So I have a question for all of you- to be answered here or on Facebook [I've given up trying to get people to only comment here on the blog, it just is the way it is!]
The question is:
How do you all think I'm doing? You know, in my work with the animals, my writing, my art, my tone, my sharing of story that might inspire or bring comfort-or bring a smile?
I thought that question was a good way to start a conversation, and request, about and for donations and subscriptions. You might know I've always had a strained relationship with 'donations'. Last year, I decided to deliberately pull back from asking for donations too much. I decided I should let people feel propelled to donate on their own, but only after they saw over and over my work here, work I've been doing at Apifera for 11 years now. I would go about with my writing, painting, and sharing story through books and the blog, and let donations come as they will without my asking. I put up a GoFund page at the beginning of the year to help with our new barn project-which will help house elders and make some hospice work easier for me since it will be right by the studio. But I took that funding page down, it didn't feel right. That barn was paid for out of my work, and the second phase begins this spring.
When I did my year end books this past week, I felt pretty good. I've been a freelancer for 19 years, without the aid of a loan or trust fund [some people seem to think I am rich, perhaps because I went to a private school and live on a farm with a horse and make my own schedule-in fact, my architect father worked and sacrificed to put me through school, as did my mother who worked in retail until her 70's-I am so blessed for that gift! And I didn't get here overnight!].
But at the same time, I don't think I give myself enough credit. I perhaps might have gone the opposite direction, in that I'm not asking for enough help. I put links to support pages but I feel awkward asking for donations all the time, straight out. Someone told me about a writer who is constantly asking for money to pay for things like her truck expenses, and late mortgage payments. I cringed. It seems to be an ongoing thing for this particular freelancer. I do not, nor will I, become dependent on another's incomes to make Apifera run, or to help my Misfits. Obviously emergencies can arise-and people ask for help these days through crowd sourcing. I have no problem with that, for the record. But some people do seem to be using their social personas and bad business skills to get money.
Perhaps this is the old Minnesotan in me-asking for money outright seems rather....non Minnesotan.
So looking at the year end numbers, while my art/book income looked okay, I realized that donations were almost obsolete, because I just didn't promote them. My feed bill has gone up a lot because I've switched to a better feed for the elders and am also buying better hay. Would it seem silly to tell you that I also noted my 'entertainment' total for 2015 in my books was...wait for it...$75. I'm not complaining, working here on the farm, and my art and writing-it is my entertainment. But there were no vacations. There is no running out quickly for a lunch. And again, I'm fine with that, I have what I need to be happy. So today, I just want to give a bit of a recap of my work here.
Current Misfits: 38 [this does not include my horse, my sheep, working pigs]
Resting in Peace: 24
Annual Misfit Feed Bill: $4800-6000
Annual Hay Bill: $2400
Vet Bill this year: $4500
New barn: $12,000
These animals are not just thrown hay. I think you all know that. They are communed, with me and others. They are shared with outsiders to benefit animal and person. They are healed, hospiced and buried. I clean up there loose bowels and give them shots, trim their feet and try to put weight on them-the slow way- with care and love. I have laid with them, carried them, and sung to them. I do everything I can for them and that is just a wonderful gift I am able to give them. And I get to be with them, a gift for me-which I try to return to you through books and art.
So, the question again,
How am I doing?
And one more-are you able to give or subscribe? [a huge rush of discomfort just flew over the room].