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

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

All images

©Katherine Dunn.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Llama window walks of love for the elders...and it helped me too

This resident loves our visits, but she had a huge smile when she saw Harry!
While I realize my llama can't cure a virus, I do know from experience he is a magnet for smiles, and smiles promote joy and healing. The anxiety I was feeling in the past days were gone while I was walking around in the rain with my llama. I know Harry helped me, and I know he helped others. Such a good rainy day we had! Imagine what we'll do together in the sunshine!

The elders at our local residence we visit have been on lock down for a couple weeks, confined to their rooms due to a stomach flu, but then the virus took over in the outside world and they are still on lockdown. I am confidant the swift action of the residence staff will prove wise and that our elder friends are going to be okay. I have been so missing my visits with Bear and Opie, and seeing the faces of people I have grown attached to. And I also hate thinking they might think I have abandoned them [some have memory issues, but many don't]. After the third week of no visits, I also realized how important the visits are for me–they give me one more sense of purpose as a caregiver of hope.

So I emailed and asked it I could bring Harry the llama over and we could walk by the windows so residents could see him. They loved the idea, as did I. I figured Harry was the right choice, he is white so easier to see, and taller and more mature than Arlo. Yesterday we knew it was going to rain, but it was POURING! They emailed and felt badly I would have to come in such nasty weather, but Martyn was home too, and I was determined to go–I was really looking forward to it.

So we got there and my two contacts at the home came out ready for the weather [I had on three layers it was raining so hard and I must say, I was quite the sight]. So did Polly one of my volunteers. And there we were, a bunch of nuts walking around the facility building in the down pour. It was so fun!

Harry was incredible. I mean, I was just so proud. I have never had Harry off the farm, nor did he go off farm at his birth home. When Harry arrived, he was very well behaved, but a bit shy with touch-I knew that would take time. He was very well handled by his first and only owner, so that was a God send since he is intact. I took him for a walk on the road the day before, to see how he'd do around cars-he was great, ad really relied on me as a leader. When we got to the residence yesterday, I just was so impressed with how he paid attention to me, and did everything I asked of him. It was sort of like an obstacle course [a great training method] because he had to navigate between objects, shrubs, jump over puddles or walk through them, and he did it all with confdence. The sound of all the gutter water was new to him but he did fine. And what I really loved is he truly was engaged with the people on the other side of the window. Photos were impossible due to the screened windows but I got a few.

The staff also got so much joy out of it. They are working so hard right now, they always do, but with room bound residents, meals are served in each room, there is so much to do.

I can't wait to go back and plan to do it weekly with Harry. I love working with him. In time maybe Arlo too, or the ponies, we will see.

The virus situation has moved so fast. Maine finally got their first case, someone in the military that came home, and there is a sense of...anxiety. In fact...we have every reason to be anxious. But I will continue to do my animal work and try to bring some relief in a small way to the elders.

I also underestimated that this would bring so many people watching it unfold-my followers-so much joy. I go about my work because I love it, and feel compelled to do what I do. I don't do it for attention and rarely partake in conversations in the comments sections of my pages-it is too much energy and it is like a big cocktail party and I am not a cocktail banter person. But I did feel proud that Harry and I gave joy to so many with our little llama drive by walk.

This woman followed Harry in her wheelchair to different windows

The staff need llama love therapy too!