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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

From an old goat's perspective

Every morning I make time, even if it's just minutes, to sit with Georgie, one of our senior pygmy goats. Of the three seniors, she is the most crippled, and often spends the entire day just lying in the deluxe senior facility, or as some of you know it, The Ward Room. Georgie loves to be scratched and petted, and it's sweetly amusing to come out in the evening to find her in her suite, surrounded by hens and a lamb or two.

This is one of the many stalls of the newer barn. It was originally for horses, with high openings. When we first brought little Lucia home, one of three mini donkeys, we were afraid to leave her out in the barnyard with Pino and Paco since she was so young, so we cut out a mini window in the lower part of the stall wall. I can't tell you how adorable it was to come out each morning and find Lucia's little donkey head sticking out that window. Now all the pygmies sleep in the stall, and each morning, it is Old Man Guinnias whose head is sticking out, greeting me with his silent bleats [Guin never could bleat properly, but has a raspy call he uses to talk].

One rainy morning this week, I was in no real hurry to get back to the studio, so I sat down and watched the morning's activities from an old, crippled goat's perspective. From the mini window I could see ewes eating, and I could hear the comforting sound of chewing - in all different tones and ranges - the grinding sound of the sheep, and the chopping and nostril blowing of the horse. I heard hens clucking and discussing worm populations. The tip of a cat tail would appear out the mini window from time to time, and a young lamb would come bounding into the stall, and then look at me with, "Wait a minute, this isn't where Mama eats hay!".

Through it all, Georgie just wanted one thing, scratching. Each time I stopped, she leaned her head into my legs, pushed, until my gloved fingers scratched out the hay seed tucked into her old coat. I write often about the comfort the barn brings me- like the feeling I had as a child in my sumac fort in the bramble during a wind storm. On a rainy day, the barn is even more enchanted and powerful in its purpose, and with each rain drop on the tin roof it makes it clear how hard it works for all who seek shelter there.

I'm about to go out now and do nightly feedings. Georgie will most likely be where I left her, pushed up against the back wall, waiting for the sounds of returning ewes, of a horse whinny, and of my voice, "Good evening, Georgie, did you nap well today?"