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

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Conversation with chickens

I was minding my own business, doing chores in the front barn, and was kept company by a chicken conversation. They were in their coop while I was attending feedings, manure cleanup and water bucket cleaning. Their clucks and whirs kept me company, and amused.

"Move over," one of the Secret Sisters said.

"I was here first," another hen replied.

"Na-uh," I heard.

A series of clucks in varying degree of irritation erupted.

"Can you speed it up, my egg is killing me!" the intruder exclaimed.

"I can not rush perfection," the hen replied.

"My eggs are much larger," intruding hen said.

"Na-uh," was the response.

It went on like this for sometime, until I finally came upon them in their preferred hen laying box. You give a bunch of chickens a lovely array of nesting boxes and they prefer to squish into one.

By the time I left, they were still at it.

"Good Lord! I hope there isn't a fire today or you will be fried," said the intruder.

"How crass," said the laying hen. "Go lay somewhere else-you are disturbing by peace and it will effect the taste of my egg."

I swear I could hear the eye roll.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pig mystery

The Pig's Prayer Flag Forest is available at the shop
There are many mysteries here on our Maine farm, many start in a story but appear before me in real life. This is the life of imagination and reality mixing. I just finished this piece and it's based on a real episode, which someday soon I must share, but for now you will have to look into this piece deeply and hear what it is about.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

M'Lady returns

I have waited patiently, full of anticipation. I will never tire her. Last year when we arrived, almost a year ago today, she was in bloom but due to the dry winter and spring last year, the other apple trees around her [there is Little Lady, Little Apple and Old Apple at the outer barn] were not as full of flower. This year we had lots of rain and they are all so beautiful.

I see her from my studio and from many of the vistas from the house. When the sea blows in dark, brooding clouds, she stands firm, her color pops out even more boldly, and in the the sunny days with deep, blue windows behind her, she sings, literally, with hummingbirds and cardinals.

She is a confidant of sorts when I sit under her to give myself shade.

I realized this weekend how much I love it here, how this location is a blessing-despite my initial mistrust of the front road, that road will also bring me what Apifera needs. I started planting the vegetable garden this year and thought when people drive by they will see my sunflowers at the barn and it will make many of them happy.

The land is old here, who walked her in 1760? It also means it has seen and felt trauma of many kinds, struggles of our first Native Americans and their struggle with the Europeans that would come and push them out, killing and judging. I was on the fence during a lot of our first year, about opening up-truly opening up-to our land. But as I plant the vegetables, as we shape the front gardens this year and give it our touch, our covenant, I can feel it now-the land is reciprocating and recognizing we are committed to her.

This is when the magic really starts.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Earnest and I wait, and I will make a covenant with the sea today

Earnest and I are awaiting the arrival of Eleanor's piglets. I thought she was due on Monday, but I looked at my farrowing calendar wrong and she is due early next week. She is huge and while I had her in her farrowing stall for days, I let her out yesterday so she could wallow. Her belly is low to the ground and I've felt the little buggers inside moving a bit. She is getting a puffy posterior and is holding her tail upright, another sign she is close.

It's very busy here, May always is on any small piece of land. And I'm behind. We got the veggie area tilled and fenced and this weekend I will plant. I always had my entire garden planted by 4/15 in Oregon, but things are different here. Today is 90 degrees! I need a wallow. I had planned to go get my seeds, but instead, I feel a strong pull from the sea. I have had some things I need to work on, as in self realization and goals, and today I decided it's so hot, too hot for me to be planting, and I just kept hearing the word "sea" in my head.

I will go to the sea and I will make my wishes known to her, and tell her I need help and strength...and focus, to make them come to the light. I have been wanting to begin my communing relationship with her, something I didn't get to take advantage of in Oregon. But I sense now is the time for this.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Earnest's pig love song: can Rosie share love after all these years?

In which Earnest the pig tells of his attempted flirtation with The-World's-Grumpiest-But-I-Am-Fine-As-I-Am-Pig, aka Rosie.

I have been watching her all these years, since back in Oregon. She is not really a looker, as Eleanor is, I do like the looks of a red head I must say, but sometimes in a new environment a pig can get a second look.

She is grumpy. This can be problematic in pig love making. Perhaps it was my first Maine spring, after a long, dark and chilly winter, that made my loins itch for her. I waddled over to her area last week and watched her casually from across the fence-a fence that protects her from me, and every other creature. Rosie is not mean, she just doesn't quite understand the beauty of reciprocating attention with other creatures. Only Stevie seemed to be able to discuss life issues with her, or sleep without being compromised by her gruffness. He was a hell of fellow, that Stevie.

We had warm weather again. This intensified my itching loins. I made my move. I put on my best performance of a love song I heard my father sing to my mother. I hardly remember my father. He was stern, but I do remember that love song he sang. He too was across a fence, and it made me wonder why the guys always get on the other side of the fence. I was a piglet, and that was the last I remember seeing him.

I sang that song to the best of my ability. It did not phase her...at least not that day. She continued to ignore me and ate the left over dinner of White Dog.

I do understand that most often food comes before love to a pig.

The next day, I returned to give it one more shot. Rome was not built in a day, they tell me. Well, to my surprise she was there at the fence.

"What brings you to the fence line this morning, Rosie?" I asked, quietly. We have all found the best way to address the grumpy pig is to speak softly. This saves our energy in case she does a rant or head toss in one's direction.

"I am not sure, but I felt enticed by something to venture to the fence," said Rosie.

"Shall I come by again, then, in the coming days?" asked Earnest.

"I suppose that will be acceptable," said Rosie, and she returned to her private suite, to nap, all grumpy like.

But I did notice a slight lightness in her step.

{Like all Apifera stories, this is to be continued.}

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother - it's the journey

There are many feelings on Mother's Day for the daughters and sons left back on this realm with their memories. I can tell people that are freshly in a loss of a mother, the days get lighter, the nights become for sleep again, and you will learn a new dialogue with your departed loved one.

I was reading over some entries from the blog I kept after my mother died. It was so visceral, those first entries, but one does see the evolution I went through that year. I encourage everyone in a loss to write, paint, make a memory doll, listen to Nature-for if you listen, truly listen to Nature, you will hear, and even see your loved one.

It's a new language to learn after you lose someone. I have so many fun conversations now with my mom. Is it as good as picking up the phone? Well, I think the key is not to compare it. It is almost like asking, was it better being five or twenty or forty or now? It's not the age that counts, it's the now. Dead does not mean gone. When one travels, I came to the realization it is a lot like dealing with the death of a loved one. You can take photos of the journey, you can describe the place to your friends, but travel transports you individually in an your own individual experience with your thoughts, sensations, and epiphanies. Even if you travel to Paris with your best friend, you both have your own interior life while you are there. And I think experiencing the death of a mother or loved one is like that.

It's a journey while you have her here on Earth, it's a continuing journey when she leaves this place. No matter what your belief system, your interior life remains as your own, and that will include your mother.

That may seem depressing to anyone just having lost a loved one. But in fact, it grows richer as you learn the new vocabulary. It takes time to learn it and appreciate it.