May the 4th be with you! Can you believe that as I sit here writing, it is snowing outside my window? Brr, glad to be indoors today. For this week's edition of GotW I have chosen a very special little lady of mine. It can be quite a process for me when it comes time to choose who I will write about each week. Currently, part of this process is to also consider the current pandemic, and what sticks out for me. This past week what stood out the most for me is that people are either individually or collectively, are really starting to use their voices. Protesters are gathering. Social media to me seems more toxic than ever. Full of misinformation, fear, anger, conspiracy theories, debates and arguments etc. Not all of the discussions or debates are productive or kind. Locally it seems the big issue is "locals vs cottagers", and whether or not they should have a right to access their cottages, our fragile healthcare, and depleted resources. This week I felt like the energy everywhere was moving in a vortex. So many emotions, and serious problems the world over, and still no end in sight. Everyone is stressed and exhausted, emotions are heightened and everyone longs for some sense of balance or normalcy. We all want it. It will get better. We have to have faith. <3 So my choice for GotW this week was easy when it comes to voice. No one even comes close to the decibel of sound that this little one can emit when she has something to say. All will hear! Where we live it even echoes across the fields. In my heart, and especially in the year that she was born, Star was a very big support and an incredible help to me in finding my "voice" again, while healing and moving through my PTSD symptoms.
Star was born on August 24, 2016. She was born a single kid, which is not common in the Nigerian Dwarf breed. High multiples are the norm, with up to 7 kids born in a single birth recorded. When goat kids are born as singletons, they have a different kind of way or attitude about them. They are more independent and usually more outgoing and confident. Star was born out of one of my very sweetest (and most special to me personally) young goats. She was also the last kid born of the year, meaning for sure she would end up super spoiled as every visitor to the farm always wants to cuddle with the smallest goat. In 2016 I chose Star Trek for my theme, and for weeks tried to find a character name that fit with her personality of who she was. At that point in my life, she like her mother a couple of years before her, was literally the sun that shone through the darkness of my deepest depressive days. Her mother I named Soleil. With no character name to choose I went with Star Trek, as she would be called Star either way. Both of these beautiful souls, guiding lights showing me the way. Star and I had a close bond right from birth. Star by nature is more reserved and shy. She doesn't choose to come forward to connect with people personally very often. She seems very particular, but she does seem to have one specific gift. She helps people to find their voice. She helped me find mine, and I have witnessed her work her magic for others in the same way many times. Star is not subtle. Although she is small and stands only 19" tall, the voice on her sounds like a foghorn on a lighthouse. I am often stunned speechless as she finds new and interesting sounds to shriek out of her adorable little face. When she REALLY wants to be heard, you will see her brace her feet first so she can project her voice with maximum force! She even has a sound she makes when she is sad that is almost like a goaty half grown/ half purr sound. Wouldn't you know it, this super smart little goat seems to even know where my monitor in the barn is and she will holler directly into it when I'm in the house if she wants my attention. Just last week she woke me from a sound sleep by bellowing like a banshee for a boyfriend at 3am. I did not comply lol.
So I chose Star this week because like her, I see people everywhere right now, finding their voices and trying to be heard. When people are uncertain and feel threatened, as we all currently do during this pandemic, out of necessity or perhaps even for the first time, people are speaking up. However, not everyone is choosing to do so kindly or compassionately. This poses a great challenge and definitely can work to heat situations up when emotions are all so high already. As we all work through these difficult days, being mindful of each other is so important. Patience, empathy, kindness and compassion are all in daily need, and I think that we all have to try our best to do our part. I enjoyed a lovely chat with a few volunteers this afternoon about how during these stressful times, even making simple decisions in the grocery store can be more difficult and take longer. As most aisles now go in one direction, it is not uncommon to be stuck in an aisle, waiting on someone to make a decision - or even several someone's! Take a breath. Practice patience. If you do choose to use your voice, please do so with kindness. Not all demands can be met immediately, especially during uncertain times like this.
Practicing patience, especially in social distance situations, will help you to have a positive energy output as well, which is good for your own health and karma. The only thing you can control are your own individual thoughts, decision and actions aferall, so how will you choose to move forward? Something I saw on a sign once really hit me and has stuck with me for years. I am not saying that I am able to follow this principle in all situations, however I do try to bring it forward when I am uncertain if I should speak. The sign said "Before you speak, THINK."
T= is it true?
H= is it helpful?
I= is it inspiring?
N= is it necessary?
K= is it kind?
Pretty basic, and often I find if I bring it to mind and ask the questions, I choose to not speak. Maybe this can help some of you as well, as it does me. Hopefully we will all see an easing of the infection rate as well as the lockdown soon. Until that day comes though we must try to remember we're all in this together. Until then, try to choose love and kindness wherever possible and we will all see better days again soon. ~ Angee <3
This weeks blog will be one of the hardest that I have written in a very long time. I apologize in advance as I fear this blog post may bounce around much like my emotions lately. I am not going to lie, the past couple weeks have been really difficult for me, and this past week has been especially challenging. For that reason, this week I will not be telling a GotW story, but I will be memorializing a recent one. Sadly this past week, we had to say goodbye to our dear SRM Aphrodite. This is not a loss that I am taking well, and to be honest it has had me going through some big waves of emotions. I'll get back to what happened to Dite, but first I need to address something else.
This past week has also been especially painful and difficult as my entire country comes to terms with the mass shootings that occurred in Nova Scotia, and the terrible and tragic loss of so many lives TAKEN by a very ill person. My heart breaks for the victims of such terrible violence, and also for the loved ones left behind. As the information about the events that took place come out, I admit I am stunned speechless. This can't be real! Not in Canada! My brain is really struggling to cope with all of the suffering that occurred, and at a time when the entire human race is struggling to cope through a pandemic. This is all honestly too horrible to bear at times.
Emotions are at an all time high everywhere. Countries are struggling to balance between protecting the health of their people vs the stability of the economy. Small businesses are closing at an alarming rate. The vulnerability of our aging and elderly populations, and the conditions of the care homes they reside in. The heartbreaking stories of loved ones dying alone in hospitals or long term care facilities due to the restrictions of social isolation. Everywhere we turn right now, we can't escape the realities of the current situation. This level of stress definitely has a HUGE impact on everyone and the effects can be long lasting. As the days pass and the lockdown continues, what more will we have to face? One thing is for sure, although some of us go through more hardships than others through life's journey, no one gets through life without some level of loss, suffering and/or sacrifice.
Something else has also been sticking out to me lately as I speak to people. Although we are "all in this together", we are not all necessarily going through the same experience. The challenges and struggles we each face will be very different from each other. While some may face a major financial crisis, they may not be suffering from the isolation aspect. Alternatively, someone who may not be struggling to make ends meet, may be suffering a major emotional crisis while being isolated from everyone and thing familiar and comforting. Some of us will be directly impacted by the virus and may become sick, or know someone who does. For others, they may never know someone personally who was ever infected with it. I have friends who have had to choose to send their own children away for safety due to being front line or essential workers. Others who don't have that option face the additional fear of potentially bringing the virus home to their own loved ones. We may all be facing the same storm during this crisis, but we are not all facing the same daily choices, challenges or obstacles. This is why I feel that love, kindness and compassion are even more important right now. Regardless of age, race, economic status, religion, political leanings or otherwise, we are all impacted. How can we not all feel compassion for one another at a time like this? I consider each group and the changes and adjustments in everyone's lives, and I see how devastating and dangerous the ripple effects of this crisis will have on every aspect of everyone's lives for potentially a very long time. I worry most for the children who can't yet understand what is happening, and for those most vulnerable. I worry for the victims of domestic violence, as I understand that they may be suffering worse during this time do to heightened stress of their abusers, and the isolation from the lockdown. Each person we see, pass by or otherwise every single day is going through something. Let's please all remember that and work to be kind and compassionate to each other. Love really is the right choice right now <3
One my biggest personal struggles in coping at the moment is the essential shopping trips for the things my farm and family need. The entire ordeal of trying to go into a store is completely exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally now. My psyche shudders to grasp the new reality of what it means to go shopping. I am sure many have experienced this same thing recently and are also trying to cope. A week ago I went to the grocery store to get some basic items. I lined up outside in the freezing cold and stood in that line for over an hour and a half to get inside to shop. Having been spoiled in the past with instant access to stores, I did not dress to stand there in the cold for so long. It was a sobering wait, with occasional snow which brought me plenty of time to reflect and practice gratitude :) When it was finally my turn to go shopping amongst the near bare aisles, I found myself once again struggling emotionally, as almost nothing on my list was available in the store. Initially I felt overwhelmed and rather devastated, this could not be real right? It was a moment I will never forget as long as I live. From the masked faces in the aisles, to the empty shelves, to the lines on the floor, to how I was feeling personally, to the plexiglass barrier between myself and the cashier, all images forever burned in my memory. So please consider for a moment - my personal biggest struggle at the moment is SHOPPING. I honestly feel blessed that I can say that shopping is my biggest struggle right now. I am far luckier than most, and for that I am grateful. Wow, let me also tell you how grateful I am, that I have an ability to remain optimistic through the roughest times. Instead of giving into emotion during my shopping experience, I chose instead to browse the aisles of what remained, hoping for inspiration or new ideas of foods to try and experiment with. I've always enjoyed cooking, but lately it has felt therapeutic. I have been finding a great deal of stress relief in learning to bake breads, bagels and other tasty things. Perhaps it is the kneading of dough, or the delicious smells of fresh baked breads filling my house. Right now we all need joy, so if it brings joy - do it!
OK, so no more beating around the bush on this. The farm suffered a big loss this past week. I even struggle to say I suffered a big loss this week. This death is one that I can't explain, and to be honest is down right shitty. This is the side of the farming lifestyle that I find to be the real challenge. The divide between life and death is so thin sometimes. Last weekend SRM Aphrodite became ill. She went downhill fast and was showing signs of suffering from polio, which in goats causes a cascade effect of health challenges that can lead to blindness, encephalitis and death. In the past I've been successful with saving some from polio, but this was a battle I was not meant to win. For five exhausting days I fought by her side, but in the end she chose to be at peace. My dear Dite. My Goddess of Love. I was not ready to say good-bye. What a sad irony that during this time when love is needed the most, the one member of my herd that is representative of love dies. I have bounced back and forth between waves of anger and frustration, mixed with deep sadness and grief this past week. It isn't all likely due to the passing of Dite, but a culmination of many things. However, her passing in the midst of it all seems somehow completely unfair. She wasn't old or sick, she was in her prime! One thing is for certain, this special goat was very loved by many people. She was part of a few different herds and spent time with a few different people during her days. She healed the hearts of many in her five short years of life. Each of us that were blessed to have her in our lives were so lucky. How grateful I am to have had the privilege of knowing her, and for her bearing the name of my farm. May her spirit always roam free through the meadows surrounding my farm and may she follow wherever her herd roams.
OK, I don't want to dwell on her passing, so I want to change the vibe of this post to be more reflective of the message of LOVE I want to send out, as that is who Dite really was. There is a bigger message here that I also need to try to share, and words do not always come easily to this kind of sharing. This past week with Aphrodite has given me another lesson to grow from. As I spent many hours thinking back to why I chose her name and the significance and meaning it had for me then, and what it signifies for me now. Aphrodite was born the summer of 2014, the year that I lost Geordon. She was literally born from a living miracle in my opinion. Her mother Neveah had a traumatic birth and by all rights shouldn't have even been alive. For her to give birth to triplets in 2014 was significant for me as it was the year I was originally set to begin my therapeutic programs on the farm. All of that changed with Geordon's death and the financial crisis I found myself in thereafter. I am not sure if I have shared this with anyone, or if anyone ever made the connection, but I named Neveah's triplets Phoenix, Soleil and Aphrodite. Literally to me they signified my need and desire to raise myself from the ashes of my life, and in rebirth, to shine and spread love. Sadly for me at the time though, apparently I wasn't meant to open my doors (yet), and had to sell of most of my herd - including Aphrodite and Phoenix. A year ago though, I was reunited with Aphrodite when she returned to the farm to retire. Now she has passed and has been placed in a SE facing spot on my farm. For anyone who ever doubts whether animals have emotions, or intelligence, I want to share something that happened on Saturday afternoon. At this time of year my bucks are as mild mannered as kittens and I often just let them roam freely on my yard during the day as we don't have a separate fenced space for them outside yet. As I was working in the yard doing poo patrol with a couple volunteers, I witnessed Rembo walk from where the boys were browsing in the field, walk directly to lie down on top of Aphrodite's fresh grave. I know how deeply connected my herd is to each other, but rarely are there events such as this to be witnessed that can't be denied. I called to both Bailey and Erik to see for themselves. Rembo lay upon her grave for a good hour on Saturday afternoon, in silent love and respect. As I watched in awe, and as it continued to hit me in the FEELS bigtime, I continued to work and process the lessons that moment held.
So, here is my 2020 so far: in January I officially opened my business, my FEEL practice, and farm doors. On March 6, 2020, the farm was featured on CTV News Barrie, and on March 9, 2020 I was interviewed on CBC Radio. What a high!!! Four days later on March 13, 2020 I was forced to close my doors and my business due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Now I am unable to earn an income doing what I've spent the last 12 years creating. No way is this my reality! I refuse to accept that and absolutely will find a way to make this work by adapting to the present situation... somehow. My herd and I have worked too hard for too many years, fighting to earn credibility and trust to give up or stop now. I love my Muskoka community and have worked hard to create this farm. I want to be able to support my community the best way I know how - through connective, healing experiences with animals. I am so happy to say that by holding true to love, I think I have found a way to at least begin to help and support my community during this crisis. I may not be able to earn an income, but I can still go and make people feel better. So starting this week, Yara and I, and perhaps a few others, plan to start visiting in the community. With the help of some great friends at local long term care facilities, we will be making window visits with seniors who currently are in real need of having their spirits lifted <3 I truly believe that if we want to receive love in our lives, we must be freely willing to give it. There is no greater need for love than right now, and I have love to give in spades! My hope is to spread as much love, smiles and hope to my community, so that it will come back to my family and continue to grow. If you know of someone who could really use a visit from a couple of crazy goats, get in touch and let's see what we can do! I'll also be reaching out and connecting in ways that I can think up. Sky River Meadows may not be open for visits, but the goats and I will be popping up here and there to remind everyone that we will be here when you're finally able to come visit us. Hang in there. This too shall pass. Find small ways to take care of yourself, and each other, each and every day. When in doubt, choose love. <3 ~ Angee
P.S. In case of interest, here is the link to Aphrodite's GotW story from earlier this year. https://www.skyrivermeadows.com/healing-with-the-herd---blog/goat-of-the-week-sky-river-meadows-aphrodite
Where does the time go? How are we nearing the end of April already? The greener months will be upon us soon, and then what? Will we continue to be locked in? Will we still be waiting for answers and a solution to a problem that we can't see and barely seem to understand? Although it feels like time is standing still for some of us, I know that for those on the frontline, things feel very different for you. There is a battle going on in the world and it is happening on many fronts. This is definitely a time for all of us to pay very close attention to what is happening in the world around us. Never again will I take for granted so many things that I am guilty of taking for granted. During the past several weeks, I have been really examining my life up to this point, and spending a great deal of time in deep meditation. In recognizing some parts of my life that were unbalanced, I have made some hard decisions and adjustments in support of my health and journey to self love. Anyways, I'll get back to all that later, here I am rambling and I haven't even introduced this beautiful little angel pictured here yet <3 She is my pick for GotW this week due to the inspiration I currently draw from her daily. This fierce little doe is the epitome of a virago - a female who demonstrates heroic qualities - my Heroic Maiden to be exact, if I was to stereotype her personality. This is Gilraen <3 I call her Raen, but my son, calls her Gil. Either way, neither he nor I will ever agree on her name or who owns this tiny feminine warrior. Raen loves us both and comes to either name anyways. Can you believe this little one stands only 12" tall? Often overlooked in the herd by visitors until the moment she picks a fight with a herd mate. It is hard not to notice her then! Being one of the smallest in the herd, she will still challenge ANY goat, including the herd Queen if she sees fit to.
Raen was born on the afternoon of July 9th, 2017. Born out of SRM Soleil, Raen has the same amazingly sweet personality that her mother does. She is a bit shy though and can be reserved at first. Her birth was a difficult one as all four babies were tangled inside. Raen was at the greatest risk as she had the umbilical cords of two of her siblings tightly wrapped around her neck. With time, patience and a lot of luck I managed to safely deliver all four babies. Raen was born second and I will never forget how when I held her up to look at her the first time, she latched right onto my chin and try to nurse. She was born hungry and that hasn't changed! A fighter from the time she hit the ground, this little one thrived! She was one that I would have to hold back to allow her siblings time to properly nurse. She was stronger than her brother Bilbo and used that strength to her advantage. With two younger sisters to also push around, it is no wonder Raen grew to be "top" of the siblings pecking order. Only her older big sister Star seems to "outrank" her. When I watch the two of them together I can see where Raen got a lot of her fierceness from. I think she learned a lot of her dirty fighting moves from her big sister too! They both have a tendency towards biting their opponents ears, or even trying to latch on to a teat! (nipple) Now that's some shady fighting moves, but who am I to judge how goats settle things. Compared to the rest of the herd these ladies are SMALL so perhaps that is the tactic that balances the fight. The entertainment value is absolutely priceless and the things I get to observe and learn make living this lifestyle so worthwhile. I call it Goat-O-Vision and it is better than any TV I've ever owned.
I don't mean to make it sound like Raen is a bully, as that is not her at all. She is more like a military leader perhaps who lives by the CODE and rules of the herd (I am convinced they have one), set out by the Queen. She sees the need for herd stability and works as an unofficial enforcer of sorts to personally oversee the herd not only safe, but taking care of each other. The cute part is that she works as an enforcer with the youngest generations. Due to her genetic issues and tiny stature she will never be bred, so it kind of makes sense for her to fill the role of a drill sergeant of sorts to the "cadets". The babies are often bigger than Raen by the time they are 8 weeks old so I don't ever have to worry about her being too rough or harsh with them. I am often more concerned that Raen will get hurt than I worry she will hurt anyone else. The entire herd seems to take her seriously, when she starts hollering. She cares about her herd and wants everyone to be safe and happy. What an interesting perspective to consider, but one that we often see in nature, is that small size does not mean defenseless or vulnerable. Just because one is small does not mean that they can not also be mighty! Raen is very self aware and that gives her confidence that I admire. When I observe her, it would seem to me that she views her small size as an advantage rather a disadvantage. She is easily hidden amongst the herd and that actually keeps her quite safe. Although she is small, she is not slow on the move and has no problem keeping up with the herd at a run. At the moment Raen is only working with our main herd doing goat walks, but I am hoping to start working with her indoors to see if she will be able to join our Goats on the Go! program with her brother Bilbo when we get to resume working. The two of them working together would be too cute for words! <3 They also share a very close and special bond so I bet would do magic working together!
The quality that Raen possesses that I admire the most is her ability to set clear and concise boundaries. Up until recent months, I was unaware of my lack of boundaries in my personal relationships. As I continue to study, and am committed to my own personal development, I am painfully aware of some of the areas of my life that have been very out of balance. This is due to no ones fault, but within my own personal issues, but in learning to honour and love myself, when I discover these areas that are out of balance, I need to make adjustments. The process of learning to set healthy boundaries in my life and relationships has not gone over easily in all cases. For some of my relationships the adjustment has been received beautifully as we both adjust to a new healthy balance. In other instances however, it has had devastating consequences. Not all relationships will survive the test of setting boundaries I have learned - no matter how many years you've been friends. As painful as this lesson has been for me to learn, and as difficult as it is to move forward from it, I now love myself and refuse to look backwards. True friendships and true love will, without judgement, survive the challenge of adjustments, through open and honest communication. By taking a stand that says what kind of behaviour or treatment you are willing to tolerate, sometimes people will leave your life. Painful? Yes, damn right it is. BUT, if we are to honour and love ourselves, then I have to choose ME. I can't regret choosing myself. So, on to the next phase of my life with my head held high and instead of being hurt and angry, I will instead choose LOVE and to remember fondly all the years of great friendship I had. I am blessed with many amazing friendships still, of all shapes, sizes and colours. Each relationship I have changes and evolves as we each grow. Sometimes those evolutions take us away from each other. When that happens I think we have to learn to accept it. To fight it may slow our own evolution. In my own life, I have come to the point where I am done fighting the process and I am surrendering to the endless possibilities of journeying through life with an open heart! It really is much easier to just ALLOW :)
So at the start of this post I was talking about how I have been making some adjustments in my life in support of what I feel really matters not only in my own life, and my families, but also of my greater community. Like Raen who is always looking out for her herd, I too care a great deal about my Muskoka community. Supporting local business and small farms has always been very important to me, but this crisis has reinvigorated my passion for all things homesteading, local business, and local community. I don't feel the world will ever be the same - nor do I think it should. There were a great many imbalances in our society that this pandemic has really shone a very big light on. There is not a lot that we can do individually to impact the greater world, but we can focus our individual energies closer to home and make an INCREDIBLE impact on our communities! Reaching out and supporting small businesses to see what they need during this time may be all that is needed to see them through. Showing small supports will not only help financially at this time, but it will also let them know that you value them as a part of your community. Not everyone is able to help out financially either - I get that as I am in the same boat. There may be other ways that we can each reach out locally to a person or organization in need. Using my herd (and Raen) as inspiration, I am excited that I have a plan on how the goats and my team can continue to spread LOVE during this time. I will not make an announcement just yet, but there will be one coming in 1-2 weeks if all comes together as planned. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to remember kindness as the days and weeks continue to pass. Stress and fear take a very large toll on all our psyches and we can all do our part to be compassionate and caring. We are all going through this together. We will each experience good days, and bad days, easy days and hard days. Let's not give up on each other yet when we have already come so far. Each day that passes I believe more firmly that LOVE is the answer and solution to everything. <3 Hang in there everyone! Always with LOVE ~ Angee
First I want to start this week's blog post by acknowledging all of our front line workers that are tirelessly putting themselves in harms way during this time of crisis. The service that you give freely to your communities, so that we can all pull through this to live to see better days again, is deeply appreciated. Thank you for all that you do for us. <3
For this weeks blog I wanted to choose a goat that had a great story of overcoming incredible odds. As this is also Easter weekend, (albeit the strangest Easter in my life to date) I feel that an uplifting story about the power of love is in order! So, for this weeks post I have chosen to share the story of SRM Legolas. This young wether (neutered male) had one of the roughest starts to his life that I have experienced, and against all those odds he is still with us. By all rights, he isn't even supposed to be here, but to see him alive and thriving three years later is wonderful to me, and reminds me to never give up! Especially when the odds are stacked against you. This dear boy is my Leggy, and this is his story, which actually begins with his mom, who happens to be my dear Maisie - Therapy goat number 1 and arguably one of my most special friends. Maisie has through her many years found new and exciting ways to try to die each and every year, always keeping me on my toes. In the winter of 2017 she was diagnosed with a bone disorder that caused all of her teeth to become loose. The decision was made that for her own safety and ongoing health, Maisie needed to have all of her teeth surgically removed. The problem was that she was pregnant. My vet advised me that the drugs she would be given for her surgery would cause her to abort her pregnancy. As this is Maisie we are talking about of course I would do what was in her best interests to survive. The decision was made to go through with the surgery and Maisie pulled through with flying colours! She did not however terminate her pregnancy, which meant I really had no idea of what I would be facing when she did in fact give birth a few months later.
On the day that Legolas was born, Maisie was her usual self, never cooperating and giving me absolutely no signs that this was the day she would give birth. Under the circumstances though I was not leaving her alone while I went to work, so I had someone stay with her each day. Wouldn't you know it, she went into full labour while I was delivering my mail route that afternoon and I was not going to be able to get back in time. Legolas was delivered safely into the world by friends while I rushed home. Poor Maisie had quite the ordeal delivering this massive boy! Legolas was born weighing in at just a hair over 6 pounds and he is by far the largest Nigerian Dwarf goat baby that I've ever seen. To put his size into perspective, the average size for a baby Nigerian dwarf goat is 1 1/2 lbs at birth. Maisie was a trooper and as usual an attentive and loving mamma. There was something horribly wrong with Legolas though and it was apparent we would need to work extra hard to help this giant boy survive. He was unable to stand, appeared potentially blind, and he was suffering from seizures. He also had a neurological head shake happening that was quite heartbreaking to witness. Maisie could tell something was also wrong with her boy, but she never rejected him and worked diligently with me through those first scary weeks of his life. It was very fortunate that she only gave birth to a single kid that year, as Legolas was going to need all of her attention and nurturing to bring him through. The one thing he had going for him right from his very first day of life was an insatiable appetite. He couldn't be dying if he was this hungry right? It gave me hope and with each feeding he grew stronger.
In previous years I had great success with the use of thiamine injection therapy to help ease other types of neurological issues when they've arisen in my goat herd. Thiamine is water soluble so any excess is expelled through urine. Due to this, it is something I can always try to see if it will help, without stressing about any negative impact. Over the years I have been surprised again and again in how often a shot of thiamine makes all the difference in a sick goat thriving. Where Legolas was concerned, I had absolutely nothing to lose by trying it on him. To my great relief, I began seeing tiny signs of improvement in his strength and coordination each day. It wasn't until he was almost a month old however before I felt confident enough in his improvement that I was sure he was out of the woods and would make it. By the time he joined the herd he was as big as kids 2 months older than him. As long as I continued to give him daily thiamine injections, he was almost completely symptom free, with no more evidence of seizures or head tremors. When you watched him at play with the other kids, it was VERY obvious that he was not as quick or capable as the others. He was easily confused and would get lost at ANY opportunity. Baby goats are notorious for getting lost, but Legolas was REALLY good at it. He needed to be monitored constantly that first summer. Legolas is a son of our recently deceased champion buck Jose. Legolas inherited his sires sweet temperament and personality, and due to his special needs stature, was a perfect candidate to be a therapy goat.
After the first few months, Leggy continued to get stronger and required less and less of my interventions to keep him going. By the time he turned a year old you could not tell that there was ever anything wrong with him at the start of his life. He has grown into a very handsome young wether who watches over his younger siblings and protects them fiercely. His little brother Remis is often seen with him while we hike, and they always sleep together. Legolas is a very shy and quiet soul. Rarely do you ever hear him speak or make a sound. He is always playful though and seems to delight in playing with his younger siblings. He adores naps and will often come and lay with me in the shade during the hot summer days. VERY food motivated, Legolas comes completely out of his shell if there are treats being offered. A huge lover of salty things, he still turns down no snacks ever. It seems an authentic quality he has possessed since birth :) As long as it keeps this special boy strong and healthy, I don't mind one bit. Legolas is strong and very fit, and will perhaps one day belong to a special group of goats that will be part of a future program here. Until then though, Legolas is part of my main therapy herd and is always part of our goat walks and outdoor programs. There is no explaining how this special boy came to be and also how he managed to survive those first few months. Maisie and I fought the hard fight for this boy and to win a victory like that and be able to watch him as he connects with people in our work, it really does feel to me like Legolas is a living miracle. Each person I watch him with brings my heart such immense joy. Ugh, just thinking about how long it has been since we have hosted guests or worked with clients makes me incredibly sad :( I really hope we all see an end to this pandemic soon and that we all can enjoy some lovely days in the warm sunshine with the herd again. Until then my friends, stay safe and please #stayhomesavelives With love, Angee
This weeks edition of GotW features a rather tall and strange looking goat. OK, so it is day 24 of my self isolation, but I have not yet lost my mind. So she isn't a goat, but if you ask her, Cheyenne will tell you she is the GOAT (greatest of all time)! I look forward to sharing the story of this beautiful, young mare who joined my herd accidentally at the end of 2018, and is now determined to stay with my goat herd full time.
Back in 2018, I started a course of study called FEEL - Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning, through Horse Spirit Connections in Tottenham, ON. This program, and the FEEL Approach forever changed my life for the better. Not only did this program offer me validation for many of the experiences I had with animals in my life prior to adopting this practice, but it has actually allowed me to find myself through the amazing support of four legged friends such as Cheyenne here. The FEEL Approach is essentially learning to reconnect with the parts of ourselves that our society has taught us to ignore or lose touch with - our heart energy, and our gut instincts, but also vital knowledge about the emotions we all feel. If I was to break that down even further, I would say to follow ones heart or to listen to ones gut, but in a literal way as opposed to figuratively. Horses have an ability as prey animals to be fully in touch with their surroundings at all times. A horses ability to be able to read the emotional energy of any potential threat has ensured the survival of their species for millions of years virtually unchanged. FEEL facilitators such as myself work to partner horses with humans to work through specific activities in order to learn and grow together. These activities are designed to explore specific areas of personal growth and development. I explain all of this as a way to give some better understanding into the fact that Cheyenne here is not just any horse - she is a FEEL horse, and that is both a blessing and a challenge to me at the moment in our daily routine of self isolation. The FEEL Approach teaches us to live every day of our lives connected through our hearts with all living things. When we connect through our hearts we have the ability to communicate on a different level, that can even transcend species. Horses are particularly adept at this ability, and Cheyenne here is no exception. So how did she end up here and part of my therapy herd? Part misfortune, perhaps part fate and most certainly meant to be, here is her story.
Cheyenne a registered Rocky Mountain Horse and she was born in Kentucky on November 9, 2013. She was purchased by a FEEL sister of mine and imported into Canada in 2018. Upon getting this mare home, it was apparent that she had some serious physical issues that would impede her ability to live a normal, healthy life for a horse. The other issue was that Cheyenne was also pregnant. Decisions needed to be made to ensure the safety and long term welfare of this mare, and her unborn foal, and this is where I come into her story. I was asked if I would be able to offer a home to Cheyenne as part of my therapeutic program and went about trying to figure out how to get her here, as she was now in Thunder Bay, ON. Fortunately I found a transport company willing to bring her down and in November of 2018 Cheyenne came home to Sky River Meadows. Coming from one FEEL home to another, the transition was actually quite easy for her and the rest of my other horses here at the time. My biggest concern was getting her settled in and comfortable to go through her pregnancy and delivery safely. She was due to foal anytime after mid April so I had several months of tending to her physical needs as her advancing baby bump created more hardship on her already strained joints. With a lot of love, attention and patience (sleeping two weeks in the barn waiting for her to foal) she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on May 23, 2019. I was absolutely overjoyed to be there to witness the beautiful miracle as I had delivered nothing but baby goats for many years now. It was a wonderful reminder of just how incredible the female body really is to be able to go through this, but also just that beautiful miracle of BIRTH and new life beginning. I never get tired of it :)
Cheyenne had a textbook perfect delivery of her foal, but for the first 24 hours she really wasn't too sure what to do with him. She would lick him, then try to bite him, then alternate neighing REALLY loudly in his face or whinnying at me for answers. I think she was quite confused at first and she needed a lot of assistance from me to get her to understand that she needed to nurse him, BUT also in order to do that she would need to learn to stand still. Each time he got close she would want to lick his face again and she would move. It took about two days but she eventually got the hang of being a mom and then there was no stopping her. About two months prior to giving birth, Cheyenne developed a growth on her side, that rapidly grew into a tumour that needed to be removed. This had to wait until after she gave birth in order to protect her baby from the drugs she would receive during the operation. The procedure went very well however, testing determined to be a mass cell tumour that was malignant. The good news is that my vet managed to remove it in it's entirety so fingers crossed it never grows back or returns elsewhere. Poor Cheyenne really did get a short stick when it comes to health issues, but fortunately for her, she now lives here where I will look after her needs. I am grateful that she has joined us she has some interesting gifts that I feel blessed to offer to those who visit us here at SRM. At the moment, Cheyenne is the only horse I have here that is working in my program, and this is at her own insistence. My other two horses currently here are William, her baby who is leaving very soon for his new home and training facility in southern Ontario, and my old mare Pride who currently is not interested in doing FEEL work, so is essentially retired. My gelding Buddy is currently away on a lease to a lovely family for the next year and half while I continue to develop my programs at the farm. I had intended on moving or rehoming all of my horses for the time being, but Cheyenne had other plans, and after months of her being a royal pain in my butt, she has gotten her wish and joined the herd at the goat barn.
I think Cheyenne started being very present, and perhaps even invading my thoughts regularly in January after I attended my communities New Year's Day sweat lodge ceremony and set my intentions for 2020. That first week of January seems so oddly far away now. So much has happened in such a short period of time with the coronavirus outbreak, that it is crazy to look back and see how little time has actually passed. Now that things in the world are very real for all of us, I am starting to understand why Cheyenne has been insisting she stay on here while the other horses move away. She knows there will be important work to do in our community to help heal the minds and hearts that become broken from this pandemic. This mare of mine is determined that not only is she not going anywhere, but she is content to live the life of a goat until such a time comes that she can live with my other horses again. She started pestering me to bring her to the goat barn in January and finally got her wish in mid February when a behaviour issue from Amelia the cow required me to bring Cheyenne in to keep her in line. This move of course just seemed to encourage Cheyenne in her pursuit of working with the therapy herd NOW instead of in a few years. As you can see from the photo above, she fits right in and hardly stands out at all right? Don't be surprised if you see her on a future Goat Walk here during the summer lol.
I know that when I talk about my animals I talk about them as if they are people, and this might seem very strange to some. It is probably more accurate if you say that I speak of them as if they are individuals though. I speak that way because I believe they ARE individuals, complete with their own personalities, likes, dislikes as well as opinions and wisdom to share. When I found the FEEL program, I found an entire community of like minded individuals who also believed in the sentience of animals, just as many indigenous cultures still do to this day. I now feel pride where once I felt shame for the things I believed about my animal friends abilities to help us. Now I can share my own journey, as well as help others through facilitating exercises with the animals. My herd continues to evolve in interesting ways and I do not pretend to understand the why behind any of it. I am just a FEEL practitioner and facilitator. Why does my horse want to live with my goats? I don't know, but I trust her and trust that she knows more about things spiritual and beyond than I'll likely ever understand in this lifetime. I continually challenge myself daily to ALLOW and ACCEPT the messages I receive and when I surrender, I see the amazing evidence before me time and again. I pray daily that this pandemic ends soon so that my herd and I can get back to our work. After 24 days in isolation my entire herd is starting to become depressed. They miss the socializing, the connections, the laughter and smiles from visitors as well as all the extra hands for grooming, petting, scratching and loving on them. The herd likes me and all, but seriously after this many days of just me and my son tending to them they don't think we're so great anymore lol. When all this is over though, I assure you all that the entire Sky River goat gang, and Cheyenne included, will be here to help you through whatever you need. We know the days ahead are uncertain and scary, but together we will all get through it. So for now stay strong and stay home <3
With love, Angee
I spent a great deal of time trying to determine who I should write about when I picked these GotW stories back up. Due to the severity of the CV-19 situation in the world, I wanted to pick a goat that had a great story to tell, one that was full of humour. No goat comes to mind faster when I think of humour than our beloved SRM B'Elanna. Named after a Klingon from Star Trek, and the only goat to have ever left my farm as a bottle baby, B'Elanna has an interesting story to share, that I think most of you will really enjoy. "Beefcake", "Beef", or sometimes even just "B", for those who have visited the farm and taken in a goat walk, you are sure to have had the company of our dear Beef, who much prefers the company of humans over the smelly goats that I force her to live with. She may have even tried to go home with you when you left, especially if she smelled "city" on you. In order to explain who B'Elanna really is, I need to back up several years to the day that she was born and the events that helped to shape her unique and interesting life.
Prior to kidding season in 2014, I was contacted by someone who was looking to purchase a couple of bottle babies to raise in their home, for their own reason and purposes. I had not pulled any kids up to this point during my time raising goats, so did not feel I could help them, but kept their info just in case. I prefer to let my goats raise their own kids and I will support or assist them as needed. However, in 2014 we had 32 babies born! Wouldn't you know it, a first time mom, gave birth to triplets. This is one of the few situations where I feel justified in pulling a kid from their mom. It takes some of the pressure away by lessening the number of kids for them to raise. So, the decision was made to choose the strongest of the female kids to leave and move to the city. At two days old, right after this picture was taken, B'Elanna left our farm and lived for a couple years as a house goat, in the city. Fate it seems had other plans for this city goat however, and with changing circumstances, I was contacted to bring B'Elanna back to the farm. I knew this would be a challenge for me, as trying to integrate a "new" goat into an existing herd is tricky, as goats love to fight and nothing will stop them from establishing the herd hierarchy. Each new birth or addition to the herd causes a shift and a ripple effect. Outside animals can also bring in outside behaviours or habits, some of which I have worked hard to not have in my herd. B'Elanna was not happy returning to the farm initially, and it was quite an adjustment to say the least for her. I expected her to live in a BARN??? With filthy ANIMALS??? Life for B'Elanna had taken a very sudden shift and there were many challenges ahead for her as she adjusted to farm life.
The first thing that became apparent to me when I met adult Beef, was that this goat did not know she was a goat at all. This was a 4 legged person! Convincing her to live in the barn was very challenging and for the first several months you constantly had to watch behind you. B was a secret ninja that could slip out of any gate behind you without you noticing. She would then silently slink away to do her own thing and you'd eventually find her wandering around, leaving you scratching your head, wondering how she got out. Other times - and I am not exaggerating here, she would sneak into the house hot on your heels, silent and undetected....until she was found rooting through the cupboards, or eating the newspaper. Now don't get me wrong, I admire smart animals and how resourceful they can be, but those first few months with B were super challenging. This goat knew stuff that no goat should know and she used it to her advantage! At that point in time I was yet unaccustomed to having to outthink a ninja goat on a daily basis. Especially one that refused to accept that they were in fact a GOAT - just like the rest of the goats in the barn. Day after day, week after week, B'Elanna refused to socialize with the other goats. She seemed literally disgusted by their filthy habits and could not wait to get as far away from them as possible. So, what a challenge. A herd animal who refuses to be a part of her natural herd, but wants to change species and be a full time human? Umm...no. I can make a lot of concessions and bend the rules and even bring goats and baby cows into my house, but even I need to have some limits and discipline, so after a certain age they all have to live full time in the barn. Otherwise I'd have them ALL living in my house and I can't do that, there would be no room left for me lol. After about six months of fighting with B to accept her place in the herd, I decided to breed her. My plan was to allow her to have kids - that were goats - that she could focus on and hopefully through raising them, she would learn to be a goat too..... Well, it seemed like a well thought out plan at the time!!
In 2017 B'Elanna gave birth to twins, and the decision was made to keep them both so that she would no longer have to be by herself, but would always have the company of her kids. My hope was that as she became a mother, she would bond with the other goat moms and make some friends. NOPE. Not this goat. In 2018 I decided to breed her again thinking that surely this would help. She gave birth to triplets! All three are still in my herd... You see where this is going.... Last year in 2019, B'Elanna gave birth to quadruplets! She chose to reject one of those babies at 4 days old and VOILA! That is how I ended up with Yara as my bottle kid. Beefcake is the biological mom of Yara, and the grand daughter of my first therapy goat Maisie. Out of all of the genetic lines in my herd, for whatever reason, this gene pool is really easy to housetrain! Lucky me I guess :) As for B'Elanna's kids, out of the nine babies that she has given birth to since rejoining my herd, we have eight of them here. With the exception of Yara, who tends to sleep in the middle of the biggest pile of goats, the rest of Beef's seven children always sleep with their mom every night. One big pile of Beef kids lol. B'Elanna has an incredible ability to clone herself once each birthing. Her 2017 daughter SRM Earendil, is so much like her mom I actually nicknamed her Beef3 (Beef Squared). Her daughters Rowena (2018) and Yara (2019) are all very much like her in personality. Unlike their mother, her children all know they are goats.... well except for Yara maybe lol.
Beef hasn't changed a bit since returning to the farm. All of my attempts to "normalize" or "rehabilitate" her have failed. Thank goodness they did too, as she wouldn't be her authentic self if my misguided ideals at the time succeeded. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her. She is different from the others, but then so many of us in life are right? The Black Sheep maybe? An outcast, or an outlier of sorts. I myself am a Black Sheep in my family. In that same sense I guess B'Elanna and I are kindred. Two freaks in the world, just chilling and enjoying each others company. I have admired B'Elanna throughout the years since she has returned. She has taken everything in stride. All of the big changes and adjustments, she never let it get her down. She is proud of WHO SHE IS and will not let anyone tell her that she is not a person! She is confident and stands out for all to see how amazing she is. She has a wit and determination like I only wish I had! She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to risk espionage to ensure she gets it. She has no apparent plans to give this habit up either as she managed to sneak right into my kitchen behind me just the other day, while I popped in to set something down quickly while I walked to herd past the house. She is good! I am always grateful to discover her when she sneakily does that. I can only imagine the things she'd get up to, aside from the mess she'd leave for me if left in the house by herself for a time lol. She is also exceptionally quick to try to hide when I am putting the herd back in the barn after being out for a walk. She loves to "disappear" and blend into the background so she can stay out and eat whatever she wants - usually my flower bed. When doing a head count, regular checks to ensure B'Elanna is where she is supposed to be is on that check list. My volunteers learn about this girls ninja abilities pretty quickly. It is easy to see where Yara gets her mischievous ways, when you see Beef in action.
No doubt that B'Elanna has an important place in my therapeutic herd here at SRM. Most people connect with Beef as she is always curious about people, as each new visitor may be a potential new home opportunity or snack. It is a running joke here, as B'Elanna does tend to try to stow away in vehicles that are headed back to the city. When it comes to working with people, and making a connection during a goat walk, B'Elanna leaves an impression on almost everyone she meets. She is comical, chubby and loves to have her butt scratched and will happily continue to wag her tail as long as you continue to scratch. She also is not afraid to pilfer through your belongings, including purses, strollers and diaper bags, as she has learned over the years that these are good places to seek snacks. She may act deaf if you're trying to get her attention, but crinkle a wrapper of any kind and SURPRISE - B'Elanna also possesses the super power of bionic hearing apparently and will be upon you quicker than a blink in the hopes of a tasty treat. Highly food motivated but not starving by any means, she is still content to hang with humans - even if they don't have food to share. For the next few years, I am giving B'Elanna a break from breeding and raising kids and just letting her be a goat. The last year B'Elanna seems to have finally bonded with two other females in the herd and she is sometimes observed with them while browsing, so perhaps she'll become a goat one day yet. Until that day though, I hope she continues marching to her own drum and forging her own path, so she can continue to inspire me to do the same :) <3 Angee
This morning I woke feeling strange. I felt like I was in a different place, and it was a different day. I was discombobulated until I was dressed and smelling coffee. Ah! The simple clarity that comes with that beautiful cuppa morning joe! I did feel strange though. I took some quiet moments to go deep within and find my breath. I have learned that I need to ground and breathe if I am ever to function through my normal daily anxiety. I am so grateful that I now have these skills to help me. I wanted to examine this feeling I had, to determine if it was something I could fix. One thing I am learning to recognize in myself is that I do not like change. Change alarms me. It causes me to have immediate anxiety and my mind fills with all of the "what-if's" of a million possibilities. Change is inevitable however, so I continue to work at adapting to these strange times. I soon realized that I was actually quite comfortable, relaxed and calm. It was then I realized that there wasn't an issue within me, but that there was an issue with the changes that are happening around me! This was a HUGE ah-ha! moment this morning! This feeling was my body adjusting to the "new normal" that life had become. Today is Day 10 of my self isolation. This Covid-19 crisis has forever changed the world we live in. No one knows what tomorrow will bring, and we don't know when life will get back to normal. Will it? Do we want life to go back to the way it was before COVID-19? I see a lot of ways that our society needs to change and I think that there is an opportunity in front of us all to create a new "normal" Perhaps even one that is in balance and harmony, not only with our planet but also with each other? There is always a bright side to everything, and in this situation I am searching for it daily. Our news feeds all filled with fear based messages, panic buying, photos of empty stores and really sick people on ventilators. We are hit with the staggering numbers of infected and dying on an hourly basis now, and as this virus spreads it will only continue to get worse. We need to be mindful of how much we allow the things in our world that we can't change, to have a negative impact on us. We can choose to turn the screen off. We can choose to put our phones down and go outside. For my own mental health, I am choosing to limit the amount of time I allow myself to read the news and check in on the figures. The rest of the time I only allow myself to connect online with some of the local groups that are helping to connect and support people in my community. I have always been very passionate about my Muskoka community and it is so comforting to me now during all this uncertainty, to see my community come out to support one another. There are many wonderful groups that are being formed and people are staying connected, and finding ways to help and support each other, without coming into any contact with each other. Absolutely amazing and inspiring stories are out there and all around us. Choose to find them and brighten your own day! Better yet - find ways to spread joy and cheer to others. We all need as much of it as we can spread right now.
During my time at home, I have been making good use of decluttering areas of my life that need it. I am in the midst of an entire life declutter! I am working on going through all of my belongings and doing another purge. I am organizing the mess of my paperwork/receipt/mail/yuck mess a teeny tiny bit at a time. This is actually a daunting task for me as I am coning to terms with the fact that I legitimately have an issue with an abnormal fear of my mail. Sounds weird I am sure, but this is legitimate and very annoying in my life. I am working on fixing this during this time in isolation :) Basically I am working on decluttering my life physically, mentally and spiritually during this time. I know that I have a lot of personal work I can be doing and the universe just pressed "pause" on planet earth. So why not use this time to work on myself while I can't be working on helping others feel better? I am so grateful for this time because it has allowed me the break I have been desperately needing for many years. This forced down time is allowing me to reconnect with the herd. I can take them for a walk or into the bush to browse and we are all able to relax. For once there is no agenda for my herd. They get to go back to just "being". Amazingly, I realize that right now I too get to just "be". I can't control, or fix anything that is happening around me in the world. What I can do though I control my reactions to these new circumstances. I can encourage and inspire others. I can create new ideas and discover new possibilities. Likely for the next several weeks anyways, I intend the make the most of each and every second of this time I have been given. Although these are frightening times, if everyone does their part to stay home and not spread the virus, we will see the other side of this. I have started a list of all of the things that I want to do during this time, and the list grows each day. Although this entire situation is stressful and very scary, I am also seeing the golden opportunity that sits in front of each and every one of us. We can CREATE! <3
In the past week I have been reading posts and hearing from people in the community that say they are already suffering from boredom while they are in isolation at home. I struggle to understand this concept because I can't even recall the last time I was bored but I assure you I was likely in the single digit age. When we have been given this time at home, why not use it to our advantage and work on ourselves, our families, homes and personal environment? When will we have this opportunity in our lives again? We don't have to be scared and just sit around waiting and be BORED. We can make the best of it I say! So, for anyone who is reading this that finds themselves saying that they are BORED. I want to challenge you to consider some of the items on the following lists to see if you can try to be inspired to make some small adjustments or improvements in your life. (nothing on this list will lead you to binge watching anything)
Physical: How is your personal hygiene? Why not pamper yourself to a spa day? Pluck those eyebrows yourself (if you fail, they'll have time to grow back! ;) ) Google make at home face masks and try some out. Be cautious though as our healthcare system may not be able to assist you if you go overboard with experimenting! If you've often thought about starting an at home fitness routine, why not check out YouTube for a ton of different classes you can do from home for free. Personally, I am a HUGE fan and supporter of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube and recommend her to anyone who has ever considered adding a home yoga practice to their lives. She is an angel and truly gifted at what she does.
Mental: How are you? No really, how are you? Check in with yourself. What do you need? What can you do for yourself right now to help you fell your best? Now is the time for you. Do you meditate? What can you learn in order to help support yourself through this time?
Spiritually: Again, same questions as above. Check in with yourself. What do you need to do to fill your spiritual needs at this time? Is there a new practice you could explore or adopt that would help you?
Education/Training: Is there something you've always wanted to learn? A skill you've always wished you had? What are you waiting for? Now is the perfect opportunity for all of us to learn a new skill! With the internet at our fingertips we have a powerhouse of knowledge and possibilities in front of us. Learn something new. Put it to use if you can! How many times have we all said to ourselves "I'd love to learn ___ if I only had the time". Well...go for it! Want to learn to paint? Sew? Change your own oil? Do home renos? Learn Kung Fu? How about a second language? Really, why not?
Now might be the perfect time to repair relationships, strengthen communication and learn to come together as a stronger, healthier community. What relationships do you have in your life that need work? What can you do to start repairing them today? Is there someone you've lost touch with? Why not reach out now to try to reconnect? Do you know your neighbours? How can you help to connect your neighbourhood to support each other through these next few weeks and beyond? Do you know of people in your community that need help and support? Is there a senior you know that you can support? Is there someone you can call to reach out with a friendly "hello" of connection and support? What can you do in your community to help lift the spirits and encourage others to do so during this time of social distancing. None of us have to feel alone, but many of us will and do. If you are bored, I encourage you to reach out to someone who is likely lonely and afraid. Help shift their mood and you'll feel better too!
How is your home? Is it spotlessly clean? There's never been a better time for a full house disinfect! Do you have clutter in your home? Can you work at organizing your home and space more efficiently? Do you have items that you no longer need that you could use to trade or donate to others? What useful items can you find in your home that you can repurpose? Do you know someone that can use something you no longer need or use? Go through each room in your home to see what you can do to reorganize and create a new and healthier environment for your whole family. Once you've done the inside, go outside and do the same thing. How is your garage? Your yard? What about beyond your personal space? Are there things you can do in your neighbourhood while still practicing safe social distancing?
During these past 10 day, I have gone through some pretty wicked emotions at times. These are scary times! Energetically the air is alive with the negative emotions humanity is feeling. As an empath I feel almost physically battered, but on an emotional level. I can only control and change my direct environment though, so I will work to do that. I think that we all need to individually work to dispel this negative force, so that collectively we can make a shift happen. Although the first few days were especially rough as I wrestled with accepting the need to shut down my business and by doing so, cut off my income stream. Do I know how I will make ends meet? Nope. Am I resourceful, capable and gifted? Yes! So somehow I will find a way. We all will. Each day is a new opportunity to do something positive for ourselves, and also for others.
This past week has proven to be really interesting for me. I have had some of the BEST conversations! I have had to run a few essential errands to the feed store and to source a few items for my family so we can sustain during isolation. I have had some wonderful and authentic conversations with strangers from my community discussing ways that we can all stay connected and ensure we all pull through. I have also had some wonderful connections with my local neighbours, speaking to some for the first time as I am relatively new to this neighbourhood. I have been able to trade some of the eggs our hens produce for some hard to find yeast from one neighbour, and for fresh maple syrup from another. I have other neighbours that are soon to arrive from wintering in Florida and their needs and home have already been stocked by another neighbour so they can go straight home after crossing the border later this week. Everywhere I look I see people pulling together - it isn't all ugly greed, selfishness and virus fear out there. Each day I have heard or witnessed small miracles all around me that are helping me to remain positive and to not give in to the fear. There really is so much right in front of us everyday to remind us what is important in life. We can't change what is happening around us, but we can choose how we react to it. For me, I want to spend this time as wisely as I can. To me that means I will do my best to improve my self, my home, my environment, my relationships and anything else that comes to mind. I may not ever get an opportunity like this again. Seriously, I haven't had a vacation in twelve years and now I am forced to take some time. I am open and surrendering to it. The thought that came to my mind earlier today was that we have all been given a beautiful gift in which we can return to our childhoods and reimagine if we want, any change we want to make in our own lives. It is spring and soon we will be able to stop and smell the flowers - literally. We can fly a kite or climb a tree and go back to a simpler time for a little while. What a wonderful way to reset.
The little things in life really are the BIG things.
Stay safe everyone!
And PS - I am searching for a ukulele. If anyone has one lying around that they are not playing and would like to trade it for some farm fresh eggs or future services of mine, please hit me up! I would LOVE to take this time to learn to play the ukulele!
With love, Angee
Hey everyone, I may not return to the Goat of the Week stories for a few weeks yet. I am still struggling with the emptiness in my heart, and in my barn without Gigalo. Besides, at the moment there are plenty of other things for me to write about with all of the stress and fear everyone is feeling with the COVID-19 situation, myself included. It is hard not to be stressed when we are all impacted no matter where we live in the world. A week ago I was riding a wave so high I felt like things were turning around, and today I am faced with a very new reality. One where we may need to adjust to a new normal. Hopefully we can make a better new normal in the world!
This morning I woke extremely stressed. My heart and mind began racing the moment I opened my eyes. Worries about my loved ones at home and abroad filled my head. My mind racing in a thousand directions, I could feel my control over anxiety slipping. The best place I know when I am this stressed is to be with my animals or go into the forest. Where I live I have close access to both, of which I am so grateful. I stood out in the crisp morning air, listening to the sound of happy birds in the trees, and the soft nicker of my mare Cheyenne asking for her breakfast. While I stood there on my driveway, halfway to the barn, the sun on my face, a steamy cup of coffee in my hand, I took a very long and slow deep breath. I felt the rising fear and uncertainty of the current times dissipate and fade into the background noise of my brain. Anxiety is always close by for me, and it is something I work hard at keeping at bay. I instead focused on the sound my feet on the hard frozen ground while I continued walking. I felt the impact of my feet on the sturdy ground, the musical sounds of the birds, the crisp late winter morning smells on the breeze, the way my lungs felt as they filled with the frosty morning air. I took notice of how it felt to be alive and said some prayers in gratitude for my life. With the COVID-19 crisis literally all around us right now, it can become very overwhelming quickly if we spend too much time dwelling on the realities. Instead, I take stock of what is real around me. I think about what I can actually do in THIS moment as opposed to thinking about all of the things happening that I can't control. I remember that I am only able to impact my world directly through my own actions and that if I focus my energy on the things that I CAN do, I don't focus on the things I CAN'T do. One of the things I can do right now is continue to take care of myself to the best of my ability. Caring for myself ensures I can care for my family and community. I will admit I do not take the best care of myself yet but am going to make a few more changes to improve that.
As this virus continues to spread, none of us really know how long our lives will be disrupted. I don't believe there will be a single person left standing that is not impacted by this situation in some way. On a personal level, the COVID-19 outbreak is devastating to my business. I have had no choice but to cancel bookings, and shut down my entire operations. Financially this is a very scary reality and puts a huge strain on me, as I personally fund all of my operations, and we have a rather large herd to feed and care for. I am grateful that the snow is almost gone and the goats will be able to browse freely again soon, and the other large animals will be back on pasture. That will be a huge help and savings. This past weekend I managed to coax the goats into the bush and up the hill for a small walk so I know we are getting close :) I plan to use the next few weeks getting the herd back into shape for hiking season! As walking with my goats has been my life saving personal therapy for many years now, I can't tell you how passionate I feel about being able to get back to this activity. I am hopeful that we will be able to continue to operate so others can join me! The benefit of walking in nature with a large number of animals is pretty remarkable and is something that needs to be experienced personally. I have been so stoked and pumped that I am finally open for business and able to share the herd with everyone - and now this. SO! I think it is definitely time for a pause. The alternative choice is to risk exposure and spread of the virus which we do not want to do. So for the next couple of weeks I will have plenty of time to get caught up on all of the things I never have time for. I have separate lists for the farm and for my personal life, and I have already come up with a short list for where to get started and I plan to expand this list later as I come up with more ideas. This time in isolation will not be wasted! :) A few personal goals and plans I have to help me pass this time away:
* I may UNPACK!! I have lived out of boxes for two years now and been so disconnected from my stuff that I haven't even unpacked yet. I am hopeful that the majority of what I packed I now no longer want. I am excited to purge more from my life that I don't need. Moving so many times in recent years I have purged a lot and I am looking forward to doing more.
** I still have not hung any pictures on my walls. This goes along with unpacking - when I do that, I might actually hang up some pictures!
*** I may actually choose colours and paint my walls! Also a fun project that I am looking forward to.
**** Over the course of the last 10 years I have acquired a great deal of books that I have yet to find the time to read. I am longing to find all of these hidden un-cracked treasures and see what marvels hide within their pages :)
***** I have been saying for years that I would dedicate some real time to writing more. If this new pace for the next few weeks allows, I would like to write more, which means blogging more. I guess we will see where this one ends up.
****** Just last night I started a new 30 Day Yoga challenge. I want to continue to give myself at least that time every day to take care of my body. Yoga has impacted my life in such powerful ways I want to ensure I continue to dedicate time to my practice each day.
******* I am also choosing to dedicate more time each day for one on one time with my herd. The last few years as my herd numbers have increased I have noticed that I have less time to continue to connect and bond with them individually. This is one area I wish to improve greatly on as without my herd, I have no business to run. I owe them everything and they deserve my attention and care.
In the days ahead, I think it is imperative that we all remember that we are not alone. We are all feeling the same fear, and uncertainty. This is all new territory for everyone and we are all in this together. Even if we are experiencing quarantine or self isolation from recent travel, or if as a family you are choosing self isolation to do your part to stop the spread. We can all remain connected through our technology. We can pick up the phone and connect with our loved ones. We can skype or zoom, we can inspire and uplift each other online through our individual social media accounts. We can each individually make a choice to be a positive impact through these dark times. We can each individually find ways to better ourselves during this time of isolation so that when we all emerge afterwards, we are all stronger, better people. There are small and big ways that we can all make improvements in our own lives, in our relationships, in our interactions with our planet and with others. What a perfect opportunity we all have to make the best out of a terrible situation by choosing to improve ourselves during this time so that as a community we can be better and stronger together. Imagine if we all took use this time and use it in ways that improved our lives, made our families stronger and connected our communities in ways that we have yet to see. As scary as this virus is, it does come with a unique and beautiful gift that we all have been given to transform our society and humanity in ways that can really have a positive and lasting impact on our world. We can bring back a sense of community that has been missing when we reunite with our neighbours and share resources. When we connect online to support and share - even just in words, that say we are not alone in how we all feel right now. We can all use this time to come together and really reshape the world. I have a great deal of faith in humanity and I believe that when we work together there is no task that can't be accomplished. We are a highly skilled society and if we all work together to share the skills and resources we each individually have, we can get through these hard times. I love my Muskoka community and am already seeing the beautiful signs of my town coming together to support each other. I hope that wherever you are at this moment that you take in your surroundings and see what you can do to help. What can you do or offer to someone? We all have skills. We all have strengths. We all need to learn and recognize the strengths we all individually possess and as a community band together to make sure that we all come out on the other side of this health crisis stronger as a community. Let's all make a commitment to each other, that we will empower each other by pointing out each others gifts and abilities - as many of us do not recognize our own. Let's share the beautiful lights we can all shine and in shining together we all come through. I myself am committed to finding ways to uplift my community through these dark days. One thing I have ready access to is GOATS!!! I promise to fill your news feeds with goat pictures, goat videos and silly goat antics to help get you all through these days ahead. With all of the stress inducing news on our screens, we can use a healthy dose of goat joy. I am sending love out to all who are reading my words. Let's do all we can to help each other <3 In beauty, Angee
This week I have decided to take a pause, to not pick or write about another GotW in order to honour my boy Gigalo for one more week. For those who have not yet heard the news, my dear sweet Gigalo passed away peacefully. My heart is not in the right place for me to be able to focus on another goat at the moment while I mourn him, so rather than force it, I will take this week to reflect on things and update you all with the farm happenings and when everyone can expect baby arrivals for 2020. There has actually been a ton happening around the farm these days, and in my life in general, so an update kind of post is in order for this week.
So first I'd like to take a few moments to pay my respects to my dear Geordon, who would have celebrated his 53rd birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday to you my love <3 With Gigalos passing a few days ago, I have really felt Geordon's presence strongly here at the farm. While I held Gigalo during his last moments, I know I was not alone in the barn with him. It was actually quite a touching, the few moments I had to share with my sweet old (very smelly) man in the end. As I held his tiny body I was overcome by a sense of peace and love akin to what one would feel from a grandfather. I felt that Giggy knew it was time for him to move on, as I was now OK to continue to journey without him. I felt Geordon there beside me and knew that he had come to take Giggy home. There honestly are some moments in life that can never be put into words - those moments that are there for us, and us alone. To experience. To feel. To hurt. To learn and to grow. I think Geordon came to support me while I said good-bye, as he knew how hard it would be for me. Holding that space for Gigalo to take his last breath, I couldn't help but reflect back on his amazing life and just how grateful I was for being able to provide that for him. I know there are many that think I'm a nutter, but the service I give to my animals is out of love, gratitude and deep respect for who they each are. The well being of the herd is paramount to all of the work we do here, so when one of them passes away, it matters. I believe in honouring the life that lived rather than mourn too long for the passing of it. I know there is still joy within our memories that we can continually share, long after they've passed on.
I don't want to dwell on the sadness of the past week, I really want to focus on all of the amazing an positive things that have been happening here. I recently launched a new program I am calling "Goats on the Go!" and it is going better than expected. We have been visiting local retirement homes, residential homes, drop in programs, and almost anywhere else we are asked to come. The goats seem to be enjoying the outings as much as we are. Each day we go out we are bringing smiles and joy to people's hearts. We feel the excitement when we arrive - and within minutes you can fell it settling and becoming calm. Often by the time the hour is up, the goats are chewing their cud and even lying down with people for cuddles. Our biggest challenges to these visits are dealing with the excited energy when we arrive at a location - it often makes the goats a bit jittery, but they trust and take everything in stride knowing we (myself and my wonderful team) have their backs and that they are safe. We limit the length of time that each goat works (max 2 hours daily, with at least 1 hour break in between), as well as how many days they work per week. This ensures they are never over worked, overwhelmed, or stressed. Our other challenge to the visits is bathroom breaks. I train my goats to go to the bathroom on command so that they essentially "empty" outside, before going inside. When this works, my whole team is delighted!! The flip side to that is when we arrive and we have a mutiny and no one wants to go to the bathroom before we go in. Well then what? I love my team and they put up with a lot of shenanigans from me around here. Without them, the goats and I would be running wild through the streets! My team keeps things civilized ;) Accidents do happen, but they are rare.
So the last week around here has been very busy. Now that we are on the road and becoming active in the community, word is spreading. It is really exciting to watch something I have worked years towards, start to grow into what I dreamed of. In only a few short weeks I am already seeing the positive effects that my herd is having on the individuals we see regularly. I always try to take the same goats to the same repeat locations so that relationships can be built over time. In some circumstances there hasn't needed to be any time - those relationships were apparent, immediately. In the past several weeks my team and I have been moved to tears on multiple occasions by the magic we are witnessing. Saying I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my job would be an understatement. With the recent travels, word is starting to get around. In the past week we have been featured in the Bracebridge Examiner, on CTV News Barrie, and just this morning I did an interview on CBC Radio, Ontario Morning with Wei Chen. I will post all of the links to the media coverage below. It has been a very big week, with a great deal of exposure and excitement. Add the passing of Gigalo into the mix and it is no wonder that I am feeling a bit run down these days. I dream of a vacation. The barn feels so empty each and every time I go in there. I know that will pass with time. I try to hold onto the positive and amazing things happening with my business and dream, and know that Gigalo is proud of all of the work we are doing.
So 2020 is here, and with that is normally an announcement of when we can all expect the next batch of Sky River baby goats. This past winter and breeding season has been one for the record books for me. With the unexpected passing of my main herdsire Jose back in November. Without him to carry on my breeding plans it left me with very few options. I had intended to add a new buck this year anyways for this reason, but had wished for more time. Jose had other plans. So where does that leave us for babies this year? We still are not sure. I am hoping for confirmation of at least one pregnancy this week. Everyone will have to wait a bit longer, but at this point we know for sure that we will not have any baby goats born on the farm until July and into August. Animals are funny and no matter how much planning we try for, there are curveballs thrown our way you just can't prepare for in advance. I am desperate for confirmation of a pregnancy though. My herd has gone ballistic with hormones this winter. With no one bred, all of the does are now trying to be bucks to breed each other....It is not working. It is CHAOS somedays though! I long for warm sunny days and kicking this band of hooligans back outdoors again. I wish I had better news on the baby goat front, but it will have to wait just a wee bit longer. The warmer weather is upon us, the clocks have once again been changed (when will the insanity stop??), and I've noticed a great increase in birds returning to the area lately. I know that before long we will be full on into mud season on the farm - otherwise known as shedding season, or big spring clean up season.. Either way it guarantees the return of warm weather and that also means the return to our active on farm animal programs! I have big plans and new ideas that I am hoping to launch and introduce. With it all, I plan to stay positive and keep shining! In beauty ~ Angee
Bracebridge Examiner: https://www.muskokaregion.com/news-story/9872560--who-knew-they-would-be-such-a-hit-goats-aid-muskoka-s-mental-health/?fbclid=iwar3t97ldwlnzvxuwyzalrfzepzokvjnrku1wzfianqevdrrd8u42pg7jpnw
CTV News Barrie: https://barrie.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1916827&jwsource=fb&fbclid=IwAR0M-ClGXi0vfWVe7jTZ--K-fwtPDT4iqUk21LxlDnBFHhLYD8iL3vbmL_A
CBC Radio, Ontario Morning with Wei Chen: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-112-ontario-morning-from-cbc-radio/clip/15764693-ontario-morning-monday-march-9-2020-part-3?fbclid=IwAR1bQi-DgpNFYzxG6L4-umR5DrGS3vYRUrabuIJulKD8f5fvDkNhSNVvnxM
On this weeks edition of GotW, I am so honoured and pleased to introduce you to one of the most important men in my life. This little guy stands a whopping 18.5 inches tall and although he is heavy, I am sure that is just the weight of his amazingly impressive horns! This tiny little gentleman is sweet, gentle and so very level headed. Giggy as he is know here at the farm, was part of the inspiration behind my breeding program. Without him to do the important work of making babies with some carefully chosen ladies, we would not have the herd that we do today. This little guy is so special to me that he has even been immortalized forever on my shoulder as part of my tattoo work. Perhaps I'm a little more than goat crazy, but this little man is worth it. Gigalo has been retired for a few years now and I am sad to say that he is definitely showing the signs of his advanced age now. I fear my old boy may not see the spring, but I hope I am mistaken. The average life expectancy for breeding bucks is surprisingly low at about 8 years. My main man Gigalo here will turn 11 in April of this year. What a legacy this small but mighty buck has made for himself! Within my herd are his many times great grandchildren. He joined my herd and my life right back at the very beginning of my crazy idea about building a herd for the purpose of therapy work. He has witnessed the birth of many generations of his progeny come to be, and he has survived long enough for us to make a new home at an amazing new location. For Gigalo, I can't imagine anything else he would need in order to make his life complete.
I purchased Gigalo in the spring of 2011, along with our Herd Queen Bonnie from a friend and breeder in southern Ontario. That was back before the Nigerian Dwarf Goat became the highly sought after goats in Canada that they are now. Finding males or females for sale was rare at that time, so I jumped at the chance to buy both Bonnie and Gigalo. Little did I know that my friend Sue was very happy for my jumping and her unloading them both lol - I am sure that was all due to Bonnie though. Gigalo has always been a sweet and quiet little guy at my place. For many years Gigalo has kept the peace within the buck herd, always ensuring that the boys were all respectful to each other. Fights have rarely broken out amongst my boys over the years, and even though Gigalo has not been top dog in the herd for a long time now, it seems to me that all of the younger males respect and take care of Gigalo - in their way of course. If you track Gigalo's records on the CLRC, you can trace his progeny to many herds, including 4 of his sons that are herdsires for other breeders herds. Within my own herd, Giggy's grandson Cosmos replaced him when Gigalo was retired from breeding, and his daughter Cassiopeia was one of our main foundation does, who has since also been retired and two of her daughters have taken her place to continue on the lines within our herd. Nine years later it amazes me to see how solid the temperament on this little mans genetics are, and that many generations down the line it is still evidenced each and every kidding season by his progeny and descendants here, as well as on other farms.
Over the years on the farm Gigalo was almost like a hidden secret. UNless you came to visit us at the farm, chances are you didn't even know about him. Due to his horns we were unable to show him as it against show rules, so unlike my other boys that were able to compete and earn titles, Gigalo was not. His Grandson, Sky River Meadows Cosmos on the other hand did very well in the ring winning 1 Grand Champion leg and 3 Reserve Champion legs to date. I honestly don't think Giggy would have placed well in the ring anyways. I chose Giggy for his brains not his confirmation. He sure is a cutey though, and always has been a gentleman. Over the years Giggy has done some crazy things to keep it interesting having a buck with horns like his. I will never forget the year he used those impressive horns to push himself THROUGH the page wire fence to access the girls on the other sie. We were already well into our breeding season by that point and had to intervene on a few unwanted breedings. My boys have always kept me on my toes and with the biggest learning curve too. Trying to stay 10 steps ahead of raging testosterone such as theirs during full rut is a challenge some years. I've been grateful for Giggy's leadership amongst the boys - cool level head and all. As much as I love this old man, I do know that a day will come soon when I will have to say good-bye to him. As sad as I will be when that day comes, I know I will not mourn him for long. His legacy is incredible and within my herd are many pieces of the great Gigalo, who's incredible amber coloured eyes and amazing calm personality shine through. When the day comes that this great king passes away, his children, grand children and many times great grandchildren will be here to remind us all of him. Until then my Gigalo, enjoy your continued retirement and please never stop strutting your stuff <3