Everyone needs time to recharge mentally from the stressors of day-to-day life. For some, it’s going to the gym, a yoga class, or reading a book.
For me, destressing involves coming home from a long day at the office, hanging up my high heel shoes for a pair of steel-toed rubber boots, and heading into my backyard to my mini farm – the home of my two perfect little pygmy goats.
I work with a great team of people in management support at Eastern Health’s Occupational Health Safety and Rehabilitation Department. I’m also involved with the Healthy Workplace Committee, whose goal is, among other things, to promote a healthy work-life balance among employees.
My job, like many others, is a desk job where it is easy to forget the importance of getting up and moving. But since I got my pygmy goats that sure has changed!
Back to the country
It all began two years ago, when my husband and I packed up and moved to our dream home in the Goulds – and back to my farming roots. For me, growing up at my grandmother’s house in neighbouring Kilbride, was a real treat. Some of my best memories are there. Nan always had baby ducklings, kittens, cows, and a scattered bull in the backyard, and my grandfather always had a small pony or some baby sheep.
I am blessed to have these memories. My grandparents were two hardworking and caring people who loved animals. My memories of poppy were few as he passed away when I was quite young. I look back on old pictures and see pop lifting us up in his arms, and it was not uncommon to see some sort of farm animal in the background.
So, it has always been a dream of mine to someday own my own little barn, have my own farm animals, and grow my own fresh veggies.
The land we purchased in the Goulds was large enough that so that I could make this little dream of mine come true. And so I did! When it was time to choose which animal I was going to purchase, I knew I wanted the pygmy goat. I was always in awe of this smallest breed of goat – they are quite adventurous, make great companions, and, are very cute!
The secret to getting pygmy goats to be truly happy is to make sure they have a goat friend. That’s why there are two!
When I first got them home, they were so tiny I was overwhelmed! Butterscotch, the leader of the pack, was very adventurous from the beginning. He is an escape artist and can always manage to get out of his pen – and he is the only one of the two who grew a set of horns. Sweet little Coco was all white with soft fluffy fur. I felt an immediate sense of calm around him. Coco follows Butterscotch wherever he roams. It wasn’t long before they became very vocal – they love to let you know they are there!
With the help of my husband, we built them an enchanted little barn, with their own little goat sign. There is also a large fenced in area where they can roam and play, as well as an area where I planted my own fresh vegetables.
Find something you love
It seemed that all of my time was being devoted to these two little creatures. Family and friends couldn’t understand at first why I would want all the extra work. But to me, all the work did something magical for me.
There were the simple things, like the time I took them for a walk up our street and our elderly neighbour marveled at what she thought were two little dogs. I didn’t have the heart to tell her the difference!
But the true realization of why this mattered so much for me happened one summer afternoon as I sat in my backyard, so tired from the day. I laid back watching my pygmies roam free, the hot sun setting in the background painting a lovely orange sky. It was so quiet and calm. While watching them graze in our wooded yard, I felt a sense of peace and tranquility. All my stressors from the day were forgotten in that moment – and I knew this is where I was meant to be.
It is important to do something for yourself; whether it is taking time to finish the book you always wanted to read, taking an afternoon run around the pond after a long day of work; or even something as small as taking a minute to listen to your favorite song. We all need this time to recharge your mind and to take care of yourself.
Caring for these two perfect little goats has taught me so much: to follow your dreams regardless how big or small they may be, and that hard work does pay off.
So take some time today for you. Find something you love to do that allows you to stay physically and mentally happy and enriches your life. ■
This story was written by Michelle Raymond, management support with Eastern Health’s Occupational Health, Safety and Rehabilitation Department.