Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. #EIN# 82-2236486

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Moo decipherings

I took a break from painting yesterday to work in the lavender field for a couple of hours. It was our first real summer-ish day, and being inside all day wasn't possible. It was perfect temp to work in the field, new enough in the season that being a bit hot felt so good, and no bugs yet to spit out as I worked. As I was working, I could hear one of the near by cows that are kept in our adjacent acreage. It was a different kind of moo. I stopped to watch her at a distance, and as all the other cows were off grazing, she was standing, head up, very still a long way from the herd. I knew immediately she was most likely in labor. It dawned on me how I have learned a lot about the nuances of animal sounds and their different meanings since moving to the farm. I was pleased when later on, I found out she had been in labor. I think it is safe to say I know more about pregnancy in ewes and cows now than I do in humans. I would have no idea what to do with a woman in labor, perhaps get them to a near by barn and prepare a bucket of warm water with molasses, check on them every half hour or so.

She's my favorite cow of the herd, the only red one amongst the black Angus group. She has incredible eyes, and I have told the farmer who owns them I think I want to buy her. He chuckled. He has learned that although we are new at all this, we try our best, and work hard, and that is what proves you out here with these crusty guys. He once said to me, "I could spend all day watching my animals"...and I agreed. That is our common denominator. We have gained his respect as he has watched us in rainstorms and heat waves working on the fields or putting up cross fencing or redoing the old barn. He comes over sometimes to check up on the electric fence or something, and he often will stand around for an hour telling me animal stories. Sometimes, I've heard the same story a million times, but I never let on. They seem to get better with each telling.

This picture is of the same farmer's bull. One day when we first moved here, Martyn got up and causally said, "Katherine, there's a bull in our field". It was Hotshot. He was standing so pristinely in our front field, surrounded by dog fennel weeds. As far as bulls go, he is well mannered. For much of the year, he is kept separate form the herd and brought over at breeding time. It was so heartbreaking to hear his wailing when he wanted so much to be with his girls. So I would visit him through the fence and give him carrots which seemed to please him so much. When he ended up in our field this morning, I replied in a sleepy daze, "He's here to have carrots with me"...Later we found the area of the fence he had mangled to get through to our side. Some might assume he was trying to get better grass, or get a little closer to view his far off herd, but perhaps his inspiration was my carrots and companionship.