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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Opie gets out his dress suit

{We are off to visit another elder residence we have not been to yet, I'll hope to take a few pics.}

"Opie, why do you have your good winter suit on?"

"I want to look professional for the elders we are meeting today," he said.

"Well, you look very nice, but this is a more casual get together, so I think you should change out of your suit," I suggested.

"Okay. I'll go naked."

We lose Cornelia, but my hands are on living bodies

I just could not believe it. Arriving at the front barn on Wednesday, I found my beautiful, sweet pig, Cornelia dead. There was no sign of struggle, her bedding was tidy, nor were there any physical signs to give us a clue as to what happened. Her eyes were closed, so she died in her sleep, otherwise her eyes would have been open in the death stare I've seen a million times. The only thing that came to mind was that she ingested a shard of glass out in the ancient midden piles she likes to sun in, but I had a sheep do this and it was a process of suffering and clear signs something was wrong, and in that former case the vet found something blocking/ripping her lower intestine. We would have seen other signs in Cornelia. The night before I sat with her, the goose and Marcella as I often do before going back to the house. I'm so glad I did, and I'm so sad she is gone. She was truly the cutest pig. She was the one who stayed by Daisy's side when she was dying of old age.

So, it is a double whammy. I've been dong this for 15+ years and it does seem like things come in waves in life-good and bad. Perhaps the energy gets released and attracts like energy. Perhaps the gods know there is a reason this is for the best. I do think Nature has so many mysteries, but is all knowing too, and non judgmental about what has happened.

What I shared with my social media followers is that I have witnessed a lot of death on the farm, and Cornelia had a good death. I like to hope Birdie did too in the final moments, but I don't know. I know Cornelia died in her sleep, and she had a beautiful day to nap in the sun before she died. As far as a pig's life goes, hers was a good one. I have seen so many pigs-probably more in the pet category-live not so great lives. I guess people like to assume that pet pigs have it better that pigs at farms, but I would argue against that. How many people go out and bring home a 'micro' pig [there is no such thing] only to tire of it when it grows into a ...well, a pig, or they don't like that the pig is ruining the house [no, I would never have a pig in the house]. These pigs often end up in bad health and sent off to some rescue where another person buys them who doesn't know pigs well and the revolving door starts again.

So Cornelia got to live like a pig, and I was blessed to have her.

Little Lonely and Eleanor, and Marcella, were all standing around waiting for breakfast when I came in. They knew Cornelia was gone, and they were showing all of us once again how to deal with death-acknowledge it, and then step back into life. One can and should grieve, but always while balancing it with the understanding that life will end, so best to live in it now.

Still, I was mad. I said some choice words to the heavens, or lack of them. But that was a release.

I almost felt like keeping it to myself. Followers often get worn out by this I think. Like one woman who quit reading me wrote, it's not that she didn't like me or the farm anymore, she just couldn't see one more of her animal friends die. I guess I just have never gotten to that point. I mean, I just see death much more as a morning to night experience-both are beautiful times of the 24 hour period. You can't have one without the other. An animal dies, and there is a shift in the barnyard, interesting things happen-an animal might gravitate to another animal creating wonderful stories or an animal dies allowing another to blossom as the hierarchy changes. I don't relish death of the animals, I just try to look at it from Nature's perspective. You can't beat death. And how sad it must be to be so crushed by a death of animal or human that you shut down to more love from other humans or animals. It is a process, this grief, I am not downplaying that, but any farmer will tell you that death is often Nature's best remedy for times when facts can not be revealed to us trying to help.

Having said all that, I am looking forward to spring, and the surprises it might bring-will the goose finally lay an egg or is she a he? There are some new Misfits slated to come soon. Will a new llama appear for me? Will the blind chicken lay eggs again? I try not to think, "Oh no, who will die now?" but it did cross my mind the next day. But it is a beautiful day, I have been doting on the donkeys and grooming them and The Teapot. My hands on living bodies, eyes averted when needed to look towards the graves of fallen friends...but only for moments.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Earnest's shares his needs for his new Earnest House

Martyn found this nailed to the door. I had mentioned to Earnest yesterday to start thinking about his needs for his new special Earnest hut...glad to know someone listens to me around here. I'm not sure how he found a nail, and a hammer. Anyway, Martyn will start on a hut very soon for him so it is good to get the pig perspective.

Else is glad it is spring again

It is finally warm enough to get the crippled elders outside. Else came to us very crippled and old and we knew her front leg would only continue to get worse over time, but last winter was tough on her lying around so much. One of the lifts we had been using for Birdie is now used to give the old girl some help. I don't take it lightly the thread of that-it helped one animal and now it helps another. We carry on. I was pleased that even in the two days Else has been out more, she is walking better.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Still breathing in fog...and Grace carries on

{My friends sent this beautiful poem to me after Birdie died. I have read it over and over, and it could not express better what I feel right now}

"Pavement Ends"

At last the pavement ends.
Now if I lose your scent
I can follow your footprints.
You're still breathing in the fog,
your lungs ghostly and delicate
like white lilacs.

I don't care how many or what kind
have walked here, or run.
I only care about you,
your tracks fresh and firm,
as though you're nearly within reach.
Don't let me slow you down.
I will find you.

~Connie Wanek~

We continue to miss Birdie, but the warm weather helps remind us that the earth is percolating with new births. My Grace and I are exploring the place and creatures she feels most attracted to living with now that her white goddess is gone. I have been placing her in different paddocks to watch her. She is a bit lost, and it dawned on me that perhaps her new charge has not yet arrived at Apifera...more mysteries then for her and me to come, I guess.We still are wondering if My Grace is in fact, My Lord, since she-he has not laid an egg yet. It might explain a few things.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Goose and I tend to the body

Over 200 comments on the last two Birdie posts on IG, have me in tears, but I am also reminded how love is a ripple wave, inspiration is too, as is soul work of any kind. People telling me they have been following for years whose name I never knew reach out after falling in love with the spirit of a llama, and her goose. So thank you for all these comments and emails and such...I am still in shock, as is Martyn...it's just a real...blow.

But she is okay now.

People are asking about My Grace. I am a firm believer in not suger coating death for readers or the barnyard, and my experience is the animals know this stuff way before we do. After all, it was the goose who was right by her when she died. That is comforting to know. I think the goose is a healer, and I think like other animals, like Stevie the goat, she will continue to find out what animals need her. Let's not forget her first charge when she arrived was Rosie the grumpy pig for her final weeks.

Goose is still with Birdie who lies in state in the barn. We will have to hand dig a grave which will be rather difficult but the mud and permafrost will make things impossible with the tractor. Getting her buried is very important to me, and I will not be at rest until that happens. I choose to leave Goose with her, with her classical music playing, and her giant bucket to swim in. She will be allowed to help us take the body out to the 150 feet to the grave, if she chooses to come.

Goose knows where Birdie is. When I entered the barn last night, she was on Birdie, a common occurrence, but she was much more demonstrative as you see in this video. Many will have opinions of what Grace is saying, but for me, she was telling me she will stand as protector of the body until Birdie is of earth. I feel the same way.

I sat with her body after barn chores, and removed all her bandages and wraps. I wanted her to be free of them. It is all very hard, and sad to have to carry on without her. We were just getting started her and I.

It was really windy this morning, sea wont through The Wood. I closed my eyes and held my hand up to the sky and said her name. Within an hour the wind died down.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Very sad, very hard news to share

Taken the last morning of her life
I always do the barn chores in the front barn first, feeding the goats and pigs, chickens and lastly, attend to the elder cat suite before heading out to the outer barn. I was deep in thought as I was cleaning litter boxes, thinking about Birdie, when Martyn came in. He never comes in while I'm doing chores.

"Birdie died," he said.

I can not even tell you what sounds came out of my body.

Some might wonder why we were shocked, but we were. Devastated. Gutted. Mad. Sad. Empty. Squished like a bug.

In the last two days, I could tell Birdie was in more discomfort. I was unsure if this was from inflammation [she was on anti inflammatories], general discomfort and muscle aches from the situation and therapy, or if the two sores she had that we were treating caused great pain-the latter weren't that advanced and after finding them we wrapped her entire legs top to bottom, instead of just problem spots from lying down. Her last three therapy sessions were harder for her. She just seemed more ouchy, and less ready to be a willing partner. In order to even get her up into the lift, she usually 'helped' me by lifting some from the torso, but a couple days ago, she wasn't that willing.

Last night, she was clearly ouchy. I spent a lot of time with her, soothing her by massaging her face, but she clearly just kind of wanted her space. I respected that. I went to the house and brought back a pain shot for her, and she was eating as I left.

We don't know what killed her in the end. While we firmly, along with our vets, think she had the M worm, and responded to treatment, her relapse 2 months later had us all scratching our heads. Maybe the pain was more than we knew and she had a heart attack. She might have had a tumor on her spine for all we know. We will never really know.

The thing is, I think she knew what was coming, and I think she knew that in my heart, I knew. One day ago, when I sensed she was in more discomfort, I asked her if I needed to listen better to her, if I was clearly understanding her needs at this moment. I think we had such optimism because we were seeing improvements, but while we were watching for those things, other things were going on inside her. I also noticed her eyes just seemed less bright.

After I gave her her pain shot last night, I told her how hard I knew she was working and I was so sorry this was happening to her.

So...here we are. Llama less and heartbroken. Spent. We all tried so hard! And that includes a village of people who tried to help. She was given the right antibiotics, treatments, and was on certain vitamins for nerve repair. Massages, acupressure, acupuncture with vitamin b shots...music therapy, physical therapy and love from us and a goose...her fans sent her prayers and leg wraps and hope.

This is a huge loss for me and the farm. We were just getting started her and me, she was meant to be a therapy animal. I guess she was able to do that, and by coming to Maine and being part of her first years here, she won the hearts of anyone she met. There is no other llama like her. No other creature like her. I just can't even tell you how painful this is, it is physically painful. We were a team. And I got left behind.

This morning we had a scheduled Opie therapy visit with our sweet friends at Wiscasset Green. I did not for a second think of cancelling. I knew it was something I needed to do for us, and them. My goal was not to blubber about Birdie, and I told Martyn to not bring it up. Well, they asked about her. And we told them. They were genuinely sad, they loved her and often asked about her. And they were genuinely sad for me. I didn't blubber but got teary eyed. As we were leaving Joe gave me a hug and told me that Birdie was out of pain, and when his wife of 60 years died that is what kept him standing, knowing she was not in pain. And that is all I thought of today. Birdie is not in pain. She is okay, just like my mom and all the other creatures that have died before me. Birdie was tired in the end, she put on such a fight. Did she do it for us? Maybe, but in the end, I think she did what she needed because she knew I wasn't ready to do it.

When we got home, there were bunches of tulips that had been left at our gate from a dear friend, someone I had told early in the morning about Birdie. The card said, "It will be okay." She knew that was my mantra, and she knew it was the perfect thing to say to me, and it was.

When I turned to open the gate, there was a little chickadee nearby, sitting, looking my way.

"Bird," I said. I called her Bird a lot. She is all the birds now I guess.

Taken the last day of her life

I covered her head this morning, Goose inspects

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Art! Yea, it has a llama in it.

Available as original and a print [on shop soon]
In my quest to get art back into the mix of my other role as caretaker/therapy nurse/mire slinger, I actually whipped up a piece yesterday. A miracle!

It's okay. I love my life, I love working with the animals even in trying times. Sometimes things come in waves...wait, they always come in waves, like weather. Snap out of it is my motto.

So I got the Birdie Wall of Hope painted [we put some sheet rock up in her suite so I can draw on it on one side and also there is space for words of encouragement and letters, pictures, etc]. Now the weather is starting to warm we have Biride's music there too, the barn doors can be opened, she can look out at part of her old world when life was normal, feel the sun and breeze. But I guess this is what is normal, for now.

So rather than going against the tide, I am incorporating my daily activities into my art. Haven't I always? I am past the stage of where I used to look at the number of paintings I did for a month and feel I better add more. Been there, done that. I am much more interested in doing what I need to do not what my former illustrator or higher paced art life of the past made me do to keep in the eye of the commercial world.

I am now in the eye of old goats, donkeys, pigs and blind chickens...

Anyway...stay tuned. There is lots percolating around here-new goats are arriving. The chickens are laying including The Holy Child [the unexpected hen from the secret liaison between Little Big Man and Mother Mary]. Opie has three therapy gigs coming up at at three different places. And the tulips are vibrating under the earth as we speak.

And I have an exciting venture with a textile company to share...soon.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

What it is really like...and I will be the hope other llama owners might need...and by the way, this is one hell of a llama

The warm sun was let not Birdie's barn, finally some spring weather
I have to say it is an honor working together with Birdie, and having Martyn here helping is also very rewarding. I could not have gotten this far without his help in constructing the lift. Let's remember 5 weeks ago we were using a hand pulley system and Martyn would hold the pulley while I worked with Birdie.

But here is the reality of it all...it's hard.

My followers and Apifera friends have been generous and kind and pulling us forward with positive messages. When we first started this regime, the message from the internet and my research was bleak at best. There was very little out there I could find from people that had actually pulled a camelid through this. Much of what I was reading, and being told by a few llama people, was 20% chance of recovery...or if she isn't up in two weeks you should put her down. But I did find stories of people who were doing what we are doing now and their llama lived to tell the story-one was down for over a year and stood up one day, he lived another seven years to 15. That is the story I keep in my heart. Not everyone has the time to do what we are doing or the person in that story.

I read another person's story of how she went through what we did-people telling her to put her llama down if it wasn't up in two weeks. Her llama was up in six weeks and she wrote about it on a llama forum, simply because while there is a lot of info out there on what medical treatment to give a llama with brain worm, and how to deworm to help prevent it, there is nowhere for llama owners to go and see encouraging stories. Even on that forum, people that commented wanted to focus on the negative, and the woman finally had enough and said she was there to provide encouragement to others.

The thing is, this is incredibly intensive work, both physically and emotionally. But that doesn't mean I hate it. I am blessed that I can be with her and help her. If I had a full time off the farm job, I don't think I could do it, or it would be very hard. If Martyn had not been here in the beginning to help it would have been really tough, and it was also really cold out. It took us a while to figure out a lift system since there was no place to go to find out how to make a lift for a llama. We had to dig around to find some videos, and then make ours work. We started with a strong cloth and hand pulley, and graduated to an electric lift and engine lifter and balance, and then added in the butt straps. We researched acupressure and had help with that, we had help from healers we trust, we talked to my physical therapist and adapted techniques from that, adding massage, light therapy, heat therapy, music therapy. When this settles, I will provide a resource page on the blog for people who might have to deal with this dreaded worm, in the hope it will help them and their animal.

We feel we are doing the right thing and that Birdie is still with us 100%. I know this animal. She is working with us. She has had a couple days out of the 5 weeks where I felt she was down. We have worked with our vet to adjust the anti inflammatories and we have the back up of a stronger one when needed. She is eating well, and is getting some supplements like Turmeric and oxygenated water. While nobody can say if any of it will help, we are doing it and we are going forward with the mindset that it is helping.

I don't know what will happen in a week or months. We are seeing improvements in her strength when she is up in the sling. She took some steps, she is applying more weight to her feet, she is stretching on her own more. But she still can't walk or stand without us. Her legs are still bent. She eats like a hungry lioness and drinks well.

A big challenge is to keep the bed sores away. We pad her with hay, and we are wrapping her legs which is working. In the beginning we weren't, and a couple of sores started but we caught them early. that is why I put a call out for a different kind of wrap, which I had on hand from a long time ago. The vet wrap works great for certain areas, but this other wrap is wider and important for certain part of her body-like the upper thigh. When she is down, she can squiggle around at night and the smaller vet wrap seems to loosen and move. I'm terrified of the bed sores. It is a daily double check of all her body areas to make sure we aren't missing any.

This week we finally could open the front of her barn to give her sun. I know she liked this. The music is so nice too. When I arrive in the morning I present myself with optimism. It is one day at a time. It is really hard. And yes, at times, it is just so damn sad. I have a hard time seeing photos of her just 5 weeks ago standing. What is perplexing to both us and our vet is we began treatment for the Meningeal Worm in November, she was only down for two days, and could stand if I helped her up those two days. She rebounded quickly. Two weeks later she was down again and we retreated her to make sure. She rebounded again, and then out of the blue, two months later, she was down. This time, she could only get up about three days with my help, then she was completely down. Three days before that she slipped in mire and got stuck/down and I had trouble getting her up, but she was walking and seemed okay. We wonder if she tore something or slipped a disk. We don't know. The vet thought it so odd she went down suddenly after responding to the past treatments. [And our vet and us have ruled out other things like lames, tick paralysis and a couple other things because her symptoms didn't match those] That is another reason I'm not giving up. If it is something related to the fall, it will take time to heal.Or it could be a combination of things.

It takes time. This takes time. My time, Martyn's time, the llama's time. Today I'm finally going to get her Birdie Wall of Hope painted so I can start some drawing out there and post encouragement on the wall for her, and me. I ned to bring art back for my own heart and life, and I figure there is a project in this somehow, and I can still be there with her.

I thank so many of you who have sent love and other things, donations, support of materials to us. It takes a village to help a llama.

This is one hell of a llama.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

When women merge with cats

This is the current sale piece at the shop. It is called "Woman Merging with Cat". I know many of my readers have merged with cats and are perfectly accepting of the situation.

I also caught these photos a couple days ago from the Elder Cat Suite.

Sir Tigger sits as Noritsu's shadow lurks


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Okay, we will miss snow covered Teapots

Spring is upon us...really, it is. It has been sunny and 40's for two entire days and the ice is dropping and birds are singing, the pussy willows are popping...and just two days ago this was the scene. It has been a long, icy winter [for so many] and as difficult as that can make farm life [or any simple tasks for all of you reading] I have to say I loved seeing the The Teapot and donkeys in their snowflake suits. So I guess just as we yearn for the tulips and spring blooms this time of year, come November we will look forward to seeing our little short and stout masterpiece in the snow. The donkeys and her are getting along well, although Old Matilda still thinks she is a bit forthright in her attitude. The Teapot comes into a separate stall at night to prevent overeating. Earnest, the poor chap, has given up on being friends, I think. He moved his bed to be near Boone's area. I thought it was sort of sweet, he has always liked Boone and can commune through the fence.

Sun on an Oscar

He never fails to slay me, in his tiny little 5# body, sitting on the muslin of cloud color, soaking up the sun.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

When you are given a lemon make it into a project-my time with the llama is ripe

Today is my birthday. I would have liked nothing better to walk into the barn and see Birdie standing. But of course that is not how this is going to work, I do not have the magic wand, nor does Birdie. We only have each other and our inner strength to plod through this. How it evolves nobody really can predict. I am finding beautiful moments with her, like after our sessions I put a heat blanket on her and do massage, and we listen to the music. It's beautiful work to be able to do this.It is hard, but I am so lucky I can help her. If I had a job off the farm it might be very different-and many people have had to face that with their llamas when they are stricken with brain worm.

It makes me feel vulnerable I guess. A life can change in an instant.

But, this is the relationship I have at this moment in time with this particular animal, and I will take it and make the most of it. Yesterday, we put up some sheet rock in Birdies' barn and I will be turning it into a Birdie Wall-full of hope, messages, quotes, poems, art, inspiration and humor. I realized that I was looking at something wrong too. I've been a bit torn because my focus has been on Birdie, as it needs to be, but it has made my studio time somewhat fall to the wayside. While I've made lots of headway on my White Dog book, I've felt scattered and unfocused in the studio, or I haven't even made it there too much this month. So by putting up the Birdie Wall of Hope, I realized I can turn a lemon into a project. This is the project I am meant to flow through right now, a three dimensional project with my llama. I am going to do some drawing out there in the coming days now that the temperatures are finally going to get more normal. I don't know what will come of it, but I feel the need to be out there and draw.

The other wonderful gift that came this week was an old boom box so we can have music for Birdie in her recovery. Someone gifted it to Apifera. Another one is coming for the front barn so the elder cats and goats can have music too. Birdie and the goose seem to really like it. Right now they are listening to classical but we will mix it up for them too. Opera had the goose really jiving, see the video posted here.

This is probably the biggest challenge I've faced with a creature, and an ongoing one at that. I've ordered some more things to help with out our therapy sessions. I want to have straps that will help lift her hind end better, just ordered some I hope will work. I also invested in some minerals and therapies to maybe help with nerve regeneration. My vet is helping as much as she can, and I have been working with my wonderful healer/guide back in Minneapolis on healing things–I've known and worked with her for 30 years and trust her sense immeasurably. When I enter the barn, I am upbeat, and so is Birdie. If I feel myself getting non upbeat in my heart, I step away and snap out of it. She needs me strong.

Which is perhaps why this birthday had me in a funk. It's grey, snowing, and I could not even manage to decide what special meal I wanted. I didn't make a cake or anything. I felt like Eoreye when I awoke. I did go and buy myself tulips. I used to buy flowers a lot in Minnesota during the winter, and in Oregon never did because to me it was always spring during winter. But today, I bought tulips and thanked them and talked to them. I know when the temps rise this week and when we have sun, I will feel more like myself. I kind of miss my parents today, more than normal.

But the pussy willows are popping. This brought me great peace.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Look for sale pieces at the shop

I'll be posting items randomly at the shop for the next few weeks or more. It's easier than setting up an entire sale section. So visit there or follow Instagram feed to see what goes up. Right now there is this beautiful print of Cat and Pussywillows.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

The innate painting-what did I know?

I did this painting in late October last year, after Birdie initially had succumbed to the Meningeal Worm, and we began treating her immediately. She was never down like she is now, we could get her up and she was fine. Even though she improved and responded to treatment, I was scared.

I took to paint. I have always let my art do what it is meant to do for me. I don't plan paintings. I didn't sit down and decide what shapes and such would be on this piece. I just knew I wanted to focus on what I could do for Birdie, or what was happening. Of course I knew that the worm even when killed can float around her spine, and I knew this was a time when we wanted her spine and nerves to recover and heal [which they seemed to be doing until early February when she relapsed for some reason].

When I looked at this piece last night, it amazed me. What the symbols are of the floating figures I am not sure...her guides? My guides? Me? But what took my breath away was the floating white cloud coming from her spine. It is the exact place on her body that seems to be causing issues. Her wings are off to the side, she is not needing her wings right now, she is of Earth and she intends to stay for now. I know she can change her mind...but it did not appear that way this morning, and we had a very good therapy session.

I just was reminded after looking at this, art is my conduit to pure prayer-prayer not asking for what I want, but what is needed now and can be accomplished, and what is truly before me, not what I I may want. A long time ago I learned that spirit or God or Universe gives us not so much what we think we need [ie, I need a mate to love, NOW] but instead gives us the wisdom and strength to learn, persevere and move forward to a place that will let us be on higher ground. I think this painting and art is like that.

And of course, sometimes, usually, it isn't that clear what is before us. It takes human steps of days or months, years even, to see clearly.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Birdie Update: New things, positivity renewal

It has been an incredible journey so far for me and Birdie. I began to doubt myself this past week. But I was reminded in a very concrete way doubting myself is not what Birdie needs, nor do I. I have been researching a lot, consulting with my physical therapist too which has helped a lot in my therapy with Birdie. But in the past day I reached out to someone I've known and worked with on healing encounters for 30 years [eegads!] and something clicked with me. I won't share the intimate parts of the conversation but Birdie but it was another piece to the puzzle and learning curve. Birdie's front legs suddenly became locked and rigid about a week or so ago. Her front had never been weak and I felt good about our progress in the sling and her therapy. I knew the locking up could be a condition of other things, but I was puzzled for days as to the true source. But it began to make sense. While I'm doing a lot right, Birdie needs more help to release contracted muscle and I was educated on Myofascial Release. I also am getting a heat pad for certain areas. I also asked followers if they had an old boom box for music for Birdie.

I read until midnight and found some stretches too that I can apply to her. The more I read last night the more I was inspired. I will also look for someone who has experience in this [a reader has someone she is going to talk to]. I also shared all of my progress with my vet, who has been very supportive and my vet and I are working on different combination and types of anti inflammatory drugs for Birdie's comfort and healing including both traditional meds and herb [which i would only do with her consult].

Last night after My talk with my healer, around 9 pm, I felt compelled to go to the barn and talk to Birdie. I told her I had been a bit down which of course she knew [by the way, if you are rolling your eyes, best move on from this page]...she was very calm. The past two days were hard on her and me because she was trying to get release from something, and I kept thinking it was something else. We sat for a long time in the dark of the barn, just my headlamp to light the room. Going to the barn in the dark at night is a spiritual experience-it is 'their' world at that point of the day cycle. I had visceral seconds of feeling the anticipation and sometimes dread of going to check on pregnant ewes or dying goats in the night back west. But Birdie was sitting contently, calmly. Her expression was lighter than the morning. I sat with her and told her it was another beginning. I was back on track. It was still going to be a long haul, but let's get on with it.

Monday, March 04, 2019

Cover me up under the white

We had another snow fall of about six inches. It covers the ice so it helps somewhat. To be honest, I'm feeling a bit numb these days. Working Birdie through this horrible ordeal is hard emotionally, for her too. I will report later on how that is all going. I could feel the weight of the new snow as I lay in bed this morning, it is a fact that the sound changes all around. The sound of the snow sounds different depending on how much snow there is. I didn't care if we had one inch or ten.

Yesterday I spent a lot of quiet time with Marcella and Benne, aka White Dog. I guess they are my healer animals, my spirit animals. The white animals that have come into my life...they all have very strong spirits–the goose, Noritsu, White Dog, Marcella, and Birdie. Every animal is special and unique and has lessons, just like people, but some of us are born to be teachers, or artists, writers, thinkers, do-ers or doctors. I don't put myself on the same level as my my healer and spiritual guide I've known for about 30 years and still consult when I need too, but I know I have certain innate abilities others might not have nurtured in themselves. I think we all had it before birth. Maybe some of us are meant not to hone it in this life, and some of us are. Maybe its just that some people are enchanted by it and others aren't. I come from a family of scientists, artists and farmers...I think that combination is pretty much at play in my life since moving to the farm.

I do know that I needed to especially be with Marcella yesterday. I sat with her when night chores were done. The pigs kept coming over and wanted to be scratched, but Marcella pushed them away to be closer to me. She understood immediately what I needed from her, to just be acknowledged for what I was feeling at that moment. I thanked her, and went inside.

White Dog by M'Lady Apple

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Sometimes woman and llama, and goose, just need to "be"

It’s been two harder days of therapy for Birdie. I took this photo after our session this morning and was pleased at her expression. She has been a bit off in the past couple days, just not as happy. Certain areas that used to be warm to the touch, or give her a definite 'zing' have subsided [for now] so that is positive. But her front leg is giving her trouble and I think she might have strained it, although there is no heat to it.

I know she understands my intention. I seek out hers everyday. I hope my eyes are clear.

I have worked on hard cases before with animals, but never one like this. Usually in the past, I was trying to revive an elder goat back to some normalcy after a life of neglect. Aunt Bea comes to mind, I fought hard on that one, and so did she-what a trooper she was. Three weeks of vet help and nursing her, making a sling out of seed bags, carting her out to the sun in a wheelbarrow of straw...and we couldn't save her.

I don't know what is going to happen. I have had days where I felt dejected, but as my physical therapist friend said, look for the recovery to be a net gain of days-it's like the stock market, things can go down but over time you want an upward trend. So far I have felt there is a net gain in recovery.

But one has to remain clear eyed, and it is a slippery slope when one is bonded with an animal, and one works with an animal in a certain way that is slightly more intimate than with other animals. I can count White Dog, Marcella, and Birdie in this mix, Pino too, as well as my old departed friends of Stevie and Guinnias. All the Misfits are special, but these are the healers. Boone is on some levels too, in fact I think our time has not yet come.

So things felt positive, and then two days ago she had swelling again which we got down with anti inflammatory meds. Oddly, it was the opposite leg this time. We can only assume things when this happens. There were positive things but her front leg [her front has been very strong the entire time] is troubling her. We wonder if is strained although it is not hot- sometimes she scoots around in a circle [lying down]and uses her front end mostly. I have been working on the leg and got some release from her this morning [ie she was freezing her leg stiff, and I got her to relax it], but I’m not sure why it is happening. I also wonder about neuropathy. I worked points on her feet and hocks which are associated some with spinal issues. Because the dead worm is not passed out of the body [they call this being a 'dead end host' unlike stomach worms that are passed out in the feces]it is absorbed by the body but bits of it can float around and cause issues. We can only surmise. Her neck had also really curved all of a sudden but I really worked on it for past few days -which she liked- and this morning it was straight. I think she is compensating for the front leg. My Grace has not been massaging her or pointing out spots and I am taking that as a positive thing-but there are no answers on this journey. I've begun rubbing her feet pads with a topical I like, and her elbows-so far we have prevented any kind of bed sores. I think the last two days she had discomfort in her front leg. But not her spine and other areas that used to be sensitive to the touch.

Many of you are following along and we appreciate that. I know that part of my life here is sharing these stories. Sometimes though, I have to keep parts of my time with the animals all to myself. I am getting lots of emails and messages-99% with good intentions and kindness, and that is very kind-but sometimes I feel I want to retreat with Birdie, and just be private. If a day or two–or more-goes by without an update, don't read good or bad into that, don't assume I am depressed or overwhelmed-I just might want to be. And just wanting to be does not require social media.

When I arrived at the barn this morning, Birdie was sitting straight which was good. And when I left, she gave me her classic look, and I took this photo. It made me feel good to see that, after a couple days where she seemed a bit down, or just a bit uncomfortable with her leg.

A beautiful moment of quiet this morning