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

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Inspired by old llama ears in the wind

The ears of the elder llama are captivating. They are shaped ever so slightly different than a donkey, and are more like a bunny mixed with a goat. As I reread that I realize that is inaccurate-they are completely unique in the animal world.

Aldo sits in the fields and his ears are there to to hear, but they take little dance steps with the wind, or twitch off a fly landing on their surface.

I was thinking about the wind, how many things it does. Selfishly, it feels really good on a hot day but that same day it might be fanning a forest fire. But it carries seeds about the field and blows earth around to help reestablish some areas and erode another. I guess it is just like us, yin mixed with yang.

I sure do like the way it looks floating in and out of Aldo's ears though.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Melting Misfits

Thank you to everyone who has donated [with book rewards] to our Misfits and barn goals. And thank to everyone who has been buying art and books- it all goes swirling around and comes out helping me maintain the Misfits and share story with art and books.

The new Misfits are settling in. With Marcella, it is not as smooth as it could be, but she is doing okay and has already quit bugging Floyd...sort of. It is another round of hot days. We are always about 5 degrees hotter than Portland-so if anyone tells you it is always lovely and cool in the Northwest-they don't know what they are talking about. The valley gets hot.I won't go into my feeling on heat...because why ruin your day with me whining.

But we're all seeking shade where we can. Actually, the animals are very stoic about it. I found Scooby spread eagle out in the field and thought he was dead. I called and called and he didn't answer. But he was just sun bathing in 90 degree heat. Very funny, I told him, nearly gave me a heart attack. I made him get up and move.

Stevie spends most of the day in his cloth draped hut, getting up in early evening to wander around. His ear that had the hematoma is shrinking and will be wrinkled for life. Just another lovely quirk of this gentleman. He is doing great and there are no further signs of trouble like we had in June–no falling or casting. I'm just not sure what that was all about, but I'm relieved.

Floyd is not a sheep, as I have mentioned. He is a dog. He follows me everywhere, bleating. it is sweet, but I'm hoping he settles more. As we speak he is outside the studio door, bleating, like a lamb that was just weaned. I brought him down into the War Vet area as I call it–where the most crippled and old live, away from Marcella and the younger, spry Misfits in the barnyard. I wanted to see if he might feel more at home down here. He just seems to want me with him all the time, then he is fine. He bleats less now when I leave the barn, so I think it will all be fine. I wish I knew his history. He has a hole in his ear so was tagged once. I wonder if he was a working ram in a flock, and they couldn't bare to slaughter him in the end so neutered him. But I'm not sure he'd be this personable. Perhaps he was a 4H project and they decided to keep him.

Victor and Sophie are a challenge to get fed, and it takes some coordination and special setups to get them to eat all their food, and not have Ernest or Rosie show up and squeeze through their stall doors. This is the mayhem time–a period of days or a week or two where I wonder if I'm nuts, but then it all settles in, and down.

So for now, we nap when we can, a lesson the pigs taught me.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Checking in with the insides

I started a canvas last week. August is my least prolific month, or I guess I just don't worry about output of any kind. I'm like the flowers out front, just struggling to keep my roots moist and not to worried about blossoming beautiful petals anymore. If you follow and live within nature, it always slows down, growth takes a break, the soil gets crusty-some moisture is needed for new growth spurts later on.

I felt a bit wobbly painting. Some of my paint tubes were even dried up.

Wow, just like me, I thought, feeling the heat of my skin from the summer temperatures.

But, I worked through it. The thing is, I have some other projects going on, one I haven't talked about and will if it comes to fruition. And the barn project is on my mind, as are the many Misfit issues. So when I felt a bit wobbly painting, I just thought,

"This is for me, only me."

I liked it, and sensed I was channeling rain. Who knows. I tried to see other shapes in the piece that might become something, if I felt they were really there. But I didn't see anything. Months earlier, I had made a comment online that I felt a need to go inward in my painting, work on some abstracts. This is perhaps due to the fact that writing exposes me, and literal pieces do too, more than an abstract. So the canvas will stay as it is for now. I think it's showing me something and it is also asking to remain as it is for this time period. I'll oblige.

I was thinking about life after death, assuming there is another realm, which I choose to believe. I tried to imagine what it is like to not have things, or recognizable objects, a realm where no words are used because they aren't needed. Nature won't exist as we know it on this beautiful planet but it might expand into colors. As a living human, wondering what it might be like, it can seem uncomfortable. But it also seems very free, to be unencumbered by all feeling or sensation as we know and experience it here and just become pure spirit and love. I think that is what abstract painting might be for me.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The arrival

If you'd like to chip in for the new arrivals, please do and thank you too. We're increasing food consumption by 3 mouths- and they all have skinny bodies-that's about 7 additional pounds of feed a day.

They arrived on a hot afternoon, but came out of the trailer like immigrants looking over their new land, their home.

I got Floyd out first. He is a 13 year old wether sheep, most likely a Katahdin cross. I have never taken on a sheep due to the health of our own working flock, but I had a crush on Floyd for awhile, and something in him just spoke to me. And I am so glad. He is more like a giant dog than a sheep. He likes to go where I go, or stand next me and just hang out. When I leave, he bleats. When I arrive, he bleats. He is settling in, but the heat has made it uncomfortable even though there is plenty of shade. In time, he will find his place. Floyd is pretty arthritic, but not as crippled as I thought he was going to be. His pasterns are slightly fallen, and he will need supplemental feed at his age. But his teeth are good. he has a mystery skin issue on his rear end that the former vet could not figure out, and lots of work was done on it by the last rescue [New Moon Goat Farm], so we will just watch it for now.

But I will say this, Floyd is an exceptional creature. A bit on the Stevie wavelength-soulful, loving, kind, people oriented more than animal oriented.

I am more concerned about Victor. He is so thin, due to past neglect, and he is also a very slow eater. I watched him eat, and Sophie ate much of the food. I will need to separate them so I can make sure he is getting adequate feed. He was 50/50 survival rate when he landed at New Moon last month, so I do hope we can get quality weight on him. He has a great attitude, and is not bothered by his deformity in the hind end, although he needs to lay down a lot, so it does cause discomfort to stand. It is like his back legs don't stretch right, and he has all his weight on the front. Sophie is going to be fine once weight is put on her. I have found that sometimes in these severe neglect animals, they can have chronic sickness, and some don't make it. But we will always proceed with hope.

There is always chaos in the initial introductions here amongst new Misfits. And this time, we have the added element of Marcella the guard dog. The latter did very well for a 7 month old, I will admit, but she adds a new dimension to my tasks at this stage in her guarding career-in other words, she can really be a pain in the patuzzi! All in all though, she is not play chasing as much, and stops sooner when I say 'stop'.

These aren't great shots, but I am so tired in the heat, and all the excitement and chaos of new additions. They don't do anyone justice, but these were taken about an hour after arrival. Marcella is being pretty good today, and I left the new ones contained last night. I think eventually they will get along in the lower Misfit herd-where the most crippled are. But for now I want them up in the upper barn as I have more fenced stalls. See, I need that new barn!

Thank you to Ellen at New Moon for helping them, and to Cheryl Munson and her friend for making the 12 hour round trip to bring them here. It really helped me out!

Friday, July 25, 2014

A whole bunch of Misfit anticipation

I have alerted the barnyard that tomorrow we will have more Misfits arriving. It was meant with calm, as summer weather brings out a more relaxed reaction to almost any event around here. But I can assure you the usual preparations are being made.

Pino has been warming up the band. Although the summer band consists of two hens, since the other hens don't practice in the summer. This leaves him with no horn section, no percussion either, just two soprano singers.

Oh well, we do our best.

But tomorrow a very generous woman will be picking up the three goats from New Moon Goat Farm Rescue, and she will make the 6 hour drive to Apifera. This is so helpful–I do not want to leave Mama Sugee right now, nor the pregnant pigs–and I didn't want to do the drive alone either with a trailer. So this angel stepped up to the plate and with a friend will help us out!

Donkey brays, hoof stomps and tail swishes!

I am hoping to get donations for the gas mileage for her. If you'd like to help, you can just go to the barn fundraiser and plop it in there. Anyone donating $50 or more gets a copy of Misfits of Love [or Donkey Dream]. Or you can simply Paypal me at my email.

Stay tuned to meet the new arrivals!

Message from a father

My heart skipped a beat this morning.

I completely forgot about this little intaglio print, and found it tucked way back in a closet. I did it at age 10, and gave it to my father back then. He framed it and had it in his office for all those years.

Near the end of his life when they were moving again, and I was living here at Apifera, he gave it back to me because he thought it was now meant to be with me. I remember at the time I was sort of hurt he gave it back, but not really–and I didn't say I was hurt, I accepted as I knew it was meant as a gift, and he was down sizing.

But now this morning when I looked at it, it was like his voice said loud and clear the words he never was very good at finding-

"Look, you dreamed that dream of a farm long ago and now you have it! Good for you!"

I miss him.

I also remembered that my mother, some time after my father died, mentioned the little print, and how he really thought it was meant to be at my farm. I had tucked it back in the closet some years ago when we were remodeling at some point, and it was rather ironic I pulled it out now–as I am once again dreaming of the next barn.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sharing what I have

{If you respond to the work I do here at Apifera-both with animals and sharing them with people-please consider donating to our barn project. The barn will not only house animals, it will provide a place for me to have one-on-one encounters year round like the one I had with Betty.}

Her name was Betty, and on her wrist she wore her late husband's watch. She also had on the same wedding dress she wore to marry him some 30 years earlier. Betty was in her eighties and had recently gotten out of the hospital-so the loose fitting, Mexican style white dress was roomy and more comfortable for her on this particularly hot summer day.

Betty had come to one of our Pino Pie Days, driven there by her caregiver, who was also her daughter. We sat in the shade, and communed for some time, initially with silence as Betty petted Pino, and smiled as if she had been reacquainted with something deeply familiar. The quietness of the moment must have brought up memories, because Betty began sharing stories with me. She had lost her husband only nine months earlier, and a tear came to her eye. I told her about losing my father not long ago too, and then I got teary eyed–but our mutual losses of men we had loved for so long was our most common denominator for that moment.

"Many years ago, when I was much younger than you," she began, "my husband took me on a long, exotic journey to Egypt. We travelled in the desert and it was beautiful, and strange too. But that was where I saw my first donkey. It was a long time ago and there is a lot I don't remember, but I remember that donkey, and I remember how drawn I was to him. I never got him. So I wanted to come meet yours."

She went on to tell me, as Pino stood patiently, still, at her side, how much that trip had meant hoer back then, because her husband had worked hard to make it happen.

"He was like that, he was giving," she said. "That's why I wanted to come pet your donkey, it reminds me of that moment I had back then."

So there we were, one elder woman and two fatherless daughters, sitting around a little donkey, each sharing moments that stung, but that also brought love out in the open, and made us feel better.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I don't know about you, but I'm astounded

Within each day, there are mundane tasks, where I, like many of you, shuffle along lost in thoughts and lists of things to do and dreams of the day's end when a meal and glass of wine await. But I don't think a day goes by when I feel moments of astonishment - so much all around me, right on this little piece of Earth-so many textures, smells, beauty. It's all so darn amazing sometimes–no all the time.

The old llama is as exotic as a sea creature, really, his ears popping out of greens. And this year's return of The Gods of the Garden-the Globe Thistles–is spectacular, especially with the surround fennel embracing them.