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

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Friday, September 23, 2016

We go to the Common Ground Fair...and learn

For the past year anytime I talk to anyone who knew we were moving to Maine, or had moved to Maine, invariably I would hear,

"And you must go to the Common Ground Fair."

And we did. We were not disappointed. Despite the fact it was a rainy, sometimes down pouring day, we learned so much and got so much out of it-both with new knowledge, but also in an emotional sense- it was one more string we could tie to our belts to help ground us here.

Before we even got into the fair, we stopped at various forestry booths outside the gates to talk to foresters about our goals with out woods. We made good contacts, and learned some basic procedures for our next steps. We then ventured inside, and there were moments I felt like I was in Eugene, Oregon-it had a mix of 1960's hippies energy with earth conscious souls. But all around me were Maine accents, so I had to repeat,

You are here now. Take what it gives you and be grateful.

And I did. We breezed through the animal barns and I really loved the beautiful oxen. There was one goat, seen here smiling, who melted me, she reminded me so much of Iris who I had to put down before we left the old farm. It was almost like she was there though, saying hello. I scratched her throat through the pen for a long time, she was a very content soul.

But it was the fiber barn that I learned so much. I have been reading and asking questions for weeks, as a new wool sheep owner-versus hair sheep which we raised in Oregon. The volunteers were so knowledgeable. At first as I went around looking at various fiber from various sheep varieties, I would eavesdrop on the volunteers helping other people. Then I tagged along with one buyer as she took a raw fleece out on the table to examine it before buying. I asked a million questions, and each one was answered and had me asking more. Then I apologized as another woman was listening on and I had dominated the time, but she said,

"Keep asking, I'm learning too."

I met a retired gent standing by a Babydoll sheep and a Merino. I really would love a babydoll, just because and hope to find an elder to take on. Anyway, his weren't for sale. He explained to me that his wife had just died and she was the shepherd and fiber expert, but he and his daughter were taking it on. He told me he just loved those sheep. I wanted to take them both home.

I am super excited for spring sheering. And I looked at fiber of other breeds I am interested in adding into the flock.

We also had a long conversation with a man a little older than us, a woodworker, who happens to live right near us, and he knows our house and area. We talked a long time about the Maine culture. He has lived here 30 years. We found out about some great things just down the road-music nights, a use group for starters-but as we were departing, he said something like,

"If I could tell you one thing...it would be, give it time here. It takes some time. Keep working on your place and digging in the dirt. That is what builds your reputation."

We knew this, but it was important to hear it from someone who never left here once he came. We built our reputation the same way out West. Maine is a mysterious place at this point, for me, but it's like a wise person once said about any new encounter-

"Be like a dog-sniff it out, watch and listen."





2 comments:

Corrine at corrinegilman.com said...

We didn't make it this year, but last year was fabulous. I spent time learning about top bar hive bee keeping. Everyone was so intent on educating if you were want to listen. Glad your experience was illuminating. Yes, waiting. Maine does take its time....to get to know you. Xox

Lisa Hofmann said...

Sound fantastic! From my vantage point way out here, it looks to me like you have planted many, many seeds ... it is hard work and hard to envision all of the growth that will come. But it will. I am soo excited for your wool sheep :) The knitter in me is clicking her needles in anticipation. xo

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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 ~