Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

14 October

Windowsill Gallery: Clothesline, Fall Breeze

by Jon Katz

I’m trying hard this October to capture the feeling of Fall, up here a riot of color, perhaps transitioning us to the dark and cold months. I love clothesline art, especially taken from a windowsill glass display and out into the Autumn breeze.

It has an Edward Hopperish kind of feel to it, my favorite kind of picture.

14 October

When A Donkey Trusts A Dog (And Vice Versa)

by Jon Katz

Because they have been so overworked and mistreated through the centuries, donkeys are notoriously careful about the things they are asked to do.

Donkeys are famous for being stubborn and independent, but the truth is that they are just cautious about humans, who have often mistreated them.

If a donkey is not comfortable about something they are asked to do, they won’t do it; we have all seen the images of a donkey refusing to budge or co-operate. They’re not being difficult, they’re just protecting themselves.

Some dogs – like Bud – are also wary; they have been mistreated themselves and are careful when asked to do a new thing. When Bud came to us a year ago, he freaked out around the donkeys, barking at them, charging at them, avoiding them.

They didn’t want much to do with him either.

That ground has shifted. A donkey will not sit still for anything placed on their back that they don’t trust or see as dangerous. They will run, even kick. And even a few months ago, Bud would have freaked at the idea of sitting on a donkey’s back.

Last week, we started putting him up on Fanny – she is more relaxed than Lulu. Fanny was comfortable; she stood still and accepted another animal on her back. Her ears were up – a sign of calm – and so were Bud’s. The point of this isn’t just a cute photo, although I love those. The point is that these two animals have finally accepted one another, not because they were bullied to do so, but because they have been given the opportunity to get used to each other.

We, humans, are controlling, we rarely give nature a chance to do some work.

But sat there for nearly a minute, and I gave each of them a treat. Neither of them moved.

There is no urgent need for Bud to ride on Fanny’s back, but we aim to have a Peaceable Kingdom out here on our farm. This shows great progress.

Bud’s journey here has been long and hard, and it is uplifting to see him grow more comfortable by the day. There are still triggers that frighten him, and perhaps always will. But he loves the farm and now, also loves the donkeys.

Another lesson in patience. It doesn’t happen instantly, but if you step back and give it some time, it will often occur on its own. We are grateful for Bud, now one of the most vibrant and engaging personalities on the farm.

He has a huge heart in a small body.

13 October

Forgiving Myself: Untangling The Heart

by Jon Katz

Of all the spiritual practices, forgiveness – of others and myself – has proven one of the most elusive and painful challenges for me.

I sometimes feel as if I’m going through the motions, but my heart isn’t following along.

I sometimes forget, I sometimes am distracted and forget my resolve. Deep old habits are not simple to let go of.

I’ve always had a judgmental streak in me; it runs in the family. And due to the cyclone in my head, I’ve done considerable damage to other people in my life.

And to me.

I am a fearsome critic of myself. Nobody can say anything about me that I have not said to myself a thousand times.

Generally, I don’t believe I deserve to be forgiven by my many mistakes.  I’m afraid to let myself off the hook, would that keep me from making the same mistakes again?

I am responsible for myself, I can’t just give me a blanket pardon.

When I think of the grave mistakes I have made, my heart jumps right up almost into my mouth.

Perhaps this is why I am so determined to live in the now.

I used to think I was just afraid to face the truth about myself, but I think I see myself pretty honestly these days.

A good therapist told me one day to tell myself this when I want to forgive myself: “I will forgive myself for as long as I can, and as often as I can. I will forgive myself when I am able.”

I remind myself that I am human and that humans make mistakes.

I remind myself that I have learned a great deal more from my mistakes than from my successes. I remind myself that I am trying to be better.

None of us are created perfect.

For reasons that are not clear to me, these messages work. They get me unstuck.

My eagerness to be authentic, and to never lie to myself has helped me more than anything.

I can’t bear to lie, and I can’t abide being lied to. I’ve learned that intensions matter.

My intention to forgive myself is in itself the beginning, the seed of that forgiveness. It has already begun to untangle my heart, gripped in the struggle to let go of my guilt and regrets.

When I turn to blaming myself, I go deeper, I pause and take some time to connect with the broken parts of me, the thoughts and feelings of blaming that have always been a part of my life.

And I feel better.

13 October

Day Of Rest

by Jon Katz

Maria was pretty wiped out from her belly dancing performance on Saturday night, we managed to get to Jean’s for breakfast, then spread some more manure in the  Dahlia Garden, dig up some bulbs for the winter.

I got to rake the leaves out of our gutters, my favorite chore.

We were going to visit the Williams College Museum, but we both were pretty tired, Maria went to bed early. I had a long talk with my sister and am reading the new Archer Mayor mystery.

Tomorrow is a holiday here, but we both plan to work in the morning, and if the Museum is open tomorrow, we’ll go in the afternoon.

Next week, I teach another class in my Writing Workshop.

Got to get their ideas down. We have almost raised the $1,000 necessary to build a stage set for the new drama department’s first play (the first school play in 20 years).

We’ll be able to do it, I’m sure. I’ll make up any shortfall if there is one.

You can contribute via Paypal, jon@bedlamfarm.com or by check, Jon Katz, Happy Hollandaise Play, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

Any overage, if there is one,  will go to the drama department for the next play stage set.

13 October

Bud The Burrower

by Jon Katz

Outside, Bud sees himself as a mighty hunter, inside I call him Bud The Burrower. He’s like a weasel sometimes, he can wheedle his way into the narrowest and most crowded spaces.

In the morning, I let him out of his crate an hour or so before sunrise, he hops up onto the bud and burrows into against my back or legs or wedges himself into Maria’s back.

He slithers slowly up the bed until I wake up to snoring on my chest, or he’s slithered up to the pillows and dug in. He is a small dog, but he is not easy to move once he’s burrowed in.

Today, on the living room sofa, he twisted himself into a pile of quilts and blankets and eventually disappeared into them. But the Burrower.

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