Mother Ranch strives to heal, con­nect

Ju­lia MacMona­gle wants to cre­ate space among her goats and sheep, where moms can sup­port each other

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Karen An­tonacci

LONG­MONT» Ju­lia MacMona­gle had dreamed of hav­ing a farm since she was 5 years old.

Now, her dream is a re­al­ity and she runs the 15-acre Mother Ranch north of Long­mont com­plete with horses, sheep, don­keys, dogs, chick­ens and goats.

The goats are es­pe­cially im­por­tant be­cause she uses them to of­fer goat yoga, a trendy form of yoga that is ex­actly what it sounds like.

“It’s a big gig­gle­fest,” MacMona­gle said, show­ing off the fenced-in, shaded area where a yoga teacher of­fers classes. In­stead of rub­ber mats, the ground is cov­ered in soft stall shav­ings and the walls are dec­o­rated with chalk­board paint and party lights.

Peo­ple take a yoga class while the baby goats climb on them, nib­ble their hair, try to es­cape the en­clo­sure and just be all-around cute.

MacMona­gle said the goats are part of what she wants to of­fer, but the land is re­ally the crux of what she wants peo­ple to take away from the classes.

“It’s heal­ing to be with the goats but also just to be on the land. Most of us live in the ‘burbs or in a city and not too many peo­ple live out here in the ru­ral part any more,” MacMona­gle said. “We’re just look­ing to give peo­ple some space so they can breathe the air and be on the land. That’s very im­por­tant to me.”

MacMona­gle was liv­ing with her hus­band and son in the Fox Mead­ows neigh­bor­hood in Long­mont be­fore they bought the ranch about a year ago.

In ad­di­tion to the yoga classes, MacMona­gle also is rais­ing sheep and lambs for meat, has a small herd of dairy goats and boards re­tired horses.

She’s also of­fer­ing em­pow­er­ment pro­grams for both 12- and 13-year-old girls and 11- and 12-year-old boys. The pro­grams are de­signed to help them find their voices and au­then­tic­ity, MacMona­gle said.

“It’s that idea of ‘It takes a vil­lage to raise a child.’ So many times they just need an­other adult to count on that’s not their mom or dad. It’s so im­por­tant and all kids need more adults who can say ‘I’ve got your back.’ It’s my job to help them be­come more aware of who they are and more ac­cept­ing of who they are,” MacMona­gle said.

One of the ser­vices that MacMona­gle is most ex­cited about is the seven-week Shine! Mother and Daugh­ter Con­nec­tion pro­gram. The pro­gram is meant to strengthen the con­nec­tion be­tween moth­ers and daugh­ters who are 12 or 13 by work­ing with the moth­ers and daugh­ters sep­a­rately and then bring­ing them to­gether for a re­treat.

“Moms are used to see­ing their daugh­ters as lit­tle girls and the daugh­ters are the process of break­ing out of that co­coon for the first time and they’re start­ing to push back,” MacMona­gle said. “It’s hard for the moms to see their daugh­ters as young women and it’s hard for daugh­ters to see their moms as a per­son. ... That’s an im­por­tant piece to see­ing each other for who they re­ally are.”

She even­tu­ally wants to of­fer cor­re­spond­ing cour­ses for fa­thers and daugh­ters, fa­thers and sons and moth­ers and sons, but build­ing up the re­la­tion­ship be­tween moth­ers and daugh­ters is es­pe­cially im­por­tant be­cause of her own ex­pe­ri­ence with her daugh­ter.

MacMona­gle and her hus­band adopted their daugh­ter from Ethiopia when she was 4 and saw her start ex­hibit­ing signs of Re­ac­tive At­tach­ment Dis­or­der.

RAD is a rare con­di­tion in which a child ex­pe­ri­ences trauma at a very young age and it pro­hibits them from form­ing healthy at­tach­ments with par­ents or care­givers, ac­cord­ing to the Mayo Clinic.

RAD chil­dren who ex­pe­ri­ence trauma and then are adopted may lash out at their adopted fam­i­lies, es­pe­cially moth­ers, MacMona­gle said.

The In­sti­tute for At­tach­ment and Child De­vel­op­ment de­scribes RAD chil­dren as stuck in a the de­vel­op­men­tal phase of a tod­dler, where they steal, ar­gue, blame oth­ers and have trou­ble reg­u­lat­ing emo­tions.

Her daugh­ter is in a ther­a­peu­tic treat­ment home.

MacMona­gle’s RAD ex­pe­ri­ence led her cre­ate The Mother Ranch as a place for peo­ple to heal and for moms to con­nect.

“So­ci­ety says women are catty and back­stabby and all ‘Mean Girls’ but the women I coach end up best friends,” MacMona­gle said. “Moms are so sup­port­ive of each other and it’s not that back­stabby ‘Mean Girls’ crap at all. That’s not my ex­pe­ri­ence and it is pos­si­ble for moms to sup­port each other.”

Jeremy Pa­passo, Times-Call

Mary Kennedy pets two goats dur­ing a goat yoga class at The Mother Ranch.

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