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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ride with Boone

The weather has been perfect-flies haven't arrived yet, the winds are warm, and I've had three rides in a row with Boone, my partner in gravel road warrior hood.

I stopped for a bit to let Boone graze and picked him some daisies. The shadows on the road coming through the oaks, created patterns in front of us as we rode. His mane has different tones and hues of red this time of year. I still have intense moments when I look down at him as I ride, and think,

"I have a horse," and I soak it in. I still feel more alive when I'm on him and I am four feet off the ground, the view is just different, the perspective of every tree I might see each day when I drive the same road-it looks different. As we rode back up the road, a turkey vulture was flying around over head, leaving a shadow of wings in front of us.

Working with the muse again

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A couple of scares with the elderly Misfits

There are many ways to help the Misfits: subscribe or donate at various levels, buy books or visit the art sale. We all appreciate it and the Head Troll keeps you in her private database.

I've had a week of elderly issues with two of our beloved Misfits. Last week, I found Stevie–who is very crippled and unable to totally straighten his legs-cast on his side in the barn. I was able to help him up and he was fine, as I got there in time. Stevie's paper work states he is about 8 years old, not ancient, but for a large goat in his condition he is entering elder statesmanship.

This morning I found him cast again, near the pile of old hay/straw you see in this photo. He likes to lie in the cast off stall cleanings, so he can be close to the barn, but also get some sun on a soft spot. I suspect he just lost his balance and rolled on his side and just didn't have the strength to get up. Righting him was easy, and I can still feel a lot of strength in him-but I must face the facts that he is slowly weakening in his legs.

I do not want to think of time without him, so I will soak up each moment with him, as should you. He is a very strong presence here, a very unique goat with a story of survival. For those of you who don't know, he was rescued in Southern Oregon, along with a small herd of 30-all in bad shape. Stevie was the worst off, unable to stand or walk since he'd been living on his knees for so long-because of neglected feet that left him with 10" curled toes. He'd been on his knees for so long that his ligaments had deformed [I am not a vet so I don't know if this is the proper term to use]. The Humane Society and a local vet donated an operation for him to enable him to at least stand and get off his knees. That was over 6 years ago.

I don't believe in keeping animals alive just because it is medically possible. It is not always right for the particular animal. And that is a call we all have to make with our vets and inner circle, and heart. When I first saw him, I wondered if this surgery had been the best thing for him. After living with him for many years now, I think it was. He is calm and enjoys his sun, food and giving his little pecks or kisses. He participates in the group when he feels like it. He is not an outcast.

But if he continues to cast and is unable to get up...this could lead to a stressful death in the middle of the night. The first time it happened, I wondered if Marcella had something to do with it-overplaying-but this morning I really felt it was a balance issue.

And then Scooby Keith went ill on us. Scooby is 13 and has never been the strongest goat, and never a strong eater of the supplement I feed the elders. He reminds me so much of Lofa, who I just adored. I was told by Sanctuary One when he came here that he liked to hang out away from the herd and stick near Aldo. But last Monday, he took ill, went off feed and separated himself out in the lower field. It wasn't anemia, he had good color. He had a bad fever. I treated him with the needed regime of the moment, which he is still on, and his fever subsided, he drank well, and now he is nibbling hay. But he lost a lot of weight, and he still seems somewhat off.

I truly believe that an animal knows -even for seconds-that a person is either helping, or is a threat. I know when I am giving shots and squirting stuff in their mouth it is unpleasant, but I feel they know I am helping. I just hope Stevie can stay a bit longer, and Scooby too, but it is out of my hands. I think it is easy to start putting human emotions in their heads-after all I do this in my stories, don't I? But my experience has taught me that the best thing you can give an animal is a consistent environment of safety and supplies [sun, shade, food, water, protection, vet/meds when needed], and communal companionship of their species. I try, it's all I can do. Whatever happens, they've had a good life here, and I've been so lucky to have been their caretaker.

Homage to a squirrel

With respect, and sadness, I added some images to the ongoing "Homage" series.

I felt very sad about this little fellow, as not only did he have a struggle in the end, but I was partially to blame. It was not my intent to make him suffer, but my actions are partially to blame. Just as the person pulling out on a freeway doesn't intend to kill a person or deer, it happens. There are quick deaths-such as the couple of sheep that get slaughtered here on harvest day or the quick kill of the hawk or eagle. The intent in those kills is to eat. I think intention is always important to examine in our actions, to help us forgive, learn and make changes if needed.

I keep a tall plastic bucket by the chicken coop, allowing me to refresh their interior water bowl, without having to turn on the water hose. This is not out of laziness. It keeps me from turning the pump on unnecessarily, and causing it to possibly cycle, or over cycle, which leads to no water. Country living with wells is a different ball game than turning on the tap for city water.

So I was sad to find this little Douglas Squirrel drowned.

I even tried to massage his wet little body -but he was very cold, I knew he was gone.

I leave wood sticks in the bucket for bees and insects, but he just couldn't get out-the sides were probably too slippery.

But I took him in, dried him off a bit, and gave him his own little tin bucket. That way he wouldn't have to worry about the dangers of water anymore. He could rest on his little tin bucket, or get in it and float on to wherever he was going.

See the entire tribute to the little squirrel here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A day with pigs

I have been letting Earnest in with Doris and Pearly June for days at a time, and also they have been allowed out into a middle pasture for grass eating, which they of course love. By the time I bring them back to their hut at night, they fall to the ground in their piggie collapse and fall off to piggie sleep.

Doris and June are over a year now, as is Earnest. I've been tracking their cycles so hope to have piglets sometime this year, but it's a crap shoot the way I'm choosing to do it. I like having Earnest in the barnyard-he is just such fun and agreeable, and Marcella is so close to him, so for now I let him go back and forth. He seems to like his pig dates, but also likes his barnyard. When the girls aren't in heat, they pretty much ignore the poor fellow, try as he does to impress them, but they push him off, or snap at him in pig language.

The other afternoon after a day of grass eating with his ladies, Ernest was napping by the pig hut. I called him to come back to the barnyard. He always responds and runs to me. But he just kept napping. He was happy there. I felt like the mom who must witness her five year old say for the first time,

"Mom, please don't walk me to the bus today, I can do it my own self."

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Swimming with a donkey

I sat down to paint today. It's been a year and a month. I talked to the paints first, apologized for my absence. Asked for their help, or for the help of any rusty muses who might be listening in. I did two little pieces, including this one, "Swimming with a Donkey". It was good to feel something, to feel like I wanted to do more pieces, to also feel like I wanted to share it.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Earnest mud naps

Misfit Shanty Town brought to you by The Dirt Farmer

Let's get this guy a beer, or a case.

I had mentioned a few months ago to Martyn that it would be good to have yet another sun/rain shelter in the paddock off the orchard. Last year at Pino Pie Day it would have been helpful too, as I had to hang a sheet for shade for some of the goats.

Pino Pie Day always comes at us fast and furious. I am always rethinking and coming up with new ways to make it even better. For example, the last couple of years we had the newly added Museum of Misfits in my trailer, but this year I have decided to put the Museum off the Donkey Hug area, and also make a better, more visible Donation box.

Scheming, always scheming.

"It's starting to look like a Misfit Shanty Town," The Dirt Farmer said.

He's right. I can hear some old goat or donkey explaining it to another, somewhere in the far off distance,

"It's called Misfit Shanty Town, turn left on Tupper, 1 mile up, into Apifera, past the three gates. The more worn out you look the better chance you'll have of gaining admission."

We've had a lot of house projects this year too, so I wasn't sure I was being fair to suggest we get this new shelter finished by the June 15 event. But a girl can ask, and see what happens.

So this weekend we've been setting posts and getting as much infrastructure built for the new hut. If it gets too crazy to get finished, I can just hang sheets on it and we can finish it after Pie Day.

I have to say, a man that can build things his female half dreams up-and let her see them form over time into a real, three dimensional object-that is the sexiest man alive if you ask me. Add the overhauls and worn out hat and it's like falling in love on each glance.

And in the backdrop, some of The Misfits graze as The Great White guards against marauding trouble makers of any kind.

If you like what we do her helping Misfits, you can donate at a reward level or make a monthly gift to  help us keep helping more Misfits.

Still my favorite vet

Just like every Memorial Day, I'll give a silent salute to my father and thank him for his 4 years of service in the Japanese islands, one of two Marines to return alive - can you imagine, leaving at age 17 for this? No matter what war, how brave of them. He told me about war over cognac one night when I lived in Brooklyn. We talked into the late night and even smoked a cigar together. He never spoke of it again. So to all the vets, past, present, and future - thank you! The freedoms we have - waking up to my farm and grilling Apifera lamb, enjoying friends and good wine, good health, personal choices - thank you to all of those who sacrificed for me and others.

I miss you Robert Dunn, you old rascal.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The living quilt

I put the faux quilt I made last week on the porch and Big Tony graciously modeled with it. I decided this is a living quilt-even though the linen and fabrics are all from old family memories, I found myself showing my guests the quilt this past week, explaining about each piece of fabric. We the living still touch it and wrap it around us-it is living with us. It is not just squares of fabric with memory, it is a living quilt–perhaps that is why the cat was immediately attracted to lying near it, he sensed its breath or heartbeat.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

I think they came over to help

Before my mother died last Spring, I had a favorite place out the back of my studio I liked to sit while we chatted by phone. We'd have coffee together over the lines and share the goings on of the world, family and farm. It was covered with the canopy of the cherry trees and to the right I could see the barnyard.

After my mother died, I couldn't bring myself to sit there anymore. I figured in time that would change, but it has been a little over a year since she died and I still hadn't returned to the spot. I guess it's marked with trauma. But I felt a need to sit there quietly today. It was as if I was pulled their by something gentle. Maybe it was because for the last couple of days, my dearest cousin-the daughter of Uncle Clayton who some of you might know as the horse whisperer whose farm inspired me all my life to have one of my own someday-perhaps by her being here and sharing old stories was a turning point. I don't know.

But after they left this morning, all the good food, wine and conversation had me full of good energy, but I was also tired and needed to slowly restart the routines of the studio and farm. After chores, I took my coffee and found myself going to the old spot outside the studio.

It was as if there was an internal voice, slightly pushing– "Go on, go out there, you will remember how good it was to sit there."

So I stepped out and sat down for the first time in many months. But I wasn't alone. I spied Old Rudy up against the outer fence, resting in the shade of honeysuckle and eaten bramble. And then Aldo came lumbering over and lay down some 10 feet from me, near Rudy.

They never have sat there to my knowledge-they both have other haunts they like in sun and shade.

I suppose it could be a romantic notion. But I choose to believe it as a wonderful greeting not only from them, but from others who wanted me to go back to that spot and enjoy it again. It is a renewal of sorts.

Post Script: More intrique. After I left, and was back in studio, I noticed within about 5 minutes they had left.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Glance of a Misfit

The Head Troll and Wilbur the Acrobatic Goat demonstrate the glance.

This is often the look I get, the glance, the

"What did you say, are you kidding?" look.

Never the less, the goats provide unending amusement to me even when they are just standing around....giving me the look.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Voguing with a Moose...and Goose

If you follow the blog, you might be thinking,

"Haven't I seen this exact photo of Moose before?

Well, no. But kind of.

Little moose has loved the camera since day one. He seems to work the lens like any really natural model, and without a lot of drama or arrogance. Little Moose is the farthest thing from arrogant.

I never tire of seeing this same pose though, and that imp of a smile. What a character he is, born on my birthday, the same year my mom died. He was a gift to myself to make me happy, to bring me youth, a healthy got I brought home from a healthy home–which as you know isn't what most of The Misfits are. So this was just a little gift for me that year. At the same time, Martyn had gone out and found me another little goat from one of his clients, a little Nigerian Dwarf whether. He was born on Martyn's birthday of that year. And that is how we came to have Little Moose and Goose.

They laugh alike, they talk alike, what a crazy pair!

The donkey and I rev up for Pino Pie Day

It is now officially time for us all to get excited for Pino Pie Day! I can't believe it is only a few weeks away!

This year will be special in so many ways. Firstly, we had a scare with Pino as some of you know, and are just very happy the little fellow doesn't have something worse than a sarcoid [not that sarcoids on the sheath are pleasant for him or caretaker, but we will accept it and move on].

Pino wants me to promise not to talk about his privates at Pie Day, so I must obey that request. But it is hard not to say "Pino's privates" really fast. Maybe the Puppet will have to do it for me. Which reminds me- I know you are all waiting, WAITING, for Pino's Porta Potty Movie! Stay tuned.

So for the next few weeks I will be revving up my, and your engines–and hope many of you that follow the blog from the area can come. We already know our pie helper is coming again, for her...forth time, fifth?- all the way from New York City to help me with the pie baking. I have some new ideas for the event that I hope will let people understand how far some of these Misfits have come since arriving here-this is after all not only a day to celebrate pie, animals and all things Apifera, it is a day to drum up support-as in money- to help us offset the maintenance and care for these Misfits-many elderly and not in the greatest shape who need supplemental feed and vet care.

How can you help Apifera and Pino with his big day?

~ Donate - it takes money and time to throw this each year, bake the pie, and still manage to make some money so we gladly accept anything you throw our way.

~ Share this link

~ I still need some volunteers as a couple of my loyal helpers have moved away [collective moan from barnyard]. So email me if you are interested.

We are no longer accepting apron donations. It has been super fun, but also very demanding and Pino has evolved his wardrobe. He prefers his polk-a-dot pants now, or going au naturelle. We will have aprons at this year's event, but please don't send any more as we are full up to our ear tops in them! If you've already made one, please do send it, I'd hate for anyone to feel badly!

Get all the info you need for Pino Pie Day here.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Conversing in goat

This is a short story about a fence. A very crooked, wobbly at the bottom fence. It didn't start out that way-it began its life straight, tight and functioning as all fences do-to keep things in, and things out.

But there is another main character in this story. It is a goat. To converse in goat is really pretty fun, although aggravating to the fence keeper.

"Iris, you are looking mighty today, all white and clean!" I yelled to her.

"Thank you! I do feel very well and good!" the goat yelled back.

"But Iris, you are on the wrong side of the fence!" I yelled out.

"No, no! There are two sides of the fence!" she yelled back.

"I realize that, and you are to be on the other side, with the donkeys and Stella! We have been through this!" I yelled back.

"Yes, yes, I know, you keep telling me this. Over and over. It must drain you!" she says.

"So get on over to the other side!" I yelled.

"You mean now?" she asked.

"Yes!" I said.

She stopped, ate more of the weeds at her feet. Looked about. Ate more. This is where you must think like a goat before proceeding. It took me time to figure this out. You tell the goat your desire, in this case to go back to the other side of the fence "now". But for the goat, each second is 'now". They actually think they are doing what you want each second they aren't doing what you want. It is just as simple as that.

After waiting approximately 30 seconds, I scream,

"NOW!" followed by a smack on my leg with my hat to make a scary noise. It's just that she has heard the noise her entire 9 and a half years here.

"Oh, NOW?" she asks.

"Yes, NOW!" I scream.

"Fine, fine, I will go," and she does go, but in order to prepare her body for the under the fence acrobatics, she massages herself against the fence. Then she contorts down, and voila, she is there-over there, on her side of the fence. And the fence is a tish wobblier than when our story began.

"Thank you, " I said to the goat. I always thanks my animals even if I've lost my patience with them.

Walking off to the barn, I hear chomping.

"Hello, I'm here again, now, with you, hello," says Iris.

If you like Iris's chat and the stories of the animals here, feel free to subscribe or donate at a reward level to help offset the cost of helping and maintaining the many Misfits.

Come on Mama!

Read how this great egg watch began here, and then moved along to here.

Still waiting for the Kildeer to hatch those eggs. I tried so hard to get a picture of her sitting on the eggs, taking my bigger zoom lens and hiding in the stream side. She was so onto me.

The gestation is about 21-28 days so surely she must be close. I appreciate the tenacity of this mother. To watch a giant truck drive over her eggs daily...must be riveting stuff. I am only an observer of birds, I can't say I know how they think, what emotions they might have that I can relate to. Does a mother bird "worry" as you or I would if we laid a baby in a birth sack on a sidewalk? I don't know. I think it must be more like a minute by minute interpretation of events for them-sensing danger, or not. Perhaps she senses we are friends to her, and drive rationally.

We shall see.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Joy of new overhauls and splendor in the grass

Come along with me, as I wear my new overhauls-yes, the day is even more special because my new Pella bibs arrived. Now I look just like my vet. It's fun trading clothes advice with the vet while she and I were both leaning over little Pino surgically removing his sarcoid. Seriously, I love these bibs because they zip up the front–and no, I am not getting paid to say that–this is and will remain an ad free blog...because let's face i, who has times for making money when you live with old Misfits? Can you her the goats laughing?

So, sip some tea, and now let's get on with it–feedings, some feet trims, planting the squash, fixing a fence or two–but all along we'll stop and take in the splendor in the grass.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The learning of The Head Mistress

She is 5 months old now. Still a pup in many ways, but she is showing many clear signs she is maturing. Her boundary right now is small, her gate is the barnyard gate, Huck and Mud do not go past it. In time she might be allowed in the front area if the dogs are in, but for now, she is learning her role is different than Huck and Mud. She is learning to be The Head Mistress.

Very soon, I will begin letting her have short periods of time with the main flock. the lambs are old enough now that it will be okay. But I will supervise her all the time in those first trials. She will defiantly be pushed around by the mature ewes, but it will be good for her. She has done a fair amount of that herself, and now she will have to learn from the ewes that they too have boundaries. I told her it is like your first time on a crowded elevator-just because the cute guy standing next to you is pressed against your coat, you don't reach over and lick him.

Hard knocks. But it will all be fine. She has a good life, a job. We should all be so lucky.

I constantly question myself, am I doing this right? But I am doing my best, and have the breeder and other farmers to come to my aid for answers if need be. She has other important tasks on a daily basis-carrying the feed containers back to the barn, for one. She is very good at that! And she is maturing in small ways-like when she begins to over chase an animal in play, I yell out to her,

"Mar----Cell- AAAAAAAAAA!" and more and more she stops in her tracks, sits, and I yell out,

"Good Girllllll!"

She is learning the command, "Stop now!"

She is lessoning in her goof-ballness.

Then again, when I look at that smooshy face that she arrived with some months ago...I melt a small bit. And get on with it all.

Growing grass, losing hair and the shepherdess ages

Our flock of Katahdins are a hair sheep-they do not produce wool and require no sheering. It is always a delight to see their hair come off in late spring, and remember how deeply browned some are, or spotted in places you forget.

Right now the grass is growing faster than it will all year. In our early years we would be out weeding, mowing and breaking our old backs trying to keep up with it in the lavender fields-but I began to realize it was more for appearances. It wasn't hurting the health of the lavender.

Back then, we kept the sheep out of the field all year. But I hate to see grass go to waste. I am much more relaxed about the lavender now, and I prefer to use the grass for food for my sheep, rather than worrying about the plants. The young rams seem to nibble on only certain varieties, and at a certain point, we move the sheep to other fields. In other words, the sheep take precedence. We still harvest our plants in July-September and I sell Grosso bundles wholesale, and make bud out of the rest. The sweat and tears that went into those plants! But many are on their last legs as they are over 10 years old now-old for lavender. Much of the Provence took a beating in the cold winter this year and didn't make it. We toy with ripping out the lower section and planting Filberts, but we always settle back with a glass of wine, and sigh, and life goes on.

A farm is always evolving, flowing around what is working, or not working–and the farmers change too–growing older, and their priorities evolve. I remember meeting people when we first moved here who were then in their late 60's. We were in our 40's, bright eyed with clean nails. I had real clothes then, from city stores. I had ideas. The couple had done it all in the past, had lots of animals, bred sheep, planted fields and forests, and ten....they got tired. Or they got tired of feeling tired about some things, and they couldn't get things done as fast as in their younger days. I think we are just entering that phase of the farm. I look at younger couples now and just try[try] to keep my lips sealed. They will figure it all out for themselves.

I still enjoy being out in the field this time of year. The shoots do produce a lovely scent when you swoosh by them, and different members of the flock come and commune with me, briefly–like Irene, seen below. She is out of one of my favorite departed ewes, but I've never bred her, and won't. I could, there is no medical reason why I couldn't, but I just sense she is not up to the task. She just never really put on weight like I'd like to see, and fights with cocci every spring despite my best preventions and treatments. But I like her and she will stay here until she dies.

So if you come to Pino Pie Day and see fluff on the lavender, you know what it is!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cat nap with a paint brush

Family in a a quilt

I've been wanting to do this for months. As you know, I am not really a sewer. I just make sewing messes-there is a difference. Never the less, I enjoy sewing, and still use the old '70s Bernina my mother used her whole adult life, and then gave to me.

After my mother died in spring, 2013, I gathered as much as I could from her linens and brought them home. I am not an ironing person, so I knew that using these beautiful linen napkins was a mistake, as I'd have to...god forbid, iron. Nope, no ironing here at Apifera.

The linen napkin squares are so full of memories for me. My parents had wonderful taste in fabrics and home items and I grew up with these very napkins-so many dinners, celebrations and family and friends gathered around the teak table, and used these napkins to wipe away remnants of my mother's meals and my father's too. Can you believe these napkins are from the '60's? I know exactly which china pattern were used with each color.

The center quilt square is even more special. When my mother was around 8, her mother died tragically. But before her death, she and my mother made some quilt squares together. For years those squares sat tucked in a closet until a family friend insisted my mother make them into quilt. She was somewhat reluctant to do it-I wonder if it was just too hard a memory to face even after all those years. Or it might have been that the person coaxing was a bit bossy and she just wanted the idea to go away so her little quilt squares could remain in peace!

But the squares were made into a quilt, and I now have it on my couch and am with it every night. And there were several squares left that I found in my mom's belongings.

I've been wanting to make some faux quilts [these are not 'quilted, as I don't know how] to hang about the farm for Pie Day. I love that this piece will be part of our special day- my mother, her mother and my father too–for I'm sure he was instrumental in picking out the napkins–will all be here in spirit. The plaid pieces are from my favorite pair of Oililly overhauls I wore for years until they literally wore off my body.

We are all combined on this quilt. It is a mother quilt, a family quilt, a quilt that holds family and friends in its essence. I hope to do more of these, maybe I'll aim to make one for every Pie Day. I don't know. I have many of my father's little white hankies. Perhaps I will make a beautiful white piece in his honor too.

A guy and his girls

What are you thinking, my little big man?

Thoughts on your last breakfast, or perhaps wondering where the nearest water bucket is to turn over.

Whatever goes on in your head, we love you, Earnest.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The three refugees and one pig tail

Marcella has kept me challenged as she goes through her puppy hood–one example is having to keep some of the more debilitated elders safe from her playfulness and sharp puppy teeth.

The first elder I separated out was Aldo and Scooby–ony because when she was little I didn't want her to get kicked by Aldo. I think it would be fine now, but the arrangement keeps needing adjustment as Marcella matures [for lack of a better word!]. Scooby could handle her, but he really likes to be independant of everyone, most of the day anyway. So then I had to separate Old Rudy out, who is very crippled. He can't run fast and if he needs to move or head butt, he gets unbalanced. She had scraped his ears badly, so he was then moved into live with Aldo and Scooby.

And then came Professor Otis Littleberry, who had grown somewhat unkept looking, lost some weight. Then I witnessed it ll one night and realized Marcella had been running him around, and pinning him to play with him. He had scrapes too.

So they are the Marcella Refugees, and they are happy as clams. Their area shares gates with the main barnyard, but they are pleased to have their own area not bothered by youngsters. They actually have it made as their orchard opens up into one of the crossed fenced pastures. and hey, they neighbor with the pigs.

I sensed Professor especially is much happier being away from Marcella.

In time, Marcella will be a wonderful guard. Right now, she is being a normal 5 month old, learning, making puppy mayhem at times, but also doing a bit of guarding-when she's not playing with Earnest's poor tail.

If you like to hear about the antics of Marcella and her Misfits, please consider a small subscription or reward donation to help Apifera maintain the many elders.

Good morning donkeys and one butt rub

One of the positive aspects of having to hand feed Pino, and Matilda and Stella, is it means I have no choice but to stop and sit amongst them while they finish their food. It takes about 20 minutes and on a very hot morning like today, being in the shade of the old barn and looking out at Donkey Hill and the lush yellows and greens is a nice break.

And let's not forget to take time to rub our butts and get those itchies out–as Paco demonstrates below.

I get a lot of people-some friends, some strangers or people who just send a nice note of caring- that say they wish they had a place like this, to help animals and be on a farm. I understand that passion, after all I followed it for years into my mid forties before I attained this spot in life. I don't know how long I'll have the privilege of doing this, but I do often stop amongst a busy day, or a day not falling into order, and breathe it in.

"Pinch me" moments, they call them. I had a lot of pinch me moments in my city life too, when I was following the path that was right for me at the time, but I do feel my spot here is helping me produce and do my optimal work, at this moment.

When I was young, I wanted to be a vet. I was not good with science, good at math but just didn't have a head for science and biology. The vet school in Minnesota is one of the best, I never would have made it. But I was thinking today how it all worked out-getting to practice my gift of art and words, and help animals and vet them as I can. And I get to do hands on procedures with my vets when appropriate, but as an assistant. I am mid wife, doctor journeyman, shepherd, trainer of sorts, communicator, groomer and hospice worker, And I am an artist observing and feeling it all.

So this is how I started this very hot day. With my good morning donkeys. Pino's swelling is still there, but really good. No further test results are back yet.