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 :)