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

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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Burial: a farewell evolves

Burial is an important ritual to partake in with my animal work. Until the body is in the ground, everything feels unbalanced. Moose was put down on Friday, a hot, humid day. I knew where we'd bury him but had to wait for Martyn to help with the grave. So Moose resided in the feed room. Every morning I'd open the door and there was his little body at rest. It was always sort of a surprise...oh yea, Moose is dead.

So today we were able to put him to rest. I laid a daisy on the dirt. I like to be the one that places the body in if I can, and place their head properly.

It just feels better when you know they are safe, in the ground, they are on their way to feed the worms and the spirit is completely free. It must be horrible to not have a body of a loved one that dies in war or other circumstances. I would think it hinders the realization the person is truly dead. I've seen so many dead animals now that it just is part of my moving forward with my work. I also know that not being there for an animal if they are put down is something I never want to do again. With my first cat, Gracie, I chose to let my vet put her down but I was afraid to be there. It was the first animal I owned as an adult and Gracie had been with me for 18 years. I got her at a shelter in NYC and she lived all over with me. I was a different person then, death was much more of an intangible 'thing' that wasn't comfortable to think of. I loved my vet and it is not that what I did was cruel, it just was something that did not help me in my grief, to not have been with her. It did not help me visualize her reality-that she was gone.

Farming out west for 14 years was one of the biggest gifts I have had in my life. It taught me so much about where I stand within the earth, the food chain and it taught me about my own boundaries with animals. There were conflicts I had with raising sheep, I wrote at length about it back then and have no need to rehash it all. But I would never trade any of those experiences, it all brought me to this point, where I continue to learn not only about other spirits and creatures, but about myself.

But I would trade a day to go back and be with Gracie on her final day.

Perhaps she looks down from time to time and acknowledges I just wasn't coded then to handle it.