This past Saturday was one of those rare and miraculous NW winter days where the weather and light join forces to show off their most enchanting stuff. The morning was crisp and white frosty but unfolded into a short-sleeve, shoes off affair that everyone in Seattle is still talking about days later. It was a perfect day to be at the farm.
m i m i & e g g
I had the additional pleasure of having artist Mimi Allin along with me this time. I met Mimi in Fremont, we grabbed coffee from my favorite place then started south around 7:15 AM. For the hour + ride to Orting I luxuriated in hearing about Mimi’s thoughts/actions about her current/next work. Her musings are poetry and listening to her is a magic carpet ride. I answered many questions about my own processes and thoughts around this farm work. Being deeply considered and listened to by a discerning and compassionate artist had a galvanizing effect on previously loose ideas. I felt renewed and celebratory in the fact I get to do this work at all. Being with Mimi is like that.
Once we got to the farm we visited with Ken (Carrie was at an organic farming event in CA) then took off to meet the animals. I gave Mimi a fairly quick tour then we separated. Ken left for Tacoma then it was just us and all the animals. I built myself a nest in the sun and dove in.
The morning was filled with photographing a sold piece, finishing a new piece and gathering rocks. Lots and lots and lots of
s t o n e s
rocks. Ellie the dog kept me company while I gathered and sorted the piles that I will ultimately felt and use to “draw” in the field. I did a quick sketch with a few rocks on this trip and, well, more on that later.
I experienced death on the farm for the first time this trip. A sheep and a turkey died recently (couple days ago? last week?) and they tied the animals’ feet together and strung them up individually in a tree by the brook. I first saw and photographed them from across the brook then walked the plank footbridge to where they hung. I will not spell out the details here, but will say it was a truly haunting experience to get close to these animals as they hung there in silence. I felt like running away. I felt like crying. I felt like the animals were infected and that I might get sick if I got too close. I was surprised by how big and overwhelming these feelings were.
Ken told us the animals were out there almost first thing. I guess he knew that it could be troubling for the uninitiated. He explained that the animals were now bait for coyotes. There is a real coyote problem – for all the farmers. There is a $50 bounty on coyotes. Ken said that some friends of his were going to come out that night, in the bright moonlight, and try to shoot a coyote – not for the bounty, but as a measure of balance.
From where I am today, I do not believe I could dress and string up the sheep (its mid-section was wrapped in burlap and it was bleeding). I could possibly tie and hang the turkey. I could not shoot a coyote. I don’t have the gun skills nor the stomach for it. Or maybe I do. I did wish that I was staying overnight so that I could sit in the blind with the men. I had a lot of questions and wanted to see a coyote. Maybe it will come up again and I’ll see where I am then.
Mid-afternoon Mimi called her old friend (and new friend to me), artist Stephen Roxborough, to come join us at the farm. He had mentioned some time ago that he would like to visit the farm and possibly take some photos. He drove down and did just that. It was wonderful to share the farm and the rest of the glorious day with people who appreciated the farm and the work I was doing there. Thank you, Stephen and Mimi.
Once the sun started down and our work space fell into shadows, we packed it in and called it a day. We said our good-byes to the animals (Mimi is head over heels in love with the pigs) and to Ken and his friend, Bill.