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, July 18, 2019

You might get a Rosie


After a reprieve, it is back at fundraising with the final 80% of our hay due in the next couple weeks. Going to be doing some print and art giveaways in coming weeks. And who wouldn't want a Rosie gracing their wall? I miss her royal grumpiness...sometimes I forget she is gone and will still look over at her last bed of straw expecting her to pop out of it....grumpily. She would have really liked The Grumpiest Old Men, wouldn't she?

Donate here on the blog, or on Facebook, or by check [let me know if you are sending a check so I can count your name in the art give away. We will need about %3000 for the final hay, so if you want to do a matching donation on any of these print give-aways just let me know.

This print is 9 x 12 and has a retail value of $125.


Monday, July 15, 2019

The past beckons...or something

Memory of my mother's turtleneck sweater
I've been waking up in the past weeks, maybe longer, and a memory comes to me from my past....and then I lay there and I try to remember the context of that memory, where I was living at the time, who I was friends with, etc. Sometimes it is a memory from childhood, sometimes from my time in NYC or Mpls in my 30's-40's...I lay there the other morning and tried to create a timeline in my head of this two year period when I had met someone I became involved with, then he walked away from me in a very secretive-lying way, but sort of lingered and it took me awhile to shut the door on him...but I tried to remember the exact sequence of events and it was sort of blurry. That even was such drama and such a huge part of that period of my life...so it was interesting how memory had adjusted itself...and of course we all know how that trauma led to so much like Oregon, Martyn, Apifera and more. The only thing I don't like about saying it that way is knowing the ego and mind of that person he would probably take credit for my life right now.

OK, so anyway, I've been feeling this pull to explore things of the past. I don't know why. I believe in living in the present and trying not to pontificate about the past or future. But I will listen to my muse. It might change course any moment.

My father's blue checked shirt


Friday, July 12, 2019

A loss, questions, a dream

It was a shock.

We had made plans to drive the 10 hour round trip to pick up the baby llama and her elder mom this weekend. On Wednesday I got a text that there was a setback, that Button was not well, and the vet had been there and certain regimes were in place to offset what it might have been. She was making improvements, but there were also odd signs that confounded the vet and farm.

And on Thursday night, she was found dead.

I was so excited to get her here and start learning her personality-which I was told was a little spitfire of love. The plan had been put in motion when we first picked out Arlo, and also old Luna. The baby female, who was being called Button by the farm because she was as cute as one, would be trained for therapy work along with Arlo. And the elder mother would be a companion for old Luna as she aged-Arlo has to be separated very soon from Luna since he can't be gelded for another year.

But back track...on Wednesday night, before I had heard the baby Button had taken ill, I had a dream. Birdie was in it, briefly, and had a baby white llama with her. {Button and her mom were both black]. When I awoke, I thought nothing of the dream except that it was so nice to see Birdie, as she had not come to me in a dream yet. Later that day I got a text that there had been a setback with Button, but it was not a dire thing at that point. The farm felt she was responding and was acting more normal. We all agreed transporting her was out of the question and we would wait a couple weeks to ensure her recovery was complete. I was disappointed, but was grateful it happened on their watch and not while in transport.

But today, when I got a voice message to call, I had a feeling it was not good. The farm is devastated and I feel so badly for them. Not knowing can really play with a farmer's head -I know because I've been there a million times and you can really kick yourself...llamas are also very exotic creatures and most vets really only have a handful of experiences on treating things.

This week at some point, before I even knew that Button was not well, I was cleaning the barn and when I was by Birdie's grave I told her, "I hope I picked the right little llama, Birdie."

I do feel Birdie came to me. Maybe the baby in my dream is out there and I will find her.

I talked to the farmer and we both agreed that little Button had a month of a wonderful life, running, frolicking, greeting the farmer-she said she was very sweet and loved helping with chores. I am grateful she could die there, on the land she knew. As short as her life was, it was spent the entire time with her mum, and she died right by her.

We will still bring home her elder mother, Lucy, sometime this month. She will not be a therapy llama, nor will Luna, they will be companions and live out their days-be it months or another few years. They are both 19+.

I have picked out another male llama for Arlo and he will be coming in the autumn. He will also be trained as a therapy llama. I still am going to keep my heart and eyes open for a white female. But Arlo will need a friend and the one I picked out is out of the same father as Arlo, but has a white face and is reddish, he is really sweet.

I don't know why this happened. I don't know why Birdie died. Is it all related, or chance. Is it a learning situation or is it simply the way it went? I do know that llamas are very unique and special, and they are still a part of the master love ambassador plan here at Apifera. But today, I grieve a little bit, for Button, and her farm who lost her.

We will Birdie On.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Earnest the Pig: In Search of E.B. White



{This article first appeared in the June, 2019 Lincoln County Maine News in my monthly "Tails & Tales from Apifera Farm}

Earnest the pig has settled into his new house. White Dog, the llamas, and the sheep often nose him through his fence and he can see the goings-on of the entire farm. As a very manly pig, with all his manly parts still attached, he lives in his private retreat with a stone wall that keeps him from making night visits to his old lady friend, Eleanor, the retired sow. I have explained to him that he has evolved from the career of spreading seed and is now free to eat, nap, and sunbathe.

I have begun to decorate Earnest’s house. I told him I will find the right accessories that fit his unique Earnest personality. So for now, he has his flag and a painting. He suggested a photo of his mother, but I never knew his mother so am afraid that won’t work.

“Then maybe a portrait of E.B. White?” he asked. To this day, Earnest thinks that E.B. White still lives. I tried explaining the facts, but he refuses to believe them and insists someday he will in fact meet Mr. White now that we are in Maine. When Earnest heard we were moving to Maine from Oregon, he wrote Mr. White and was disheartened to have the letter come back.

“Perhaps he is camping,” Earnest said as I showed him the returned envelope.

Earnest first grew enamored with the author when, as a piglet, I read him “Charlotte’s Web.” Earnest knew very well about pigs being eaten, as he was born and raised on a working farm. He didn’t judge meat eaters; in fact, he and his family often ate meat scraps. He just was proud someone chose to make a pig so front-and-center in a book.

“It just doesn’t happen much,” he told me.

I also found Earnest with a road map of the Maine coast and he had circled the town of Brooklin, and it is a well-known fact Mr. White had a beautiful home there. In fact, he had ripped out that page of the map and tacked it to his wall.

Just the other night, as I was closing up the barn for the evening, I could hear Earnest in his hut, snoring away after dusk had hit the land. I opened his gate to take a peek into his house; he is quite endearing to watch sleep. I suppose since I never had children that watching my pig snore brings something out of me. I noticed there was a new addition to the wall –- an old black-and-white framed portrait of Mr. White.

“Now where did that come from?” I muttered quietly. “Hmm.” And I turned to leave.

I closed the gate as a breeze lifted a discarded envelope into the air, fluttering around until it landed at my feet. It was addressed to Earnest, another fine pig. There was no return address, but the postmark was from Brooklin, Maine.


Inside Earnest's private hut

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

A page from the new book...White Dog speaks

From the upcoming memoir "White Dog"

{I have most of the manuscript done for the upcoming White Dog memoir, just need to thoroughly edit which takes time. Here is a page from the book, told in White Dog's words.}

"I was born on the man’s farm. I don’t know where my father was, but my mother reared all seven of us pups. I can remember her smell, and what it felt like to be with my siblings in a pile after she fed us.

I remember running, and falling, and getting up and running.

I have broken visions, images in my head, of my siblings being picked up by people and held in their arms, and then they would drive off in a car and never come back. Until one day there was only me, and my mother. I always stayed with my mother. I was still a pup when the man let my mother take me down to the field with the sheep. She did her job, sitting on a perch watching, waiting for unusual sounds. She was stern with me. If I tried to play with a lamb, I was butted by her head. I learned quickly sheep were not to be chased, my mother told me this, and so did the mother ewes. I remember my mother’s eyes. I remember she seemed in charge. I felt safe.

I also remember the day the man moved me away from my mother. She and I could converse through fences, and we still could smell each other, see each other, hear each other but it was always through a fence. I took to lying against the fence at night if she was there, our fur and backs touching each other. But in time, I became more independent, and soon I became the dog the man took to the sheep field, while my mother stayed near the barn, laying about, but also looking after elder ewes."

Sunday, July 07, 2019

The prodigal son returns in the form of a pig


Uno was born in Oregon at Apifera two weeks before we moved to Maine-one of those Earnest broke the gate events. Once here, he and his brother Wee Willi went to live with a good friend up north on the coast. For three years he had a wonderful life, in his little wood hut with his brother, being loved and adored by his human. But then Willi died this year, suddenly.

My friend felt he was depressed, and she is going through some transitions herself so felt that the best thing was to rehome Uno to the right place, a place with a pig friend and human interaction-her job schedule had also changed so Uno was alone a lot. When she first told me she thought he was depressed, I wasn't sure if that was a human putting human emotions on an animal, but when I drove up to see Uno last week, I had to agree that he seemed down. I really wasn't planning to take on another pig, and we had driven up that day just for a visit. I had not seen Uno for three years, since he was a piglet.

Well, my friend kept telling me he was big. Holy smokes! That is an understatement. He is much bigger than Eleanor and I always considered her to be big for her breed. On top of it, Uno is very overweight-my friend gave him the best of the best including fruits and breads, but fruits have a lot of sugar and he was simply overeating. Since she had never had pigs, she just didn't know, I mean, how would you know. So we will work over time to get some weight off him, I think it is clearly slowing him down and I fear a heart attack. We will work on that.

We drove the two hour trip and it was ninety degrees and humid. When we got him home, I immediately put him in the mud bath paddock and hosed him for 15 minutes. I also notice his skin reddens very easily. This makes me wonder if he has circulation issues, just like a very overweight person would. He is not very agile either. So I was so happy to get him under the hose, he was really hot.

I let Eleanor and Little Lonely come out to greet him. May as well see how it goes. Marcella stayed out of it. I'd like to tell you all, that just like one of my paintings, Uno got up on his hind legs and walked to Eleanor and held her and said, "Oh mother, I have missed you,"...but instead Eleanor, the alpha, bit him and they fought a bit. He clearly is stronger than she is, but she is the boss. I separated them even though it calmed down quickly, only because it was so hot I didn't want him running around. He spent the night with the goats and all was well. This morning, I brought Eleanor and Little, and Marcella out with him. Same thing. But within minutes, Eleanor had backed off.

For now they will stay separate so I know he is getting his naps in without being harassed by his bossy mama.

Do they know each other? I have to imagine they do, by scent. But I can't say for certain. I think every human wants to believe a son returning to his first home, and his mother [and father] would know...but three years for a pig is a long time. By the end of the first day, I watched him as he walked around, sniffing the air, in the same paddock he lived in with his mates. I felt he did sense he had been here.

So Uno who began in Oregon, and drove across America with us, and then moved to the upper mid coast is now back home. I have to tell you, as far as a pig's life goes, he has had a good one. I am grateful my friend cared and loved him, and grateful we can take him on and help both her out, and Uno.

He is full of expressions!

On his arrival on a hot day

Nosing his mother Eleanor through the fence






Friday, July 05, 2019

The Matilda bond

I had to look up the date to see how long Matilda has been with us. It was 2011 when we brought her home. I can't really imagine life without her. Matilda was being used as a brood jenny, the story goes, and fell into some hard times. She was not being fed properly and her feet were neglected and she was very thin. While she still has a sway back from carrying all those babies, she is in good condition and we love her dearly, as does anyone who lays eyes on her.

This was one of the first photos I took of her on her arrival, adorning her with flowers she so deserved.

Matilda has a very clear, and old soul. She wears it in her eyes. Over the last few years, we've grown even closer, since I have to work on her more than I used to-I put fly ointments and sprays on her daily since they bite through her skin-she is more of a magnet for them probably due to her age. We have a routine each morning where she is fed separately to ensure she gets her supplemental feed, and then she stands for her fly spray. When I'm done with that, she continues to stand for a gentle brushing. Working with a creature like this grows any bond and trust that was meant to be.