What a whirlwind this year has been! I’m out of breath just thinking about it. At the same time, completely exhilarated.
We moved to the ‘new’ Haute Goat Farm in Port Hope just over 2 years ago to be closer to kids and grandkids. And from that simple notion, has grown a wonderful adventure. Like everyone, we’ve had ups and downs, but on balance, I think the ups have far outweighed the downs. Here are some of the things that stand out about 2017…
JANUARY – a cold month in so many ways. We found wee Saffira, the beautiful doeling who never met a wall she couldn’t jump – with a severe compound fracture one morning last January. Our amazing vet, Ron Herron, came within an hour. Most people would have put her down when faced with the daunting recovery required. But Ron organized a trip to Guelph Ontario Vet College for us. And there they took on the challenge of fixing her – and fix they did. Five months of trips to Guelph. Bandage changes daily, then every other day on the kitchen counter (yes I carried her in). Our 2 hero volunteers, Christine and Laurel came on the Guelph trips and very often to the farm to help with the changes.
February – we launched our FARM LIFE WORKSHOPS! From the beginning we knew we had touched a cord. Beginning with SUSHI MAKING FOR YOUR SOUL with Sang Kim, through to our MILK A GOAT, MAKE CHEESEworkshops which sold out over and over. We listened when people told us what aspects of farm life they were curious about and created workshops to fill those gaps. Small, hands-on, informative and fun. Learn more about what we have available for 2018 – many returning workshops and several new ones! Just click HERE.
MARCH – we began hosting people at our Bed and Breakfast. What a wonderful way to meet people from around Canada and the world! Everyone enjoyed spending time with the animals and getting to muck in on chores – a relaxing change of pace and scenery from their city lives. Bonus is Shain’s huge and delicious farm breakfast. If you are interested in staying with us, find more information HERE.
APRIL – Birthing season begins! There’s no describing the excitement (and exhaustion) at birthing time. I don’t sleep much until all of the babies have safely arrived. But at least I’m in the 21st century and have cameras in the barn so that I can monitor from bed. You can watch too as our cameras are online (CLICK HERE) and many people watched many of the births last year. Last year we welcomed 23 babies in total. And at the same time, we welcomed our first woofer. Joanna from France was the most wonderful introduction to the world of woofing. Woofers are extremely motivated volunteers who come from all over the world to work on the farm in exchange for room and board. Since April we’ve hosted dozens of woofers who have made an incredible contribution to the growth of the farm. Everything from painting fences to building swings and play structures for the goats. They work hard, play hard and dinners are always lively and interesting. We couldn’t be where we are today without them.
MAY – Our first Open House. We had hoped we would see a couple of hundred people here, but there were well over 1,000 enthusiastic visitors. They parked up and down our long driveway, but more impressively up and down the road! The Open House was also where we introduced Haute Goat Yoga. From that first class, the response continues to be overwhelming.This year our Open House takes place on Mother’s Day – we figured that was a fitting time to introduce the new goat babies while celebrating all of your mothers as well! Mark your calendars!
JUNE – what a thrilling time. Saffira was finally allowed to be out with her friends. It was 5 long months and took some ‘reintegration’, but we were in tears when she finally was allowed to rejoin her herd. Looking at her now, beautiful, affectionate and moving without any perceptible constraints, we look forward to breeding her this year.
JULY – We were blown away by the numbers of visitors to the farm. Many from far away. Many more new friends from the towns around the farm. This is my favourite thing of all. When people come, relax, enjoy the farm, meet the animals, participate in programs, walk the trails and just take some time to relax and feel the world around them without the noise and chaos of the city. We feel so lucky to be here, that we want to share it with anyone who wants to be here. Older, younger and everyone in between.
AUGUST – The HAUTE GOAT SHMURGLE! We introduced this program because everyone wanted to be snuggling, cuddling and hugging the goats. There’s no question this is one of our best (and unique) experiences on the farm. It was a great success last year and this year we’re working on making it even more engaging. Our Haute Goat Shmurgle -Holiday Edition happens January 3. More info HERE.
November – Well….who knew Goat Yoga would be a ‘thing’? We were delighted when The Royal Winter Fair (the largest indoor agricultural fair in the world) asked us to set a world record for Goat Yoga on Opening Night at the Fair. So, off we went – 22 goats in tow. The Royal would have been thrilled to have 150 people in the class….but when all was said and done, nearly 200 people participated! Some yoga was done, a lot more goat hugs were had. Everyone (including the goats) had fun.
DECEMBER – We’ve finally started to slow down for a much-anticipated rest. Breeding has started and 11 of our 17 does have now settled (been bred). Its an exciting time and this year our ‘buck in training’ Romeo has been a very willing participant and we can’t wait to see the babies he’s created!
What does 2018 look like? We can’t wait. We have more FARM LIFE WORKSHOPs (including our fabulous soapmaker Tracy Burnham who will be teaching goat milk soap making in February), a bigger Open House, more babies, trails on our 200 acres that are being marked for walking, and an enhanced (is that possible?) HAUTE GOAT SHMURGLE.
We are always open to new adventures on the farm. And if you have any thoughts, ideas on what other things we could do here, or how we could improve, we’d love to hear them. Just email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We also wanted to thank the many people who contribute so much to making this the magical place it is….from our family and friends who continue to cheers us on, volunteers Laurel and Christine, Dawn, Sharon, Trinity College Students, Community Living, to our amazing vet Ron Herron, our incredible social media guru Rebecca Ruddle, Cheerleaders Nancy and Joanne, Yoga teachers Sally Staples and Katie Bushie, our incredible woofers (you know who you are), partners like Amy at Old Mill Alpacas, Jeff at Cultivate, Nick at Coffee Public, the many visitors who come, enjoy and share the excitement in their worlds, agencies like RTO8, Northumberland Tourism and the Municipality of Port Hope who cheer us on. We so appreciate your love and support and work hard to love and support you too. After all, we’re all in this together.
But our biggest thanks has to go to those impish characters and true muses – our wee goaties who bring endless joy and wonder to us and everyone who meets them.
In the meantime – from Debbie, Shain, the Haute Goats and every wondrous animal on the farm – we wish you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year filled with joy, love and peace.