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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The farm as church

I was not raised with a church background, or a religion. Years later when I was in my thirties or older, my mother said she wondered if they did us a disservice by not giving us some sort of organized Sunday church going. I told her that it allowed me to figure it out on my own as an adult, and I didn't have to peel off the many layers and dogmas many churches prescribe too. I went to church for a short time at certain periods in my life, often to hear the choirs and I did enjoy the spirituality of certain buildings and communing of people.

But nature is one of my churches. So is the farm. I know it is Passover today and we-me and the Misfits and the other worker bees of the farm-are all busy today putting our spirits into action here on the farm. As is Martyn, of course.

I have new gates up which I'm pleased with-thanks to the Dirt Farmer- so now I have the pigs tilling up some of the vegetable area. But now that the ground is drier, they seem to prefer eating grass. The first weeks of warm weather I let Doris and June graze, but they rototilled soft areas of grass looking for worms. I was worried I had trained them to only till since they spent the winter in a dry paddock being fed hay and feed. But yesterday I spent the majority of the day with them as I tidied up the veggie area, getting ready for planting. And they mainly ate grass and weeds. If I created a wet spot for them, they did a bit of rototilling. I am still learning the language of Pig and it is very interesting.

Yesterday was also a big day for Earnest as he spent it with Doris and June. I have been on the fence about breeding them. It was my intention when I bought them all. We are self sustaining and while you can rest assured that Doris, June and Earnest will always be part of Apifera, some of the offspring will be sold, and a couple will grace our table. I know this rankles some of the rescue world-a world I separate myself from and stay out of discussion with online-but Martyn and I choose to eat pork and chicken and some lamb [lamb is anything up to a year-so if you are a zealot vegan, please do not write snarky comments about us killing baby lambs-they will be deleted anyway as I don't tolerate dogma from anyone of any agenda]. Anyway, the pig behavior is so different than sheep, and with pigs the fencing must include a bottom board, or the pigs will lift the fences with their noses. One of the reasons many small farms are going to the smaller pig breeds is their manners and maintenance are much easier-on fences and farm. Having experienced the power of Big Pig-who we tried to adopt so she could retire here- I know how important good pig fence is.

SO I wanted to see how Earnest's weight and height was compared to the gilts [an unbred girl pig]. Earnest is a Kunekune and will get to be about 200-250#. The girls are Guinea Hogs and currently a tish taller. The Kunes are a wonderful, docile breed. So are the Guineas, but from what I read and hear, the Kune is more docile. Earnest is not pushy at all and still easy to handle.

So, in they went. And little Earnest began his job with gusto. I will keep this post PG rated, but let me assure you Earnest gave it the college try-for hours. I was there the entire time and even made him take time outs with mud baths. From what I can see, I'm not sure he is quite tall enough to make full contact-but we'll find out. I was pleased to see he is catching up in size, as I know the Kunes grow a bit slower.

Today I have the smaller Misfits in the veggie bed, and Old Rudy is in the back yard off my back studio-usually shut down to animals-but Rudy is helping me clean up brush and grass there. The sheep are grazing, Aldo is watching, Scooby is napping..oops, well, we all must rest during our work. The donkeys are busy with brush and eating too. Chickens are grooming the flies off water buckets. Marcella is trying to help with everything.

So church today-with a big top blue sky and warm temperatures-has been glorious.


Terra said...

What a pig tale you have, and the mud baths in between for your guy pig. I agree with you and I feel God is very much in nature, and on your farm, and I supplement this belief with attending church.

NancyGeneArmstrong said...

Earnest is looking very good..and his afternoon I am sure was enjoyed. Laughing and smiling here. I attend the same outdoor church and have found it very delightful and good for my soul. Blessing to you..

barbara karr said...

Wonderful post, Katherine and I agree about the farm as church. Any time I am outside and especially with animals, my mind has time to think and see and understand in different ways. I spent several lovely years on a sheep farm when I was about 10...the best years of my life, I think.

Anonymous said...

So wonderful, and so familiar. A few years ago, a friend was mowing my field with his Belgians. The little church next door started ringing the bell for Sunday service. My friend looked around at the field and his horses and said, "This is my church." Amen.

Anonymous said...

Farm as church, nature as church, that's so true....Earnest probably had a great time doing his thing. xox

pencilfox said...

the outdoors is my church.
maybe that is why i like you so much.

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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 ~