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

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Monday, September 05, 2016

Flock of gratitude

If you follow along over the past 14 years you know I put a lot of thought into names, but also, into listening for the right name over time. Some animals come on board and their names just scream out at me, others are quieter but clear. And then some are very guarded, or perhaps not ready to have a more long term relationship with me [or maybe vice versa at times]. I imagine naming a newborn baby must be really hard-you have ideas on what to call him or her, but then you meet them and they just don't fit that name. I was to be named either Mary or Bridget. I am not a Mary. Bridget is actually my other self that lurks in me-she is a tough cookie. But then my father's mother died the day I was born, and I became Katherine.

I'm so grateful I found this breed. I knew nothing about them, or most wool breeds since we raised Katahdins, a hair breed. I loved the Katahdins, but raising wool just makes sense to me here. I'm so excited to share the fiber with you next year. I plan to add to the flock and am unsure if I'll breed, but want to get through a winter first before I make that commitment. This breed is regarded in critical status, so breeding does appeal to me. When we started with Katahdins, they were near critical status, and we happy to be part of bringing back such a great breed even in a small way.

Assumpta and Calla -the elder matriarchs of the flock-came with their names. They are fitting to both of them. Little Sylvia Pettini's name came pretty quickly. But the other three were stuck. Part of it was they do look similar, and I had to get to know them enough so I could tell them apart in the field, and see their personalities emerge, which they have. These are very personable sheep-as was my old flock-but for lambs these girls are really calm and people oriented.

Of course Lillian has the most striking markings. I kept thinking of names of women who had such strong features and none of them did her calm demeanor justice. But Lillian seemed strong and bold. The yearling ewe I named Velma, after a woman I knew in my childhood who lived in North Dakota up by my mother's clan-we would go see her every time we went up there and she lived in what to me was a doll house, out in the country, where cookies and breads were always baking. Louisa has a beautiful face too, and it has been a name I return to over and over-my father's middle name was Lois, my old terrier was Louie...it just has a light and happy sound to me, somewhat harking back to another time when fresh pies were sent along in school lunch baskets.

I'm very happy with my flock. And they are happy here, with Benedetto and Birdie to watch over them. I love being a shepherdess, all of it, from trimming feet to herding to...just sitting around with them as they graze. And wait until we get some of that fiber.