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, August 01, 2015

Florence, we celebrate your wonderful life!

I have stayed away from the mobs of anger on social media in the past week. Fight fire with flowers is written on the wall in front of me, so I have been quietly creating, not partaking online.

I figured if I present this story now, its likely nobody will read it. Oh another death at Apifera, can't read that right now. But they are missing out...on light. I do suppose people get weary of these stories of death here. I considered not sharing it. But like I've always said, this is a blog I started to first and foremost record my days here, and that includes death.

Florence was one of my three original Buff Orpingtons. I just love Buffs. Clara and Golda passed in the last year or so, but Florence continued on.

She had a perfect death.

About two months ago, Florence separated herself from the flock. Once in awhile I'd see her with Uno, low rooster on the totem pole, but usually she was alone. She was puffed up a lot, like chickens do when they are protecting an egg or chick. I began to worry she was egg bound but she continued on, and was eating and drinking. Every night, instead of returning to the main hut, she would go to Stevie's hut-gentle Stevie, the crippled goat that has been the safe harbor for so many creatures.

Within time, she was getting very light weight, moving less, and I knew she was checking out. So I put her in with Eleanor and the piglets. I have heard stories that a pig will eat a live chicken, but Eleanor was getting so much food that I felt it was safe and I've never had a pig eat a chicken [although I don't doubt the story, if a pig is really hungry, it will do such things]. One morning, she didn't get up, and when I urged her too, she had little balance.

So on Wednesday, I carried her into the hay barn. I knew she was dying. But she was still alert and responded to me each time I came in. I'd find her with her head tucked, looking pretty dead, but I'd say her name, tentatively,

"Florence, are you there?"

and she'd cluck, cluck...slowly.

It's been horribly hot again. I bathed her twice a day with cool water. Normally my chickens aren't crazy about this, but she seemed to really appreciate it, and when it's 104, it was a relief for her.

I got to spend a lot of time with her, holding her, and talking about her next journey. We talked about all the eggs she'd given us, and just how special she was, because she was the final Buff, and because she was Florence.

Each night I asked her if she was ready. Each morning she was still here. Until yesterday. She had died in the spot I'd left her, on the cool cement of the barn floor, in the shadows of the barn that must have been echoing the many familiar sounds she had known all her life.

And while the cyber mobs are fuming and spewing hate for mankind, they are missing out on this beautiful photo of Florence, bathed in the light of the barn that must have greeted her yesterday as she flew off. I'm just grateful my chicken, and Aldo, had a great life, and died in places of light, not hate.


Claire the Shepherdess said...

A beautiful passing for a well loved hen. Thank you for the story of light in the midst of the chaos.

pencilfox said...

i always enjoy reading your posts. such hope, such joy....even in the midst of death, you show respect, and you teach that life goes on....

bless your kind and wise heart. x

Anonymous said...

Oh Florence, pretty girls. Hope your next journey is as light and lovely as the one you just had. No hate in that barn or anywhere on that blessed land. xox

Anonymous said...

Oh Florence, pretty girls. Hope your next journey is as light and lovely as the one you just had. No hate in that barn or anywhere on that blessed land. xox

Ms. Becky said...

You have a gift for beautiful story-telling. Florence was well-loved, yes.

Lisa Hofmann said...

And such a beautiful photo! I realize as I read your words, your story of Florence and her final days, one reason I come here is because you share the bittersweet beauty and dignity of the creatures blessed to live at Apifera. And they in turn gift us these glimpses of the fullness of life which includes surrendering to the final stage that awaits us all. I think my ability to be present for my mother at the end of her life is in no small part due to having witnessed via your writing the full stories of Apiferas residents. So thank you for this ... for all that you share and inspire.

Katherine Dunn said...

Lisa, that is a real compliment, thank you. Sometimes as a freelancer, and pretty much unknown writer, sometimes I feel like I write in the woods and nobody is listening. It's always so encouraging and helpful to hear these things.

Katherine Dunn said...

Thanks, too to everyone for stopping by to celebrate Florence!

Kerry O'Gorman said...

Such a sweet passage for your gal. Some people think chickens are dumb and clueless but we know better don't we?!

Katherine Dunn said...

I know, that makes me cranky when they say that too. I also rankle when people say sheep are dumb. Um, nope, not dumb, just know how to stay alive with herd mentality.

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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 ~