It is with the heaviest of hearts that I share this sad news. Our dear, sweet boy Jose passed away Thursday morning. This was unexpected, and has come as a shock to my family. He passed due to unknown causes.
Jose arrived to me in 2012 as a young buckling imported from New Mexico. He very quickly won over all of my families hearts with his sweet temperament and silly antics. In 2015 Jose competed at the Buck Show in Delta, ON and won Grand Champion Nigerian Dwarf Buck in 3 out of 4 rings. His son beat him in the 3rd ring that year. Jose became the first Nigerian Dwarf Buck in Canada to become a finished Champion.
As most people that come to the farm do not interact with the breeding males, you may not know Jose, but through his children that live within our main herd you may know him well. Argus, Honeynut, Legolas, Nymphadora, Remis, Ron, Hermione, Jorah and Arya, all have parts of those great qualities he possessed.
Jose was a very vocal boy who always had something to say. It is his voice that I will miss the most in the barn. Rest in Peace Jose. I hope that wherever you are now, the clover is abundant, the sun is always shining and you can spend your days chasing the ladies though the meadows.
As a way for everyone to get to know the herd here at Sky River Meadows, my team have decided that a new weekly feature "Goat of the Week" would be a great way to introduce the individual herd members. Each Monday we will feature a different goat, sharing some of their story and pictures. I did not post this feature yesterday, out of respect to our Veterans on Remembrance Day. As this is the very first Goat of the Week post, I decided to feature our beautiful herd Queen Bonnie. I hope you all enjoy these weekly additions, and learning about our wonderful herd of goats.
Imperial K Bonnie was the very first Nigerian Dwarf doe that I added to my herd. I purchased Bonnie from a woman in southern Ontario who had owned Bonnie for several years. This woman is now a friend of mine and I know she is smiling reading this as she has a particular "love" for Bonnie ;) Bonnie was 5 years old when I brought her home. She was not friendly and really hard to catch. She was not even close to being considered tame at the time, and even though she has been with me for 9+ years she is still the exact same - unfriendly and hard to catch. She is the boss here and she knows it. I am grateful to her for keeping everyone in line though. As Bonnie has the distinction of being the only horned goat in my therapy herd, she is easy to spot. The remainder of my herd has been disbudded - meaning they don't have horns. We do this for safety reasons. Goats love to headbutt and fight with each other, and often they can injure themselves or people with their horns. So by not allowing them to grow horns, we can minimalize injuries when they fight each other, and ensure that no one loses an eye. Bonnie's horns have gotten to an impressive height at almost 15 years of age. I often find myself admiring them. If not for the safety of people and the herd I would love for all my goats to have horns. The rings on goats horns are similar to that on a tree, they grow with age. I have to admit I am fascinated by horns.
Bonnie is incredibly intelligent and stubborn. For the most part we humour Bonnie and just bend to her will and accept her rule around here. Once a month or so though, Bonnie has no choice but to get caught to have her hooves trimmed, get weighed and have an overall check up. We have to plan ahead in order to accomplish capturing her. I joke with my team that it is a three day process as I swear Bonnie can read my mind. Fortunately for Bonnie, she is still in great health so we don't have to bother her too often. She is the only goat in our herd that gets away with being this way. The one with the biggest horns wins! Although Bonnie has been retired as a Mom for several years now, I will always fondly remember her three pregnancies she had with me. How she would lovingly *whack* me with her horns in between her contractions if I wasn't rubbing her belly just the way she needed. Bonnie was an amazing mother to all of her kids. She only ever had two daughters - Black Jack's Ophelia, and Sky River Meadows Cassiopeia. Bonnie also had four sons. When we had to downsize our herd after Geordon's death, Ophelia was one that we sold. I still own Cassiopeia though and it is wonderful to watch how close mother and daughter remain all these years, and how many children they shared in raising. Bonnie has always been the type of doe that would try to steal other mother's babies. She was so adamant about collecting ALL of the babies each year she gave birth, that she would nurse any and all babies.
An interesting observation I have noticed over my years as a goat herder, is the familial ties that exist in the herd. When goats go about doing goat business each day, they tend to do it in family groups. This is especially apparent when they sleep, in one big family puddle of goats.
The average life expectancy for goats is 15-17 years for females and fixed males. Bonnie is almost 15 years old and so far going strong. I hope for all of our sakes at Sky River Meadows that Bonnie continues to thrive and rule over my herd for many years to come yet. I have a hilarious story about the summer of 2018 when Bonnie went on strike as Queen for almost 2 months... but I will save that story for another time and place. For now I will leave you with a few more images of Bonnie, living the good life, without a care in the world. She really does have the best life going for her here. She is surrounded by her family and is the center of her universe. Although she can be a Royal pain in the butt, I am so grateful for Bonnie and all that she has brought to my herd and breeding program. Her icy blue eyes continue to dominate her genetic line in my herd. Even after she passes over the rainbow bridge, when her time does comes, those beautiful eyes of hers will still be admired here by many. Until then LONG LIVE THE QUEEN! ~ Angee
Five years ago I met a man. Little did I know at the time, but this man would offer me the opportunity of a lifetime. He arrived on my doorstep just four days after the passing of my husband Geordon. The universe certainly does have a way of opening doors for us, after closing other doors... In the months following Geordon's death, I began to meet with this man and discuss his vision and what he wants to create on his property. His vision included me and my herd of goats. He asked if we would be willing to move our farm operations from our property, to his 500+ acre property only 15 minutes drive away. The opportunity was too great to pass up. Some of you may be aware of the journey we embarked upon to come to Woodfield and others are not, but here is the story of how we came to be at the amazing place we now call home. This will also explain why there has been so much silence and lack of posts. I can't speak for Woodfield here, as it is not my journey or story to tell. That story will have to wait for now.
So how does one start life over again after losing a husband/partner suddenly? A giant leap of faith is how! The last 5 years have been challenging to say the least, but the rewards have been far greater. Being offered a farm that is far beyond my means to afford was a very large adjustment for me. Realizing that I am being handed the opportunity to make all my dreams come true has been difficult to accept. It is almost as if for the last 5 years I have expected to wake up suddenly and realize it was all just a dream....or to have someone come along and take it all away. Putting down roots in a new place, adjusting to my new normal, reimagining my farm business, figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life, completing a few new certification programs, studying a totally new life path, exploring new ideas and finding magic in the most unlikely of places, becoming a grandmother...these are a few of the things that have occupied me over the last few years. I have not been idle, but very busy indeed.
June 2018 saw me finally make the move with the herd to Woodfield. Our last year here has been beyond magical. Although it has been very busy with moving 4 times in the last year, to different houses on the property, we are finally settled into the farmhouse and huge bank barn where I was first brought to 5 years ago. We have come full circle and everything happened exactly as originally planned - even though along the way it seemed like we would never get here. The universe is always so full of tests. Checking in with us to see if we really WANT something as bad as we say. The tests that have come my way have been difficult, heartbreaking and sometimes I felt they would break me. I held onto my faith in myself and what I want to create here and we all came through to the other side. We have been living in this amazing farmhouse for a month now and it still feels completely surreal. I spend each evening watching the sun set over the fields and am just in awe of the place I get to call home. What an amazing place for people to come to interact with animals. The healing that we will bring to the people and the land here inspires me to keep working hard towards this goal that I feel so passionately about. Creating my small piece of what will be the bigger picture here at Woodfield is an incredible gift that I intend to put all of heart and soul into. Stay tuned! Creating something amazing takes a lot of time and energy, which is why my online presence is so much less these days. Finding time to be on the computer and particularly on social media is nearly impossible most days. I hope that now that we are finally done moving I can get into a new routine that will include more time for posting online.
So, Sky River Meadows is now not just a small breeding farm of Nigerian Dwarf Goats. Although the original breeding program is still operating and I am continuing to offer mentorship to anyone wishing to raise goats, we have expanded the business operations to now include our Therapeutic Animal Programs. I am also meeting with other professionals in the area who wish to explore some possible collaborations which could develop into some other offerings in the future. Currently our huge barn is under extensive renovations in order to restore her to her once previous glory. Restoring a barn that was built in 1907 is no small task. Because of some unexpected delays with those renos however, it has delayed the start of some of our programming - most specifically GOAT YOGA! I want all of our animal experiences here to be beyond our visitors expectations, and that means having everything in place before we welcome people. Again, challenges and obstacles from the Universe. We will tackle whatever road blocks the Universe puts in our way. The closer I get to my goal, the harder I want to chase it!
I will not put a timeline on when we complete projects here or have new activities ready. I fully believe that everything will come together at the right time. For now I am focusing on one day at a time. Staying focused on Self-Love (a personal goal of mine for this year), and staying focused on the needs of my herd are my priorities at the moment. As volunteers come forward and get involved in the activities here, things will begin to shape up. If you've ever thought of becoming a volunteer here, maybe now is the time to reach out? Send me an email and let me know what skills you bring to the table. We are in need of assistance with everything from daily animal chores, to admin, to baby goat cuddling. The benefits are immeasurable!
Until next time ~ Angee
What a week and month it has been. My intention was to start blogging regularly again. My animals however apparently have other plans for my availability. After many attempts to write a new post over the last week, I am finally able to take a breather this morning to write. In the last week we have welcomed 5 new babies to the farm! One amazingly gorgeous colt and 4 babies goats so far! With all of the new arrivals, I am continually reminded of what a blessed life I live. Every day, real life happens in my barn. Sometimes it is a struggle and endless dirty work, and other times it is so full of magic and miracles I can't even put to words. One thing is for certain, I am so lucky to be able to chase my dream and share my life with all of my animals. Through complete and utter exhaustion this morning, I wanted to take the time to get a post up to at the very least announce the new arrivals.
I don't think there is a rule of how to start up a new blog after taking a few years off. Like most things I take on in life, I've chosen to just jump on in and see what happens. Otherwise I will continue to convince myself to stay off the inter-webs and hiding in my safe and comfortable barn with my animals. So, here goes!!!
HEY EVERYONE!!! Phew! OK, now that the first step has been taken, perhaps the others will follow. Please forgive me if I suffer lapses at times when I may retreat into hiding again from time to time. My life has remained very busy as I seem to thrive on constant movement. I've constructed myself a work schedule that keeps me out of town a few times a month, so I am often on the road and sometimes not online. Over the next several weeks I will be trying to blog regularly again so that I can update everyone on the changes that have occurred at Sky River Meadows with the herd, including with me.
In order to bring myself back into the routine of blogging again I have chosen my intention to start by telling individual stories of some of the animals here. That way I can just focus on them and not my anxiety about posting again. Besides, it's the animals who are the super stars around here and I can never sing them enough praises. I love the idea of being able to tell their stories and to share them with all of you.
I am also excited to announce that the goats are ready and that we are starting up our daily goat walks again for the season! We walk a couple of times daily, so email me to get on the reservation list or to book a date and time for your family or group. There are limited spaces available daily so be sure to plan and book ahead. We have trails suitable for all ages and abilities. We walk most mornings and evenings, unless we need to be away. **Rainy days excepted. The goats do not walk in the rain**. If you're looking for a fun, unique, educational and uplifting activity, contact me to arrange for a goat walk.
The most exciting news of all is that we are just days away from babies being born here. Our first baby of 2019 may be a foal this year instead of a goat kid! My mare Cheyenne is due to foal on May 18th and our first doe Precious is due May 23rd. We are excited to welcome the newest members of the herd. It's been a long winter of waiting for them and for spring to arrive in Muskoka!
So, the first post is done! Stay tuned for upcoming posts and stories about the animals!
Blessings and light to you all! ~ Angee