This morning I woke feeling strange. I felt like I was in a different place, and it was a different day. I was discombobulated until I was dressed and smelling coffee. Ah! The simple clarity that comes with that beautiful cuppa morning joe! I did feel strange though. I took some quiet moments to go deep within and find my breath. I have learned that I need to ground and breathe if I am ever to function through my normal daily anxiety. I am so grateful that I now have these skills to help me. I wanted to examine this feeling I had, to determine if it was something I could fix. One thing I am learning to recognize in myself is that I do not like change. Change alarms me. It causes me to have immediate anxiety and my mind fills with all of the "what-if's" of a million possibilities. Change is inevitable however, so I continue to work at adapting to these strange times. I soon realized that I was actually quite comfortable, relaxed and calm. It was then I realized that there wasn't an issue within me, but that there was an issue with the changes that are happening around me! This was a HUGE ah-ha! moment this morning! This feeling was my body adjusting to the "new normal" that life had become. Today is Day 10 of my self isolation. This Covid-19 crisis has forever changed the world we live in. No one knows what tomorrow will bring, and we don't know when life will get back to normal. Will it? Do we want life to go back to the way it was before COVID-19? I see a lot of ways that our society needs to change and I think that there is an opportunity in front of us all to create a new "normal" Perhaps even one that is in balance and harmony, not only with our planet but also with each other? There is always a bright side to everything, and in this situation I am searching for it daily. Our news feeds all filled with fear based messages, panic buying, photos of empty stores and really sick people on ventilators. We are hit with the staggering numbers of infected and dying on an hourly basis now, and as this virus spreads it will only continue to get worse. We need to be mindful of how much we allow the things in our world that we can't change, to have a negative impact on us. We can choose to turn the screen off. We can choose to put our phones down and go outside. For my own mental health, I am choosing to limit the amount of time I allow myself to read the news and check in on the figures. The rest of the time I only allow myself to connect online with some of the local groups that are helping to connect and support people in my community. I have always been very passionate about my Muskoka community and it is so comforting to me now during all this uncertainty, to see my community come out to support one another. There are many wonderful groups that are being formed and people are staying connected, and finding ways to help and support each other, without coming into any contact with each other. Absolutely amazing and inspiring stories are out there and all around us. Choose to find them and brighten your own day! Better yet - find ways to spread joy and cheer to others. We all need as much of it as we can spread right now.
During my time at home, I have been making good use of decluttering areas of my life that need it. I am in the midst of an entire life declutter! I am working on going through all of my belongings and doing another purge. I am organizing the mess of my paperwork/receipt/mail/yuck mess a teeny tiny bit at a time. This is actually a daunting task for me as I am coning to terms with the fact that I legitimately have an issue with an abnormal fear of my mail. Sounds weird I am sure, but this is legitimate and very annoying in my life. I am working on fixing this during this time in isolation :) Basically I am working on decluttering my life physically, mentally and spiritually during this time. I know that I have a lot of personal work I can be doing and the universe just pressed "pause" on planet earth. So why not use this time to work on myself while I can't be working on helping others feel better? I am so grateful for this time because it has allowed me the break I have been desperately needing for many years. This forced down time is allowing me to reconnect with the herd. I can take them for a walk or into the bush to browse and we are all able to relax. For once there is no agenda for my herd. They get to go back to just "being". Amazingly, I realize that right now I too get to just "be". I can't control, or fix anything that is happening around me in the world. What I can do though I control my reactions to these new circumstances. I can encourage and inspire others. I can create new ideas and discover new possibilities. Likely for the next several weeks anyways, I intend the make the most of each and every second of this time I have been given. Although these are frightening times, if everyone does their part to stay home and not spread the virus, we will see the other side of this. I have started a list of all of the things that I want to do during this time, and the list grows each day. Although this entire situation is stressful and very scary, I am also seeing the golden opportunity that sits in front of each and every one of us. We can CREATE! <3
In the past week I have been reading posts and hearing from people in the community that say they are already suffering from boredom while they are in isolation at home. I struggle to understand this concept because I can't even recall the last time I was bored but I assure you I was likely in the single digit age. When we have been given this time at home, why not use it to our advantage and work on ourselves, our families, homes and personal environment? When will we have this opportunity in our lives again? We don't have to be scared and just sit around waiting and be BORED. We can make the best of it I say! So, for anyone who is reading this that finds themselves saying that they are BORED. I want to challenge you to consider some of the items on the following lists to see if you can try to be inspired to make some small adjustments or improvements in your life. (nothing on this list will lead you to binge watching anything)
Physical: How is your personal hygiene? Why not pamper yourself to a spa day? Pluck those eyebrows yourself (if you fail, they'll have time to grow back! ;) ) Google make at home face masks and try some out. Be cautious though as our healthcare system may not be able to assist you if you go overboard with experimenting! If you've often thought about starting an at home fitness routine, why not check out YouTube for a ton of different classes you can do from home for free. Personally, I am a HUGE fan and supporter of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube and recommend her to anyone who has ever considered adding a home yoga practice to their lives. She is an angel and truly gifted at what she does.
Mental: How are you? No really, how are you? Check in with yourself. What do you need? What can you do for yourself right now to help you fell your best? Now is the time for you. Do you meditate? What can you learn in order to help support yourself through this time?
Spiritually: Again, same questions as above. Check in with yourself. What do you need to do to fill your spiritual needs at this time? Is there a new practice you could explore or adopt that would help you?
Education/Training: Is there something you've always wanted to learn? A skill you've always wished you had? What are you waiting for? Now is the perfect opportunity for all of us to learn a new skill! With the internet at our fingertips we have a powerhouse of knowledge and possibilities in front of us. Learn something new. Put it to use if you can! How many times have we all said to ourselves "I'd love to learn ___ if I only had the time". Well...go for it! Want to learn to paint? Sew? Change your own oil? Do home renos? Learn Kung Fu? How about a second language? Really, why not?
Now might be the perfect time to repair relationships, strengthen communication and learn to come together as a stronger, healthier community. What relationships do you have in your life that need work? What can you do to start repairing them today? Is there someone you've lost touch with? Why not reach out now to try to reconnect? Do you know your neighbours? How can you help to connect your neighbourhood to support each other through these next few weeks and beyond? Do you know of people in your community that need help and support? Is there a senior you know that you can support? Is there someone you can call to reach out with a friendly "hello" of connection and support? What can you do in your community to help lift the spirits and encourage others to do so during this time of social distancing. None of us have to feel alone, but many of us will and do. If you are bored, I encourage you to reach out to someone who is likely lonely and afraid. Help shift their mood and you'll feel better too!
How is your home? Is it spotlessly clean? There's never been a better time for a full house disinfect! Do you have clutter in your home? Can you work at organizing your home and space more efficiently? Do you have items that you no longer need that you could use to trade or donate to others? What useful items can you find in your home that you can repurpose? Do you know someone that can use something you no longer need or use? Go through each room in your home to see what you can do to reorganize and create a new and healthier environment for your whole family. Once you've done the inside, go outside and do the same thing. How is your garage? Your yard? What about beyond your personal space? Are there things you can do in your neighbourhood while still practicing safe social distancing?
During these past 10 day, I have gone through some pretty wicked emotions at times. These are scary times! Energetically the air is alive with the negative emotions humanity is feeling. As an empath I feel almost physically battered, but on an emotional level. I can only control and change my direct environment though, so I will work to do that. I think that we all need to individually work to dispel this negative force, so that collectively we can make a shift happen. Although the first few days were especially rough as I wrestled with accepting the need to shut down my business and by doing so, cut off my income stream. Do I know how I will make ends meet? Nope. Am I resourceful, capable and gifted? Yes! So somehow I will find a way. We all will. Each day is a new opportunity to do something positive for ourselves, and also for others.
This past week has proven to be really interesting for me. I have had some of the BEST conversations! I have had to run a few essential errands to the feed store and to source a few items for my family so we can sustain during isolation. I have had some wonderful and authentic conversations with strangers from my community discussing ways that we can all stay connected and ensure we all pull through. I have also had some wonderful connections with my local neighbours, speaking to some for the first time as I am relatively new to this neighbourhood. I have been able to trade some of the eggs our hens produce for some hard to find yeast from one neighbour, and for fresh maple syrup from another. I have other neighbours that are soon to arrive from wintering in Florida and their needs and home have already been stocked by another neighbour so they can go straight home after crossing the border later this week. Everywhere I look I see people pulling together - it isn't all ugly greed, selfishness and virus fear out there. Each day I have heard or witnessed small miracles all around me that are helping me to remain positive and to not give in to the fear. There really is so much right in front of us everyday to remind us what is important in life. We can't change what is happening around us, but we can choose how we react to it. For me, I want to spend this time as wisely as I can. To me that means I will do my best to improve my self, my home, my environment, my relationships and anything else that comes to mind. I may not ever get an opportunity like this again. Seriously, I haven't had a vacation in twelve years and now I am forced to take some time. I am open and surrendering to it. The thought that came to my mind earlier today was that we have all been given a beautiful gift in which we can return to our childhoods and reimagine if we want, any change we want to make in our own lives. It is spring and soon we will be able to stop and smell the flowers - literally. We can fly a kite or climb a tree and go back to a simpler time for a little while. What a wonderful way to reset.
The little things in life really are the BIG things.
Stay safe everyone!
And PS - I am searching for a ukulele. If anyone has one lying around that they are not playing and would like to trade it for some farm fresh eggs or future services of mine, please hit me up! I would LOVE to take this time to learn to play the ukulele!
With love, Angee
Hey everyone, I may not return to the Goat of the Week stories for a few weeks yet. I am still struggling with the emptiness in my heart, and in my barn without Gigalo. Besides, at the moment there are plenty of other things for me to write about with all of the stress and fear everyone is feeling with the COVID-19 situation, myself included. It is hard not to be stressed when we are all impacted no matter where we live in the world. A week ago I was riding a wave so high I felt like things were turning around, and today I am faced with a very new reality. One where we may need to adjust to a new normal. Hopefully we can make a better new normal in the world!
This morning I woke extremely stressed. My heart and mind began racing the moment I opened my eyes. Worries about my loved ones at home and abroad filled my head. My mind racing in a thousand directions, I could feel my control over anxiety slipping. The best place I know when I am this stressed is to be with my animals or go into the forest. Where I live I have close access to both, of which I am so grateful. I stood out in the crisp morning air, listening to the sound of happy birds in the trees, and the soft nicker of my mare Cheyenne asking for her breakfast. While I stood there on my driveway, halfway to the barn, the sun on my face, a steamy cup of coffee in my hand, I took a very long and slow deep breath. I felt the rising fear and uncertainty of the current times dissipate and fade into the background noise of my brain. Anxiety is always close by for me, and it is something I work hard at keeping at bay. I instead focused on the sound my feet on the hard frozen ground while I continued walking. I felt the impact of my feet on the sturdy ground, the musical sounds of the birds, the crisp late winter morning smells on the breeze, the way my lungs felt as they filled with the frosty morning air. I took notice of how it felt to be alive and said some prayers in gratitude for my life. With the COVID-19 crisis literally all around us right now, it can become very overwhelming quickly if we spend too much time dwelling on the realities. Instead, I take stock of what is real around me. I think about what I can actually do in THIS moment as opposed to thinking about all of the things happening that I can't control. I remember that I am only able to impact my world directly through my own actions and that if I focus my energy on the things that I CAN do, I don't focus on the things I CAN'T do. One of the things I can do right now is continue to take care of myself to the best of my ability. Caring for myself ensures I can care for my family and community. I will admit I do not take the best care of myself yet but am going to make a few more changes to improve that.
As this virus continues to spread, none of us really know how long our lives will be disrupted. I don't believe there will be a single person left standing that is not impacted by this situation in some way. On a personal level, the COVID-19 outbreak is devastating to my business. I have had no choice but to cancel bookings, and shut down my entire operations. Financially this is a very scary reality and puts a huge strain on me, as I personally fund all of my operations, and we have a rather large herd to feed and care for. I am grateful that the snow is almost gone and the goats will be able to browse freely again soon, and the other large animals will be back on pasture. That will be a huge help and savings. This past weekend I managed to coax the goats into the bush and up the hill for a small walk so I know we are getting close :) I plan to use the next few weeks getting the herd back into shape for hiking season! As walking with my goats has been my life saving personal therapy for many years now, I can't tell you how passionate I feel about being able to get back to this activity. I am hopeful that we will be able to continue to operate so others can join me! The benefit of walking in nature with a large number of animals is pretty remarkable and is something that needs to be experienced personally. I have been so stoked and pumped that I am finally open for business and able to share the herd with everyone - and now this. SO! I think it is definitely time for a pause. The alternative choice is to risk exposure and spread of the virus which we do not want to do. So for the next couple of weeks I will have plenty of time to get caught up on all of the things I never have time for. I have separate lists for the farm and for my personal life, and I have already come up with a short list for where to get started and I plan to expand this list later as I come up with more ideas. This time in isolation will not be wasted! :) A few personal goals and plans I have to help me pass this time away:
* I may UNPACK!! I have lived out of boxes for two years now and been so disconnected from my stuff that I haven't even unpacked yet. I am hopeful that the majority of what I packed I now no longer want. I am excited to purge more from my life that I don't need. Moving so many times in recent years I have purged a lot and I am looking forward to doing more.
** I still have not hung any pictures on my walls. This goes along with unpacking - when I do that, I might actually hang up some pictures!
*** I may actually choose colours and paint my walls! Also a fun project that I am looking forward to.
**** Over the course of the last 10 years I have acquired a great deal of books that I have yet to find the time to read. I am longing to find all of these hidden un-cracked treasures and see what marvels hide within their pages :)
***** I have been saying for years that I would dedicate some real time to writing more. If this new pace for the next few weeks allows, I would like to write more, which means blogging more. I guess we will see where this one ends up.
****** Just last night I started a new 30 Day Yoga challenge. I want to continue to give myself at least that time every day to take care of my body. Yoga has impacted my life in such powerful ways I want to ensure I continue to dedicate time to my practice each day.
******* I am also choosing to dedicate more time each day for one on one time with my herd. The last few years as my herd numbers have increased I have noticed that I have less time to continue to connect and bond with them individually. This is one area I wish to improve greatly on as without my herd, I have no business to run. I owe them everything and they deserve my attention and care.
In the days ahead, I think it is imperative that we all remember that we are not alone. We are all feeling the same fear, and uncertainty. This is all new territory for everyone and we are all in this together. Even if we are experiencing quarantine or self isolation from recent travel, or if as a family you are choosing self isolation to do your part to stop the spread. We can all remain connected through our technology. We can pick up the phone and connect with our loved ones. We can skype or zoom, we can inspire and uplift each other online through our individual social media accounts. We can each individually make a choice to be a positive impact through these dark times. We can each individually find ways to better ourselves during this time of isolation so that when we all emerge afterwards, we are all stronger, better people. There are small and big ways that we can all make improvements in our own lives, in our relationships, in our interactions with our planet and with others. What a perfect opportunity we all have to make the best out of a terrible situation by choosing to improve ourselves during this time so that as a community we can be better and stronger together. Imagine if we all took use this time and use it in ways that improved our lives, made our families stronger and connected our communities in ways that we have yet to see. As scary as this virus is, it does come with a unique and beautiful gift that we all have been given to transform our society and humanity in ways that can really have a positive and lasting impact on our world. We can bring back a sense of community that has been missing when we reunite with our neighbours and share resources. When we connect online to support and share - even just in words, that say we are not alone in how we all feel right now. We can all use this time to come together and really reshape the world. I have a great deal of faith in humanity and I believe that when we work together there is no task that can't be accomplished. We are a highly skilled society and if we all work together to share the skills and resources we each individually have, we can get through these hard times. I love my Muskoka community and am already seeing the beautiful signs of my town coming together to support each other. I hope that wherever you are at this moment that you take in your surroundings and see what you can do to help. What can you do or offer to someone? We all have skills. We all have strengths. We all need to learn and recognize the strengths we all individually possess and as a community band together to make sure that we all come out on the other side of this health crisis stronger as a community. Let's all make a commitment to each other, that we will empower each other by pointing out each others gifts and abilities - as many of us do not recognize our own. Let's share the beautiful lights we can all shine and in shining together we all come through. I myself am committed to finding ways to uplift my community through these dark days. One thing I have ready access to is GOATS!!! I promise to fill your news feeds with goat pictures, goat videos and silly goat antics to help get you all through these days ahead. With all of the stress inducing news on our screens, we can use a healthy dose of goat joy. I am sending love out to all who are reading my words. Let's do all we can to help each other <3 In beauty, Angee
This week I have decided to take a pause, to not pick or write about another GotW in order to honour my boy Gigalo for one more week. For those who have not yet heard the news, my dear sweet Gigalo passed away peacefully. My heart is not in the right place for me to be able to focus on another goat at the moment while I mourn him, so rather than force it, I will take this week to reflect on things and update you all with the farm happenings and when everyone can expect baby arrivals for 2020. There has actually been a ton happening around the farm these days, and in my life in general, so an update kind of post is in order for this week.
So first I'd like to take a few moments to pay my respects to my dear Geordon, who would have celebrated his 53rd birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday to you my love <3 With Gigalos passing a few days ago, I have really felt Geordon's presence strongly here at the farm. While I held Gigalo during his last moments, I know I was not alone in the barn with him. It was actually quite a touching, the few moments I had to share with my sweet old (very smelly) man in the end. As I held his tiny body I was overcome by a sense of peace and love akin to what one would feel from a grandfather. I felt that Giggy knew it was time for him to move on, as I was now OK to continue to journey without him. I felt Geordon there beside me and knew that he had come to take Giggy home. There honestly are some moments in life that can never be put into words - those moments that are there for us, and us alone. To experience. To feel. To hurt. To learn and to grow. I think Geordon came to support me while I said good-bye, as he knew how hard it would be for me. Holding that space for Gigalo to take his last breath, I couldn't help but reflect back on his amazing life and just how grateful I was for being able to provide that for him. I know there are many that think I'm a nutter, but the service I give to my animals is out of love, gratitude and deep respect for who they each are. The well being of the herd is paramount to all of the work we do here, so when one of them passes away, it matters. I believe in honouring the life that lived rather than mourn too long for the passing of it. I know there is still joy within our memories that we can continually share, long after they've passed on.
I don't want to dwell on the sadness of the past week, I really want to focus on all of the amazing an positive things that have been happening here. I recently launched a new program I am calling "Goats on the Go!" and it is going better than expected. We have been visiting local retirement homes, residential homes, drop in programs, and almost anywhere else we are asked to come. The goats seem to be enjoying the outings as much as we are. Each day we go out we are bringing smiles and joy to people's hearts. We feel the excitement when we arrive - and within minutes you can fell it settling and becoming calm. Often by the time the hour is up, the goats are chewing their cud and even lying down with people for cuddles. Our biggest challenges to these visits are dealing with the excited energy when we arrive at a location - it often makes the goats a bit jittery, but they trust and take everything in stride knowing we (myself and my wonderful team) have their backs and that they are safe. We limit the length of time that each goat works (max 2 hours daily, with at least 1 hour break in between), as well as how many days they work per week. This ensures they are never over worked, overwhelmed, or stressed. Our other challenge to the visits is bathroom breaks. I train my goats to go to the bathroom on command so that they essentially "empty" outside, before going inside. When this works, my whole team is delighted!! The flip side to that is when we arrive and we have a mutiny and no one wants to go to the bathroom before we go in. Well then what? I love my team and they put up with a lot of shenanigans from me around here. Without them, the goats and I would be running wild through the streets! My team keeps things civilized ;) Accidents do happen, but they are rare.
So the last week around here has been very busy. Now that we are on the road and becoming active in the community, word is spreading. It is really exciting to watch something I have worked years towards, start to grow into what I dreamed of. In only a few short weeks I am already seeing the positive effects that my herd is having on the individuals we see regularly. I always try to take the same goats to the same repeat locations so that relationships can be built over time. In some circumstances there hasn't needed to be any time - those relationships were apparent, immediately. In the past several weeks my team and I have been moved to tears on multiple occasions by the magic we are witnessing. Saying I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my job would be an understatement. With the recent travels, word is starting to get around. In the past week we have been featured in the Bracebridge Examiner, on CTV News Barrie, and just this morning I did an interview on CBC Radio, Ontario Morning with Wei Chen. I will post all of the links to the media coverage below. It has been a very big week, with a great deal of exposure and excitement. Add the passing of Gigalo into the mix and it is no wonder that I am feeling a bit run down these days. I dream of a vacation. The barn feels so empty each and every time I go in there. I know that will pass with time. I try to hold onto the positive and amazing things happening with my business and dream, and know that Gigalo is proud of all of the work we are doing.
So 2020 is here, and with that is normally an announcement of when we can all expect the next batch of Sky River baby goats. This past winter and breeding season has been one for the record books for me. With the unexpected passing of my main herdsire Jose back in November. Without him to carry on my breeding plans it left me with very few options. I had intended to add a new buck this year anyways for this reason, but had wished for more time. Jose had other plans. So where does that leave us for babies this year? We still are not sure. I am hoping for confirmation of at least one pregnancy this week. Everyone will have to wait a bit longer, but at this point we know for sure that we will not have any baby goats born on the farm until July and into August. Animals are funny and no matter how much planning we try for, there are curveballs thrown our way you just can't prepare for in advance. I am desperate for confirmation of a pregnancy though. My herd has gone ballistic with hormones this winter. With no one bred, all of the does are now trying to be bucks to breed each other....It is not working. It is CHAOS somedays though! I long for warm sunny days and kicking this band of hooligans back outdoors again. I wish I had better news on the baby goat front, but it will have to wait just a wee bit longer. The warmer weather is upon us, the clocks have once again been changed (when will the insanity stop??), and I've noticed a great increase in birds returning to the area lately. I know that before long we will be full on into mud season on the farm - otherwise known as shedding season, or big spring clean up season.. Either way it guarantees the return of warm weather and that also means the return to our active on farm animal programs! I have big plans and new ideas that I am hoping to launch and introduce. With it all, I plan to stay positive and keep shining! In beauty ~ Angee
Bracebridge Examiner: https://www.muskokaregion.com/news-story/9872560--who-knew-they-would-be-such-a-hit-goats-aid-muskoka-s-mental-health/?fbclid=iwar3t97ldwlnzvxuwyzalrfzepzokvjnrku1wzfianqevdrrd8u42pg7jpnw
CTV News Barrie: https://barrie.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1916827&jwsource=fb&fbclid=IwAR0M-ClGXi0vfWVe7jTZ--K-fwtPDT4iqUk21LxlDnBFHhLYD8iL3vbmL_A
CBC Radio, Ontario Morning with Wei Chen: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-112-ontario-morning-from-cbc-radio/clip/15764693-ontario-morning-monday-march-9-2020-part-3?fbclid=IwAR1bQi-DgpNFYzxG6L4-umR5DrGS3vYRUrabuIJulKD8f5fvDkNhSNVvnxM
On this weeks edition of GotW, I am so honoured and pleased to introduce you to one of the most important men in my life. This little guy stands a whopping 18.5 inches tall and although he is heavy, I am sure that is just the weight of his amazingly impressive horns! This tiny little gentleman is sweet, gentle and so very level headed. Giggy as he is know here at the farm, was part of the inspiration behind my breeding program. Without him to do the important work of making babies with some carefully chosen ladies, we would not have the herd that we do today. This little guy is so special to me that he has even been immortalized forever on my shoulder as part of my tattoo work. Perhaps I'm a little more than goat crazy, but this little man is worth it. Gigalo has been retired for a few years now and I am sad to say that he is definitely showing the signs of his advanced age now. I fear my old boy may not see the spring, but I hope I am mistaken. The average life expectancy for breeding bucks is surprisingly low at about 8 years. My main man Gigalo here will turn 11 in April of this year. What a legacy this small but mighty buck has made for himself! Within my herd are his many times great grandchildren. He joined my herd and my life right back at the very beginning of my crazy idea about building a herd for the purpose of therapy work. He has witnessed the birth of many generations of his progeny come to be, and he has survived long enough for us to make a new home at an amazing new location. For Gigalo, I can't imagine anything else he would need in order to make his life complete.
I purchased Gigalo in the spring of 2011, along with our Herd Queen Bonnie from a friend and breeder in southern Ontario. That was back before the Nigerian Dwarf Goat became the highly sought after goats in Canada that they are now. Finding males or females for sale was rare at that time, so I jumped at the chance to buy both Bonnie and Gigalo. Little did I know that my friend Sue was very happy for my jumping and her unloading them both lol - I am sure that was all due to Bonnie though. Gigalo has always been a sweet and quiet little guy at my place. For many years Gigalo has kept the peace within the buck herd, always ensuring that the boys were all respectful to each other. Fights have rarely broken out amongst my boys over the years, and even though Gigalo has not been top dog in the herd for a long time now, it seems to me that all of the younger males respect and take care of Gigalo - in their way of course. If you track Gigalo's records on the CLRC, you can trace his progeny to many herds, including 4 of his sons that are herdsires for other breeders herds. Within my own herd, Giggy's grandson Cosmos replaced him when Gigalo was retired from breeding, and his daughter Cassiopeia was one of our main foundation does, who has since also been retired and two of her daughters have taken her place to continue on the lines within our herd. Nine years later it amazes me to see how solid the temperament on this little mans genetics are, and that many generations down the line it is still evidenced each and every kidding season by his progeny and descendants here, as well as on other farms.
Over the years on the farm Gigalo was almost like a hidden secret. UNless you came to visit us at the farm, chances are you didn't even know about him. Due to his horns we were unable to show him as it against show rules, so unlike my other boys that were able to compete and earn titles, Gigalo was not. His Grandson, Sky River Meadows Cosmos on the other hand did very well in the ring winning 1 Grand Champion leg and 3 Reserve Champion legs to date. I honestly don't think Giggy would have placed well in the ring anyways. I chose Giggy for his brains not his confirmation. He sure is a cutey though, and always has been a gentleman. Over the years Giggy has done some crazy things to keep it interesting having a buck with horns like his. I will never forget the year he used those impressive horns to push himself THROUGH the page wire fence to access the girls on the other sie. We were already well into our breeding season by that point and had to intervene on a few unwanted breedings. My boys have always kept me on my toes and with the biggest learning curve too. Trying to stay 10 steps ahead of raging testosterone such as theirs during full rut is a challenge some years. I've been grateful for Giggy's leadership amongst the boys - cool level head and all. As much as I love this old man, I do know that a day will come soon when I will have to say good-bye to him. As sad as I will be when that day comes, I know I will not mourn him for long. His legacy is incredible and within my herd are many pieces of the great Gigalo, who's incredible amber coloured eyes and amazing calm personality shine through. When the day comes that this great king passes away, his children, grand children and many times great grandchildren will be here to remind us all of him. Until then my Gigalo, enjoy your continued retirement and please never stop strutting your stuff <3
This weeks GotW features a very special little lady with a very interesting back story. Not only is this cutey seemingly always smiling, but she is just an all around, easy going, happy go lucky goat. Let me introduce you all to Everlily Maples Tootsie Roll, otherwise known around here as "Toots". This beautiful gold and white doe has the palest blue eyes, and same loving temperament that many have come to know as being out of our dearest Carmela - Toots' Grandmother. For Toot's story we need to back up a wee bit to get some history, for those who haven't been following the farm for as long. I am sure no one minds another great goat story anyways right? ;)
In 2014 after Geordon passed away, my son and I had to come to terms with the fact that we would need to sell some of our animals in order to make ends meet. As a family we had all worked hard to build our herd and we had many beloved animals that we were very attached to. Of course as it goes, the ones we were most attached to were the same ones that other people were interested in purchasing. Let me tell you how much THAT reality sucked, when it did sink in. Life throws us curve balls no matter how much we plan or prepare. My new reality at that time was that I would have to sell animals that I had intended to keep forever, just to pay the bills and survive another winter. For anyone who knows me, or has spent any time with me and my herd, you will know how strong my bond to them is. These are not animals to me, nor will they ever be. They are family. My new reality was having to sell my family? It is a bit hard for me to go back there, but it is very fulfilling to see how far we've come.
So how does Toots come into all this? As I was saying, we had to sell some goats. One of the ones that we decided to let go of was Sky River Meadows Neveah (Toots' mom and our miracle baby and Jr Res Champion). To say this was a hard choice is an understatement. We only knew that the best option was to find the best home possible for our dear Neveah, and so we did. Neveah joined a small family homestead called Everlily Maples. We were overjoyed that we were still able to see Neveah and visit with her at shows, and in two years we would hopefully receive a daughter back out of Neveah to add to our herd. In comes Tootsie Roll!!! Toots was born May 1, 2017. Although our plans and direction for the farm had changed greatly by the time, I was thrilled to be getting a another baby goat!! And she was so cute too!!! Courtesy of Everlily Maples - Here are Toots baby photos.
So, moving forward to 2020 and some very interesting observations I have made since Toots joined us. Being born and raised on another farm, to a different family, with their own methods, you would think there would have been some transitional issues adding her to our herd. Once again, as we have witnessed many times - there was no transition. There was the usual sniffing and vague threats of head-butting. It seemed that the entire herd knew who she was and where she came from. To make things even odder, that first night with the herd she was found sleeping next to Carmela (her grandmother) and Soleil (her older sister), as well as other extended family members. After many years of this it still amazes me every time I see evidence of bonds that we clearly can't see. How do they know who their family is automatically? They are not all white and gold, so this isn't a colour issue either. It is an incredible observation though and one I would love to find the answers to one day. If anyone wants to share theories or thoughts on this, hit me up! :)
Since we have arrived at our new location, the herd has really settled into a solid routine. Last year we bred Toots for the first time and she gave birth to a single kid, that we have retained as a wether and named Tommen. Both Toots and Tommen work within the therapeutic herd and Tommen has even ventured indoors with our Goats on the Go! program. If you think about my breeding program and the genetics that I specifically chose to create this herd, Toots is a great example of how solid this genetic temperament is. It can leave the herd and be mixed with other lines, and come back to us, fitting right in as if they were born here. No matter what causes this magic to work, I am just so grateful each and every day for them all. Being surrounded by so much unconditional love each and every day sure does have a way of filling your soul! As we venture out into the world offering our animal programs and introducing the herd into more places, it is comforting to know that I am always surrounded by my family and friends - two legged and four - the best support a girl could have and ever ask for <3
I cannot even begin to express how excited I am to write about this weeks GotW! This little man has the biggest heart in the tiniest body. Our wee Bilbo, as he is affectionately known, is one of our "dwarf dwarf" goats. Now that he is full grown, he stands at a whopping 10.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs all of 18 pounds. Don't let the diminutive size of this handsome wee man fool you. His heart is bigger than you can imagine! He is ALWAYS smiling. He is ALWAYS willing to cuddle or be groomed. He has quite a way with the ladies of both human and goat species, and he is always playful and full of joy. Bilbo is also a very important member of our Goats on the Go! program, where during the winter months we visit those who are in need of some special cheer and love. This program and the special goats and volunteers who work in it, are a very important part of how we reach those who are not able to come to us at the farm. This is especially true for those who are faced with mobility issues and challenges.
Bilbo was born at the end of our kidding season in 2017. His mother, Soleil (also affectionately known as Mamacita) had blessed us with our very first set of quadruplets. Bilbo and his three sisters came into the world with some difficulty. It turns out that Soleil had conceived two sets of twins and they had all become entangled inside. As tiny as Soleil was, I had to go "in" to untangle the kids and deliver them safely. Bilbo came out first and was feisty from his first breath. He was also the smallest of the four babies by a very noticeable margin. This made naming him VERY easy considering that my naming theme for 2017 was Lord of the Rings, he needed a Hobbit name for sure. Bilbo it was! Initially I thought that Bilbo was the only dwarf dwarf of the four kids. It wasn't until a few months had passed that we realized all four of them were extra small. Of course by this time, one of Bilbo's sister's (Sky River Meadows Rosie Cotton) had left us to join another wonderful herd (http://www.happyhensheritagefarm.ca/), leaving us with the remaining kids that we have since always referred to as the "broken quads" since they are only three here at Sky river Meadows. I retained Bilbo and his remaining sisters to ensure that they would not be bred (due to health concerns as well as their own safety) I am so grateful to be building myself a life and career path that also allows me to do right by my animals, while still ensuring that I can afford to care for their needs. The work my herd does with people has nothing to do with whether or not they have the perfect conformation, or if they are the best example of their breed. If anything, it is that inability to reproduce that seems to make them perfect for this type of work. Thus far, Bilbo is the only one out of his immediate family that works in the Goats on the Go! program. That may one day change as we are quickly realizing that we do not have enough house broken goats in our herd and we are working to rectify that by beginning to train some others.
As today is Family Day here in Canada, I thought it would be nice to talk about an interesting observation that I have made from spending countless hours watching my herd interact as their own community. One fact always stands out over and over. They bond closely with their family units, and close friends become as family - just like in our own society. Bilbo's family is one of the best examples of these family bonds in my herd. I will speak of this more when I write about his mother later in the year. When I observe Bilbo, I can say with certainty that he is most closely attached to his twin sister Gilraen. They are never far from each other and most often found sleeping together. He is quite close with Galadriel as well and she is the perfect substitute for cuddles if Raen is busy. The quads have an older sister named Star Trek (born a singleton), and she watches over them all. The entire family sleeps together at night, as is shown in this photo. I have countless photos just like this of them all always sleeping together - or as in this one - sitting together, proud and smiling :) Seriously, how cute are they?
When it comes to Bilbo, I have to admit that there are so many stories to tell. I find it difficult to chose what to tell on this post. Funny, he had no input or advice to offer on the subject either.... When I think about Bilbo, the first thing that comes to my mind is his smile. Seriously - THAT SMILE THOUGH!!! This little tiny goat, with his huge heart and $1,000,000 SMILE, has stolen more hearts than even I am aware. In his 3.5 short years of life, I have witnessed Bilbo heal many hearts - including mine, multiple times. He has brought people together. He has helped a family learn to laugh together again. He helped spark and ignite love between two lost souls. He brought joy and inspiration to many entrepreneurs at business engagements and corporate events. Now be brings his charm, humour and good nature to those we visit in our Goats on the Go! program. How can anyone not smile when they see him coming towards you in his best dressed tie! Bilbo is just timid enough to make everyone want to comfort him, and because he is SO small, many think he is a baby goat. He is in fact smaller than all of the baby goats in our current travelling band, but he is indeed full grown. What a Superstar! For such a young little guy though, he sure does have an impressive resume already. Now that we are actively engaging with people almost daily, we are able to spread this amazing gift of animal love and connection to so many. The benefits are actively going both ways all the time. Each person we meet seems to be impacted in a positive way. For each heart, soul, and smile touched, I see the positive effects it also has on my herd, and most definitely has on my team. I am not excluded from that positive energy either. It fills me heart and soul. I have found my purpose and life path, and finally know that it is not wrong of me to spend so much time with animals. It is in fact essential to the work that I do, and an instinctual part of "WHO I AM". It feels good to honour myself, and to honour my four legged friends by helping to share the messages and gifts they each have to share. As spring draws closer, we also get close to the time when we can start walking with the herd again. Even Bilbo enjoys going off on many grand adventures! ;)
OH! One other thing that I absolutely MUST write about when it comes to Bilbo. He has the CUTEST BUTT EVER!!! When he walks, or skips happily along - seriously, cutest butt ever!! If you didn't catch the Instagram or Facebook post announcing this blog entry, be sure to go check out a quick 10 second video :)
For this weeks blog post, I decided to break temporarily from my usual GotW, (it will return next week, I promise) and instead make a personal one. It has been quite a long while since I have done so, and definitely feel that the timing is right for this week. February has always been a hard month for me in general. I am challenging myself today - more so than usual, as today I am struggling to put any words down. With all new goals we set ourselves, there will always be challenging days. As writing never comes easily to me I should expect days like these :) I have to remind myself that my commitment to write this blog was actually a commitment to myself. A reminder to myself that life happens every single day, and that each new day there will be new challenges, victories, choices and new opportunities to learn and grow.
Tomorrow will be the six year anniversary of Geordon's sudden passing. Six years since everything changed... Although so much has changed since then, we are all doing great. My grandson turns two this May, my son is getting closer to finishing his apprenticeship and I have officially opened my FEEL practice. Our family remains small but strong, and we grow in abundance and gratitude daily for the blessings that still remain. February 11th has been a tough date for me the last 5 years. However, I now feel like I have come full circle. Six years ago, when Geordon died, I had just started working for Community Living South Muskoka. That was a long term goal that I had worked towards and finally achieved for myself. When Geordon died, I stopped working for a time and that also meant leaving the CLSM job behind. Tomorrow, six years later, I am returning to CLSM but in a completely new capacity. This time I come visiting with goats! To be able to offer this service, in this way brings such joy to everyone involved. So how did this all happen? That's an interesting story and journey that I think I am finally able to start talking about.
Two years ago I started the Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning (FEEL) Certification program from Horse Spirit Connections in Tottenham, ON. In the understatement of the century I will say it was the best decision I ever made for myself to enroll in that program. It was at the very least life altering for me personally. What it will be in the end still remains to be seen as I am still studying this path. Since graduating from the FEEL training, I have also completed the Advanced FEEL Training and am waiting to take the next level that is still being written. In the meantime, I have enrolled and begun studying the Wisdom Circles of Horse Medicine Lodge to gain better understanding of the Shamanic components to the FEEL Approach. The most beautiful thing about this entire process, in my opinion, is that while studying and learning skills to enhance the ways I can help others, I have inadvertently learned to love and help myself. That might sound strange to some. The reality was though that before I started the FEEL program I didn't love myself. Before then I actually didn't even have a concept of what self love was. It was during my first week away studying the FEEL program that I had a profound encounter with a horse name Juliette on Day 1 of my training. During an activity where we are challenged to connect our hearts energy to that of the horses heart energy (called a Heart Connection), Juliette looked me dead in the eye and spoke right through to my heart. She wanted to know why I didn't love myself. What? Excuse me? I didn't love myself? She was right though. Yes, I am talking about having a conversation with a horse. Yes, I know how it sounds. No, it was not imagined. The FEEL Approach teaches us how to connect with all beings, human or animal, from a heart centered approach. From this connected space with another being, incredible communication can and does happen. Juliette was 100% right. It took me a long time to be willing to admit it or even examine if the possibility was true, but this beautiful old mare was right - I didn't love myself. Juliette also did something else for me that day. She showed me how my life would look and feel if I chose to love myself instead by sharing a vision with me. Can you imagine? What a gift she gave me that day! I am almost two years into the process of learning to love myself and although I have not yet achieved the vision she showed me, I know the progress I have made. The FEEL program is amazing and is set up in 3 parts. First we are the client, experiencing all of the exercises first hand. Then we learn the science behind it, and participate in a practicum, and finally we learned how to facilitate the activities for others.
What started out as a learning journey has turned into a major spiritual awakening for me. I have participated in dozens of sweat lodge ceremonies as well as taken part in many other guided journeys and healings along the way, including a very profound Table Top Healing I experienced by a horse during my Advanced FEEL Training. That experience helped me to deal with a great deal of what was referred to as "ancestral pain" - that is something that has existed for multiple generations that is negative and not serving the individuals involved. I won't get into the details on this post, but WOW, what an experience! I came out of that exercise a new person, as with each and every sweat I take part in. Transformations are possible, if we only take the time to put in the required work. Find what works for you and do it! I think that is a responsibility we all have to ourselves. Love ourselves enough. Enough to do the work. Enough to make the necessary changes. Enough to ensure that we achieve happiness in our lives. Love ourselves enough!! One of my personal goals for 2020 was to love the S**t out of myself each and every single day. I am doing this by ensuring I take the time for all of my personal care every day, getting enough sleep, making time for yoga daily, etc What I have noticed already is that the more I pay attention to myself, the more productive I become in my own life! I feel better and I look better! Each day begins easier and my depressive symptoms seem less frequent. As each day is a new step, I feel stronger and more empowered all the time. I can now look at my accomplishments in life and see them as that - something I have accomplished! A long time ago I set out on a mission to one day own and run a Therapeutic Animal Farm. I wanted to create a place where people could come and connect with animals and not feel judged or shamed for the connections they felt. As animals have always been my personal healers, I knew there were others out there like me that not only needed that animal connection, but actually felt lessened when it wasn't available. Sky River Meadows has become the realization of those dreams of mine.
Now that we are officially open for business, I have the fun task of dreaming up new programs and activities to keep our guests and animals entertained. We have begun implementing a brand new program we now offer in the winter months we are calling "Goats on the Go". We are now visiting homes, schools, retirement homes, offices, and anywhere else that may need some goat cheer!
Happy Monday to everyone! It is February and the promise of an early spring is on the horizon. I took a few special moments to really notice the smell on the air this morning as I walked back in from the barn. I adore this pre-awakening time of year. When you know the forest and all of nature will begin to reawaken with new life and purpose. For all of those who suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), this is not a great time of year for you. On the milder days when the wind blows, take a moment to notice what carries on the breezes. Have hope, for this too shall pass and spring is right around the corner :)
This week for GotW, I have decided to share the story of Aphrodite. It is February after all and why not feature the Goddess of Love this month? Besides all that, "Dite" as she is known as mostly, has a pretty cool and interesting story. She is one of the few who have actually left my herd, lived in a few different places, with a few different people, and returned home to her roots again. Not many people move around that much in their loves, but Dite here has. The life journey this little goat has been on has given her a very unique wisdom and insight. I am pleased to share her story with you all.
Sky River Meadows Aphrodite was born a triplet in the summer of 2014. Her sister and brother were amongst the last babies born that season and as such they always got the most attention. These three were all so very different from each other in every way. Dite was very quiet, more aloof and shyer than her siblings. She was always very cuddly and affectionate though and was often found curled up in someone's lap. In 2014 we had the largest kidding season ever. It was the year my late husband Geordon passed away, and even though he was gone, we still had a LOT of bred does to give birth - 14 to be exact! 2014 saw 32 babies born to Sky River Meadows. It was an insane time on the farm that required the hands of a lot of volunteers. After Geordon's death, I really had to rethink the farm's plan and direction. I also had to think about how much I could manage on my own and I suddenly had a lot more goats than I was prepared for. That meant the sad reality of having to sell many goats that we otherwise perhaps would have kept. The entire process of downsizing the herd in 2014 was fairly traumatic for me. Saying good bye to many beloved goats that I had long term goals for was really hard. Saying good-bye to Aphrodite was really hard for both me and my son. As a farmer, I take finding new homes for my animals very seriously. I do my due diligence. I check people out. Even with the best background checks though, sometimes people can still manage to deceive you. I am not proud to say that the original home I found for Dite turned out to be far less than ideal. The poor girl lived in some rough conditions for a bit there. Very fortunately for Dite, she was not meant to stay there. I was contacted and informed that she was being sold. At that time I was still unable to add another mouth to feed at home, I was able however to find her a wonderful new second home.
In Dites second home, she held the very important position of "Pet Goat" to a lovely young lady. She was loved on, cared for, fed very well and had life all figured out for a bit there. As does tend to happen though, sometimes in life we have to make a choice or a change that affects other aspects of our lives. For this young lady and Dite, a choice had to be made that would result in their separation. As sad as this may sound, it is actually OK. This allowed me to bring our beloved Dite back home to her herd after all these years, AND her human visits her as often as she can. I'd say that's a pretty awesome outcome all around <3 Now we can all enjoy the love and gifts this special goat has to offer.
When I agreed to bring Dite back into the herd after such a long absence, I really didn't know what to expect from the herd. Would they welcome her back? Would they remember her? I really had no idea what to expect. She had a lot of family in the herd including her triplet sister, BUT, she had been gone for 4.5 years. What happened that first night when I brought her back in with the main herd was incredible actually. She and her sister walked right up to each other. They checked each other out just like any other long lost siblings would do after a long separation. The majority of the herd knew who she was and seemed to have no issue with allowing her back. There was very little to no fighting at all. When doing bed checks that first night I found Aphrodite sleeping beside her sister Soleil. My heart absolutely melted for them. If I hadn't witnessed it all with my own eyes I would have never believed it. In all honesty though, Dite has been back for a year now and the transition was as easy as if she never left. Even more incredible though. Dite didn't return alone, she actually came with a friend. A wether named Ozzy was her companion and needed to come with her. I'll spare a lot of the details for Oz's own story, but the herd accepted him immediately as well. A total stranger goat. Born and raised on a different farm, exposed to different things, raised a different way, you would think there would be transition issues. There wasn't. Perhaps Oz was accepted on Dite's word? I He was challenged by the other wethers but only mildly at best. The whole herd was chill with them both! Dite and Oz are definitely besties though. They are always together (and are often in the company of a third goat who recently joined us from the same farm...another story for another GotW post).
Dite definitely has a place in the working therapy herd here. She still enjoys meeting new people and often comes to share some quiet comforting space with people. She and her sister are both very good as sharing "grandmother energy" which could be partly why they are both so special to me. You know that safe, loving feeling you can only get from a Grandmother? Like a nice warm hug :) I am just so happy to have Dite back here on the farm. Just last night, I was personally blessed with some great advice from her that really helped me to find a solution to a common dilemma in my daily routine. She was seriously helpful. Thanks Dite! XOXO
For this weeks edition of GotW, I have chosen a really interesting and amusing character. He is a very distinct and unique looking goat in my herd and is not hard to spot. His name is Tuco and he is one of our wethers (fixed male). Tuco was born on a friends farm in 2016. Tuco is a bigger goat than most in my herd because he is only half Nigerian Dwarf Goat. His father is one of my breeding bucks (Sky River Meadows Cosmos), and his mother is a big alpine goat named Julia, owned by the Parliaments. Tuco joined my herd in 2018, and it was a happy day for me indeed! I had always had a soft spot for Tuco when I would visit the Parliaments, so I was thrilled to be able to offer him a place here. In my opinion, Tuco is a very special boy with a gift for connecting with people. I always felt that he would do well in my therapeutic herd, and he sure has not disappointed. Tuco also seems to have a sense of adventure that I really love about him. He is always willing to go for a walk - even without the herd, which I think is really cool and makes him super unique. Goats are herd animals and they do not like to be separated from their herd. Tuco is a goat that is so self aware and confident in himself though, that is seems he is perfectly content to just go with the flow each and every day. Oh Tuco, how I wish I could live more at ease like you.
Each and every goat in our herd here is a very unique and distinct character. Tuco is no exception to that. His striking coat colours are just as flashy as his personality. He is FABULOUS!! If there was a fashionista in my herd it is Tuco. His spots change from a soft brown to black as they progress down his back. He has striking yellow eyes, and he is ALWAYS smiling! Tuco loves to meet new people and because he is one of the biggest goats in the herd, he usually gets his way by pushing the smaller goats out of his way. If you want Goat Selfies - this is your boy! I have more selfies with Tuco than any other goat in my herd I swear. OK, so maybe he is a bit vain too. But with good looks like his, I don't blame him. Besides, who doesn't want a cool goat selfie? When you have a fun and willing friend to take hilarious pictures with, why wouldn't you? When it comes to having a sense of humour, he's got that covered too. Tuco can be a prankster and even recently once body checked me right into a ditch - on purpose. I did share that video to my personal Instagram account.
In a therapeutic setting, Tuco seems incredibly gifted at connecting with those who are perhaps struggling with self-image or self-concepts. Our society is really good at making many of us feel inadequate at times. From advertising to social media, we are all under immense pressure to fit into some sort of mold. For some it is these feelings that can really stop us from being truly authentic, and living our best lives. For me, spending time with Tuco is like spending time with myself. I can be free to just be who I am without the fear of being judged. Tuco isn't afraid to wave his flag and be himself and nor should we! Each one of us is unique and we should all be proud to be ourselves. I think that is what I love the most about spending time with the herd. There is never any judgement. When sharing space with the herd, everyone becomes unencumbered and free to be themselves. Can you imagine if the rest of the world worked in such simple and easy ways?
A frosty -26C greeting today! It seems mother nature decided that it WAS winter after all and gifted everyone with a good amount of snow this past weekend. We were blessed with a foot of snow here which took us all day to dig out from. You may all appreciate that the photos today are all of greener days, and hopefully they can bring you some warmth today. This week I decided to feature another one of my very special ladies. She is aptly named "My Precious" as she most certainly is a very precious gift. A heart of gold, and shining bright spirit of love, My Precious was born in 2017. For those of you who don't know, I am the only one who picks the names, and each year I choose a naming theme, as a way to help me narrow down the potential name choices for our babies. In 2017, the theme was Lord of the Rings. I like to say that my nerd comes out when I name my herd. I take naming each of our babies very seriously as I want to ensure that the name is a good fit to the personality. Sometimes it has taken me weeks to make a choice, and on occasion the name changes a time or two before it sticks and they become registered. With Precious, she was one of the hard ones to name. Nothing fit. I even researched names, scouring through Tolkien's works, looking for the ONE name that fit her personality. In the end, her name was chosen based on her heart. The ONE name, for the sweetest goat. MY PRECIOUS! She is just too sweet for words! From the moment of her birth, she has just always had a way of drawing people to her. She stares deep into your eyes, and I swear a warm loving feeling will overcome you. Spend some time in her presence and it will start to envelop you in a cocoon of love. It sounds weird, I know. There is something about these goats though that really does need to be experienced first hand. There are some things in this world that there just are no words for.
Each and every kidding season there is at least one baby born that captures my heart right away. In 2017 I actually had MANY born that ended up becoming an important part of what my herd is today. Precious has always been very special goat to me for several reasons, but the main fact is that she is the last daughter of our dear Delilah (Geordon's favourite goat, now retired), and she inherited her mother's sweet, loving nature. I think in any great breeding program, it is always the goal to try to improve on the next generation by breeding wisely. As the main focus of my breeding program is for temperament, I am VERY proud of how both Precious, and her twin brother Gimli turned out. I actually kept Gimli as well and he is one of my herdsires - also with the sweetest temperament. I could easily say that these two are pretty close to the perfect example of what we try to breed for here. Precious is calm, sweet natured, easy mannered, and this year she freshened (had babies) for the first time and was a fantastic and calm milker! It may seem odd to many to have a dairy goat breeding program focused on temperament, however in my line of work it makes perfect sense. How do you find the perfect animal partners to work with you to help people feel better? Well, if you can't buy them - I tried this for years, it was very expensive and there was no guarantee of temperament - then you attempt to breed them! By selectively breeding for the desired physical and emotional qualities, we actually better our chances of raising well balanced animals. The way we raise our animals here also makes a big difference. We begin conditioning them from the moment they are born. We work diligently to socialize each and every one of them. We nurture their unique personalities so that they can shine true and authentic for who they each are. We honour each animal here for their choice to take part in any work or activities we do here. It allows us to work with animals that have been raised from birth knowing no fear or distrust of humans. It allows us to raise them to have a voice, have a choice, and an opinion. This creates a very unique animal to make a connection with. Again - something that must be experienced to understand. Now don't get me wrong, I adore all goats. I think they are hysterical on all levels. In my line of work though, it takes a very special kind of goat to go into some of the places we do. I wouldn't ever even imagine taking some of my "non therapy" goats to work with me. That's a nope. ;)
So getting back to Precious, and that amazing heart she has. I think we all know someone who just LOVES everyone they meet. Do you know the kind of person I mean? The one who as they walk down the street they offer hugs and smiles to everyone they pass. Precious is that kind of goat. As she goes about her day, when she encounters people, she takes the time to ensure they are noticed. I will try to be clearer here. Precious is direct - but in a very gentle way. She makes eye contact, but in the most innocent and unassuming way, that it always feels comfortable. She approaches timid people slowly, and as soon as she is close enough, she will begin to lick them. The impact this has on most people is quite incredible to witness. You'll see a softening occur and within no time she has won over yet another heart. You see, each goat in my herd has a "gift" of sorts. Almost like a special ability. Precious exudes love - that is her gift. She is pure love. My opinion is that Precious has the ability to help people to feel what true unconditional love feels like. For some, that may be something that they are experiencing for the very first time. It is very powerful and can be so transformative for some individuals. For me, it is incredible to watch as Precious cracks the hardest of people. Those soft, sweet, blue eyes of hers just seem to melt away any hesitation or reservations someone may have had about hanging out with a goat for a bit.
This past summer, Precious gave birth to a beautiful set of twins. Both her son and daughter were strikingly beautiful, but they both also possessed her rock solid, sweet and loving temperament! To see the qualities I so strongly admired in Precious's own mother Delilah, pass on again to another generation fills me with so much pride for the breeding program that I have put together. Precious, like her mother before her, and her daughter after her, will continue to work with people in different and often extraordinary ways. Now that the Sky River herd is 8 generations into this work, it just continues to grow and evolve more and more.
In the coming weeks, we will be launching a brand new pilot program at Huntsville High School where we will be bringing the goats to the students to assist in anxiety and stress relief during exams. We are thrilled and excited to have the ability to bring our herd to some pretty exciting places. It allows us to reach many more people that may normally miss out due to mobility or health restrictions. Now that we will be cracking into some new territory in offering supports to those in need at schools, I am sure we will discover even more magic in how the human/animal connection can heal and rejuvenate us, and continue to have a lot of fun along the way.
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And just for you Gemma, with love, THE END : )