every aspect of everyone's lives for potentially a very long time. I worry most for the children who can't yet understand what is happening, and for those most vulnerable. I worry for the victims of domestic violence, as I understand that they may be suffering worse during this time do to heightened stress of their abusers, and the isolation from the lockdown. Each person we see, pass by or otherwise every single day is going through something. Let's please all remember that and work to be kind and compassionate to each other. Love really is the right choice right now <3
One my biggest personal struggles in coping at the moment is the essential shopping trips for the things my farm and family need. The entire ordeal of trying to go into a store is completely exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally now. My psyche shudders to grasp the new reality of what it means to go shopping. I am sure many have experienced this same thing recently and are also trying to cope. A week ago I went to the grocery store to get some basic items. I lined up outside in the freezing cold and stood in that line for over an hour and a half to get inside to shop. Having been spoiled in the past with instant access to stores, I did not dress to stand there in the cold for so long. It was a sobering wait, with occasional snow which brought me plenty of time to reflect and practice gratitude :) When it was finally my turn to go shopping amongst the near bare aisles, I found myself once again struggling emotionally, as almost nothing on my list was available in the store. Initially I felt overwhelmed and rather devastated, this could not be real right? It was a moment I will never forget as long as I live. From the masked faces in the aisles, to the empty shelves, to the lines on the floor, to how I was feeling personally, to the plexiglass barrier between myself and the cashier, all images forever burned in my memory. So please consider for a moment - my personal biggest struggle at the moment is SHOPPING. I honestly feel blessed that I can say that shopping is my biggest struggle right now. I am far luckier than most, and for that I am grateful. Wow, let me also tell you how grateful I am, that I have an ability to remain optimistic through the roughest times. Instead of giving into emotion during my shopping experience, I chose instead to browse the aisles of what remained, hoping for inspiration or new ideas of foods to try and experiment with. I've always enjoyed cooking, but lately it has felt therapeutic. I have been finding a great deal of stress relief in learning to bake breads, bagels and other tasty things. Perhaps it is the kneading of dough, or the delicious smells of fresh baked breads filling my house. Right now we all need joy, so if it brings joy - do it!
OK, so no more beating around the bush on this. The farm suffered a big loss this past week. I even struggle to say I suffered a big loss this week. This death is one that I can't explain, and to be honest is down right shitty. This is the side of the farming lifestyle that I find to be the real challenge. The divide between life and death is so thin sometimes. Last weekend SRM Aphrodite became ill. She went downhill fast and was showing signs of suffering from polio, which in goats causes a cascade effect of health challenges that can lead to blindness, encephalitis and death. In the past I've been successful with saving some from polio, but this was a battle I was not meant to win. For five exhausting days I fought by her side, but in the end she chose to be at peace. My dear Dite. My Goddess of Love. I was not ready to say good-bye. What a sad irony that during this time when love is needed the most, the one member of my herd that is representative of love dies. I have bounced back and forth between waves of anger and frustration, mixed with deep sadness and grief this past week. It isn't all likely due to the passing of Dite, but a culmination of many things. However, her passing in the midst of it all seems somehow completely unfair. She wasn't old or sick, she was in her prime! One thing is for certain, this special goat was very loved by many people. She was part of a few different herds and spent time with a few different people during her days. She healed the hearts of many in her five short years of life. Each of us that were blessed to have her in our lives were so lucky. How grateful I am to have had the privilege of knowing her, and for her bearing the name of my farm. May her spirit always roam free through the meadows surrounding my farm and may she follow wherever her herd roams.
OK, I don't want to dwell on her passing, so I want to change the vibe of this post to be more reflective of the message of LOVE I want to send out, as that is who Dite really was. There is a bigger message here that I also need to try to share, and words do not always come easily to this kind of sharing. This past week with Aphrodite has given me another lesson to grow from. As I spent many hours thinking back to why I chose her name and the significance and meaning it had for me then, and what it signifies for me now. Aphrodite was born the summer of 2014, the year that I lost Geordon. She was literally born from a living miracle in my opinion. Her mother Neveah had a traumatic birth and by all rights shouldn't have even been alive. For her to give birth to triplets in 2014 was significant for me as it was the year I was originally set to begin my therapeutic programs on the farm. All of that changed with Geordon's death and the financial crisis I found myself in thereafter. I am not sure if I have shared this with anyone, or if anyone ever made the connection, but I named Neveah's triplets Phoenix, Soleil and Aphrodite. Literally to me they signified my need and desire to raise myself from the ashes of my life, and in rebirth, to shine and spread love. Sadly for me at the time though, apparently I wasn't meant to open my doors (yet), and had to sell of most of my herd - including Aphrodite and Phoenix. A year ago though, I was reunited with Aphrodite when she returned to the farm to retire. Now she has passed and has been placed in a SE facing spot on my farm. For anyone who ever doubts whether animals have emotions, or intelligence, I want to share something that happened on Saturday afternoon. At this time of year my bucks are as mild mannered as kittens and I often just let them roam freely on my yard during the day as we don't have a separate fenced space for them outside yet. As I was working in the yard doing poo patrol with a couple volunteers, I witnessed Rembo walk from where the boys were browsing in the field, walk directly to lie down on top of Aphrodite's fresh grave. I know how deeply connected my herd is to each other, but rarely are there events such as this to be witnessed that can't be denied. I called to both Bailey and Erik to see for themselves. Rembo lay upon her grave for a good hour on Saturday afternoon, in silent love and respect. As I watched in awe, and as it continued to hit me in the FEELS bigtime, I continued to work and process the lessons that moment held.
So, here is my 2020 so far: in January I officially opened my business, my FEEL practice, and farm doors. On March 6, 2020, the farm was featured on CTV News Barrie, and on March 9, 2020 I was interviewed on CBC Radio. What a high!!! Four days later on March 13, 2020 I was forced to close my doors and my business due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Now I am unable to earn an income doing what I've spent the last 12 years creating. No way is this my reality! I refuse to accept that and absolutely will find a way to make this work by adapting to the present situation... somehow. My herd and I have worked too hard for too many years, fighting to earn credibility and trust to give up or stop now. I love my Muskoka community and have worked hard to create this farm. I want to be able to support my community the best way I know how - through connective, healing experiences with animals. I am so happy to say that by holding true to love, I think I have found a way to at least begin to help and support my community during this crisis. I may not be able to earn an income, but I can still go and make people feel better. So starting this week, Yara and I, and perhaps a few others, plan to start visiting in the community. With the help of some great friends at local long term care facilities, we will be making window visits with seniors who currently are in real need of having their spirits lifted <3 I truly believe that if we want to receive love in our lives, we must be freely willing to give it. There is no greater need for love than right now, and I have love to give in spades! My hope is to spread as much love, smiles and hope to my community, so that it will come back to my family and continue to grow. If you know of someone who could really use a visit from a couple of crazy goats, get in touch and let's see what we can do! I'll also be reaching out and connecting in ways that I can think up. Sky River Meadows may not be open for visits, but the goats and I will be popping up here and there to remind everyone that we will be here when you're finally able to come visit us. Hang in there. This too shall pass. Find small ways to take care of yourself, and each other, each and every day. When in doubt, choose love. <3 ~ Angee
P.S. In case of interest, here is the link to Aphrodite's GotW story from earlier this year. https://www.skyrivermeadows.com/healing-with-the-herd---blog/goat-of-the-week-sky-river-meadows-aphrodite
Where does the time go? How are we nearing the end of April already? The greener months will be upon us soon, and then what? Will we continue to be locked in? Will we still be waiting for answers and a solution to a problem that we can't see and barely seem to understand? Although it feels like time is standing still for some of us, I know that for those on the frontline, things feel very different for you. There is a battle going on in the world and it is happening on many fronts. This is definitely a time for all of us to pay very close attention to what is happening in the world around us. Never again will I take for granted so many things that I am guilty of taking for granted. During the past several weeks, I have been really examining my life up to this point, and spending a great deal of time in deep meditation. In recognizing some parts of my life that were unbalanced, I have made some hard decisions and adjustments in support of my health and journey to self love. Anyways, I'll get back to all that later, here I am rambling and I haven't even introduced this beautiful little angel pictured here yet <3 She is my pick for GotW this week due to the inspiration I currently draw from her daily. This fierce little doe is the epitome of a virago - a female who demonstrates heroic qualities - my Heroic Maiden to be exact, if I was to stereotype her personality. This is Gilraen <3 I call her Raen, but my son, calls her Gil. Either way, neither he nor I will ever agree on her name or who owns this tiny feminine warrior. Raen loves us both and comes to either name anyways. Can you believe this little one stands only 12" tall? Often overlooked in the herd by visitors until the moment she picks a fight with a herd mate. It is hard not to notice her then! Being one of the smallest in the herd, she will still challenge ANY goat, including the herd Queen if she sees fit to.
Raen was born on the afternoon of July 9th, 2017. Born out of SRM Soleil, Raen has the same amazingly sweet personality that her mother does. She is a bit shy though and can be reserved at first. Her birth was a difficult one as all four babies were tangled inside. Raen was at the greatest risk as she had the umbilical cords of two of her siblings tightly wrapped around her neck. With time, patience and a lot of luck I managed to safely deliver all four babies. Raen was born second and I will never forget how when I held her up to look at her the first time, she latched right onto my chin and try to nurse. She was born hungry and that hasn't changed! A fighter from the time she hit the ground, this little one thrived! She was one that I would have to hold back to allow her siblings time to properly nurse. She was stronger than her brother Bilbo and used that strength to her advantage. With two younger sisters to also push around, it is no wonder Raen grew to be "top" of the siblings pecking order. Only her older big sister Star seems to "outrank" her. When I watch the two of them together I can see where Raen got a lot of her fierceness from. I think she learned a lot of her dirty fighting moves from her big sister too! They both have a tendency towards biting their opponents ears, or even trying to latch on to a teat! (nipple) Now that's some shady fighting moves, but who am I to judge how goats settle things. Compared to the rest of the herd these ladies are SMALL so perhaps that is the tactic that balances the fight. The entertainment value is absolutely priceless and the things I get to observe and learn make living this lifestyle so worthwhile. I call it Goat-O-Vision and it is better than any TV I've ever owned.
I don't mean to make it sound like Raen is a bully, as that is not her at all. She is more like a military leader perhaps who lives by the CODE and rules of the herd (I am convinced they have one), set out by the Queen. She sees the need for herd stability and works as an unofficial enforcer of sorts to personally oversee the herd not only safe, but taking care of each other. The cute part is that she works as an enforcer with the youngest generations. Due to her genetic issues and tiny stature she will never be bred, so it kind of makes sense for her to fill the role of a drill sergeant of sorts to the "cadets". The babies are often bigger than Raen by the time they are 8 weeks old so I don't ever have to worry about her being too rough or harsh with them. I am often more concerned that Raen will get hurt than I worry she will hurt anyone else. The entire herd seems to take her seriously, when she starts hollering. She cares about her herd and wants everyone to be safe and happy. What an interesting perspective to consider, but one that we often see in nature, is that small size does not mean defenseless or vulnerable. Just because one is small does not mean that they can not also be mighty! Raen is very self aware and that gives her confidence that I admire. When I observe her, it would seem to me that she views her small size as an advantage rather a disadvantage. She is easily hidden amongst the herd and that actually keeps her quite safe. Although she is small, she is not slow on the move and has no problem keeping up with the herd at a run. At the moment Raen is only working with our main herd doing goat walks, but I am hoping to start working with her indoors to see if she will be able to join our Goats on the Go! program with her brother Bilbo when we get to resume working. The two of them working together would be too cute for words! <3 They also share a very close and special bond so I bet would do magic working together!
The quality that Raen possesses that I admire the most is her ability to set clear and concise boundaries. Up until recent months, I was unaware of my lack of boundaries in my personal relationships. As I continue to study, and am committed to my own personal development, I am painfully aware of some of the areas of my life that have been very out of balance. This is due to no ones fault, but within my own personal issues, but in learning to honour and love myself, when I discover these areas that are out of balance, I need to make adjustments. The process of learning to set healthy boundaries in my life and relationships has not gone over easily in all cases. For some of my relationships the adjustment has been received beautifully as we both adjust to a new healthy balance. In other instances however, it has had devastating consequences. Not all relationships will survive the test of setting boundaries I have learned - no matter how many years you've been friends. As painful as this lesson has been for me to learn, and as difficult as it is to move forward from it, I now love myself and refuse to look backwards. True friendships and true love will, without judgement, survive the challenge of adjustments, through open and honest communication. By taking a stand that says what kind of behaviour or treatment you are willing to tolerate, sometimes people will leave your life. Painful? Yes, damn right it is. BUT, if we are to honour and love ourselves, then I have to choose ME. I can't regret choosing myself. So, on to the next phase of my life with my head held high and instead of being hurt and angry, I will instead choose LOVE and to remember fondly all the years of great friendship I had. I am blessed with many amazing friendships still, of all shapes, sizes and colours. Each relationship I have changes and evolves as we each grow. Sometimes those evolutions take us away from each other. When that happens I think we have to learn to accept it. To fight it may slow our own evolution. In my own life, I have come to the point where I am done fighting the process and I am surrendering to the endless possibilities of journeying through life with an open heart! It really is much easier to just ALLOW :)
So at the start of this post I was talking about how I have been making some adjustments in my life in support of what I feel really matters not only in my own life, and my families, but also of my greater community. Like Raen who is always looking out for her herd, I too care a great deal about my Muskoka community. Supporting local business and small farms has always been very important to me, but this crisis has reinvigorated my passion for all things homesteading, local business, and local community. I don't feel the world will ever be the same - nor do I think it should. There were a great many imbalances in our society that this pandemic has really shone a very big light on. There is not a lot that we can do individually to impact the greater world, but we can focus our individual energies closer to home and make an INCREDIBLE impact on our communities! Reaching out and supporting small businesses to see what they need during this time may be all that is needed to see them through. Showing small supports will not only help financially at this time, but it will also let them know that you value them as a part of your community. Not everyone is able to help out financially either - I get that as I am in the same boat. There may be other ways that we can each reach out locally to a person or organization in need. Using my herd (and Raen) as inspiration, I am excited that I have a plan on how the goats and my team can continue to spread LOVE during this time. I will not make an announcement just yet, but there will be one coming in 1-2 weeks if all comes together as planned. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to remember kindness as the days and weeks continue to pass. Stress and fear take a very large toll on all our psyches and we can all do our part to be compassionate and caring. We are all going through this together. We will each experience good days, and bad days, easy days and hard days. Let's not give up on each other yet when we have already come so far. Each day that passes I believe more firmly that LOVE is the answer and solution to everything. <3 Hang in there everyone! Always with LOVE ~ Angee
First I want to start this week's blog post by acknowledging all of our front line workers that are tirelessly putting themselves in harms way during this time of crisis. The service that you give freely to your communities, so that we can all pull through this to live to see better days again, is deeply appreciated. Thank you for all that you do for us. <3
For this weeks blog I wanted to choose a goat that had a great story of overcoming incredible odds. As this is also Easter weekend, (albeit the strangest Easter in my life to date) I feel that an uplifting story about the power of love is in order! So, for this weeks post I have chosen to share the story of SRM Legolas. This young wether (neutered male) had one of the roughest starts to his life that I have experienced, and against all those odds he is still with us. By all rights, he isn't even supposed to be here, but to see him alive and thriving three years later is wonderful to me, and reminds me to never give up! Especially when the odds are stacked against you. This dear boy is my Leggy, and this is his story, which actually begins with his mom, who happens to be my dear Maisie - Therapy goat number 1 and arguably one of my most special friends. Maisie has through her many years found new and exciting ways to try to die each and every year, always keeping me on my toes. In the winter of 2017 she was diagnosed with a bone disorder that caused all of her teeth to become loose. The decision was made that for her own safety and ongoing health, Maisie needed to have all of her teeth surgically removed. The problem was that she was pregnant. My vet advised me that the drugs she would be given for her surgery would cause her to abort her pregnancy. As this is Maisie we are talking about of course I would do what was in her best interests to survive. The decision was made to go through with the surgery and Maisie pulled through with flying colours! She did not however terminate her pregnancy, which meant I really had no idea of what I would be facing when she did in fact give birth a few months later.
On the day that Legolas was born, Maisie was her usual self, never cooperating and giving me absolutely no signs that this was the day she would give birth. Under the circumstances though I was not leaving her alone while I went to work, so I had someone stay with her each day. Wouldn't you know it, she went into full labour while I was delivering my mail route that afternoon and I was not going to be able to get back in time. Legolas was delivered safely into the world by friends while I rushed home. Poor Maisie had quite the ordeal delivering this massive boy! Legolas was born weighing in at just a hair over 6 pounds and he is by far the largest Nigerian Dwarf goat baby that I've ever seen. To put his size into perspective, the average size for a baby Nigerian dwarf goat is 1 1/2 lbs at birth. Maisie was a trooper and as usual an attentive and loving mamma. There was something horribly wrong with Legolas though and it was apparent we would need to work extra hard to help this giant boy survive. He was unable to stand, appeared potentially blind, and he was suffering from seizures. He also had a neurological head shake happening that was quite heartbreaking to witness. Maisie could tell something was also wrong with her boy, but she never rejected him and worked diligently with me through those first scary weeks of his life. It was very fortunate that she only gave birth to a single kid that year, as Legolas was going to need all of her attention and nurturing to bring him through. The one thing he had going for him right from his very first day of life was an insatiable appetite. He couldn't be dying if he was this hungry right? It gave me hope and with each feeding he grew stronger.
In previous years I had great success with the use of thiamine injection therapy to help ease other types of neurological issues when they've arisen in my goat herd. Thiamine is water soluble so any excess is expelled through urine. Due to this, it is something I can always try to see if it will help, without stressing about any negative impact. Over the years I have been surprised again and again in how often a shot of thiamine makes all the difference in a sick goat thriving. Where Legolas was concerned, I had absolutely nothing to lose by trying it on him. To my great relief, I began seeing tiny signs of improvement in his strength and coordination each day. It wasn't until he was almost a month old however before I felt confident enough in his improvement that I was sure he was out of the woods and would make it. By the time he joined the herd he was as big as kids 2 months older than him. As long as I continued to give him daily thiamine injections, he was almost completely symptom free, with no more evidence of seizures or head tremors. When you watched him at play with the other kids, it was VERY obvious that he was not as quick or capable as the others. He was easily confused and would get lost at ANY opportunity. Baby goats are notorious for getting lost, but Legolas was REALLY good at it. He needed to be monitored constantly that first summer. Legolas is a son of our recently deceased champion buck Jose. Legolas inherited his sires sweet temperament and personality, and due to his special needs stature, was a perfect candidate to be a therapy goat.
After the first few months, Leggy continued to get stronger and required less and less of my interventions to keep him going. By the time he turned a year old you could not tell that there was ever anything wrong with him at the start of his life. He has grown into a very handsome young wether who watches over his younger siblings and protects them fiercely. His little brother Remis is often seen with him while we hike, and they always sleep together. Legolas is a very shy and quiet soul. Rarely do you ever hear him speak or make a sound. He is always playful though and seems to delight in playing with his younger siblings. He adores naps and will often come and lay with me in the shade during the hot summer days. VERY food motivated, Legolas comes completely out of his shell if there are treats being offered. A huge lover of salty things, he still turns down no snacks ever. It seems an authentic quality he has possessed since birth :) As long as it keeps this special boy strong and healthy, I don't mind one bit. Legolas is strong and very fit, and will perhaps one day belong to a special group of goats that will be part of a future program here. Until then though, Legolas is part of my main therapy herd and is always part of our goat walks and outdoor programs. There is no explaining how this special boy came to be and also how he managed to survive those first few months. Maisie and I fought the hard fight for this boy and to win a victory like that and be able to watch him as he connects with people in our work, it really does feel to me like Legolas is a living miracle. Each person I watch him with brings my heart such immense joy. Ugh, just thinking about how long it has been since we have hosted guests or worked with clients makes me incredibly sad :( I really hope we all see an end to this pandemic soon and that we all can enjoy some lovely days in the warm sunshine with the herd again. Until then my friends, stay safe and please #stayhomesavelives With love, Angee
This weeks edition of GotW features a rather tall and strange looking goat. OK, so it is day 24 of my self isolation, but I have not yet lost my mind. So she isn't a goat, but if you ask her, Cheyenne will tell you she is the GOAT (greatest of all time)! I look forward to sharing the story of this beautiful, young mare who joined my herd accidentally at the end of 2018, and is now determined to stay with my goat herd full time.
Back in 2018, I started a course of study called FEEL - Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning, through Horse Spirit Connections in Tottenham, ON. This program, and the FEEL Approach forever changed my life for the better. Not only did this program offer me validation for many of the experiences I had with animals in my life prior to adopting this practice, but it has actually allowed me to find myself through the amazing support of four legged friends such as Cheyenne here. The FEEL Approach is essentially learning to reconnect with the parts of ourselves that our society has taught us to ignore or lose touch with - our heart energy, and our gut instincts, but also vital knowledge about the emotions we all feel. If I was to break that down even further, I would say to follow ones heart or to listen to ones gut, but in a literal way as opposed to figuratively. Horses have an ability as prey animals to be fully in touch with their surroundings at all times. A horses ability to be able to read the emotional energy of any potential threat has ensured the survival of their species for millions of years virtually unchanged. FEEL facilitators such as myself work to partner horses with humans to work through specific activities in order to learn and grow together. These activities are designed to explore specific areas of personal growth and development. I explain all of this as a way to give some better understanding into the fact that Cheyenne here is not just any horse - she is a FEEL horse, and that is both a blessing and a challenge to me at the moment in our daily routine of self isolation. The FEEL Approach teaches us to live every day of our lives connected through our hearts with all living things. When we connect through our hearts we have the ability to communicate on a different level, that can even transcend species. Horses are particularly adept at this ability, and Cheyenne here is no exception. So how did she end up here and part of my therapy herd? Part misfortune, perhaps part fate and most certainly meant to be, here is her story.
Cheyenne a registered Rocky Mountain Horse and she was born in Kentucky on November 9, 2013. She was purchased by a FEEL sister of mine and imported into Canada in 2018. Upon getting this mare home, it was apparent that she had some serious physical issues that would impede her ability to live a normal, healthy life for a horse. The other issue was that Cheyenne was also pregnant. Decisions needed to be made to ensure the safety and long term welfare of this mare, and her unborn foal, and this is where I come into her story. I was asked if I would be able to offer a home to Cheyenne as part of my therapeutic program and went about trying to figure out how to get her here, as she was now in Thunder Bay, ON. Fortunately I found a transport company willing to bring her down and in November of 2018 Cheyenne came home to Sky River Meadows. Coming from one FEEL home to another, the transition was actually quite easy for her and the rest of my other horses here at the time. My biggest concern was getting her settled in and comfortable to go through her pregnancy and delivery safely. She was due to foal anytime after mid April so I had several months of tending to her physical needs as her advancing baby bump created more hardship on her already strained joints. With a lot of love, attention and patience (sleeping two weeks in the barn waiting for her to foal) she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on May 23, 2019. I was absolutely overjoyed to be there to witness the beautiful miracle as I had delivered nothing but baby goats for many years now. It was a wonderful reminder of just how incredible the female body really is to be able to go through this, but also just that beautiful miracle of BIRTH and new life beginning. I never get tired of it :)
Cheyenne had a textbook perfect delivery of her foal, but for the first 24 hours she really wasn't too sure what to do with him. She would lick him, then try to bite him, then alternate neighing REALLY loudly in his face or whinnying at me for answers. I think she was quite confused at first and she needed a lot of assistance from me to get her to understand that she needed to nurse him, BUT also in order to do that she would need to learn to stand still. Each time he got close she would want to lick his face again and she would move. It took about two days but she eventually got the hang of being a mom and then there was no stopping her. About two months prior to giving birth, Cheyenne developed a growth on her side, that rapidly grew into a tumour that needed to be removed. This had to wait until after she gave birth in order to protect her baby from the drugs she would receive during the operation. The procedure went very well however, testing determined to be a mass cell tumour that was malignant. The good news is that my vet managed to remove it in it's entirety so fingers crossed it never grows back or returns elsewhere. Poor Cheyenne really did get a short stick when it comes to health issues, but fortunately for her, she now lives here where I will look after her needs. I am grateful that she has joined us she has some interesting gifts that I feel blessed to offer to those who visit us here at SRM. At the moment, Cheyenne is the only horse I have here that is working in my program, and this is at her own insistence. My other two horses currently here are William, her baby who is leaving very soon for his new home and training facility in southern Ontario, and my old mare Pride who currently is not interested in doing FEEL work, so is essentially retired. My gelding Buddy is currently away on a lease to a lovely family for the next year and half while I continue to develop my programs at the farm. I had intended on moving or rehoming all of my horses for the time being, but Cheyenne had other plans, and after months of her being a royal pain in my butt, she has gotten her wish and joined the herd at the goat barn.
I think Cheyenne started being very present, and perhaps even invading my thoughts regularly in January after I attended my communities New Year's Day sweat lodge ceremony and set my intentions for 2020. That first week of January seems so oddly far away now. So much has happened in such a short period of time with the coronavirus outbreak, that it is crazy to look back and see how little time has actually passed. Now that things in the world are very real for all of us, I am starting to understand why Cheyenne has been insisting she stay on here while the other horses move away. She knows there will be important work to do in our community to help heal the minds and hearts that become broken from this pandemic. This mare of mine is determined that not only is she not going anywhere, but she is content to live the life of a goat until such a time comes that she can live with my other horses again. She started pestering me to bring her to the goat barn in January and finally got her wish in mid February when a behaviour issue from Amelia the cow required me to bring Cheyenne in to keep her in line. This move of course just seemed to encourage Cheyenne in her pursuit of working with the therapy herd NOW instead of in a few years. As you can see from the photo above, she fits right in and hardly stands out at all right? Don't be surprised if you see her on a future Goat Walk here during the summer lol.
I know that when I talk about my animals I talk about them as if they are people, and this might seem very strange to some. It is probably more accurate if you say that I speak of them as if they are individuals though. I speak that way because I believe they ARE individuals, complete with their own personalities, likes, dislikes as well as opinions and wisdom to share. When I found the FEEL program, I found an entire community of like minded individuals who also believed in the sentience of animals, just as many indigenous cultures still do to this day. I now feel pride where once I felt shame for the things I believed about my animal friends abilities to help us. Now I can share my own journey, as well as help others through facilitating exercises with the animals. My herd continues to evolve in interesting ways and I do not pretend to understand the why behind any of it. I am just a FEEL practitioner and facilitator. Why does my horse want to live with my goats? I don't know, but I trust her and trust that she knows more about things spiritual and beyond than I'll likely ever understand in this lifetime. I continually challenge myself daily to ALLOW and ACCEPT the messages I receive and when I surrender, I see the amazing evidence before me time and again. I pray daily that this pandemic ends soon so that my herd and I can get back to our work. After 24 days in isolation my entire herd is starting to become depressed. They miss the socializing, the connections, the laughter and smiles from visitors as well as all the extra hands for grooming, petting, scratching and loving on them. The herd likes me and all, but seriously after this many days of just me and my son tending to them they don't think we're so great anymore lol. When all this is over though, I assure you all that the entire Sky River goat gang, and Cheyenne included, will be here to help you through whatever you need. We know the days ahead are uncertain and scary, but together we will all get through it. So for now stay strong and stay home <3
With love, Angee