Welcome to another week, and another story featuring one of our herd members. This week I have chosen to share the story of one of our oldest Matriarchs, beloved Carmela. No other doe has contributed more to the growth and development of my herd than this regal beauty. This very special doe was the first that I found and purchased back in the early days of creating my herd. There was something very special about Carmela right from when I first met her, and I knew she had to be a part of what I was building. It took some convincing of her owners, as she wasn't for sale. Fortunately for me, after sharing my journey and vision for creating this herd, my dear friends Debbie and Shain agreed to sell her. Carmela was the first of three special does that I would add. Her paternal sister Maisie (Tripping Billies Loo) joined us in 2012, and has been actively involved in my programs since she was just months old. Finding goats that were "naturals" at connecting with people was essential for me in my goals. It takes a very long time to breed, raise and train a herd of goats to do equine therapy, and there was no guarantee it would work. Looking back at the beginning days of this journey and standing here today, it feels very surreal. Carmela is a many, MANY times Great Grandmother to more than half of my current herd. The white and gold coat and those almost white blue eyes - yep, that comes from Carmela.
It is fun to dig back through old photos to find the ones to share in these posts. I get to see the progress I've made and remember all the special moments I've shared with my herd. In the early days, while I was still in school earning my degree, I spent quite a few years competing with my herd in the show ring. This was partly because it is fun and I thoroughly enjoy the people, but also to get my name out there and spread awareness of what I was trying to create. I spent years being laughed at, told I was dumb, that it would never work, you name it - I heard it. If it wasn't for Carmela and her sister Maisie, I don't think I would have had the stomach to carry on. Those years on the road competing in shows were a great deal of fun and learning despite the negative comments. There were equally as many supporters as there have been naysayers along my way. Those years in the ring helped me to build my confidence while I studied and earned credentials. It was a great and valuable way to pass the time and I am so grateful for my "Goat Show Family" that still exists today. Goat people are good people ✌❤🐐
Carmela is easy to spot in our herd as she is rather wide through the middle. She has quite the "runway strut" and is often mistakenly thought to be pregnant by first time visitors. This is not to say that Carmela is overweight, because she actually isn't. Carmela has what I affectionately call "Mom Bod", the shape she earned from having some extremely large babies. Her last two pregnancies produced some of the biggest triplets I've had born here not surprisingly earning her new shape from the ordeal. To give you all some perspective on just how big Carmela was, here are a couple of pregnancy shots taken of her in 2013 and 2014. She carried like a champ!
Carmela won some pretty impressive titles during her years in the showring and is actually my most highly decorated doe having earned more than any other, including many National titles. Here is her 2013 Reserve Grand Champion Nigerian Dwarf photo. What a looker!
Carmela was retired from my breeding program in 2015, due to an unfortunate diagnosis of melanoma. She manages well through her treatments and takes everything in stride. Nothing seems to stop this girl. Carmela is a true beauty Queen, complete with dignity and grace.
My reason for choosing Carmela this week as my GotW, was motivated by the state of world affairs and the impact I see it having all around me. When I find things too overwhelming in my human life, I often seek solace and wisdom amongst the animals I share my life with. There is profound teaching and wisdom that can come from animals, if we are open to receive it. I spend a lot of time in meditation with my herd because they help me solve almost every problem I bring to them. I also learn through observation of how my large herd lives together. I see many parallels to our own human existence. Not that long ago, we all existed in communities that functioned very different than they do today. If you were lucky enough to have grown up in the 70's or 80's you'll know what I'm talking about. It literally did take a village to raise a child back in those days, otherwise not many of us would have survived! Nowadays it is more common to NOT know your neighbours. How can that be? What if you needed to borrow a cup of sugar? I don't want to spend too much time on that, as this is about something more. Magic happens at bedtime in the barn, and it is most prominent to see in Carmela's family. She will lay down and it is like a signal goes off through the herd to all of her relatives that it is now bedtime. Like a reverse ripple in a pond, when Carmela lies down, all of her family come and join her. I have to point something out here - Carmela has no sons or daughters currently in my herd - only grand children and beyond. How interesting that they ALL come and sleep with her, even a grand daughter (Everlily Maples Tootsie Roll) who was born on another farm and joined our herd when she was 3 months old. It is pretty mind blowing when you think about it.
Most of my herd observations bring me to realize how disconnected many of us are from our own home communities. Now more than ever during this pandemic, I think it is community support we all need. When I get caught up in anxiety and stress (meaning I've watched or read the news), I remember that I can't impact or change those larger things that are happening in the world. I remind myself that if I want to change what's happening in my world, I need to change how I am living and supporting those in my own community. They are in fact the people I do have a chance of directly helping, supporting and impacting. Narrowing my world view to be that of a community view immediately changes how I feel. When my world becomes smaller I am much better able to stay grounded and aware. If I can focus on things I personally can do to help my local community, I know I can make a positive impact and in doing so feel better overall. My herd, like all others, rely on each other to survive. We too need each other to survive. Let's all try to find ways to be better. We all are suffering and struggling through these difficult times. A simple pause to consider, before reaction. Choose kindness and walk with love 💖