Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Paco has been asking Guinnias so many questions that I am giving the old goat some time to adjust before barraging him with a photo session.
We drove up on Monday to pick the old man up. The forecast was horribly inaccurate and we left at 7 am in a cold downpour, in the dark, with Huck and Billy crammed in the back of the car, along with a large crate for Guinnias. The roads were clear, thankfully, and we saw sun for about 10 minutes in Seattle. It actually hailed at Ellen's.
Firstly, it was so wonderful meeting Ellen and all her animals. I wish we'd had a longer, leisurely visit, but an hour was better than nothing. Ellen was as kind in person as she came across on the phone, and she is really helping a lot of animals. We met a bevy of goats, one of her rescue horses [it's actually good we live so far away] and a smattering of rescued sheep, like Dolly here, who came to Ellen's farm with so much unkept wool on her that they had to cut and shave it away from her face.
It was a long haul to get up there and turn around and drive back - but, I am so glad we did it. It felt so good to take this old guy home. He is adjusting well, eating and drinking which I'm pleased about. He came to Ellen's very thin, and she got some weight on him, but I hope I can get more on him. He has a really weak rear, favors one leg, has some missing teeth, but he eats whatever I give him which is good.
I have him in the Ward Room at night, just so I know he can eat all his food without a Paco-Pino-Lucia-Frankie smorgasbord. He likes to be with me when I do chores in the barn, but is very independent of the other animals, which was Ellen's experience too. He's submissive to Frankie, who is not at all interested in sharing her special hay barn. However, they get along, but the hierarchy in the herd is set fast, and it appears Guinnias is at the bottom. He adores Teddy Bear Graham Cookies.
I hated putting him in the car when we picked him up. I thought of what he might be sensing as we drove back to our farm. How do you explain to an animal they are going to their forever home? I guess by going out each day and feeding them and showing them care, over and over.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Apifera is not the only place where pygmies have had to trudge through deep snow - so too did Guinnias up at New Moon Farm .[It's official, I have slightly altered Guiness' name to "Guinnias" in honor of our love for Phinias T. Barnum. Ellen thought this was a nice tribute. We laughed though, that these creatures must think, "Have they ever just thought of asking me my real name?"]
Ellen sent me these pictures yesterday to let me know that the old man is just fine, and has not let the winter storm keep him from his morning routine - meeting her at the gate, and leading her to his favorite pastime - breakfast. It is now a sure thing that he and Frankie will have one huge thing in common, Breakfast Infatuation. Breakfast Infatuation is an incurable disease, common in many animals, but very prevalent in pygmies. One must be careful to secure all gates to feed areas- as the pygmy belly can pop like the blueberry girl. In all seriousness, this is an important part of goat raising - gate and fence security. I have known of some tragic cases, as I'm sure Ellen has.
I am so excited to get the old man home. We had hoped to go Monday, and probably could, but are waiting for a bit more road clearing. Our plan is too have him by next Sunday. Just enough time to sew matching outfits for him and Frankie....that was just a joke, but now I can see it in mind, the two of them waddling down the road in his and hers...hmmmm....
And I want to once again thank all of you who donated to help me in my senior goat journey. Like I said to all of you, your Apifera gift will arrive in January. I'll also be giving a little extra to Ellen for feed. She is bringing on 35 more goats next week - I hope to help her through art sales and any way I can throughout the next months. She is one of the many out there helping animals, and all on her own time. Bravo. If you love goats, pass her website on to friends. She is the real thing.
I did tell Pino about Guinnias. He was relieved Frankie will have Another. I did warn him he seems to have captured people's hearts already, and that he might also be getting mail in the future. Pino was not alarmed by this, and calmly explained without ego, "I suspect due to his short stature, many have looked down on him in his life, and that stimulates one's heart to overly project love, as it did mine."
If you've been following along my adventures, you know my heart has been strunk not only by cats, donkeys,old goats, one eyed pugs and one handy farm man, but also by my childlike counterpart, Thelma , who lives with her paints and her family in France.
My chartreuse is now three, and it dawned on me, she will posess the power to communicate in letters and maybe a blog of her own someday...Well, in good time, but for now, I am kept in touch with her life by her gracious mother who recently sent me pictures of Mlle. Thelma preparing for Christmas. She began her preparations way back in early November, and these pictures were good timing with my recent post about Father Christmas.
Look at that face, so much hope in it for the many important grandiose things in her head.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
We hope to keep power, but it has been known out here in rural areas to go in and out with downed trees. We now have roofs all cleared of 24+ inches of snow - thankfully, no roofs have collapes. We fretted about the one side of old barn where rams and goats live. Thank you universe. We saw some barns down in past days. Haven't had mail in 7 days! Which is sort of ridiculous since side roads are pretty good now. We ventured into town and the post office and there were many people there in same boat, and one old guy spoke up loudly, "Where is she???"...SO that 'the mail must go on" doesn't happen here.
However, we could have it much worse, and are so thankful for getting power on, and have the paths clearing to water buckets. Water hauling is lessoned now.
Dear Father Christmas,
It has been many years since I wrote you directly, but I was reminded of you this whole week - it's the snow drifts, reminding me of long ago Christmases in Minnesota, where I wrote you often with hope and anticipation. I remember the year we actually met, or at least I saw your back as you left the darkened area where our Christmas tree stood. The adults and my brother did not believe I had seen you - but to this day, I knew it was you. After all, your boots left huge imprints in the thick rug in our house, and the next day I had what I felt was perfect proof- after laying out everyone's shoes in the imprints,all were meek compared to your large feet.
I remember I wrote you every year and always asked for a horse. Each year, you always came through with many of the things on my list. I knew that the gifts I requested had to go through a thorough review and many gifts were deemed redundant, unnecessary or simply weren't available.
But every year I asked for a horse, and you never brought me one. Oh, you did bring china horses, wood horses, horse dolls, horse books, horse boots and riding lessons, and horse sketch books. I began to feel your magic had waned, that perhaps you were overworked, or even bored with your position as chief gift giver. I even wrote a letter telling you that my third grade friend said you were a fake, but I told her you were not a fake, and I would prove it to her when you brought me a horse that year. Fortunately, she moved away before Christmas, and I did not have to face her at the Christmas parade on two feet, versus in my saddle. It was then I quit writing to you.
But I never stopped thinking of you. And when Martyn and I [yes, I did finally marry even though I wrote you once I would never marry] walked down the 1/4 mile drive yesterday in the 20" of snow, we heard not a truck, human, or even af farm animal, only the faint droppings of large snowflakes on our clothes. But off in the distance, I heard bells, like jingle bells. As we walked in giant high steps closer to the main road, the bells came closer, until out of the cloudy distance came a sleigh, pulled by two horses. It was a nearby farmer, delivering hay to his cows in the only way he could, by Percheron pulled sleigh.
We stopped and chatted and they went on their way, bells slowly becoming more distant as they sled down the road. As we made our way back to the house, with smoke coming out the chimney, and the barns all buried in snow cocoons, sleeping cats waiting by a fire, and I knew I had to write you a long overdo letter.
I never quit loving you, Father Christmas, even though my letters stopped long ago. I read once that the magic deposited by Father Christmas never leaves a child even as they turn into an adult. Some have forgotten just how powerful Father Christmas magic is, and have buried it deep inside, covering it with cynicism, or material quests that defeat the real purpose of giving and receiving. And as I stood with my horse during his morning feeding, I leaned into his massive body and took in his equine smells. While physically it was heat rising from his body into the cool air, I knew without a doubt it was really you, Father Christmas. I could hear the voice I used to hear in childhood slumber, "My child, I did get you that horse, it just took awhile."
Sunday, December 21, 2008
We're getting hit with round 2 of the winter storm along with the whole Pacific Northwest. We did lose phone/internet service last night but it's back [thank you to the fairies responsible for this]...
So, if you should try to email me, or post comments, or call, and you don't hear back, you know I'm either adrift somewhere, with a bucket of grain trying valiantly to ice skate to the barn - or that the phones and /or power is down.
Buyers: if you do buy anything, rest assured your money is safe in the Paypal account and I will notify you ASAP. I always respond within a few hours of getting a payment/order, so if you have a delayed response, it means email is down.
Stay safe, warm and I hope the winter storms aren't causing you, where ever you are, too much trouble. It's just the way it is.
Friday, December 19, 2008
We received another 6" or so over the night and into the early morning. I lay in bed and listened. I thought about what a perfect little life a snowflake lives. It's born of water and comes together with all sorts of other snowflakes, each one different but each sharing a common heritage. Once born from water, do they huddle together in anticipation of their first and final journey through the clouds? As they float through wind and sky, getting closer and closer to the arms of the trees and the lap of the earth, do they sense whimsy, or perhaps melancholy of the quickness of life? They come to their respective resting spot, settle in a group, huddled together, waiting for the warmth of the sun to take them, just as they came, in water.
Getting water to the animals is the main challenge right now, but it's fine. We are supposed to get another cold blast on Saturday and Sunday. Our trip to pick up Guinniess might be delayed to mid week or next Monday. AS disappointed as I am not to have him on Monday, I guess there is no point getting stuck on an iced free way with a 90# lab with gas, a one-eyed senior pug with gas, a senior pygmy goat.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The blanket of snow keeps getting deeper, and rather than taking the week to paint, it just felt right to sew. I am kind of going crazy, sewing any loose piece of fabric I can find into something. I'm threatening to make Christmas pageant outfits for all the animals, but Martyn has suggested I focus on one outfit which we will present to Guinness on his arrival.
I made this doll and pillow for my mother. When my father died in March, I took all his neckties and socks and hankies. He loved fine fabrics and always had beautiful ties from Italy. I saved the one he wore to my wedding, and one other that he bought while in my company which had a horse on it. This little pillow is made of the ties I took home with me after the funeral, and the little doll is made of his socks, and her dress is a beautiful silk tie.
I had a nice day making these, and felt him as I sewed. The solid color knit ties were his every ties he wore to work. As I sewed, the snow fell, just like it did in a memory of a Minnesota day...my father smoking his pipe in his big chair, my mother cooking with wonderful spices, a distant TV from my brother's room, and a little black dog long gone.
He loved wrapping Christmas gifts in artistic fashion, to the point that our wrapping each year became a tradition. As I sewed, I often took time to just hold those ties, as if he was right here with me, like the memory in my head and heart.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Having grown up around dogs, the father showed the young boy the area with all the shelter dogs. No reaction. But when they walked by the cat area awhile later, his four year old autistic son yelled out , "Cat!". They took a cat home, and from day one, they could hear the son in the other room, with his cat, having conversations.
I was so touched how the father pointed out that at that moment, talking to that cat, that child finally had language. He had only needed, he went onto say,
someone with the patience to listen and not ask him to repeat himself or explain what he meant.
The article "Cats and Autism" had many comments from readers, dealing with various conditions like autism who have also been helped by animal therapy.
You can read the full article here
I read that somewhere recently, in a poem. The snow tells us so much about all the natural activities that took place while we are tucked in the house at night. A bird party near some dropped corn feed, a three some of deer wandering through to higher ground, a lone cat heading for the barn through the vegetable garden. Under the car, I see where Mama, Plum and Orange sat huddled, mingling so their feet all became one. The large, clumsy imprints of my muck boots seemed to ruin the beauty of the other natural foot dances. I pondered how much lovlier it would be if I were barefoot,or in natural skinned shoes.
We're getting through the winter storm with a few bumps, but feel blessed to have power, heat and water. Our main house pump broke a part in the cold, but Martyn spent all day and fixed it. Get 'em handy, ladies. The main stress of the cold weather is on the animals. I fretted a lot but so far everyone is ok. The first storm day was very blustery and Boone was shivering by 4pm feeding time. He has access to his indoor stall all day, but the wind kept it miserable. I fed 4x the normal hay, and put him in an inner stall that night and he was fine. I even put the hardy donkeys in, with Frankie, and it helped Lucia too,who arrived at dinner with the shakes. I worried most about the chickens, but so far they are ok. The barn cats seem uneffected, but the porch cats have taken to their underground den. I rigged up some hay areas for them and it helped. HAuling water 2x a day to 2 barns is a drag, but at the same time, it makes me feel very crispy and alive, and useful and loving. Martyn has stayed home too and it's nice to have him in the barns, even though the animals always address him with, "Is everything OK? Why are you here today? Are you sick? Is it shot day?"
Being from Minnesota, I usually scoff at the weather tv people here. 25 degrees usually garners a giant news title like "STORM WATCH!!!" But 15 degrees makes for havoc in the barnyward, and it reminds me of the long, long winters in my former life and land. It's nice to have a week of snow - but like the crew I feed, we'll be happy to feel the balmy 40-50 degree winter rains drops.
But snow on the tippy tops of everything, it's lovely while it lasts.
Friday, December 12, 2008
12.16.08 UPDATE: Wow, my heart is full and warm even in cold weather from the support of so many. We are planning to drive up next week, so stay tuned. The weather is a factor, but for sure we'll get up before New Years. I can't wait to bring the old boy home, and to meet Ellen and her farm. Pictures will be posted, and an interview with Guinness too.we'll be driving up with the One Eyed Pug and Huckelberry, so add a goat in there and it should be fun. It is quite a juggling act arranging farm care, and the trip was too long for a one day journey, especially in the winter, so we had to arrange overnight arrangements. All donators will recieve their APifera gift in a month or so. I just can't express my gratitiude.
I came upon this senior fellow needing a home. Guinness started his life like many little pygmy goats, in 4H with a little child who supposedly loved him. At that time he had another name, though it is unknown. The little girl grew up and lost interest him and eventually the parents tired of caring for him, so they gave him away. I wonder if she ever thinks of him? He ended up in a place with some goats, and was renamed Guinness [after the beer], but they had trouble with keeping him out of the garden, or sleeping on their porch, so they surrendered him last summer to the New Moon Goat Sanctuary up in Washington. New Moon is a wonderful place, operated by Ellen Felsenthal [who takes wonderful animal photos!]. Guinness is now about 15, an older age for a goat [though some live longer].
So, in keeping with my promise to my ever loyal and supportive husband, I need to find sponsors so I can adopt Guinness and bring him to his forever haven here at Apifera. The sponsor funds will help me make the 12 hour round trip and help pay for the adoption fee. As a senior animal, he might need some special care too, although feeding a pygmy is not that difficult.
I have donated a lot of money and art this year to other wonderful animal causes, and I was happy to do it. But I need a helping hand at times too. I want to make it clear that this money is to help me break even on bringing home this animal. In these economic times, there are so many more animals in need - people are abandoning their horses, and pets on roadsides all over the nation. Senior animals whose owners pass on are also being passed on - right into the shelter system where they surely face death when they should be facing a warm lap and fireplace.
I know I can't save them all, or even 1% of them, but if I can help senior animals come here to live, they can have a senior life they deserve - resting old bones in the sun, having a good rub down, sharing a stroll with a buddy, getting a good look at the full moon. [We're still working on finding the right senior dog to bring home for final hospice care - stay tuned.]
Thank you, everyone!!!!! Apifera's gift and a Guinnias message will arrive in January!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
"Most smiles are started by another smile." ~Author Unknown
So let's see how many smiles we can get today. So far, I have gotten everyone in the barnyard to smile, except Paco, but he did wink at me. The hens are already sleeping so I will smile at them tomorrow. Huck never stops smiling. I also smiled at many people today when I went to the feed store, the fabric store and the food co-op. All smiled back. Even the grumpy guy who helped me with my order. One woman was already smiling so when I started smiling it was pretty powerful smile energy going on. I don't usually do big cheesy teeth smiles, I do little Lucia smiles like the photo. That way if you have hay or toast in your teeth, no one sees it.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I've always been touched by apple trees that I come upon whose bounty has been left unpicked. Their beautiful little gifts to the earth, and the creatures, left on a roadside like a forgotten coffee cup. At least the worms and dirt, and birds, benefit. As I go for my walk with Huck up country roads, there are many apple trees, and this year I started picking the fallen fruit, carrying it home from walks in my giant coat pockets. I feed some to Rudy, the lonely horse in a nearby field, who sees us coming and knows it means apples. It is perhaps his only interaction that day with a human.
This year I went one step further, and drove to various road side trees and picked the apples in quantities for my donkeys and Boone. An apple a day. I have one yearling ewe, little Olive Oil, the runt triplet of this years crop, who loves her morning apple. None of the other ewes are interested [although they like apple sauce].
And so I had apples on my mind, when a few weeks ago I saw a news bite on a woman in California who was also moved by all the fruit in her neighborhood going unpicked. She started knocking on doors and asking people if she could pick their fruit and donate it to shelters. Soon, she had others helping, and then more people started the same activity in their own neighborhoods. Bravo for her. Bravo! But it reminded me of my apples, and I thought, next year, maybe, I can get people to pick the apples, and donate them to needy equine people, to get them through these difficult economic times. I wait until the wormy ones fall, and the bruised ones get left behind. The unwanteds can still find use in an equine belly.
So I painted this quiet little piece yesterday. For all those apples.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Someone asked me awhile ago to post pictures of my studio. I ignored the request, politely, but it came back again in my in box. It's not that I'm ashamed of my studio, I love it. I just always feel a bit squeamish showing it to the public domain. It's my inner territory. Nothing fancy. Spiders make their homes in the upper echelons, and donkeys and goats have walked these cement floors. Martyn has learned that I have basically marked the entrance with my scent, and if you cross the threshold without my assistance, you might be guided out, without words. The same person [a dear friend from afar ] who wanted to see pictures of my inner sanctum, likes to see what artists have hanging on their walls. She wondered what image on my wall was the most important
to me...it was strange. I said they're all equal because they all coincide with me and the farm and the studio. It has been noted, after all, that Apifera Farm is where 'art, lavender and animals collide'. I have a box of old clippings and sketches and words and such in a box that I dragged here from my Minnesota studio. I would it out and go through it every few months as the contents brought me comfort, and reminisces of days past that still felt present and important. It grounded me after so many moves and changes from 2002- 2004. But now the box sits mainly idle under a desk and what's important is the art of today and tomorrow, and the guy in the other room, and the hearts beating inside and outside these walls.
And the Neil Young song playing as I type. Blue, blue windows behind the stars, yellow moon on the rise, big birds flying across the sky, throwing shadows on our eyes, leave us helpless, helpless, helpless.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
We spent most of the day in the lavender field putting up pasture fence. We're experimenting with running the ewes in the field to keep weeds and grass down. I'm paranoid of roaming dogs that appear every so often, usually friendly, but they can run a sheep to a frenzied death. If all works as planned, come spring, the lavender field won't be quite as over grown grass wise, making Martyn's tilling easier - we hope. So stay tuned to see how the grand experiment works. I've let the donks run in there too, as they love thistle, and we are slowly weeding it out. But they get a little playful, running up and down the rows as if it's a special maze we created just for them. Amusing as it is, the plants are tender at a certain stage, and it's too risky for comfort.
And before you call us crazy, animals don't eat lavender, including the deer that frequent the field. They might test a plant here and there, but they stay away from it. There is concern that the initial bud growth come spring might be tempting to young ewes, but, I guess we'll find out. Besides, sheep fertilize the pastures as they eat. It was so pleasant working in the field with them as they tagged along near by. I just love my ewes. I'm always so happy when breeding season is over [as are they] so I can be back with 'the girls'.
The weather was perfect, about 50 degree and sunny. We finished the afternoon chopping wood. As I was coming in, the sky was like a Rubens painting. Unbelievable. Within 15 minutes, it was gone. I took this picture seconds before it disappeared. These short theatrical productions are worth the entry fee of working hard all day in the field.
With the showing of Venus and Jupiter on Wednesday night in the south western sky, I could not help but surmise about the year 2052. For Jupiter and Venus will not line up again like this until then. I'll be 94 years old. Many of you reading will be long gone, and some of you 20 somethings who might not blink about aging will be in your 60's. It was interesting and surreal to think of. Martyn and I talked that night how the night skies and all their history makes a human feel very small. I think it's good to feel small. It reminds you you're not the ruler of any one's world, not even your own. If I'm here in 2052, I hope I can remember that moment, but perhaps it's the fact I could take notice of it in the current times that's most important.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
One of the things I did while my mother was visiting during the holiday was sit with her while she needle pointed, and I needle felted creatures for my ongoing collection.
I started with Grandmére Chat, knit her a sweater dress, which led to all sorts of things. It was a pleasure working on one thing for 4 days, and since my elderly mother could not handle the temperature of my studio, I had to work on things I could carry into the house.
Martyn made me a little wagon for Grandmére and then I needed something to pull her. Well, of course, it had to be a donkey, specifically a donkey with the first initial "P"...I love how these creatures emerge, and one thing leads to another.
The hours I put into these beings and their clothes and details make them difficult to price. I decided to create Le Collection de Creatures for my ongoing birthings of these detailed felt pieces. I have no intention of working hours on these and selling them for $75 on Etsy. They are priced accordingly. What I feel emerging are stories, some that will help me along with my novel, some that will end up in picture books. [And I'll still be doing my other sock creatures in the $125 and under range].
My immediate goal is to create a backdrop series for these creatures, from my illustrations - say a forest scene, or a city scene, and the creatures would be placed in a shadow box /set like a theatrical puppet stage.
There will someday be a whole family of them, a whole novel's worth, probably all tucked away in boxes for now. It's one of those ongoing projects, that years from now, perhaps long after I'm gone, will be seen as the beginning of something.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
My friend Annie sent me these baby pictures of Pino - look at those ears!
Annie bred both Pino and Lucia and they are the most wonderful personalities imaginable, thanks to their parents Angelo and Gabriella, and a lot of hands rearing as youngsters.
I wish I could have known Pino as a baby. I was lucky to meet Lucia in her first month, and was able to donkey sit her a couple of times so really bonded with her. I'd love to breed her someday if possible. But...3 donkeys is probably a good number....for now....wink.
Anyway, I just wanted to share these gems.
a series of
memorial paintings to various animals I'd see dead on the road. It was about all I could and although it wasn't much, I suspect somewhere it made a difference.
I was thinking about one's last moments of life. It is the one event that as an artist I won't be able to document or share in colors or textures through painting, or in emotions and thoughts in writings. You are totally alone, even if someone is sitting with you. In birth, there's something of the experience that is left over, after all, there's a tiny fingerprint many of us have tucked in a drawer. And you cry. You share your first breath with the world. And even if you are experiencing a walk in the woods on your own, there is something of the woods that comes back with you. Even if you say, "I went for a walk today", that's sharing it. When you die, that moment is internal, and the next moment is...not here.
I'm not expressing myself that well. I am behind from the past holiday and guests. Perhaps the one relief of death is that it's one thing I can't document and put out there. The experience will be completely mine. Strangely comforting.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
I will be posting an ongoing list of the senior animals I'm able to help down on the sidebar of this blog. $25 from each animal print I sell will go to sponsoring one of these worthy creatures. I was able to send money to help Malik, Sammy and Hunter. I write a little about them on the sidebar area, so check it out, and pass my link for my prints onto any animal lovers you know.
Monday, December 01, 2008
After you stuff yourself with food for three days or more, it is best to sit still, with apples, and let others gather around you and eat. In this way, the true meaning of Thanksgiving is once again noticed - giving, sharing, laughing. I much prefer the end of a holiday, versus the beginning. I much prefer the comfort of the privacy of my studio. I like people, I like socializing, I like my family and friends. I'm always reminded though, especially when gatherings and socializing come back to back and head to head, I am at my best when creating. I am less critical, more forgiving, gentler. I even look better in my own mind. And then the rudeness of the picture shows me - "Hey, you really have a throat waddle now...and that hat, what hat do you have on?" But then I must remind myself, do the animals care about my hat? Do they not come to me to commune when they notice my waddle? Do they even notice my waddle? Let's face it, to a chicken, a waddle has a whole attraction thing going on. My husband claims I don't have a waddle, but he is a wise man, I know he sees the waddle. And most importantly, does the fact I now have a neck waddle make my art better or worse? No. So, I am pleased that come Wednesday my studio schedule will resume. Visiting with my mother has been wonderful, but living with the artist out of her studio has perhaps, no it has, been trying for the 82 year old. I am just so imperfect. But, waddle or not, so glad to be me.