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

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Sunday, May 08, 2016

A hard good bye- we help Daisy and Iris float away

In all the excitement of the move and packing, there is a double good bye I am preparing for on Monday afternoon. It will not be an easy one. With much thought, on my own and with my vets, I have decided what is best for the elder matriarch, Daisy, is to help her move on, and we will euthenize her on Monday. Iris is also failing and it is not right to let her carry on and take the chance she will go south fast, which happened to Stella. She is very thin and weakening.

I do not have a ounce of me that feels I might be doing the wrong thing. I am doing what is best for the animal. Daisy is very special to me. She arrived here as a year old with her mother Rosie, also a favorite. The first ones often are. But Daisy is so arthritic now, it is hard for her to get up, and more and more, I just see pain and tiredness in her eyes. Today I watched her raise up in the field and she immediately stumbled. She can not stand anymore and hold her head up. Even if we were staying put, I know her time is coming. In fact in the last few days, she rises less and less.

Daisy has given me so much. Her stoic calm demeaner allowed me to learn shepherding. She allowed me to be the first time shepherd in lambing, and without rolling her eyes she tolerated me checking her udder and vulva almost every half hour. We laugh now, but she let me be the student. She gave us beautiful lambs, including Lilly who has been residing with her in these past months. So has Cornelia, and it breaks my heart these past days to see Cornelia asleep by Daisy. But maybe she knows. Lilly will be allowed to visit with Daisy after she departs as will Cornelia.

And then what can I say about Iris, or Wild Iris as we originally named her? One of my original muses, along with her sidekick Stella. As I was packing up the studio, it was very sad to see all the sketches of Stella and Iris that I was inspired to create for short stories. They were my first goats. Stella and Iris ate a lot of bramble for us...and roses, trees, shrubs and tulips. Iris was never as people oriented as Stella. While Stella was like a big old dog, Iris was coy, always on the lookout for trouble, horrible to work with on her feet, the instigator in any coup or fence escape. To this day, even though she has weakened, she still tries to rise above the herd and make trouble. I had a long talk with her a few weeks ago, and a beautiful moment occurred. I found her away from the crowd, pressed up against the cement wall and the horse trailer. It was an unusual place for her to be. I went to be with her and she did not make an attempt to leave-also unusual for her. I knealt down and asked her if she was checking out on me. She put her head on my shoulder, and sat that way for the longest time. I did not want to move it was so special, especially from a creature that considered that back scratches were for sissies. I told her maybe it was time to join Stella. I told her to think about it.

A couple weeks later, the vet was here and we agreed her condition was not great. She is weakening just like Stella did, and one day Stella simply did not wake up. I think that will happen to Iris shortly, but it is my responsibility to see that her end, after all her glory here, is done properly without pain or drama.

Our kind neighbor up the way came over Friday to dig the graves with his back hoe. With all we have going on, it was such a kind gesture. It took all of 15 minutes what would have taken a couple hours or more to hand dig. It's eerie looking down at the giant mounds of dirt by the graves, standing like pyramids, waiting for the bodies.

In a way, this is the fitting good bye for me to have as we leave our land. I am saying goodbye to two of the original members of Apifera, two of my first muses here. They all helped me gain a voice in my writing. I am also saying goodbye to their energy and presence that is visceral. To this day, Daisy is still talkative and since she is right out the studio, I hear her voice all the time. I think when I lay those two bodies down, I will have a long crying goodbye, something I haven't done yet because I am so busy.

Before we lay them to the rest, the vet will also be here to castrate the male piglets born this week, and microchip them for the trip. Apifera has once again presented us with the bookends we all live–birth to death. There could be no better send off than celebrating the miracle of birth along with the beauty of life that ends in a return to the Earth.

So it will be an emotional Monday.