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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Misfits seem to have a manual typewriter

When The Head Troll was still alive, she was in charge of Halloween. It was such a relief. Since she died in 2016 the tradition of outfits sort of fell to the wayside. This morning there was a note slipped under the door, typed no less...how did this get by me, a manual typewriter? Anyway, suggestions were made for masks The Misfits want. I yelled out the window,

"Nothing will be discussed until after Misfit Love Day, capiche?"

I could hear the tail swishes and hoof stops from afar.

"I'm only one woman!" I yelled out again. "I love you!"

Whinnies, squeal and chortles rang out.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Little Big Man proves me wrong-surprise!

So...it all started out innocently enough. One of The Secret Sisters went broody on me, sitting on a clutch of three eggs.

"I really don't think there are babies in your eggs, I told her," she stared at me, intently. "I have watched Little Big Man, and even though he surely believes he can get the job done, I don't think he can." More staring.

You see, Little Big Man is the Seabright rooster we brought home after he was left at a local shelter. He is tiny, about a pound. He is way shorter than the girls. I have watched him get on their backs and do his thing, but it's like watching a toy on top of one of the mechanical ponies you see at grocery stores. I could not imagine how he was even close to impact. But I should know better. Where there is a penis there is always a hole. So I decided to let the hen ride out her broodiness with her clutch. I marked the eggs and threw her grain each day. She had found herself the perfect spot, right behind Sir Tripod Goat's cubby bed, tucked under the stairs.

Yesterday after a very long day of work, I was doing front barn chores and noticed that Henneth the blind chicken was very interested in the broody hen. Then I heard it. That distinctive little chirp. And there it was.

I have to tell you my heart skipped a beat.

"You were right," I told her, "I apologize for not believing you," to which she stared at me again.

I gathered up mother and chick, and the remaining eggs and put her in a little stall created just for such occasions.

This morning, I congratulated Little Big Man. I have no idea what his child will look like, and let's all pray it is a girl. Girl Power! A Seabrite mixed with a Buff Orpington should be interesting.

I forgot how wonderful it is to discover these little surprises. Now that we don't breed, ahem, Earnest are you listening, it is up to Nature to delight me with her charms.bI just hope the sound of a baby doesn't give Earnest any ideas.

Little Big Man, on the right, clearly go the job done

Sunday, September 23, 2018

"Martyn, I have a new idea..."

We had a last minute scheduling of some elders who wanted to come see the animals, so we gladly agreed and they came over Saturday for an hour. It was a really sweet visit, as always, but as importantly for me, it helped me think of some next steps to improve and expand our elder visit area.

I had told Martyn I wanted to build a shade hut for the guests, in the same area we now sit. There is shade but it can be difficult to arrange seating especially when some people are restricted by walkers or wheelchairs.

"I have a new idea," I told Martyn after the visit.

He remained quiet and listened.

"I think I need two huts, one for inside the orchard, and another inside the other paddock close by so the donkeys can partake more easily."

He pondered it and said,

"That's a good idea..."

Wow. What a guy.

It's been great to have these visits this past summer, to try out our area and work out the kinks. Actually there haven't been any, and the sand we invested in to make walking for the elders easy has worked great. The huts will also help me provide shelter in case there are sprinkles that day. We obviously would cancel any visits if it is bad weather, but sometimes a sprinkle blows in from the ocean. I also handed out hats this year in the heat, which was fine-and pretty sweet since many of them were old hats of my father. Made me sigh. But it would be nice to have more shade.

On Saturday's visit, it was cool, about 60 but sunny, and I thought it would also be good to have blankets. But then I thought, wouldn't it be cool to have followers of Apifera make...quilts? Then we could have have warmth for the elders if it is a bit chilly [they weren't bothered, but it would be nice I think.]

I've been sad not to have my donkeys at these visits. I haven't had them participate for a few reasons, one being it always seems to rain the day before and they roll in the wet sand/dirt and are pretty donkey dusty. I also have to lead them into the area, and the llama, and then all the little goats are there. Mayhem as not ensued yet, but adding donkeys into he mix might create mischief. So the second hut would let me have the equines in the paddock right next to the regular sitting area, and we could venture in there too, or they could at least see them close by. The elders are of all different memory and mobility levels...so it is good to have these options.

I will have Martyn do a plan and see what money we are talking about. He would be able to do all the building so I'm going to guess $2000 range. We would also like to get more sand for the ground, it really works well with elders and canes, walkers and wheelchairs, and I'm 'guessing' that will be under $500.

Everything is happening in it's own time!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

One must decorate the llama

Yesterday I created a happy piece. I needed to just make something of whim that brought me joy, and I know it will make others smile too. You can purchase this as a print or art cards now.

Thank you, Birdie, for being in my life. I am so glad we found each other. You are a treasure to all of us.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A friend dies of suicide, and I sit with the old donkey

Note: This post was originally written and shared publicly last week after I learned a friend died from suicide. In the past days since his death, his family and friends have begun the process of grieving, sharing and also, teaching, just as Jason would have in this time. I deleted the original post, because I used the term 'committed suicide' and I learned through posts by family, that this is an inappropriate use of words. Criminals 'commit' crimes, suicide is not a crime. So I wanted to edit that. As I said in the post, I have never felt suicide was 'selfish', rather I think it is a courageous act that happens in a hopeless moment. I am still shocked, and so many people are too. I don't have any answers, and am sure I never will. That is the aftermath. But I know he is at peace.

I lost someone I know to suicide this week, someone I never met but had known for about 8 years through blogging and Facebook, and over time, had intimate conversations with. I cared about him and his opinions, and learned from him, and laughed with him too. He stood up for me in a very public way after an extreme group of vegans slandered me and my farm online, really in a vicious way-he turned it into a teaching moment. He was funny, he was vibrant and he could also be biting. He was not perfect, he was damaged like any of us humans are. A friend once said to me, “We are all damaged, some of us just more than others." I only found out about his death the day before I took this photo. When I looked out at the old donkey, Matilda, lying in the paddock near the grave of the elder sheep Assumpta, who died a few weeks ago, I was drawn to go over, even though it was supper time and I was about to return to the house.

I said ‘Hi, Matilda,” and then I sat down on the ground with her. She did not move, she did not even reposition her front leg for comfort. I told her a friend of mine was dead. I closed my eyes and thought of my friend, in light, in calm, out of mental pain. His suicide was shocking to so many. I thought of the place a person has to be in at the moment they do that final act, alone, and how much pain, either emotional or physical or both, they have to be in. Some people like to say that suicide is selfish. I don’t feel that way. I think suicide is a courageous act but it is done within a place of helplessness. For a person like my friend, who was a psychologist who worked with many hurt people, to have reached a place, a moment, where he went over, he must have felt so helpless like it was the only way. He had love in his life, a partner, a career, a family, a dog he adored, he loved to cook and share everything he was thinking and caring about. He was a gay man in a world that isn’t so kind to LGBT people, and he was outspoken and an advocate for them in society. He was outspoken about injustice and racism.

So, I sat with Matilda. It was a beautiful day and night. Autumnal breezes and no bugs, a sunset coming behind us. One by one, the other donkeys left their hay dinner in the barn and returned to our private Donkey-Woman sit down, but they stayed about ten feet from us, as if they recognized-wait, they did recognize-that Matilda was letting me express important things. My friend loved animals and I envisioned him looking down on us, smiling.

“It’s okay, now, Jason,” I said to the sky.

There is a gut wrenching aftermath to suicide. I understand why many people use terms like “selfish’ to explain it. The pain and thoughts that the surviving loved ones are left to deal with, forever, well, it can’t be denied. But it is not about them, or me, or us. It is not to be judged. Nor is this a time to analyze a person’s faults or missteps. It is a time to hold that person in the light.

I thank Matilda for calling me over silently to give me space and time to do that for Jason.

Links from Jason's family:

Talking helps. For the many who have asked for help finding support groups:
Friends for survival: 800-646-7333
Heartbeat: 719-596-2575
American suicide foundation: 800-273-4042
American association of suicidology: 202-237-2280

Monday, September 17, 2018

Everything dies, everything stays

[This is available as a print]
Every year we say a bittersweet farewell to the sunflowers, goddesses in their own right. Such amazing presence these creatures have in the gardens. While there is nothing happier than a sunflower, they look so sad at a certain stage before death is final...but that is just human thought. They are busy spreading their seed by bird and squirrel carriers so that next year we will watch for their kin.

Nature is always my comfort when something or someone dies. It teaches that the energy we hold within our bodies never dissipates, it just expands or changes its foundation. When the rock is washed away by water, what does it become? It is part of the water. When the body is turned to ash what does it become? Part of earth on the ground or blowing in the air only to land somewhere to blend with the soil. We are Earth.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A beautiful day of elder friends...animal and human

Our elder friends from one of The Greens residences came for visit on this gorgeous mid coast Maine day. Oh we had fun!

We all sat with the goats in the orchard, and then one of the elders really wanted me to bring White Dog in. I knew he would do great, but he is about 120 pounds, and though he is so loving, he has big feet and still has a habit of wanting to 'hold hands' and I did not want any tender skin getting broken. But I brought him in on a lead and he was wonderful Perhaps this is a new gig for him now. We shall see.

I also let Freddy the Dreamer, aka Little Lonely, one of the smaller pigs in. They have so wanted to see a pig. The other pigs were in the paddock in close proximity so they got to see them run around and that was fun. Freddy was very interested in the grass since he has been on dry lot for a long time, so he had little interest this visit, but I know he will be good.

Ollie is also a fine therapy goat, so happy for him. Opie was there, and has continued showing his big boy personality of quiet resolve, standing back and letting the other animals do the running around. And of course, there was plenty of Llama Love...including kissing galore. What a showstopper she is.

But what was fun, and always is with this bunch since I have grown to know them pretty well, was just sitting and talking, outside, watching the animals, feeling the breeze, smelling the ocean. They are a wonderful bunch and Martyn was able to be here today too. I just love them all. When they were leaving, one of them said,

"Now wasn't just so wonderful to all be together here, and just sit and talk?"

Yes, I think so.

We are planning to build a small hut for both man and beast, and I'm hoping it might allow some seniors to venture out even in November, or spring time-but we will see.

If you like what we are doing-bringing animals and elders together-please consider a donation to our non profit. Thank you!