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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Burial shrouds for a pig...preparing to let go

A beautiful item for Rosie's resting spot from Lisa Hofmann
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned on the Apifera social media pages that it was becoming clear to me that I have to face facts about Rosie the pig. Both Martyn and I feel that it is becoming less of a 'good' life for her and I might have to put my big girl pants on and help her to the next realm. Rosie is old, crippled, blind and her hind end is weaker and weaker. The vet said a couple years ago it could even be a spinal issue. She mainly sleeps, and this summer never left the barn. With another cold winter approaching, I worry that she can't properly watch out for herself as she tries to stay warm. She is not as good at making her pig bed [covering herself in huge mounds of straw]. Each night I try to make sure she is fully covered, but that doesn't mean she doesn't get up and move around and get uncovered and not adequately recovered.

We tried a blanket for her, made graciously by a pig lover who likes to make pot bellied pig blankets. But even though I altered it slightly, to help her from tripping up on it, she kept getting stuck in it, due to her weak condition. I felt it was unsafe. She now will trip more, and falls every now and then. She trembles too, all summer, like Katherine Hepburn did.

So, I feel I have to be strong and do what is right for her. I am not sure why I am having such a tough time with this one. Each animal is precious of course, some get us in the heart strings worse than others. Some of you might not know Rosie's story, but I will tell you that she is a very difficult pig. She really doesn't act like all the other pigs I know. She is grumpy and has been grumpy since she landed at Sanctuary One after her elder owner died. Rosie had been living like a royal highness in the house, in a room with her own bed and furniture. When she got to the sanctuary, she was so grumpy no other animals would have anything to do with her-nor she them, except one crippled goat, Stevie, who ended up coming to Apifera with Rosie. That is a whole 'nother story, a good one too.

So she has been a challenge. No vets liked to work on her, nail trims were impossible and I'd spend enormous amounts of time trying different regimes to get basic care done, even giving her beer-it was a fancy micro brew and she didn't like it, Marcella drank it for her. After about a year, she even quit sleeping with Stevie, she really preferred her own suite, and showed me that in no uncertain terms-I think too she felt safer and was afraid of getting knocked around and was most likely already losing her site. When we came to Maine, Rosie was already getting old, and I wondered if I was doing her a disservice by bringing her to a cold climate. But I did, and she seemed to thrive here that first spring and summer, even venturing out to flirt with Earnest in the sunshine through the fence.

But by the next year, we noticed she really was pretty blind, and she couldn't go out and wander near the barn even, because she often tripped and fell. She mainly...sleeps.

So I told people that I was going to make a burial blanket for her. I didn't want to think of her in the earth all cold, even though she will be dead and at peace, I won't be, and I thought making a burial item, a ritual for those of us left behind, would help me begin to let go. I told people they too could sew small items and I could attach them to the burial shroud, or include them. One friend is making a knit cover to place over her eyes, before we place earth on her-I had told her that was my ritual, and she is making it out of Assumpta's wool. I received two quilted stitched pieces from followers, shown here, that just got me! And another came today that is lovely.

Rosie is going to be okay. I know she will. I think the reason I'm having a bit of trouble with letting go is...she still is sort of symbolic of my relationship with my father, and she was my first pig. So many 'firsts' happened out West at the first Apifera. My dad was in hospice when I brought Rosie to the farm, and I would lather her up in sunscreen and oil [she has a skin issue and always has] and it reminded me of my father's dry skin who often was in pain in the last months due to it, but the nurses would put soothing lotions on him. So as I cared for my grumpy pig, my father lay in hospice and I could not travel to him, but I thought of him through Rosie. Her personality is also like my father-a heart of gold covered in layers of grumpy thoughts. But I loved him, and I love her, even though she refuses belly rubs, and just wants to be alone.

So, we have talked about 'when' and 'where' and I won't announce that until the deed is over and she is on her way to a heaven where maybe everyone will be grumpy and she will feel very happy-grumpy. It is complicated too that she is a muse and always has been. But muses must rest. And it would be wrong of me to keep her alive for my own selfish reasons...and I also know that if she began to suffer in the winter I would be upset with myself, and she probably will.

She is a very unusual animal. I saw a photo of her that was taken in her prime, her hair was thick and she was out and about in the sun. Her hair today is very thin, her rear end is weak and she can hardly walk with out stopping or tripping. I know the vet agrees.

The items people are sending are helping me, and honoring her. It will be hard that day, but, a relief for her, and me when she is free of her old body. You can still send things-even little trinkets, buttons, toys-things that will give her help on her next journey. But don't wait too long. Winter is coming.

Rosie the pig
c/o Apifera Farm
315 Waldoboro RD, Bremen ME 04551

A letter that made me cry came with a little quilted piece