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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The new barn whispers: we are on a parallel path she and I

When we looked at our last property in Oregon, way back in 2004, Old Barn spoke to me. I've written about in books and often remind you, and me, of the history and wisdom of that century old barn. The stories in Old Barn were there for me to reap from her past, but also, she was there for me in our first lambing season which we did in one of the stalls that first year, through the death of the old donkey Giacomo and others. That old barn witnessed my joy as I first got to know her, got my first chickens. With her, the adult version of a child that had always wanted an old barn walked under her frame looking for secrets.

I found her. But then I left her.

It was a hard goodbye and I try not to look at her picture at this stage of our resettlement in Maine. It's too hard, too soon.

We did things to that old barn some might not have bothered with, and will help her stand for years to come. My father's and my Uncle's initials are carved into cement there and only I and that barn understand that meaning. She had many battle wounds from life which is why I connected with her in the first place, plus looking back, I think she was wounded, without much purpose. Her animals had been gone for years, there was junk a mile high in her then. She sheltered no animals for many years. I'm glad she is back on track with her true purpose.

When we found this property, it was through photos online. We took a chance. I felt the house immediately in those images, a mothering voice and hand came through the screen-not once, but many times as I looked at them over and over. But the barn had no real visceral voice to me. The existing barn here is a lovely structure built in 2005, post and beam with two nice stalls, center island where Rosie currently resides, and a large side room too nice to be a stall-most likely a tack room at some point but I hope to use it for my ceramic studio someday. And there is a good little workshop, and a large loft with stairs. It is more of a gentleman's barn, something out of a Doris Day movie with a horse and two chickens. I do love it, and it sits only 30 feet from the back porch.

And now we are building another barn. We need it for hay, and the equines. I might put Eleanor out there, and the White Dogs. And I am working at getting some sheep again. I have discovered I am not happy without a working flock. I miss my sheep and I need to move on.

As the barn goes up, it is so exciting for me. It makes me feel better, as in, it makes me feel more like the me I grew into at the old Apifera. It is like I am that child-woman in her dream again, on the earth. When I stood out in the open frame, I started to imagine the animals in it, and where the paddocks would be, and it all seemed so hopeful in this time of floating. Because floating I am, still, as we settle.

So the new barn has not spoken to me–but she has whispered. A breathy word or two I can't make out. She is forming too, she is in transition just as I am. As her walls go up and she takes shape, we are on a parallel path. Old Barn had a hundred or more years of farming wisdoms and stories. But the new barn doesn't even have a name yet, she is birthing herself and she and I will emerge together, learn together, go forward together.

She is a very important piece of the puzzle here. She is an extension of why we are here.