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

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

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Pickles and Earnest's Great Pumpkin Contest

“Can you help me, PLEASE?”

It was Pickles and she was very upset about something. She was telling to me from over in the pumpkin patch.

When I got to the mounds of beautiful orange orbs, all different shapes and sizes, Pickles was standing next to a very petite pumpkin.

“I need to put this prayer flag up over my pumpkin, “ she said.

I somehow managed to attach hay twine-every farmer’s wonder cure- to put up some old rags for Pickles to make her prayer flags.

“The prayers from the wind will help my pumpkin grow strong and big, like Earnest’s pumpkin, “ said little Pickles with confidence.

A few weeks ago, just as autumn was in the air, Earnest sent me a note, slipped under the front door as is the main means of communication from the barnyard. He wanted to tell me that this year he thought he might really have a chance at winning the local pumpkin growing contest. My heart sort of sank. I knew the winning pumpkins were huge and that many farmers devoted lots of energy to grow them.

I wandered out to Earnest’s hut. He was in mid morning repose, reading.

“Earnest, I think maybe it would be better to just grow and enjoy your pumpkin. And besides, the pumpkin festival is cancelled this year because of the virus,” I said.

“They are still having weigh ins, read it in the paper,” Earnest said.

Of course I knew this but I was contemplating lying to him. Instead I tried another tactic.

“Let’s have a barnyard contest! I will post a proper entry form in the barn later today, “ I said.

“What will the winner get?” Earnest asked.

“Well, you get to keep the pumpkin,” I said.

“Well of course. But I would like a cucumber grilled cheese sandwich from Eider’s” Earnest said. If you follow along you know that I turned Earnest on to this after bringing home some leftovers.

Later that day, three pieces of paper slid under the door, all entering the pumpkin contest: Earnest, Pickles and The Teapot.

And not too long after is when I found myself helping Pickles putting up her prayer flags.

“Pickles, you have a lovely pumpkin and not all pumpkins will grow like Earnest’s. I don’t want you to be disappointed,” I said.

“I believe in Pickles Power!” She said.

Just then The Teapot, a bit stout, came over to examine her pumpkin. “Her shape is much like mine,” she said.

And then, Earnest arrived. He had a bucket of items and began placing them around his pumpkin-a few little ceramic creatures, and some peanut butter on sticks.

“These will protect my pumpkin," he said.

“Earnest, I think the peanut butter will attract rodents?” I asked.

“I’ve spoken with the rodents and we made a gentleman’s agreement–they stay away from my pumpkin, and I put out peanut butter sticks for them. That reminds me, can you get me more peanut butter, crunchy, not stirred?” he asked.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Boone and I go the mountain top

Recently I wrote about the idea that after my riding accident 3 years ago, it was not so much about overcoming fear-I wasn't afraid of riding-it was the idea that one must have a string of positive experiences to get back the confidence. And I've been doing that of late with Boone. Not only are we riding more, and longer rides, we went on our first day trip in Maine up the coast a ways.

I found a place in the Camden Hills in Lincolnville that lets you come ride, and I was also able to have her ride with me, which was so great. We went to the Camden State Park and the bridal paths are wonderful...there were walkers of all ages bt it wasn't crowed, and they don't allow motorized anything. I commented that I wanted to go to Acadia with Boone but it is very hard to get off the farm for that amount of time, and my riding companion said, "This is Acadia, and it isn't as busy." 

How blesssed we are to be an hour away from Lincolnville. We can look tot he ride much of the way and see the white caps on the ocean. We want to use it as our go-to destination where Martyn can fish and I will ride. Martyn finally got to fly fish again and this has been my goal since we arrived-short day trips with Martyn, Boone and me so he can fish. I'd like to fish again too.

The weather was perfect. Boone was solid and stoic despite the guide horse being a mare with an attitude at the beginning of the journey. Boone didn't care. Every time I ride Boone like this, I fall in love even more with him.

We made it up to the peak to see the view. What was interesting is on that incline, I saw some ledge ahead, and said out loud,"Um, Oh, ledge..." in an Eeorye tone. It definatly set something off in me, since that is what we think happened in my fall-Boone slipping on ledge as we went from canter to walk.

Lots of cute little girls were swooning over the horses on the trail, wanting to pet Boone and calling him so beautiful. That always amuses me, I think of Boone a bit like me-sturdy, no wall flower but the one in the back of the dance away from all the popular pretty girls. I love the way Boone looks, my favorite kind of horse–chestnut quarter horse. I remember so well how I would swwon too as a little girl when I'd see a horse...and there I was on my own steed.

We rode about 10 miles and I know I was revitalized but also tired but in a good way. Boone was ready for hay and a nap too.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

I just know...the horse found him

I have a beautiful equine friend on Facebook, we've followed each other for many years. Ruella Yates of Spirit Horse Ranch teaches and practices Liberty Foundation Training with people and horses to help them communicate and learn their own innate abilities to have a deeper relationship with their horses. 

"I train using Native American and Old West traditions in a 'new' way of liberty training that is as old as the time horses and the 'first people' came together in the American West.  My life with horses is profound in every way.  What I learn from them, I bring to my students. My goal is making the world a better place for horses."   -Ruella Yates"

 Ruella lost her husband, Skeetz, a few days ago. I knew he was in home hospice and he'd had a lot of health issues the last year. I was also his FB friend and he seemed like just a sweet guy. Plus I always loved his name and should have named a goat after him or something. 

Ruella and I aren't the kind of friends that talk all the time, but we share love of horse, land, nature, peace, farm and Native American teachings. When I saw that Skeetz died, I took a deep breath in. I mainly thought of Ruella. And to be honest, I thought of me and Martyn. I told Ruella once she and Skeetz were sort of our role models for the coming years-still working together amongst the animals. As time wore on, Skeetz of course lost his ability to do a lot of the work he loved. We watch from our vista of age 62 as our elder friends go through what we will inevitably go through-at some point, one one of us will be without the other here on earth.

The day after Skeetz died, I awoke thinking about him. Ruella had told me she hoped he would be met by her beloved horse Ren who also died not long ago. And that is what I clearly awoke to-Skeetz meeting Ren again.

Now, I am not a religous person. I was not raised in a household that practiced anything. I had to learn over the years what my beliefs are and I always say they are entwined in Nature. I listen to the Native teachings and do believe in "God" but I don't see God as a teacher as much as a part of all of us, of our higher power we all can achieve from within. And Jesus, Buddha, they are all teachers. And I have learned to not ignore, or shame, my instinctive internal conversations with the dead or dying or living-be it animal or human. I'm not perfect in translating them, but I try to always recognize that this for me is Spirit talking.

So I woke up and there it was in my head, an internal movie screen, I see Skeetz with a horse. And I went to my studio and quickly painted it from my heart, for Ruella.

Just as I see the departed Jason as a dragonfly, or my mother as a dove, and often a cardinal pair with my father, or my friend Joanne on my fateful ride as a butterfly....I saw Skeetz with Ren. I just don't question it.

 I know this little heartfelt scribble gave her comfort. No matter what the belief, she knew I felt it and in that way it feels real, I think, that Ren found Skeetz, and he is okay.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

I think many of you need a tree like Paco's

I know where this tree is and often stand behind it myself, often accompanied by the donkeys. 

 You can purchase this print too at the shop.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

With death, it starts as a solo journey, but then....

Sophie on the top with her dear companion, Victor, who died at the old farm
Many of you follow us on social media so you already know that old Sophie died yesterday. I knew the day before she was entering the final days or weeks, as she could hardly walk and she just had a light go out in her eyes. By morning, she was almost in her deep sleep, and only revived once, for a final little talk with me, which I'm grateful for. It was a peaceful death–I've seen the opposite and am so grateful she could go on her own not only for her, but for me.

When we are born, we know we come from a little seed. Spiritually, we all have our own beliefs of where we were as souls [or not] before the seed and egg even came together. It's a mystery. But once human, we come out into the world with others to assist in our beginning journey. A doctor or midwife grasps us as we emerge, our mothers [if we are so blessed] hold us and makes utterances we will learn to follow and respond to. We watch others as role models as we grow and learn, and explore. We might go off on a day trip, or a long trek across the desert alone, but we always come back to share the journey through story. We share our human experiences with other human experienced creatures through all of life.

But with death, we journey alone–at least the first stages after we leave our bodies. Even if you believe that when we die, that's it, you cease to be anything except a carcass, even then you are alone in the instant you cease to be. We can be there for someone or a creature in the throws of death, but we can't accompanying them on the next stages. The great mystery. But I love a mystery, even though sometimes they are a bit scary.

The morning Sophie was dying, I returned to the house at some point and sat with classical music playing. I closed my eyes and imagined her up in the yonder, rolling about in air like an acrobat without a mat-just floating and rolling, with her sweet smile. I pictured Victor coming to be with her and then I watched them float off.

I opened my eyes and was hopeful that might help her fully release. I had told her the night before that maybe it was time to let go of her body, and to look for Victor as he would help her on the next stage of her journey. I asked her to look for me when my time comes.

As someone who likes to share story through words, art and image, I have thought many times that on the moment I die, I won't be able to share it, it will be only known to me. Maybe that is a good thing. Maybe what I experience will be completely unique to me, and each of you will have completely different after death seconds. Our births aren't the same, after all.

And then again, it dawned on me–the fact I do live my life so much out in the open with story and images, the idea that none of you will be privy to what happens the seconds after I'm dead is really rather...a relief. It will be all mine, those first post death seconds.

I think there are seconds of post death that will pack all sorts of things into them, and then...I'll know which way to turn or go and I will see and feel what I need. I desire to see all the animals I've cared for and my parents. I desire to truly feel what pure soul is.

Sophie shortly after she died

Monday, August 31, 2020

{Me and Boone} It-s not overcoming fear, it's about repeating positive experiences

It's been three years since Boone and I had our riding accident which landed me in the hospital for two days with a serious concussion. Many of you know the story-we were riding on a beautiful July day on a trail someone had given me permission to ride on in the woods and we were having a glorious ride, finished off with a canter back...but then something went wrong. I suspect it was the ledge that he slipped on, since the last thing I remember is thinking we need to walk now because I see the ledge coming up.

But we rode on a month later, but that summer I never went back into the woods alone. I tried a couple times but the horse flies were horrible. I got lazy in my mind too, making excuses for myself about riding-letting other tasks take precident over my riding time with Boone. I missed it, but when I'd think about riding, I would get a sensation, and felt maybe I should listen to it. I knew it could be fear, but when I rode I wasn't afraid, ever. it was just the 'before' of thinking about riding.

I was never afraid to ride or be on Boone-it was the idea of what could happen again, and I didn't want to put Martyn through it, or me, or Boone.

The thing is, in order to get confidant at anything-riding, riding a bike, working with livestock, cooking, playing guitar, teaching, hooking up a trailer–you have to do it, over and over. And over. When you stop, you have to regroup and remember that in order to have become confidant, it took repetitive positive experiences.

Repetitive positive experiences.

So, I made a promise this year, after fly season, to begin a new with Boone. Since I'm hauling the llama all over the place, working with a large trailer is back on my 'confident' status. Trailering too requires lots of repetitive positive experiences to feel safe doing it. I've ridden a few times and bought boots for Boone too, since he is so flat footed but shoes right now are problematic because we don't have a bottom wire in our field and he has gotten his shoe caught in the fence-dangerous and scary for all. Boone and I have a date to go up to Camden Hills to ride with a woman who lives next to the state park, I can't wait. And I'm seeking places -short trips-to go with him.

Riding the last two times, felt great. Boone is his usual stoic self. The main road here is busy and a pain, but Boone is fearless and we only go on it in the culvert for a short stretch to get to our other roads. I still hate being on it. But we are very careful.

Getting back in sync with Boone is not about overcoming fear. I do not fear falling, I don't think about falling. Accidents happen, but it is more about rebuilding inner trust that I'm capable of repetitive positive experiences, simply because I'm working at it agian, over and over.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Now available: Dragonflies over Daisies

I completely neglected to get this little painting up at the shop. I really love it. The dragonflies have been wonderful this year. I love them more than almost any insect. I even have a friend that comes back as one from time to time. The dragonfly I was told is the closet thing we have to the dinosaur. Now that is pretty amazing.