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

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. All images ar©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Magical Garland

Many years ago, a follower of my blog and all things Apifera sent me a handmade felted Christmas garland. Shortly after, I decided that it was meant to be shared with all the animals too and that was the birth of The Garland Festival at Apifera. Back then, I would take the garland out to the barnyard and we'd have a wonderful if not sometimes chaotic festival.

That garland has been dragged through the mud by pigs, chewed on by goats and dogs, pooped on by chickens and stomped on by donkeys. Garland is like a well worn teddy bear-abused in love, and appreciated no matter what condition she ended up in after a day of heartfelt sharing.

It's been a wonderful tradition and when we moved she fell off the radar for a bit. But I came upon the garland as I unpacked some decorations for our tree. I gasped. I had certainly not forgotten her, but seeing her in the box, holding her, it brought back so many feelings of whim and joy that the season should bring, can bring if we let it. Despite missing my own elders, or slogging through the news, or down the bumpy cobblestone streets of friendship, the garland was right there in my hands, asking me,

"Do you remember that time when....the pig dragged me into a muddle and I almost drowned?"

And so our farm in Maine now begins its own version of The Garland Festival. Instead of spending one long hour or more sharing the garland with the animals, we will celebrate in smaller bursts of magic. This is much more fitting with our new Maine residence-where we do things a bit slower than out West, not because we have to but because we are more inclined to listen to our internal waves lapping on the shore we have chosen here.

I have to say on a practical note, spreading out the Garland Festival over weeks instead of an hour is helpful to the garland. Right now, she sits on my desk, waiting for me to fix her up again, sew her together after a particularly festive hour with the llama. Birdie really put on a show, which you can see in these photos.

I'll add more Garland festival photos here as the days and weeks to Christmas arrive. I hope there is a garland in your life-that item that you bring out every year and you too gasp, and hold onto all the memories it brings out of your heart.

{Thank you Christine Gross, again, for making this important piece of Apifera for us. You never would have known its destiny...then again, maybe you did, and that is why it has so much magic}

Please consider Apifera in your end giving.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The little ambassador of love turns one!

It's a big week for Opie, he turns one today and all week he has celebrations planned, two at elder facilities to share his love. Opie and I also have a goal to raise another $1000 to add to the slowly increasing barn fund [which is being matched for every dollar up to $10,000, the barn will cost $20-25,000 and help us take on more Misfits]. You can add your donation here and I will add it to the GoFund Me barn page. The money all goes into our Apifera account no matter where you donate, FYI. All donations are tax deductible.

Thank you to everyone who has sent wishes to Opie. I can not imagine life without him!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

First snow, big week

We had our first snow, a beautiful six inches or so and it is so welcome. I love winter here [I do get a bit cranky come early April if things aren't going as I'd like]. White Dog is just thrilled, he sleeps in it, eats it, rolls in it...it is his element. In winter, the sound is different, a quiet blanket covers everything and you can hear the snow when it falls. The front road slows way down even though it already has by this time of year. And let's not forget, there are no flies.

It is going to be a busy week! We have Opie's first birthday and he has two therapy visits scheduled, along with a birthday party with his elder friends in Wiscasset. I'm not sure his ego will recover.

All this week, I am attempting to fund raise another $1000 to add to the barn fund. I have a fundraiser on Facebook, but you can also just donate here and I will add it to the pot-it all ends up in the same place. All donations go into the Apifera account and are tax deductible. Opie is pretty happy just as he is, but if he could talk, I think he'd ask for a dollar or two for the barn-he knows the new barn will bring more animals, and also he is hoping maybe he can venture out there and nap with the donkeys. He says he doesn't get to be with the donkeys enough.

It is also the season of the Garland Festival. I will share all that as the week progresses.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Misfit chaos

I was almost to the upper barn when I heard a fair amount of arguing.

"Not there, bring that strand over here!"

"I'm trying but my feet are all wrapped up," I heard Opie say.

There were some soft meows but no screeches and then a voice of reason said,

"I think we should just wait until she comes out to help."

Almost every year they get so excited to light up the tree that I forget I must secure the fixings so they don't get into this situation. It's hard not to smile though at the scene.

{If this scene and others on this blog bring you a smile, consider a small year end tax deductible donation to our non profit-which helps animals but also shares them with elders.}

Friday, December 08, 2017

The softest Apiferian

I adopted the bunny out of the shelter when we brought home the first elder cats to Apifera here in Maine. She was sitting in a cage in the front room of the shelter. Upon first seeing her, I said,


What is it about bunnies?

Someone had found her in a yard and brought her to the shelter. She had very long toes but had clearly been a pet. It made me sad. Who knows what happened-so many possibilities but I am glad to have her. She lives in my studio and recently I made her a special bedroom so she doesn't have to live in a rabbit cage. The "bedroom" is actually a large closet that sits between my studio and office and has a door into each of the rooms, so she can be with me no matter what room I am in. When I work in the studio, I let her out so she can hop around and do bunny things.

Her name is Isabelle Noir, but it is impossible not to just call her, simply...


{Please consider a year end tax deductible donation to Apifera. We appreciate your support!}

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The little ambassador of love is turning ONE!

The charming little bucket of love, Opie the goat, is turning one on December 11. He is very excited and said,

"I've never been one before."

We will be celebrating all week in many ways. For one we are having a birthday party at one of the elder facilities we visit regularly, which was requested by the residents. Opie is thrilled, but since he has never been to a party before he has no idea what it will be like. There will be singing and I will bake some cookies. We can't have candles but that doesn't matter, we will wish on something else for him.

I want to try to raise another $1,000 in honor of Opie's first birthday. The money will be added to the barn fund. We are up to $4000 which is on target for our goal. The barn will cost $20,000-25,000 and every dollar up to $10,000 is being matched by The J&J Stanley Foundation. I need to put a down payment on the barn in March which is slated to be built in June.

I want to thank so many who are helping us in this formative year for our non profit here in Maine. I will be very relieved when this capital funding is over, but ike any non profit, it really never ends. I try to balance asking for money with great art and photos, and stories of all your Misfit friends, and of course to show you our work with elders of all kinds.

Donations can be made here, or you can go directly to the barn fund [it all goes into our 501c account]. All donations are tax deductible.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Conversation with Pino and the perfect tree

In honor of the Christmas season, I have a story to share with you, a conversation of sorts, between me, Pino, and a little tree.

"It's a perfect day for tree searching, Pino," I said as I grabbed his halter.

"Yes, I agree," his ears said. Although I don't rank days by perfection, they are all worthy of something, the little donkey thought to himself.

We set off to the side Wood, not far from his barn. December had been quite warm, but crisp, leaving the ground firm to walk on without mush, and no ice to slip on or snow to stomp through.

I found a perfect tree, tall, full at the base and formed well, with no real gaping holes at its side.

"It's too tall," I heard Martyn say from behind. He had come to follow us, with the saw.

We forged on a bit further, keeping close to the paddock and away from the thickest part of the marsh. It was the first time I had rigged up a makeshift hay twine harness on Pino, nothing fancy, so I didn't want to go very far this first time out.

Suddenly, Pino stopped. I waited. When Pino stops it can be for many reasons, but I could tell by his ears pricking forward, his stopping had meaning to our mission at hand.

"Do you see one?" I asked hm. His ears pricked backwards to me, then front and back to alert me to his sighting.

"That one, Pino?" I said, and I walked to a little misshapen, crooked tree. It was not full of bows but sparse. It was a tree that in time, like many in The Wood, would be smothered out by the larger Oak and Maple canopy above it, if its roots didn't rot before that from the years of marsh living.

"It's the right height," Martyn said. It's not very full, should we look a bit longer?"

"We started walking again, but only a few steps, and Pino stopped again. I turned again to look at the little tree, and with my new perspective could see that the other side had a big empty area where no branches were, and the crooked trunk was even more noticeable from that side. From a Christmas tree standard, she really had no good side.

Pino took a few steps to line himself up with me by my side, something he knows to do when he has a halter on. He was quiet, and we both stood looking at the little tree.

"We want this one," I told Martyn.

"Okay," he said, and as he knelt down to saw its base he said, "Positive?"

"Yes," I said.

We tied the makeshift hay twine get up to the tree and to Pino and we started back to the house. It took a bit of time. Donkey hauling Christmas trees in not something one does in a rush. I thanked Pino for his work and leaned the tree up against the porch, while I tied him some feet away so I could run into the house for something. I returned to find Pino staring into the little Misfit tree, his ears pricked towards it, he was clearly deep in conversation with her.

"You are a beautiful little tree," he said.

"I'm surprised you picked me. I'm crooked and ill kept," the tree said.

"You are as a perfect as an old Redwood," Pino said. "You had a purpose to hold the birds, and now you will hold the Christmas lights. We will see them from the barn on clear nights. Thank you."

I led Pino back to his mates, returned to find Martyn had the tree up in the dining room, and I began to hang the first lights. I placed white doves at her top and hung glistening fruit all around them. She is the most Charlie Brown tree I've ever had, but she is perhaps the favorite too. With each year that passes, I recognize the Misfitedness within me, and somehow this sweet little crooked tree symbolized for me that I am just fine, I'm doing okay. I'm worthy of being noticed for the purpose that I am meant to live out, in my own misfit way.

It was dark. I plugged in the lights.

I heard the donkeys bray.