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

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Parting is sweet sorrow, dear Professor



As Professor lay dying, Cornelia the piglet acknowledges his presence.

I had to say good bye to a dear friend. The little goat that arrived without a name accompanying Aunt Bea and was soon crowned Professor Otis Littleberry passed on. He had begun to lose weight a few months ago, and blood work showed nothing significant, but he was also exhibiting some neurological issues of late. I knew about a weak ago he would not be with his much longer, as he was becoming weaker, and if pushed at feedings-always by Raggedy Man-he would fall, but could still get up. Until yesterday morning when I found him cast, but I righted him and he did eat and drink. But by afternoon chores, he was down again, and very listless, and he could not stand. He had lost so much weight, even though he was getting more than ample feed.

I came down with a serious chest cold on Saturday night and had a raging fever. Having had walking pneumonia twice in my life-from neglect-I knew hanging out too long in the chilly barn was an open invitation to it. My goal was to get Professor settled into a spot where he could let go, unencumbered by inquisitive Misfits. I held him for a long time though and talked to him about his journey. He struggled a couple times, but then his eyes would close. I decided to move him into the healing ward, where Cornelia and the three sheep were, and I made him a straw bed. I sat with him , his head on my lap and he was pretty out of it. I wished he'd die with me there, but it usually doesn't go that way. Cornelia was very interested him. This is the last photo I took of him and her, in the grainy light of the nighttime barn.

I had a beautiful encounter with Daisy though She is our eldest matriarch sheep, and I had moved her and her daughter Lilly who is also getting up there, into the stall to keep the broken legged Opal company, and to keep weight on them in the winter since they are gummers and arthritic. Daisy is one of my favorites and usually acknowledges me, and she walked over to me as I sat with Professor. It was more unusual though, because she left her fresh hay to do it. I scratched her a bit on her first approach, but when I stopped, she would come closer until she was right in front of me, staring into my eyes.

It made me cry.

Everything right now is significant, and it all ties into our eventual move to Maine. While I assumed Daisy was just coming over to acknowledge this other creature in her area, her presence felt like it was a personal communion with me. And I felt it wasn't so much her saying,

I can tell you are upset about saying good bye to Professor-

as it was her telling me she wanted to go to Maine.

I just didn't think you would want to go with us, Daisy. You are old and arthritic and I thought you and the sheep would do better here or with another good farm.

I had never considered Daisy might want to come to Maine. Maybe I misread her, but I will remain open to her future discussions.

I was getting colder. And Cornelia, who is now back to her true form after being ill this month, was very interested in Professor, to the point I was afraid she might start nibbling on him. Pigs are carnivores, lets remember. I feared if he died in the night, she might start eating him. It happens, usually if a pig is really hungry and Cornelia is well fed, but I didn't want to risk it.

So I carried him one more time to the hay barn, and covered him in blankets and straw. Scooby Keith and the Head Troll sleep there too so he would not be alone. I stayed with him another 30 minutes or so. He struggled once and I let him sit up, but he was so weak he just lay down again. I kept telling him it was time, time to let go.

I stood outside the hay room, looking in at him for another 10 minutes, to make sure he was settled and still, which he was. There was no point to keep going to him, it only revived him slightly, and it was his time to let go. He died sometime in the night.

I will have to wait to bury him until tomorrow. I am still weak, it's raining and cold, and my sciatic nerve roared into pain this morning, I suppose from lifting him up and down yesterday. The cool temps will hold his body until I can prepare his grave. It is not comfortable knowing he isn't buried, but I have to take care of myself.

With each goodbye, it is a goodbye to the original Apifera, and to the original dream. That dream is evolving now, and while I have bittersweet days here now, I know that there are reasons for all of this. It would be less hardship to have everything happen overnight, and get on to the fun part of being in Maine and planning our new life there. But there are lessons I must have now, that is the universe's way. We don't pick our timelines for spiritual growth and understanding. One of the lessons I've been given is understanding I need to tweak my life with animals so I have more space for me-and people- in it. I need less animals, and I do not need to take on every elderly crippled goat that comes along. I have loved doing it. And I will always help animals and have them in my barnyard-Misfits of all kinds. But it's okay for me to admit I am stretched emotionally, and financially, caring for this many creatures that arrive in bad shape-that will change.

So Professor won't make it to Maine. But it was his time. I'm excited to have my Misfits entwine with elderly people. It has always been my goal, but I couldn't get it off the ground here.

I will leave you with some images of Professor in healthier times. I will miss this little chap, he was pure politeness in a goat body.








6 comments:

Ms. Becky said...

awww. you give your animals such a good and loving life. each passing just breaks but yet lifts my heart too - knowing they have been loved well. Peace to Apifera Farm.

andrea stoner said...

Your journey is so well written regarding spiritual growth. You help me to appreciate the time I do spend in the barns and with my menagerie. Their passings are felt by all. A recent winter, I nursed a neurological anamoly for two days and ended up with a raging fever and head cold after her passing . Please take care of you in between your moments. I respect your reflections.

Lisa Hofmann said...

Oh Professor! I am so glad I had the privilege to meet you ... such a regale little chap. It does seem like everything and everyone is winding up their role in Apifera I with Maine as a fresh, new version integrating all the lessons so hard earned. Yes, do take care of yourself ... you will be carrying all the seeds of the original Misfits with you ... replanting the Professor, Stevie, Floyd and others in new soil to bloom and grow. Sending warm and healing thoughts your way. xo

Katherine Dunn said...

thanks everyone...he was one special guy, but had a good long life...ANdrea, you are right, we caretakers which I never thought of myself as one until I got here! need to reflect. Lots of lessons for me as I head to Maine. Lisa, so glad you met him...all the seeds, I like that. Thanks Ms. Becky.

Lynda Gene said...

I have always loved his name and his looks and will never forget him, even though he lived 3000 miles away. I have a feeling his spirit will find you in Maine - he may even be scouting for you there. Good work for a Professor.

Katherine Dunn said...

Lynda Gene, that is a beautiful sentiment...

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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 ~