Thursday, August 31, 2017
So I awoke thinking of them. And then for some reason I thought of all the rabbits. I held my rabbit and thought of the many children or adults that had to leave cherished pets, or items, behind. And then they must wait not know what is happening.
I had to stop myself.
I refocused. I prayed for them. I'm not religious, but I believe in the power of prayer, the power of our intentions more than our words. Our prayers are intentions I believe, the things we say when no one might be listening. I believe our actions are like prayers too, but a prayer is the beginning to acting on intent.
Watch their feet, not the tongue, an old Native American saying goes.
So Opie and I went to visit the elders. It was a beautiful day and I was so pleased to get two more photos of Opie, one with Richard and another with Mary who is quiet but very sweet. I just love this picture. I am making small prints of each resident with Opie in little frames for their rooms. They seem to like this a lot. Opie is very spunky today, and they liked that too. I got him in play mode, and he did some rearing on his hind legs.
One of the residents had a mother visiting too. They were praying when I arrived in the garden area. I told them I would wait, I didn't want to intrude, and the mother said,
"No, come over, we are just praying...for friends and family, and Houston."
I did not come from a family of prayers. We never prayed. We were stoic Minnesotans and I know my mother and father felt uncomfortable with anyone looking at them and saying they'd pray for them. I had to come to my own belief system, without the aid of my parents. My mother once said she wishes she had given us that, a foundation of something. I'm glad she didn't really. It forced me to seek out my own beliefs, and I have.
Somehow it came up today at our visit that I was going to the eye doctor soon for some issues. The mother said she would pray for me.
To be honest, it felt rather nice to know a stranger would pray for me.
And so must the many in Texas and other hard hit areas-to be humbled down to the bone...no matter what one's upbringing, a prayer might be all you get to inch forward, day by day in recovery.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
She watches out of the back of her head, or with the tips of ears guided by moons and winds, while the horse runs free and a donkey seeks the sun spot of choice.
Available at the shop.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
|Old Matilda waiting to be trimmed|
The donkeys just weren't getting trimmed properly by the last two farriers, I knew there was too much toe being left and they looked unbalanced, and this also aggravated the situation, leaving all of them with white line. I'm really irritated, BUT, that is water under the bridge and just am grateful I finally have a good farrier.
So, instead of being trimmed two or three times a year like before [this was appropriate in Oregon where it was drier and they had more rocky land to run around on], I will probably have them trimmed each time he comes and does Boone, which is every seven weeks. It's $45 a donkey, so this adds up, but it is what is needed and I'm grateful we caught it now.
And I loved it when the farrier said, "I have to tell you-these are the best behaved donkeys I've ever worked on."
I promise my blog won't become one big donation plea for the 501[c]–I plan to continue sharing stories, mysteries, animal conversations, art and photos....and have some other things percolating for your entertainment [and mine]. But one immediate need is to build up the 501[c] fund, so I can pay for related items out of that account. I have found a great accountant and now have a clear understanding what I can and can't do.
My goal is to get a big buffer of bucks in that 501[c] account-like $5-10,000- that will cover hay, feed, vet care, medicines, special feeds, cat cottage food and heat, utilities, fencing work and new paddocks...and more. We also want to build a new small barn that will hopefully attach to the barn we built last year to allow for more animal room and better hay storage.
Visit the donation page to learn more and/or donate.
Thursday, August 24, 2017
|The very petite, thin and elderly Maxine|
But Maxine is here now, and I will do right by her. I also brought home a beautiful big man named 'Mittons". I'm sorry, as much as I like the name, I was saying "Mitt" and that just won't do for a whole bunch of reasons, so Mittons needs a new name to coincide with his beautiful gray color and fabulous physique. He is very sweet and after spending his first half hour in the corner, became more active. The other elders-Anna, Sir Tiger and Yume-have been gracious. I hope that continues. You just have to let them be at some point. I spent a good hour with everyone and it was peaceful. To think Yume spent her first month in a box with Anna hissing at her, now they rub noses and coincide-as long as food barriers are met.
I had a real calling to do this today. I had not planned it. But I awoke and just started thinking about getting more elder cats to Apifera. I am getting to know the people at this particular shelter too and they are passing my name out to animal control officers who need to find homes for goats and other creatures in emergency cases. So I felt I was meant to go there today.
They were kind enough to send me home with some canned food. Tig is now on it which means I have t give a smidgen to Yume and Anna. But now Maxine needs it so...I was grateful. If anyone wants to donate canned cat food to Apifera, it is greatly appreciated.
I would also like to ask for your donations for our continuing animal work. Any amount helps. My goal is to build a real war chest per se, so I can have a good base for feed and vet calls. I also found a new vet I want to bring out for the cats. She is highly recommended by many and I'm excited to get her out here and meet her. So your donations will help me do that. Someone recently gave a nice donation so I can get every Apiferian vaccinated for rabies-there have been rabies cases nearby and Maine has an issue with it. Of course our equines and dogs/cats have had the shot, but I never had to do sheep, goats or pigs. SO I was so happy to get that generous donation and rabies shots happen in two weeks.
You can donate here at the blog [if you want to send a check, or canned food, contact me]. Again, I love what I do, but it is expensive and your donations help a lot of animals, and help me to continue. Thank you.
|This photo does not do this big man justice, he is a beautiful gray|
|Sir Tigger the giant sloth toed magnificent feline|
|Anna now sits politely with Yume|
Monday, August 21, 2017
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Friday, August 18, 2017
But the current world situation and the constant chaos in our country right now really has a lot of people feeling agitated and ungrounded. We are charged up in many ways but I for one am now going to make an attempt to tweak how I go about the day. I've fallen into the habit of checking news online a million times a day like an addiction. This is not necessary, and certainly isn't really helping me in any way. This happened after 9/11 too and I remember people were being encouraged to step away from the TV. There was no Facebook [oh how glorious!] but still we became addicted to checking the TV to see if anything else had happened.
I am lucky I have so many chores. It grounds me to go the barn and work with the animals twice a day, muck stalls, carry buckets, look at trees and faces. Today I noticed the shifting sounds of the seasons-fall is upon us and I love fall more than any other season. The leaves sound different when the wind blows this time of summer and the insects are rabid right now-to get as much biting and blood in so they can lay eggs before dying.
The animals are not impressed with news nor do they need it. They have no idea the turmoil we are in right now. They don't fear global war or white supremacists or leaders lacking in morals or empathy. But I do. Can my art change any of it? I don't think so. I think all it can do is calm me, and maybe others. If I'm calm at least half the day, I can project the best parts of me to the world-which means standing up for the downtrodden, or speaking up when I see something that is racist or unfair. Not checking news all the time doesn't mean I will shut up. We can not be silent.
I've been doing more morning walks with Muddy. He knows when I put on my Muck boots I'm going to the barn but when I put on my walking shoes he gets to walk down to the sea's internal cove with me. He just is so happy when I put on the walking shoes and looks so disappointed when I put on the Mucks.
In this small way-walking with my dog, being engulfed in the Queen Anne's Lace, feeling the dampness of the fog-I am reminded of one thing-I'm of Nature, and Nature is not evil. It might throw a storm our way and take down a tree or flood our villages with mud and rock-it can kill us without motive or ego. But as part of Nature, I'm reminded on my walks that I breathe from the ground up, the air comes from a spiritual space and allows me to live. I do not breathe from the heart of ugly, misinformed people and I will not let their hate or bigotry drown out my creative spirit.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
It's been a great ride and I hope for many more years of health so I can be with my best friend. I don't take it for granted.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
I didn't think much of it. I had to water the vegetable garden so followed her outside and there she was, standing with the small flock, calmly. White Dog was already out doing his daily periphery check of the fence, his morning obsession and of course his job.
I stood and watched.
You know I have a vivid imagination–we aren't a Disney movie but I have many moments in my life including when I didn't live on a farm, where the scene in front of me comes with a soundtrack, or maybe another way to look at it is I am always seeing scenes as story with sub titles. Every minute of the day can be a story. I get great amusement out of my minute by minute stories here on the farm, or comfort, and sometimes even clarity about internal struggles. The animals I guess are conduits of perspective just like a good Shakespeare play.
The sheep had gathered at the newly opened gate, saw Benedetto had run down to the bottom of the fence line to make sure there weren't any prehistoric elephants or bears and they began to gather themselves into a tidy line, just like I used to do as I entered a subway car in Manhattan decades ago, preparing myself to get in line to get the seat to get to the office.
But it wasn't until they were in a tidy line that Birdie turned her head to them, ever so slightly but deliberately and if there had been a sub title in a Disney movie, she would have said,
"Slowly, one at a time, go on now."
And as I turned to go back tot he house I heard the faintest voice of the smallest sheep voices call out to Birdie,
"Llama! Look, I'm fourth in the line today instead of last!"
"Good work, Sylvia, good work," the llama said.
Monday, August 14, 2017
|The sun rises and sets, still...|
There have been some spot on opinion pieces of late. I just hope people read them. I'm afraid we are all reading what we want to read to justify our own opinions. I wonder how the ignorance is being educated out of some people that don't know they are ignorant, and that would include this administration and his followers. Anyone who stands with this President needs to look in the mirror. Anyone who is white in this country needs to look in the mirror too, all of us.
Perhaps one of the best things I've read in the past day was this piece, and I urge everyone to take time to read it. Take some breaths. Some people will feel agitated and uncomfortable with what is said. But my hope is that in this turmoil we are in, still in and bound to be in for many months and years to follow, my hope is the underbelly of America be exposed for what they are.
But each day, for now, the sun still rises and sets. I focus on that, the nature all around me. The animals and my work give me hope when I allow it too, when I remind myself not to wallow in muck created by hateful people. But that muck abounds, and we need to stand up against it and hold our leaders accountable for their words and actions, and lack of words and actions.
Friday, August 11, 2017
I am really having a good time getting to know these people. I told them all I wanted to learn all their names better, so Thursday I practiced and now have their faces in my mind when I repeat the names: Joe, Richard, Sylvia, Evelyn, Ruth, Jean, Mary and Mary.
We also talked about getting everyone a photo of Opie for their rooms, they liked that. The people at this residence are of varying degrees of physical limitations and backgrounds. I found out that Jean is the resident dancer, even though she walks hunched over with a walker. I am going to explore that more next visit. Joe always has questions about the farm and other things-but they show a man still very engaged in the living world. Evelyn calls Opie "Darlin'" and says he's so cunnin'. Both Marys are quiet but there is a life under there, a history. Richard seems to like cards better than Opie but that is okay. Ruth is funny under a quiet front and Slyvia just is so proud when Opie sits on her lap. We all remembered last visit how Opie seemed to go right to her and he sat with her and fell asleep. Eventually, he made his way to her again this visit, and she just looked so pleased.
I do not like to talk down to elders, or talk to them like they are children, or only talk about happy thoughts; nor do I talk to children like they are invalids or babies. I'm taking my time exploring the people at the residence, but this last visit I felt we were starting to really get to know each other. I also think they realize I am committed to coming to see them regularly and that means something. The days get long for an elder, even one with a good life and caretakers.
I really loved the photos where you can see their beautiful hands. I like to visit when I'm there, and don't want to sit there snapping photos. But I had to take some, and am working on getting each of them a photo.
We also talked about making sweaters for Opie-he actually doesn't need one to stay warm, but I thought it would be fun to get him a traveling wardrobe-he is just as worthy of one as the Von Trap children, don't you think? I'm thinking an autumn sweater, and then a holiday one. I'm not one to dress up animals, but Opie is about the town now and will enjoy it I think. I know my pug does.
Apifera Farm is a non profit in the state of Maine and a pending 501c. Our mission is to not only help special needs/elder creatures but to share them with our elder and needy people that need recognition and love. You can help support our efforts here.
Wednesday, August 09, 2017
Monday, August 07, 2017
So I don't know if this is Fred or Kevin, but Muddy still has a strong friendship with both of them.
You can see the animated movie about Muddy and his beloved frisbee friends here >
Saturday, August 05, 2017
I can't quite pinpoint what we and this place evolving into...yet. I mean, I know we will care for elder and special needs creatures like we did out West, I know I am a writer and artist and will always be an artist, and Martyn continues to landscape...I know all that. But it is different. And regenerations of self take time to show their true faces. I'm not worried. It's a nice thing of being 59 versus 44 [my age when we moved to the first Apifera], with age and the coming of the final quarter of my life comes more patience. Me? Patient? Well, much more than as a young, alabaster skinned woman.
I also remember when we moved to the Oregon farm, my illustration career was shifting wildly [as were many in the field] and I was evolving myself as an artist-it was scary and exciting. That is what is going on now. I had just started writing-in my head-and it wasn't until about two+ years into the farm that I started finding myself again, and started my blog and writing in earnest. So much happened.
But there is a quietness to this place, more so than out West. We had fog back there and I loved it [except driving in it of course] but the fog here is different. We can see the sea's beginning rivers and bays across the road and I think of the fog here as an extension of The Sea's arms, wrapping me, pushing me down to rest at times, covering my animals and barns when they need to be protected. The Sea and I are just beginning to communicate-or I am just beginning to listen to her.
I was turned on to the books of May Sarton back when I was living in Minneapolis, and I was seeking a country life-somehow. Two years later I'd be living in Portland, meeting Martyn, and then living on a farm, finally, a year later. And here I am in Maine. The other day I picked up one of the May Sarton books and skimmed some of it. Her writing had a huge impact on me-for one, it made me want to write and eventually I did. It also was giving me the inspiration and courage to keep looking for my place of solitude, my country home. May Sarton had left her New Hampshire home that she loved, after feeling compelled, pushed to by internal forces to find a place more remote or protected, and she ended up by the sea in Maine. I had forgotten she moved to Maine! And it just struck me so hard-that even back then Maine was in my front window, it was in my soul and little messages were being planted in my highway map.
Back in Oregon, about three years before we moved to Maine, I picked up a copy of a book about E.B.White and how he wrote "Charlotte's Web". I was fascinated by it because it showed how in his real life things were happening that became part of the book. To a non writer that book might be boring, I loved it. But again, Maine was in my forecast.
I also had a teeny flash as I was looking at the May Sarton book that perhaps I will end up even closer to the sea.
Friday, August 04, 2017
Thursday, August 03, 2017
Big Tony was ready to take his solo walkabout after being with us all these many years, the father of so many Apifera cats. He lived a long life of twenty, eighteen with us.
It is a poignant death for us and it seems to come at a time when we're being reminded almost daily that life does not sit around in the past, it moves forward, and with that forward motion comes many things, including goodbyes. Tony had a magnificent life, let's not forget that. He arrived at the old Apifera, sauntering by me one day when we had first arrived, he barely acknowledged me and seemed to have no motive for being there-he was just cool as a cucumber. It was at the same time we discovered kittens falling [literally] from the hay bales. I set out to trap the kittens when they were old enough to be spayed and neutered, but could not catch the elusive mama. She would have another litter in short course, and it was only then I could catch her too. All the cats lived out their lives at Apifera, most living past ten.
But of all the cats I thought I'd catch first in the trap, I never thought it would be that big old tomcat. I had only seen him a few times, he came and went, but when I went out the first day to inspect my trap, there he lay, completely content sunning in the cage, his Star Kist tuna fresh in his belly. After we brought him back from the vet a day later, I let him out in the barn. It was only a matter of days before he started coming to the front porch. Back then, it was pretty wild and au naturelle at Apifera, we had no screens and bats, raccoons and birds would often find there way into the summer living room. So I guess Tony figured out it was a friendly place. I first brought him inside one night while Martyn sat watching television, figuring I'd warm him up to a cat in the house. Martyn had asthma and said we could never have a cat in the house, nor did he want one. Within a few days, Tony was sitting near Martyn on the couch, enjoying PBS News Hour. Big Tony was the icebreaker for the man who didn't want cats, and in adored a one pound kitten named Itty who slept under the covers with him. He also adored Tony, everyone did who knew him.
When he went to the vet-which was often in the early years-the staff would do their best Tony Soprano impersonations and yell out,
We called him the Millionaire Dollar Cat back then because he had teeth work and stone work done, once leaving him in the hospital for ten days-donations from my followers helped me pay those bills, as well as spay/neuter and care for the clan of twenty five cats that lived in the barns.
Tony is a survivor. How many semi feral cats get to live bi coastal in their life-and let's not forget, he saw America in that six day journey across the States, while piglets slept under his perch.
Tony is symbolic to us in many ways, much like Huck was. He represents the beginnings of the first Apifera, the energy of the beginning there, and all the serendipity and magic that just happened by opening the front door. He fathered at least 10 cats, but for sure more. In fact, we think Samuel Noel was related to him.
Tony tolerated everything-vets, young kittens, puppies, goats, chickens...he was a cat's cat. He was not cloying, he was not a lap sitter. But he liked his people, and he liked our company. We encouraged him to get a paper route because his special food we had to buy him from Canada was $58/#18 bag. He never took us up on a part time job, but he was really good at retirement. As he aged, he softened even more and began to talk more, not a lot, just greetings at night in the bed. He began to sleep on my pillow, above my head at some point, and it required me to get more pillows for my own comfort. After we moved to Maine, after we suffered the jolting, unexpected loss of Itty who chose to stay behind, I found great comfort in Tony. At night, he would still sleep above my head, but I would find him with his head laying on my hand, and sometimes I'd sleep with my fingers wrapped around one paw. I told him back then, a year or more ago, when I was struggling through the story book I was creating about Itty, a painful time for me,
"I should be writing a book about you. You're still here." He responded with tail swishes-real slow and graceful swishes-and non blinking eyes.
he had a beautiful colored nose. I had tried to capture it by mixing up my paints, but never really captured it. Somethings can only be seen as they are in real life, not through a lens or a palette. How many mornings did I wake up and see that beautiful copper colored nose, the color of an autumn leaf not quite fully browned from age.
We knew this week we would have to put him down, but gave him some time hoping he might just fall asleep. I of all people should know better. As his conditioned weakened, we made the drive last night to help him on his way, not wanting him to have seizure or any discomfort.
I took these photos of him yesterday when we knew it was our last daylight together. He used to be a twenty pounder...His face showed a cat ready to rest eternally. His hind end had become very weak in the past days, so I carried him from the bed to his favorite basket. Muddy joined in, and Hughie came by too-it was not usual for me to be there in the day where we gathered at night, but they knew this was one of those occasions where quietness is preferred and something momentous was occurring, but this something was okay.
It would be okay.
I took another photo and when I looked at it, it was so beautiful, like the light I had let come down into the lens made his body begin to fade.
I'd been telling him all month, if you see Mama Kitty, don't worry about us, just go. I like to think of him and Mama reunited. This is the human in me. He might be doing nothing, or other things that are non of my business. When we used to get up in the morning, he'd have his breakfast, and then head out to the porch, where Mama would appear from the garden, and wrap her body and tail around him. He never showed affection to her in the same way, but he sat with her, and let her wrap around him. And she never allowed anyone to touch her, in fact, hardly anyone had ever seen her but me and Martyn.
Right before he went under at the vet's last night, I said two words to him,
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
"I shall sit here up high," the cat said.
"But what else as the morning wears on?" asked I.
"I shall sit here some more and watch clouds pass."
"But what will you do after hours of this?" asked I.
"I don't think in hours," said the cat.
Apifera has been home to more than 25 cats at once-back at the old farm. Now in Maine, we have created a special room for elder cats to live, and in time it will also include the upper loft where they can roam and at times meet visitors. We currently have three resident elders, Anna, Tigger and Yume and plan to bring more elders on board soon.