Rewilding the Herd – As We Live and Breathe

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In my last post in this series, I talked about the purgatorial state that follows big changes – that part nobody warns you about, when you’ve done everything in your power to make your dreams come true and they obligingly do, at which point you find yourself suddenly entirely blank, lost, blind, deaf, tired, ineffectual and generally confused. Anybody else? No? Just me?

One of our dear readers, Patricia Rothchild (hi Pat!), left me this incredible, affirming, and comforting comment:

What a lovely piece. It reflects lives lived well in concert with one another and the elements that support them. Your next steps will become apparent. β€œI don’t know” is a challenging, rich and exciting place to hang out. It keeps us humble and attuned to life’s directions.

And just like that, the I-Don’t-Knowness took on a shape, a purpose. I let it be, and I did my best to settle into the unknown, to let go of my conditioned need to define and direct in a time of stillness.

I had to leave again, and spent three weeks away from the farm, part of that spent studying Ki Aikido in England, part of that spent wrapping up more loose ends in my old hometown. It was all hard work, but it was compelling and invigorating and reminded me about where I come from, what I’ve left, and what I believe in. I drove back the 12 hours from the city solo, taking the time to let the road sweep away what wasn’t needed anymore.

So back on the farm, late summer is in full swing. My mother has tended the garden, goats, chickens, puppy and horses lovingly and everything and everybody is in great shape. The bugs have effed off, much to my delight, and the horses have a newfound sense of peace about them.

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When I left, my herd was still a little shy. They were, I think, first amazed and then intimidated by the sheer scope of the place (500 acres!). They spent their time as near to the barn as possible, mowing the field down to nothing around the barnyard, and more often than not I’d see them in their shelter, avoiding the bugs and the overwhelm. When they escaped, it was into the back yard! Hundreds of acres and they’re wandering around the driveway…

But now, as they’ve eaten the best grasses and plant life is slowing down, they’re moving everywhere as they forage. They seem to have mapped the whole front 15 acres extensively, and they stride out with purpose to munch on whatever they’ve found in this corner or that. Their range is expanding, and I’m watching them come in from further and further away as they seek out their delicacies near and far. They are eating a wider array of plants, too, and I love that they are able to select what they want rather than gorge on the same kind of grass.

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All sorts of stuff in every mouthful…

Each of them looks just perfect to me without supplementation of any kind (besides carrots) – nobody’s overweight, even on 30 acres of pasture, yearling Firefly is full-bodied and well proportioned (and still nursing, by the way!), and Amalia, who bleaches from chocolate brown to almost buckskin every summer, has instead kept her luscious rich brown, so I assume this means she is finally getting the minerals she needs, naturally. Here they are, Spero, Amalia and Firefly.

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They walk and run more every day than I could ever exercise them, have taken on a guardian role by chasing off bears and coyotes, and tell us when they want their water changed by bugging my mother telepathically – true story!

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Excuse the burrs in their manes! While I’m excited to harvest wild burdock root this fall, I’m not as impressed with the perpetually 80s hairdos…

The other day, I set out to the high point of our property where we found a grove full of the most stunning old cottonwoods, where I wanted to sit and connect to the land in a way I hadn’t made time for yet. I took my prayers and offerings, and the puppy, and a bear bell. As I walked through the pasture, Firefly ran to catch up, and then Spero and Amalia joined us. The horses followed us up the road through the dense forest, completely relaxed and excited to explore. Up to this point, they had followed only until the edge of the fields before turning and running back to the barn. This time, they followed me right to the heart of our new home, sampling plants along the way, playing chase with the puppy (not fun for puppy!) and stopping for visits and view appreciation moments.

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They escorted me to the game trail that led to the grove, and then off they went back to the barn. I found my trees, I stayed a long while in that dark and quite place, speaking out loud my hopes and dreams and needs and desires and promises and responsibilities as a caretaker of this glorious, soulful place.

When I came home, they greeted me in the front field as though I’d been gone for ages. We celebrated our reunion with belly rubs and face-mashing, and I finally felt at peace, too.

So the I-Don’t-Knowness continues, but now it feels like an ally, like a book waiting to be read, like a thousand possibilities and their endless outcomes. Reminding me, yet again, to trust the horses and the land and all the goodness I’ve found thus far in this wild, wild life.

Rewilding the Herd – As We Live and Breathe

30 thoughts on “Rewilding the Herd – As We Live and Breathe

  • September 5, 2016 at 4:11 am
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    All so lovely, Kesia! Thank you for validating my own disorientations and acknowledgement that sometimes doing nothing and waiting are the best answers, the most honest response along a journey.

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    • September 6, 2016 at 3:43 pm
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      I don’t think it ever feels totally settling, or maybe I need more practice to really relax into it all the way. But staying alert while enjoying the view…that we can keep reminding ourselves to do! Best of luck on your own journeys, Diedre, can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

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  • September 5, 2016 at 7:16 am
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    Hi Kesia,

    Wow, 500 acres, what a leap! I don’t know much of your life prior to the last couple of blogs; however your writing has me feeling very connected to your journey. It seems there’s a purgatorial state that goes with making a decision prior to finding a place to land as well. This is the case for me anyway. I’ve been rearranging my life for 8 years now and all the moves have been taking me in the direction to living on land with my horses. I’ve been exploring properties for the last 6 months and have not yet landed. The feelings churning inside are making me feel like it’s time to narrow down and make a move because it is mostly fear holding me back. Reading your beautiful story today is giving me inspiration.

    Many thanks,

    Joan

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    • September 6, 2016 at 4:02 pm
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      Joan,

      Thank you for your lovely words! I can definitely relate right back to you; I spent about half my life looking for ways to make this happen and it’s still so stunning that it is actually happening. The fear is real, and not unfounded, and absolutely has to be acknowledged…but just go for it, my dear! As Mary Oliver writes, “Tell me, what will you do with your one wild and precious life?” We’ve got your back πŸ˜‰

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  • September 5, 2016 at 8:17 am
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    Beautiful article Kesia. I can feel your soulful experience. Sending love and peace to you and the herd.

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  • September 6, 2016 at 1:41 pm
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    Thank you for sharing your peacefulness with us. I love my Burdock too and keep coconut oil in the barn to remove any burrs the horses collect. It is also excellent for conditioning their manes, tails & forelocks. I have a Spirit tree that helps me ground and redirect when needed πŸ™‚ Love & peace always, Paulette

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    • September 6, 2016 at 8:58 pm
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      I love coconut oil! On my skin and hair, in my belly, and definitely the go-to for burr duty! Thanks for sharing, Paulette!

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  • October 24, 2016 at 8:01 pm
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    Resonated, I’m in that place of not knowing and it’s rather magical and liberating now that I’ve accepted it! Carry on!

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    • December 28, 2016 at 8:27 pm
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      I missed this by a couple months, Heather, I’m sorry!

      Magical and liberating…yes! And so uncomfortable and prickly before accepting it…

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  • December 28, 2016 at 12:08 am
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    Howdy, I am really enjoying your adventures… The part where you found your place and you spoke out you hopes, dreams, desires, etc… is something I (we) all need to do… With so much on my plate ( which is something I need to clean off) I lost that time I use to make to get away and clean the heart and mind and reconnect, even if it was in the middle of the night, early morning or afternoon. Just sitting out here with these horses, breathing in and out, helps out big time. They at times come up and assure me all will be better and move for I want to eat where you are sitting now… Thanks

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    • December 28, 2016 at 8:30 pm
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      We can get so caught up in just getting by, just getting through the days in one piece. It’s these times when we need that visioning and dreaming the most, ironically. But getting by is in itself a very worthy and necessary thing. It’s taken me ages to let down and connect and listen to the land…I’m still not there yet. Human busy-brain and the deep grooves of neurological pathways created by our beliefs and culture are hard to shrug off.

      Haha I love that – getting all zen and then they want to eat right where you are…because clearly that’s where the best grass is…

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  • December 30, 2016 at 11:40 am
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    Wowzers, Kesia this is beautiful! I just now stumbled onto it. What I see in your story is the Hero’s Journey. This is the trip that uses stress to propel us into our best versions. Every Hero’s Journey provides a blueprint for how to engage energetics that carry the power to destroy us, so that it transforms us instead. You are creating a map for stressed souls to follow into their own Promised Land.

    There’s no ,ore needed service now. Thank you.

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    • December 30, 2016 at 8:05 pm
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      Well, Pat, I don’t know what to say! This is beautiful. And the idea that feeling my way through life and talking about it honestly might help call to others on their own paths…that’s gold to me. Thank YOU!

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      • June 12, 2019 at 1:36 am
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        I second what Pat said. Bless your beautiful heart Kesia.
        You have encouraged me greatly also, as I am doing it solo at 60yrs old! Some call it crazy, I do too but oh so worth the reward.
        So damn hard but so damn good!
        The stillness is almost palpable at times though words cant convey the aaah! of it.
        The shifting of gears from agenda to mutual respect with the horses just feels so right. Like I’m coming home.
        I love who you are, thankyou so much for sharing yourself!
        Big hugs from a fellow pioneer land dweller in aus. πŸ€—πŸŽπŸŒ³πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί

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        • June 12, 2019 at 11:11 am
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          Hey Erin,

          I’d really love to hear more about your own land dwelling and horse respecting πŸ™‚ How did you come to this leap/climb/shuffle/reach to the land?

          60 years young! I’m so jazzed to hear it. My own mum was 62 when she made this change (for and with the rest of us), and while neither of us has been solo, it’s wild and scary no matter what. And exhilarating. And unexpected. And transformative. And necessary.

          K

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  • January 8, 2019 at 3:30 pm
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    Wow! Your story is so inspiring and magical! Thank you for sharing!

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  • June 13, 2019 at 2:10 am
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    Hey Kesia,
    Gosh where do I start. 3 1/2yrs ago i moved from coastal fast swelling burbs with my youngest son to a place in the northern rivers region nsw aust. After a year my son needed to move closer to town and cut the apron strings which was good.
    Since then I have muddled my way along being green as! Learning about solar systems, generators, water tanks, pasture management, etc etc. My stock consist of a flock of 8 goats, 10 hens and roo, 3 dogs, 2 cats(couldn’t re home them they had to come)1 horse Jarrah and his 2 buddies agisted. i am on 100 acres/20 hectares but due to a v steep creek bed only about 60 acres is accessible at this time. I have loved horses ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper and rode when in my teens. So I dont know much at all.
    So really I am a new horse partner and learning on all fronts.
    Jarrah was found by a friend (who had her horses at my place) on gumtree, so we went and had a look! Oh my what a sad sad boy he was, but sound. He was so neglected poor wee thing.
    After a week at my place his eyes sofened and he has slowly putting on weight, mind you the drought hasnt helped but hes looking heaps better and he’s happy!

    I had him 3 mos and went for a couple of rides then one day I went alone into the forest and something happened and ai had a bad fall that i cant remember. I got back to the house and untacked him then climbed into my caravan is the next thing I remember. ifractured my wrist and pelvis in 2 places, and disrupted my shoulder joint. I did I good job of it, spent the next 9 mos recovering and still am.
    I have had intense life changing processing going on during that time and the whole time i have been on the land which led me to TLYH.
    That also has been the best discovery, as I have always hoped there could be a relationship of mutual respect between horse, human and other kingdoms.
    So I have been practising with Jarrah mainly and the other two when they are in the zone. I am learning to listen. And having some amazing meditation times with him. What a beautiful soul mate he is! my heart almost feels like its going to burst with love sometimes, so I spin it out to the collective to share too!
    I am also into permaculture, music and pottery. The latter I have started in the last 4 mos to keep my sanity while I’m building up my strength from being so long incapacitated. Step by step Im learning, one doesnt have to see the whole staircase to take the next step. he he! I remind myself of that often.
    I realize I need another pair o hands here to help as it’s too much on my own long term so I have put it out there, I know the right person will appear at an auspicious time! (I like that word)
    It’s been a v hard road but worth the struggle. I feel so blessed to be in a place surrounded by forest with my critters.
    Big hugs to you fellow land lover! πŸ€—πŸŽπŸŒ³πŸπŸ•πŸˆπŸ”πŸ¦…πŸ¨πŸœπŸ•·πŸπŸžπŸ¦‚πŸŒ²πŸŒ΄

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  • June 13, 2019 at 2:24 am
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    Ps. I have since told Jarrah that he will never have to race again, or even be ridden if he doesnt want to! As the last time I was meditating with him I got a pic of him being forced to race and not liking it. I am more than happy just to hang with him.
    It is such an exciting way to connect with another being.
    And this community is just the best, such loving souls.
    Love to all. β™₯️

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    • June 19, 2019 at 3:52 pm
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      Erin!

      Thank you for sharing. I read your story in the bathroom on my phone while my house was full of guests and didn’t get all the way to replying then.

      First off, congratulations for coming all this way with your dreams and hopes. Wow. AmAZing! Do you ever just stop and feel kind of smug? I believe this is necessary from time to time. Stop working for a sec, unbend your back, stretch out the kinks and look around. Feel smug. Return to your activity. Stretching your heart and mind like that, taking those big leaps and risks just because you can’t not, that’s living. It can be so stark and unknown that I forget to enjoy it sometimes. I take it too seriously. I forget to be amazed.

      Doesn’t sound like that’s you, though – you seem right there with the wonder. Jarrah too, taking his chance at renewal so whole-heartedly; your awareness of this transformation growing out of the shock and pain and hardship of being thrown. A newer deeper wider something to be found together, whether or not you ride again.

      I do hope your body continues to heal and you find more and more of that quiet study of beautiful things even as your strength returns. I also love the word Auspicious and wow, also how exciting to think of having new blood, new muscle, new connections coming to and from your home.

      My horses that were used (by me or others) show very little interest in trying riding again, but my young one who has never been forced or trapped is open to almost anything. I think it comes down to how much YOU care one way or the other. I don’t care enough to convince my older horses to trust that activity again. I imagine someone else might. But the freedom you give to Jarrah by promising him that he always has a choice, that’s gold.

      It is SO exciting to connect this way! With no expectations, but no limitations either. And I can’t agree more, that this community validates and celebrates and appreciates and challenges in the best of ways. Thank you for being a part of it!

      Hugs and love to you and the critters, all the way to Oz.

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      • June 20, 2019 at 3:56 am
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        Hey Kesia,
        Funny you, reading in the bathroom lol. love it.
        What a wise owl you are! Reminding me to stop and enjoy where i am.
        Thankyou for that,v timely indeed.
        I’ve just been through a major solar power drama and genny breakdown aargh! But resolved now phew! What a challenge, and I’ve learnt heaps from it yay!
        I do sometimes get a bit overwhelmed by the ‘list’ of many things to be done. And at times I even make a HUGE pile out of it all and swamp myself lol, then I freeze!
        My learning themes at the mo are- learning to stay in the moment, doing whats before me and not make piles!, to face into the pain not to run or distract. And to soak in the beauty and joy of the land and its creatures creating new neural pathways which you have reminded me of. Dramas can tend to take over ay!

        Jarrahs buddies will be moving to a new home soon I found out today, which will be a bit sad for him 😟 So Im putting it out there for a new buddy that will be more long term. It will be interesting who shows up!
        Much love and big hugs lovely Kesia! xx 🐎🌳
        AND to the community, Ive said it before and again I say, what a fab bunch of peeps! Love yall.

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        • June 26, 2019 at 8:04 am
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          Haha, I KNOW about the drama take-over. We had those especially in the first 18 months! They appear to be slightly more sparse now, or maybe the panic just has a higher threshold before it kicks in now…

          A new buddy for Jarrah! Always so hard to separate bonded horses, which is why I ultimately decided not to board/agist here, and just take horses in for life. But that’s hard to keep up with financially too, so we also have Nechako, whose hay is paid by his person, but who gets to live out his days with us.

          But I imagine this next chapter will bring a lot of positive change and learning… good luck!

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  • June 22, 2019 at 2:37 am
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    Hey Lovelies,
    I just have to share what happened today in my horse sesh.
    Gotta set the scene- A beautiful winter morn 21C clear skies warm sun, Butcher birds serenading in the forest.
    I let Jarrah out from house paddock and he hung around the gate as did the other two so I knew it was time for a sesh with them. Oooh auspicious deelicious!
    I stood by his head, not touching him and breathed, my heartfelt tight, I apologised for my raggedy energy and not long after, tears started to flow and flow, snot was hanging from my nose lol. (I will bring a hanky next time I reckon) I just let it happen with no ‘thinking’ about why.
    I felt so loved it was truly amazing! I told him how much I loved him, that he’s a blessing in my life.
    Then at one stage his head moved closer till we were cheek to cheek aaah magic! the smell, the softness, the way his nostrils almost shimmer/quiver as he breathes.
    After awhile Epona lay down a bit away from J and I, it was so still and warm I decided to lie too, Dreamer lay down next, then most of the goats, after they came over to suss why I was lying down he he, the dogs were sprawled in the sun on the other side of the fence. Jarrah was still dozing near by then he lay down too! Wow!
    It was such a privilege they trusted enough to lie down. It makes all the struggle worth it!
    I was there for 2hrs! though it seemed timeless.
    Also one particular goat-‘Muz’ came over repeatedly, I noticed his hooves needed a trim badly, I voiced this to him then he walked off to lie down! Another wow from me! It’s truly amazing how they communicate if I just listen!
    Much love to you all. 🐎🌳
    Ps. I feel like I have found family on this site, thankyou Im so grateful!

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    • June 25, 2019 at 10:56 pm
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      Beautiful Erin. This makes me wonder if any of them would like their hooves trimmed when they’re lying down…?

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    • June 26, 2019 at 8:13 am
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      Beautiful indeed, and there are all sorts of training “techniques” that aim for this, or the shape of this, spontaneous magic that happens from love and from being in the right place at the right time often enough. Your response to their quiet call for a session, which turns out to be a glorious rest-fest in trust and love is possible because you’re there and you’re open. Which is kind of the key to life now that I think of it?!

      As to Jini’s suggestion to trim the goat while he’s lying down (assuming it’s hard for him to do it when in regular consciousness), it’s really hard to do without busting out of the Zone, but sometimes I try to take hoof nippers with me on these galactic excursions, and staying in think-free quiet time I might try to offer a bit of a trim. Can’t say it always works, or that I can stay out of monkey-mind (which to them I think is very loud and itchy and ruins the moment), but it’s worth a shot in the Grand Experiment of All Things.

      Much love to you, Erin.

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      • June 28, 2019 at 10:14 pm
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        I love that: Loud and itchy! PERFECT description! The more of a scab-picker, pimple-squeezer you are by nature… the more loud and itchy you are, methinks πŸ™‚

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  • June 29, 2019 at 5:47 am
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    Ha Ha I am scab pickin, pimple squeezin gal and not so boisterous as I used to be luckily for the horses. Ah yes the monkey mind, tricky thing it is lol.
    In regards to hoof trimming, I have felt to just hold off awhile and see how it goes with self trimming. The property has hills and rocky areas and is quite large so I think it will help as well as augmenting Jarrahs diet with some omegas and probiotics, (thanks Jini for the protein deficiency article) I am looking forward to seeing his mane grow as he has the mohawk look at present. I’ll take before/after pics too!
    I will follow suit Kesia re-no more agistment and find a long term buddy for the lad. Much better for him. I am excited to see who shows up!
    Much love and big hugs
    E xo

    Ps. In regards to listening to the land etc. I read an amazing book called ‘The Elves of Lilly Hill farm’ by Penny Kelly it blew me away. I think you would like it, that is if you havent already read it!

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    • June 30, 2019 at 3:07 pm
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      Just ordered it! I saw an interview with her about 15-20 years ago and her story so impressed me because she wasn’t a lifetime seeker, meditator, yogi, etc. She was an engineer at Chrysler! And this Kundalini awakening just happened to her — and then everything came forth after that. Can’t wait to read it – Thanks πŸ™‚

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  • June 29, 2019 at 5:56 am
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    And as far as goat hoof trimming, I think for the mo I’ll just have to get some muscle to hold ‘Muz’while I do it as they are quite overgrown. Unless I get another inspiration regarding the approach.
    I will have a chat to him first and provide heaps of yummy stuff for him to eat whilst doing it. He is a v chilled out goat so hopefully it wont be a drama!
    Namaste 🐐

    Reply

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