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

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Little Sylvia Pettini

Little Sylvia Pettini is doing very well. She has not quite caught up in size with her mates, but is gaining weight and eating well. And also I'm pleased her left eye is healing. She definitely has a slight scar on the interior eye from where she lay on it so much as a sickly newborn, but she no longer holds it shut and I am not treating it any more.

She is just the sweetest little imp. When I look out in the field she is the one that most looks like a little woolen doll. She always comes up to visit and welcomes hugs and holding. Actually this flock is so personable, and if I'm kneeling with Sylvia, one by one they all venture over. I wish I could have some pics of me and the flock. For now I take these rather silly selfies, and ponder at how old I am getting, nearing 59 soon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The safety of the fallen leaves

I grew up with gorgeous fall color of Minnesota, went to college in upstate New York with road trips to Vermont ,so it is wonderful returning to the gorgeous display of Mother Nature's paintings here in Maine. Oregon was beautiful too of course, but you don't get the reds and oranges there.

An Oregon friend asked, "So, is the fall as great as the New Englanders claim?"

Short answer...yes.

But for me the sounds of fall are what bring me both the comfort of childhood memories, or college days, and also melancholy for those I love and miss. What is melancholy for a past time but the idea that it was safer, better, easier...I doubt it was, but when I walk through the leaves, that sound, it reminds of making leaf houses as a child, knowing I'd be going into a homemade meal of my mother's, dog at my side...nobody could hurt me. Did I have any worries? I'm sure I did. But melancholy makes it all safe, those memories seem worrieless.

So as I did chores last night, and raked leaves into compost piles, I knew I'd be going into a fire, a homemade Martyn meal, and a dog at my side. Did I have worries? Some, but once in the house, or in certain spots of my land, or barns, I feel safe. I suppose someday, I might feel melancholy for this.

{Have you been enjoying the photos and writing of the past ten years here? Please consider supporting my new book project, with only 15 more days to get it funded, I need your help.}

Martyn making another rock wall for next year's veggie garden

The pigs actually have a tiny sliver of an ocean view

The Small Bird and Rodent Cemetery grows

Memory: the day I fixed Opal's broken leg

Sunday, October 16, 2016

White Dog romp

Since The White Dogs work in different areas, I give them days to just be relaxed and romp with each other, lots of wolf play and it is fun and interesting to observe. The weather has been so beautiful and we've been doing lots of pre-winter prep outside so I got to witness all the fun.

This is a crucial crossroads

We are at a crucial stage in the Kickstarter campaign for the new book and have only 18 days left. The initial pledges came in early and strong-thank you! But we are not at 30% which is usually a benchmark of success for Kick projects.

I am not going to ask anyone who has already pledged to up their pledge at this stage. We simply need more supporters. In the past 200 or so pledges usually come in to get us to $12,000-15,000. We are far from that, and only 18 days to go.

I will ask you to one thing. Write one or two people you know, maybe people who like cats, people who love art...people who love small intimate books, and ask them watch the video, and pledge.

If each of you bring in one to two people, it would be powerful!

{FYI, Itty Bitty is alive and well, and still lives on the old farm with the new owners. Some people were afraid to ask. While this is a book about a loss, it is about me losing a creature because I had to accept her true spirit and what was best for her, and accept this as what was meant to be.}

Friday, October 14, 2016

Morning rituals with White Dog...they matter

Rituals are important to the relationships I have with my animals and farm, and land. Rituals allow us to know that even in the chaos of a daily life full of the unexpected, a ritual can keep us balanced, even temporarily until we are back on track. My morning rituals with the animals gets me up in the morning. it is what got me through my father's death, my mother's and any other grief I was going through.

When we moved the farm to Maine, getting the animals resettled was my top priority, both in the barn, and in the house. Since we had such strong relationships, it wasn't that hard. Maybe some of the stalls were temporary, and now we are getting our paddocks and fencing more suited for long term use, but the animals adjusted immediately, very well. There was no drama for anyone. They had food, shelter, water, and the same voice of me coming and going as I always did. I spent a lot of daily time with my charges before we moved, during, and after.

White Dog has taken on a more active role here. I really didn't plan it. In fact, I was most concerned about both Benedetto and Marcella because we are on a very busy road, something I did not realize when we purchased the place. It slows down late autumn through May, but it is only about 300 feet from the barn, unlike our old farm. it is the one thing that, to be honest, I am having trouble adjusting too, but we are doing fencing and planting trees to help.

White Dog now lives with the sheep pretty much 24/7. He lives out in the new barn, with the flock, and The Head Troll, Sophia, Birdie the llama, and the equines in the next over pasture. Rosie the pig, er, The World's Grumpiest But I Am Fine As I Am Pig, aka Rosie, lives in her private suite there too. Marcella lives with Earnest, Moose, Goose and Wilbur the Acrobatic Goat. Sometimes the Secret Sisters and Francis [the chicken flock] visit. The White Dogs have wolf play days where I bring them together and they run and fight and get to relax. Eventually, Marcella will have more roaming room, but the fences aren't good enough, yet.

So here is my morning ritual today with Benne. No matter what gate I enter at, he is there. I can see that nose and those sincere eyes from the porch. I spend a good few minutes holding him, and looking into his eyes, deeply. One is not to over pet a guard dog, they say. I believe this and understand the concept. But Benne needs my acknowledgement, he always has. We still, nor ever, will know his true story. But I do know that he is a natural with the flock, and more relaxed than Marcella. He does a good job at night with wandering coyotes but he doesn't over bark either.

We go off to the barn for feedings, and after, I usually go out somewhere and just...look. I am still soaking things in. I am still introducing myself to the trees and The Wood, and trying to understand exactly what happened, and why. White Dog has definite places, usually corners away from the flock, where he perches himself. He is very content here, I think maybe more so than at the old farm. I think he has more purpose here. He was the barnyard guard there and here he is in charge of a bigger area of his own, and the flock. Marcella has her area to guard, and he has his.

I do my clean up chores and Benne comes and goes, dividing his time between checking a gate or two, and if I am near a fence line where he arrives, he never ceases to put a paw up for me.

"I'm here, don't forget, I'm right here," his eyes say.

Thank goodness.

{If you like the writing, photos and art I've been posting for the past ten years here, please visit the new book funding site. Only 20 days left.}

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Vintage video of itty

Some vintage video of Itty when she first came to Apifera. Warms my broken heart of this memory. We are at 23% funded for the new book.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Itty Bitty dolls

I decided I'm going to have some fun and make Itty Bitty dolls [5" or so] and offer them on the Kickstarter funding page as a reward level, which has been set up to publish my new book, Itty Bitty & Big Etta {A Tale of Acceptance}.

We have 25 more days and are at 20% funding; no money is released unless we reach 100% of the goal.  

Each doll will be completely unique from the other and this is an example of one that combines felting with cloth. I will use as much found material and fiber from our farm and animals too.

Leaves like potato chips

Mother Earth puts her colors together so well. I was looking out the window at the hydrangea pinks next to bold oranges and thought,

I'm not sure I'd do that in a painting, but maybe I should.

Mother Earth, the painter and weaver of color and texture with the flock's gray's and buff's backdropped with The Wood is so beautiful. I haven't been in a New England autumn since the '80's and it is just as spectacular as I remember it. As a child in Minnesota our falls were beautiful too. At the old farm, we had leaf drop off but it was more like November and we didn't have the old trees around the house except Old Walnut, and of course we did not have the reds and oranges.

My leaf carpet goes everywhere I go right now, and certain animals treat the leaves like an open bag of potato chips-especially old Scooby Keith, he just loves the fallen leaves.

{As you meander through your autumnal day, please consider visiting the Kickstarter page for the new book project, "Itty Bitty & Big Etta" which is the complete opposite of the campaign season. I need your support and love. Thank you.}

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Pino starts his therapy career

Pino has a been a healer since I first brought him to the old Apifera some ten years ago. I have shared many of the special encounters visitors have had. I have seen him walk around a group of people, slowly, and parking himself next to the person who came because they were having medical issues. I have witnessed his intuitive healing nature myself over and over, as he will appear out of nowhere to comfort me when I'm sad, or...perhaps calm me when I'm angry. He might need an entire book about him.

Bringing animals and people together, for mutual healing and respect, has always been my goal. And I am especially interested in working with elders, or the damaged, the sad, the lonely, with my animals to give them a lift, to bring some calm to them, a glimmer of home, or empathy. Touching and grooming an animal is a powerful, yet simple thing, and it provides not only bonding with an animal, it is soothing. I remember how my mother would stroke my hair if we sat on the couch together watching television, even as I grew into a woman. I always found it so soothing.

We became aware of Inn Along the Way, when we first arrived in May and instantly liked the founder. The Inn was once a working farm and stayed in the same family for generations. Instead of selling to a large well known retail chain, they chose to sell it to a group of people who had a vision. This group wanted to create a community for the elders who could live in small, simple but functional homes, and also have community, nature, and more of a farm setting. They are very interested in animal therapy. The group raised more than $500,000 to buy the land and buildings, and have an architect who has created the master plans. There is a beautiful old barn I would die for, and an old farm house to be renovated. It is situated near a wonderful little town so has nature, but is convenient. There will also be hospice caretaker cabins, respite cabins they are calling them.

So, we were asked to bring Pino, and my books, to their event yesterday, from 2-6, and we gladly went. They are now in the stages of having to raise more money-this is going to take a village, and lots of work, but I believe they are going to do it, and we are going to help, and Pino is going to help as are many of the Misfits!

The event yesterday was to generate excitement and also educate people about this concept of healthy and humane living for elders. There was old farm equipment that helped press apples into cider, and an old ice cream maker, and lots of harvest-apples, pumping and squash. And Pino met a new role model-large Belgian draft horses arrived. One of them was 2000# to Pino's 150#. It was pretty special.

But what was most rewarding for me and Martyn, was the people we got to meet that are part of the Inn Along the Way- the board members, and some of the family of the original farm and homestead. We have been invited to be part of the evolution of this wonderful project, and Pino and I are on board. I think it is going to blossom and evolve for us in many ways-bringing in elder facilities, working with art and animals, maybe reading days...I have lots of ideas to share with them. In the meantime you can visit their site -and donate if you are inclined. Or maybe you can generate interest for this concept in your area. Europe is so far ahead of us in this regard.

There was a little monkey named Thomas who was enamored with Pino and had a pretty full day of leading Pino around. Not all donkeys would have willingly been led like this, but Pino is such a natural. He knew he was dealing with a tiny one, and just did his job. Thomas was in the midst of potty training, and was very interested in Pino's anatomy, and how he pooped. It was pretty sweet-Pino can be a role model even for bodily functions!

When we got home, we sipped our wine and sat by the fire. I felt like I had connected with some people that I could be comrades with. I felt like Pino and I can make a difference there, and also have a community. I felt like Martyn can be part of it too, in so many ways.

Thomas was related to the original homestead owners.

Pino wore his Heinz Brummel peace sign and Cathy Loup daisies

Pino's new role model

"Hello, I think you are really amazing," Pino said.

Pino got to eat lots of good grass too

Waiting for the public in front of the old barn

Looking out at the property