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

©K.Dunn. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

White Dog inspirations

I was propelled forward last week to spurt out two paintings. I had no idea what was to come out, somewhat the norm around here, but it was clear the spirits of the two white dogs were speaking through me. I finished these a day apart from one another and felt satisfied, like I'd been given a love letter, an encouraging nod, from many sources, including the magical source of the White Dogs themselves. These pieces are already sold and will fly off to their new home very soon. I rarely have trouble letting go of paintings, and I am not sad to see these go. The important thing for me is that my muse was there, and I answered. You have to answer the muse or she might just stay away like a dog left to its own resources if it doesn't get fed consistently.

"White Dog Had Wings" acrylic, pastel on maple board, 27"

"Calling All Wings" acrylic, pastel on maple board, 27"

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What do you want right now?

I've been stuck.

I fell into a horrible trap that many artists and writers do-I started paying way too much attention to the bottomless pit of the cyber world, comparing myself to other artists and writers and it has crushed my sensitivity to make prompt decisions for my work. Rather than making confidant suggestions to myself, like,

"I need to work on this story now and go forward with it",

I've found myself immobile, unsure of what project needs to be birthed. This is not like me and it might be too that now that I'm 57 and have a lot of different pokers in many blazing fires, I just need to realize my focus is easily distracted.

What's even more irritating is I have found myself looking at some writers I really don't like or respect as people and thinking, why does that person have an agent or publisher when we all know they are real jerks to people and the writing is self absorbed,pompous and in some case, bad. Ah, but they have 'profiles', some not any better than mine, that for one reason or another was deemed more commercially viable to the guy writing the check.

Katherine, back away from the computer.

So, I must stop that crippling downward spiral. I have one book proposal floating around out there at publishers-and that waiting seems to easily stifle creativity. You think maybe you will hear this week, and you don't, and for some reason it can create that 'frozen' feeling. The best anecdote is to start another project immediately.

So I'm going to start a new idea for a children's book next week. I was looking at some old book dummies ['dummies' are layouts with crude sketches and the spreads of text laid out for a book] I'd done years ago, back when I had an illustration rep and I was anxiously trying to break into the kid book world. I shared some on Facebook and some of the thoughts were very helpful, but I think the muses in those little stories have evolved out of me, and the stories seemed forced and not very magical.

I don't live in the city and am somewhat disconnected with what is relevant in the commercial world of art or publishing, except for what I see online. I don't have an agent to help guide me so I just forge on. I have felt more like I am entering a different market though. I am not hip or trendy to anyone, nor was I ever, but the commercial world wants that. I must ignore that and do my best work, and listen to myself first and foremost, and then seek discussion from someone I trust.

I have a scribble on my wall, in front of me, "What do you want right now?"

That is the question.

To be read by a wider audience. To be acknowledged. To continue to be able to make a living.

But more than ever, I want to...live, and not feel so compelled to spurt things out in teeny online doses. I love sharing images and my life, it is fun, but I am seeking a longer thought process, a quieter dialogue between me and my muses...and my audience-whoever the heck my audience is.

I walked around last night after chores. The sky was so beautiful, and very eruptive, changing each few minutes, grey clouds blowing in with blue windows behind them. When I'm looking at Old Barn sitting in this show of Nature, would it make it more relevant if I get another book published this week? Would my work with my animals lose meaning if I never sold another painting, or lost the will to paint? Does having an agent or not mean I'm not relevant my current readers? Will having an agent like some make my writing more important to me, or better? No.

Does Pino care about any of this? No.

All around me, the things that end up in story or art first come through me viscerally, through this life, here at my farm. It's my world. In this way, I'm always working. I just have to get back on track and listen inwardly, to know which story to pursue in the best way I can.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Animal Conversations: Pig & The Shadow

For those of you who know the story of Rosie and Stevie, this is from their early years.

Pig grumpily arrived at her bed of straw mounded in a dark corner of a large stall in the old barn.

With her arrival, there was the nightly exodus of each and every barn animal that might have been standing nearby at her passing. They left in an orderly fashion–but with a clear purpose–to get away from Pig.

Making sure she was indeed alone, finally, Pig began to prepare her humble bed, by carrying clumps of straw in her mouth and mounding it into a pile, and then burying her self under it, creating first a tunnel and then a womb to lie in.

"Good evening," said a gentle voice in the shadowed corner opposite her.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Special book rate for gift giving season

These special prices apply through December, 2014. No returns. You must purchase a minimum of 3 books. You can mix and match "Misfits of Love" with "Donkey Dream"-just let me know at the time of your purchase.

All books will be lovingly wrapped Apifera style and include a hang tag that will be left blank. Please NOTE: books will be shipped to one address only. If you want a book shipped somewhere else in the USA it will be an additional $6.

Prices include USA shipping. {Int'l orders will pay more for shipping}.

{FYI-The normal non-sale price for a book plus shipping is $28.50}

IF YOU ARE A RETURNING BOOK CUSTOMER: email me. Anyone who is in my database for having purchased a book in the past does not need a minimum order of three [you can buy one or more at these prices].


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

White Dog is now of Apifera

I brought White Dog and Marcella back from the vet this afternoon. I took them in yesterday early morning for his neutering and her spay. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they did going in the car and being in the exam room. Marcella actually lay down and napped. White Dog was not at all fearful and was a big hit. We opted to also put a chip in him, so he is officially of Apifera now. And his name is Benedetto which means "Blessed". If you've been reading along, the magical way he appeared out of nowhere is seen here as a gift, and I will always feel that way about him.

I hated leaving them at the vet. The look inside Benedetto's eyes as I looked deeply into them and said, "Trust me,", I won't forget it. Marcella was in a kennel directly across from him and she seemed very calm when I left. But upon arriving to pick her up, even though her surgery went well, she was not herself. Her vitals are fine, it is just her way. I know at her first season she went into a real moody period, like she hurt and didn't want any activity around her. She does this if she has a wound too. She takes to the barn to a spot that is not of the norm for her, and growls at anyone who comes close, even little Earnest...or me. I've learned how to deal with it. I growl back-if I have to move her or medicate her. It has worked so far-I simply growl until she stops, then she rolls and goes submissive.

But tonight when I got them home, I was doing feedings and Benedetto was fine. He ate well, checked everyone out, roamed a bit and was really happy. Marcella was not feeling herself and hung out in the sun for some time with the other gang. She even snapped at poor Earnest who was just happy to see her. But I'm sure her tummy area feels funny. I put Benedetto in other goat paddock so he wouldn't bother her. At feedings, I always feed Marcella and The Head Troll in the hay barn, and Benedetto stays outside and eats, otherwise it would be a fight. But Marcella didn't eat-that doesn't concern me at this time. It is normal for her. When I went to get her pills in her, I knew it was going to be risky. She had been glad to see me, but she just felt lousy, and let us all know. So I showed her the pills and she even tried eating them on her own, which didn't work. So I went to show her the bottle, etc, went real slow, and at some point, she just grabbed onto my upper palm/hand, and held on, tooth deeply embedded. Ouch. Hurt like hell. I knew not to pull, as it would only entice her to hang on harder, and she eventually let go, but I have a very big ripped hole in my hand. I disciplined her by pinning her down, using a broom, until she went submissive for me. I then left her, and did chores. She eventually came outside and came to me and dropped and went submissive. We sat for a long time together. I looked deep into those eyes, and I told her I didn't always understand her reactions, but I was trying. She licked my wound, she loves blood, and always licks the wounds of any animal. And then she let me put the pills in her mouth and I helped her swallow.

After she had bit me and I was disciplining her by holding her down [this lasted about 10 seconds], Benedetto was on the other side of the gate, concerned, but not aggressive. I went out with him and spent time with him and assured and praised him a lot. He is a wonderful dog. He is going to help me with Marcella, I really believe this.

I have never had a dog bite before. Not even with all the terriers we've had, at least not a deep, penetrating one from a guard dog. I know several Maremma people who have worked with the breed for years and I know this is not uncommon, it is part of learning this unique breed. These dogs are not for sissies, nor are they family pet material. It kills me to see people casually talk about getting one of these guys-like they think they can just plop one in a field and it will be happy, or worse, in the backyard in the city. They need guidance and boundaries like any of us. And they need a clear job. I haven't quite figured Marcella's actions out. She was tolerating me petting her in a soothing way, and I was not coming at her face quickly which can be a threat. I had spent about 40 minutes letting them reaclimate in the barnyard-they hadn't been together for 2 days- before attempting to give her the pills. Benedetto let me put them in and push them back, zippidity do-da, finetto.

I am just happy they are home. White Dog came to us, somehow, I just hope he stays. I can only to my best for him. In the next couple months I will spend a lot of time walking the pastures and fields with him, with the flock. He seems so happy and I do feel even now in the barnyard with so many animals, he feels he has more of a purpose than perhaps he had elsewhere. A purpose is the reason he will bond and stay with us.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pig and Pumpkin

The final pumpkin of the season was rolled out of the pumpkin patch and left for the Barnyard. The piglets had been enjoying all the pumpkins this fall so I felt the barnyard deserved the largest pumpkin, grown by Old Man Guinnias [of course].

And who was first in line?

{Want to meet all The Misfits? They are waiting for you!}

Which Misfit gives you pause?

{Some of you posted comments on FB, but share here too. The Misfits always read the blog.}

I've updated the Misfit page where you can meet the adopted animals of Apifera- a.k.a. Misfits.

Do you have a Misfit that speaks to you in a special way, one that calms you or makes you smile no matter what photo you see of him or her? Which story of a Misfit do you remember, or have you met one or two of these creatures and have a memory to share?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pig and Pup....still

As many who follow along often ask, does Marcella still like Earnest?


Like any relationship, theirs has evolved over time. Marcella has been a bit sidetracked by White Dog's arrival, but she and Earnest still are buddies....and like buddies sometimes do, there is a fight every now and then. It is always around food.

If you think it might be complicated to feed the various Misfits, you are correct. I have an elaborate system that changes with each new animal's arrival or parting. There are so many gates and stalls that I rely on that it is too complicated to explain, but here's a recap: At this writing, Marcella eats in the hay barn with The Head Troll; Earnest eats in a stall with Rosie, Moose and Goose; Eleanor is now housed with Victor, Sophie, and Scooby Keith, but each has a separate unit within a giant stall to ensure proper feeding; the piglets eat in one area and the sows elsewhere; the lower Misfit Village is for Stevie, Raggedy, Professor and Rudy; and then Aldo who is now hanging with the flock knows to come up and eat in the orchard. But now I have to let White Dog out at the precise correct time-he sleeps in the lower Misfit Village and will eat the goat feed and fight over it, so he comes out and is placed in a interior hall in the goat barn to eat by himself. When he's done, only then can I let the chickens and ducks out, and everyone else. To further complicate matters, White Dog has an issue with the barn cats, so we are working through that, and that is why he can't eat in the hay barn.

So, I digress. Back to Pig and Pup. This morning Marcella was a bit under the weather, not sure why. But while White Dog ran out on his own, she took to sleeping in Rosie's hay bed-much to the dislike of Rosie. Rosie is powerless to Marcella, so she took her pink piggy body out to the sun. Earnest hung out in the barn with Marcella for the longest time. When I went over to Marcella to talk to her, noticing she wasn't feeling herself, she gave me a soft growl, which is her way to say, "I don't feel like being touched right now."

I left her and Earnest alone and went to hang out in the sun with the gang. It is cold here, rare for us, but about 30 today. The sun still feels good and as long as the animals are dry they are content. The best thing you can do to keep your animals warm is feed them properly and keep them wormed, and if you see a shaking animal in the cold, give them hay. It warms them up right away [of course, this is assuming you get them out of the wind and wetness}. Coats really aren't necessary to goats, but I have them on some of the elders.

About 20 minutes went by, and out came Marcella and Earnest, side by side, slowly. It was as if Earnest sensed she wasn't herself. Marcella came over to me and was very submissive. We sat together for some time.

Last week Marcella and Earnest had a fight over food. Despite all my attempts that you read above, there are always little bits of grain here and there, and sometimes Pig and Pup will fight for that one tiny morsel. Marcella seems to rule above the pig now, but every now and then, he gets a tooth in her, like he did this time, under her chin. But then you see them walking side by side, casually laying down by the cement wall to take in the sun's warmth.

{Books and art make a very nice holiday gift for the animal lover}