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.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Paco explains summer solstice and Lucia worries her head might explode

I arrived to do morning chores in the outer barn, and there they were, the three of them just as you see here. I stopped in my tracks and took a photo. They did not move, and as I returned to the inner barn to do my cleanup, I heard Paco,

"The summer solstice, also known as midsummer, occurs when a planet's rotational axis, or geographical pole on either its Northern or its Southern Hemisphere, is most greatly inclined toward the star that it orbits."

"Huh, is that so?" asked Pino.

"I don't like thinking of the world as spinning," said Lucia.

"Im glad there's gravity or I'd be on the moon," said Pino.

"And your head would burst open if you didn't have a space suit on," Boone chimed in from the other paddock.

Lucia started to hamper, she did not feel good about this.

"It's okay, Lucia, nobody is going to explode. it is a day of celebration, It is the longest day the year, and think about it, we can take more dust baths under the blue sky today than any other day in the year!" said Paco.

"That is something to celebrate," said Pino.

And with that, Paco rolled, and rolled, and rolled.

I might strip down later today, after the hay has been delivered, and do the same. No pictures.

{The majority of our 540 bales of hay arrive today! Please consider a donation to help us refill our Apifera piggy bank. Thank you!}

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

I'm mad and anger fuels action

I have been increasingly angry, upset, dumbfounded, and worn out by this administration and what they are doing to our country, our people in need, and our global community. My anger spilled over this week, and that turned to hopelessness, what can I do, how many times can I write congress people who turn deaf ears to protect their own interests? There are so many things to cry about, cry in anger, fear, sadness-the earth, the immigrants, the children, lets not forget Puerto Rico, the lies, the I-don't-care-if-they-lie-accomplices. The underbelly and dirty underpants of America is alive and well, thriving, it seems. It was always there. Martyn and I talk about this a lot-that this administration is here to teach us what was always there, and make us wake up and do something about it. I am going to continue my local work helping animals and people, do more art and writing, share inspiration when I see it, show disappointment when I feel it. And I think the get out the vote aspect is so important. I need to do better on the latter.

This is a very disturbing time for many of us, for many in the world. Perhaps the most disturbing to me, is the ugliness, the cruelty and selfishness of the GOP party. And don't sit there and tell me you are a Republican and didn't do this, and don't tell me all Republicans aren't the same [I'm aware of this], don't make this about YOU, this is about our children, our world, our Earth, people that need us. I don't give a rat's ass who you voted for, that's past. I care about what you see and how you are reacting to your country and world NOW. Tell me instead you are spending your days calling your party members and telling them to get some backbone, and a conscience. Tell me you care about the press and aren't buying into the sake screens. And don't tell me it's not your fault because you voted for Bernie, or Hillary...get on the phone and show your outrage...find a candidate and help them. I'm going to listen to Madeleine, she knows what she's talking about.

Let's educate ourselves , and at least one person on fascism-don't tell me it can't happen here...just don't. We are all culpable if we let this happen.

Monday, June 18, 2018

One year ago, I guess I could have died...or worse

Sometimes what could have happened is worse than what did happen. Either way, accidents and their aftermath play with your head.

One year ago, it was a beautiful June day, and after working in the morning, I saddled Boone up for a quick trail ride. I was excited to go back to a trail we had been given permission to ride on, one I had only discovered a week before. It was a well groomed woodland trail leading about a mile or so down to one of the many water bodies here in Bremen.

I remember as I rode off from the drive, feeling like it had been a productive morning, and the ride would be great, and I had ideas in my head to get back to once in the studio.

We rode down the trail. I remember seeing a yellow butterfly dart out in front of me, and I said out loud,

"Joanne, is that you?"

Joanne was my riding buddy, friend and mentor from Oregon, who died shortly before, at the age of 85. Looking back, I think it's interesting I called out to her. I wonder now if she was there with me and maybe she helped me in ways I can't fathom.

We rode all the way down to the water, for the first time, and then headed back. At some point, I asked Boone to canter. I am not a risk taker in riding, I love to canter, but since I had walked and trotted most of the new trail all the way down to the water, I felt safe knowing the path enough to do a slow canter. At some point, nearing the edge of where we had entered the wood, I knew there was a slight incline, very, very slight, but with some slippery ledge rock, so I thought to myself,

Time to walk.

And that was it.

The next thing I remember was being in a daze, trying to figure out where I was. I had no idea. I had my helmet, and phone, my face was bloody and 1/2 of my glasses were gone. Boone was gone too. I don't remember it, but it turns out I had called Martyn six times in a row, and when I was at the hospital, he let me listen to the messages. I wanted to hear them for any clues of what really happened. They were heartbreaking to listen to. I was so scared, each message I was telling Martyn I was lost, that I could not tell which way to go. Somehow, I went the right way. I kept telling him I was scared. I was crying. I asked him to come find me. The poor guy was trying to piece the messages together while at work, and figure out what to do.

The messages lasted 20 minutes.

At some point, I found my way out of the forest, and I hung up on Martyn. I sort of remember knocking on the door but no one was there. I do remember calling 911 at that point, and I remember I couldn't tell them where I was, but I said I lived in Bremen, and I was close to my house. They pinned me and within minutes were there.

I still don't know really what happened. Boone was a cow pony in his early years, and was trained to stop on a dime if you gave even a minuscule infliction with your hips forward. I think as I came down into my saddle transitioning out of the canter, I threw him into a halt, and I lost my balance. People have their theories- a bug stung him, an animal flew out... I had no bruises, and I bruise so easily, my pants weren't scuffed, my hands weren't cut. Boone had a few scuffs on his legs, but that was it. The fact my glasses broke at the nose bridge says my face smashed into his neck, or his neck flew up as he tried to right himself.

I wish I knew. I wish Boone could tell me- he left the scene, at which point I don't know, and made his way towards the farm, only about 1 mile down the road. The fact he didn't get hit on the busy road, or get caught in the reins...it all could have been so much worse.

I had major bleeding all around my brain and was in hospital for two days, but I didn't need surgery. When they refused to let me go home, and said I couldn't eat or drink since I might need surgery, that's when I started to worry.  Recovery was slow, but I was lucky. To this day,  if I am stressed, I can forget words, or get 'stuck' while talking, almost stuttering.

It has effected me. It's easy to say get back in the saddle. And I did, about 6 weeks later. I don't know if I will ever canter again on a trail, which saddens me, but maybe I will. We have had a hard time finding riding buddies, and I miss Joanne. Martyn and I have talked about making a small corral for me so I can keep riding, safely, and still do trails but keep Boone and me in shape together. We worked through so many things in our beginning relationship, I don't want to lose that.

It changed me, it changed my perspective on lots of things. It was traumatic, it was like being so out of control. I think the part I remember the best, is standing in the forest after I came too, and I could not tell which way was the right way to turn. One way led a mile or more down into the wood, the other was probably about 50 feet from the exit of the woods. It all looked scary and deep. The fall also has changed my relationship with The Wood. I see The Wood as an entity, which I always did, but I see it more as a force that has its own motives when I'm in it, not a partner. This is something I think I will work through.

But mainly, I am grateful I didn't die, or Boone didn't, that nothing was broken, that except for some minor things I am the same physically. I still have pain in my inner thigh from it.

Life can change in a second. After the accident, it seemed every where I looked there was evidence of that. I have friends that have taken bad falls, one friend lost her beloved husband of 52 to a seizure and then a fall down stairs. I think about falling and the dangers of it more, and of Martyn or anyone falling and the consequences.

The pundits will say you have to go forward and not get stuck. Not fear. Good for them. How many have had brain injury before, or fell off their horse and had The Wood take over? These are my shoes. I think in many ways I'm still recovering. I was going to ride on this anniversary, but decided not to. I don't know if that is fear. I just didn't want to. I will ride this week.

I told someone I know Boone knows the story. But they wisely said,

"Maybe not, maybe he doesn't want to remember it either, his leader fell, that was scary for him too."

I always wondered what Boone would do if I fell on a trail and was hurt. I like to think he didn't bolt, he is not a bolter. But that he sniffed me, and thought,

"Well she isn't going to be leading me today, think I'll go check out that grass." I'm proud that he calmly wandered towards home, and the women found him and cared for him in their yard before another friend came and got him. He was calm, and stoic.

SO, Boone and i are now in our 11th year together, he is 20, I am 60. We are still together and will be, we will just work through this, we've had some casual rides this month and all was well. I am not scared when I ride, I'm just not the same...yet. Time will strengthen my memory, and it will be okay.

The eyes of White Dog...no words needed

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Time for another Very Bad Haircut Day!

"Not too short on my neck," Birdie said.

"I know, I know," I replied.

"I'd like the Audrey Hepburn look, something that will look good when I'm in a convertible," the llama said.

"With Cary Grant?"

"Yes, he will do, and a scarf loosely around my head, and neck, like vintage Grace Kelly, cruising on the Riviera."

And so began yet another annual Very Bad Haircut. I first started giving them when I was four. I got my parent's dog trimmers, and gave my best friend and neighbor, Julie Cummings, a haircut. My mother spent the rest of our residency in that neighborhood apologizing. I don't know why, me and Julie were thinking it looked great.

Yea, I could hire a shearer for $40 to sheer her in one swoop shave, but what fun is that? Plus, I like her a bit longer and not shaved. This year, Birdie was a pro. After three years she is more mature and likes sitting in the beauty shop chair.

"Do you have any movie star magazines to read? Vintage? Stars today are so crass..." she asked.

The other great thing is we got it done in about an hour, with only one pair of scissors, mainly because Birdie behaved, and I have perfected my Very Bad Haircut technique. It's all in getting under the wool and making continual cuts.

She has a lot of taupe brown under there and even some polk-a-dots.

She had a good dust roll later and seems to look so dainty.

"You look like a tea cup," I told her.

"Heavens, no. I look like Audrey Hepburn," she replied.

Yes, yes, it is true. When not looking like Grace Kelly in motion, she looks like Audrey Hepburn. If we could all be so blessed.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Conversation with Chickens

"She has her camera! Out of my way!" said one of The Secret Sisters.

"You are such a gluten for photo ops, as always!" said another hen.

"The wind will catch my feathers just right, if you would get out of my way so I can run!" said the first hen.

"Oh Lord, you are just too much to behold," said the second hen, and she got out of the way.

After they were done voguing for the camera, they came upon the blind chicken, Henneth, who was hearing all the commotion. She stood at attention, catching what was going on by intuition.

"Watch this," said one of The Secret Sisters, and she quietly snuck up behind Henneth and looked up her underpants.

"That's mean, she can't reciprocate," said the other Secret Sister.

"I don't mind," said Henneth, "I do have beautiful underpants."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

I just had the most beautiful encounter with llama love...I guess I needed that

It was sort of a hard bunch of days for several reasons. Some I wrote about, others I kept private. I was back in the studio this week, much needed, and when I finished one of the pieces, the title came immediately, "Sometimes You're Upside Down'.

As an intuitive person, I know when I'm off. I felt that this week. Being off doesn't mean you are or bad, or unworthy, or doing it all in the improper way. But it can feel that way.

When I was doing chores this morning a beautiful thing happened, an encounter and I needed and I didn't realize how much.

I was mucking out stalls and cleaning water buckets in the outer barn, the sheep were still taking their morning lay downs, chewing cud in the shade. Birdie the llama was nearby, laying down. I approached her and she remained down, and I massaged her neck.

I got up and went about with my chores. Within seconds, I felt a presence, a light breath, and Birdie was standing directly behind me, her llama breath hitting my neck, softly. I laughed, she is known to do this to guests or vets, anyone visiting and talking to me will be checked out by Birdie. But when I turned to leave the stall, to go out to the pasture, she blocked the exit. I laughed again.

"Do you need more attention?" I asked, rubbing her neck. She then laid her head on my shoulder, another thing she likes to do while I cradle her head. Llamas don't usually like their heads touched, or 'patted', which is why I always instruct people to rub the neck. But Birdie has always been different from many llamas-even the breeder said this about her and suggested I not take her as she was already too interested in me, which would not make her the best candidate for protecting the sheep. I took her anyway.

I stood with her for some time, holding her head, kissing her nose and eyelids, rubbing her neck. At some point, I tried to again leave the exit. She repositioned herself slightly, and pressed into me, laying her head, strongly this time, onto my chest as if saying,

"Stop, stay here with me. I mean it, stop."

And I did.

It dawned on me that I am the one who needed this, not her. Oh I guess one can surmise anything in the woo woo world of animal love. {While I'm on that, please don't call Birdie one of my 'fur babies" it really wrinkles us Apiferians to be labeled 'fur babies. We think its fine if you live with fur babies, but we do not.}

I realized this week I was so absorbed in my 'upside downness' that I was a bit shutdown to Mother Earth, and I think Birdie knew this, or sensed my unbalance. I have seen Pino pick out the depressed one in a group, I've watched Opie stay put with one elder over another sensing something I'm not privy too but he senses it.

When I am unbalanced, I feel it inside. I feel uncomfortable with the world, with certain people, with 'the outsiders' which entails anyone outside the front gate. That's a lot of people. If I can feel it, I can rest assured my animals can, and some partake in healing, some down't.

You won't see Girl George coming over to commune with me, but Birdie, White Dog, Boone, Paco, Pino, Marcella-they are pretty tuned into me. There were many like this back at the old farm too. So there I was, trapped by llama love, forced to stop and care for myself with a beautiful long neck pressed against my heart. I allowed myself a short cry. Not a blubbering one, but the kind you have when you stub your toe and it hurts intensely for seconds.

I thanked her, and she slowly loosened her neck from me, but you know,I think she was prepared to stand there longer. I better check in with her later today, make sure I don't need another session.

"When You're Upside Down" an original

Monday, June 11, 2018

Ladies, your beard will grow back

When we did shearing back in March, I neglected to tell our wonderful shearer not to shave Sophie's beard. To be honest, I was so absorbed in dealing with the wool, that I didn't notice Sophie's beard was gone for a couple days!

So I am pleased to announce, The Beard is returning!