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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What is enough reality for you?

I read an article by a blogger who also farms stating that perhaps farmers should be showing more of the nitty gritty of farming in their posts. She was seeing a lot of beautiful images of farms and animals and wondered out loud if this was a disservice to upcoming farmers or those that dream of having a farm someday. She encouraged farmers who blog [not that many 'real' farmers blogging, I must say] should also be showing images of the not so pretty. Her article had pretty tame photos though-a rooster with a bloody comb [happens all the time], a pile of compost, and a lamb coming out of the birth canal [all by her and beautiful images]. She did make the point that because urban farming is a hot trend, wouldn't it be better to show more of a balance.

Having been blogging now for - wait for it, today is the NINTH ANNIVERSARY OF THIS BLOG!!!!!!-

There was an uproar in the barnyard!

Let me refocus....

After years of blogging, I know that some readers come here for the soothing and calm-words and images. I've always made my goal of this blog to be first, before anything else, a safe place to write and document my time here, for me, and then share for whoever might come upon it. That is all I owe anyone, my honest feelings and words no matter if I'm writing a short story or posting images. I do know that once a person like myself develops even a small following, one can fall into "posting what you think they will like" trap, especially if one is selling art, books or whatever their product is.

While I do post the nitty gritty, I think I do it with taste and a boundary that I choose to set. When an animal is sick, the reader is let in on it,  but I don't feel posting graphic images is always necessary to convey a story. I remember when the day old lamb was dying and due to the weather, I brought the lamb into my studio to be near the fire. A natural scene unfolded before me that was so beautiful, and so captured the way animals deal with death, that I grabbed my camera. But I paused first, "Is this right?" I had done all I could for the lamb in the last two days, and my artist soul took over. I don't regret it.

I have nothing against others posting birth scenes or bloodied roosters. I guess I don't think that is very wild and gory at all. But I'm not going to post images of some of the many graphic things I've scene here. I don't think it is going to help any new or young farmer, nor is it going to necessarily help me share a story better. I do know there are things I can see and handle now that I could not have 10 years ago. I'm not jaded, just more experienced seeing certain things.

The fact is, if emergency situations arise in the barnyard, or a goat's abscess burst on me [I happen to love lancing abscesses] or I have diarrhea all over my legs after helping a sick ewe, the last thing I'm thinking is-"Let me grab my camera". I made a comment on the woman's article because I did feel I wanted to share that with her-that when I'm in the barnyard, my first and always foremost priority is to the animals, the farm and doing what comes first for both-not documenting. I felt that carrying my camera around when I know a ewe is giving birth-that becomes an art/journalistic project for me. Nothing wrong with that, but that is not my personal priority as a farmer.

I do understand what the author/farmer of the article was saying though. You hear it all the time here and elsewhere. People fall in love with a life through images and story, but they don't experience the day to day mud, falls, cut hands [man, do I get a lot of cuts]. I am never clean. My nails are split, the fence patches of hay twine are rampant, no matter how you try there is duck poop everywhere a duck goes. I don't hide it, but I decide the boundary that is right for me and the farm-and my readers.


Anonymous said...

I'm interested in whatever is going on with YOU! Whatever you choose to share or not, is fine by me. I wouldn't be freaked out at all by the more realistic aspects of things on a farm, to me that would be learning, and having more of a window into farm life. But it's also fine by me if you choose to focus on more whimsical aspects. It's your blog and I'm grateful for what you choose to put on here. I'm never disappointed.
I remember those poignant images of the lamb, with Itty Bitty & the Pug. I felt privileged to be given a glimpse of the lamb's life.
Love always,

Lis said...

It seems to me, all anyone of us is doing is gathering the bits and pieces of our days, collecting thoughts and ideas, and crafting a story - OUR story - out of a sea of possible stories. Finding the thread of meaning which changes as life changes us.

I come here to witness how you craft your stories - which is to say, how you imagine/envision your life - as it inspires and stimulates me to see the plot lines, the complexity of character development operating within my own. In the end, I am not looking to learn about farming ... I am here to read & learn about finding purpose and meaning and magic within one's life.

Like Kim, I am interested in YOUR perspective and experiences. I do believe your gift is in finding and articulating the stories and that is what I love about your blog.

Congratulations on 9 years! I am grateful for others engaged in maintaining this now "quaint" craft of blogging. I too blog as a means of documenting my experiences and if others find something interesting or valuable, then that is icing on my cake.

Sarah said...

Hi Katherine, not sure if I've commented here before but I've been reading for years. It's interesting this question is surfacing in this context too - I've been thinking about how much of my personal reality as an artist with PTSD and mental health issues do I want to share. I'm advised to only project a positive image, but that's unreal and leaves me feeling inauthentic.

I think all of us who blog long term have to address this question sooner or later and decide where our personal lines are - and I for one feel that whilst you don't spell out the day to unpleasant realities of farm life ( which I am personally familiar with) what you do here is discuss an aspect of. Life that most people shy away from and that of course is death. I like how you write about it, and it really seems to me that you are far from presenting any kind of idealised image here. Not that I think you need that reassurance from me or anyone else! It's just that I'm noticing this question arising so often now and I think it's an interesting and important one.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Thanks for stopping by to chat, you guys. It's good to hear comments about these things. Sarah has an interesting reality of her own, as she mentions-how much is too much of her challenge to bring up. I think one thing i have seen happen to certain blogs is they never had a real focus to begin with [I suppose mine was like that too] or maybe a way to say it better-they never found their own voice. And then some I know of just got so mred down in their own difficulties that it became repetitive and really...whiny. I won't be showing blood and guts, but I like that you acknowledge why you are here, and that I don't sugarcoat the life here, but don't make it over the top either way. And yes, death. I'm actually quite fascinated with death. I have a note on one of my studio walls that says, "DO you ever stop processing death" I don't think I ever will. It's the next great frontier.

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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 ~