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.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

It was swift...Papi has died

Papa's final night on this realm
For the past 24 hours, I knew Papi was not himself. He was eating and drinking normally, but he seemed...out of sorts, in small ways that only I who knows his habits would notice. Papi is not a cuddly guy, and while he likes to have his neck scratched, it is always on his terms. He has never liked having his mid back and body touched, probably because of the issues he had when he was first brought to the shelter [urinary issues, that led him to have his penis amputated as it had gone on so long and he had tried to chew it off].

So when I sat with him a day+ ago, I talked to him, and tried to comb out more matts that had formed on his back. I had been working on them a few months, slowly getting them out. And on this day, he let me work on them, without his usual vocalizing. When Papi didn't want you to touch him, he had clear vocalization that told you so. The fact he wasn't doing this, led me to believe he just wasn't himself. That same day, I picked him up to put him on a table to examine him, and he did not fight it, also unusual. When I picked him up, he just seemed...like his energy had left.

Still that day, he got up and moved around and I kept my eye on him, but he was eating and drinking.

Last night, he was in his wood cradle, and I spent a long time with him. I knew he was dying. He just had lost strength, and his eyes were in the pre death vapid look. I talked to him a lot. He was calm and in no agitated state.

I knew this morning he might be gone, and he was. He had retuned to his other favorite place to sleep, on the sheep wool under the benches. He was lying in a comfortable pose, and by the state of his body I think he died within an hour or two.

Papi is lying in state so the elders can see him. Although they knew last night, so did I.

I also noticed last night, as I crouched on the floor to be with Papi, in the dark room since I had no lights on, there was a light presence above me. It was pure white bodied Noritsue, sitting up on the freezer to my side. He was looking down on me, like an angel, his white body visible in the semi dark room.

The other thing happened this morning when I found Papi. I had placed a towel over his body, but his head was showing. I started to do feedings, and I was to his right about five feet. I was opening canned food, and I saw something move to my left, where Papi was, I swung my head to the left and I swear I saw his head rise a bit. It was not like gas leaving his body, it was more like it was lifting. I went over had touched him, and kissed him, and I thought...did he wait for me somehow, and now he really left?

Papi will be missed. He was The President of The Old Kitty Knitty Club. He was a voice in our fundraising efforts. How appropriate Papi left the day I started our final yearly fundraiser, it is a vote of confidence for me, that he knew I could do it. Papi was a strong energied cat, he was his own cat. Much like Sir Tigger, he wanted things on his own terms, he saw no need to be held a lot or interact like some of the other cats. He got to go out quickly, and in a place he knew he was safe. For that I'm grateful.

But I will miss his huge presence in the elder cat suite. He was a great cat.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Opie's Love Mobile is about to roll!

I'm pretty excited that we got a lot of the Love Mobile ready to roll this week. I was able to spray paint the added siding we put on for height, and Martyn still needs to reinforce those sides which is easy peasy. I decided to see how Opie liked the mobile the other day, and he got right in with a little lift. He is used to being in the car with me so he really was fine when I rolled his Mobile around. I have a rubber matt in the bottom which allows him not to slip. He kind of started out wondering if he should bail, but once we started rolling around, I think he really liked it. He will understand the Mobile is his love machine once we start going to Cove's Edge in it. But I'll have a tether on him just to be safe.

Then I decided that it needs a canopy! So Martyn will build a lightweight wood frame today and I can add a fabric top, and little prayer flags of some sort.

I told Martyn that it would be fun to have a little baby cart that was hitched to the back for Opie's chicken. I just can't stop myself.

Martyn refuses to wire it for an AM/FM radio. Geese, some people.

Stay tuned. My horrible chest cold is waning but I'm still not quite ready to go to visit elders. But maybe very soon!

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Opie's traveling clothes

Opie has a good thick natural goat coat. He does not need a jacket. However, I think he might be stinkin' cute in one for his winter therapy visits, in his soon to be finished Opie Love Mobile. This coat here is one that I put on Else, but he looks pretty styling', don't you think?

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

The magical pup

I want to tell you a story.It has some magic in it.

When Hughie died this year, it was heartbreaking, but I had the honor of living with him for four years after taking him on when he was nine. I knew our time would be short like that-like it is with many of the animals I’ve taken on over the past 15 years- and he left a huge hole. We lost Huck at age 12 a couple years ago, leaving Muddy, Huck’s younger brother with us. Muddy turns 10 tomorrow. Any death in the pack brings a shift, and it also opened me up to what was next. This time, I did not set out to find another old pug. I knew in time, maybe, one would come along. But I was hurt, and I realized…I didn’t want that at this time anyway. I also wanted a legacy for after Mud dies, and he is aging now. I realized what I wanted was a pup, a chocolate lab male pup, to train and become another regular traveling ambassador of love to elder visits.

Well, I started looking for a pup a couple months ago. Many were out of my price range but I keep looking and finally found someone I liked and felt good about. And pups were due in the fall. So I put a deposit down and had first pick of a chocolate male. Now if you know genetics of labs, basically one parent has to have the chocolate gene, and 25% of the litter could be chocolate. Once I got attached to the idea of walking my little chocolate love ambassador around the elder home, I realized how disappointed I’d be if there were no chocolate males in the litter, and I’d have to wait. I was already attached to the thought of those pups in the mother’s belly, and we knew there were six. The breeder was supportive and told me…she thought it would work out. The due date came and went and we were on pins and needles. Finally, seven days past due time, I got an email, with the photo you see below. The first pup out, a chocolate male…this image was on his birthday, I swooned. I have never bought a pup and seen them at birth like this. It was both exciting but also made me want to rush out and get him. Well, the breeder wrote me again later the next day to say he had been the only chocolate male.

You know I have a close relationship with optimism, magic and the power of imagination. But I just sense this little guy made a point to me. He is ready for duty.

I am very excited to work with a pup again, it has been a long time. I love my elders. I also have buried a lot of them since 2004.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Strike a pose

Luna strikes a regal pose
I've been very sick with a chest cold for a week or more and it is finally breaking and today I'm feeling better, but still not back to true form, but there is hope in the beautiful blue sky at least. I've been enjoying the sun on my daily chores, going slower than normal and just soaking in the last days of fall.

I felt this photo of old Luna was one of my best in a long time. She sort of struck the pose for me on her own, but the addition of the branches and blue sky....just really loved it.

Meanwhile Sylvia Pettini struck her usual pose but had her own headdress...which I learned from my followers is called a fascinator. Everybody kept using the term and I stubbornly looked it up on my own. Learn something new everyday.

Anyway....here's to a better day for anyone who is suffering through a cold.

Fallen cosmos with the cove in the background
Sylvia Pettini and her fascinator

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Ollie wants to be Ringo....and Halloween outfit challenges

I hear the sound of little feet rushing, and a piece of paper is slipped under the front door lands at my feet. I know what this means. A group request is being expressed by the barnyard. Less urgent requests are verbally brought up at feedings and barn visits.

The paper showed a list of “Requested Halloween Outfits”.

I sighed. I made the mistake of partaking in a small holiday parade at our old farm out west, in which I dressed as a character from one of my favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz. I was a witch and one of the donkeys was at my side, dressed as a flying monkey.

It took a lot of time to make the outfits, but I have to say it was fun, and it made me think of my mother who every year would make me a witch outfit. I was always a witch and my mother took her job as seamstress seriously. Those were the good old days back in the early ‘60’s when as children we could walk all over the neighborhood, in the dark, unencumbered by adults with the spooky sound of blowing leaves swirling at our feet. There was no fear of razors in apples then, or drive by shootings or getting kidnapped. We weren’t forced to pose for anyone’s Instagram feed and we could eat stuff we weren’t supposed to.

So I guess making outfits for a bunch of Misfits in the barnyard somehow fulfilled this yearning for a simpler time, when candy bars were full size, my mother was alive, and all I needed was a good witch outfit.

The list that had been slipped under the door was actually very simple this year, I was relieved. Five of the animals wanted to be ghosts, another group wanted to be spiders. Earnest the pig wanted to be his hero, E.B.White, and Paco the donkey wanted to be an apple. One of the littlest members of the barnyard, Opie the goat, wanted to be a song, and Ollie the goat wanted to be one of The Beatles.

“How do you know The Beatles?” I asked Ollie the next day.

“Jim Bob has a transistor radio,” Ollie said. Jim Bob was another one of the resident goats.

“Well, who knew?” I said another my breath. “Which Beatle do you want to be?” I asked Ollie.

“Ringo,” he said.

“And I want to be the song “Yellow Submarine”!” said little Opie.

I walked around doing chores that morning wondering how I’d pull it off this year, it was clearly a creative challenge. But as I watched all the goats play that day, unencumbered by the weight of the world and all the scary things we all face each day as adults, I thought of my mother. Just as I was thinking how I could make a little goat into The Yellow Submarine, she must have always wondered how she could make that witch outfit even better that year….just to make me happy.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Opie's Love Mobile!

While Opie and I were visiting Cove's Edge the other day, I told my contact that it would be helpful to have something Opie could stand in, which would make it easier for some residents to pet him. Almost all the people we encounter there are wheelchair bound and many are very fragile or not limber, so I often will lift Opie up off his front feet and hold him while they pet him.

So how about a wagon, we thought? And that wagon could also be used to roll Opie around inside too. The setup there is perfect for a cart. This way we can see some of the real bed bound people, or others who might be shy. My contact was excited and so was I.

I immediately came home to research wagons and after a couple days of research found a brand with a good reputation. And one that Martyn can add some height to, and it is made of wood. And it's red! Martyn will be able to help me tweak it too if it isn't quite right. So then, my wonderful followers got onboard and we raised money to make this happen. I just ordered it and I'm really excited.I'm so grateful to these Apifera Angels, many who come through time and again.

Opie wonders about bucket seats, or a radio. I told my contact we could bring his chicken too, maybe, and she loved that.

So, another way to share Opie love.