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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sigh of the shepherd

The tilt of a head, the sigh of a shepherd

One day you have no lambs, the next day you have eight. And so the final lambing of Apifera here in Oregon is complete. Just like that. The moms made it so easy for me, there was no need for me it seems-this is usually the case, but with all that is going on it was a relief, and a joy, to walk into the barn on Friday morning and find both Mavis and Ophelia had lambed. Little Lil was in the corner in pre-labor. By afternoon feedings, she had two beauties at her side.

We ended up with two boys and six girls, all healthy. All the new time mothers are pros already. Like I said, I didn't have to do a thing-except raise healthy sheep and give them my all, and they returned their own gifts. This year, we lambed in the new barn with makeshift jugs. But Mavis and Little Lil are in the large open area with Otis and all is well. I like to jug new moms and lambs for one to three days, depending on how it goes. Some moms need more time to bond and imprint their voices on their lambs. I've had moms that are fine lambing and being amongst others. And did we ever get great color. Wendell the papa must have a strong gene, as all the lambs except one were a deep chocolate. One of the ewes, shown here, is a beautiful buff rose color. She is the gangliest of the group, but cute as a button and doing fine. It always amazes me how far they come from the birth day to the next day. We now have leaping lambs, and they are all checking each other out through the fencing.

I am spending time with the lambs and while we've had non stop rain for weeks, it makes sitting in the barn, the rain drumming on the tin roof, pleasant, almost comforting. It reminds me of being five, sitting in my sumac fort on windy days-feeling protected by the shrubs. I'm planning on taking lots of time to enjoy this last group of young ones. Twelve years has gone so fast.

I'm finding it more and more difficult to look back at photos from our 12 years here. I was looking for a photo yesterday, and was overwhelmed at all the images before me-like a movie on fast forward-so many of the faces are not with me any more. My muses are shifting too-as an artist and writer, the grounding place that has given me courage to write will now be changing. I have no doubts my Maine home will inspire so many things, but being here now, it's like the feeling you might have experienced when you pack the house up but you have to wait one more day for the moving van. The house has let go, and you have let go-you feel rudderless, you want to just get on with it.

I have some crucial good-byes to come in the next month. I won't write about it today, but it is on my mind. I will remain honest here, and hope to not bring my readers down. I just want to share this transition-for there might be others going through big changes that will take comfort in the changes I can write about.

It's symbolic of the time of life Martyn and I are in-mid life-entering our final quarter. Perspectives shift. It is the best time of my life though, I can honestly say that. If you told me I could be thirty tomorrow, I'd say, "No way." The perspective is rich, wiser, less flip, less casual about the important things of life. The lambing season is symbolic of new beginnings, fresh blood, community, and the miracle and strength of Nature. The young lambs and their mothers are juxtaposed with their great grandmothers, Daisy and Lilly, who reside in the stall right next to them. Just as in some households, a baby is heard crying, a child is heard singing, while a grandmother sits knitting, or napping, with the chatter of youth in the near distance. Being a shepherdess all these years has given me that–a home of generations, a place to see life and death as a connected path-nothing to fear, just something to explore wholeheartedly until like the elder matriarchs of the farm, I lay my head down for the final time.

1 comment:

Candace said...

Lovely. Congratulations on a successful lambing.

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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 ~