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.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Present day ghosts

Inspired by the many who have lived on this land before us. This winter I'll be diving deeper into the history of our 1760 property, first homesteaded by The Rhoades back in 1760, one of the first houses along with that of the Hilton's. I've been to their burial plots, and the history is rich, I feel it when I walk around, more so in the southern Wood. Then again there is the Quaker cemetery over there too.

"Present Day Ghosts" 12" acrylic on wood, now avaialable at the shop.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Bust out! Shark like pig escapes and takes dog with her

I was minding my own business early this morning, brushing my teeth, admiring the 100 year old hydrangea tree outside the bathroom window when I saw...Marcella. If you know our layout, this is not suppose to happen.

I pulled on the Mucks and headed out and she greeted me at the garden gate-that is also not suppose to happen.

The front slider gate was open, but as I gathered her into the barn, I still didn't know how she got out, since her area with he pigs is far away. I wandered out to the paddock she and the three pigs live in-Eleanor was gone, Cornelia and Little Lonely aka Freddy were there. And then I saw where one of them busted down a part of the wood fence, two pallets of wood toppled over. I had no time to assess that, my head was full of images of her on the front road. She had so much to eat out back I started calling and looking there but it was silent and she usually responds. She wouldn't go through the stream, I figured, so I headed out front which is the front garden, and the dreaded road. Nothing. No grunts. No alarming barks from White Dog. I decided to keep feeding and calling her as I did.

And then I heard a far off snort. She had reappeared out front, and I went out with grain and she ran all the way across the yard to me. Eleanor is about 350 pounds, and of all the pigs, the least personable. She is not mean or unfriendly, but she is...a pig of her own desires. I call her The Great White Shark begins she swims the area looking for her next meal. But I was pleased she came, and I got her back in another paddock, so now I can try to remaster the place they busted out.

I had just put Marcella in another area yesterday, with the three pigs, to give her more of a job. She was bored in the smaller Earnest area, and was starting to overboard him, and me. I initially blamed her in my mind, that she started it, and Eleanor followed. But I think Eleanor due to her size and strength-she is about 350#- was snorting around that part of the fence, digging mud, or rubbing her big l' butt, and she snapped the side of the pallet where it was attached.

I talked to Marcella about it. She looked at me with those huge brown eyes, then lay flat on the ground, showing her submissiveness to me. Instead of looking at it as a bad morning, I told her it was a good morning, because so many things that could have gone wrong didn't-Eleanor came back, Eleanor didn't head for the road, Marcella didn't get hit by a car, I got up at 7am and just happened to be brushing my teeth at that exact moment when she walked by since I usually dwaddle in the morning for breakfast...and the breach at the fence is refillable and it will be okay.

In fact, she really did what she was supposed to do, go with Eleanor.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The artist-Misfit caretaker-non profit idea generator's challenge

"Abandoned Property" now available on the shop
Summer is over and my studio time is calling me. I am finding that with the non profit work I am working harder to find a balance with that work, and my art/writing. This is transition and it will be fine, I am not worried. But it's funny how people assume the animals take all my time-they don't-but the elder visits actually can eat up my time a lot. Anytime I have an elder visit on the farm, there are many details to deal with-getting certain animals in certain paddocks, getting the path clear for elders, cleaning out the area where we sit, and then rearranging the animals again after the visit. So I'm trying to work through how many visits I can do realistically and still paint, write and commune in my studio. And for the record, I LOVE these visits. I love them. I get so much out of them. Besides helping others get some simple joy, it is truly I believe part of my particular soul work. But so is my art. I do think though as a full time artist since 1996, my 'career' and how I shape it has changed, and that is not unusual.

Artists and writers and freelancers must remain focused, but also...fluid...especially in how we market or share our work.

I remember talking to a friend, a successful children's book artist, who had her first child and she said that she eventually found she was in the studio less, but while she was in the studio she was more focused and got almost as much done.

When I'm not consistently working on creative ideas, I get a bit ungrounded somehow. It's almost like I get unmoored and float from one point to another without focus. At the same time, I have been very focused on the non profit, growing our reputation, our first event, building the barn which still needs work...we have only been here two years and have done so much, and our infrastructure is stabilizing, but it is also evolving. And I like thinking of ways to evolve it and share it,grow it, get donations...I like that challenge of that.

One thing I'm sort of frustrated with is my blog. I feel it's main focus has changed slightly...most people these days go to Facebook to read about Apifera. I can't deny that, I see it in my stats, and it started some years ago for many bloggers. I know some people who work from home that still go to blogs, and are less attached to being on a smart phone all day. I have thought of quitting the blog, but instead I think I need to refocus my writing here on short story. I can still update here, but most people are reading that on Instagram and Facebook, they don't want to come here for that.

So I am percolating.

I will be back to working on the White Dog book soon, and I want to start drawing more, really drawing...even if it only lasts a short time. And I want to work on my sewn creatures.

Here I go again...many ideas, many projects.

I did these little paintings yesterday and started three wood pieces. It always take a bit of slogging through the first steps back into the studio, and while I can't say these two pieces are on my top ten list, I like the mystery of the top one.

"The Peak" now available at the shop

Monday, October 15, 2018

New Misfits...a bunch of quackers

L-R, Francis, Lincoln and Moses aka The Rhoades Boys
I have really missed The Bottomtums and knew eventually the right ducks would hopefully come along needing a new forever home. And they have.

Collectively, I call them The Rhoades Boys, separately they are Lincoln, Moses and Francis. Yes, I can tell them apart, they have unique patterns on their heads. The Rhodes boys were sons and grandsons of the first owner of our house and lived here with their parents Wealthy and Cornelius Rhoades. All of the five boys, except one, died in the Civil War, and some are buried with their parents at a nearby cemetery. Our home, and the first Rhoades was one of several first settlers of the area, and our house is one of the oldest, from 1760. I am beginning more research this winter. I think of the people that lived here way back, wondering what their days were like. I wish I had photos and maybe I can find some in the history research but might not.

The ducks are wonderful. They are Anacona Runner Mixes. They were raised by hand by a young woman, now a sophomore in high school, and she needed to rehome the drakes. She took great pride in them and was a really insightful and caring young woman.

Sometimes I have to take in animals I just...want. For my own self. Ducks are amusing and playful, and these guys are used to being handled. I've been holding them and rubbing their bottoms and necks, saying their names over and over. They live out in Rosie's barn, and this makes me happy since she sort of can have friends, even though we all know Rosie does not make friends, nor seems to ever have want friends. But for my sake, she can hear them quacking and it makes me feel I've given her companionship while she snoozes under her hay pile. She is her own pig and always has been.

They are truly elegant and beautiful, and their beaks are the most beautiful pistachio like green.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

New elders come visit...we plan

Eleanor give a final kiss to Birdie
We had a sweet visit with some 'new' elders that came to visit the farm on Friday. Some I had met on visits with Opie, but one woman, Eleanor, came from one of the homes I have been meaning to visit with Opie and hope to soon.

I was also happy that Birdie was part of it. She was fine and I was feeling good about our treatment she and I have been working through, and she needed some love herself. She did stumble that night, so her recovery-and I hope there is one-will take a month or more to see if she is permanently damaged. But she is walking, grazing and able to get up-although be it a bit wobbly at times. her hind end can be a bit off. But I am holding hope that worst is what we are seeing and she won't decline further.

Eleanor was the sweetest woman and she is 96. She was very appreciative that we have a pig named Eleanor. It's always good to meet people that know it is an honor to have a pig with your name.

This will probably be our last outside visit this season, but who knows. I am excited to get thinking about the indoor shelter we want so elders can sit out of the elements, but now I'm thinking we should go a bit bigger, with a structure that the animals can walk into too, and we could do winter visits with a heated area. I'm thinking about outreach too, and having drawing sessions amongst animals and elders as models, story telling hours where elders can share their stories, cross generational visits with the animals...stay tuned.

I will see as I percolate. We have lots of ideas to consider, and this year we have come so far, so fast in some ways,that I need to sit with my thoughts.

I am really so pleased with how we've come along with these elder visits. I realize too that we are building a community for ourselves, and I never really had that out West.

I'm also finding I need to learn to say 'no' better. I need more studio time, and of course, winter is my best stdio percolating time. I've never been great at making art in the summer. No pressure on myself, I just know that working with the elders takes creative vision too, and I need to not abandon my other passion-painting and story.

Life is very full. Life is rich. Life is a challenge, but it is juicy and I'm dancing as fast as I can.

The Two Great Whites

Red on red

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Another beginning - The Wood on the south side

The Wood, Southern side, that leads to Rag Tree and Quaker Cemetery
Hard to get a panoramic view on the blog
Late yesterday afternoon I took time to walk out to The Wood and explore a bit. I took a bucket to look for apples, and at certain points I took time to sit on my bucket and just look out at the view of our land {it dawned on me I was just like Pino and his bucket.

I feel very comfortable in the southern side of our Wood unlike the West side that feels...eery. The southern side butts up to the Quaker Cemetery [land that was deeded to the Quakers back in the late 1700's by the man who owned our home.] In that part of The Wood you find Rag Tree, and a plot of land that used to be pasture, but over years the trees grew. We plan to return some of it to pasture. It is also adjacent to the property that is for sale, and I still keep coming back to my scheme of someone buying it and working with us, or...sending The Misfits into our bank to get a loan simply because they are so sweet. The properties, like all of up here, are divided by midden walls of rock, and I have a natural place where we could create an opening.

My dream is to create fenced pasture, but also make nature walks in The Wood in that area, so we could do walk about with the donkeys, or whoever. I also just like going there and sitting for some reason. It feels safe to me and I can look over at the barn and animals.

I am slowly researching the history of the land and our area. George Rhodes lived here in the early 1760's with his wife Abigail Lincoln. I assume they built the house since it is one of the first ones, along with the Hilton homesteads [many of the Rhodes family are buried there too] Their son, Cornelius and wife Wealthy had the children that lived here in the early 1800's,, and all the sons died in the Revolutionary war except two. One fought and died in Gettysburg. I think of them when I am walking around, wondering when the pasture first got cleared. It is rare to find cleared areas in mid coast in our area.

So much history and now me, and Martyn, and our animals that return to the Earth are part of it too.