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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

I guess my pink bubble suit had a tiny leak...

I was recently contacted by someone who was having health issues, as was her husband. In fact, they were diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, and their adult son died of it two years ago. Times were difficult and getting harder both physically and financially. She left me a message but the cell phone was garbled. So I did not respond as there was no name or number or clear message. About a week later they showed up unannounced at my gate. You all know I frown on pop-ins, but even though I was already in for the afternoon, in my pj bottoms, I looked out and saw them, a couple in their 70's, and figured it might be them. When I opened the gate I was confronted by their sad story, and it is sad. Getting old is hard enough even in the best circumstances but with added medical and financial issues, it is hard. There was emotion in her voice, and the man retreated to the car-because his condition did not allow him to stand long and it was painful. I felt they were genuine people.

Now, I was in no way wanting to take on another equine. Old Matilda will need my care, Boone is turning 22 and the ponies are old too. Equines come with foot care and teeth care and handling care. But I listened to her story, told her I probably could not help her out, but would try to help somehow. You see, the horse was 28, and they were faced with possibly putting her down. They wanted an answer soon for logistic reasons. I had my event coming up, and told her I would do my best to call her in a week.

That time came and went. I was overwhelmed with work, and then I got a bit of a flu or something. I did not call her. But she called me. We talked again. I tried in my head and heart to separate out what was her responsibility, and what my duty was to my animals and farm. I always ask myself with a new animal: am I helping the animal or is it simply an animal acquisition. The woman had a bad experience years ago, where she rehired a horse and in a round about way, it was sold, and then sold for meat. She did not want that to happen. I assured her that would not happen here, but that I could say yes or no at this point to taking the horse. And I wanted to make sure in my mind, that maybe the horse did need to be put down.

There are worse things than putting your old horse down, one you have cared for for over 20 years. The horse had been bought when she was about 8, she was now 28. The woman felt she was being an executioner, because the only reason she was considering euthanasia was because she herself was not healthy. But the process was dragging on and it was clearly causing strife in the household.

So...I went over on Sunday to see the horse, telling her I wasn't sure I could help. I went over with open eyes, trying to investigate all the facts and feel for the real story. I'm not saying anyone was misleading me, I just had on my pink bubble suit-again, what was my responsibility if anything to this animal, and this person.

The horse was clearly old. Sometimes people tell me an animal is old but it really isn't, they just want me to take it. The horse was quite calm, and seemed to like me immediately. I mean, I felt an instant call out from her, like, "Can you help?". I found lots of tick bites and embedded ticks. The woman had been unable to tend to the horse for awhile. I helped her get the ticks out. I don't want to give too many details, but I felt I needed to adopt her. So I said I would. They had been doing the best for the horse that they could in their situation. And the horse is not thin.

We went to get her yesterday. I have more to say on this but not now, to be honest, I just need to...not feel what I felt yesterday for awhile. I just want to get to know Honey, the new addition to Apifera. After the night in a paddock where she had nose visits with equines, I let her out with Luna and Lucy and she has the equines in the other pasture to visit at the fence. The vet is coming this week. I'm betting she has Cushings judging by her coat. Her feet have been cared for but she will need updated shots and a teeth check.

She is settling in. But there is mystery to this story, I know, I just don't want to explore that here, in writing. I'm happy we can help her, and help an older couple who clearly need help. It was a good fit for our mission which also swayed me. The woman was still concerned that if something went wrong, or changed, that the horse would not be sold. I had given her a specific contract stating everything to reassure her, but she still brought it up as we were loading the horse. I was losing some patience as I'd spent a lot of time on the entire situation, and listened over and over to her story, which was truly sad. And it could be any of us, at any time.

Martyn and I were both feeling drained from the experience. There were a lot of angles to this story that have nothing to do with a horse, but instead, with life, and aging, and family, and the luck of the draw...My feeling as I sipped my wine by the fire was...I just want to be me now, at this age now, for this time now...and be old when I'm old. I felt I got washed over with someone else's age and sadness and hard times...even though I had on my pink bubble suit [it must have had a leak].