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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

In the blink of an eye...it can happen to any of us

So much has gone on in a week, one right after the other. I keep it all up to date on social media so it gets daunting to relive it here too. But the one thought I had this past  week is the phrase in the blink of an eye.

 Bear got very sick last Saturday morning and threw up a couple small rocks. I surmised [wrongly] he had eaten the rocks to try to throw up something else he had eaten-which on a farm can be a myriad of things. He wouldn't eat and was morose and clearly uncomfortable. I knew it would be 24 hours to pass something so we watched him closely all Saturday into Sunday. On Monday he tried to poop but nothing came out, so I called the vet and got him right in. The x-rays showed he had rocks in his large intestine and once into the surgery the vet had to take out a large portion of his small intestine that was dead. We knew one scenario was he might not come our of surgery if the intestine could not be repaired. His section that was damaged died so fast. In the blink of an eye. Bear had a long 4 hour surgery in which two parts of his intestine were sewn together. Then he went to spend that first night under supervision at the emergency clinic. Then he went back to spend the entire day at the vet for observation and drugs, and then I got to take him home even though he wasn't eating. He made it this far and is now just starting to get an appetite. Once seven days have passed we will be a bit more relaxed. But we wonder if he is a changed dog. Of course he is still uncomfortable and on 4 different drugs so is not himself, but he seems very intent to be close to me. 

The vet said if I had waited on more day he would have died of septic. In the blink of an eye. I've had labs eat weird stuff, and other dogs eat weird stuff and never had this happen so was not that well versed on it. I always saw things pass out of the dog so was not that worried but after 24 hours plus, and with his demeanor, I knew something was blocked. He might have chronic issues for his entire life now. I never saw him eat the rocks. We will most likely muzzle him when we aren't with him outside.

Somewhere in that emergency, I was saying good bye to Marta, my little pirate chicken. She is one of my favorite little Bantie hens, fiercely independent and no fool to anyone. She had seemed to get weak on one side, suddenly, and she is old. She was living in a private suite with the two chicks I allowed her to hatch. I knew when I said good night on Monday she'd be gone the next day, and she was, the little chicks were sitting on her body. I was so glad I let her set on some eggs, it was something she felt she had to do and was programmed to do and she watched over the chicks fiercely, keeping them safe from rats until they feathered out. I will miss her though. I cried over her like a baby since I needed a good cry after the Bear scare. 

One day she was fine, the next not so much. In the blink of an eye.

Then yesterday I went to meet a local couple who have fallen on hard times and need to move. They have a 34 year old donkey and an elder pig and I will be bringing them home to Apifera. The donkey is the sweetest thing, I'm so glad I can help the animals, as well as the couple. They love the animals but can not take them to the city they have to move and they two have health issues and limitations. But they are sad. it is a challenging transition for them to leave the little farm they've lived on for so long. We talked about all the work they had done over the years and all the ways they had struggled to keep the place going. But they couldn't. In the blink of an eye...things can change. I look forward to getting the old donkey on Saturday, but I feel for them and I just hope it helps them some how to know he will be loved and cared for. Their other options were not palatable so somehow I am once again able to help both old animals and older people. I'll share more when they get here.

The time and love we have put into our farm and home is no different than what this couple put into theirs. We might have done it in different ways, but we work hard and love our home...and one day very soon we too will be older and things aren't always in our control. One day you look back and you say...in the blink of an eye...here we are.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Old goat's view of death...in honor of Dorphy

I heard the voice of Earnest the pig, talking to me through a cracked window in the living room.

“Mrs. Dunn, you are needed in the barn...now. Dorphy has to talk to you,” said Earnest.

When I got to the barn, I could tell something was off. It was silent, but then I heard a bleat from a goat–it was Dorphy, one of the elders.

“Mrs. Dunn, today is my day,” the old goat said.

Dorphy was lying in one of the smaller rooms of the barn, a normal gathering spot for the animals in the front barn. The Goose was close by. I had noticed The Goose was staying close to Dorphy in the last months and I knew what that usually means–an animal is ill or transitioning. I had seen it over and over-he gravitates to the needy, and watches over them if needed. He did this with Birdie the llama, the old pig, the cancer ridden dogs and many goats. I learned right away that The Goose was a very good  hospice caretaker. The night before, I noticed Dorphy walking very slowly to the barn, with The Goose walking slwoly with her.

“It’s a good die to go,” said the old goat Poetry.

“I think so,” said Dorphy.

Hannah came running over to Dorphy.

“Where are you going?” the little youngster asked.

“I am dying today,” Dorphy said.

“Mrs. Dunn, Dorphy is dying!” Hannah cried.

“Child, do not cry for me, smile for me. I have all I need here, and I will have all I need there,” said the old goat.

“You mean...you’re going to Here There Everywhere?” asked Hannah.

“That’s right,” said Dorphy.

“Well that’s different. That’s were White Dog is,” said Hannah.

“And Birdie the llama! And my mama!” said Ollie the goat.

“Are you scared?” asked Puddles the goat.

“Well, it is the unknown. But it feels more like a trip, an adventure...” said the old goat.

“I think of death thay way too, Dorphy,” I said. “I guess the only thing is I can’t share it with anyone left behind. I can’t wite a story about it, or paint a picture.”

“But isn’t that the beauty of it?” asked Earnest the pig. “It is all yours, and yours alone.”

I spent the morning in the barn, finding little chores to do so I could look in on Dorphy every so often. She was in and out of sleep, and in time, the sleep was taking over. Earnest the pig was nearby, writing in his journal, Pickles and Puddles were chasing flies, the rooster was crowing and Henneth the blind chicken was sitting on her nest attempting to lay an egg. Life was all around us.

Dorphy suddenly perked up out of sleep and said, “It’s like falling asleep while your family and friends are still laughing and talking in the living room. It’s like a lullabye. It’s like leaving the party first, that’s all.” And she lay her head down, and died.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

A real honor to hear that quack just for me

Last week one of the Pekin ducks was clearly transitioning. He had been separating out, not eating, falling asleep while the others ate...all signs. It was during the hot days last week and he was getting picked on by the other non Pekin ducks, they can be real bullies. SO I brought him into a private stall, where he could hear the barnyard but he was at peace. The next day I knew he was dying. So I brought him out in the breeze and shade and I laid him on a dog bed and I sat with him while he went through death, about an hour and a half. 

Death is active. It takes time for the organs to shut down. I was touched that close to the end he quacked…caught on video here. At the very end…I knew he was close, I walked away for a minute to check delivery box…and he was gone. I know taking care of him and giving him a safe spot was helpful to him…he wanted peace from the other ducks, and walking away for seconds let him go on the final leap. Death is after all a journey we take alone, at least at that final breath. Imagine if we could all day in the breeze in a garden. It was really beautiful to be with him and have him respond to me, and watch him look out at the garden, and then fade back into his death journey.

Friday, August 05, 2022

A State of Mind

 A State of Mind

The wind still blows, the sea is near–I can feel it on my skin, I smell it.
I can see the cove from my garden.
I had two stable, loving parents that gave me security and an education–not everyone has that.
I am still healthy. Not everyone has that.
I am graced by an imagination that allows me to paint and draw and write.
I have puppets. I am not afraid of puppets, but some people are.
I am not afraid to walk down a street. Not everyone can say that.
My skin has not been a disadvantage. Not everyone can say that.

I get to live with animals and help them and they return the favor by percolating my art and stories.
I'm not rich, but I have a house and firewood, and a best friend in my husband. He makes me laugh, a lot.

I can walk, and move, and lift, and see.
My arms are still strong even though less firm. My hands have age spots but they lift animals and paint and touch.
I am not in a wheelchair. I can get up from a chair. I have a chair, several.
I smell food cooking. I have food.

I am not afraid of old people. This makes my life richer. Not everyone can say that.
I get to work with old people. This makes my life richer. Not everyone can say that.
I get to take my llama to visit old people. It makes our life richer. Not everyone can say that.

I have people I've never met that understand my intentions and support both my work and farm.
I've been my own boss for 26 years and self sustained.
I've bought many houses on my own. Not everyone can say that.
I have friends that lift me up.
I've learned boundaries. I recognize boundary impaired people much more quickly now.
I don't deal with people who specialize in disguises, especially the ones who constantly smile.
I'm self entertaining, a very handy skill I acquired as a child.

When someone makes a suggestion, I am much better at silently asking myself, "Who says?"

I miss my pugs. But I had pugs. Not everyone can say that.
I still have hope to have a pug again, in time. Not everyone can feel that.

I live within my means. I don't feel comfortable with people that don't.

I have donkeys, and horses, and ponies and llamas and pigs and chickens and dogs and cats. I have a bunny.
There are many goats who make me laugh.
I have well made barns and fences.
I have a turkey who is a companion.

My body got larger but it is still able to climb fences and ride horses.
My belly is flabby. Once I realized it was like my child belly, I began to feel empathy for it.
I am not my face. I am not my appearance.

For now, I'm still here. Not everyone can say that.

~Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm~