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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Monday, December 31, 2018

The moon for a new year

I spent the week getting the end of year books done, and am pleased that we did so well with the first full year of the non profit. We are starting the year without any debt encumbering us as we move forward, a barn addition was built, the hay is in, the vets are always paid pronto and the feed/costs I estimated were pretty spot on. There is so much we've accomplished, and so much more to do, and learn, and grow.

I want to put more art back into he mix though-I want to open the barn up for drawing days, where people can come for one to two hours with their own drawing tables, sit amongst certain animals and draw, or write, whatever they choose.

I want to find better ways to see people in the winter with the Llama of Love, and work on helping The Teapot become a therapy guide.

I want to have some doll workshops.

I want to expand the Old Kitty Knitty Club to do good with their knitting needles.

I want to have more time with Boone next spring.

I want to never forget the amazing presence of the moon...the circle.

You have noticed that everything an Indian does in a circle,
and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles,
and everything tries to be round.

In the old days all our power came to us from the sacred hoop
of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people
flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop,
and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace
and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain and the north
with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance. This
knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion.

Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle.
The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball
and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls.
Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.
The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon
does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great
circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were.

The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is
in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the
nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop,
a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.

Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux 1863-1950

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Annual Christmas Garland Festival -the importance of tradition

I wasn't thinking I could pull it off this year, with this head/sinus cold going on day nine....but I rose with the Christmas spirit and we had our annual Christmas Garland Festival yesterday. I'm so glad I made it happen. Amazingly, except for Moose and Goose, everyone was on tip-top behavior and this year the garland did not suffer as it has in some past festivals. Even the blind chicken partook.

The garland was a gift to me many years ago from an Apifera follower. I liked it so much-it was handmade out of felt, buttons and jingle bells-that I decided to share it with the barnyard for Christmas photos, and it immediately turned into an annual tradition.

Many of the traditions I had as a child for Christmas are gone, mainly because we keep things very simple around here, and without children or extended family, our holidays are spent like many nights-by the fire with some spirits and good conversation. I cherish our time together. I spent a lot of energy in my youth complete with broken hearts and bad choices looking for a solid mate and friend, so when I met Martyn at age 42, I had no problems with spending time with him. We are rarely apart, but also have very independent lives during the days. I like being with him.

We honor the spirit of Christmas by celebrating with a Charlie Brown tree harvested from The Wood, and in so doing we create more light for the other trees. The tree goes onto the barnyard for the goats to eat and so we honor the gift of food from Nature. So that s a tradition we created. And The Garland Festival has become an Apifera tradition, and it matters. Why? Well, despite all the chaos of life and the world, knowing that there is a day when a beautiful red and green garland-made by hand and given in friendship-will adorn the animals that we care for, it brings a sense of stability. It reminds us that a tradition s something we create, and do over and over, and it shows those watching or partaking what our true values are.

We nourish each other with good food, and warm ourselves with the fire made hot by the wood Martyn has chopped from the our land. That is tradition.

The Garland Festival is something I like to do for the animals too. I really think most of them understand this is a special activity just for them. The one that really made me smile was Birdie. The second I put it on her, she literally posed, she must have stacks of old Vogue magazines that she knows how to stand just like Grace Kelly. She truly loves to be admired but not really in an ego way, it is the same feeling I had about her on Misfit Love Day when I put the crown on her head-she was working the crowd with love and...well, her beauty.

You can see all the photos from this year's Festival on our Instagram feed. And past years too can be seen right here on the blog.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Inviting little me in...where is your wonderment

I'd love to invite her here for a day. Oh the questions I would ask her. The look on my face shows me that even then I did things with strong intention. And Christmas was a wonderful time in our family, right through the final years of my parents' lives.

I am thinking of a lot of people this year, some gone, some are still here but are in suffering states due to people they've lost, or illnesses. So the fact I've had a sinus cold for 9 days now-it seems to finally be clearing but is taking forever-I can't complain when I see so many others in such sadness.

So I'm focusing on the wonders I had when I was this little girl, she still lives with me of course. I was going to the car, and heard a bird, looked up and there was a big jay, so blue, so bold blue against the then grey sky. And I thought,

Imagine the first time you saw a Blue Jay...

That is what Christmas is for me-the wonderment of acknowledging everything this earth, and universe brings into a daily life. The amazing way a heart can seek out what it needs after it has been hurt, the way new friends can enter one's life when you need them most, the way a song can make you cry as it transports you back to a moment you do want to feel even if it makes you miss someone...the way the cat, goat, or horse sound each morning.

Merry Christmas everyone. Happy Holidays. May you feel some wonderment today, even if sandwiched in all the craziness of the current situation we are all facing as Americans...but as importantly, as humans and Earth dwellers.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Moon over The Great Whites, a greeting from a father gone

The moon has been spectacular these last couple of nights. When there is a full moon, I always say,

"Hello, Bob."

Bob was my father, gone since 2008. The day he died he literally became the wind to me, it was so visceral. My skin and body were electrified after he died, I could feel so close to him just by the wind. I had never experienced that before. And that night, the full moon appeared, and I did not hesitate, it was him.

So it was not quite a full moon, but close enough to greet him.

I had been doing barn chores and turned around and there was the moon, right over White Dog. I think this is the blessing of the darn iPhone, I can't lug a camera all over during chores, but that is when so much happens that is the fabric of the life here. I asked him to stand while I got my camera out, and good molly goodness, he did. Thanks, Benedetto, it has been a very well received photo. And then leaving that field for the house, there was Birdie.

Beautiful. A moon over a llama, my llama. How many creatures were bather in that light last night?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The tree still stands!

We have always had little Charlie Brown trees, cut down from The Wood, but this year, with the three cats newly in the house, we were thinking it might be a disaster. On top of that, we both came down with really bad colds so have just been trying to survive, if I may be so dramatic [we are both recovering though].

Martyn's cold was subsiding and he was feeling pretty good this weekend, me, not so much. But when I came down from some time in the upstairs studio, he had surprised me with a little tree, and had all the lights up and some decorations. We had always stuck with a bird and fruit theme, and these are pretty much unbreakable. I didn't put up any of the family treasures, some of those ornaments are 100 years old!

Anyway, I'm so glad he did this, it was such a nice surprise to come down stairs and see it lit up, such a sweet little tree. And so far, no Flying Squirrels have taken her down! Mister Moseley came on the table right after we were finished, and I really felt he was saying thank you, he sat and looked at the lights for the longest time...and then went back to bed.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Teapot thrives, while we get sick

One thing about being self employed, you don't get sick days. Martyn came down with a bad sinus cold last week and yesterday I got it. Chills, slight fever, blah, blah, blah. So what do we do? Go outside and work it off. Now I will say it was a beautiful 40+ degree day with sun, no wind, and the task at hand was not that difficult. We needed to put up pressure treated boards on a fence that divides where I feed The Teapot and the other equines. Boone was pushing over the fence to try to get one blade of hay. I'm hoping I can wait until spring to get the No Chew on it, so I was quite pleased that it was still standing this morning [tongue-in-cheek].

Lydia Rose, aka The Teapot has already shed some pounds. We have her on a good diet of hay and trace minerals and tish of senior feed just so she doesn't lose too fast or lose good resources of minerals and vitamins. Her Cushings test was fine and in spring we will do an insulin test, as per the requirement of the rescue we got her from.

I have been working on her ground manners, she has them lurking in her, taught long ago, she just got away with a lot in the last years, and not because she wasn't loved. She is also settling more when i put her with the donkeys, and less 'ears back' to move them around is happening.

To be honest, she reminds me of a combination of Paco when he first arrived, and Rosie the grumpy pig who nobody wanted as their friend. I do not feel any sadness in Teapot, she just needs a clearer job. So I am going to start walking her on a lead into the woods, and I am planning on having "Wood Walks with Teapot" or something like that.

I had planned to make Paco her buddy, and maybe teach them to pull a cart together. But Teapot is not herd bound, and I'm thinking now since she clearly had some driving training years ago, she might be a good candidate to work with on an individual basis. I also of course hope to have her be one of our therapy healers...but we will proceed one step at a time.

I looked at the photo of her taken right before we picked her up, and compared it with the photo taken yesterday. Her coat is looking shinier and she has lost a little bit of weight.

Making the fence Boone proof
Left, The Teapot after some time on her diet

Friday, December 14, 2018

Opie's elder friends sing along

Opie and I made visit yesterday to our friends in Wiscasset. It has been awhile since I've seen them, since early fall when they came for one of their visits to the farm. I have missed them and after two years of getting to know them, I truly mean it when I say–and I told them–I miss them when I don't see them regularly. The last few months were so full with the new barn addition and other projects....I had to take a step away for a bit.

So it was an extra special visit yesterday. There is a new resident who is very sweet, and I enjoyed meeting her. She is very homesick, and she shed some tears, I held her hand and supported her sadness. She doesn't think she belongs there, but her kids do. At ninety, to have to leave your home...it is all hard stuff.

We talked about that yesterday, how they all do miss their homes, but they know they are lucky to be at WG–and I will say it is a very homey old house, in the beautiful little village of Wiscasset. But...to have to leave one' home...there is no getting around it, it is a sad thing and it is something some people might never adjust to.

I don't know if I will be so graceful at it, if it comes to that. Yes, it comes into my mind from time to time–where will I end up? I of course want the universe to take me out quickly, and let me live amongst my animals, and Martyn, for as long as I am meant to, and then just dissipate me. I think everyone has fear of being put in a 'home' and some are so much worse than others.

I told the new resident that I will be back regularly, and that she is going to find herself falling for Opie. She had a goat as a little girl, it was at her mother's farm, but she wasn't much of an animal person she said, but she wanted to come meet Opie. I hope to get to know her, and maybe bring things to our meetings that will give her some joy, some comfort.

The residents heard it was Opie's 2nd birthday, and they made him a little "2" out of raw squash, and then we all sang. Opie wore his jingle bells too. He was very quiet yesterday, the room was very warm, with a space heater on, and sun streaming in the windows. He took a stand up nap at one point.
The residents also surprised me with a little gift of a calender and a farmer's almanac-so sweet! I told them I had a New Year's surprise I was working on...Joe said they never expect anything in return because they just so love our visits-that was so special, got me verklempt thinking about it.

I'm very excited to start the new year, and get them all out to the farm again too. But we'll be going on visits starting up in January...it clearly brings them joy, as do Opie's letters. In spring or summer, i hope to bring Ollie when we can be outside but I'll need an assistant with Opie and Ollie.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Who is two? A breakfast animal cracker toss!

Our little Ambassador of Love turns two today! He is still stinking' cute, and still full of love, all though on a quieter tone than when he was a rambunctious little sprite-the latter has been taken over by Opie's sidekick, Ollie.

We tossed animal crackers today in his honor, for breakfast, and The Misfits thought a breakfast party was swell-why wait until lunch or tea for a birthday party?

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Annual Live Nativity Scene...who will be Jesus?

Before you ask, no, I never film or photograph the Annual Live Nativity Scene. We have to have some rituals all to ourselves. Besides, it takes a lot of energy to get it to happen, and often ends in disaster, like someone knocking the manger over, or Boone eats the Baby Jesus bed...

This year there is some debate about who should be Baby Jesus. I will let them figure it out, this is really their Christmas event for themselves, so the decision is their's to make.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Odd animal friendships-it's all the rage, but we knew that long ago

In case you haven't noticed on social media, it's all the rage to post sweet videos of odd animal friendships-emus and donkeys, chickens and cows, dogs and ducks, on and on. I enjoy many of those videos too. Although I do sense many are propped.

Many people are out of touch with Nature and I feel like some of these videos present Disney-ized versions of real creatures. There are people out there that truly believe all pigs are teeny [um, those are called new born piglets] and should dress in clothes and live in houses, or that a horse lying on the cold earth in winter is abused and they call a sheriff [please don't do this, horses love to lie on the ground even in winter].

So, I hesitated somewhat to share my Goose & Llama evolving friendship, but after weeks together, the goose, who we named My Grace, does seem bonded with her llama. And I like that, she has a defender. I find them sleeping together, they eat together, and for the last couple days I've allowed Birdie to go outside and get some sun. I wanted to make sure she was stable enough, the last thing we want is for her to fall or pull something due to her nerve damage as it could set her back.

I now have Birdie on anti-inflammatory pills and we have gone to pills every other day after getting good results for one week of daily pills. The idea is to taper her off as much as possible without losing ground. Nerve damage is a long road of recovery, if at all, so I feel we will go a year before we see what recovery we will have.

But I'm pleased with her progress, and she seems like herself too. She tried to do a little llama 'skip' something they do as they run, head and neck down-it is like a frolic and I so miss seeing her do it, it is pure joy. But she couldn't quite make it work, and I encouraged to stop and stand.Still it was a sign of progress.

So Goose & Llama will not be appearing in any viral videos, I am sure of that, but their friendship does seem real. And lets not forget My Grace was there for our old friend, the World's Grumpiest Pig aka Rosie. I've seen these inter species friendships many times, and sometimes they stick, and sometimes they evolve.

I have a crazy theory that My Grace admires Birdie's long neck, and Birdie admires Grace's neck too and how it can twist and turn.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

We celebrate Papi!

Papi turned a year older and we celebrated with him this week. Papi is one of the youngish elders in the Elder Cat Suite, turning 10. When the shelter took him in he had such bad case of urinary issues that he had chewed his penis off. Surgery was done to help what was left, poor chap.

If you have met Papi you know he is not one we have to worry about keeping weight on! The opposite. He is a portly fellow but what is funny is he is always the one to sit back and let everyone else eat first, so I try to give him as little wet food as possible. But on his birthday, we did not measure his intake.

Everyone needs a day off from counting calories, I told him.

{If you are one of the I-Love-Papi-Club people, feel free to send him a donation, or cat food [of course the latter will be hidden in a locked safe}

Monday, December 03, 2018

Will I ever learn

You'd think after all these years I'd learn not to store the Christmas lights in the barn.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Birdie update: patience and the goose is named

Birdie and My Grace this morning-still smiling
Birdie continues to improve, with some days of what feel like set backs, but it is all part of the healing process of nerves damaged by the nasty Menigeal worm.

Each time I talk to my vet, I seem to understand more about this dreaded parasite, and how different it is than other worms. For one, it does not leave the body when it is killed, like stomach worms do. Nerve damage recovery is a long process-only after a year will I assess what we have. I read about one llama that was much worse off than our Birdie, completely down every day, and a year later after the farm did everything they could for her, she simply stood up one day and lived to be 15.

If Birdie can get up on her own, that is the key. Even if she is permanently wobbly, it will be okay. If she were a working guard animal, it would be a problem, or if she were a breeder, which of course she isn't.

So when the vet was here to put down Rosie, we also had her assess Birdie [along with a Cushing Test and shots for The Teapot]. The vet and I were concerned that we had gotten all the worms in our first round of treatment. After that treatment, Birdie was doing well, but then two weeks later, her hind end weekend again and it seemed so sudden. So we gave her a different dewormer-a one time shot that the vet gave her-and we dosed her with something for anti-inflammatory via a shot. We also have switched her anti-inflammatory medicine because the one we were giving daily can cause ulcers in camelids. It means I'm giving Birdie six pills a day instead of one shot. I find she already accepts the pills pretty well, with my 'firm guidance'.

And the good news is, she has been standing every morning when I get to the barn which is a relief. And walking better, less 'drunken walk' some call it. She is eating well, and she has her goose nurse.

By the way, I have named the goose My Grace. If she doesn't lay eggs in spring, I guess she will be M'Lord!

So thank you to the many who are showing concern for Birdie. I don't wish this on any llama. I will do whatever I have to to help her through this, and remaining positive, even on the bad days. I must show her my intent each day-that we are in this together-and I know she is trying to.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Possible Matching Donations at stake

Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. I know you probably know that because every time you open your email or social media you are being shown all the places you can give too.

But do those places have a Love Llama? Or acrobatic goats? Grumpy pigs that fly off to heaven?

If you want to give on our Facebook fundraiser, there is a chance those monies will be matched. Facebook will be matching every dollar for registered non profits, beginning at 8AM EST on Tuesday, up to 7 Million dollars total. We have to try! There will be a lot of non profits competing for those dollars.

And no matter what, your donations are always used wisely and needed on a every day basis for feed, materials, vet care, routine medicines and more. We do not take a salary and we both have full time jobs to support our simple lifestyle and also have time and energy and love to help the animals and our non profit.

We could not do this without your support.

I have many repeat donors, and I so love them all for coming to bat over and over-that includes all you Apifera Angels that send cat food.

I often see people saying, "I wish I could give more"...but I always say that all money is helpful to us! $5 buys half a bag of feed. It all adds up. The small donations are bread and butter. When we get a bigger donation, it is absolutely Misfitingly Magnificent! But all donations help keep our account flowing in a healthy way, and keep it so we don't scrimp on animal care which is the most important.

Of course, you can give right here on the blog if you are not a Facebook person. No matter how, or when, we will appreciate you donations.

Hoof stomps, tail swishes and pig squeals!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Belly, I hereby declare you a Goddess

I love this photo of me, I was probably about three. What I love about it is I see my spirit, and intention in this photo. I do not feel any need to shame my body. That would come years later when I understood what weight charts were and that some kids wore chubbies.

My body grew up, right along with me, and in time I learned to like my body, and I took care of it. And I told myself I'd never let it get out of shape. That all seemed to be working just fine...But hormonal shifts wreaked havoc and despite my efforts a 20 pound weight gain occurred since I married Martyn some 15 years ago, and I lost my hormones of course. I still ate like a bird, pretty much.

But what I'm working on more than losing weight, is to lose an inch. I threw out my scale last month. If I moved the scale one inch on the floor I could weight 10 pounds heavier, or lighter. Who knows what I weighed. I always weighed about 10 pounds more than the weight charts, even when I was 'thin' and young in my young adult years.

I came to hate being strapped in-mentally-to this magic number on a stupid scale, a scale that was unable to really weigh anything anyway. So I killed the scale, literally.

I walk, I do my chores, I probably do more 'steps' than the average person just in my barn chores. I get what I need to do to 'lose' weight. But post menopause, I don't care what anyone says, it is very difficult, and I've come to this point in my 60 years of life where I say to myself,

What do I want to do with my time today? What do I want to do with my strength, my mind, my hands today?

So I've gained weight.

There is not one animal in the barnyard that cares. My husband is completely supportive and has seen me try, and agonize, even cry when I could not take off pounds any more. I used to lose weight if I needed to by 'intending' it, not anymore. I am a believer in Nature and Nature knows exactly how to store fat on me at this stage of my life so if I ever did trip in The Wood and be stuck there until someone found me, I would probably outlive my thinner self of my 40's.

SO, back to this photo. That little child, I wish I could have her sitting here with me right now. I guarantee she would not be worried about her weight, or her sweet belly sticking ever so slightly out of her pants. I could show her my belly. I'm sure she would look at it as some kind of solidarity of sisterhood.

The other day I was lying in bed, about to get up, and I noticed the skin on my arm looked older and was more wrinkly and loose due to age. Something in me, well, I put my lips on my arm and gave it a gentle kiss.

My legs are still strong and carry me to the barn, my arms are still strong and help me carry an old goat out of the cold, my eyes still see and there is still much to be amazed by. My waistline is thicker, and I hope to hold it at bay, but I am tired of fighting. I just want to bend down and kiss my waistline, but it is rather difficult, so I now have a regime where I pat it, just like I pat my dog, donkeys or the pony shaped all short and stout. It is my Goddess belly.

My belly is full of nurturing food, and not a lot of it, and tonight I'll feed it some wine.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Heaven just got a bit grumpier...goodbye, Rosie

"She is gone," I told them.

As I sat with the body I could here the news spreading amongst the animals,

"Rosie is dead,"

"Rosie has died,"

"It's over,"

and on and on until the last creature was informed.

I placed a drop of oil on her body,

"May you not feel any more pain, and may you never be cold, and may you find a good cloud, and may you see Stevie again," I said.

I wrapped her body in her pink blanket, made just for her, embroidered with words so carefully placed,

"The World's Grumpiest But I Am Fine As I Am Pig ~ Rosie"

We placed her in our clam sled, and began the slow march to the front garden, a place we had gathered before over the last couple of years. As the animals stood in front of the freshly dug hole in the Earth, Martyn helped me lower Rosie's body into the ground, her pink blanket covering her to keep her forever warm. I placed a shroud over her eyes, a shroud made from Assumpta's wool. Burial items had come from afar, and I placed each one, thoughtfully, and carefully around her body. I placed feathers with her for flight, a toy llama for safety, a pig for a reminder of what she once was, and on the top, a red rose.

Earnest stood of to the side, he had dressed in his formal cape and bow tie. The goose, who had slept amongst Rosie in the last two weeks, also came. White Dog watched. Pino and Paco both said their goodbyes,

"I remember when you arrived," said Pino. "I remember when you could run."

"I understand you," said Paco. He placed a slip of paper in the grave, with a special, private poem to Rosie.

Earnest said not one word.

We covered the body in ancient soil, perhaps Civil War heros who once lived here had touched it long ago.

When the final dirt was spread, Opie pointed to the sky,

"Look, it's Rosie, she has beautiful polk-a-dots now!"

The animals had paid their final respects, and as they left they all bowed to the nearby grave of The Head Troll. Martyn returned to the house.

I knelt down, and whispered one last time,

"Oh, Rosie!"

As I returned to the house, it was still, and clear, and crisp. I heard a rustling, clouds appeared over head, tree branches snapped, and a distinctive hrumf-grrr-arrrr-hrumpf sound echoed in my hear.

Heaven just got a little grumpier.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

To recognize this day, every day

Opie takes a stroll in the fresh snow
Thanksgiving, the ritual of taking a day to observe thankfulness, is a tradition for many Americans. But I've always found the biggest blessing I've acquired over time in my own life is the realization that each day has moments strung together of gratitude. The 'strings of gifts' are things I can hold onto in times of pain, fear or turmoil.

I've always been an optimist, even as a little girl–not everyone has that. Blessed to have two parents who were stable and loved me, and gave me the building blocks of a good life–not everyone has that. Blessed to have health, knock on wood–not everyone has that. Graced by an imagination that allows me to share my soul's longings and light–not everyone has that.

I get to live with animals and help them and they return the favor by percolating my art and stories.

I'm not rich, so far from it, but I have a house and firewood, a loving friend in my husband.

I can walk, and move, and lift, and see.

I smell food cooking. I have food.

I have people I've never met that somehow stick with my intentions and support both my work and farm.

I have acquired new skills with age-like finally walking away from toxic people well versed in disguises.

I miss my mother, and father, but I had them to miss, and I see them in Earth messages all the time and have learned to communicate with them in a more caring way.

I have friends that lift me up. I have friends.

I have a donkey. I have four donkeys. And a horse.

My llama is standing, I found a goose, I can laugh at the ducks, a chubby pony awaits, goats run amok, pigs flop daily. I have milk to give Mr. Mosely. I have Mr. Moseley.

The wind still blows, the sea is near–I can feel it on my skin, I smell it.

I'm still here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Monday, November 19, 2018

The new odd couple? Goose & Llama...a developing story.

I once was contacted by Animal Planet some years back, a producer was looking for unique animal couple stories. At the time, we had recently brought home Earnest the pig, and he and the newly arrived Marcella, a pup, were the starring couple. Pig and Pup I called them, their friendship went on for years, and still exists although they have entered a new stage of their relationship-where Marcella is the boss. And of course I told them about Stevie the crippled goat and Rosie the grumpy pig.

"Do they do anything special together?" the producer asked.

"You mean, does the pig carry the pup around on his back?" I asked.

"Exactly," she said.

I said they did lots of charming things, like caressing each other, watching out for each other....but I said they did animal things, like biting out if the other got too close to food. These were real animals, I reminded her,not Disney characters. I swear some of the animal videos we see out on the internet are staged, people training their dogs to ride equines or chickens on bikes...nothing wrong with that, it brings a smile, but not my thing. I mean, my donkey writes poetry and my pig thinks he's still going to meet E.B. White someday, that's good enough for me.

So I am cautious to tell you that the goose seems to be bonding with the llama.

They have not sung a song together, and so far the goose has not gotten on Birdie's back. I do not think I have to worry about them going viral, yet.

I do believe in letting animals work out their own dynamics in the barnyard, if it is safe. The goose, who I have not named yet and must do that, as she is too beautiful to not have a name matching her grace, since last night has seemed to have attached herself to the llama. Now the goose came here because the farm where she lived felt she was lonely, and she was not able to bond into the duck yard, and the goose's own mother pushed her out after she had more goslings. So the goose more or less imprinted on the farmer, and I often sit with her, and she loves to put her long neck under and into my warm coat, and I pet her.

As you know, I have Birdie inside the barn because she had a set back with the horrible M worm, and we are once again giving daily shots of anti inflammatory med, which as we are day three, appears to be helping. Last night when I went to do feedings, there was Birdie, standing comfortably on her feet, not as stumbly. And beside her, was the goose. I took a picture of it as it was charming to see two differently sized white creatures of such grace, an odd couple for sure, side by side.

This morning, Birdie was standing when I got to the barn which was so good to see. As I did clean up and feedings, I kept hearing the goose roughing up the ducks, one in particular. I figured because Rosie was still finishing her breakfast, that the goose was being territorial about that. But then I fed hay to Birdie, and the goose went right out there, and defended Birdie's hay from the ducks. She made them walk away, and then she stood with Birdie and I took some photos.

So stay tuned. I do know in my many years of care taking, that certain animals are more prone to be caretakers themselves. And you never know who it will be. Sometimes it is a complete surprise. In watching the goose try to interact-or not-in the past couple weeks with the ducks, my sense is that she is not a 'fowl' fowl. She prefers other creatures, even making her way into the Boone stall, which was fine, but I took her out since he could accidentally step on her, but he was fine with her. I like to let animals make their own living arrangements, if possible.

So, we will see. It might be the beginning of a wonderful relationship. And since Birdie might need to be kept in the barn like this, where she is safe if she falls, I think I, and she, will welcome one more caretaker. Birdie can see her sheep and White Dog, and the barn is very open so she is not alone.

Stay tuned to see the [maybe] the developing relationship of Goose & Llama.

Last night, the first hint this might be the beginning of Goose & Llama

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Update on Birdie...it's a long road ahead, I think

The fact she can still smile gets my heart. Birdie relapsed.

It has been about a month since we ended the two week treatment for Birdie's fight with the meningeal worm, and she was doing really well, although I could see the wobbles and damage in her balance/rear end, but she was able to rise on her own, eat, graze, etc. We knew it could take months or longer for slow improvement, and we might never get better results. But I was feeling hopeful.

But that changed yesterday-Birdie could not get up without my help. Once up it took her some time to get balanced. I opted to put her in barn to be safe. At feedings last night she was unable to rise until I helped her. I also noticed her neck had developed a slight curve-which I now realize is a normal part of this dreaded disease.

I called my vet and we are going back to a shot a day of anti inflammatory med to see if that will help. The vet said not to panic that the nerve damage is there and it is a slow process for nerve recovery-and she will always have some. It is also possible she fell due to her condition [I witnessed her falling a few days ago] and that is adding to immobility. It really bummed me out that it seemed so sudden, but the vet said this is a pretty typical way the recovery can work. I have been researching as much as possible, and this post had several success stories, and then some not so positive outcomes. There is no answer as to 'if' of 'when' she will be 'okay'. And okay if she is in time, will most likely mean 'damaged'.

This morning I again had to help her up and she fell in the beginning. There are other anti inflammatory drugs we can try but we are trying to start with this one to see how much it helps.

She is up and eating -and still smiling -it’s so hard to watch her like this.

This is largely my fault. While I can't control Nature, I did not know about the M. worm and being new in Maine and without a vet when we arrived, I treated/dewormed like I always have out West. Once I began researching it was too late. She most likely contacted the worm in the summer, and we saw the first symptom on October 6. Fortunately, we got to her right away, since I spend so much time with her and saw the symptom. But...I feel responsible for this.

I will fight for her and with her for as long as I have to. She is one of the most special creatures in the entire universe and I will never give up on her. I hope together we can pull through this.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Teapots can run like Abrabians too

She certainly does not lack confidence, that is for sure. She is brave and strong and it is clear already that the short stout teapot might be running the place before we know it.

Today I put the new addition out with the donkeys for the first time. They've had ample time to sniff and snort, so it was time. All went well. The ground is chunky and frozen, so footing is not the best. For that reason, I did not want the pony running with the llama, who after her bout with Meningeal Worm can fall more easily due to her hind legs/spine being weakened.

So I put her in with the donkeys, leaving Boone out at this time. Boone has never done anything to the little donkeys, but I wanted to be cautious on this first outing. Matilda was the most cautious, and her footing is not great due to her age, but all was fine.

Soon, I'm sure they will be taking hiking expeditions together and Paco will write poetry to her. I did overhear a conversation this morning as I did my usual barn chores:

"So is she really a teapot?" Lucia asked.

"I don't think so. But she is round so she is a living teapot," said Pino.

"She is like a big round ball," said Lucia.

"The moon is round, so is the earth, so it is good to be round," said Pino.

"Cookies are round," said Paco.

"What is your name?" asked Lucia.

"She told me it will come," said the Teapot.

The donkeys returned back to their hay, all except Paco, 
who put his nose close to the fence that separated him from the new arrival.

"If your roundness means you are like the moon or earth, 
I wonder if you are some kind of Goddess?" Paco asked her.

She stomped her little feet, and squealed. And Paco ran off.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Who says?" Me and the Teapot Pony start to listen

I worked the new arrival [still no name] this morning on a lead line to see what training she really does have. I can tell she has some foundation work, which was what I was told [supposedly she was trained to drive many years ago]. It's been awhile since I've had an equine 'project' so this will be a really good thing for me, I think, and her.

She is a pistol. She has a mixture of sass, but then walks over to you and puts her head next to your leg for love and reassurance.

She is rusty, but so am I, we will relearn together.

Today I simply worked on the basic commands. She did fine, although it was her first time out into the new barn addition, which still doesn't have the wood exterior up [happening in coming month] so she could see out to the woods and pasture she doesn't know yet. I let her trot her circle with her head out, she clearly was not paying attention, but I allowed it for the beginning of our first session.

This has to be fun or her, and me.

She needs work on 'stop' or 'ho', but all in all, we had some good beginnings. By about 20 minutes into it, she was listening better, turning her ears into me. Considering she has been here two days, I wasn't going to push her. I'm excited to continue though, and make progress.

I think she is going to be a mixture of Boone and Paco. Boone was trained well, a former cow pony, but he was desensitized -which had/has its merits. He is quite bomb proof [although no horse is 100%, and it would be foolish to not be aware of that on any ride]. But Boone needed a leader, and I had to learn that with him, how to be a better leader. This sassy lady is not fearful, which is good. If anything, she is a lot like me-when told to do something that might seem contrary to my liking, or makes me feel uncomfortable, I ask a simple question,

"Who says?"

There is nothing wrong with that, especially as a woman in a white man's world-why should anyone else think for me.

I have to show her I'm trustworthy as a leader. I have to be patient, and clear, and let her make the choice I want her to make-like backing up, or turning right-before I am tempted to over correct her, or tell her to do it again before she has had time to make the decision. Be still and wait. Let her make her move, it might be the right one. If she makes a right move, and is praised, she will safe to make other right moves.

It is pouring so hard with over an inch of rain today, so being able to work with her in the new barn addition was great. It makes me want to keep the barn addition a large open space but I am not sure if that is functional for us. If I were rich, and I am not, I'd build another small barn for therapy visits where I could also work animals. Who knows, maybe that will happen in time.

First things first. I really feel this little teapot of vim and vinegar is going to be fun.

Inspired by the new pony...available, just inquire