University – life lessons, goats and second year!

University

A year ago, I set off on a new and exhilarating adventure. University life.

My first year as a University Student… Exciting!

I’m now just a week away from beginning my second university year. Following my studies in Zoology with Animal Behaviour as I aim to become a voice for those in need of one. My animal companions in need of a friend.

First year issued me with valuable lessons which I aim to apply to myself, and my studies, throughout the upcoming academic year.

A study carried out recently at Buttercups Goat Sanctuary (UK, Kent) found that Goats LOVE a happy face. A happy Laur equals a happy goat. Goativation? Therefore, for my caprine companions, it’s my upmost mission to be as happy as humanely possible as I embark on life’s next academic challenge.

BE THE GOAT FOR THE GOATS

As a student, and a young person in general, it’s very easy to become caught up in what those around me are doing. But I’ve concluded that I must make myself, my health and my happiness my biggest priority if I wish to succeed in my journey.

With just five basic lessons, I am confident second year will be increasingly more enjoyable than the first.

STOP BEING SO HARD ON MYSELF

During my first year, I became awfully distressed whenever I received a lower grade than I anticipated. Though, I wish to focus more on my efforts and areas for improvement as opposed to my so-called “failures”. Focusing on the positives leaves less room to dwell on the negatives, I believe. And trying my hardest can never result in failing.

My grades do NOT define me, or my worth.

“Giving up is the only sure way to fail.”

CONFIDE IN OTHERS DURING TIMES OF STRUGGLE

I’ve learned the importance of reaching out for support during my times of need, coming to the realisation that seeking help is perfectly acceptable, there is always an ear to listen and I don’t deserve to suffer alone, or in silence. University is a wonderful place filled with the most supportive people (tutors and friends) and nobody will think of me any less for needing a helping hand.

Speaking up releases masses of tension and encourages others to seek help, too. A win win situation!

PRIORITISE HAPPINESS AND SELF CARE

Finding a comfortable, maintainable balance within my studies and “other things” is still a work in progress, but one I am keen to apply to myself. Ensuring I create time for the things I love outside of my studies – spending time with friends, volunteering and engaging in the clubs and societies I am involved with and have a passion for. The understanding that spending countless hours in the library, buried in text books or behind laptop screens isn’t healthy or necessary amongst the pathway to graduating. Nor does it make me a “better student.

FINDING MY STRENGTH

Moving away to Uni was a strength in itself, but my mission now is to maintain it. Finding the strength to carry on when things don’t necessarily go to plan, or when the day has been tough. A bad grade? Read the Tutor feedback and prioritise it next time. Speaking to my Tutor about it, a problem shared is a problem halved. A fall out with a friend? That’s okay. They happen, Uni is stressful and friendships are bound to begin showing some cracks; take a break, resolve it afterwards. A heightened struggle battling mental illness’ that day? Again, it happens. Prioritise self care, learning helpful distraction techniques and keeping myself safe.

SEARCHING FOR THE HAPPINESS IN EVERY DAY THINGS

I’m embarrassingly talented at dwelling on my nasty, more intrusive thoughts (Sigh!) So I’m ensuring I work tirelessly to focus more on the positives in my life, and less on the negatives. A balance of alone time, but ensuring I am not too withdrawn. Searching for the happiness in every day things, regardless of how small they may appear so that during my darker times, I can reflect upon the better times. Never underestimate the healing powers of a cuddle with an animal, a cup of tea or a simple stroll along a scenic route via a Beach or a Forest.

Beautiful things happen when you distance yourself from the negative

Here’s to second year, another year in which I aim to succeed, exceed my own expectations and make some unforgettable memories with the incredible friends I am blessed with.

A splendid Summer at Little Owl Farm

Little Owl Farm

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Well, Summer at Little Owl Farm has officially drawn to a close. My second Summer spent at the farm and I am extremely delighted about that! It’s been an incredible, fun packed few months spent volunteering with my upmost enthusiasm and the best of people who continuously bring me joy and happiness.

It’s been thrilling witnessing Cindy and John swimming in success with the emphasis that all of their hard work, and planning, has paid off as they’ve welcomed many visitors and carried out the best themed days throughout. Creating an enjoyable day for people of all ages. They truly do deserve The World.

Throughout the duration of Summer at the farm, I’ve had the pleasure of making new friends (both animal and human, yay!) aswell as catching up with familiar faces, including the wonderful Lizzie – a kind hearted friend of mine and an extremely talented face painter who often visits the farm to amaze myself and visitors with her dazzling, colourful creations.

https://www.facebook.com/lizziefacepaints/

I simply wouldn’t have opted to spend my time anywhere other than the farm. A place I view as a second home. (Well, I do live with the goats now…) where I am continuously welcomed with a warm embrace, aswell as my trusty wheelbarrow, surrounded with my gorgeous animal friends and the loveliest of people.

It’s been a pleasure resting from my hardworking first year of University down at the farm, expanding my knowledge and working hard to ensure the animals are content and spoiled rotten with abundance’s of love and cuddles. Oh, and the odd banana or two…

Could anybody resist that face?

I did have trouble choosing from my increasing collection of goat photos. Though, you can never have too many. Right? Poppy eternally brightens my day and widens my smile with her cheeky personality and charismatic face.

Countless hours spent travelling to the farm via buses and the treasurable number 407 which remains the most scenic, eminent route where I am dazzled with the most stunning views in Oldham upon my venture to the farm. Every visit is worth the 7:30am set offs where I am guaranteed the most happiness enhancing time where no two days ever replicate each other. The rapture of working with animals!

It’s been an incredible Summer, filled with smiles and hugs and I can only say how eager I am for Summer, 2019, and every day in advance.

Be sure to check out my fabulous friends’ social media for regular updates and the most adorable photos of our furry and feathered friends!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LittleOwlFarm/

Instagram: @littleowlfarm

Summer volunteering at the farm!

Little Owl Farm

28/07/2018

Arriving into Oldham at roughly 10:30am, I was eager to get stuck in to what was bound to be another wonderful, smile broadening day. I habitually inform Cindy of my “best day EVER!” whenever I have spent the day volunteering at the farm due to the enjoyment I gain from being there, surrounded with my animal friends and the loveliest of people.

This week was “Story Book Week” at the farm, a week dedicated to stories ranging from The Gruffalo and Alice in Wonderland, with a series of fun activities planned for children of all ages!

I highly praise Cindy and John for the hard work and dedication continuously going into making the farm as great as it is today. Knowing them feels like the greatest honour and I cannot begin to express the gratitude I have for my friends.

I was met with John, then Cindy who’re always the biggest pleasure to see and I was then ecstatic to catch up with Lizzie, the BEST face-painter and a wonderful friend of mine. We hugged, chatted and then I went on to get my hands dirty. Not that I minded. I love farm life!

Starting off with cleaning the Duck enclosures. A simple, yet fulfilling, task of emptying the old substrate and replacing it for new – following an array of wheelbarrow trips. Also cleaning out the water bowls and providing fresh water, which was soon to be muddy again in precisely two seconds with the Ducks and their dirty beaks.

I then went on to preparing some treats for the animals. A very important factor in enriching an animals’ life, saving them from boredom, providing fulfilment and ensuring all daily essential dietary needs are met. All treats must be given in moderation, though. Bananas are clearly a favourite…

Upon my wonderful (much needed) catch-up with Lizzie, I got tattooed and covered in glitter, like the big kid I am. Chatting about University, animals and goats. I was filled with laughter and happiness. Feeling content and like a sparkly princess. I went on to fill up the hay nets, carried out a quick spot-clean of the pigs’ enclosures and then cleaned out the rabbit’s hutches as they frantically hopped around my feet.

You can check out Lizzie’s excellent work at:

https://www.facebook.com/lizziefacepaints/

Time to walk Jay! After refilling the animals’ water buckets. Firstly introducing him to the other residents at the farm, starting off with Mary-Jane and Poppy (Of course!) And then going into the picnic area, carefully ensuring he didn’t cheekily nibble on any of John’s plants! Heading over to Mr McGregors’ Garden and around the entrance area as Jay strolled around curiously.

Who’s walking who there?

I could only giggle away as I was being pulled around the stunning countryside by a small looking Goat. Apparently, the wheelbarrow trips aren’t working wonders for my non-existent muscles after all…

Attaching the collar and clipping on the lead, it was then time to walk Bobby. Another Goat friend of mine, a beautiful resident at Little Owl Farm. Large horns to match his big, bright personality.

After a series of cuddles with my special, kind-hearted Goat friends, I went onto saying my good-byes after more hugs before catching the bus ready for my venture home after what had been another awesome day.

With each time I volunteer at the farm, my confidence grows and my happiness radiates too.

I love being a volunteer at Little Owl Farm!

Pygmy facts with the Pygmies!

Little Owl Farm

Mary-Jane and Poppy are just two of the gorgeous residents happily living at Little Owl Farm in Oldham, Greater Manchester. I know for a fact they’d love to meet you!

Their cheeky, loving personalities and gentle souls are enough to broaden a smile onto anybody’s face. Especially mine, The Goat Girls’ – best nickname EVER!

I love these girls to pieces because they are incredibly affectionate and adorable. They love attention! Plus, they just have a tendency to warm my heart with their cuddles and inquisitiveness and they make me smile the biggest.

It’s always wonderful to educate ourselves into more animal facts, especially whilst making friends at the farm. And as The Goat Girl, it’s understandably my aim to convert others into Goat admirers too!

Mary-Jane:

The gorgeous Daughter of Poppy. Just over 2 years old, Mary-Jane is a beautiful soul with a heart of gold. She loves attention…and food! Her big brown eyes constantly melt my heart.

Poppy:

The beautiful Mummy of Mary-Jane, an incredibly caring and protective Mummy at that. A laid back character, loving, reserved and gentle.

Pygmy Goats are well known for their playful, bouncy personalities and their love of climbing.

1) Pygmy Goats are a domesticated breed of Goat, one of the smallest breeds. (We’re blessed to have many beautiful breeds!) But that doesn’t negatively impact their joyous personalities and bundles of energy!

2) They weigh up to 85 pounds, with Males typically weighing significantly more than Females. Additionally, Males are slightly taller than Females. Standing at a height of around 23 inches.

3) This applies to ALL Goat breeds: A Female Goat is called a Doe, a Male Goat is called a Buck and a baby Goat is called a Kid.

4) They will eat a variety of different foods and have very hearty appetites. With hay taking up the largest quantity of their daily diet. Alongside pellets, fruits and vegetables. Oh, and fresh water of course!

5) In terms of Gestation (pregnancy) Pygmy Goats typically have a gestation period of up to 150 days. Shortly after birth, healthy kids can nurse from their mothers within minutes and are able to run and jump up to 4 hours later.

Be sure to head on over to Little Owl Farm to meet lots of wonderful animal friends!

Facebook: Little Owl Farm

Instagram: @littleowlfarm

Be The Goat – Finding happiness amongst my animal friends

Mental Health

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The wind is blowing, the sun is shining and contentment is flowing through my veins. On a day like today, I am thankful to be alive. And, sometimes, taking a moment to appreciate the beauty around us really works wonders. I can breathe, I can learn, I can hug and love and those are all factors I tend to ignore commonly when I remain trapped within the deepest, darkest depths of my mind. The Brain is a complex organ with the ability to do and control many things such as retaining information like a sponge. Though, when you become stuck there it becomes very tricky to find a way out.

Struggling with mental illnesses for numerous years has been a definite, continuous, struggle. But today, on one of my brighter days, I am reminded of the importance of pushing through the darkest days. Because those rare moments of happiness are worth every negative thought and behaviour I endure. I’m thankful for my struggles for enabling me to appreciate the simplest things in life which often get taken for granted: the joy of leaving the house and hearing the birds chirping, witnessing flowers blooming as Summer starts to approach us.

Little moments of positivity remind me that better days are to come, I must keep pushing, I am stronger than I believe.

With mental illness, I often forget who I really am past my diagnosis’. It’s easy to perceive myself as a label as opposed to a person. Defining myself by numbers such as the sizing of my clothes is something I do daily or by my own reflection in the mirror which isn’t the easiest to see. Destructive thoughts often cloud my mind and erupt my logical thoughts, I treat myself with hatred rather than compassion and turn a blind eye to all forms of self-care and love. I still cry over meals, worry over my weight and calories, spend time wishing I was anybody but Me.

But nobody said recovery would be easy and healing isn’t linear, emphasising the normality of slip ups along the pursuit of freedom.

Recovery is like learning to walk. You pick yourself up many times but continue to fall despite every effort to stay up. But we never let falling keep us on the ground or stop us in our tracks. There are always stumbles along the way before any goal is met but determination and perseverance is the key.

One day, I will be able to walk again.

I’m an animal lover, a friend, a hard-working student with dreams and aspirations which I would much prefer to be defined by. In fact, my animal friends have (and continue to) assist me in achieving great things such as overcoming small challenges and tackling tiny victories. They never judge me for my struggles or use them against me in any way, nor do they care about my appearance. Being surrounded with animals and comforting myself with their hugs provides me with a feeling I fail to gain elsewhere, they allow me to feel at home and safe and being around them lifts the heavy weight of mental illnesses off my shoulders. My anxieties become vacant when I am with them, it’s magical! Cliché but true.

Animals make all the bad things go away. And I believe that when you’re kind to an animal, they will certainly be kind in return.

Animals make my soul shine and my happiness radiate. It’s like somebody flicks a switch when I’m in their presence, I change from being anxious and low in mood to being confident and happy. I feel empowered when I am with them, no longer alone, like I can conquer the darkest thoughts in my mind and the struggles in front of me. For them. They help me to believe that I am capable of anything I set my mind to, as long as I continue to Be The Goat.

The healing powers of animals amazes me each day, increasingly. I’m known for my passion and admiration for Goats, because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. Goats were there during a time I felt completely and utterly alone, remaining isolated in my own little miserable bubble. It’s their friendship that saved me, knowing they valued me as much as I valued them. They continue to give me a purpose. Their constant love and affection warms my heart and aids in lifting my Depressive symptoms and seeing their hearty appetites fills me with relief during times of guilt due to my Anorexia and an important reminder that food is fuel, nothing that should be avoided or restricted, but something that should be valued for the energy it provides.

I am forever hearing wonderful stories about people in their journeys and how animals have assisted them in regaining health and happiness, from both physical and mental illnesses. Because when there is an animal, there is always a friend. Infinite love and copious amounts of compassion. Animals have been the friends I’ve needed when I’ve failed to be a friend to myself. Animal therapy is on the rise and I am confident others will only grow to appreciate animals for more than their cute factor, but for their healing and therapeutic properties too. Never underestimate the powers of being surrounded with Goats and their loving, cheeky personalities that could brighten the darkest day. The joy from feeding a Lamb her bottle or saving a Duckling’s life – they are much more significant than countless appointments I’ve had and they hold greater significance than the diagnosis’ under my name or the needles prodded in my arms.

My mental illness is a part of my life, but it isn’t my whole life. Whilst battling my mind, I have still achieved things which I ought to be proud of myself for and if anything, my illnesses push me to do better and lead me to believe that I am capable of achieving the things I wish to. But I have my animal friends to thank endlessly for providing me with a motivation and a purpose, a strive, a spring in my step and gratitude in my heart.