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

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What will we become now

The signs from the old farm, many of them, came with us. Some I couldn't bare to leave as they were meaningful on so many levels and can be hung here as our Apifera missions here become clear. Of course it will involve animals, my work with helping them and connecting it all to people. We are happy here. We were happy there too, but we seem to fit in here, to the land, house, barn and the surrounding towns. Everywhere we go we say we have just arrived and we make no pompous statements of what we think we know, we just casually and honestly say,

"We are new here, can you help us?"

and by the end of our time in a small town feed shop in Waldoboro, or a hardware store in Damriscotta, we feel we have learned new things and come one step, one day closer to settling. We have been told we will never be Mainers and that is okay. I understand historical territory, we were not born and bred here, nor were generations of our families. I never considered myself an Oregonian either. I will always be a Minnesotan I think. Maine feels more like an east coast Minnesota to me, whereas Oregon was exotic in many ways and the valley we lived in had the feel of renegade at every turn. Place, a sense of home and being, are deeply rooted in our souls and hearts, from even before our births as our mothers carried us about - a move shakes that all up and lets cream rise to the top.

Martyn looks like a Mainer to me. I suggested he just lie and make up a family history of make believe people so he could be considered a Mainer and I would be his wayward wife of multiple states.

Martyn is no longer The Dirt Farmer. He is simply, Martyn, but said with  a Maine accent [in closed company, we would never want it to sound like we are making fun]. We both decided we just want to be ourselves. The land here is very different than what we had in Yamhill. It is marshy in many areas, and the woods I'm finding is very marshy and I still have not come to find the paths that are supposedly entwined in the woods. Part of field is a low spot, marshy but suitable for a wildlife area I think. That is one of my future goals, to turn the wood area into an education place for bird watching and tree worship. But first things first.

We also live on a somewhat busy road, busy for us anyway. Everything is closer together here and even though we have 30 acres, we feel like we are in a 'village of farms' versus out west it felt like...open west cattle drive areas. The road is paved, and we have very little dust like we did in Oregon. I did bring a lot of the dust from the old farm with me. Seeing the furniture we managed to cram into the truck in daylight was...embarrassing. I did however pause, and think,

There is some of my old Apifera, as I tenderly dusted each item off with bare hand.

Our property is situated nicely though, and we feel rural, and in the winter and as we age, having the road right there will be a God send as it connects us to all the villages we need to get too.

Because of the road, we added more picket fence so our back porch is now enclosed in a lovely private area, and I can walk to the barn 20 feet away. I can see and hear my animals. Martyn even made picket gates.We started planting more garden, and say we will keep it simple-but I know us, we can't stop from making more garden.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Change is chaos but home is where you hang your hat

What it comes down to is this-very few things are needed for a settled daily life. Shelter and a place to sleep well, warmth, food, water and the ability to have a routine to clean oneself and stay healthy. The animals show us this daily, and in the move, they were provided with all of the above, just in different surroundings. They took it in stride, and to most of it, so did we.

The move forced us to strip down to basics for five days on the road. Although we did have our iphones, but basically we were camping in stalls. But as I lay in bed this morning I was thinking about how unsettling a move can be, and why. Is it the fact the furniture is in different spots, or that you don't know what time the mail comes, or where the best place to buy printer ink is? Is it that nobody knows who you are as they drive by your house, and you as the newcomer don't know the histories of each house and the quirks of nearby locals?

The first days of a move in to a new home are chaotic-chaotic to the point that is exciting and like an adventure. The empty house we arrived to clear of any furniture or "stuff" was so soothing really. There was a certain smell too, that is now gone, replaced by our smell. The dust here now is ours, not theirs. As we sat on the back porch, our new go-to spot last night sipping wine, I smelled that scent the house had when when we moved in 2 weeks ago, but then it was gone, blown away in the breeze.

In the first days there are no bad memories, and no knowledge of nearby property owners you might have issues with. It was nice unpacking cherished items this week, and I started to get a feel for my new studio space upstairs-an all white room, including painted floors, a dormer room that faces the field and apple trees with an office space next door complete with a sitting alcove to gaze out at the same trees, and soon-the new barn and horse field.

As hard as we have been working, I am also taking time to sit, and enjoy my animals. They are all troopers. We put the old traveling Rosie stall in the paddock, I thought it would be a perfect hiding spot for short Misfits. In fact, I immediately showed it to Scooby Keith, because he likes to be with Boone, but the donkeys were being a bit rambunctious with him.

"Scooby," I said as I pushed him into the hut, "You can hide here if needed, just remember that."

Last night as the donkeys were out grazing and Boone was dozing, I found Scooby in the hut. He captured what I said above-a home is a place you hang your hat, and create a life around the walls you are surrounded by.

Making progress

We are making progress. More fencing up so equines have a grass paddock, and now a shoot out to the beginnings of another field area. That field is about 2 acres and will be fully fenced this coming month. We will fence all fields by year's end, I hope. I also got up the piglet paddock/run that comes off the barn stall, and Martyn is working on putting up more picket fence which he is making so we can have Huck, Mud and Hughie running free in the yard again [that will be a relief]. Like I don't have enough to do, I couldn't stand not buying some plants for the garden beds by the house.

Something I really like about our new place is the proximity of the barn and animals to the house. When we sit on the back porch, our nightly routine, I can hear Rosie snoring, piglets suckling and can see the donks and Boone. The barn door is about 20 feet from me, where as the old farm was spread out all over. Things are closer together here which makes sense since winter is harsh and snow shoveling an issue. The new barn will sit about 100 feet from the other barn.

As is the case with creatures, they have immediate needs of fencing for safety, exercise and my ability to care for them properly. The property came with a small barn which is very well built but only two stalls-large ones-and that we are grateful for.I have runs we've put up off those, and in time that will be Misfit and pig area, but for now, the donkeys and Boone also have space there until the new barn and other field is fenced.

But everyday we make progress. Yesterday was a big one since I was able to get up the small pig paddock off the stall, and after two weeks of living inside, the piglets, Birdie, Sir Tripod Goat and Eleanor and Cornelia saw daylight. We were all relieved. I neglected to get a proper swimming pool for them so will get one, or help them make a small pool. Bad for mosquitos, but pigs like mud.

Boone is full of himself and I think I will rent time at the barn he boarded at to work some of his ya-yas out of him before I ride here. At the old farm, Boone had his own paddock and shared it with visiting goats or wandering sheep from time to time, but here in the day I let him be with the donkeys due to lack of fenced areas right now. He has been the dominant one which really surprised me as he is never the alpha with his horse buddies. Matilda is ever the protector of the minis and all in all everyone is happy. But it will be nice to get the larger fields fenced-hopefully in the coming month.

The piglets are pretty sweet, and funny. They are now leaping and playing with each other. Two are going to live with a friend of mine who also is moving to Maine from Portland and we have known her for a long time so I'm happy they will have a great home-I am fond of the two she is taking, especially the all ginger runt who is now catching up in size. I have been sitting and holding them all and he is the most personable.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The day a cat spoke like a lion

It is hard to even write this post, but since this blog was always first and foremost a reflection of day in and day outs of my life, I must. And in time, it won't hurt so much. If you followed our journey on Instagram, you will have heard this by now. But one Apiferian that was left behind, suddenly, was Itty Bitty Etta.

We had all the Misfits in the trailer that morning, ready to travel East. It had all gone remarkably well-even getting The World's Grumpiest But I Am Fine The Way I Am Pig into her travelling suite went much smoother than I thought it would. We were clipping along and ready to depart as planned around 8 am. I just needed to get Big Tony and Itty into their travel area in the trailer-a nifty bird like cage Martyn had built just for them, so they could sleep and have a litter box, and sit on perches and not be in crates the entire time. And I thought, safe.

I had lectured Martyn the night before-be sure you don't let Itty out in the morning-which is her routine. And be sure when we take her out we put her in a crate first to avoid trouble.

I went into the house and there was Itty, perched on the chair, calm, and I picked her up. She was so clam that I made a big mistake-for me anyway-perhaps not for her. I didn't put her in a crate. We got to the trailer, I got inside the tack room where the cats would travel, and she was fine, until I started putting her in the travel suite, which hung securely on the wall. Below me were Eleanor, Cornelia and the four piglets. I felt Itty squirming, yelled to Martyn to shut the door and as he began to shut it, Itty clawed and clawed and I had no choice but to let go, and she was gone, leaving me cut up and angst.

I pretty much broke down. Perhaps it was a necessary thing. I had not really broken down about leaving and maybe that was a final gift she gave me. I blamed and shamed myself the entire next 30 minutes as we gathered the final things to put in the car. I tried some desperate pleas to God to bring Itty back. but I knew she was gone, at least, gone for hours. She would not just show up in a few minutes or head to the house. And she didn't.

As we were leaving, the new owners showed up, which was a blessing as I could tell them what happened. They are already taking in Peaches, the sheep and Doris and June, and the chickens, and they were happy to care for Itty.

It was sudden, and tragic for us. There were no goodbyes with the five pound cat who was found on a rural highway, wet and cold and stick thin at a about 5 weeks old. Martyn adored her, and she him. If I had just let him carry her, I thought. More shaming.

The entire morning drive was marked by the event. We discussed all the possibilities of why and how, and in the end, we knew that the only thing to hang on to was that Itty liked it there, it was her land-she was more attached to the land and sense of place than to us. I truly believe this. But the human and caretaker in me kept seeing her face, hearing her "Meh" and wondering if she felt abandonned by us, the very people that saved her from a rural highway. The ongoing joke all these years was that I rescued her from a highway, but she liked Martyn.

Many have said that Itty spoke loudly and clearly that day-she did not want to go to Maine. But what if? What if I had put her in a crate and she was here? What if it was a stupid mistake on my part and she would have been here if I hadn't made it. Would we all be saying, "Oh look at Itty in her window, she is so content"?  More shame.

I had always had the fear that Itty would be impossible to contain here, and she would wander off and never be seen again. The house also is not as remote and there is a busy road. I had a plan to contain her in a room for a couple months just so she bonded with the house. But I always had a feeling deep inside that we would lose her in Maine. Perhaps, I decided over time, those internal fears were really Itty speaking directly to me.

Another friend told me the story that mimicked my fear-she had moved her cats from one farm to another home some 20 miles away. One of the cats was content, the other eventually bolted out of a screen and she never saw her again. She lived with that fact for a long time. I knew that could have been Itty. I also knew that every time I opened that cage in the travel suite she could have escaped. at any one of the layovers. She was wild that way- you know, Itty was Itty inside, but outdoors she became Big Etta.

So it is sad. Even though we feel like distant family to the new owners, and we know she is safe and warm and fed, it is sad for us. This will be the last time I write about her.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Apifera lands and all is well

A photo posted by Katherine Dunn / Apifera Farm (@katherinedunnapiferafarm) on

We have landed. We are intact and safe and happy. And there is much to tell you about the trip and our new place here in Maine. Despite a major surprise goodbye on the day we left-I will write about it this week-we had no trouble on the road with the trailer or The Misfits. All the horrible things that could and can happen hauling animals, did not. We nearly ran out of gas in the middle of Wyoming, but chugged into a one tank stop and survived.Other than that, we did just fine. All the worry about The White Dogs barking all night did not happen, the piglets thrived and grew, and Birdie bonded with little Tripod who now shares a space with her in the new barn. No flat tires, no run tickets, no drama. Just lots of road in front of us for five days. I can honestly tell you, I was happy to get past the West, and into the Midwest which felt like home. As we headed into eastern Ohio and then New England, I felt like I was coming home. I hadn't been to Vermont or NY since the eighties when I went to college. The houses and architecture just made me blissful.

In a way, it seems like years ago we set out from the old farm in Yamhill, just one week ago. {Visit Instagram to see photos of the trip} So much has happened, so many sites have been seen, feelings felt-goodbyes, hellos and the wonder of America as we drove for five very long days. Every night we landed at a different barn where I had pre-arranged lodging for us and the Misfits. The Misfits stayed in the trailer and we slept on an air mattress with Huck, Mud, and Hughie on their pads- always in a barn stall. It worked out great as I could throw the dogs in another stall to feed them while I attended The Misfits, and Martyn set up camp. It was a lot of work and by day two our routine was pretty streamlined. We drove about 12 hours a day and the final day we landed in Maine around seven, with a three hour drive to the new place. That final three hours nearly killed us! As we got to the house at ten, we made a wrong turn and in turning around, got the trailer stuck briefly, and a very nice man helped guide us out of what could have been a serious pickle.

When we arrived it was dark, but all the lights were on in the empty house. We found sunflowers at our door step and inside a food basket with goodies to eat, soaps, coffee, breakfast rolls and a bottle of wine. We were dead tired, so tired, but we took time to look around the house and loved it even more than we thought we would. I could hardly keep my eyes open, but we opened the wine and shared it in the empty old house.

We decided it was like right out of a fairy tale, the scene we found ourselves in. It was as if we had wandered a long time in the dark woods, looking for a place to rest, and we found a little elf house inviting us in by the light. That's what it truly felt like.

So for now, I will share some photos, and I have many things to write about.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Diary of a Pig: May19

In which Earnest the pig conitnues to write in his musings in his journal.

May 19, on the road to Maine, somewhere in eastern Oregon

I was able to see my children for the first time today, briefly. I am too big for them they say, emboldened, and might step on one. This is true. As I might have the intention of sniffing one as a greeting or acknowledgement of being their father, I too often am overwhelmed by my need to constantly eat and can be distracted easily by even a grain of feed nearby.

My riding quarters are separate from the others. My tusks can be problematic. I mean no harm with them, but recognize their ability to slice and dice. I am rather pleased with myself that I have this suite all on my own, although I heard talk one of the small goats might come in with me at the first layover.

The air vents allow me to feel the air move above me. The sound of the road is mesmerizing and makes me sleepy. It's like a long nap on a boat I must assume. I've never been on a boat, but we saw some on the National Geographic special last summer when we heisted that old TV out of the barn for a night, until someone ate the cord. One of The White Dogs no doubt, although I was blamed. I prefer to eat natural items.

So far, America feels the same to me as it did on the farm. But I sense change coming. All the same, I am still me, Earnest. It is good to be grounded in myself and not swathed by the dissenting voices I hear coming from the radio up front.

Logistics-our next few weeks

We will be travelling across America to Maine and hope to arrive May 16. At that point, I am unsure when I will have access to my main computer and internet. So the blog might be inactive for a couple weeks or more.

The best way to watch our travels is to follow along in Instagram which is the easiest way for me to post on a phone. I'll share those images on my Facebook profile page too.

The shop is on hiatus. If you were to put an order in from one of the book sites, I won't be able to ship for a few weeks, maybe sooner. Please feel free to email me though, I will try to answer any questions for you about art or book orders you want. Sundance still has lots of originals, as does RiverSea Gallery.

Once settled in mid-late May, the blog will be back!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How to stuff a trailer with Misfits

I would lie in bed these past mornings deciding the best method of getting all The Misfits into the trailer on move day-in a way that doesn't traumatize anyone, or break my back. The plan is to get the World's Grumpiest But I Like Myself The Way I Am Pig, aka Rosie, into her private traveling suite the night before with plenty of bedding and feed. She will scream and be horrible the entire time but once settled will fall off to sleep. She did this when we got her years ago.

Then Eleanor and her piglets will be put into their semi private suite and then we'll bring Cornelia and Birdie the llama in and shut the door.

Oh wait, I forgot that Itty Bitty and Big Tony will ride there too, in a private hanging bird cage type set up. In time, they will forgive me...I hope.

Then in goes Earnest who will ride in the front of the back trailer, maybe with Scooby Keith. In the bigger part of the back trailer will be The White Dogs, Raggedy Man, Sophie, Wilbur the Acrobatic Goat, and Moose and Goose. Sir Tripod will enter last, I will carry him in and decide the best place for him.

Huck and Mud will be in the backseat. Hughie will sleep soundly on his cushion on the floor. With any luck, they won't be farting the entire way. But we will roll with the punches.

I my goodness, The Head Troll. I am undecided as to which area she will be in. She will let me know. Like I've said before, she might be the third driver.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Walk on

So, as Neil Young said in song, sooner or later it all gets real, walk on.

And it is real. The van with all our belongings is on the way to Maine. We will be loading up all The Misfits, dogs and cats, and hopefully have room for ourselves, and leaving on Thursday. We plan to take five days to get there. We have layovers planned at various horse barns where we will pitch a tent and get some sleep and then head out each morning to see America.

I can tell you the excitement, as well as emotion, is building. In the next days, I don't plan any unusual send offs-I simply want to be on my land, alone with Martyn and my animals and remember it as our time as stewards, as we built it. The next owner will have wonderful adventures here and their own lessons. I feel like the energy we put into it will ooze for awhile, and then their energy will mesh with the land, and on and on.

I placed a White Dog, and old goat and a sheep in some branches, as a gesture for the farm that we will always remember it here, and our energy together is strong-we will watch over our memory with our hearts.

To be honest, I don't know what will happen the minute we drive off, with the sheep in the upper field, knowing my horse and donkeys are East, and my flock, Doris and June, Peaches, Otis, the chickens and Hazel the barn cat stay behind with the new owner. I suppose it will feel unsettling. I haven't decided if I will look up in the field one last time at my flock. I will just be there in the moment, but, once we hit the road, it's Maine bound.

We will be off to see America, and reunite with the equines-a glorious hello to look forward to!

Monday, May 09, 2016

From cat to cat-a divine circle

After the van was all packed, I realized I had neglected to take this large canvas that hangs up high in my studio. It was of my first cat, Gracie, who I got in NYC in the '80's and she lived to 18.

At the end of her days, I knew my time to put her down was coming and I told myself when I finished this portrait of her maybe I'd have the courage. I eventually did, she was my first real pet as an adult so it was hard. It was 1997.

When I saw I'd forgotten to pack the painting, I thought I'd just ship it to Maine. But then I realized - it is meant to stay here, I think. For the other red tabby in my life, Peaches, will stay here on the farm with the new owners. I think it was fitting- this painting's meaning has now shifted-to my goodbye to sweet Peach.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

A hard good bye- we help Daisy and Iris float away

In all the excitement of the move and packing, there is a double good bye I am preparing for on Monday afternoon. It will not be an easy one. With much thought, on my own and with my vets, I have decided what is best for the elder matriarch, Daisy, is to help her move on, and we will euthenize her on Monday. Iris is also failing and it is not right to let her carry on and take the chance she will go south fast, which happened to Stella. She is very thin and weakening.

I do not have a ounce of me that feels I might be doing the wrong thing. I am doing what is best for the animal. Daisy is very special to me. She arrived here as a year old with her mother Rosie, also a favorite. The first ones often are. But Daisy is so arthritic now, it is hard for her to get up, and more and more, I just see pain and tiredness in her eyes. Today I watched her raise up in the field and she immediately stumbled. She can not stand anymore and hold her head up. Even if we were staying put, I know her time is coming. In fact in the last few days, she rises less and less.

Daisy has given me so much. Her stoic calm demeaner allowed me to learn shepherding. She allowed me to be the first time shepherd in lambing, and without rolling her eyes she tolerated me checking her udder and vulva almost every half hour. We laugh now, but she let me be the student. She gave us beautiful lambs, including Lilly who has been residing with her in these past months. So has Cornelia, and it breaks my heart these past days to see Cornelia asleep by Daisy. But maybe she knows. Lilly will be allowed to visit with Daisy after she departs as will Cornelia.

And then what can I say about Iris, or Wild Iris as we originally named her? One of my original muses, along with her sidekick Stella. As I was packing up the studio, it was very sad to see all the sketches of Stella and Iris that I was inspired to create for short stories. They were my first goats. Stella and Iris ate a lot of bramble for us...and roses, trees, shrubs and tulips. Iris was never as people oriented as Stella. While Stella was like a big old dog, Iris was coy, always on the lookout for trouble, horrible to work with on her feet, the instigator in any coup or fence escape. To this day, even though she has weakened, she still tries to rise above the herd and make trouble. I had a long talk with her a few weeks ago, and a beautiful moment occurred. I found her away from the crowd, pressed up against the cement wall and the horse trailer. It was an unusual place for her to be. I went to be with her and she did not make an attempt to leave-also unusual for her. I knealt down and asked her if she was checking out on me. She put her head on my shoulder, and sat that way for the longest time. I did not want to move it was so special, especially from a creature that considered that back scratches were for sissies. I told her maybe it was time to join Stella. I told her to think about it.

A couple weeks later, the vet was here and we agreed her condition was not great. She is weakening just like Stella did, and one day Stella simply did not wake up. I think that will happen to Iris shortly, but it is my responsibility to see that her end, after all her glory here, is done properly without pain or drama.

Our kind neighbor up the way came over Friday to dig the graves with his back hoe. With all we have going on, it was such a kind gesture. It took all of 15 minutes what would have taken a couple hours or more to hand dig. It's eerie looking down at the giant mounds of dirt by the graves, standing like pyramids, waiting for the bodies.

In a way, this is the fitting good bye for me to have as we leave our land. I am saying goodbye to two of the original members of Apifera, two of my first muses here. They all helped me gain a voice in my writing. I am also saying goodbye to their energy and presence that is visceral. To this day, Daisy is still talkative and since she is right out the studio, I hear her voice all the time. I think when I lay those two bodies down, I will have a long crying goodbye, something I haven't done yet because I am so busy.

Before we lay them to the rest, the vet will also be here to castrate the male piglets born this week, and microchip them for the trip. Apifera has once again presented us with the bookends we all live–birth to death. There could be no better send off than celebrating the miracle of birth along with the beauty of life that ends in a return to the Earth.

So it will be an emotional Monday.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Mothers in the move

Packing and moving has me thinking of my mother more than the usual-as I think of her daily. We moved all the time as I grew up. Anyone who knew the Dunns knew they moved and did it well. Sometimes we moved right down the street-back in Kenwood when the working man could still live there. My Dad would fix up an old shack, and then we''d move to another one and fix that one up. I loved it. While I did have some houses I bonded with more than others, I looked at moving as an adventure, excitement, a journey. I also learned how to pack, fast and well, and efficiently. I can't tell you how many people say, "Aren't you going to get help packing?". Moving a lot also gave me the courage and freedom in my adult years to not be afraid to move, even far away to a place out West. So I feel my parents with me as we pack. I am confidant they are busy doing other things they need to do, but I have to believe they are popping in, and enjoying the familiar feel of a house in disarray, full of boxes, and packing tape.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Surprise!! Eleanor has piglets!

You can't make this stuff up.

And while our traveling Misfit Mobile to Maine is crowded enough, I decided to look at adding four more piglets to the mix as a gift, not a burden. I could say that her timing was horrible. But actually, it was perfect. She pigletted [yes, I know it is called 'farrowing', but "pigletting" is our preferred term} in time for us to make adjustments to the trailer, and it so happens a vet was scheduled to come Monday afternoon for other reasons- so she can microchip the piglets and castrate them - they were all boys. I do not have a vet in Maine yet, and finding one quickly might be an issue. If she had pigletted on Wednesday night before we leave, that would have been bad timing.

It all happened like this. Some months ago, three months-three weeks and three days to be exact [this is a gestation time of a pig], I found Earnest in with Eleanor after he had busted down a gate. I didn't get too concerned because she just wasn't acting in heat, but I did make a note of it on my calender that if he had done the deed, she would piglet 5/3. Then I went about my business.

A couple weeks ago when the vet was here to microchip everyone for the journey to Maine, I told her I thought Eleanore was sort of looking pregnant. She agreed, but we also felt if she was due in two weeks she'd look more pregnant. I had her on good grass and supplement so we figured she might have been carrying more weight than normal. And we didn't hear any heart beats.

A couple days ago, I noticed her belly drop. I ignored it, I didn't want to face the chaos piglets in the middle of a road trip could be like. Then yesterday morning, I spent time with her and I could tell her teats had swollen. But I couldn't feel any heart beats or movement, and usually by that time you can if they are pregnant.

Last night I was done doing chores and couldn't see Eleanor anywhere. All the animals were still out grazing, dusk is a favorite grass eating time for them. I went back to her old paddock, where she had had her other piglets. I couldn't see anything as I walked in to the corral, but there was that feeling of something being amiss. Then I saw her, laying down, with one little piglet newly birthed.

While weeks ago I had hoped she wasn't pregnant, I have to say, it is a beautiful send off. The birth is a letting go, isn't it? She let go and had piglets, we let go and move to Maine. We take with us elders, and babies.

I think I already have a taker for two of them for pasture pets in Maine. It's all working out.

That Earnest!!

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Follow along with Pino and gang

The equine hauler posts daily updates on their Facebook page. I in turn get messages from her so it is helpful and comforting to know where they are staying, and seeing photos at every stop. You can follow Pino, Paco, Lucia, Matilda and Boone! too on the hauler's page.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The donkeys and Boone are off to see America

I had anticipated this day with emotional optimism-knowing the haulers are excellent, and the equines will board at a wonderful place in Maine until we get there ourselves.

Everything went well. The hauler's trailer was just a tish too big for the turn and culvert, so we walked everyone down to the road and it was just fine. In fact, it was nice, it was like a little farewell parade. No cookies needed, they all walked at a good clip. Paco and Matilda are riding in one compartment. Boone is in the middle, and last in was Lucia and Pino who share a stall. They were all well behaved. They will have five nights, with layovers providing them ample room to roll and stretch overnight. They even get a brushing.

The hauler has threatened to keep Lucia so I told the destination barn to count all donkeys when they get out. Many have said they might steal Lucia, the Teacup, she has that immediate effect on everyone.

I had talked to the donkeys about the trip, and Boone. While some pessimists might scoff at my imagination, I truly believe they understand. I just told them to remember it is temporary to be on the road, and I am following. Besides, I said, you get to see America.

How many donkeys out there get to see America?

I had many moments with Boone that were emotional this morning, but I held in the big cries. He doesn't need that. Boone is a pro, he came for Colorado and is used to long hauls. He trailers so well, and even the hauler said, "He doesn't seem to rattle." But this morning I spent extra time with him, breathing in his smell, rubbing his eye lids, just sitting with him. When I brought him out of the barn, I knew that was our last walk out of a place that had bonded us in so many ways. I don't know what my horse barn will be like there, and the comfort of knowing your surroundings are going to be shaken as we rehome ourselves. But, as the song says,

I'll be seeing you in all the familiar places.

My nearby neighbor knew it was hauling day. As she saw the trailer turn onto the main road by her yard, she snapped the photo of the trailer going east. It was so moving and symbolic in so many ways. A departure, a journey, leaving the past for the unknown, the hero's journey with donkeys and horse.

God speed my faithful friends, we will meet you in Maine.

Walking the gang down to the hauler's trailer as the sinks and Boone head out to Maine before us (copyright Apifera Farm)

A video posted by Katherine Dunn / Apifera Farm (@katherinedunnapiferafarm) on

Monday, May 02, 2016

Conversation with Equines: the last day on Donkey Hill

"So it's not today, but tomorrow. It will be like today, just different," I told the donkeys.

They watched me. We all sat in the morning sun, I kneeled down rubbing bellies as they gathered around me, their normal communing position.

"You will be together, and will be camping nightly at nice places. I'll be right behind you in two weeks," I continued, calmly.

"How many of todays is that?" Paco asked.

It is Paco I have whispered to over and over. He is the worrier. But he has his herd, and good travel caretakers.

"It is 14 todays, Paco," I said.

"14 days before today seems like yesterday," Paco said.

"Time goes very fast, Paco, even when you are a donkey," I whispered in his ears. And they swished their tails and ran up Donkey Hill for their last day on their farm.