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

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. #EIN# 82-2236486

All images

©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The choir sings to the animals...was that a dream of sorts?

Yesterday was perhaps one of the most memorable times at Apifera in our many years of existence. It was one of those days where the glow began from the first moment, spontaneous encounters happened each step of the way, and by the ending it was like...a dream of sorts.

The Homeward Bound Hospice Choir  came to sing to all the animals. I had met them through one of our volunteers, also in the choir. The choir is a group of people from all walks who volunteer their time and heart, and voice, to sing to people in hospice. When I came into touch with this group, I immediately asked if they might come and sing to the animals. They immediately agreed and sent me a date that would work-that date turned out to be yesterday, which was also Birdie's birthday. Hankies!

Now, normally when I have a group coming, I might rearrange animals into paddocks or barns so the people can see them up close. But on this day, I made a conscientious choice to let the animals be...as they are...I let the donkeys and Boone go to their fields, knowing that if the energy was right, they'd come up when they heard singing. And they did. More on that later.

I had old Else and the elder gang, and Opie and The Goose, in the orchard, and that is where we began. In some ways, this was the most touching scene for me. I had packed lots of tissues in my vest, and hoped I'd get through the day without becoming a blubber fest. Else is on her last summer, I am pretty certain of that. She enjoys the sun, and spends most of the time laying down, which she was doing in the clover and grass when the choir entered her area. I was busy doing something and when I looked up, the choir and lined up in front of Else, and that is where they first began to sing. It was as if Else was there just for them, and vice versa. And then The Goose arrived, voicing, or singing, but also checking in on Else, which he does regularly.

We went on to sing to the llamas, Arlo infatuated them all, and then on to sing to Earnest who greeted each singer through the gate, and even did a belly flop [a sign of true pig happiness]. White Dog was next and he of course loved it, The Teapot was as I thought she would be, The Teapot, snorting and chewing her hay. And then into the equine area. The donkeys and Boone were in the lower fields. I suggested the group begin to sing, and I did yell down to the field to get their attention. Old Matilda began her slow walk up about 400 or so feet, and that alerted the donkeys to come up. I knew that Boone would most likely wait, and in Boone fashion canter up in a beautiful Boone way, and he did-and that was a beautiful moment. The donkeys were right close to the singers, and Matilda especially won their hearts.

And then, we sang Happy Birthday to the nearby resting spot of Birdie. I made the entire day without a blubber, till then.

The day hung on even after they left, it was a glow, a glow that comes after certain special encounters, or music concerts or gatherings. I think what I felt the most strongly, after I had time to gather my thoughts, was that...this is truly where we were meant to move to, this exact spot, at this exact time. The scary reality of leaving the old farm, the pit in my stomach when I was the only one who knew we were moving to Maine and I knew it was a calling of some kind and once I expressed it out loud all hell would break loose...all that turmoil ended up landing us in a place that could bring us to this moment.

The other thought I had was, all the animals, and me, we are a bunch of bodies walking around, but we are so connected, like a string of old pearls...I have heard people repeatedly say it is a magical place and I believe it is magical-because the idea of what Apifera started as long ago came from my child's heart, and it has remained true to that essence and intent. One of the reasons I am not interested in having an open farm event every week, nor do I accept people's pleas to visit [or very rarely] is because this is my haven, this is where my heart lives entwined with the trees, fields and creatures-it fuels me to create and write, but I also fuel the creatures with my intentions-and they turn around and act the way they did yesterday. They didn't do any special tricks...but what resonated with the guests, I believe, is the pureness of my intent that is channeled through the animals and is demonstrated by their gentleness, their acceptance and enjoyment of the people. Animals know our intentions. And one of my intentions with my animals, is while I teach them boundaries [ie ground manners that are and aren't acceptable] I allow them to be...just be who and what they are at that moment...a grumpy pig or cat, a sour little spitfire pony, a young llama learning the do's and don'ts.

I also am a firm believer that music is a healer and communicator on so many levels-for all creatures including people. When I worked with Boone, I often sang to keep his canter or trot going. Mothers have been soothing babies for centuries this way, music is a rhythmic cue to our animals. And of course music is a vibration and I believe it connects us with our souls of long ago.

The entire day was 'pure'...of pure intent. It wasn't about propping photos for social media and marketing [although we all did take pic and video, thank goodness], it wasn't yoga for baby goats to gimmick us into the paper, it was pure and raggedy and imperfect. I loved the choir-they are not the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, they are just sweet people singing, a note or two off, it was so Apifera.
Oh, I should mention the song choices were all spot on....including "Angels Hovering Around".

So there you have it. They came, they sang...and I can guarantee not one of them left here without a buzz.