It was late on a Sunday morning climbing towards noon as I drove up a rural highway I hadn’t traveled in years. The sky was light blue and tinged with wisps of high white clouds, and the first hints of the forest fires on the other side of the Rockies obscured the mountain range and brought a haze to the fields surrounding the road as I headed north.
The fields themselves were mostly varying shades of green, alternating from bright to dark to something in the middle; scattered about was the occasional patch of dirt or an incredibly bright yellow triangle highlighting the canola flowers just beginning to bloom.
It was hot, and going to get hotter, but I shut off the AC, turned down the radio and opened the windows to take in the sounds and the smells of the countryside.
After a time, I turned off onto a small side road where the cars dropped away and the houses became fewer and the asphalt rose and fell quite a bit more than out on the highway. At one point, I stopped the car by pulling into one of those mud paths that lead into fields that seem to go on forever—I was early to my destination—and so I got out and looked around. It really was quiet, save for the sound of the summer bugs jumping from one flower or plant to the next.
It was such a beautiful day, and it reminded me that, like most of us, I don’t make enough effort to get out of my own space and into someone else’s.
I was out on the middle of the country because my friend Candace was unable to attend a unique event, and so she asked if I would like to go in her place.
I didn’t hesitate, because if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that you can talk yourself out of anything if you wait long enough. Also that someone else will take advantage of the offer and you’ll lose your chance.
I came to a sign, hand painted in red on a slat of what looked like an old-fashioned black board–that slate grey slab that always had a sheen of white dust on it.
Farm Stand, it said. And then, just below it, another sign, same size, same paint.
Goat Yoga. With an arrow pointing up a driveway.
So there I was, heading up a long pathway into the woods, hoping no one would be coming the other way because there wasn’t enough room to turn around or even pull over. Good thing everyone was headed in the same direction.
I pulled into a clearing and parked the car, where I was met by the nicest family you’d ever want to know—Dawn, Bruce and son Chris Kay and his wife Jessa all came out and introduced themselves and welcomed me to Early Dawn Farm.
I walked to the edge of pastureland and looking south and west I could see fields and hills and pines and the creek far down below, winding along the edge of their property. It was incredibly beautiful. There was a farmhouse, some pens, a barn and a building under construction too, which I would later find out is about to become a mecca for people who want to learn about the art of homesteading.
And the Kays should know. Dawn and Bruce moved here more than three decades ago, with a little baby and another on the way. They fell in love with the land, bought it and set up a homestead; no running water or electricity for the first while—that takes guts!
It also goes back to what I said about getting out of your own space—but on a whole other level.
They got some animals and Dawn started making goat’s milk cheese, but then things, as they do, took a twist. I’m going to let her tell you a bit of her story, and you can listen.
So, today on the farm, there are geese and chickens and sheep and goats. Lots of goats—mamas and babies and the boys in the back. And, as you heard if you listened to our chat, we were about to get into the pen with them.
Here’s the thing. I am not a fan of yoga. I had to dig around for a pair of pants and a shirt I knew I’d be comfortable in (I changed three times), I wasn’t sure whether I still had a mat purchased several years ago in a feeble attempt to do something on a regular basis (if I do, I couldn’t find it, so I brought a towel and blanket as suggested), I made sure I had water. I was game to give it all a try.
Ten of us lumbered into the pen where the moms
and tots were lounging. We tucked our cameras and water away, spiked out shoes and boots on the fence posts to keep them out of goat’s reach, and settled in our places.
At first the goats were very excited to see us; they’re curious little guys, almost as friendly as dogs, with the craziest eyes I’ve ever seen—horizontal slits the size of the coin opening in a piggy bank. And I learned that if they rub your head with theirs, it’s their way of being friendly. I got lots of rubs.
We started and once they got used to us, and the breeze died down and the sun heated up, they looked for corners of shade to tuck into and sat back and watched (probably in mild amusement, I’m guessing) as the humans rolled around in their pen.
They did what goats will do and Dawn cleaned up after them, sweeping the pellets away and replacing damp—okay soaked—blankets with fresh ones.
It was really, really hot, so after a while, I just rolled over onto my belly and played with
the mama goat sitting in the shade at the head of my blanket. I’m sure Annalise, the yoga instructor, saw that I was goofing off, but this was truly a no pressure kind of thing. Much less judgement than in other yoga settings I’ve experienced.
And then it was over. We all had lots of water and then stayed and chatted a while, and as I drove back through the birch trees to the roadway, I passed the new building where Dawn told me they’re going to be opening the new cheese making facility and teaching homesteading skills such as canning and preserving and carpentry. Hmmm, I could go for a preserving class….
And as I hit the city limits, I thought about the day, and realized that the best adventures often come to you when you leave your own comfort zone…when you take the time to learn something new, from someone new.