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

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. #EIN# 82-2236486

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©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


A week ago I was contacted by a farmer who had lost one of her original herd matriarchs on her goat farm. The goat, named Mabel, was well loved and cared for and was always a good mother and birther, but she had trouble this time, and the vet could not help her in time. Twins were pulled out, and one was dead. The other was alive and put on a bottle. It was also becoming apparent he was blind, or partially blind.

They wondered if I might be able to take him on. I heard "baby', "goat" and 'blind' and I had to stop myself and really think about it. I obviously can't take every animal. We take in elders, but also special needs animals out of needy situations...such as Opie. And how could life be life at this stage without Opie in it? So I thought about it, this chap is part Nubian so he will be bigger than the pygmies. But I remembered when I took on Rosie the pig, and they said, "you have to take the crippled goat too because they are bonded unit" [rescues love to tell you animals are bonded and often I find they are not]...but I'm glad I took Stevie on, he was very big, but what a beautiful, loving creature he was that touched so many lives, including mine.

So, I took on this little chap and went to get him yesterday. The farm was owned by a young couple, complete with adorable 5 month old baby and 4 year old, Arlo, who was in charge of feeding the baby goat and gave me all sorts of tips about him. The hour trip was worthwhile just to meet Arlo. He did a very good job. These were hard working, living off the land and feeding themselves and others couple. Some dairies or cheese makers that I've experienced aren't that great with their stock, but this couple just wanted the right situation for the goat, and their herd was in good shape and cared for well. There were other options, but I'm glad they asked. I felt no pressure to say yes, but I did.

So this is Ollie. He is two weeks old. I can tell you the name I picked for him seems to fit perfectly. He is still on a bottle for a couple more weeks, although he is nibbling hay and grass and once on that, the bottle will be slowly taken away. He is underfoot, he is sweet, vivacious and when I watch him in the orchard with the other animals, I see a little guy that just wants to fit in. This morning when I got to the front barn, I didn't hear him, and bottle babies tend to scream out for feedings. I sighed, hoping he was just quiet. I got to his private little suite, and he was sound asleep still, even amidst the pigs, chickens and goats calling for breakfast. He had a big first day!

I was surprised that Opie did not go running up to him and tell him the rules around here. In fact, Opie went and stood in the corner, tail down, staring at me in sort of a perplexed way.

"I thought I was the little one? I thought I would always be the little star?"

I have reassured him he is not being replaced. That could never happen. I did think maybe Ollie might make some visits, but my Wiscasset elders love Opie, they would miss him. And I think my heart would break not taking Opie on a visit. I'm not sure I can handle both monkeys at once. We will see.

But by about an hour after we arrived home, Opie began to realize that maybe Ollie might be fun. After all, the elders or crippled goats can't romp with him. So I saw signs already that Opie will come to his senses, and understand he is OPIE and Ollie will never be Opie. And no Opie is the big guy around town and can show Ollie the ropes [God help us].

Another thing I've noticed is old Elsa takes an interest when I bottle feed Opie. I'm thinking by her build and condition she was a dairy goat once. Those dairy goats work their bodies hard giving milk. And Ollie kind of likes to go up to Elsa, she does resemble his old herd a bit more, although, he does seem pretty blind, definitely in one eye that is discolored. The vet thinks it might have happened in trauma in the birth. Who knows.

I posted a lot of videos over on Instagram, including his bath and blow dry since I neglected to bring bedding for his crate when I brought him home and he got all wet in his urine, poor little guy, I felt terrible. It was the only time he cried on the hour long trip home.

This guy is going to be trouble too, in a fun way. Who knows what Opie and Ollie will be up too. Or Ollie and ? It is always a surprise what 'couples' form when a new animal is brought in. I just hope he doesn't require his own pet chicken. He lives with chickens so I'm hoping that is sufficient.

{Please consider a donation. Ollie will need a vet check and visit next week for castration and discussing]

Birdie gives him the llama test

Ollie passes llama inspection with a Birdie kiss