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, July 16, 2018

Old Matilda has a request

We are still raising money to defray the cost of the yearly hay that will get us through spring. We have raised about $1000 of the $3,000 needed to add back into our piggy bank.

Anyone donating through this week will get their name in Pino's bucket and one person will take home an archival print -either art or a photo-their choice. I hope to have some other incentives in the next couple weeks.

Anyone who donated initially in the last couple of weeks, your name will be added into the bucket too!

You can go to the Hay Fund page and donate, or donate on the donation page on the blog. I will add your donation onto the hay fund page so we can all keep track of what we are bringing in.

It takes a village of Misfits to keep this place running! Thank you.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

"Go out and play, now"



This is like when you were ten and all your cousins come over and your parents tell you all to go outside and play while they have cocktails.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Calling all crows

I've always loved crows, believing them to be messengers. Anytime a crow showed up in my life, I believed it was a message of good, to me. As I've aged, I see it a bit differently, a little bit less about the message being about me, but about situations that need answers.

I used to have lots of crows in my art, and still do, but...of late, crows have been visiting Apifera. And I was moved to paint them again. About a month ago, we had many crows hovering around, landing in fields in flocks [a murder, I guess] and screeching in a way I had never heard. I began to see them making a journey from our farm out to The Wood, where I would hear them screeching. I assumed they were mating, and saw a nest up in one of the trees behind the goat paddock. But I began to research, and am learning as much as I can about their behavior.

I've put shelf stand on one of the pasture posts, where I hung a shiny spoon, and I place dog food kernels there, hoping to entice them to land and start communing with me. I know crows respond to consistent reward. So when they fly above, I call to them. Sometimes it feels like they return when I call, but...I think that is my optimism.

A crow can't be forced.

And we have the White Dogs, who ever since an eagle took a duck in Oregon, bark at birds of prey, even seagulls. The dogs are getting more complacent though...but I wonder if the crows won't befriend me because of the dogs.

I just love crows. And I love hearing about their intelligence-like that they make tools to help gather insects, like that they recognize faces and will remember a face that trapped them or threatened them. Some of the screeching could ave been parents teaching the young when a predator was near. The young often help with the rearing of the next fledglings. They mate for life. A crow in the wild normally lives a couple years, but can live up to forty.

A senior crow...wouldn't that be something to help? I will put my intention out there. But I won't force it. Like I said, you can't force a crow.



Thursday, July 12, 2018

We lose a Tiny Apiferian...but it leaves an epiphany

I found one of the Little Apiferians dead this morning. And now we are four. But what was most interesting to me, is that as I cradled his tiny body in my hands, I had an epiphany about my work with animals but also with elder people of late.


First I want to share how much joy these little birds have brought into our home. He and his Zebra Finch mates came to us when we first arrived in Maine, and they were already pretty old. The owner of them was losing his home, and somehow one of his connections thought of us. I had never had birds-and never really thought to. But I somehow thought immediately this was a good thing to do, and it was. The six finches, five males and one female, had their own custom cage hand built by someone. The female died about six months after coming to Apifera, but the males have thrived. I used to count them every night after the female died, worried they were so old and one by one they'd die. There are little bird houses in their house, and some tuck themselves in there and are hard to see. This morning I did a count and had to really look for the fifth bird, and finally found him at the bottom of the cage. Every morning when I get up, the morning routine is to let the dogs out first, but I greet the birds,

"Good morning, boys!"

"Chirp, chirp, chirp!"they greet me back.

If I speak to them, they chirp back. When we watch movies- their house is centrally located in the living room-they react to certain music. If we are angry at the news, a regular thing these days, we ask the boys how they feel, and they start chirping like mad! They are joyful little creatures and enjoy flying around and I give them sticks and natural objects in which they prep nests. One person-of course a complete stranger-scolded me for keeping them telling me they should be set free. Sorry, dumb idea. These were bred and born in captivity. I took them on to help them. If you want to boycott bird breeding, go somewhere else and shame them, not here.

The epiphany

So as I held the little bird in my hands this morning, I apologized for just having found him. He had clearly died at least a day or two before. I'd been swept up in life and had not counted the birds. I told him how joyful he made our home, how his size did not compare to the music and happiness he brought into our world. I prepared his burial setting, and gave him a beautiful cloak to warm him on his journey. He of course did not need it, but the ritual of showing him I cared was important to me. I let the other birds see his body one more time, and then I buried him in the garden. I marked the grave and will bury them all there when their time comes.

The thought came to me immediately, as I held him and talked to him-this is what I was not able to do with White Cloud. And of course, I was not family, or staff, or a nurse, or hired to do that, or legally able to do that. And that is why I can't put myself in those situations any more. I am not wired to work with any creature, be it human or animal, for weeks or years, care for them, do my best, commune on a two way road, and then not be allowed to even say goodbye.

After my experience with White Cloud, I have felt adrift in some ways, floating about wondering why I felt so...awkward. It is because I do not want to work in a system that shuts me out when I feel my work is needed most-at the end of a creature's life. I do not want to walk into one more place and find out someone I cared about and visited for over a year is gone, but nobody can talk about it.

I can't do it, it is opposite of what my soul wants me to do. I have a covenant with my animals, and I have a covenant with people I visit. My job, in my mind and heart, with he elder people is simple-listen tot hem, share story, share animal, do not detract, don't treat them like invalids or babies.

People are so afraid of death, or most people are afraid of it I think. I do not think necessarily that all older people are afraid of it. I am not afraid of it. I don't want to linger in a cement building without nature or things that give my life meaning, being dependent on strangers, or on a bureaucracy that might be keeping people from seeing me, or talking to me. When I'm old, I don't want to be told what to do, I want to be heard. I had a recent conversation with an elderly woman who I used to work with, she is in her 80's-still sharp and interested in life-and the care residence she was in was, in her words, treating her like a baby, not letting her go out on her own after she had fallen once. She did not want to use a walker, because it was hard to get in and out of bookstores, and most importantly, she volunteered at the animal shelter twice a month and it was cumbersome there. She wanted to use her cane, and she said to me, "I don't feel like they want to listen to me, they just tell me what I need. They care more about me falling, than me going out and living."

So, when I held this little creature, I took comfort in the extra years I could give him. I took comfort in preparing his little grave site. I took comfort knowing this is the work I want to do. I don't want to partake in detracting from others. I want to listen, not talk at, other people.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

It's a Cat with a Hat, of course

A cat with a hat

sits on a shelf.

A cat with a hat is

all by himself.

Or he is?

No, because 

he is a cat

with a hat.


Paco the Poet wants you to know he did not write this poem, I did.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

My intention has been sent out

Our private garden is protected from the outside world, but is open to the fields and pastures and The Wood. We had to do a bit of work to make it so private and I have to say I felt so exposed when we first arrived. I had a hard time with it.

I'm basically an introvert that likes to share. It makes things challenging to live in a world like this.

I still have had no elders from the homes Opie visits come yet. I have extended the offer many times. I know the residents want to come but it is a transportation issue, and/or a staff issue, logistics...etc. I understand. I have done all I can do to make it happen. They all have an open invitation.

So, I'm looking into reaching out to elder people that are still living in their homes, but might have caregivers or attendants coming to help them with basic things-groceries, rides, companionship. I have found a couple of networks that provide home caregivers this way, and I'm just beginning to reach out. I much prefer an intimate setting versus large groups, so this is a good fit for me.

I think of all the elders that I have met  over the years that made such an impact on me either because they were neighbors and I became friends, or I visited them in their home or facility and we developed a relationship. I really loved those relationships, they impacted me and I know I impacted them.

So stay tuned on the evolving Garden of Respite. I know there is someone who will come into my life who will someday be sitting there with me, looking out at the goats and other animals in the fields, enjoying the bluebirds and butterflies, and just getting out of their house for something different and uplifting. I've put that intention out there. It will come when it is meant to come.
In the meantime, Apifera Angels sent the two garden benches, and seat cushions! So we are ready to make our guests comfortable. I have thought of a pop up tent for shade too, that I could take down easily after visits. I'm looking into that.



Monday, July 09, 2018

In which we must acknowledge Stanley and Janet Jane Josephine are gone

I had hoped it wasn't so, but I really feel it is, the barn cats have been taken by Nature, most likely, the red fox.

Stanley had not been seen for about three weeks, but JoJo was coming and going, even getting to the comfort level of sitting near me without fleeing. I remember I saw her most mornings right before the barn project started. Because the hay was gone, we were waiting for the harvest, I knew the barn project might make her leave the barn during the noisiest parts of the day. But the food was going on uneaten, and I have not seen her since, which is about three weeks. I thought when the hay arrived she might return, but I have not seen her.

At the same time, we had been noticing a red fox outside the lower pasture. We saw him three times around dusk. He was leaping at rodents or rabbits near the marshy area, and this was a place the cats would go when they first ventured out.

I really think he got them. Yes, it is possible they went of to another place...it is possible. But Jojo was talking more those last days. Perhaps she was ill, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

I feel quite badly about this. And I do not think I will bring adult ferels on anymore-UNLESS- they show up on their own, then they will be welcome to stay and I will care for them and attend to them spaying and neutering. I have nothing against the feral society that trapped these cats, spayed/neutered/vetted them-they are doing a worthy job for so many cats out there, especially with high incidence of rabies in Maine. But I have no idea where these cats came from-perhaps they were city cats, and I wonder if they had any instinct to be in Nature. Yes, there is an instinct in an animal to survive, but...after rearing 25 ferels out West, with most of them living very long lives, I just wonder if I did a disservice to these two.

I know my intentions were right. I also believe animals pick up on our true intentions pretty quickly-if not immediately. I had many talks with them. I did my best...but from now on, unless it is a mama feral with kittens, or wandering ferels who see the light in the barn and decide to stop in to test the waters, I don't think I'd bring two adults here unless I really knew their background. I suppose if someone had a true barn cat that had lived in a real barn, with indoor outdoor life, it might be one thing.

So we raise a glass to them. If they died, I hope it was a quick kill. I hope they didn't suffer.

If they come back..you will be the first to know. The universe around me knows my intentions with animals, the invisible gate is open to them.

Ollie learns the dangers of being like Pooh Bear



"This happened to Pooh once," Opie said to Ollie through the fence.

"Did he get out?" asked Ollie.

"Yes!" Earnest the pig called from another paddock. "Honey was his downfall, as is grass on the other side of the fence for you," and he went about his way.

Ollie looked a bit perplexed, "I have no idea what honey has to do with this."

"It means your eyes were bigger than your head," said White Dog, who came by the gate to assess the situation.

"I think if we push, all together from this side," said Opie.

So Opie, Else and White Dog pushed. Sir Tripod encouraged everyone, "He's almost through!"

But the rescue effort came to a halt.

"I'm hopelessly stuck," said Ollie. "Oh well, she'll come and get me, she always does. And I have the grasses to eat."

"That's how your belly got so expanded in the first place," said Opie.

So I found him just like this, stuck, his hip bones were the culprit. With everyone still gathered, I held his belly in with my hands and pushed with my knees, forcing his string bean body backwards.

POP!

"Thank you ever so much," said Ollie.

"The fence is for you to stay on one side, and those grasses over there are not for you," I told him.

He leapt off in joy, jumped up on his rock, flapped his Nubian ears, and looked happy as can be. A mix of danger, good grass and freedom is a good way to start the day...when you're a 2 month old goat with nothing but time on your hands.