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