The Dirt Where Happiness Grows


I visited a goat farm in Umbria. 

I'm not sure how a city girl like me keeps finding herself on goat farms but my third time to meet goats seems like two times too many for someone who doesn’t particularly love farms.

But attired in my multi-pocketed goat-coat and my very sensible goat-farm shoes, I had traveled across the ocean and was ready to meet the goats. 

Since my previous encounters were with goats outside of Atlanta, I couldn't help wondering if Italian goats would be any different than their U.S. counterparts. 

Maybe more polite? {No butting in.} 

Maybe clean-shaven? {No goatees.} 

Maybe more honest storytellers? {No goat-tales.}

{You know I can't resist making some goat puns!}






So early in the morning {before I'd even had my coffee} I boarded a bus for the one-hour drive to the town of Orvieto outside of Rome to meet the goats. 

Sophie our tour guide promised us a stop for coffee as soon as we got outside of Rome's busiest traffic, but it seemed a long time coming when I was dreaming of smelling the aroma of coffee. 

It was worth it though since even gas station coffee is elegant in Italy. 

I loved how a uniformed man with a jaunty red hat made our cappuccinos as we stood at the convenience store counter to drink them. 




So after being duly fortified with coffee, we were on the road again to see the goats. 

Sophie told us how she had just spent an entire month staying on the farm and couldn’t wait to introduce us to her baby goats.

As we approached them, the goats saw us coming and rushed eagerly to the fence to greet us {or maybe they just noticed Sophie}

But I felt as if they were acting a little too familiar when we'd only just met, sniffing pieces of my hair, licking it, and nibbling the pockets of my goat coat {that sadly, held no treats for them}. 

From my vast experience with goats on two continents, I can assure you that Italian goats are definitely quite frisky, don't hesitate to whisper a goat-load of sweet nothings in your ear and then leave you all alone to run off with the rest of the goat herd.

{It reminded me a lot of dating.}






We went to see the goats inside the barn and the farmer’s wife brushed by me with a huge bale of hay.

As I watched her tend to the goats, it looked to me like a difficult life, busy from morning to night with little chance to get away from the farm.

When Sophie told me the farmer's wife had been a city girl working at a business in Rome but traded her office job for life in the country, I thought about the courage to change course.

I thought about how willing {or unwilling} I am to go in the opposite direction of where I think I want to be.

I sometimes resist change because what's knocking at my door doesn’t look like what I've visualized. Or I'm reluctant to reset my plans because I'm just so sure I know how my life ought to look.

But maybe it's more than that. Maybe it's a matter of response. 






Maybe we're more adaptable than we think to our outside environments and what needs recalibrating is what's inside our hearts and minds.

I think sometimes God invites us to sift through the dirt in front of us -- the difficult and uncertain and complicated things in our lives -- to find the deeply rich soil where the seeds of a good life are planted and already tenderly growing.

Maybe that's where the holy ground is. 

Maybe there's more than one way to find happiness and contentment.

Isn't it true that what's sometimes so hard can offer us joy, fulfillment and peace in much different ways than we could possibly imagine?






Over the ridge and across the rolling hills from the goat farm is a castle that's for sale. 

We asked the farmer's wife if she was going to buy it and she laughed and shook her head.


I don't know if she wishes she lived there instead of her goat farm, but she works the dirt in her little corner of the world, raising two young daughters in the country and selling goat cheese to local restaurants.

I think the goat farmer's wife has discovered the secret to a satisfying life.

Our group packed up the goat cheese she'd prepared for us and headed to the winery across the dirt road where a grape-grower was hosting a wine tasting for us.






This immediately raised this goat expedition to the top of my list as the favorite of my three goat adventures.

And speaking of packing, I decided my goat coat {with all the pockets} might come in handy in the future sometime so I put it in my suitcase for the trip home, but I left my sturdy goat-farm-flats behind in Italy. 

No need for something so practical to clutter up my shoe shelves.


Besides, I'm hoping three is the final number of goat farm visits for me. Maybe that's the end of this goat-tale for me.


But now that I'm back home, I think so fondly of those baby goats in Umbria and wished I could have stayed longer. 


Kidding! {But of course I’m kidding.}





I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart.



Comments

  1. I'm guessing you've reached your goat quota - Mom

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    1. Yes, indeed I think 3 is the magic number!

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  2. Oh Valerie - I cracked up at your comparison to dating... I laughed so hard I didn't think I could finish the rest, but then I read this --> I think sometimes God invites us to sift through the dirt in front of us -- the difficult and uncertain and complicated things in our lives -- to find the deeply rich soil where the seeds of a good life are planted and already tenderly growing.
    And I sighed because it's just what I needed to hear today. Maybe it feels dark because we're just getting ready to break through the tender ground and flourish...♥ And I bet that wine tasting wouldn't have been half as sweet without the cheese from the goat farm experience before it... ;) Can't wait to hear what other treasures you dug up while in Rome. ♥ xo

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    1. Heather,
      Oh I love that -- other treasures I dug up in Rome -- can I steal that for a blog post title?! Yes, the wine tasting and goat cheese was the best part of the day - -along with a spectacular lunch and cathedral visit -- future blog post coming! :)

      I love what you said about breaking through the tender ground -- it's difficult but once we do, we can flourish -- perfect sentiments for spring, don't you think? Thanks for virtually adventuring along with me on my trip to Rome! xoxo

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    2. Absolutely!! You may mine whatever titles you need out of our conversations :) And yes Bring on Spring!! ♥

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  3. Goats and dating.

    Now THAT'S funny!

    Love the day at the goat farm. The coat. And the shoes left behind ...

    ;-}

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    1. Linda,
      I was amazed at how similar some of my dates and goats were when I got down on the farm! :)

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  4. As someone who's moved a lot, I'd say we're more adaptable than we realize. It's our choice, but why make one that invites misery. Your choice to embrace your less than ideal surroundings proved better than you anticipated. And gave us a beautiful look at your journey.

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    1. Hi Debby,
      I think you're right! When push comes to shove, I think we can do more than we think to flex and adjust and maybe we sell ourselves short! xo

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  5. Oh Valerie, you have brightened my day. :) I love your photos and goat-tales. You had me chuckling out loud about the goats whispering a goat-load of sweet nothings in your ear. You have a gift for humor. And puns. :) I'd love to own a farm, but maybe not goats. Even though I love animals, I remember goat males being quite stinky. Since you're not feeling like going back to goats again, I have a confession to make... I am grossed out that the males actually urinate on their beards, face, and chests during mating season. I didn't see any with beards here though. :) Thank you for refreshing my spirit today! Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Hi Trudy,
      I'm so glad you enjoyed the goat adventure! Goats are certainly quirky little creatures and I'm not sure how one grows to love them because they're really pushy and spirited. Maybe as babies, they're more lovable -- at least that's what Sophie told me! I am hoping this chapter closes out my goat adventures -- I'd be very happy if that were the case! xo

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  6. Something about coming over here brings a quiet peace to my soul - seriously, I wouldn't even begin to say that if I didn't mean it. Several comments: 1. I adore goats; 2. We raised goats at one time, had 29 of them; 3. French Chevre goat cheese is to die for (my husband made the best); 4. I don't think the goat farm owner yearned for the castle. I believe she was extremely content in her own world, enjoying her present and doing the next thing. So very happy I visited today! Truly a touch of Grace with Silk.

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    1. Hi Susan,
      Thanks so much for sharing your love of goats! I can't believe you owned some and even made goat cheese -- I need your insight to develop some love for these strange little creatures! :) So glad you popped over today!

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  7. Oh I loved all of your goat puns, and I especially chuckled to think that the goats in Italy might be more polite. :-) I am happy you saved your goat-coat, because well,. . . you just never know! But the questions you raised here: "I thought about how willing {or unwilling} I am to go in the opposite direction of where I think I want to be" hit me hard today. I know that my heart becomes so resistant to the change that isn't in my agenda. Thank you for these encouraging words to look for the contentment that God has planted within us, the preparation already begun for the changes ahead. Can't wait for more armchair travels here! --Blessings and Hugs to you!

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    1. Hi Bettie,
      Yes I did save the goat-coat -- freshly laundered, of course! :) I love what you said about God preparing us for the changes ahead -- I like to think about how all our experiences are worth something in our lives and nothing is wasted. When we see glimmers of that, it's truly inspiring isn't it, that God holds all of the pieces of our past for present purposes!

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  8. I loved this entire post - the photos were stunning! And this spoke deeply > "I think sometimes God invites us to sift through the dirt in front of us -- the difficult and uncertain and complicated things in our lives -- to find the deeply rich soil where the seeds of a good life are planted and already tenderly growing." I am going to take time this afternoon to reflect & be grateful for what is already growing in my life. I am so grateful for the good life He has already given me. Blessings!

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    1. Hi Joanne,
      Thanks so much for your words here and sharing a tweet! :)

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  9. Valerie,
    I loved your photos and your gentle humor sprinkled throughout. This struck me: "what needs recalibrating is what's inside our hearts and minds." This is what God seems to inviting me into lately...to believe He is bigger than I can imagine and to trust Him more and more with my heart. Blessings xoxo

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    1. Hi Dolly,
      Inviting you into believing and trusting -- those sound so easy but require a great deal of discipline in our hearts and minds, don't they? I love that . . . and am aspiring to those disciplines! xo

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  10. "Maybe there's more than one way to find happiness and contentment." This nugget of truth in between your gorgeous photos and goat adventures just blessed me so. It's resonates with something else God has been writing over my heart - to be satisfied in the place He has me rather than keep wondering about where He's taking me next. Satisfaction is leading to contentment and I've got to say, I like it. And you - and your flirty Italian goats. Hugs, friend.

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    1. Hi Tiffany,
      Contentment with where we are without pining for what's ahead is a practice I'm joining you in and like you, I'm finding it does lead to a more peaceful soul-state. Thanks for enjoying my Italian goats! :) xo

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  11. Hi Valerie- I was so happy to read this post and hear about the goats and the goat coat :) I love all your puns -:) I do think God wants us to just sit in that dirt as a means of acceptance and then he so faithfully shows me that he is bringing beauty right out of that mud - But it looks a lot different and more beautiful than what I was expecting or thinking. Your pictures and stories are just great! Thanks for sharing them!with much lovexo

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    1. Hi Susie,
      Goats are always good for a laugh, aren't they? They really are amusing little animals with a stubborn streak and it's comical to watch! Hoping you are resting in the beauty of what God's showing in the middle of your difficulties right now -- and I'm always praying for you! xoxo

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  12. "Maybe we're more adaptable than we think to our outside environments and what needs recalibrating is what's inside our hearts and minds." So true! That's what transformation is all about isn't it? Loved all the puns too, and that you left your sensible shoes behind! Made me think that God doesn't often choose what we think is the 'sensible' way for our direction! (Laughed out loud over the dating comment! Great one, my friend!) Love this post and the goats kind of look cute don't you think? :)

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    1. Hi Lynn,
      Who needs sensible shoes?! haha I would agree that goats are cute . . .from a distance! :)

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  13. Oh, they are so cute! I loved the pictures and hearing all about your goat visit, and especially about the farmer's wife who left her old life behind for a life of hard work and simplicity. All of God's creatures have their own, special beauty, even the goats! I can't wait to hear about more of your traveling adventures...your writing and the wonderful photos make me feel I am right there experiencing it for myself! God bless you, sweet friend. :)

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    1. Hi Cheryl,
      I think I looked at the farmer's wife's simple life and saw how hard it was, yet satisfying! Thanks for coming along on my goat-adventure and sharing here! xo

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  14. How fun! Many days I wish I could run away and live on a goat farm instead of my complicated, messy life. But God has us each where he wants us ... to use us AND to mold us to him. Thanks for sharing your amazing trip with us!

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    1. Hi Christa,
      There are some days that make a goat farm look attractive, aren't there?! :) So grateful for you being here!

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  15. I'm dying from all the puns!
    Love the pictures and how much goats love you. Do I smell a change in your life? Maybe giving up the city life for goat farm life? :)

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    1. Hi Sarah,
      Perhaps the goat aroma is getting to you all the way in Atlanta . . . it would take a lot to convert me to a farm-life! :) xo

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  16. This made me smile so much, Valerie! I loved all your puns and the comparison to dating, the lovely photos and the lesson you draw out from it! It is all so good. So true that when we sift through the dirt of our present circumstances we often find something good growing there, and I think the act of looking for it is an important step to finding contentment.

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    1. Hi Lesley,
      Yes to what you said -- something good is growing in the dirt of where we are, we just have to dig deep to find it, don't we?! xo

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  17. Valerie, you had me laughing here and I just love the comparison to dating and all the goodness here. But honestly? I feel like you put into words here what has been forming in my heart this week: "I think sometimes God invites us to sift through the dirt in front of us -- the difficult and uncertain and complicated things in our lives -- to find the deeply rich soil where the seeds of a good life are planted and already tenderly growing. Maybe that's where the holy ground is. "

    These photos are gorgeous and you are so beautiful. Thank you for this, my friend!

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    1. Ronja,
      I always smile when I see a comment from you! :) Thanks for popping by and I'm waiting with expectation to see what God unfolds in the next chapter for you, friend! xo

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  18. Valerie, did you know your writing makes me happy? This has been a bit of a heavy week for me, and reading this was a bright spot. :-) (I agree, by the way, that the hard things of life can bring us "joy, fulfillment and peace in much different ways than we could possibly imagine.")

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    1. Lois,
      Oh I'm so glad this little goat post brought a smile to your face! Hoping this new week brings you a new perspective! xoxo

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  19. Girl you are the best. I can't believe you found more goats. I am the one who lives in KY and you've seen more than me I truly believe! I love reading about your adventures. xoxoxo

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    1. Meg,
      Your words of encouragement warm every corner of my heart! xo

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