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

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. All images ar©Katherine Dunn.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Never taken lightly

I have set the date for the 3 meat lambs to be butchered in November. They will die on the same patch of pasture they spent their first days on. Somehow, it makes sense. I would much rather they go this way then be sent off to a butcher - even if it was a humane operation, as it is so stressful for the animals, especially sheep, to be transported. The butcher we have coming is well known and respected, and I am confidant he will do a quick and humane job, or we wouldn't be hiring him. Part of me wants to watch, perhaps hoping if I see the process enacted, it will help me somehow be more at ease with raising an animal and then, by choice, slaughtering it for meat. Being 'at ease' with it is unlikely, but perhaps I can reach a place where it doesn't feel like an impending trauma. Most seasoned farmers will say the animals have no idea of their role of becoming food, but I disagree. I feel that they do know their purpose, but unlike me, are at peace with it. I am with those animals and handle them much of the day, I know the slight differences in each of our small flock, and I can tell you those three weathers are calmer than the others, move with a slower pace, they just have an air about them. Perhaps, you might say, I just choose to fool myself with that idea to make it easier - but while in their presence, I sense it to be true. This is why I now call them 'chosen ones'.

I am not painting this month, but I am doing some new drawings. I quickly named this one 'dying woman', perhaps because a relative is dying of cancer, or perhaps because the shepherd artist is recognizing she too is slowly dying, as we all are, and this too might help her resolve her ongoing conflict with the upcoming butchering.

The cloth of heat that came on Thursday has now added a small bucket of humidity to it's fabric, so just walking to the barn has one wet and sticky. Having spent most of my former life on the east and Midwest, I am well aware of what high humidity does to a 100+ degree day. This Oregon "humidity" is nothing, but, it still makes me slur my words and step.

Last nite the heat was overwhelming, and nearby farm friends who have river front next to ours called to tell us to come down to the river and barbecue and go swimming. We shuffled like drunks to the car, and it was a relief the instant my feet went in the river. What a treat to have river front. Thank you. Thank you.

I am planning to paint the small little hooves of Pino Blangiforti next week. I know how happy it makes me to look down at my red toenails, so why not pass this joy on to a little donkey by daisy-izing his little feet.


farmgirl said...

Tomorrow we will load up four of our beautiful wethers and bring them to a small, local butcher. While I totally acknowledge the fact that today is their last day of roaming the fields with their flock, and a part of me is sad/upset by this, I am also very happy. These lambs have had the best lives I could possibly give them. And now they are going to provide delicious, healthy food for people who are truly thrilled to be getting it--a South African couple that "loves to eat sheep," a mother of seven children who buys organic milk and knows that "those growth hormones in supermarket meat do very bad things to growing bodies," and the two of us--who will no doubt appreciate this meat more than anyone (especially since we will be getting much of ours turned into the lamb summer sausage that is custom made to my specifications and contains no nitrates or preservatives--so tasty!)

I think you are doing the right thing--and making great strides as a farmer.

P.S. I can't believe your little donkey is going to let you paint his toenails. : )

ESB said...

oh, this is just heartbreaking....

Jeanne said...

This is beautiful. Sad, hopeless - resigned. Nice work.

I sympathize with you about the upcomimg butchering. I am curious of the outcome for you emotionally. I will eventually have to deal with that process myself with my goats.

Jade said...

Interesting. I too have been thinking similar thoughts about death & dying -- I have a friend who is also dying of cancer right now.

As far as what the animals know or don't know, I think you might enjoy reading "Animals in Translation."

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~