A frosty -26C greeting today! It seems mother nature decided that it WAS winter after all and gifted everyone with a good amount of snow this past weekend. We were blessed with a foot of snow here which took us all day to dig out from. You may all appreciate that the photos today are all of greener days, and hopefully they can bring you some warmth today. This week I decided to feature another one of my very special ladies. She is aptly named "My Precious" as she most certainly is a very precious gift. A heart of gold, and shining bright spirit of love, My Precious was born in 2017. For those of you who don't know, I am the only one who picks the names, and each year I choose a naming theme, as a way to help me narrow down the potential name choices for our babies. In 2017, the theme was Lord of the Rings. I like to say that my nerd comes out when I name my herd. I take naming each of our babies very seriously as I want to ensure that the name is a good fit to the personality. Sometimes it has taken me weeks to make a choice, and on occasion the name changes a time or two before it sticks and they become registered. With Precious, she was one of the hard ones to name. Nothing fit. I even researched names, scouring through Tolkien's works, looking for the ONE name that fit her personality. In the end, her name was chosen based on her heart. The ONE name, for the sweetest goat. MY PRECIOUS! She is just too sweet for words! From the moment of her birth, she has just always had a way of drawing people to her. She stares deep into your eyes, and I swear a warm loving feeling will overcome you. Spend some time in her presence and it will start to envelop you in a cocoon of love. It sounds weird, I know. There is something about these goats though that really does need to be experienced first hand. There are some things in this world that there just are no words for.
Each and every kidding season there is at least one baby born that captures my heart right away. In 2017 I actually had MANY born that ended up becoming an important part of what my herd is today. Precious has always been very special goat to me for several reasons, but the main fact is that she is the last daughter of our dear Delilah (Geordon's favourite goat, now retired), and she inherited her mother's sweet, loving nature. I think in any great breeding program, it is always the goal to try to improve on the next generation by breeding wisely. As the main focus of my breeding program is for temperament, I am VERY proud of how both Precious, and her twin brother Gimli turned out. I actually kept Gimli as well and he is one of my herdsires - also with the sweetest temperament. I could easily say that these two are pretty close to the perfect example of what we try to breed for here. Precious is calm, sweet natured, easy mannered, and this year she freshened (had babies) for the first time and was a fantastic and calm milker! It may seem odd to many to have a dairy goat breeding program focused on temperament, however in my line of work it makes perfect sense. How do you find the perfect animal partners to work with you to help people feel better? Well, if you can't buy them - I tried this for years, it was very expensive and there was no guarantee of temperament - then you attempt to breed them! By selectively breeding for the desired physical and emotional qualities, we actually better our chances of raising well balanced animals. The way we raise our animals here also makes a big difference. We begin conditioning them from the moment they are born. We work diligently to socialize each and every one of them. We nurture their unique personalities so that they can shine true and authentic for who they each are. We honour each animal here for their choice to take part in any work or activities we do here. It allows us to work with animals that have been raised from birth knowing no fear or distrust of humans. It allows us to raise them to have a voice, have a choice, and an opinion. This creates a very unique animal to make a connection with. Again - something that must be experienced to understand. Now don't get me wrong, I adore all goats. I think they are hysterical on all levels. In my line of work though, it takes a very special kind of goat to go into some of the places we do. I wouldn't ever even imagine taking some of my "non therapy" goats to work with me. That's a nope. ;)
So getting back to Precious, and that amazing heart she has. I think we all know someone who just LOVES everyone they meet. Do you know the kind of person I mean? The one who as they walk down the street they offer hugs and smiles to everyone they pass. Precious is that kind of goat. As she goes about her day, when she encounters people, she takes the time to ensure they are noticed. I will try to be clearer here. Precious is direct - but in a very gentle way. She makes eye contact, but in the most innocent and unassuming way, that it always feels comfortable. She approaches timid people slowly, and as soon as she is close enough, she will begin to lick them. The impact this has on most people is quite incredible to witness. You'll see a softening occur and within no time she has won over yet another heart. You see, each goat in my herd has a "gift" of sorts. Almost like a special ability. Precious exudes love - that is her gift. She is pure love. My opinion is that Precious has the ability to help people to feel what true unconditional love feels like. For some, that may be something that they are experiencing for the very first time. It is very powerful and can be so transformative for some individuals. For me, it is incredible to watch as Precious cracks the hardest of people. Those soft, sweet, blue eyes of hers just seem to melt away any hesitation or reservations someone may have had about hanging out with a goat for a bit.
This past summer, Precious gave birth to a beautiful set of twins. Both her son and daughter were strikingly beautiful, but they both also possessed her rock solid, sweet and loving temperament! To see the qualities I so strongly admired in Precious's own mother Delilah, pass on again to another generation fills me with so much pride for the breeding program that I have put together. Precious, like her mother before her, and her daughter after her, will continue to work with people in different and often extraordinary ways. Now that the Sky River herd is 8 generations into this work, it just continues to grow and evolve more and more.
In the coming weeks, we will be launching a brand new pilot program at Huntsville High School where we will be bringing the goats to the students to assist in anxiety and stress relief during exams. We are thrilled and excited to have the ability to bring our herd to some pretty exciting places. It allows us to reach many more people that may normally miss out due to mobility or health restrictions. Now that we will be cracking into some new territory in offering supports to those in need at schools, I am sure we will discover even more magic in how the human/animal connection can heal and rejuvenate us, and continue to have a lot of fun along the way.
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And just for you Gemma, with love, THE END : )