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.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The unthinkable: who would I take if I had to leave?

Benedetto at dusk
Someone shared a story about a Maremma staying behind in the horrible Sonoma fires, with a herd of goats, and they all survived. The couple that fled the fire was able to get one Maremma in the car, but the fires were so fierce they had to flee. They were so relieved to find the other dog was alive, burned, scorched foot pads, but he made it and so did the goats. They will be OK.

The owner said they cried a lot, prayed, and felt horrible that the choice [or was it a choice?] they had to make to leave was a slow and painful death for their beloved animals.

As happy as I was to see the reunion, it just send me into a tailspin. I know in Oregon there was once a fire that had us thinking of evacuation plans. We did not have to do it, but many did, and it all was terrible to process. And with my menagerie of crippled and elder animals, it would be so difficult. At the time we had 30 sheep, we now don't breed anymore and only have five sheep, but back then, I knew I'd probably have to leave the flock and hope for the best. It's unthinkable...the idea of having to feel at midnight without warning...and to have to be forced to make life and death choices.

I'm not sure I could get through what some of these people have to get through. I tend to soak these things in, and perhaps that is why today I'm feeling rather stuck...sad, somewhat unoptimistic, doubting myself. After five minutes on social media today, I'm staying off, and am going to start getting some wood ready for paintings. In my five minutes of checking on some people I know out West, I also noticed there a lot of people thinking it wrong to go on with their business as usual while so many in so many places are suffering. I'm not sure why they think sitting on Facebook and expressing that is any better. But the piling up of so many storms and fires and other tragedies of the past couple weeks, coupled with what for me feels like an implosion of common decency for all people not just a select group...it adds up and that is what I feel, viscerally on social media of late. People are worn out and they are reacting to that tiredness in their own personal style, and some of it is pretty harsh.

I spend quality time with all my animals, some days more so, and today I just did everything extra slowly. I looked into Benedetto's eyes and told him I was so glad he was safe. I held the bunny and thought of all the wildlife, suffering. Took an extra look at our 1760 house and thought of what it be like to watch it burn.

You can be living a good life and still go to the dark. It's called empathy. I will hope for no wind and rain for California...and resolutions for so many all over in distress.

View from Rag Tree looking towards the barns

We will be pushing The Wood back from the barns in time

Friday, October 13, 2017

This is what happens when a one year old goat gets a brainstorm

I heard a lot of hammering, but figured it was the nearby neighbor in his workshop. As the day wore on...something about the sounds just seemed a bit...off.

It has come to light that Opie thought maybe he could help out and get the new barn started. He dragged Pino into it but I'm actually grateful as Pino at least wouldn't let him get Martyn's 12' pruning ladder out. Mrs. Mercey Studly was there too, helping with the nails. Nothing like a 100 year old rat assisting a one year old goat.

Update on the new barn

I got the final bid for the barn and it comes in at $20,000, but that doesn't include the exterior wood and stalls which we will put up ourselves, so probably another $3-5,000.

we are drip by drip getting the job done! Thank you to those of you who have helped. I just sent out a big mailing and if you know someone who love animals and elders, please pass on our fundraiser.

Many companies will also match your donation to certain causes, so please consider asking your company if they might do this.

My goal is to be able to pay the down payment by February which is $6,000. Because of the graciousness of The J & J Stanley Foundation, every dollar donated will be matched up to $10,000-this is so important and wonderful.

Plus, if you donate this month, you might get an original piece of art. But you must donate before 10/31. On that day, The Puppet Will Pull Two Names Out Of His Hat and two donors will get one of my originals.

You can donate to the barn fund at the GoFund site. You can also send checks [let me know they are coming, please] or by going to  the regular funding page on this blog and want it to be for the barn [and possible art] that's OK, I can add your donation to the GoFund site manually [with with your name or anonymously].

It truly takes a village-and I appreciate everyone who has followed me, my art, my farm and animal work all these past 14 years!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

When 89 year olds fall for little goats

Her name is Ginny and she is now in love with a goat. And we are in love with her and all of her 89 year old beauty. Her hands are made up of years of lifting children and feeding a family, perhaps cutting flowers or toiling in the garden. But it was the way her face lit up, exploded in smile, that I will remember-and how that made me feel, and most likely her too-for different reasons.

We ventured over to a nearby elder facility, this one in the nearby village of Round Pond. The home was once a ship captain's home from the 1880's and a family lived there. At some point I was told, the family also took in old vets, and eventually it was sold and became an elder care home for six individuals. It now is the residence of six elders.

We started out on their front porch, a long regal one that provides wonderful shade. The residents all clamored out, some in wheelchairs, others with walkers. As I walked up the stairs, one of the residents, who had heard Opie was coming, was so excited, she started yelling,

"The goat is here! He's wicked cute!"

Opie was interested in his new surroundings, and did eventually calm to his normal visiting self. This is normal and he did just fine. The manager asked me if I would mind bringing him in at some point because there was a resident who was not well and could not come out on the porch.

We ventured to her room, and could hear the oxygen and as we entered. She was sitting quietly in her chair, but when she saw Opie, her smile just lit up the room. It was beautiful, I tell you, beautiful. We got closer and she immediately started holding his head and telling him,

"I love you already, I love you."

I got an interior verklempt feeling in my heart and throat. It's a bonus of this life's work.

We visited for some time, and heard a bit about her history. Ginny is originally from Massachusetts and has children and grandchildren and great grand children. She was sharp. Her body just wasn't keeping up with her mind.

She smiled the entire time.

She asked me if we could keep their home on 'our list'.

I told her we lived right down the road and we'd be back.

Her smile was sweet, her hands were beautiful, although I'm sure she would not recognize that.

{If you like the work we are doing with animals and seniors at Apifera, please consider a donation-we are a 501[c][3]}

Conversation of the grumpiest pig

I found the pig watching silently, examining the new morning from her private suite. I can only imagine what The World's Grumpiest But I'm Fine As I Am Pig thinks internally in these moments...

Hrumpf...sun, that's, well alright...but slight humidity.

Trumpf OWEEEOWHrumpf!

Too much sun really, not enough wind...FLIES!

Will sleep and hope for some clouds.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

It's Official! Pino Pie Day is returning!

And it is never to early to plan! I hope that I might see some old friends-the even will be in early October a beautiful time of year to visit midcoast Maine. I have created a page on the blog where I will add accommodations and other helpful info to travelers.

October 6, 2018 will be here before you know it!

I got stuck in the barn with The Llama and it was the best morning ever

The morning began with lots of wind and warm air but with a real feel of fall, and the smell of the ocean's cove nearby. It was beautiful. By the time I was almost done with feeding and cleanup in the outer barn, the rains began-down pours is a better way to explain them.

I love being in the barn in the rain. It takes me back to when I was little and I'd go out to my sumac fort in the cool days of autumn, sit with my poodle and just commune with Nature. There is something so comforting and 'safe' about being in the barn with the animals in inclement weather.

The animals take it all in stride. The sheep are not real lovers of rain, nor is Benedetto [although he loves snow and cold]. The llama too usually comes in when it rains, the donkeys and Boone really don't care but they were all inside munching breakfast hay.

After living in Oregon all those years, you might be wondering why I felt I couldn't run back to the house some 300 or so feet away.
I could have, but, I just didn't feel the need to get wet in a warm-but chilly-when-wet day and I had no coat on, or hat. So I sat amongst the sheep and Ben, and Birdie, with the equines right on our side in the other stall. The beautiful rain is much needed and it also meant the winds and rain kept the flies away.

I must have been out there forty minutes, in silence, having my morning equivalent of a church like experience.

Remember this moment, I thought.

I'm here, I thought, I'm getting to have this human experience, of feeling the air and smelling the rains and sea with wet wool mixed in and the smell of the horse near by.

It is moments like these that confirm I am a spirit having a human experience on this realm, and my time here must not be taken lightly.

{If you like the ten years of stories this blog has brought you, please consider a tax deductible donation to our barn fundraiser-so we can help more animals, which will mean...more stories, art and photos.}

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Hurry! OK, it goes through the month....

"Rabbit Watching Prayer Flags" 7" x 7" on wood
These can be yours for as little as $10.


Here's how it works.

The Puppet is gathering names. For every $10 you pay, The Puppet will put a slip of paper with your name on it in a hat. All money will be put in the barn fundraiser and will be deductible. The Puppet will pull names out of his hat the last day of October. There will be two names pulled out of his hat, one for each piece. So the more $10's you send the more name slips you get in the hat. And it's for a good thing-a barn to help more Misfits!

Each piece is $7x7", on wood.

When I receive your payment, I will email you with confirmation. I will also add your name [or add your donation anonymously] to the barn fundraiser [and if you don't know already, The J & J Stanley Foundation is matching every dollar we raise up to $10,000].

Ends October 31.

So send Pino and me your 10's! And you can also send checks if you prefer [315 Waldoboro RD, Bremen ME 04551] with a note that it's for the Puppet's hat pulling on October 31.

"Mother and Child on Moonlit Walk" 7" x 7" on wood

When I Enter Heaven

I was minding my own business and....

So you know how it goes around here: I was minding my own business, really I was, up in my studio. I was actually....painting. Now to set the scene, my studio is above the living room which is next to the front deck. I started hearing some movement downstairs, unusual movement. We have had squirrels in the gutters so I thought it was most likely that.

But then it began to sound like someone was dropping bowling balls.

I better investigate this.

Upon arriving downstairs, there was Muddy, and Hughie looking sort of...odd, in the dining room.

I could hear the sounds again. I thought maybe somebody was in our yard and headed for the front door.

And then i saw it, and it was quite the site.

A mischievous twosome greeted me-Earnest and his pal Marcella, the local escape artists. Actually, I know Marcella started it, and when I went to their paddock I saw where she had begun to dig a hole under part of the fence. This allows Earnest to get his nose under-a pig shovel-and push up, under and out.

I have to say, no harm was done, no lady pigs were nearby, thank goodness, and the expression on his face as he was trying to get a hold of a rolling pumpkin made me love him even more.

The two escapees are now locked up in their suite, happily eating pumpkins, until I can get boulder by the fence. If I'm ever in an avalanche, I hope I'm with Marcella and Earnest as I think they can get out of anything.

Now all together now, let's say it: OH EARNEST!

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Dear Universe: Why oh why did you make biting flies?

I have never, ever had to deal with biting flies and other insects like what we are faced with here in Maine. I spend a lot of time stringing together expletives when I'm working in the barns. The horse and Old Matilda have been effected the worst.

Last year, Matilda had trouble with the biting flies on her legs. I did my best with sprays, rub ons and such, but eventually had a vet out and we shaved her and gave her antibiotics since she had a slight infection. So this year, in my usual optimistic fashion, I set out to conquer Nature.

I did pretty well until this month. I invested in monthly fly predators-they come each month in the post and I sprinkle them on the major poop piles, and the fly eggs get eaten. I also bought lots of those stinky fly traps that are so gross-they smell like dead animals and attract the flies-and they were full up most of the summer. Next summer I'm trippling the number of those. But then this month arrived and the last hatch of biting flies has just been insane.

I had been keeping up on Matilda's legs-she is the only one of the equines who has issues, I blame it on the fact she is elderly, and she also came out of winter a bit thin which probably made her more of a target, and she is white haired which attracts flies more. While we have gotten her weight up to a good level, this past week I was losing the battle with the flies. I had been scraping off the crud, which is what the vet did last year, and wrapping her legs, and giving her a tablet the vet gave me last year. But it just wasn't helping. The good thing is there was no infection.

So I had my new vet out and we shaved her legs again, and put on these wild and crazy wrappings that are soaked in something, and we have given her a super shot they swear by, versus the pills which take longer to act. She was a real trooper when we worked on her, and Im sure it actually feels good when we get all that crud off.

She is looking pretty styling', I thought.

Next year, we'll be getting an industrial fan which the equines can stand in front of and flies can't fly in wind. I also had to invest in something from the vet to make Boone dopey when the farrier comes. He has never been a bad boy with the farrier but he ABHORS the biting flies, and I can't blame him. My farrier has been so patient, but I want him to be safe, as Boone tries to kick at the flies on his belly.

The vet did tell me the predators help alot too as time goes on, so to keep doing it, and I will. But, between you and me and all the ##+!!###hrumpf flies, I'm ready for them all to be...dead. Little terrorists is what they are.

The vet call was $550. Can you hear the barnyard going wild?

If you are able to make donations, it would be great, and helpful. I have been wanting to have this clinic out but because they are far away, the trip charge alone is $100 so I kept putting it off. But they are really good and I liked this vet a lot. I had her do an overview of our animals which made the bill high, but I need to have a good clinic on board as we go forward. I was spoiled in Oregon with my three vet clinics I worked with. But I was really happy to find a vet too that I connected with and I liked her a lot. Now we have them, and the new cat/dog vet I tried this month too is a keeper.