I cannot even begin to express how excited I am to write about this weeks GotW! This little man has the biggest heart in the tiniest body. Our wee Bilbo, as he is affectionately known, is one of our "dwarf dwarf" goats. Now that he is full grown, he stands at a whopping 10.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs all of 18 pounds. Don't let the diminutive size of this handsome wee man fool you. His heart is bigger than you can imagine! He is ALWAYS smiling. He is ALWAYS willing to cuddle or be groomed. He has quite a way with the ladies of both human and goat species, and he is always playful and full of joy. Bilbo is also a very important member of our Goats on the Go! program, where during the winter months we visit those who are in need of some special cheer and love. This program and the special goats and volunteers who work in it, are a very important part of how we reach those who are not able to come to us at the farm. This is especially true for those who are faced with mobility issues and challenges.
Bilbo was born at the end of our kidding season in 2017. His mother, Soleil (also affectionately known as Mamacita) had blessed us with our very first set of quadruplets. Bilbo and his three sisters came into the world with some difficulty. It turns out that Soleil had conceived two sets of twins and they had all become entangled inside. As tiny as Soleil was, I had to go "in" to untangle the kids and deliver them safely. Bilbo came out first and was feisty from his first breath. He was also the smallest of the four babies by a very noticeable margin. This made naming him VERY easy considering that my naming theme for 2017 was Lord of the Rings, he needed a Hobbit name for sure. Bilbo it was! Initially I thought that Bilbo was the only dwarf dwarf of the four kids. It wasn't until a few months had passed that we realized all four of them were extra small. Of course by this time, one of Bilbo's sister's (Sky River Meadows Rosie Cotton) had left us to join another wonderful herd (http://www.happyhensheritagefarm.ca/), leaving us with the remaining kids that we have since always referred to as the "broken quads" since they are only three here at Sky river Meadows. I retained Bilbo and his remaining sisters to ensure that they would not be bred (due to health concerns as well as their own safety) I am so grateful to be building myself a life and career path that also allows me to do right by my animals, while still ensuring that I can afford to care for their needs. The work my herd does with people has nothing to do with whether or not they have the perfect conformation, or if they are the best example of their breed. If anything, it is that inability to reproduce that seems to make them perfect for this type of work. Thus far, Bilbo is the only one out of his immediate family that works in the Goats on the Go! program. That may one day change as we are quickly realizing that we do not have enough house broken goats in our herd and we are working to rectify that by beginning to train some others.
As today is Family Day here in Canada, I thought it would be nice to talk about an interesting observation that I have made from spending countless hours watching my herd interact as their own community. One fact always stands out over and over. They bond closely with their family units, and close friends become as family - just like in our own society. Bilbo's family is one of the best examples of these family bonds in my herd. I will speak of this more when I write about his mother later in the year. When I observe Bilbo, I can say with certainty that he is most closely attached to his twin sister Gilraen. They are never far from each other and most often found sleeping together. He is quite close with Galadriel as well and she is the perfect substitute for cuddles if Raen is busy. The quads have an older sister named Star Trek (born a singleton), and she watches over them all. The entire family sleeps together at night, as is shown in this photo. I have countless photos just like this of them all always sleeping together - or as in this one - sitting together, proud and smiling :) Seriously, how cute are they?
When it comes to Bilbo, I have to admit that there are so many stories to tell. I find it difficult to chose what to tell on this post. Funny, he had no input or advice to offer on the subject either.... When I think about Bilbo, the first thing that comes to my mind is his smile. Seriously - THAT SMILE THOUGH!!! This little tiny goat, with his huge heart and $1,000,000 SMILE, has stolen more hearts than even I am aware. In his 3.5 short years of life, I have witnessed Bilbo heal many hearts - including mine, multiple times. He has brought people together. He has helped a family learn to laugh together again. He helped spark and ignite love between two lost souls. He brought joy and inspiration to many entrepreneurs at business engagements and corporate events. Now be brings his charm, humour and good nature to those we visit in our Goats on the Go! program. How can anyone not smile when they see him coming towards you in his best dressed tie! Bilbo is just timid enough to make everyone want to comfort him, and because he is SO small, many think he is a baby goat. He is in fact smaller than all of the baby goats in our current travelling band, but he is indeed full grown. What a Superstar! For such a young little guy though, he sure does have an impressive resume already. Now that we are actively engaging with people almost daily, we are able to spread this amazing gift of animal love and connection to so many. The benefits are actively going both ways all the time. Each person we meet seems to be impacted in a positive way. For each heart, soul, and smile touched, I see the positive effects it also has on my herd, and most definitely has on my team. I am not excluded from that positive energy either. It fills me heart and soul. I have found my purpose and life path, and finally know that it is not wrong of me to spend so much time with animals. It is in fact essential to the work that I do, and an instinctual part of "WHO I AM". It feels good to honour myself, and to honour my four legged friends by helping to share the messages and gifts they each have to share. As spring draws closer, we also get close to the time when we can start walking with the herd again. Even Bilbo enjoys going off on many grand adventures! ;)
OH! One other thing that I absolutely MUST write about when it comes to Bilbo. He has the CUTEST BUTT EVER!!! When he walks, or skips happily along - seriously, cutest butt ever!! If you didn't catch the Instagram or Facebook post announcing this blog entry, be sure to go check out a quick 10 second video :)