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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Ezra lands safely and I am just a conduit

{If after reading this post about my 11+ years of helping old, crippled creatures touches you somehow, please consider making a small donation or subscription to help me with the costs of operating place of care taking.}

We awoke at three a.m. on Friday, and left at 3:50 to drive up to Arlington, some 6 hours away. We had breakfast with Northern Mother - a real treat, usually when we pick up a goat, it's "Hi, gotta run!" and head back. But we had a nice catch up talk over breakfast, then packed the old goat up and headed back to Apifera, making it home around six. As we've gotten older, the 12 hour drive nearly kills us, but never does.

This is the 16th elderly, crippled goat we've adopted from New Moon Goat Farm Rescue. I just can't imagine a life that didn't have any of these elders in it, or New Moon. Ezra is settling in well. He has gravitated tot he lower Misfit village-he told me very clearly that is where he preferred for now. I had him in the upper barnyard for the first night, let him explore and he head down that way, and he kept returning there. I don't know if he was attracted tot he outdoor huts which he might be used to, versus the enclosed barns. He also feels safe with Stevie. Man, that Stevie-talk about a healing presence.

Time and time again, people ask me why I keep doing this. After all, some of the elders don't live long-they lived in neglect somewhere for months or years, hanging on, and when they arrive at a safe place, they let go. Some don't, and fight on to a healthier state. I have a stock answer for the question now: "I don't know why, but I feel called to do it, I feel comfortable doing it and I like doing it."

Sometimes I see a creature in need of adopting, and I step away from the computer. But often they stick with me for days. Floyd was like this, Guinnias for sure. Sometimes the ones that stick with me and then come here to live are the ones that die within a short time-Lofa was like this, as was Floyd. Honey Boy. Aunt Bea to name some. I had picked out one of Ezra's herd mates weeks ago, but he died within a week of arriving at New moon, he was the worst off of the bunch and it is such a blessing he died in love and care.

I guess what I'm trying to explain is-I don't think I'm doing this alone. Universal forces seem to use me as a conduit in many cases. I can see there are eye rollers out there, but i truly feel and believe this. I don't think every Misfit comes this way, but many do. I just want to be open to being of service to the ones that need companionship as they die. It is not a life for everyone. I don't consider myself a 'rescuer" and balk at he term. I consider myself a conduit of service-for all creatures and that includes people.

And I think my work as an artist and writer are also conduits of service-for healing, joy, grieving and introspection.

I think being with any creature at the beginning of their lives is truly a miracle-so many physical things have to work and come together to create life. It is astounding in both animals and people when a baby pops out-even if it is ants hatching eggs. But when you come into the world, there is at least one other being with you-a mother ship of some kind to grab you, feed you, hold you, touch you. You and that mother enter your life together. And as you grow, you can share that moment somehow. You have photos of first steps, first breaths, and stories from your mother if you are lucky.

But death is a solo journey after your last breath. I've always been fascinated with death. It doesn't scare me. I don't think it is helpful to see life and death as yin and yang, but rather as a continuum. So many people seem terrified of death, and when it comes to the death of an animal, many on the social media platforms seem to think it is the absolute worst outcome. I have seen many good deaths, and some bad ones. We all hope for a good death for our loved ones, our pets, and for ourselves. But being present at any death is, for me, helpful-not only for the dying but for those left behind. I guess I should say it is helpful for the dying if the caretaker comes at it without drama in their heart. Death is drama, I guess, but I mean that I always try to enter a hospice situation of an animal with calm, because that calm emits onto them. An animal doesn't need me blubbering over them at this time. Of course, there can be tears, but ears can be shed in calm, sobbing can be done over a dead body. I think the most traumatic event I had here with the Misfits was not being able to get Floyd up, and having to cover him with my own body to try to keep him warm, watching the dusk come, waiting and hoping for Martyn to arrive, which he did-then having to drag him with the tractor due to the hill, and his weight, it was horrible. I kept telling him it would be okay, but I know he sensed my fear. I regret that as a care taker-but you do your best.

Years ago I realized there was this entire thing called "hospice". I was young, in my thirties and thought,

"Someday, I'd like to work in that area, somehow."

And here I am. I certainly didn't plan it. I know when Old Man Guinnias came to Apifera, as our first old creature, something clicked inside me. The fact that he had been relinquished to a goat rescue by his family as he entered his elder years, just grabbed me. He arrived at 15-very old for a goat, and lived to be 21.

But I'm not done. I still want to do better at bringing people together with The Misfits-elders, grieving people, wheelchair bound or blind people-all to commune with the animals that once been neglected. I've done much of this in small ways, one on ones, but I want to do more. I will continue to work towards that in the coming months and years. I will do my best to be that conduit.