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

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Light on Pig and Pup, squeals and understanding

Back when Marcella first arrived as an eight week old pup, she took a shine to the newly arrived piglet, Earnest. Many of you enjoyed those early months of Pig and Pup, going everywhere together, whether the pig wanted the pup by his side or not. He put up with so much from that pup. It was charming and funny, over and over.

Their relationship remains strong but has evolved like all relationships do. Right now they are both going on four and I would say they are in their early 'let's get our boundaries rehearsed' stage as far as behavior. Earnest could kill Marcella if he really wanted to with his tusks and strength. She could also do some damage on him if she felt she needed to. When I feed Marcella in the morning, I also feed some of the goats, and Earnest, away from Marcella. The game for Marcella is to eat her dog food as fast as she can so she can then go to Earnest's food, and Earnest's game is to eat as fast as he can so he can steal goat food. The three goats in that paddock-Moose, Goose and Wilbur eat as fast as they can so they can go out to the grazing area and leave the grown Pig and Pup sideshow. By the time I've left that barn to go out and feed equines, Benedetto, grumpy pig and sheep, I usually hear the screams of Earnest and barks of Marcella. To the passing stranger, this might sound scary and severe-but it is not. People need to live with animals to understand their language. Pigs scream, often, they have a very big vocabulary of screams that can mean anything from

"I'm scared, or I'm dying, to I have my head stuck in a fence. They also have various levels of grunts and squeals to equate joy, happiness, or 'get out of my way that's my food dish". When Earnest screams in the morning, I know he is telling Marcella to bud out, and he is usually saying it as he runs from her–for Marcella is still and will always be, I suspect, the alpha.

But then later in the day I go to visit, and there they are, together, bathed in afternoon light, quiet and content. I sit down to give Earnest belly rubs, and over comes Marcella, she always comes to me in the barns and paddocks. There is a bit of,

"Pet me first," from her, but not in an aggressive way. Since she came to me as a pup, we have a strong relationship and understanding of accepted and non accepted behavior. She challenged me a lot in the first couple years but has matured, and I have to say, as a caretaker of a Maremma, so have I. I respect that dog like no other I've had-for her ability to cause me harm, but also her ability to sense danger and when something isn't 'quite right.'

I love seeing them in light from the heavens.


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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 ~