When you live on a farm, one thing is for certain, life will never be boring! I choose to live a farming lifestyle because to me it is a simple life of purpose. Spending time with animals is the biggest draw for me personally. This year I also learned to connect to the amazing world of growing food! Adding elements to what I feel is a life worth living has been one of my biggest rewards this year. I learned to garden and grew a lot more food than I thought possible. I also tackled a major fear of birds by starting to raise chickens, and now have a beautiful flock of hens, who one day will provide us with delicious eggs. These simple daily tasks bring so much to my life. I get to connect with my animals, my food and my environment each and every day. There is no option to stay indoors where it is warm and dry when you make a commitment to run a farm. This is a 365 days a year, 24/7 kind of life that is not for everyone. I find the beauty in each moment, and delight in living another magical day on this amazing planet of ours.
Although there are an abundance of wonderful rewards to living on a farm, there are also some challenges that will make you question your resolve to this kind of lifestyle. This past week had a couple of instances that definitely tested me. Last week I wrote about the loss of our dear Peckahontas, who was taken by a fox. She is very missed in the coop and the barn yard. I never realized how dear she had become to me until she was gone. After several days of constant lookout, and keeping the remaining chickens locked up tight, the threat of the fox has ended. After eluding us for a few days it returned last Tuesday and made it’s visit known by hanging out in the wide open, right beside the goat pen. Let me be clear - this was not a healthy fox. It just sat there and looked at us, without running away, almost pleading for us to end it’s suffering. It was heart breaking to look into this once beautiful animals eyes. I could feel it’s pain and sadness. I am very grateful to my son for being the one to take this poor soul. I am even more grateful for your skilled shot that ensured the fox did not suffer. Foxes are special animals to my son and I, so this was definitely hard for us. It always saddens me greatly when a situation like this comes about when you have no choice but to defend the lives of the animals you love and care for. It is a fact that when you have livestock, there will be predators that you will have to protect and defend against to keep them safe.
So what about when the battles being fought are happening within your own herd? Sheesh I swear these days it is a constant girl fight in the doe pen. The goats are in full rut and wishing they were all breeding, HOWEVER as we live in Muskoka and winter lasts forever here, we don’t start breeding until January. They have a long time to wait still. Our handsome breeding bucks are working hard to ensure the odour in the barn is unmistakably BUCK - yuck! The girls go crazy for these urine bathing male goats, but I could do without the smell. The fighting is not just about being hormonal though, as there is still no clear new Herd Queen established yet. I have witnessed so many “doe brawls” in the last few days with the biggest one involving 10 of our girls! Ladies calm yourselves! To be honest though, the herd needs to be free to work out their own hierarchy. The sooner they do, the quieter things will become. There are 3 ladies that I see in the running to become the new Herd Queen. Sky River Meadows Cassiopeia, daughter of our late Queen Bonnie, has a great shot to follow her mom. She quietly waits for everyone else to fight it out and is known to step in right at the end and kick everyone’s butt. Not sure this is exactly a fair tactic but it seems to suit Cassi just fine. Taylorside’s Vanilla Ice is also a serious contender. Even though she is a new member of the herd, this girl is TOUGH and fearless! I have seen her take on 5 other does at once and still come out on top. The third one I think is in the running is Tripping Billies Carmela, which really surprises me because she has never really been much of a fighter before. Guess I was wrong about her! Dear sweet Carmela has some ambition it seems and has been using her heavier weight to her advantage in these skirmishes. All I know for sure is that I hope they figure it out soon so things can calm down for a bit.
Speaking of animals behaving badly… there was an incident this week that left me quite shaken. One of our miniature donkeys Thelma, has been staying at the barn the last few weeks for treatment of a hoof issue. Although she was having issues learning to trust the goats, things have been going well and improving – or so we thought. On Wednesday afternoon while the goats were having their usual afternoon siesta, Thelma went ballistic in the yard and started beating up any goat she could get her hooves or teeth on. I will not go into the horrid details of what I witnessed as honestly it was probably the most frightening display of violent rage I have ever witnessed from a prey animal. I shudder even to see the images in my head again, it was that bad. Fortunately, and I do mean VERY fortunately, no one was seriously injured. I am just so grateful I was home to be able to stop the attack and separate Thelma, otherwise I don’t want to know what I would have come home to. I learned a very valuable lesson about why I should NEVER ignore my gut when it tells me something isn’t right. We have had Thelma with us for 3 years now and her rehabilitation has been much slower than with the other two donkeys. Due to the work we do here at the farm, unfortunately for Thelma, that means once her hooves are better, I will have to begin the process of finding her a new forever home – one without goats. Just another challenge that no one could have expected or predicted. Wish it wasn’t so as Thelma is one of our sweetest donkeys.
We are slowly getting the farm put to bed for the winter. Almost all the equipment is now stored, with just a few more pieces left to deal with. I am reluctant to put the bush hog away when we may still get good days for moving down the over grown areas before the snow is settles in. Getting ready for winter also means pulling our two mini cows and other two mini donkeys off of pasture and moving them all back into the big animal barn. Having everyone under one roof helps share the warmth to keep our barn in great shape. These delightful mini critters are here to be viewed but are not currently part of our programming for visitors to interact with. This shift to winter farm chores adds a bunch more odour and manure to our daily lives, but also adds so much more with their goofy antics and personalities. I honestly miss having them close to the barn during the warmer months and look forward to having everyone under one roof again. Simple is best for this girl and her busy schedule!
What a year this has been. So much challenging every aspect of life. My personal relationships really took a major hit this year. At first the changes that were happening in my life were difficult, until I remembered to surrender to the inevitable growth that comes from all struggles. Breathe. Grow. Keep on dreaming. Back at the beginning of this year, I tried to bring together a group of girlfriends by offering to host a weekly get together at my house. My idea was to support and empower each other through the year ahead, and it would give me a "practice" platform for teaching the FEEL Approach. My plan was 8 consecutive weeks of support and learning for this group of lovely ladies. I won't speak to the details of why this group never met again past week 1, but something did happen and the events of that evening really stuck with me in a way I didn't recognize until recently. I have been working at writing workshops here all summer with varied success. I struggle with procrastination just like anyone else. It took me some time to realize that the reason I was struggling to complete them was that I was actually AFRAID to stand in front of people and run a workshop and I was intentionally delaying myself as a way to avoid what I needed to do. With a BIG kick to my own pants once again with this revelation, I set a goal to overcome this fear. I hosted a workshop for my lovely team of volunteers and managed to get through the process and come out unscathed on the other side - thereby conquering my fear once again. Fast forward to today and I am over the moon excited to announce that I am finally ready to launch my first FEEL based workshops here at the farm! Available now, my new 3 hour Introduction to FEEL workshop, called "Fall Into Your "FEEL"ings" is fun, interactive and full of experiential learning and is appropriate for ages 8 and up. Immediately following my presentation we will take what was learned directly to the herd to put to practice. I assure you, this is one learning experience that is guaranteed to have a positive impact on your life and relationships moving forward. We can all become healthier and better able to adapt to our daily lives and stressors once we have a clearer understanding of our own emotional energy and personal space - two essential components to establishing healthy boundaries with others. I look forward to finally stepping forward on my home turf and sharing with others what truly turned my life around - adopting a FEEL Approach in my life.
Until next week my friends! With love ~ Angee
Today didn't start out all that great for me. Sure, it's Monday, and I really don't do Mondays as a rule. Historically I've always preferred my "weekend" to be Sunday/Monday, that way I was always able to bypass any sense of responsibility to the dreaded Monday of each week. I had always booked my Mondays to be "my" day, to do with whatever I wished. Several years ago though, I decided to push my boundaries in several ways, including writing this blog. I chose Monday as my publish day on purpose, so that I am literally forced out of my shell where I prefer to hide. In my daily practice towards balance and healing, this personal "kick my own @$$" approach has really worked well for me. Where I used to spend my Mondays basically non-functioning, I now have absolute motivation to get up and work on this blog. So why would I decide to publish on Mondays? To punish myself? Actually no. I chose Mondays as a way to help me break free from a cycle - one that truly was not serving me. Now when I wake on Mondays, I am likely still grouchy, however I have focus from the moment I wake up, to be able to work on this task. To me that speaks progress! Challenging myself is essential for my growth. If it is difficult, than likely the greater the learning and growth opportunities will come out of it. So here I am, writing on another Monday. 😁
I am excited to announce some brand new program offerings. Wellness in the Workplace is a brand new initiative where we can help support mental health in the workplace. A few packages are available for your consideration. This past Friday I had the immense pleasure of taking a dozen of my goats to Quemby Electric in Bracebridge, ON to be part of their Staff Appreciation party. The staff and their families were able to snuggle with the goats, feed them some yummy leaves, and attempt to grab a great goat selfie. Other than a mystery of missing containment pen pins, and a last minute emergency run to the hardware store for a quick solution, the entire event went off without a glitch. The sun was even nice enough to come out for the occasion which was lovely as it had been hailing shortly before our arrival. I want to personally thank Mark from Quemby Electric and his lovely family for having us out for your staff, and to his staff and their families for showing us such a great afternoon. If you're interested in hearing more about how we can help support mental health in your workplace, contact me for more details. More information on these programs will be posted soon.
Have you booked your private Cuddle Puddle yet? If you haven't, what are you waiting for? The goats have been cuddling up a storm and loving all the extra attention through the busy fall season. I have been so blessed to witness some of the most magical connections, transformations and openings of hearts in the past few weeks. A new trend has begun which fills me with great excitement. For years I have loved the quiet moments when I can lie quietly with the herd in meditation. There is a peace and calm I feel, unlike anything else when I am in their space. I find the sounds and rhythms of the herd chewing their cud so soothing. I guess this spending time with the goats really is contagious as others are now starting to join me in laying down with the herd. It started with my volunteers, but now even our guests are starting to get right down into the herd for a deep, personal connection. The magical calm you will feel in that moment goes beyond just feeling great. When goats sleep and begin to ruminate, their heart rate slows, as does their breathing, and our bodies will begin to naturally sync into heart resonance with the herd, bringing an immediate feeling of calm. This is something that most people will experience when they visit with the herd. As the weather gets colder and the days shorter, most of our programs turn indoors and this allows for even greater chances of close snuggles. Don't worry about the cold! It is quite toasty warm when nestled into or buried under the herd. Goats have a much higher body temperature than we do which I find make them even more cuddly in the winter. Come and try a Cuddle Puddle today. You won't be disappointed! Our lovely volunteer J'aime recently created a video showing How to Cuddle Puddle, complete with some helpful tipson our Instagram account. Be sure to check it out: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CGiAM50pMpY/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Now for some sad news coming from the farm. Last week we began to catch sight of a fox hanging around - a lot. Sightings became more and more regular but for the most part the fox just seemed to go about his business. That is until Friday night. At bedtime, it was noticed that Peckahontas was missing and not anywhere to be found in the barn. A closer search the next morning determined she was in fact gone and hadn't just gone to roost for the night. That same morning, Bailey actually caught the very same fox inside our barn enclosure, and we knew for certain we now have a problem fox on our hands. No one around here likes to have to deal with an issue like this, but the security of our herd is paramount, and that includes the chickens as they all live under the same roof. We can't risk a fox being around, especially this seemingly too friendly, out in the daytime fox that sends alarm bells of rabies caution through me. I have reached out to a few people to assist in a few different ways in the hopes that an easy solution is found quickly. This is the first predator issue we have had to deal with in a couple of years. The last time we had an issues was a fox as well, and that didn't end well for the fox. In that case though, that fox was clearly sick and suffering so I had no problem doing the right thing and putting it down. This time around, this fox appears young, healthy and quite smart. It seems unafraid of us, even after we've taken a few unsuccessful shots at it which makes me very cautious. Foxes are opportunistic creatures and this one has already learned our chickens are tasty. Sadly this beautiful creature who is just doing what foxes do, has come into my world and is creating trouble. This is one aspect of farming that is not often talked about but it is a reality for livestock farmers. As we do not have a livestock guard dog here anymore, the herd is more vulnerable to predators of all kinds. I appreciate the reminder, but the lesson was heartbreaking. RIP dear Peckahontas. You taught me a lot about chickens and how to earn their trust. Your pecks were mighty direct, but in the end you taught me that my perseverance with establishing a heart connection is worth the time and patience every time. You taught me I COULD connect with a chicken, when I was convinced I COULDN'T, and now I have beautiful relationships with many of my hens. Thank you for your beautiful eggs, and the short time we shared together. No one here will ever forget you dear Pecky ❤
Now to end with some exciting news. Well, at least I find it to be exciting news. Yesterday I took a long road trip with Fred to go and collect a long lost friend from storage at my parents place. This truck has been adored by me since I first laid eyes on it so many years ago. As I had no place to store her for the last several years, she has been parked and stored in my parents barn collecting dust. After a long separation we are finally reunited! Please meet my pretty 1956 Fargo. I received this truck from my dear ol' Pappy quite a few years ago and I am determined that he will see me driving it again. She is all original and only has 66k miles on it. Would you believe this old gal was once a firetruck? Sadly she looks a bit rough at the moment but with a wee bit of body work and some new paint she will be back to her former glory. Expect to see this beauty driving around the roads of Muskoka next year! Don't be alarmed if you see a goat or two in the front seat with me. We're just headed to town for an ice cream cone.
Until next week, with much love and gratitude ~ Angee
Sending the warmest of Thanksgiving Blessings to you all from everyone here at the farm ❤ This year I am even more thankful than in previous years, as 2020 has been a massive eye opener on many levels. The glaring deficiencies in our society are now very apparent, however we as a country are now also becoming divided on so many issues. It is shocking how our world has transformed this year, and how when we need our neighbours and communities the most, it seems fear will keep all us separated. I hope this a temporary reality. At the early part of the year during the lockdown, I used that time to clearly reevaluate what was the most important to me and how I wanted to move forward. I am so grateful for that time, as hard as it was, as I set clear intentions for the year ahead. I shifted my focus to be more mindful and to use my business to reach and help as many as we could. I am so glad that I did! This year has made me more thankful and passionate about the simple things in life. I am so thankful for my family, friends and community. I am very thankful for my life and where I live. I am so thankful for my amazing herd and all the healing they bring to me, my family and each and every one of our visitors. I am so thankful to our beautiful planet, the life she provides, and the sun that shines down on us all. We may live in scary and uncertain times, but we all have things to be thankful for. I hope that you each have a wonderful day full of love, smiles and laughter ❤
I think I am long overdue in giving a farm update. It has been a very busy few weeks with more and more families coming through all the time. The herd is actually starting to get even friendlier, if you can imagine! I think the flow from our old work to the new rhythm is finally settling in. When demand is super high, like on recent weekends, we are able to allow 5 groups through a day. Each group that comes, brings out new magic and connections. The herd as a whole is in good health and my team of volunteers continue to work hard to ensure all their needs are met. Lots of hands on learning continues to happen here with hoof trimming, deworming and other routine tasks. As the colder weather comes in, keeping winter coats growing healthy and thick is important. We have a few goats in our herd with skin and coat issues so this time of year it is essential to stay on top of it otherwise they can struggle all winter. The herd is eating and bulking up in winter weight, and it is also the time of year for goats to begin to rut. Like deer and moose, goats have a seasonal breeding season and if they had their way, it would be now! Unfortunately for my herd, they live in Muskoka where winters are very long and harsh. For this reason we do not actually begin breeding here until January. That way I can ensure kids are born in the warmer months and we don't have to bring in the use of heat lamps and other devices which increase the risk of fire. I would rather play it safe, and have babies born when it is easier for them to thrive. I have just begin my breeding plans for 2021 and as usual we should have new babies on the ground from May to August. I know for certain I want to have enough milk to begin producing goat's milk soap again, so I know I need to breed accordingly. This will mean more babies to love and cuddle next year though, and who doesn't love that? Stay tuned for those details soon!
Now that autumn is in full swing, that means the farm slowly turns towards winter preparations. The farm equipment used to make hay is being put away for the year. The yard gets tidied and outside furniture put away. I am also slowly putting my garden to bed. I say slowly as it continues to grow zucchini like mad even with the frosty mornings. I am not looking forward to snow coming, but I know it will be here in a matter of weeks. Once the snow is on the ground, our programs move into the cozy barn. Goats are not fans of precipitation of any kind, and wouldn't dare to tread in more than an inch of snow. This means during the cold months, our guests get to relax with the goats in their main living pen. Cozy with fresh straw bedding, many guests find themselves laying amongst the goats and falling asleep to the sounds of the herd chewing their cud. Sound strange to you? Don't knock it until you try it! My herd are super willing to let you use their soft tummies as a pillow, while you gain a deep understanding of the term "Cuddle Puddle" , and also why we are so addicted to doing it here. If you've been looking for a new experience, here it is!
Until the snow is here though, we will continue to operate our outdoor programming for as long as possible. We have recently made a change to our insurance providers which I am hoping will allow us to continue to open more and more doors moving forward with our programs here. 2020 has proven to me that the work the herd and I do is not only needed, but also deeply appreciated. I wish to personally thank every single person who has taken the time to come out to see the herd this year. You've all helped us to stay afloat, but also continue to inspire us to keep going. With all of your continued support, my dream continues to grow.
From the bottom of our hearts, the herd and I thank you ❤ ~ Angee
Welcome to the month of October! We are in the midst of the fall colour display here in Muskoka, and this year Mother Nature has given us a STUNNING show of her true beauty. No matter where I look currently, I am dazzled and inspired. The temperatures are staying colder and we have had several heavy frosts recently. No doubt that winter is not far now. I watch for signs and confirmations each year and one very telling sign to me that winter is not far off is a sudden increase in hay consumption by the herd. Generally simultaneous with this increase in hay demand, the telltale bushy cheeks start to pop out on the adorable faces in the herd. More fuel must be burned in order to grow a bushy, warm winter coat. I take advantage of the freedom to graze the herd as much as I can at this time of year to compensate. Once the snow comes, the goats have no interest in exploring outdoors until spring.
Another busy week has passed on the farm with many lovely families coming to visit with the herd. Each day I am filled with pride for the loving way my herd greets each group. The herd always brings out whatever energy our visitors need most. If they need quite cuddles, or playful entertainment, the herd is always in tune and ready to provide. I am able to admit that I am whole-heartedly addicted to my job. Each face the herd and I meet leaves with an incredible smile upon their face and such gratitude in their hearts. This is the best job I can ever imagine doing, with nothing but positive outcomes all around. The word GRATEFUL just doesn't cut it. Instead I up my game and move to the realm of GRATEFULNESS. Here is a quote I adore that really resonates with me;
"Positive thinking says the glass is half-full. Dour thinking says it is half-empty. Gratitude helps us to better enjoy whatever is in the glass. But gratefulness can help us focus more intently on the radical fact of having a glass at all, making the most of the glass we have, and on ensuring that those around us have a glass as well." ~ Kristi Nelson
I bring this up because I am working my way through a personal struggle right now, and am holding to my reminders. Staying positive, remaining focused on all the good in my life, practicing gratefulness, showing appreciation and practicing diligent self-love will get me through this challenging time.
One thing that I have learned in life, is that you can't become too complacent. Don't assume that one day to the next, things won't change. I get so focused on my work and doing so many different things that I always seem to forget to take care of myself. The universe determined to send me a message a few days ago that was too loud for me to ignore - I'm listening now, INTENTLY. I guess I have allowed myself to get run down. Mentally, emotionally and physically I am exhausted from the effects of 2020. I haven't been taking as good of care of myself as I know I should be. I am losing weight again and have some health concerns but overall I have convinced myself that "I'm fine" and have been ignoring the subtle signs of weakening. So what happened was that I received a phone call that under normal circumstances would not have fazed me. This time however, it had an effect I was completely unprepared for, proving my weakened state. An abuser from my childhood suddenly and without warning came crashing back into my existence. How dare this person ask about me at all? Haven't you already done enough harm? My life was thrown into a mini tailspin over the weekend, but I am settled and solid on the ground once again. That's twice in two weeks that tyrants from my past have tried to knock me down. You've both failed. I just want you to know that. I am a phoenix! I have powerful aides and guides to steady me.
I won't direct any energy towards being focused on the past, but instead continue to move forward. This was a powerful reminder to me though and once again I am grateful for the lesson. LOVE Hold love in your heart and be patient until you find your way back to yourself. Sure, I could chose to send hate and hurtful energy towards those who choose to persecute me, but what would that solve for me? Holding onto anger and hate will only prove to diminish me, and will do absolutely nothing to them. I fully believe in the power of karma. I don't have to react in a way that lessens my vibration. To do so only harms myself. I choose instead to patiently hold onto love until I heal again. I know some of you will judge me. We all get judged, it's nothing new. Your judgement has no effect on me unless I allow it to. Your judgement doesn't make it factual, free from assumption or guilt. The difference between you and me, is that I'm not hung up on the past, but have risen above it as a powerful warrior of love, sharing a beautiful message. You however, are clearly being haunted by your past choices. Is that why you reached out? Did you do something to me that haunts you to this day? I've felt that, I was haunted for years. I wonder how different your version looks that plays through your head. Bet it's hard to watch now. Does it keep you up at night? It used to keep me up at night too. None of that matters to me anymore. No more flashbacks, haunting memories, no more terror filled dreams. My wounds have healed and my body is stronger than ever before. Did you know I found the positive in this between us as well? Yes, and I want to thank you for teaching me how to become who I am today. A few of you have had a big part in molding and shaping me, but the one thing none of you could ever do was to teach me about love. Well I now live a life so full of love that some days I don't even think my life is real. I am surrounded by unconditional love and acceptance and have no need to dwell in the past. My herd empowers and inspires me to continue to do this work, as do the many beautiful smiles I get to see every day. My path and choices led me here. Where did yours lead you I wonder? (I don't really wonder, nor think about you at all, just so you know)
In order to continue moving forward, I occasionally look at where I came from and see just how far I've come. In the years since I chose to live a life filled with love, compassion and kindness, the blessings continue to pour in. I have a wonderful family consisting of both blood and non blood relations that is my true tribe. I have a wonderful and loving herd at my back, eager to work with me each day. I live in the most beautiful place in the world, have a great roof over my head, food in fridge and love in my heart. Honestly, what more could I possibly need in my life? If for some reason you think I'm not happy, you might want to think again. I have everything I could ever need. 💗 ~ Angee