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

©K.Dunn. All rights reserved.

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.

Monday, July 21, 2014

And we will build a new barn

The other exciting news, if not heart burn making news due to the financial commitment-is we are taking the plunge and building a new barn!

We have been thinking of this for a couple of years, but I wanted to make sure it made sense both financially and for our overall farm needs. A series of things had to happen so that I could see this dream clearly, and know it is a wise thing, not just a fling of fancy.

This barn will hold life in it and cradle death at times. It will be a very symbolic structure for me-built by us after 10 years of our work here. It will be very guided by the Moon and other mysteries-it already is. For after a couple of years of being afraid to do it, I am listening to the voice that won't go away-

"Build it now."

When we brought on Marcella the pup, I separated out the most wobbly and crippled elder Misfits and put them in the paddocks by the barnyard. This allowed them to be safer from Marcella's puppy play. Martyn added another Shade shelter, and those three paddocks are well used - if you have been to Pino Pie Day you have seen them. The elder ponies also occupy one of those paddocks. But as summer has worn on, I realize how helpful it is to have this entire area near my studio as a place for my 'war vets' - the neediest of the Misfits. it allows me to keep my eye on them outside the stdio, and it keeps them safe from the younger Misfits. But these shelters won't be good enough to keep the elders in in the worst parts of winter. Last year when we had the big snows, I looked out and there was Old Mama Sugee standing with a foot of snow on her - the winds had blown so hard that all the shelters were snowy. I had to move every body up to the hay barn-it was like Noah's arc in there for weeks! Funny to have old geese and ducks, a grumpy pig, blind ponies and cripple goats all living in one barn...but there was no turnout and it got a bit...cramped.

And of course, wet rains and cold temps can really be bad for elders. So this barn will help a lot. It will also make my life a bit easier. Now when someone is being hospiced, or is in need of meds and look outs every couple of ours, it's right outside the studio. Both of our other barns are well used and filled up with purpose.

So, I want a new barn. I dream of the new barn, and it will happen. It is going to happen and it is for a good thing. many exciting and good things will come because of this barn. It will help me go forward with some out reach sessions I'd like to have too- as there will be more rain and shade protection.

We have begun the plan, sketches, cost quotes...it is exciting, although it is a big project and there will be turmoil as I will have to take current fence down and move animals around.We hope to start in late summer-before the wet rains make it difficult. We will have the poles planted and frame built and the roof, by a barn company. We will do all the leveling, build a rock wall foundation and put up wood walls to mimic and old barn, and build our own stalls. I'd love to have it all done by the company, as it would get done so fast-but Martyn is handy and wants to do it and it will save lots of money.

SoI set up another GoFund page so people can donate if they wish. I hesitated to do it, but I will gladly accept any help people want to give me. I think some people are getting tired of crowd sourcing requests. But I will gladly take any help I can get. I've been been doing my work with Misfits for 10+ years now, and sharing art and story too-so a penny in my pocket is a penny in my pocket. Anyone donating $50 or more will get a book.

More elder Misfits coming to Apifera!

I have two exciting things to share today-they both deserve equal time. But I will start with the wonderful news that three more senior creatures are arriving from New Moon Goat Farm Sanctuary in the next couple of weeks.

I have had a crush on Floyd since I saw him a couple of months ago. He is an elder statesman, and from I hear, already has a fan club up at New Moon-many were happy he was coming to Apifera, but let out a big sigh when they heard he was leaving. Floyd is a 13 year old mixed-breed wether sheep. I have never taken in a sheep, as to protect the health of my own flock, but Floyd is an exception for me. He just spoke to me. This is usually how it happens-I see an animal and we have some kind of internal conversation through our eyes, and it grows over the days. In time it becomes apparent to me that animal is meant to come here-for whatever reason. I do seem to have a knack for bonding with the ones near death, but that is okay, I am attracted to hospice work with animals. But, We hope Floyd will be with us for a long while, although he is 13. We hear he is the biggest, goofiest, friendliest sheep you'll ever meet. Sounds like a fit-and maybe a nice change for Stevie, since Floyd is tall. Sometimes I wonder if Stevie looks around and thinks,

"Everyone is so squat around here except me."

We are also bringing home two elder goats that were severely neglected. Victor was the worst off, and now has a deformed spine and hips causing him to walk oddly, but he seems to be pretty content according to Ellen and she notes he adores people. He will be coming with Sophie, an 8 year old Angora doe who is "sassy". If you want to see the work New Moon did when they first acquired Victor, here is a brief look. Victor was so matted for so long that he was raw under the wool, including his penis. His feet were horrible and I'm sure will give him trouble as he ages. They still have a ways to go to gain weight but have a new start on life thanks to New moon's efforts, and now ours.

I'm so excited to meet them. When I decide to take an animal on, I get very anxious before their arrival, as I feel like they know they are coming. This mystical connection is something I truly feel, no matter how woo woo it might sound to some. Some animals seem to have a stronger energy, but I always am relieved for everyone when they are on the ground, here, safe and open to a new life, even if it is the end of a life.

If you'd like to send a donation or make a monthly subscription donation [at reward levels, or no rewards, visit here. All help is greatly appreciated,needed, and used with love and care!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nap like a pig

I went out to take some photos this afternoon, and I obviously came at Pig Nap Hour. Nobody informs me of anything around here. All around, little lumps of pigs. To the untrained pig eye, one might gasp,

"They're dead!"

No, just napping. And yes, if Pearl and Doris look extra plump, they are. They are both full with piglets. Stay tuned.

But now I must nap.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Annual merging of sheep to land

Every summer about this time, the colors of fields and flock begin to merge. We've had over a week of 95 degree temperatures, but the slow burning of the remaining grass reminds me the next season is autumn. The flock's earth tones melt with the land now–even the white sheep turn dark from the sticky weed that coats them with oil, and then the dust of the earth hops on.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer percolations and The Great White

Yesterday I insisted with myself,

"You have to try."

So in the hot afternoon I took to the cooler studio and sat down to sketch. I have been wanting to do some things of Aldo and Marcella. I felt wobbly, but was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. I know many artists–including well known ones I've read of–who take breaks for various reasons, and wonder if they can still paint or draw. I felt this way of late. Summer is never my most prolific painting time, never was, never will be. This is one time I can say "never". I'm like any creature-I lay a bit lower in summer, closer to the earth. It's warm, sometimes hot-best to walk slower and head for shade, save up energy for the burst of autumn's cool. Summer is a great time for resting and pondering for me-I have a couple big projects I'm excitedly percolating with-which I will share if and when they are more concrete.

I really love to write, and photograph. I was wondering if my muses have simply shifted in the dance line. I am not afraid of it. I think I will always paint, but it will not be in the same outpouring of product as in my younger days-back when I numbered everything and had a long list of paintings each year. And I don't fear that my production schedule has decreased. Quantity doesn't matter. I need to make a living, but my living is made up of so many facets-word and art in books,story,animal care taking and writing about it, farming...and art.

I am very graced to have ended up this way, and still able to make a living. I'm lucky to have found a mate who loves his work too, and can also collaborate with me on the farm in my passion for the animal work I do. When I go for my morning walk with the dogs and we get to the top part of the hills 2 miles away, I always stop and breathe, and look–and sometimes I say,

"Keep it coming. Thank you."

It was nice having an image of Aldo that I felt captured him. I will do more sooner or later.

Today is another 95 degree day. Heading for shade.