Carding includes a family farm owned by Lee and Christine Tennyson where they raise goats. The herd, tended by Christine, produces milk for artisanal cheese. There’s also a yoga teacher named Cassie Handy (you’ll meet her in the latest Carding novel, Lights in Water, Dancing) who’s pretty flexible in her teaching philosophy. And there’s Houdini, a billy goat who has little regard for fences.
So yoga with goats was tailor-made for a Carding story, wouldn’t you say?
To find out more about this specialized form of stretching and bending, Jay and I went on a research trip to Wellwood Orchards in North Springfield, Vermont on a bright Sunday afternoon where I met Aggie Marks, yoga teacher and goat lover.
Wellwood is one of those places that tourists look for when they visit my beloved state. It has been owned by the Marks family since father Roy bought it in 1981. It has incredible views over the Green Mountains. Its gentle rolling slopes are covered with apple, peach and plum trees and there’s a blueberry patch and a strawberry patch. There’s a petting zoo filled with peacocks, all sorts of roosters and chickens, rabbits, a sow (who was nursing a passel of piglets when we visited), and goats.
At the store, you’ll find maple syrup, handmade potholders, cookbooks for the produce you’ll find at Wellwood, and cider doughnuts. (They are wonderful, deadly treats.)
Aggie is one of Roy’s four daughters, all of whom are owners of the corporation that manages Wellwood. She told me that she was inspired to consider the inclusion of baby goats in her yoga classes by a teacher in Portland, Oregon named Lainie Morse. At first Aggie was uncertain about it. But she loves the goats on her farm so why not give it a try?
Everyone was a very good sport, especially the kids who came along with their Moms and their yoga mats. We all laughed a great deal, and the goats were…well…goats, curious, completely unafraid, and beautiful.
Over the next three weeks, I’ll use the inspiration I gathered on our trip to Wellwood Orchards in a series of Carding Chronicles for which I thank Aggie, her students, and the folks at Wellwood for preserving and fostering one of those special places in Vermont.