Mood. That's how I best describe this past week. Something about the times keeps me feeling like I can't ever fully relax or let my guard down. Shifts are occurring everywhere. In nature, in communities, countries and individuals themselves are shifting. Lines are being drawn, old belief systems are being tested. The world at times appears in chaos. For me this year, a common resonating theme is that you can't become complacent in life. You need to be ready for anything, and to grow you have to learn to adapt. I keep telling myself "Change the plan, not the goal!" This year has thrown more challenges at each and every one of us than we could ever have been prepared for. Hopefully everyone is finding ways to find balance, solace and comfort in your own daily lives. Self care is especially important when we are facing challenging times. If we aren't able to look after ourselves, how can we expect to be at our best, or be there for others? I try to tell myself this often as I work out my own issues with lack of self love. If I stay focused on what speaks to my heart, I tend to come out on the right side of things. If I remain open, I am always in awe of the messages and support that come. This past week I have been visited by a Great Blue Heron multiple times - and in some rather odd and unusual places, like up in the trees. I have grown to believe that there are no coincidences in life, and that everything happens for a very specific reason. When I have an unusual encounter with nature, I pay attention, as I believe in the innate wisdom in all things. Like with my daily Blue Heron visitor for example, I spend time contemplating the wisdom they share. The Heron as a spirit guide reminds us to stand for what we believe in, and to follow your heart no matter what disapproval or judgement that may come your way. I am grateful for the reminders to stay grounded, balanced and to always stand tall and proud, especially if I'm in uncomfortable surroundings. That sure sounds like 2020!
Do you ever become stuck? Like either in life, or even in your head? Thought patterns and processes can become ingrained patterns and cycles that become hard to break free from. Through the FEEL Approach, I have learned that in order to shift the mood, you often need to shift the energy state you're in. By "shifting", I mean to change the element or environment, and by doing so I allow myself the opportunity for a new perspective or approach. For example, if I am depressed and feeling lost, I take a few moments to do a Heart Breath and I am able to refocus and find ways to move forward - even baby steps are forward movement. If I am feeling overwhelmed, I will go outside and put my bare feet directly on the ground for a few minutes (even in the snow). Walking barefoot connects me to my body almost instantly. The thoughts that were clouding my head moments before seem to disperse the moment I am able to ground myself. There are many things one can do to create an energetic shift in your day, or even in your life by adopting new practices. Making the choice is the first step. I recommend exploring as many ways as you can to find what works for you. We all need different things at different times too, so don't be afraid to mix it up. Sometimes I need music, but at other times I need silence. I try to find an outlet that fits the mood in the moment. I find the best experiences have come when I pushed myself outside my comfort zone and done something completely new. It's almost like the fear of the unknown allows me to capture a pure moment where I can really learn about myself. Turns out I'm a lot braver than I ever knew.
The herd is having to adapt to a shift in living situation this week. Thelma the donkey has a hoof issue requiring treatment, which means she is off pasture for the rest of the year. This means she is up at the goat barn and needs to try to learn how to make friends with the goats. Neither Thelma or the goats are happy with this change as it makes them feel vulnerable. No matter who (or what) you are, being vulnerable can be extremely difficult as it opens us up to potential outcomes that may be unpleasant including judgement or rejection. That is only one possible outcome though. Being vulnerable can also open you up to new possibilities, opportunities for growth or change, and most importantly to learn about yourself. I am currently facing some things in both my business and personal life that are causing this uncomfortable but necessary emotion. I am sure that many are feeling vulnerable these days as the stresses of 2020 really set in. My work with horses through the FEEL program taught me that only through experiencing moments of vulnerability can we truly learn about ourselves and grow. In the time since bringing the FEEL Approach into my life, I have experienced the biggest gains and continued to expand, all by learning to understand and embrace my emotions in new ways. As uncomfortable as some emotions can be, they are all essential and important, a built in survival guide to life. Our emotions are the vital link between mind/body/spirit that guide us daily. Personally I have found that as my emotional intelligence has grown, my life has gained more meaning and purpose, as I learn to live from my heart, and stay focused on being true to myself. With each hurdle I face down this year, I get smarter, stronger, more determined than ever. With a great deal of hard work and many 2020 challenges faced, I will be making an announcement about the availability of my upcoming workshop series soon. Sadly there is one more bump in the road to traverse first, but if all goes well, fall will be a very exciting time at the farm. Please send your positive energy and love for it all to work out ❤
In gratitude, appreciation and love,
P.S. Sorry for the shorter post this week, however with the beautiful weather of Indian Summer upon us it is time to make hay!
My morning did not start the way I was hoping for. I was warm and very cozy in my nest of heavy blankets, when I was awoken and brought suddenly into a very cold Monday morning. Checking in with my online weather source revealed a brisk 6C, and a thick "almost" frost on the ground. The smell in the air outside was reminiscent of early fall mornings, when I'd normally be packing up the show goats to head to a fall fair somewhere in the province. I really miss going to fairs, as they've been a part of my life since childhood, and then in recent years with my show string or education herd. The absence of these fairs is felt deeply in the farming community as the fairs a lot of farm families attend for competitions, actually earn a portion of the income used to sustain that family and farm annually. Many farm families depend on the exposure competing at fairs brings, especially if lucky enough to win a Championship. Awards, prize money, breeding deals and a lot of other business is done each year at these fairs. Autumn 2020 will not be the same without this fall fair tradition. Foley, Bracebridge, Huntsville, and the Rosseau Pumpkin Festival I will miss most of all this year. Good-bye summer, it was nice seeing for a short while. A friend recently visited me and she joked that summer packed her bags and never even said good-bye when she left. I think that was pretty bang on with how it feels these days. There is a lot of red on the trees and before long it will be the full splendor of the fall colours. I wouldn't mind if it stayed warmer awhile longer though. This is one of the shortest summers I can remember, considering the last snow fall we had here was the first week of June, and it is now only September. I pray that the snow does not come as early as the signs show this year.
My last farm update was a few weeks ago, and as I think back it is incredible how much has actually happened. Week after week, 2020 sure knows how to keep everyone on their toes! I don't know about you, but I always seem to feel like I am running to catch up these days, like I'm just a little behind pace so don't ever seem to stop. One of the biggest stressors has been trying to get our hay in this summer. We've had mixed results and limited success due to various factors. We did manage to get ALL of the equipment fixed and operational, but mother nature had other plans and has produced a very wet couple of weeks creating additional challenges. There is some good news though! We had a recent group of days with good weather and with the help of a group of willing(ish) and ready volunteers, we got some hay in. Thanks to Farmer Fred for operating the equipment, and to Daniel, Erik, Bailey, Shauna and her dear Dad Joe, we managed to put 735 small square bales in the barn in one night! That felt like a monumental success after all the trouble we have had getting started. Even though summer is pretty much over, I do still have some fields that we will cut if we get the chance. In case there is another hay shortage this winter, I don't want to leave what we have in the fields if we can help it. Indian Summer will be upon us soon and another chance to make more hay. There is no doubt that we have to purchase hay this winter to make it through, but the less we have to buy the better off we will be come spring!
Recently I made a post about the passing of a new addition to our herd, Parliament Hill Farms Simon. Due to circumstances and time, I was not able to post much about his last days. Simon very quickly became very popular here not just with our volunteers, but also with our guests. Simon was featured in many a goat selfie captured here during his short few months with us. I find it incredible how easily we can fall in love with an animal. When compared to people, these relationships are much simpler in that these animal friends do not judge us, nor do they want anything from us. Love that unconditional is a gift and needs to felt by everyone. I have learned a lot about life and love from animals. The way they respect each others differences, and deal with things in the moment as they come is truly something we can all learn from. Although Simon was not the only herd member we have recently said good-bye to, he has left a very large void in the barn for many on my team. When Bonnie passed, it was much different as we were anticipating it due to her advanced age and health. Simon was only 3 years old and otherwise seemed to be in perfect health. His passing has me extra hyper vigilant again, and has caused a lot of my volunteers to intensely watch all of the male goats pee with increased interest. The learning never ends in life and that is especially true if you choose to share it with animals. I am grateful for all of my animal teachers. Simon showed me he was very special shortly after arriving here, and my heart is sad that we don't get to continue on this journey together. He holds a very special place here at the farm for eternity now ❤
On a much happier and lighter note, did you know that we have recently added chickens to the farm? What started out as three has now grown to 15 laying hens! This is my first real foray into raising poultry and I am loving all the new things to learn about them. Our flock now consists of 2 Rhode Island Reds (Peckahontas and Henny Penny), a Plymouth Rock (Henrietta), 6 Bielefelders ( Attila the Hen, Bok Bok Choy, Helen, Lizzie, 2 remain unnamed), and 6 Black Copper Marans ( Eggelyn, Karhen, 4 remain unnamed). We've had a great deal of fun in throwing out chicken name suggestions in the barn with all of the volunteers. Although we still have 6 hens left to decide names on, the choice is far from easy! We have some pretty amazing imaginations on our team! Current names being considered include (but not limited to) Green Eggs and Hen, Darth Layer, Princess Layia, Dixie Chick, Cluck Norris, Layde Godiva, Kylo Hen, Henneth Paltrow and quite a few others. Who knew that naming chickens would be so much fun? Spending time socializing these new additions has been really neat as each breed is very different from the others. The Bielefelders are my favourite. They perch on us like birds of prey and act very primitive in the way they move around the yard - even hunting together! Those 6 are more like dinosaurs than the other chickens by far and super fascinating to observe. The Bielfelders and Black Copper Marans are impossible to tell apart, so we solved the issue by putting coloured zip ties on their left legs so we can differentiate them from each other and choose names. If you have some great chicken name suggestions please send them my way! Most of our hens are not laying yet as they are still very young, but this is the reason I decided to add chickens to the barn. It's hard to beat the farm fresh eggs we get from Henrietta, Peckahontas and Henny Penny each day! Can't wait for the variety in our eggs when the others start laying in a few months. Especially the chocolate coloured eggs of the black copper marans!
One of the personal goals I set for myself early this year was to bring in, allow and especially to learn to take time for myself - some self love. I haven't done so good with it yet, but I am definitely trying. Some days I am so busy juggling farm, business and family demands that the self love I give myself is to spend as many hours as I can outdoors. That has included moving my computer out to my deck anytime the weather allows, which is where I am currently writing from. The further I have delved into my shamanic studies, the less tolerant I have become of being indoors. I find myself needing the constant grounding effects of the sights, smells and sounds of nature. The wind in the trees soothes my anxiety during the day and the song of the crickets lulls me into relaxation so I can sleep at night. Even when it is raining, I can usually find a way to stay outside, or in the barn. I have enjoyed almost every meal outdoors since the spring and I know that soon the cold will drive me inside more often then not. I have observed every sunrise, rainbow, sunset and countless shooting stars during this insane year, and savoured each one of them for the magic moments in time that they were. I have been open to receiving the messages in the signs around me and have found profound comfort them. Heron, Turkey, Squirrel, Bear, Hawk, Frog, Dragonfly, Fox, Groundhog, Hummingbird, Bat, Owl, Caterpillar, Deer, Snake, Raven, Turkey Vulture, and many other guides have shared their wisdom with me. Each lesson came to me at the exact time it was needed and has helped me to stay focused on how the farm can sustain during these times. It hasn't all been work and study though. I have taken some hours here and there to go out and explore a little either on foot or by kayak. Next is to get consistent with a plan to get away for a couple of days a month. My goal is to make this a recurring event... in time. It's got to be a good thing to get away right? I'll keep telling myself that anyways 😉
Speaking of getting away, this would never be possible without my amazing team of volunteers! Let me take a few moments to personally acknowledge and thank each and everyone of you, my incredible team ❤ When COVID forced me to shut my doors, at a time when I should have been celebrating my success, my entire world came crashing down. My son Daniel, my rock, as always was by my side helping me to stay afloat and sane. My ex Erik, who remains to this day a dedicated volunteer, was here to help when and where he could. When I found a way to reach out to the community during the lockdown by visiting with seniors at their windows, it was with the help of volunteers that we made it happen. It was my volunteers that came, with all the restrictions, to help continue to bring love to the herd when they became sad and depressed when they were cut off from the people they were used to hosting, during the lockdown. My volunteers continued to come and help out where they could and it helped to ensure the farm stayed pristine for when we could reopen. During those first few weeks of Phase 1, it was through the faith and encouragement of my volunteers that I found a way through all the hurdles of staying open. I could seriously go on for a very, very long time in gratitude here, but the bottom line is this. Without my volunteers, this past summer would never have been possible. Everything from taking photos and social media assistance, to helping to facilitate programs, assistance with herd health and management, organization of the facilities, and even being guinea pigs for my soon to launch new workshops, and sounding boards for oh so many crazy ideas I have. Even for allowing me to get away for a weekend. For this there will never be enough words to say thanks to you all. From the oldest to the youngest, you've all earned a very special place in my heart and I know the herd loves you all dearly. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you ♥ To Shauna, girl, your dedication to this herd, and your passion to learn is exemplary. You should be incredibly proud of yourself for all the experience you gained and accomplished this summer. To those who don't know her, this incredible young lady was supposed to be hired on full time to work for me this summer, but under the circumstances I was unable to hire her. Shauna stepped up and became a FULL TIME VOLUNTEER for the summer! She worked hard and went above and beyond each and every day she was here. What I wouldn't give to have you here still! Sadly for us all, Shauna is back off to school to continue on her path towards becoming a vet one day. Keep your eyes on this bright young star. She's destined for a great future! Our door is always open and hopeful for your return ❤ Stay safe honey.
OK friends, I need to sign off here for now. Next week will come another blog and more adventures to share!
Until then, please remember to be kind and to always choose love ~ Angee
For as long as I can remember, animals have always been my best friends. This deep bond with animals started very early and grew stronger as I navigated my complicated family life as a child. If not for my childhood, I would not be who I am proud to be today, and for that I am grateful, for what were often painful lessons. There was a short time in my life when I tried to run away from this calling. I tried to deny how animals responded with and around me, and even hid it from my life for several years. We can't hide from who we are, even though we can run from it for awhile. It was inevitable that I would return to my deep inner calling to partner with animals. I have always known that in order to feel grounded I needed to be on a farm, and connected to nature. The pace, flow and lifestyle involved in working with the animals and the land, brings such a deep peace to my soul. I dreamt of creating a place where people could come and interact with a very special group of animals that I hoped to nurture and develop. For many years I worked towards this goal and was gaining slow success. There were MANY immense hurtles along the way but I never gave up and continued to pursue this goal of creating a therapeutic animal farm. It has taken me over 10 years to create my herd of therapy goats. I started by selecting very specific animals for temperament and worked on building a multi-generational herd from there. I am so proud of what has been created through years of hard work, unrelenting determination, incredible learning, a dream and a whole lot of passion. What started as a "what if" question to my late husband has become a herd of animals that have been hand raised from the moment of birth, with very specific handling, training and conditioning. Why would someone want to do that? Well, for the specific goal of allowing an animal connection experience like no other. I knew when I began that it might not work. But what if it did work? I set a goal, I never quit, and I am so very grateful for the adventure it has taken me on.
My journey to Woodfield began in 2014. I was living on my small 2.5 acre property, trying the best I could to create my dream life. With incredibly limited resources and a challenging small property that flooded constantly, life was increasingly difficult. It was only 4 days after my husband passed away that Mike Bradley appeared on my doorstep. All these years later, it still amazes me how he showed up that day, at the worst possible time of my life. This very sociable and interesting man had a wonderful dream of his own. He shared his story and vision for the place he was already working hard to build, only a short 15 minute drive from my place. He invited me to come for a tour of his incredible property, and he shared with me his story, vision and hope that I would join his mission and purpose at Woodfield, by bringing my herd to a farm that he would provide on his property. As crazy as that may all sound, I assure you, this is a true story. I was being handed a "once in a lifetime", golden opportunity to transplant my business/farm/dream to an incredible piece of Muskoka. All that was being asked of me in exchange was to offer my programs and amazing herd to everyone that comes to share the magic of Woodfield. Pretty incredible offer no? Too good to be true? It sure felt that way for the first few years. Here was a total stranger offering me the opportunity of a lifetime, to live and work somewhere incredible. The offer was simple. Come and live on a beautiful 40 acre farm, nestled on the edge of Woodfield, continue to dream and create, and share it with everyone. For the first few years while I worked towards moving here, I did not get much support from my personal circle. Many told me it would never happen and that I was wasting my time. There are some who actually left my life due to what they judged to be poor choices. I won't pretend to say it has been easy, or that the journey hasn't had it's fair share of challenges. There were a couple times when I contemplated not moving here - mostly out of my own fear of failure. What is being created here is far bigger than any one person, and at times I still feel that I don't measure up to the task. I am happy to share though, especially with those who didn't believe or support this journey, that making that leap of faith in 2018 and moving here, was the best decision I have ever made. When energies align, and with the support of such an amazing community as exists here at Woodfield, the dream I envisioned for so long has become the greatest and most amazing reality!
With the new name change of my farm to the Woodfield Sky River Farm, now begins the next leg of this amazing adventure! The challenges that many businesses are facing during this pandemic are also being faced here. The Woodfield True Nature Campus was set to open this past June for the first time, welcoming many families. Once again, the Woodfield team waits to open the doors to the amazing campus that Mike Bradley has created for families to enjoy. This temporary pause does provide another great opportunity to create even more amazing program options. The mission and vision to support children and their families is the reason that we are all here at Woodfield. By working together towards a common goal, we can support, encourage and endlessly inspire each other to continue to build this amazing place where families will come. Through the immense generosity, emotional and spiritual support, financial investments, friendship and unrelenting belief in me, Mike Bradley has and always will be my biggest cheerleader. Through all of the ups and downs of the last six years, Mike has never wavered in his support of me. He has continually believed in me even when I had given up on myself. His ongoing demonstration of amazing acts of kindness and charity will continue to inspire all of the good things I am trying to create with my animal programs. It is truly an honour to have an opportunity such as this to create the life I've always dreamed, while also supporting and being a part of an amazing and beautiful vision that is Woodfield. The best part is that through this "pay it forward" energy, it also allows me to support my local community by donating a large portion of our services to those in need. At the end of each day, I am now in a place in my life where I know I am making a positive difference with each connection the herd makes. I sleep peacefully, because I have truly found my place in the world. <3
Next week's blog, I promise a long overdue update on all things HAY, the end of summer, recent health related herd issues and much much more! Sorry to keep you waiting, however as the days get shorter, the To-Do List on a farm only gets bigger. Preparations for winter become the new priority, and I fear the snow is not that far away this year.
Until next week my friends :)