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

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. #EIN# 82-2236486

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©Katherine Dunn.





Thursday, September 23, 2021

Order these early!


The new card designs for the holiday [and other occasions] are here and order early as I will not be able to reorder in time if they should run out. I just love them! I'll be adding to my line all year.

And the other good news is you can now mix and match designs!





Sunday, September 19, 2021

She said, "It feels like home."


We had a very moving animal healing visit here at Apifera this past week. Many of you saw this photo, and others, on our other platforms and were as moved by it as I was, and as I was when it happened.

Linda lives at Cove's Edge where we visit regularly, and she went blind from a disease several years ago. The disease also effects her breathing and she is in a wheelchair. You might remember her in photos, pre pandemic, holding little Bear in her lap, she loved it. She loves animals and once had horses and other critters.

It's hard for her in many ways, physically and emotionally and my Girl Friday at Cove's thought it would be nice to get her out on her own to the farm, and I was right on board. I didn't have my assistant equine person but with two caretakers and me, I knew we could handle the horses so I brought in Biggs first. The flies were bad, but she was moved to feel a horse again. And then I asked if I could bring the pony, and of course she said yes. But also, I wanted to bring White Dog in, who is a natural but under the circumstances I knew he too would benefit. And he did. In fact, when The Teapot was getting hugged, White Dog also asked for more.

At some point, Linda said that "It feels like home."

This is why we do what we do. And I've written about it many times. The biggest sadness of the elders in residences is they are not home. They appreciate the care, but it is not home.

We also talked about touch, the importance of it in our lives, and of course to the blind touch is very important, and smell. I reiterated that the animals allow the elders to touch, and be touched, and I also touch them. Many people without even knowing it are shunning elders in their daily lives, almost as if they don't want to look. Linda said it best, "They are afraid they are going to be old too, or like me'. I agreed. None of us want to become non independent. It is a visceral fear.

Linda has been through so much in the past years losing her eyesight, and her husband and her home. For those two hours though, she was free-free of the constant noise in the residence, free of all the activity around her, and she was also free to talk on her own and have a one on one conversation. To know she felt at home, it just was so heartwarming, even though fleeting.

We described all the things around us, the goats wandering, the ducks and  The Goose-who spoke frequently and Linda talked back to him- and the sheep and llamas in the outer fields.

When it was time to leave, she grabbed her two caretakers arms and wanted hugs and she cried, she thanked them over and over for making it happen. We already are planning another visit. I'm hoping we can do it in the outer barn where she can be surrounded by the donkeys and horses. My Girl Friday is on board. It takes a village to care for our elders.



Monday, September 13, 2021

White Dog has bone cancer...we are gutted


It was suppose to be a day of celebration for me and White Dog. But it is not. White Dog has bone cancer.

I took him to the vet this morning to get the stitches out - I was so excited for him to be able to run free again- but while waiting for my vet, I noticed the hind right leg/elbow was larger than the other. This is the foot that was slightly lame before the accident, but there was no swelling and we found nothing wrong with the foot when he was stitched up two weeks ago. Back then we opted not to xray anything because we assumed the slight lameness was from him getting stepped on on his toes a few days before and there was no swelling.
 
This morning after we took the stitches out my vet asked me about the lame foot, and I said the elbow swelled up and it seems like it happened overnight. This can and often is the case with bone cancer, it is aggressive and fast moving. It happened that way with Muddy too. He looked at the leg and, I just knew, he knew...we pretended it could be arthritis, and he went to do an xray. I waited in the front room, praying, but I just knew. When my vet came out holding the xray, he was 20 feet from me, our eyes met and I started shaking my head, as did he. Bone cancer.
 
I know how this goes. We went through it with Muddy, just two years ago. Once you see a lump like this, the cancer is most likely in the lungs and elsewhere. Some people opt to take the leg off, that is a choice they must make about their own situation but we choose not to do that, nor did we with Muddy. I was not expecting this. Since I've been care taking White Dog all these 14 days, I was looking at his wounds and body ALOT. While he still was not putting pressure on that foot, he was not limping, he was able to run, he was eating, and there wasn't swelling.
 
He probably has about 2-4 months.
 
I'm gutted. I just...can't...stand it, I feel physical pain right now.
 
I must watch him and make the decision I had to make with Muddy. He will die here at the farm.
A barn, a filed, a snow storm...without White Dog? It is a hard idea to grasp, and I have not.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

What choices we make at the end

I am a big fan of the NPR show, Hidden Brain, and today's episode was riveting for me. It details the life of a nurse who in her 50's is diagnosed with ALS. The story had insight for me, and resonated on personal levels because I know someone who was diagnosed recently and over time I have been learning a lot about the challenges of ALS patients. It's a cruel disease.

While the episode goes into great detail about how the family cope with the diagnosis, it also focuses on what we might choose at our death, versus what we say we want at our death. This woman saw suffering due to her job as a nurse. She made it very clear to her husband and sons she did not want to linger, she did not want to be lying on a ventilator. She said this many times. The husband faithfully and lovingly cared for her and in the early stages of ALS she is able to live, and travel and do the things she wanted. But soon she begins to have other side effects of this horrid disease, and eventually has a feeding tube put in. But she and her husband continue to walk and drive to the beach where he carries her food and feeds her. They were both living, they did not talk about death, they were still living.

But then one day, suddenly, they are faced with a decision, after she has an episode of her lungs filling up with mucous. They are told she has the choice of hospice, or to be put on a ventilator, which will be permanent. Nobody discussed it with her family, but she chooses the ventilator, and they are shocked and dismayed. But they eventually take her home, and set up an ICU basically, in the living room, and they have four days for 4 full time nurses to teach them how to use the equipment. On the final day, something goes wrong.

I won't go into more of the details of what happens, but the story really focuses on the idea that we really don't know how we might act if we had been faced with death on that day. Martyn and I have had the same discussions-no gallant efforts to make me live like a vegetable, or if I can't walk to the barnyard and can't use my limbs and do what I love, don't do the heroics. No tubes. And this woman was like that. She knew what the ventilator meant, with a tracheotomy. But she chose, when forced to in that situation, to live. Perhaps because she just wasn't ready at that very moment. Even though they all knew her disease was what would kill her, she wasn't ready at that moment.

Every day a hospice caretaker sat with her in the house, sometimes for minutes, but she would tell the husband [in her non verbal way] she just was not ready to die or admit defeat or go to hospice. But one day, the hospice nurse was there for a much longer time, and came out and told her husband she was ready to die. She died two days later in hospice.

I was so riveted by the show. The husband is the narrator as is one of the adult sons and it brought to light many things we all will face, most likely, at some point.

It also made me hate ALS even more than I did. I want my friend to die with dignity and no drama.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Please consider writing a review for our non profit

It really helps to bring in larger donations when foundations and trusts can see valid reviews on trusted non profit sites, such as Great Non Profits [just click on the 'share your story' button]

If you have been to Apifera, experienced the setting and animals, if you follow along and see the work we do in caretaking elder and special needs animals, if you love the work we do helping elder people with our animal visits and you donate because of that, please write us a review-doesn't have to be long.

Or perhaps one of your loved ones has benefited from Harry the llama, or Bear the pup, or Opie the goat or many others via our visits, or by our stories we share.

It takes a village to keep a non profit like this going and I'm grateful for all of your support both monetarily and emotionally.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

How are you? How am I?

 



I took this photo yesterday and just loved the quiet beauty of it. I had gone out to groom, and deworm, the equines. Spending time without words in the paddock is one of my favorite things. If you sit quietly, they will come. I'm finding besides my visits with the elders at Cove's, I prefer to be alone with my animals even more than ever.

The beginning of September is always a favorite time for me. I always feel like it is a time to take stock on what has been, and what is needed and coming. I liken it to being a flower in the garden, I bloomed all summer full force and now it is time to reflect more and go within as winter comes, a time of creative renewal  once the summer chores of the farm lesson [not that they ever go away].

This summer started out pretty good. We had some equine healing days and Beauty Parlor Days here at the farm with elder residences. But that was cut short quickly with rising Delta cases. We also could not secure a porta potty this year due to the pandemic-go figure! I can't have elders using the house bathroom, it is unsafe due to the old house trip factors, and the many animals wondering inside. It also takes me away from the animals outside and it just isn't practical [we had an incident with someone really needing to go, so we agreed of course, but it wasn't a good situation. I need to be with the animals].

So I was disappointed in the lack of equine healing visits, especially since Biggs really seems like a natural.

But our visits to Cove's Edge have been really special, and to be able to see them in person and not through a window is great. We also have had them come in a visit on their van, and me and some smaller animals go on the van-perfect for hot weather! My Girl Friday there is going to attempt more of these visits with a couple of the wheelchair residents, and one that is blind who loves the animals and touch is so important for her. The heat and humidity made visits a challenge too, and rain!

I have other ideas about how to keep the residents lifted up in winter. I am wondering about a letter writing project where one of the animals writes every week and my Girl Friday can read it out loud. I also am looking into a portable projector where she could put a photo show on the wall.  All of this depends on how the pandemic swings, but I am feeling like things might close up again. We'll see.

I think this year has been even stranger than last year when we were in lock down. Last year, we knew what we had to do-stay home except for the most important tasks. At least that is what much of America did. This year, it felt like starts and stops, more uncertainty, anger everywhere, confusion, misinformation-all lumped in with so many upsetting things in the world like climate change and wild fires, wars, refugees...the list goes on and on.

I feel like I got a bit beat up by it all, as many of you have. I always strive to keep my posts online upbeat, but honest. I'm also more than ever putting on my pink bubble suit to defect many comments that are in my face. I think most people, good people many of them, are on edge. I get it. So I post Pickles leaps and Franklin Muffinpants chats and Harry the llama giving kisses to elder people. And sometimes I slip, and post something a bit more raw, and there's always somebody who calls it out-stop, Katherine, we come here to be uplifted, do not share that side of your feelings!

I'm dancing as fast as I can.

It's hard to be honest right now and upbeat at the same time. Maybe you disagree, but as an empath, and a sensitive soul, I am having many spiritual conflicts...about my fellow humans, and about my feelings toward them. This is a time to really grow spiritually-at some point. When I get there I'll write about it. I was thinking the other day that animals have never angered me-well, except biting flies-and nature has never angered me on the same level...but people do, and I'm working on that through this upheaval of a divided world.

So...goals for the non profit are to keep trying, to keep sharing the animal stories, to keep showing up for our elder people. You know, I don't think they really understand how important the visits are for me too, they feel like family visits to me. 

So, how are you coping in this world these days? Are you isolating more, or are you trying new things?