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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

No! Yes, we say good bye to Apiera's first goat.

I arrived at the barn this morning to find Stella dead. While I was not surprised, I was outraged. Sometimes certain losses do that. This is a goodbye I knew was coming; I had a vet on call for Monday to put her down-the signs were growing. Yesterday morning, I tried to get her up to walk about and stretch her rumen and drink some water before I left all day for the book event. Usually I can get her hind up up, and then lift her front to help her, but she just couldn't do it. We tried together several times. I left her there, her favorite area of the barn, with Old Victor, while I went off for the day. When I arrived home I did feedings and she hadn't moved much. I tried to get her up again, but that was not going to happen. I held her head in my lap. Stella always liked that, not Iris, but Stella had a wonderful, loving personality.

But in the last few weeks, each time I held her head, I knew she was letting go. Last night, I tried to get her to drink water. After an entire day of warm weather even in the stall, she refused water. Her rumen was gurgling. Her expression was tired. I held her head for a long time and talked to her internally. Every minute or so, she'd look at me. I knew that last night she was ready.

There she was this morning, on her side, dead. There was one second of relief for her. Then I wailed. Each death is unique here, as is true in any community. But the loss of Stella is the loss of Apifera's beginnings, of the hope and excitement of our first months and year's here.

She was our first goat, along with Wild Iris. She was the first muse for me. There are many Stella and Iris adventures. Iris was the main culprit, but Stella followed along, but always in a loving way. Where Iris would jump a fence for her own good, Stella would first greet you and say hello before she ate a newly planted rose bush right in front of you.

Stella was here before Pino, The Head Troll, White Dogs or pie parties. She was brought here with Iris to clear the back paddock areas, and she did, and she did it well. She also cleared the willows and any edible in her way, but we forgave her of that. But she was always more than a worker bee to me, she was my first goat. I had wanted goats for so many years, had always rushed to any goat I saw if I was driving in the country side–back when I was a city dweller and dreamed of a spot of land somewhere, and a mate. Stella was the fruition of that dream-I got the mate, then the land, and then the goat.

When you lose a muse, it is hard to know how to honor her. Do you bring her back in story. Do you give her a Ballet Theater in Heaven–which has worked out well for our departed and loved Old Man Guinnias?

Stella arrived here as a 5 month old goat. She arrived before I knew I'd be taking in old goats. She was the first goat, along with Iris, to grow old here, and the first goat of such a category to die here.

So, yea, I took my hat off this morning, and knelt down by her body, placed my hands on her sides, and wept and cried and rolled my body like there was music. In my head, I remember thinking,

I've seen photos of people weeping like this over loved ones bodies.

The White Dogs were there, then Wilbur, Moose and Goose passed by quickly, Victor got up from the corner and stood for a second, then returned to lie down. They witnessed it all last night, the death. They were not traumatized and not sad. But they knew I was grieving. Marcella cleaned Stella's face, licking off the expired rumen liquid, and waited for me to get up. Benedetto stood in the corner, waiting.

But before I did chores and feedings there was one thing left to do. I brought Iris in.

Go there, see her, I said.

She went in, observed and left. She was ready for a new day, and a new breakfast.

We had planned to dig her grave today to be ready to bury her on Monday. So we will stick to that plan.

I told her over and over in the last months, knowing she was failing, what a wonderful goat she was. She was more than that, of course, to me. It is the beginning of the end of one of Apifera's eras.