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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Earnest the Pig helps us understand what "hope" is...

 {My latest from my Tails & Tales column for the Lincoln County News}


I was leaving to get some errands done when I heard lots of chatter in the front barn. One learns to check in on such activity to make sure nothing is amiss–and it often is.

“Oh I want green beans, the stringless variety,” said Earnest the pig. “And of course, put me down for some large pumpkins too.”

“How many rows will 1000 beat seeds be?” said Ollie the goat.

My curiosity was on high alert as I looked down at the catalogue everyone was gathered around.

“Burpee’s Seed Catalogue,” I read out loud.

“Oh, Mrs. Dunn, the joy of dreaming of spring in February,” said Poetry, one of the old goats. “Makes my bones and joints hurt less just thinking about it.”

“I plan to grow only lettuce this year,” said The Goose. “I am getting different varieties but want a lot of Buttercrunch...so tender.”

“Mrs. Dunn, what are you getting?” asked Pickles.

“A back ache, thinking of all these garden beds. I can’t take care of all your beds, I have my own to tend,” I said.

“We’ve got a scathingly brilliant plan, Mrs. Dunn,” said Pickles.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” I said.

“We have talked to the chickens who will have grub duty, Earnest will till the rows, me and Puddles will be in charge of harvesting,” said Pickles.

“That is scathingly brilliant,” I said, doing a quick and tiny eye roll. “What if we just stick to pumpkins and sunflowers for you guys?”

Everyone stopped for a minute, some chewing on their cud as they pondered this new development.

“I really had my heart set on a green bean casserole–you know the kind your grandmother made, with mushroom sauce and shaved almonds, and crunched up potato chips on the top?” said Earnest the pig.

I’ll get you an Oysterhead Pizza instead,” I said.

“Fair enough, I like the shaved Brussels sprout one,” the pig said.

“I really like beets,” said Ollie, “especially the tops.”

“I always plant way too many beets and you’ll get some of mine,” I said. “So we’ll order sunflowers and pumpkins, okay?”

I started to walk away, and noticed Earnest the pig gazing out to the fields.

“It’s all about hope,” said Earnest. “In the middle of winter, the little seeds are under ground in the cold and dark. And even though we can’t see them, they are busy percolating, getting ready to be born. Imagine, living deep in the ground, hearing the winter storms above you for months...it takes courage to believe everything is as it should be and will evolve into what it will be. That is hope.”

The animals had gathered around Earnest, and had listened intently to his wisdom.

“Earnest, do you ever lose hope that winter will end?” asked Pickles.

“Well, I do love winter, but some winters are especially bleak, and relentless, and sometimes I feel
I’m losing hope,” Earnest said.

“What do you do then?” asked Pickles.

“I read the seed catalogue,” Earnest said.