I’ve always known I was a hand talker, but I discovered last night that I’m a little more intense than I thought – apparently I’m more of a whole upper body arm flapping Richard Simmons workout on steroids. I had the opportunity to be part of a Transition Fair for special needs students leaving high school. Multiple agencies were represented and for six hours we educated the public about what we had to offer. I tend to be *slightly animated when I get to talking about things I’m passionate about, so set me loose talking about how my Equine Assisted Learning program can benefit those with (and without) developmental disabilities, behaviour challenges, and mental health struggles? Well, I think I would have taken flight if I’d been wearing a chicken suit. The reason I know that I left the line of normal in my review mirror, is because my biceps are KILLING me today. I’m not even kidding – we’re talking just painted an entire house level ache.
Hey there! Glad you stopped by – I’m Jenne. I’m the one responsible for creating this blog that you will read instead of doing laundry or packing school lunches. Sorry.
So you’re going to notice that the dates will be either the same or very close to one another for the first handful of posts here. You may be thinking – wow! This chick’s a go-getter! What a productive day she had! No wonder she has a blog! Anyone who can purchase, move in, landscape, paint, decorate, and start a business in a couple of days NEEDS to document it somewhere for others to emulate!
Not so. C’mon people. This is more along the lines of what happens when you procrastinate, realize you’ve missed someone’s birthday by three days, send them an e-card and make it seem like you sent on their actual day, but there must have been some sort of “technical problem” with the “host domain” and the “coding” on the site you sent it from. Basically you use all kinds of jargon and lingo that you are not educated on and are using incorrectly, and in the end the time stamp on when you sent the ecard is visible to all. The gig is up. You’re found out. You were just busy and forgetful and put off for tomorrow…..you know the saying.
This is what has happened here. We moved into our farm a year ago, did a mess of crap, blinked, and now here I am starting a blog about the journey. Oops. So what I will attempt to do is recreate the process for getting here by cobbling together the handful of pictures I took along the way, to give the illusion of being organized and with it, but in the end you will see a bunch of posts with a bunch of the same dates, so I won’t be fooling anyone. But Ima do it anyway. Indulge me.
I’m Jenne – pronounced like Jen, but spelled really weird in honour of my late grandma who always misspelled my name. God bless ‘er. I’m certified with the Ontario College of Teachers, hold my Masters of Sciences in Childhood Education, my Special Education Specialist designation, and I walked away from nearly a decade of teaching in the public and private sectors to homeschool my two kiddos, both of whom have Autism and multiple other diagnoses (that reads as really braggy and pretentious…sorry…..let’s just say I’m super overqualified for my SAHM role, k?) Although it’s not for everyone, it’s the best decision we could have made for our family – it’s fun, fulfilling, and has taken the ball of stress our household once was and turned our home into the haven it ought to be. Although it’s not for everyone, it’s the best decision we could have made for our family – it’s fun, fulfilling, and has taken the ball of stress our household once was and turned our home into the haven it ought to be. Our family recently made a huge lifestyle switch, with my husband giving up his fancy schmamcy corporate gig to become a professor, giving us more family time, and challenging us to live a more simple, intentional life focusing on the things that truly matter. With that switch, came a move to a horse farm and launching a special needs Equine Assisted Learning program. I love my God, my people, decorating on a dime (read: rooting through other people’s garbage for things to use as home decor), and laundry. Judge away.
We got pigs! They stink. Some of you are going “duh….what did you think they would smell like?” All the research I’ve done about pigs says how clean they are, not liking to wallow in their own filth (like when you take a bath – sorry, not a bath person. That’s nasty. I don’t want to set the water temperature stupid hot, gingerly lower myself into it and sit there until the heat and moisture and whatever has done its job and sloughed off a bunch of dirt and bacteria and skin cells and stuff for me to sit around in until the water becomes tepid and my toes become wrinkly, and then be itchy for like three hours afterwards as my pruny skin suit shrinks back down to size. Neither do pigs. See? I brought it back to the topic at hand.) But at the end of the day, even if they don’t roll around in their poo, they still have a certain fragrance about them that is not pleasing to me. Mind you, I have a super sniffer and I’m the only one who notices in the family, and then only when I’m about 20 feet away from their pen. So all in all, they’re a good addition to the farm. Plus they will be delicious in about 6 months, so I’ll put up with a little something in the air now, for the tantalizing smell of the smoker this fall. They are Berkshire’s, a heritage breed that takes longer to get to a lower market weight, but with a meat quality that is coveted by high-end restaurants for the complexity of flavour and quality of meat. In all seriousness, though, I am extremely grateful to be able to raise our own meat this way. We know how they are treated, what they’re fed, and most importantly, we gain respect for the meat we consume, knowing it had a cute squishy face and a little personality. This way we won’t overindulge when we eat or waste when we prepare, because when the package we pull out of the freezer isn’t all cling-wrapped on a white tray we will no longer be detached from the process of getting the pork to our fork. I realize it’s not for everyone, but we’re glad to be given the opportunity to give these stinky little pigs a great life, and equally as thankful to them as they provide sustenance to our family!
(Side note: the horses were fit to be tied…these little 50 pound wiener pigs are terrifying to them. They kept a constant close eye (from a distance) on them, certain that the wee little piggies were plotting to take over the world and would unseat the equine from their privileged status here on the farm.)
Well, here’s something I wasn’t planning on doing a mere three months after moving into a massive project property….I’ve just launched a business! God loves it when we make plans with a timetable and outline, doesn’t he? I figured in a few years time I’d start to consider looking into Equine Assisted Learning as a business option to help those with special needs. God figured rightthissecond was better. So here we are! Equine Assisted Learning is an amazing platform. It’s an experiential approach to teaching life skills (like communication, leadership, negotiation, problem solving, etc.) alongside haltered horses from the ground. It’s filled with “aha” moments.
The farm is nowhere near the state that I envisioned it being before letting perfect strangers from the community in to see it…..“Just past the house of horror on your right and the hill covered in tractor implements and 60 cords of haphazardly piled wood on your left, you can head straight to the barn for your session!” The pamphlet writes itself, really. I figure this is one way that God is using this place to teach me – to trust His timing, His provision, my abilities, and to let go of perfectionism and caring about trivial matters like what people think about how dilapidated the yard or house look, and care more about what they think about my character and passion for helping their kiddos.
Here’s to jumping into this adventure with both feet and no water wings!
You know when you just KNOW. It’s in your gut and your heart and your head, and you are all at once terrified and excited and nauseous? Well, we finally found our unicorn. The property that we have been searching over four years for. We have given up on the quest more times than I can remember, only to be nudged again (or kicked in the seat of the pants) by God to keep on keepin’ on. It sure was worth the wait! One of the reasons I know for a fact that this is our forever home, the one God held aside and made us wait for, is because everybody else’s first impression is all *fake-too-big-smile-kinda-wide-crazy-eyes-wrinkly-forehead-voice-pitch-up-three-levels-“Wooooooow…..”-avoid-eye-contact reaction, but we look at it and only see vintage beauty and charm! She has definitely been let go over the years. The dingy greyed slathered concrete patched exterior *kinda looks like something out of a horror movie where people go to die, but daaaang has she got potential and promise! The bones are all there, we just need to get this retired cheerleader a personal trainer to reclaim some of her former glory. For now, it’s a mix of “stop the bleeding” large ticket items (like steel roofing over natural skylights read: hole in roof; a new wood stove with a door that actually has glass in it; fixing some DIY electrical that melted an extension cord so the barn doesn’t burn down….you know, frivolous nice to have items) and aesthetic touch ups (like turning down the volume of the room colours by about 112 decibles and thinning/weeding gardens and trees on the property – 100 and counting…) Although this is a huge undertaking, and many think we’ve been knocked off our gourd for taking it on, there’s no place that’s ever felt as much like home as this does. All of the literal blood, sweat and beers – I mean tears – that will go into fixing her up, will only serve to make her all the more special and personal to us. (Head on over to my Instagram @missionhillfarmeal account to see the smoke machines and mirrors that we had installed to make it look like we have a handle on this massive undertaking!)