My morning did not start the way I was hoping for. I was warm and very cozy in my nest of heavy blankets, when I was awoken and brought suddenly into a very cold Monday morning. Checking in with my online weather source revealed a brisk 6C, and a thick "almost" frost on the ground. The smell in the air outside was reminiscent of early fall mornings, when I'd normally be packing up the show goats to head to a fall fair somewhere in the province. I really miss going to fairs, as they've been a part of my life since childhood, and then in recent years with my show string or education herd. The absence of these fairs is felt deeply in the farming community as the fairs a lot of farm families attend for competitions, actually earn a portion of the income used to sustain that family and farm annually. Many farm families depend on the exposure competing at fairs brings, especially if lucky enough to win a Championship. Awards, prize money, breeding deals and a lot of other business is done each year at these fairs. Autumn 2020 will not be the same without this fall fair tradition. Foley, Bracebridge, Huntsville, and the Rosseau Pumpkin Festival I will miss most of all this year. Good-bye summer, it was nice seeing for a short while. A friend recently visited me and she joked that summer packed her bags and never even said good-bye when she left. I think that was pretty bang on with how it feels these days. There is a lot of red on the trees and before long it will be the full splendor of the fall colours. I wouldn't mind if it stayed warmer awhile longer though. This is one of the shortest summers I can remember, considering the last snow fall we had here was the first week of June, and it is now only September. I pray that the snow does not come as early as the signs show this year.
My last farm update was a few weeks ago, and as I think back it is incredible how much has actually happened. Week after week, 2020 sure knows how to keep everyone on their toes! I don't know about you, but I always seem to feel like I am running to catch up these days, like I'm just a little behind pace so don't ever seem to stop. One of the biggest stressors has been trying to get our hay in this summer. We've had mixed results and limited success due to various factors. We did manage to get ALL of the equipment fixed and operational, but mother nature had other plans and has produced a very wet couple of weeks creating additional challenges. There is some good news though! We had a recent group of days with good weather and with the help of a group of willing(ish) and ready volunteers, we got some hay in. Thanks to Farmer Fred for operating the equipment, and to Daniel, Erik, Bailey, Shauna and her dear Dad Joe, we managed to put 735 small square bales in the barn in one night! That felt like a monumental success after all the trouble we have had getting started. Even though summer is pretty much over, I do still have some fields that we will cut if we get the chance. In case there is another hay shortage this winter, I don't want to leave what we have in the fields if we can help it. Indian Summer will be upon us soon and another chance to make more hay. There is no doubt that we have to purchase hay this winter to make it through, but the less we have to buy the better off we will be come spring!
Recently I made a post about the passing of a new addition to our herd, Parliament Hill Farms Simon. Due to circumstances and time, I was not able to post much about his last days. Simon very quickly became very popular here not just with our volunteers, but also with our guests. Simon was featured in many a goat selfie captured here during his short few months with us. I find it incredible how easily we can fall in love with an animal. When compared to people, these relationships are much simpler in that these animal friends do not judge us, nor do they want anything from us. Love that unconditional is a gift and needs to felt by everyone. I have learned a lot about life and love from animals. The way they respect each others differences, and deal with things in the moment as they come is truly something we can all learn from. Although Simon was not the only herd member we have recently said good-bye to, he has left a very large void in the barn for many on my team. When Bonnie passed, it was much different as we were anticipating it due to her advanced age and health. Simon was only 3 years old and otherwise seemed to be in perfect health. His passing has me extra hyper vigilant again, and has caused a lot of my volunteers to intensely watch all of the male goats pee with increased interest. The learning never ends in life and that is especially true if you choose to share it with animals. I am grateful for all of my animal teachers. Simon showed me he was very special shortly after arriving here, and my heart is sad that we don't get to continue on this journey together. He holds a very special place here at the farm for eternity now ❤
On a much happier and lighter note, did you know that we have recently added chickens to the farm? What started out as three has now grown to 15 laying hens! This is my first real foray into raising poultry and I am loving all the new things to learn about them. Our flock now consists of 2 Rhode Island Reds (Peckahontas and Henny Penny), a Plymouth Rock (Henrietta), 6 Bielefelders ( Attila the Hen, Bok Bok Choy, Helen, Lizzie, 2 remain unnamed), and 6 Black Copper Marans ( Eggelyn, Karhen, 4 remain unnamed). We've had a great deal of fun in throwing out chicken name suggestions in the barn with all of the volunteers. Although we still have 6 hens left to decide names on, the choice is far from easy! We have some pretty amazing imaginations on our team! Current names being considered include (but not limited to) Green Eggs and Hen, Darth Layer, Princess Layia, Dixie Chick, Cluck Norris, Layde Godiva, Kylo Hen, Henneth Paltrow and quite a few others. Who knew that naming chickens would be so much fun? Spending time socializing these new additions has been really neat as each breed is very different from the others. The Bielefelders are my favourite. They perch on us like birds of prey and act very primitive in the way they move around the yard - even hunting together! Those 6 are more like dinosaurs than the other chickens by far and super fascinating to observe. The Bielfelders and Black Copper Marans are impossible to tell apart, so we solved the issue by putting coloured zip ties on their left legs so we can differentiate them from each other and choose names. If you have some great chicken name suggestions please send them my way! Most of our hens are not laying yet as they are still very young, but this is the reason I decided to add chickens to the barn. It's hard to beat the farm fresh eggs we get from Henrietta, Peckahontas and Henny Penny each day! Can't wait for the variety in our eggs when the others start laying in a few months. Especially the chocolate coloured eggs of the black copper marans!
One of the personal goals I set for myself early this year was to bring in, allow and especially to learn to take time for myself - some self love. I haven't done so good with it yet, but I am definitely trying. Some days I am so busy juggling farm, business and family demands that the self love I give myself is to spend as many hours as I can outdoors. That has included moving my computer out to my deck anytime the weather allows, which is where I am currently writing from. The further I have delved into my shamanic studies, the less tolerant I have become of being indoors. I find myself needing the constant grounding effects of the sights, smells and sounds of nature. The wind in the trees soothes my anxiety during the day and the song of the crickets lulls me into relaxation so I can sleep at night. Even when it is raining, I can usually find a way to stay outside, or in the barn. I have enjoyed almost every meal outdoors since the spring and I know that soon the cold will drive me inside more often then not. I have observed every sunrise, rainbow, sunset and countless shooting stars during this insane year, and savoured each one of them for the magic moments in time that they were. I have been open to receiving the messages in the signs around me and have found profound comfort them. Heron, Turkey, Squirrel, Bear, Hawk, Frog, Dragonfly, Fox, Groundhog, Hummingbird, Bat, Owl, Caterpillar, Deer, Snake, Raven, Turkey Vulture, and many other guides have shared their wisdom with me. Each lesson came to me at the exact time it was needed and has helped me to stay focused on how the farm can sustain during these times. It hasn't all been work and study though. I have taken some hours here and there to go out and explore a little either on foot or by kayak. Next is to get consistent with a plan to get away for a couple of days a month. My goal is to make this a recurring event... in time. It's got to be a good thing to get away right? I'll keep telling myself that anyways 😉
Speaking of getting away, this would never be possible without my amazing team of volunteers! Let me take a few moments to personally acknowledge and thank each and everyone of you, my incredible team ❤ When COVID forced me to shut my doors, at a time when I should have been celebrating my success, my entire world came crashing down. My son Daniel, my rock, as always was by my side helping me to stay afloat and sane. My ex Erik, who remains to this day a dedicated volunteer, was here to help when and where he could. When I found a way to reach out to the community during the lockdown by visiting with seniors at their windows, it was with the help of volunteers that we made it happen. It was my volunteers that came, with all the restrictions, to help continue to bring love to the herd when they became sad and depressed when they were cut off from the people they were used to hosting, during the lockdown. My volunteers continued to come and help out where they could and it helped to ensure the farm stayed pristine for when we could reopen. During those first few weeks of Phase 1, it was through the faith and encouragement of my volunteers that I found a way through all the hurdles of staying open. I could seriously go on for a very, very long time in gratitude here, but the bottom line is this. Without my volunteers, this past summer would never have been possible. Everything from taking photos and social media assistance, to helping to facilitate programs, assistance with herd health and management, organization of the facilities, and even being guinea pigs for my soon to launch new workshops, and sounding boards for oh so many crazy ideas I have. Even for allowing me to get away for a weekend. For this there will never be enough words to say thanks to you all. From the oldest to the youngest, you've all earned a very special place in my heart and I know the herd loves you all dearly. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you ♥ To Shauna, girl, your dedication to this herd, and your passion to learn is exemplary. You should be incredibly proud of yourself for all the experience you gained and accomplished this summer. To those who don't know her, this incredible young lady was supposed to be hired on full time to work for me this summer, but under the circumstances I was unable to hire her. Shauna stepped up and became a FULL TIME VOLUNTEER for the summer! She worked hard and went above and beyond each and every day she was here. What I wouldn't give to have you here still! Sadly for us all, Shauna is back off to school to continue on her path towards becoming a vet one day. Keep your eyes on this bright young star. She's destined for a great future! Our door is always open and hopeful for your return ❤ Stay safe honey.
OK friends, I need to sign off here for now. Next week will come another blog and more adventures to share!
Until then, please remember to be kind and to always choose love ~ Angee