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.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Oh Rosie! Conversation with the waking grumpy pig

I often find Little Sylvia Pettini sleeping in the Rosie's private suite...which I guess makes it semi-private. This morning I saw this scene as I walked to the barn and it was one of those put the feed buckets down and take out camera-quickly-before the opportunity to catch this scene evaporates.

"Good morning, Rosie!" I said, in the same sing-song tone my mother used to get me up as a little girl-which now I would love to hear every morning, but in the cold of a Minnesota winter always in the dark it was the gut wrenching reality I had to get up out of my comfortable dream spot.

The expression on Rosie's face as she lay there, awakened by my footsteps, was priceless.

No matter how grumpy she can be, this past year has been my favorite of our years together, including having her on the six day journey east. I truly believe that somehow, something clicked in that pig's mind as we landed on new soil. I don't know why. Because even though she is still vocally grumpy most of the time, and is needier than ever, she has softened to me in some ways-although a visitor might not notice it. Yesterday I was out near the barn and heard her carrying on in true Rosie grumpiness-loud squeals and hrumpfs and such-and I went to see if she was okay. She was laying down but was frustrated because she couldn't get the flies off of her-due to her more arthritic body. She hates to be sprayed, but I coated her in fly spray, then I sang my old Rosie song to her...which I was pleased to see still gave her some kind of calming, and her groans of despair ceased.

What a pig.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Things the old cat teaches me

The Magnificent Maurice Mittens - my role model
Somebody asked me why I gravitate to helping seniors. I have always gravitated to senior people since I was little. I don't know why. I think somethings are unknowns, and why we do it is less important than recognizing how meaningful it feels when we do it. Working with seniors-creatures and people-feels meaningful, so I continue. I'm not trying to heal old wounds of childhood or family relationships. I just really dig elders. And I really gravitate to them emotionally.

I think of all the senior or special needs animals that have come and gone at Apifera, and how significant their presence was-to me and visitors. If we could all just get second chances, to be recognized for our souls, not necessarily our aged bodies, vessels that don't appeal to the popular marketplace.

As I near sixty next spring, my earth vessel is no longer pretty. I can say that now. I fought it a bit these past couple years. I really could not tell what I looked like anymore. I'd see a photo of me wen I was...say, 55...that's not so far from being 59. But how different I perceived myself to look. I think, for me anyway, there have been stages or passages in my almost sixty years, that took me time to settle into the new me and say goodbye of the old me. Not just the evolving interior of me, but the changing exterior of me-the aging me. I like to think I got about twenty years of looking in the mirror and feeling good at the physical reflection, that's not so bad. But starting about 57, I was really struggling with...my appearance. I felt like I lost what I once saw, and didn't know what I saw in the present form.I think that was part of the reason I chopped my hair off spontaneously-those flying braid clumps were in a lot of paintings of my younger days. I needed some lighter clumps to go with my aging vessel.

I've never really thought of aging as something to fear. The number '60' doesn't really upset me, because I have created a life of meaning. But for some reason, this transition, as far as my outward appearances go, is the one I've struggled with the most. And I always come back to the same internal dialogue-you are healthy, you have love, you have work, people remember your smile and laughter and how you make them feel, not the you look a certain age.

I suppose at some point I will meld into my new body-the fifteen pounds heavier body that try as I may will not shed an ounce. I just have to believe that there is this point that I will look in the mirror or see a photo, and clearly know that is me, just like I did in my prime. Maybe? Maybe not.

And so when I sit with The Magnificent Maurice Mittens, I doubt he's examining my looks, unless it's my body language. He's gotten another chance here, to have a life of meaning amongst the Apifera elders. He will be petted and cared for and make people happy. He can continue to be a cat, just an older version of himself.

"How glorious to go through life without examining one's looks and age all the time." I told him this morning. "But by the way, you look magnificent."

He reminds me that as I age I get another chance, daily, to let my soul shine no matter what my exterior vehicle is looking like. No matter how much examining I do of the reflection in the mirror, its just a vessel. I don't leave it behind, I leave my deeds and art and soul impacts behind.

Friday, September 22, 2017

In which I meet Mrs. Mercy Studley

Yesterday while feeding, I came upon a beautiful rat  in the
pig food can, as I had left the top slightly ajar.

"Hello!" I said.

"Oh, hello, I figure you might come as I heard the animals rustling. I am Mrs. Mercy Studley," the rat said.

I felt the hairs lift on my neck. You see, just the other night I had been reading the history of Bremen, our town here, and Mrs. Mercy Studley was one of the early inhabitants of a nearby village and at the time our house was newly built in 1760 era, Mrs. Mercy Studley was already 106.

"There was a woman from way back with your name, in a nearby village," I said.

"Yes," the rat said.

"Did you perhaps know her?" I asked.

"Oh yes. She is me, or I am her. It is I."

{to be continued...}

She said "It's a place where healing flows both ways"

I was really honored by this review. It sums up my work here at Apifera, it really does. Thank you to Lisa for writing this and expressing my mission in one sentence: a place where healing flows both ways.

It's been a whirlwind week. I've found a wonderful vet for the elder cats who came on Wednesday. We updated some vaccines and rabies and discussed elder issues...of cats that is. I'm really happy I found her. {And if you want to donate a small amount to help with the vet visit, we send you meds and meows}.

Just a lot of things are percolating. I'm finding that marketing the mission of the 501[c][3] is a really excellent way to hone what our goal is, and isn't. I'm reaching out to people about taking in animals but also am beginning to find contacts to bring special needs people here. And of course, I'm trying to raise money to build a buffer and foundation of finances for us as we go forward, so we have feed/vet care monies, but also can begin to make improvement and plan the third barn to hold more animals.

I realized that people might want to 'see' what my vision is for not only the increased Elder Cat Suite, but also the third barn and how it sits on the existing site. I thought a master plan would help people see what we are wanting to create. The third barn will allow us to have more animals-but as importantly it will free up space in the second barn for better feed storage, hospice suites and more. This month we hope to work on better drainage in the equine area.

How can you help?

  • Write a review-tell people, as Lisa did, of your experience with Apifera, or tell people why you donated money to us in the past
  • Donate
  • Send cat food or other small items
  • Send a letter or item to Rag Tree
  • Share our mission with people in New England in case they have goats/animals that might need a home

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Conversation of old cats

Sir Tigger, was 17 when his owner went into a home and he ended up in the shelter.
"She is on her way," Sir Tigger said as he kept his nose close to the bottom of the door.

"She's late this morning!" said Anna.

"There be others she cares for besides us's, or is it we's," said Yume, in her broken English. Yuma was born in Japan and was a stray, so her English, and grammar, are still a work in progress. And learning a new language at an elderly age becomes a longer process for most.

"I got to sleep more, this was good," said the tea cup cat, Maxine.

And then there was a loud thud on the ground.

It was The Magnificant Maurice Mittens who had recently been returned to the shelter for reasons unknown. He arrived with the name Mittens but was grateful his new caretaker adjusted is name,

"as I am more magnificent than a mitten!" he announced.

Maurice Mittens sauntered over to Sir Tigger, and stood behind him. The two got along, but there was a feeling in the air that Maurice could take over if he wanted to, bt he didn't want to. And Tigger liked to stay out of trouble by backing off of any body encounter with another felines.

The door opened, the sing song woman voice said the usual,

"Good Morning! What a great day to be a cat!"

And she plopped down a big box.

"Look what came for us?" she told them all.

They all gathered, except Yume and Anna who watched from their perches.

Inside were cans and cans...and they knew exactly what was in those cans...judging by the tail swishes and humming purrs.

"I hope it's the Seafood Combo," said Maurice.

So you see, dear readers, when you send a gracious gift of canned cat food to the senior felines, a conversation does happen, and appreciation is shown via tail swishes and grrrrr's.

{Apifera Farm is a 501[c][3] and all your donations are tax deductible.}

The Magnificent Maurice Mittens had been returned to the shelter for unknown reasons

Anna was loved, but sent to the shelter in her elder years reasons unknown. Yume  was born in Japan and lost her owners due to another oversea job change and they could not take her.

Maxine is 5# and on thyroid for life. She was sent to shelter at 12.

Anna sent to shelter for reasons unknown

Monday, September 18, 2017

It's different here, I tell you

While there are many things about our Maine home that remind me of my growing up years in Minnesota, there are things here that are still exotic to me-like the fact there is a cove across the road that we see, and some nights especially this time of year, the blue sky at dusk time suddenly is engulfed in a wet fog. The fog here is coastal, it is different than the fog we had in the valley of Oregon.

I watched it last night from the porch and I could see the little wet crystals, almost like there were family clusters of rain or mist. It was really beautiful and moved elegantly. and quite fast.

The Goddesses in the front garden are making me happy. They bring color as the rest of the garden begins to fade into the browns and ochres. It is a beautiful time. I must remember next year to plant the sunflowers as I did this year, two weeks apart to lengthen their fabulous show.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Please share!

I hope you will share this image! I am trying to get the word out that Apifera is here to adopt elder and special needs creatures. I have been sharing our story with shelters and animal control officers too, and as many farms as I can find.

If you know of an animal needing to be rehomed, please contact me with details. We focus on adopting elder and special needs creatures-sometimes this is due to neglect, but often an elder owner has dementia or has passed on, there is a life change and an animal has to be rehomed, or an elder or special needs animal is not able to live safely in the existing herd at a farm. Often on cheese farms, kid goats might have special needs and need hospice or daily care that the farm can not handle.

So please share!

I would also ask that if you can donate, that is wonderful too. All your donations are tax deductible.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Opie has no motives nor do I

The smile on Jean's face is why I am doing the work I am doing. It's pretty simple.

The look on Opie's face as he looks at her is why I bring animal and elder together.

Today Opie and I visited our friends again in Wiscasset Green, an old house that was turned into a private elder home for about eight residents. Each visit, I get to know them more, and them me. I know this little creature well, and I know he is a natural at this. He often places his head on their knees and stares into their faces, or places his head between their legs to take refuge...or perhaps to just show them he's there.

They just like knowing he comes to visit them. We are all better for Opie, and for each other.

{If you like the work we do at Apifera-helping elder/special needs animals and bringing them together with elder/special needs people, please consider a tax deductible contribution.}