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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Creating an essence of home for all creatures

{We have taken in two more crippled Misfits this week-please consider subscribing, or a reward level of your choice if you haven't already, if you are able. Or you might order some new Misfit postcards to share the love.}

When I was a child, and into my teens, I had a home. That home had parents who provided for me, and showed me in a multitude of ways that I mattered to them. They didn't say "I love you", but they showed it over and over, daily, until the day they died. I always liked school as a kid but I also loved coming home. I knew there would be a snack of some sort, and dinner cooking, my dog...and my mom. There was always a home cooked meal. When my parents went out for the night, I always knew they'd be back. At night, I had a room where I felt safe, and warm, and I could be me–unemcumbered from head butts or bullies or people calling me "curly fungus". I know that not every one gets that in life. How fortunate I was.

When I go through the barnyard gate, I am the caretaker. I give all the animals what they need. They are fed, watered, wormed, medicated, clothed in fleece if needed, sheltered, and petted. If I am in doubt about one, I call a vet. If someone seems off, I take time to watch them. I take time out of my life, just as my parents did for so many years. The animals know I will show up every morning, and night-they thrive on routine. A farm of Misfits, or healthy animals, is not for the chronic traveler. If you don't enjoy observing individual animals everyday, it's okay, but don't live this life. It's not right for you, or the animals. That goes fro raising sheep, pigs or any kind of animal. You have to show up, and watch. Generally, if something goes wrong in the day, I am there to help.

I give the animals, The Misfits, the flock, the same things I got as a kid and young adult. I show up here just as my parents showed up for me. I knew then the essence of "home", and that is the essence I want the animals here to feel, even if they come here malnourished and elderly, and need hospice for weeks, or just days. I never questioned if I was safe as a child, I just felt safe once I hit the driveway of my home. With the animals, some are more vulnerable physically than others, so I go to great lengths to observe, daily, and make sure the mix in the barnyard is right. Sometimes, an elder needs to be moved into the lower Misfit village. Sometimes months later, they move back up to the barnyard. Sometimes I make mistakes-and I fix them.

"Home" is an essence that is fluid. It can change. My home was the Midwest for much of my life, except five years in NYC. While I loved NYC and my time there, it wasn't home. When I hit the driveway here, I am most definitely home, I feel safe here behind the gate. Things do happen here, accidents, deaths, trees fall down, I could fall and hit my head tomorrow. But in the meantime, I'm walking around like my mom used to, just keeping the home fires burning, keeping if consistent, keeping it a home.

When I walk through the barnyard in the morning, it all begins again, the routine of feedings, the shuffling of little feet to get their place to eat, shoving with the pig, the crackling of the old goose. I know the distinctive brays of each donkey, and the different sounds of my 35 sheep. They know my calls and what means, 'Come on up, now," versus what means, 'Get of me this feed bucket isn't for you." It can be chaotic, like any large family or small village. But it is always like home for these animals–at least that's the lifetime gift I strive to give them, for as long as they are here.


Lis said...

I love this post Katherine. Since becoming a mother, I've learned that my attention is my love. So simple, but so powerful. You've shown me another facet here - that Home is where we know we are loved and where we are seen/understood/received. I cannot think of anything more worthy than that being that present and holding a space of Home for my loved ones. Thinking of you all ... xo

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

That's a perfect way to put it, Lis, your attention is your love, perfect. I felt that way in the reverse with my mom as she aged. Even if it was from a far, a phone call a day.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like my childhood too Katherine and as mother I can so relate to that home is a safe haven for everything. I know the routines can be crazy and even sometimes chaotic but the natural rhythms of creating home take on a life of their own and each person/animal finds their place in the flow of it all. It is a love and a comfort to be part of this dance. xox

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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 ~