Mother Ranch strives to heal, connect
Julia MacMonagle wants to create space among her goats and sheep, where moms can support each other
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.”
Mary Kennedy pets two goats during a goat yoga class at The Mother Ranch.