First. let me take a moment to acknowledge each and every one of you who take the time to read my words. Knowing some of you do read these posts helps to keep me on track, and dedicated to my own commitment to write these posts, but most importantly it helps me to stay true to my commitment to myself. Thank you for that, I need the push right now. Some days daily. For that I thank you, and send my loving gratitiude to you all <3
Lately it has been getting a bit more challenging for me in choosing a theme for my blog. The world is spinning in such chaotic circles at the moment, defining ONE theme when so much is happening.... when so much can be said.... so much confusion, pain, anger, hate, division.... Looking around the world, in the news and in our own home communities, I am seeing widespread FEAR. An emotion that most of us would rather not face or ever feel. This is something that we, in white priveldged western society, have been very privledged to be protected from due to the service men and women willing to stand up to protect us. Fear itself is in fact an emotion, and like all emotions, they exist to give us information that is vital to our survival, and overall well-being. I will definitely get into that much more later on in this post. For now, let me introduce my GotW. This absolute darling, sweet, young man is SRM Remus. I chose him to go along with this week's theme due to his own struggles with processing his own fear, and how he has worked through so many of those issues. Young Remus was born sensitive to the energy and emotions of others, and was also a bit delayed in developing when compared to his peers, which added some additional challenges to his early months.
Remus and his beautiful twin sister Nymphadora, were born on May 17, 2018. They were the first kids born during my "Harry Potter" naming theme. Remus originally started out as being called "Newt", but I eventually settled on naming him Remus - the decision always comes down to the personality having to fit the character name from my theme (nerdy, I know). They were born just a few weeks prior to our major farm move to the Woodfield True Nature Campus property, and at a very exciting and rather unstable time. This unfortunately for Remus, added to the challenges he was already facing. When Remus was born, his umbilical cord was caught up with his sister, and as she was born first, he became oxygen deprived for a brief time during the birthing process. This may have caused some lasting damage to Remus's cognitive abilities. I don't think many visitors ever notice anything different about him. For me, it often just appears that Remus takes longer to process information than the rest of the herd. Therefore it often looks like Remus behaves with a bit of a delayed reaction - or in some cases, a VERY delayed reaction. Often when he was quite young, by the time Remus would react to a situation, his herd has already fled, leaving him behind and running frantic to catch up. I do believe that during the first few months of his life, these delays caused undue fear stress to be more active in his life than his herdmates. When we moved, the entire herd had to adjust to a completely knew and unknown environment. We moved from a forest setting to a vast open sky. It was a pretty hard transition for my gang and for the first few weeks they were quite afraid to venture out into the open. Herd animals, like goats, have horizontal pupils that give them an amazing 350 degree visual range. However the downside to this is no vision above their heads, making them very vulnerable from above. This change was hard on them all and it took weeks before I could walk my herd out in the open after the move. For weeks every time a large bird flew overhead and cast a shadow while we were out on a walk, the entire herd would all flee back to the safety of the barn - leaving Remus behind of course. Each time this happened, I think poor Remus was traumatized a bit. I was there so he was never in any actual danger, but I don't think he felt that way about it, and besides, nature doesn't agree with us silly humans anyways. :)
Due to the potential brain injury he suffered, Remus took a lot longer to learn things such as the simple routine of where he was fed twice a day, and how we generally worked with the herd. Most goats can learn something with three repitions if they are willing and curious - which almost all are. With Remus however, due to no fault of his own, there are parts of our routine that I am not sure he will EVER learn. For example, something I witness him do OFTEN. At feeding time, we put all the grain bowls down in a seperate area and then let the herd in to eat. This happens almost every time unless I specifically intervene. Remus will be facing the opposite direction the herd is, so he won't notice the gate open, or the herd leave. He will continue to just stand there while everyone else has left, and is eating. Eventually he will turn around, and panic because everyone is gone! He has missed out on meals because of this, so I try to be diligent to make sure he is paying attention before opening the gate. This is not so much an issue for Remus now that he is 2, but when he was smaller the other kids his age bullied him relentlessly. It seemed to me that he was an easy target. I don't stand for bullying of any kind and that includes within my herd. I do have a few bullies and Remus's own mom Maisie is the biggest and meanest bully I have in the herd. Part of the training the herd gets is also in being kind to each other - which they are happy to oblige with as long as I am within eyesight for the most part. You can't blame a goat for being it's true nature, and goats do enjoy a good fight afterall!
For weeks now, due to the pandemic, as well as a multitude of other issues, we have been inundated with the emotion of fear. Fear of a virus. Fear of recession. Fear of more lockdowns, more restrictions, etc. For some, there is even worse fear of racism or even being murdered by the very people paid to protect us. Currently there is violence and unrest across the entire globe, as well as a plethora of things in our daily lives that will cause us all to feel fear. So what does fear want us to know? What is the messge in fear? The messge in fear is: There is an imminent threat to one's physical, mental, emotional or spiritual well being. So how do you honour your fear when you feel it? You ask the questions: "What is the threat?", "What must I do to move to a position of safety in relation to that threat?" We all have had to make adjustments in our lives to deal with the new threats facing us in 2020. We know there is a virus that threatens us, so we take precautions, we socially distance, we wear a meask etc. Once we take actionable steps to reduce the risk to ourselves, we need to allow the emotion (fear in this case) to move through us. When we hang on to the emotion it will intensify. In the case of fear, it will intensify into anxiety, confusion, sleeplessness, dulling of the senses, panic, terror, dissassociation and other physical and emotional effects. Animals are amazing teachers in that they can give us perspective in order to normalize so much for us. Humans are funny in how we over analyze or even make assumptions instead of just asking questions, seeking information and making necessary decisions based on that information. When learning about emotions with animals as our teachers, we open ourselves to wonderful opportunities of observing how they deal with situations and compare it to our own lives. As I was saying earlier, emotions are there to give us vital information about the world around us. Each emotion has a message to give us, and we honour our emotions when we receive that messge, and then make decisions and sometimes changes based on that information. A very wise teacher of mine explained it to me this way, that emtions are E Motions. E = ENERGY, in motion. In other words, emotions are like water, and therefore they flow. When we hold onto them instead of moving through them, we become stuck in them and then those emotions can, will and do intensify. Those emotional intensifications can lead us to illness, and ultimately immune deficiency which is not something any of us need during the a pandemic.
As humans though, we love to intervene against nature and force things to go a different way. The same could be true for me nurturing Remus instead of letting nature do it's thing. If I had done that though, I never would have had the last two years of observing how his delayed start has delayed his maturity but did not stop him from getting there eventually. His reaction time now at 2 years old is more like a 10 second delay, so he does show vast signs of improvement. The same can be said of other special needs animals on my farm too though :) I bring attention to this now as we have all been living in intense fear for weeks and it is having a negative effect on each of us. Long term exposure to certain things will have an impact and lasting effect. When we hang onto fear long term without honouring it and moving through it. we actually begin a slow process of traumatizing ourselves which can lead to PTSD. It is like the analogy of the pot and the frog if you are familiar? Try to drop a frog into a put of already boiling water, the frog will immediately jump out to safety. But take the same frog and place it in cool water, slowly bringing it to a boil, that frog will sit there and slowly boil to death never making a move to save itself. We've all been sitting with fear for 10-12 weeks depending on when you chose to isolate. We are the frog in the pot and it is causing lasting damage on a cellular level in our bodies. Out of love, I want to draw attention to this for each of you, so that you individually have the opportunity to examine your own lives, and emotions to see if you are holding onto emotions, or are you finding a way to adapt and find solutions to the direct new problems in your life. It is only through making adjustments to our lives, and the things that fear brings awareness to, that we can move through the emotion of fear. Sorry that was a lot.
So let me bring dear Remus back into the story for perspective. As Remus had a delayed start and needed longer to mature and develop, I had a lot of extra time to learn and observe his unique challenges. As a prey animal, goats by nature have a more heightened and sensitive flight or fight response. Although Remus's natural responses were delayed, they were still intact. He would eventually respond and react. Yes, it was consistently a good 15 to 30 seconds after the rest of the herd reacted, but he did REACT. I guess what fascinates me is that in nature poor Remus would have been chosen by naturel selection to fail. He likely wouldn't have made it through the first week. That is just a fact of natural life.
My point with this is that even if we struggle with certain parts of our existence for a time, it doesn't mean we won't get there eventually. Learning, gaining understanding, and personal growth are never instantaneous. We must always remember to be patient with ourselves. We are only children in this life. We are here to learn some very important lessons before we can attain that higher place in our souls journey. In all things natural, there is balance and a rhythm to things. Perhaps what may help indivdually to find balance is to go right back to the basic building blocks. Humans are animals - fact. We are of this planet and a natural being just like so many other beautiful natural beings. For me personally. when life gets overhwleming, I break it down to the simplest form and build back up from there. I immerse myself in as much nature as I can find and ask myself some very important questions. What can I personally change? What can I do? How can I help or make an impact? How can I be better? These are all realistic questions we can ask ourselves to stay more present in the current moment, and not get overwhelmed by the things that we just can't personally impact within our natural limits. We are only human after all. We all only have one brain, two hands, two feet and the same number of hours in a day. Some days we are strong and other we are not. Some days our mental clarity may be astounding and others we feel like our brains are stuck in cement. Life and all natural rhythms have an ebb and flow. Find your flow and be gracious, gentle and loving to yourself. These are hard times for each and every one of us. Let's love ourselves, and love each other, and together we will all get through this. I am always here for anyone who feels I can help or guide them in any way.
Sending out so much love to you all, now and always. <3 ~ Angee
I am very excited about this weeks edition of GotW. It is not every day that I get to announce a new arrival to the farm. Getting this little man has been so many years in the making, that it makes for an interesting story as well. As a sufferer of depression and anxiety, I find it especially important during these hard times, to personally reflect and examine just how farm some goals and projects have really come. When depression is at it's worst, I think that it is easy to FEEL like you aren't getting anywhere. So when it comes to Romeo here, I am super excited as he is daily proof to me of the progress my farm has made, which is actually helping to inspire me once again. Before I get into all the ruminations of my mind for this weeks blog story, let me introduce this gorgeous boy. When I suddenly lost Jose last year, my breeding program took a major blow, and I knew I needed to begin the search for a new herd sire. As I knew eventually this day would come I already had an idea in my mind for where I would be looking. Although only 12 weeks old now, when he matures he will be the lucky daddy to many future therapy goats. Adding him to my herd is exciting enough, but when I really sit and consider who he is and where he came from, that is where I am blown away by the progress only a few short years and a lot of hard work can make. Looking at him actually brings me pride, as I see his daddy in him, but also his grand daddy, my dear Gigalo who recently passed away. Romeo is like a missing puzzle piece returned home after so many years :) Please give a big welcome to Happy Hens Heritage ROMEO!!!
Although I don't like to look remain forward focused, when telling a story it is inevitable that digging in the past will occur. I have learned to embrace this process as part of how I release the stress and sadness I carry. Combining my stories with those of my animals as an avenue for sharing makes it easier for me somehow.
So, Romeo's story begins in 2014 when I had to make the hard decision to sell over 40 animals that I would rather not have, in order to make financial ends meet after Geordon died. Fortunately for me I was able to sell the majority of my animals to wonderful new homes with families that were homesteading. As I was also mentoring some of these families, it allowed me to stay connected in the hopes of one day having an opportunity to purchase from them. SRM Merak through a roundabout path, ended up on a lovely farm in Harriston, ON where he worked diligently as the Herdsire for Happy Hens Heritage Farms ( http://www.happyhensheritagefarm.ca/ ) for many years. SRM Merak (aka Ralphie) has enjoyed his final breeding season and is now retiring, which makes Romeo his last son. I have always adored Merak and I am so honoured to have his son here with me now. Romeo's mother BNB Honey, also has ties to SRM, as she is the daughter of my dear sweet SRM Cordelia who now lives in Gooderham, ON at Bedrock and Brambles ( https://www.bedrockandbrambles.com/ ). The temperament that I worked hard to achieve in my own herd, beautifully transferred to these new herds. So, my young Romeo is the combination of all of our work, and it fills me with pride to now own this gorgeous young buck. I was blessed to be able to have a quick visit with my dear friend Marina when I picked Romeo up from her farm the other day. It was fun to reminisce about when she started her herd years before, and how I said back then that one day I could be buying from her. I can't explain to you how proud I am to say that day came! PROGRESS!! It seems full circle to me, and it is an amazing feeling. Speaking with Marina and hearing about the success of her farm business, and future farm plans makes my heart smile. I love seeing the growth. <3
Continuing to peer a little into the past, I am so happy to see how far I have come, not only in getting my farm business off the ground, but also just in accomplishing this insane idea I had all those years ago to build this herd in the first place. I remember how inspired I was when I began, and spending time bonding with wee Romeo here over the last few days, brings me inspiration once again. We are now all living in new times with brand new challenges. I have to face the reality that my previous business plan may now no longer fit into the new COVID-19 world in which we all live. That means I get to go back into "dreamer mode". That place I tend to go to in my head where I dream up all kinds of crazy ideas - such as when I came up with the idea to create my herd. Now that I have accomplished that, I am free to dream up WHERE my herd and I can go from here. I am fully aware of the fact that my Goats on the Go! program may be a thing of the past and therefore I need to start dreaming for a future that once again is full of the unknown. I think the key to finding our own happiness is in chasing our own individual dreams and embracing it. Our society unfortunately puts a lot of pressure on us to perform in ways that don't always allow many of us to realize those dreams. Fear, stigma, the pressure and expectations from others, are just a few of the barriers we all face. Perhaps the challenge is in remembering what used to ignite us with inspiration and finding a way to connect to those things again. I know one thing for certain, there have been times in my own life when my depression was so oppressive that I literally needed a fire to ignite it and burn it away. Each time I have found my way out of the darkness of my depression, it has been due to a spark of passion that ignited a fire within me. When I see how my passion can ignite a fire in others, it makes me want to do more. That has become my new focus. I am hoping to plant some seeds of inspiration, in the hopes that the positive energy it creates will cause a ripple that will ignite passion in others as well.
Sky River Meadows will soon reopen it's doors in a limited capacity. These changing times are forcing me to once again get creative. I am in love with my Muskoka community, and have always felt blessed to live here. Everyone is so supportive and has been working hard to help each other out during this difficult time. I realize that I am not the only one who's small local business is suffering and having to make some hard decisions and changes. I have at my disposal an incredible farm with beautiful outdoor spaces in which to host a variety of connective and engaging experiences, as well as a very willing and engaging herd who also loves new challenges and experiences. This means that for the first time I am open to considering ideas for collaboration with other local people. Do you have an idea for an activity or program that we can co-create together with my herd? I would LOVE to hear from you!! I have always loved connecting with fellow dreamers. The entrepreneurial spirit that drives so many of us into pursuing our passions, has an energy all it's own. I would love to combine those energies and efforts to create something even more incredible! I have already begun to plan and dream with a few special local individuals and I can't wait to make some announcements in the coming days about the new offerings coming to the farm. If you've ever toyed around with an idea involving any or all of my goats, now is the time to reach out and tell me about your ideas. I think that when we get together to dream like we once did as children, we can reignite a spark in each other. Perhaps now is the time perfect to talk and dream with our loved ones. Reconnect with the things that once brought you joy, but maybe you've somehow lost, and see if by reconnecting to those things you can also ignite a fire within yourself. If anyone wants to have a chat about reconnecting with those things you've lost, please feel free to hit me up! Let's work together to find whatever will make you shine again! If we put all of the scary parts of our current world aside, what remains is still a beautiful opportunity to create a new way forward. We can make changes and choices now that can change our world for the better. Like this beautiful buckling Romeo, who is a great example of combined efforts, let's see what else we can co-create in this world together. <3
With much love ~ Angee
Happy Victoria Day everyone! On this week's edition of GotW I have chosen a herd member who exemplifies what it means to be resilient. A survivor who continues to defy the odds and seemingly also Death. My dear CC, who has been riding the waves of a compromised immune system for a few years now due to some health issues, continues to fight to live, against all the odds. Just this past week I was once again convinced that it was her time to leave. This has been the dance that CC and I have danced together DAILY for over a year and a half now. Once a high standing member of the SRM herd, CC had a brush with death and dropped straight to the bottom of the pecking order and has remained there ever since. One example of how nature has it's own set of rules and no human interference or meddling can alter those natural laws. As I've been struggling through my own issues during this pandemic, I draw so much daily inspiration from this little fighter. Against all the odds and after enduring some pretty terrible pain through some of it, I know many people who wouldn't have any fight left in them, but yet she continues. No matter how tired I get, no matter how depressed I may be. If CC can keep on fighting, then dammit so can I! Each day is a battle for everyone at the moment. I try to remember I am not alone, and that this too shall pass.
Funny, but sometimes I feel a compulsion to begin these stories with Once Upon a Time... ;) These aren't fairy tales, though some may disagree. I purchased Further C.C. Rider WAAAAY back when I first started my breeding program. She had genetics that I was excited to acquire, but there was also something about her personality that appealed to me. She had this aloof way about her, like a "what the heck are you looking at?" attitude. I liked that lol. With the crazy ideas I had to create my herd, I knew I needed all kinds of personality types, and I really liked CC's style lol. She has challenged me from the very first day she arrived here all those years ago, and she continues even to today. THIS photo --> grabbed only moments ago, is THE CC stink eye. If she fires THIS at you (and she likely will), you better believe she is checking you out lol. Personally I think her grudge with me started on the day I picked her up to bring her home. On that day, she was tattooed and tossed into a trailer for a very long ride to arrive to her new home in the dark. This is not the preferred way to introduce yourself to a new friend, but it is the way mine and CC's relationship began so there is no help for it, but to work towards earning her trust from that point forward. When acquiring livestock, sometimes you have to travel a ways to get what you want. I have worked every single day to earn this ladies respect, and some days I am pretty sure I still don't have it yet LOL! You would think that in 8 years I'd have made some progress.
CC was bred to give me babies in 2013. She delivered two beautiful bucklings, but had a very difficult delivery. This was the first sign that CC had some underlying health issues that were just starting to present themselves. The two bucklings CC gave birth to that year, (SRM Apollo, and SRM Merak) were both sold as breeding bucks to other farms - a real bonus for those owners! Sadly for my breeding program though, as CC has not been in optimal health ever since that year, and therefore unsuitable for breeding in my program, she has been retired and I have lost her genetic line. I continue to work with CC in the hopes she will regain her full health, but until then I continue to dance her game with Death with her. One of the hard parts about farming is that sometimes no matter what you do to plan or prepare, there will always be surprises and setbacks. Often this lifestyle has a very raw edge to it, especially that fine line between life and death. As I have had to bury three beloved animals since November, I am not in a hurry to lose CC as well and fortunately for me she is a superior fighter! It just so happens that after a few years, I have finally found a way to get some of those lost bloodlines of CC's back into my herd! That exciting news will be announced very soon in the coming weeks!
So back to CC and her ongoing health battles. What started as a simple worm load one summer, became an ongoing battle with a skin condition, to a false positive test for CAE (Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis), to a full blown diagnosis of Polio-encephalitis which is normally fatal. CC's poor body has gone through the wringer over the last several years and sometimes it takes everything I have to keep her going. During the last 1.5 years of her life though, I have resigned myself at least half a dozen times that she was on her way out, just to have her bounce back over and over again! Our most recent scare was just over a week ago when one morning CC was suddenly down again, unable to get up. Her body temperature had plummeted again but this time she was severely anaemic all of a sudden too! The anaemia has been a completely new challenge she is throwing at me but once again she is winning the battle! I am very fortunate to have an arsenal of farm medical supplies on hand at all times for just this reason. The biggest health issue for CC at the moment is that she is still so weak and immune compromised, she tends to pick up anything and everything running through the farm. She battles pneumonia a couple times a year as well as her lungs are very prone to lung worm. Both of these issues have taken a huge toll on her physically and yet she continues to fight on. One of the other complications of the polio is that she suffers from permanent partial blindness now, and she is always just a little bit "off balance". As she continues to have ongoing relapses of the polio, CC is carefully monitored daily so her ongoing needs can be attended to. As CC prefers to be left entirely to her own devices unless she CHOOSES to spend time with you, my constant attentions to her health, plus the ongoing needles she receives for treatment, ensure that CC and I will likely always have a warring relationship. That's OK though. I think it is a small price to pay to have her around here. My farm would NOT be the same without CC.
Affection from CC is rare.....kind of like respect from her actually, come to think on it lol. The photo to the right was taken by my Grandson's mother several years ago and it is my ALL TIME favourite photo ever taken of me, as it perfectly captured a moment of PURE BLISS that I will never forget in my lifetime. It was during the summer and CC had recently recovered from a bad bout of pneumonia. I had spent many hours with her over several days, fighting to keep her going. I think this moment was about 4 or 5 days after she was fully recovered and back with the herd. We were all hanging out in the yard with the goats - as is a common activity at my place, when CC walked directly over to me and offered me this beautiful "HUG" that I know in my heart was a thank you from her. It was a turning point in my relationship with CC for sure, but she still doesn't trust me lol. That was only one of many battles we've fought over the years and to date I think I have earned a total of 3 CC hugs. This photo captured the first and best one. Anyone who volunteers or spends time here and gets to know the herd, learns about CC pretty quickly. She is truly one of the most elusive goats in the herd. Unlike Han Solo though, who is hyper sensitive so prefers to not be touched, CC actually enjoys affection! You just have to convince her you won't poke her with a needle at the same time! The poor girl has been poked and prodded so often I can't help but completely understand how she feels and so I completely respect her boundaries and only do what is necessary and with as little stress to her as possible.
As far as animals that inspire me go, CC is high up on the list. Ever since she joined my herd I have enjoyed her authentic personality. She is excellent at setting boundaries and has been an amazing teacher to me very recently again about the importance of setting boundaries. Some people are only interested in what you have to give them, and not offer you anything in return. Those kinds of relationships are very unbalanced and not healthy. I'm a bit slow at times but I am learning to recognize and change these patterns in my own behaviour. CC always seems to help me recognize and find a way to stand up for myself and my own needs as well. Another thing she reminds me of daily is that as I care for her I need to be remembering to care for myself. Self love is still something I am working towards. I admire this little goat so much. Her self assuredness, her absolute ZERO F@CKS GIVEN attitude. I have to admit, that during this pandemic CC's attitude has become a bit of a problem. When I have the herd out hiking lately, it is as if CC knows since we aren't working she can go wherever she chooses. it just so happens that the herd doesn't like to be separated so everyone follows her! It is infuriating and a few times recently she has led me on a wild goat chase when, without warning, the herd takes off in the opposite direction I was headed. Gee thanks CC!! Then I am left running after them! Grrr somedays I tell ya lol. I have been threatening to put a leash on her to keep her in line but as of yet most of my threats remain pretty hollow around here lol. I am just thrilled that somehow CC continues to find the will to keep fighting and pushing through everything life brings her way. I know one day her time will come, but it's not yet! Keep on shining C.C Rider! <3 Much love ~ Angee
In honour of Mother's Day, I wanted to post my blog a day early, so that I could give a shout out to all of the Mother's, the Grandmothers, and the nurturers of the world, and also to our beautiful Great Mother Gaia, that supports all life. During this pandemic our dear planet has been taking a break and some much needed rejuvenating. Even the wildlife have come out of hiding to see where all the humans have gone! I also wish a Happy Mother's Day to the father's who take on the challenge and lovingly play both roles. I have been blessed to have many wonderful women in my life that have filled this role over the years, and perhaps even likely more than most. Each of the Mother's in my life hold a very special place in my heart, and I send out my love to you all today <3 Each one of you has had a part in shaping me into the woman I am today. Some of the lessons that some of you have shared with me have made me stronger and more resilient than ever. I am a better person for the influence you have each had on me. Thank you for giving me life. Thank you for supporting and believing in me. Thank you for challenging me. Thank you for encouraging me when I lost my way. Thank you for the hugs, the kisses, the I love yous, the bedtime stories, the crying shoulders, the listening ears, the words of wisdom, and unwavering support. Your belief in me holds me up, especially so on the days that I don't believe in myself. Thank you all for your loving support <3 My heart and soul are full of love and respect to each of you today. <3
When I first decided to start telling these GotW stories, I knew there would be challenges as some stories are harder to tell than others. In order to keep things as real as possible when I share the interactions I have with my herd, I just keep everything coming from my heart and it becomes so much easier. Perhaps some things I share may make people scoff, or even laugh at me, but I hope that in the balance of everything, the scales tip towards making hearts lighter and smiles bigger with what I share. I have learned that no matter what you do in life, there will always be someone ready to knock you down, so always be true to yourself no matter what. I have not kept it secret that I have been going through some things and struggling lately, but I have not shared why as of yet. There is not a single person on the planet that isn't going through something during this pandemic. I think stress, depression and collective emotional trauma are at an all time high on a global scale. This is MY blog though. I created it as a outlet and my personal space for doing just this. Anyone can create a blog and I welcome others to do so :) If I am to hold true to me and my mission then that means I must be my true, vulnerable and authentic self, so I shall share. I was recently knocked down hard by someone I have loved and trusted as a best friend for a good portion of my life. Some days I am tempted to turn bitter and let it change me, but I won't. My heart was deeply broken by this person that I thought was incapable of such hurt towards me, and I am still shocked to even write it weeks later. My open heart sure is a great big target sometimes. The lockdown, shutting my business doors and the loss of my best friend all happened simultaneously, which to be quite honest, led me into the darkest depression I've been in for years. This time around it is much different though, as I am now in possession of some very powerful tools to help me through the dark days. Feeling the difference as I process through my emotions, I now stand in a place of self love and that makes all the difference in the world. I am actually in awe and proud of how much stronger I am this time around. I KNOW I am a good person and someone else's opinion of me is no concern of mine. I will stay true to me and my heart. I KNOW I was a good friend, and I have no regrets for the wonderful years we shared. I've come to a point in my life where I am no longer tolerant of BS. Perhaps I should have gotten here sooner, but this lesson will not be one I forget. Besides, there is no time like the present to learn from past mistakes and set new and clear boundaries moving forward, and so I shall! :)
OK well enough of that! In order to make this Mother's Day post make sense, I guess I should get on with it eh? One of the Mother's I was addressing above is actually also this weeks GotW. My dear Soleil, whom I very lovingly refer to as "My Mamacita", is literally one of my most dearest herd members. She is who I go to when I am in need of deep comfort. When I sit with her, I feel like I am surrounded by ALL of the Mother's of my heart. Her heart is special, and she has a very unique gift that I am still trying to unlock and explore, which I will explain in greater detail later.
My dear, sweet Soleil was born on July 21, 2014. She was born during the darkest point in my life, a few short months after my husband passed away. I actually have very few memories of the months between when Geordon died and Soleil was born. My memories are also hazy due to the PTSD, but that time in my life was very GREY. That may sound strange to someone who has never lived through a dark depression but to those that have this will resonate. It is like nothing exists, or like your watching your life through a veil or fog. For me at that time there was no light, no laughter, no joy. Just mediocrity. Every single day for months. Other babies were born before Soleil that year, and they were all lovely and amazing, but it wasn't until Soleil was born that I think life came back into my body. Other than when my son was born, I can't recall any creature, up to that point in my life that captivated me so completely. Soleil was given her name because she became the sun that shone through my depression. She brought colour, taste and smell back into my life. This sweet little angel, born from a living miracle (SRM Neveah), was so pure and innocent, as she explored our backyard world. Her joyful jumps and endless playful nature, mixed with her constant need for lap cuddles, slowly but surely brought me back to life again. I mean really...lol Look at that face! When it come to spoiled goats in my herd, this one right here is very close to the top. When my Mamacita calls, I come running!
I should also mention that my son Daniel is also very securely bonded with this little Mamma. Right from birth, we both knew she was special and we immediately began a war over who she loved more. Animals don't know such silliness, and she loves us both of course lol. In the years since, my son and I both agree that Mamacita has a heart that is too big for just the two of us to love. The connections she makes with clients and visitors to our farm continually blow my mind. Not only in this little lady the embodiment of "Grandmother Energy", but she also has a way of looking right through to the heart of your problems and even into your soul. I wasn't kidding when I said that while I sit with her I feel the energy of all of the Mothers and Grandmothers surround me. I have listened to many stories from visitors about how while sitting with Soleil, they felt the presence of their recently deceased, beloved mothers and grandmothers so often now that I can no longer consider it a coincidence. I am always open to whatever comes out of each visitor experience to the farm. In my line of training (FEEL) there is a phrase we all commonly say, and it is so true - "You can't make this shit up". Among my FEEL community, I am as normal as they come - well perhaps not actually, considering the rest spend all their time with horses, while I spend mine mostly with goats, although I work with horses too. As a FEEL Practitioner, I believe that all living creatures have sentience, thoughts, feelings and wisdom to share. From a connected heart space, there is a profound amount of communication that can occur. Some of my goats are as gifted in this mode of communication as the amazing horses that my FEEL community partners work with on a daily basis. Soleil is no exception and I feel that her gifts are far superior to many others in my herd. Aside from the moments of connection with "Mother" energy, Soleil also seems to have a gift for unlocking peoples hearts to allow the free flowing of emotions. For such a teeny tiny little goat, she sure does have the biggest heart! Did I mention that Soleil stands 16" tall and weighs only 60 pounds? So tiny!
I describe Soleil as "everyone's Mama" and I think that is really indicative of the energy she exudes. So loving, caring and nurturing, she is also very quick to scold or chastise you if she feels you deserve it. This is one little goat that I will always defer to, or drop everything for. When I sit in meditation with her, the persona that comes across to me is that of a little old Mexican Grandmother, hence the nickname Mamacita <3 As the maternal genetic line Soleil carries goes right back to the very beginning of my breeding program, it is important that certain lines carry on and therefore the decision was made for Soleil to become a real Mamma! In 2016 she gave birth to SRM Star Trek, a single doe kid. Then in 2017 Soleil shocked me when she gave birth to Sky River Meadows first set of quadruplets! Well that was a jump! Apparently her first year was just practice lol. As you can see from the picture above, this little family is small in size indeed! With the exception of SRM Star Trek, the rest of Soleil's kids actually fall under the category of "dwarf dwarf", dwarfism within a dwarf breed. Bilbo, Raen and even Galadriel and her sister Rosie Cotton to an extent, all have inherited this very tiny stature, which makes them unsuitable for breeding for safety reasons. Fortunately for me and them, I have the perfect job for these teeny tiny goats! <3 ;)
Shortly after giving birth to her quads, Soleil became ill with some odd and ever changing symptoms. After months of testing and multiple biopsies, Soleil was diagnosed with an auto immune disorder. She has been retired from breeding for this reason, and now I can focus on combating her symtoms as they arise. Soleil goes through outbreaks about 6 to 8 times a year. Now that I recognize that it is often an allergic reaction to insect bites that starts the cycle, I try to be extra diligent with her through the different season to ensure she is as protected as possible. Living in Muskoka our livestock have to deal with pests throughout all season. Lice and mites are common in the winter months while mosquitos, black flies and other flying insects during the warmer months. I have a good arsenal of aides on hand at all times to help in this battle. Soleil is in good hands and will be here for many years to come to offer comfort and loving connection to anyone needing some motherly love. Don't worry, Soleil will ask for comfort in return! Nothing is free when it comes love from Mamacita. She has lots of itchy places needing scratched, especially her bum! Soleil also really appreciates having her cheeks scratched while she peers deeply into your soul with her ice blue eyes. One of my favourite things about Soleil is that still to this day she allows me to pick her up and cuddle her in my lap, just like when she was so new and tiny almost 6 years ago. They say the average life expectancy of a female goat is 15-17 years, with some on record living into their 20's! I haven't owned goats long enough to know what the average life expectancy of my herd will be, but I hope that for many years to come I have the constant, steady and loving presence of My Mamacita. With her by my side I am never lonely. Although she can't kiss my physical booboos, she does a damn good job of helping to heal the ones on the inside that are on my heart. <3 Happy Mother's Day!! Blessings, ~ Angee
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