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

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Heat Rising into the Sky







It is the third day of 100 degree heat. I am pretty much useless after 85, so at a certain point in the day, I just sort of...disappear. This morning I did barn chores early, and even then the heat coming from all directions onto my body, from both earth and sky, was intense. While we don't have the humidity , thankfully, like we did in my old prairie homeland of Minnesota, it is still hot. It reminds me of when I visited Arizona in August, and everyone kept telling me, "But it's a dry heat", and finally, after hearing that 100 times, I blurted out, "I don't care if it's a dry heat, it's 110 in the shade, it's [blank] hot!"

The barns takes on a whole new dimension in the heat. The hay side is intensely hot, and Martyn assures me as long as the bales were dry when we put them in the barn [which they were], that they won't explode. The cats move to get their morning feed, but you can find them lounging in the most glorious poses languishing in the hot air. The goats don't jump out of bed in the morning, and Sky was already hot to the touch. I hosed her down yesterday, and will again today. Last nite we took Huck to the river front and went swimming with him the first time. We all stood in the navel deep water, and our neighbors on the adjoining river front came down to greet us. We all stood around in the water and visited. Country time, man.

In the meantime, I am moving very slowly, getting ready to start two new canvases for Atlanta. So far, I've taken the roll of canvas out to cut it. That took all morning, as I opted to post 5 new pieces on the store site [under originals]. This barn painting demonstrates that which I have mentioned before - that when I paint a piece one day, it is often a subconscious realization of an upcoming event; For when I painted this a few weeks ago it was cool and I yearned somewhat for more warmth- Now when I look at it, I can see the heat rising into the darkening sky, just as it did last night.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Home


As the picture shows, the Big guy is home. We are considering changing his name to "The Million Dollar Cat", as his vet bill was a tad higher than I had hoped for - I won't share it with you as you will all think I've lost my mind. The clinic where I vet my dogs and barn cats were wonderful, as always - thank you Carlton Vet, I know you threw in some extra attention and service.

The outpouring of donations definitely helps put a nip in Tony's vet bill, and I can't thank people enough, over and over.

For those of you who donated, I will be getting your print/story off to you in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile it is over 90 and the heat will continue into the next week. I worked an hour in the field and melted, literally, as my Irish skin just can't handle heat. So I am taking the opportunity to work in the shade today - I am busy training Tony how to fold and toss a newspaper, as I am hoping I can get him a paper route to earn some of his keep here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sustain thyself

"If you don't enjoy your lifestyle, it will not sustain itself".
Such a simple statement with such truth. I read this in a website of a farm that is practicing sustainable living. So many people write and tell me they envy my life, living in the country on a farm with animals and painting. I strongly believe that if one truly desires something, they will attain it, they will unconsciously direct themselves or be directed to people, places and events that open doors for them or lead to the desired thing. I have desired this lifestyle since I was a young child. It took many steps and side journeys to get here. If you're just tire kicking, you won't bring home the car that day.

We've been here 2 years, and I can say that this month more than ever I am feeling in a total flow with my life and our life here on the farm. The farm and the lavender are interconnected with the animals we raise and care for and feed my soul which nurtures the art, and then the art is sold. Those paintings that emote my deepest feelings for this place, its animals, plants, weeds and crops are sent out into the world, to Japan and Vermont and Des Moines and Atlanta and it spreads that energy. This is part of why I am here, I don't need to question that anymore like I might have 10 years ago. The people that receive that art, and care for it in their homes, they in turn share an energy with it, they get to have their own relationship with it. Like raising the child as best you can, and sending them off on their own at 19, you always have your signature on them, but they take on a life force of their own.

The farm event was so special. The pony rides were a huge hit with all ages, the weather cooperated, people came from all over, with lots of little children who came to see a farm and animals. What Apifera Farm is to the outside world is formulating, and we are not just a lavender farm, for we, care for many animals and we will propagate plants and we care for the earth and will share any bounty we might mange in years to come - and we sell art that celebrates it. We met wonderful people, interesting people, and one of the most exciting for me was a couple who had just moved to our area from England where he was a real, live SHEPHERD - I acted like a was meeting Neil Young. But it was so exciting! We are not only meeting, but slowly forming bonds and friendships with other couples who are farming on a small scale, or raising animals. It is really, really rewarding, full filling. I am in love with this farm, I am in love with the daily chores. Actually, 'in love' is too weak a term to use, as 'in love' connotates the beginning, immature stages of a deeper committed love. I must rephrase it to say, I love this farm, I am committed now to this farm. This is not a temporary dilly dally in the country, this is not a foolish-young woman attempt to try living with someone prematurely - this is a life I chose, carefully, with much attention and thought, and an understanding of what I needed and wanted. It took years to get here. And the journey goes on.

And part of this journey will include, always, many cats to care for. I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for the incredible outpouring of support I have received in the past three days for Big Tony.I am so blown away. Thank you. I needed help, I asked, and it rained on me. The update as of this writing is that Big Tony is still in the hospital, BUT, he is hopefully coming home Friday. He was doing much better on Wednesday after heavier meds and more aggressive sedations - we are hopeful this is the beginning of real healing. I haven't received today's update, but am for the first time breathing easier. One of my cat supporters suggested I look into a 501K for the work I'm doing with the cats, and I have already contacted my accountant. I know I can do so much more to help animals. I am 48 and I have so much to do and give to them. I know my art will help in this cause too. I'd like to help ferels as well as neglected farm animals.

But right now, I'm going to eat some left over salad of our fresh grown butterhead, nurtured along by our sheep manure and water that sits deep under the soil of Apifera.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Big Tony, please come home



Many of you know Big Tony from my story over on Animals of Apifera, and some of you have even been lucky enough to have been graced by a personal introduction to him at our farm. Big Tony is the King, he is the one, he rules, he rocks. He is King of the new barn where 10 of the barn/ferels sleep, he is King of the front porch where Little Orange, Blackberry, Pumpkin Head and Mama sleep. He is King of our house now, where he comes and goes at his whim, sometimes reclining on the bed, sometimes on a chair by a fire. He eats on a counter and is in his eyes, is elevated in his position in our farm and home. He adores Martyn. He is at the top of the hierarchy of all animals here on the farm, including Huck and Billy. He is even above the other big man, Joe Pye Weed. Tony does not need to scream this from any balcony, he oozes this fact - it is like they would say about someone like Ghandi or JFK - you just know you are in the presence of a higher energy. Some animals have it, and Big Tony is one.

Big Tony came down with a serious infection of the urethra last week. He has been in the hospital since, and they are having trouble keeping his bladder empty. It's common among neutered male cats, often is diet related, and can usually be controlled once the initial blockage and infection is taken care of. They just can't seem to get to that point, but I am remaining hopeful. Of course, all this is costing money, and I put out the word yesterday to an email list of customers and cat lovers and friends - 'please, help if you can', and I want to say, yesterday was a day of many tears of gratitude. Some of you I knew well, some not so well, but each penny and dollar helps so much. Big Tony is my responsibility, but we have been helping so many area cats, that this incident tapped me dry. I reached out and asked for donations for Big Tony's rising vet bill, and people have responded. I am just so grateful. It means a lot that people understand how much time,effort and love I put into the ferels and helping them. I will always always reach out to animals. It is a gift for the animal, but more than that, a gift for me to have this affinity.

If you want to donate money to help defray the cost of the vetting, you can visit the katherinnedunn.net site and go to Farm Whim section and donate online. Or email me if you prefer a check. I am sending all donaters a small archive print of the piece I recently did of Big Tony, along with the story of him [which you can read on the Animals of Apifera site.] I will post immediately when, hopefully, he gets home.

I am still working [slowly, I know] on my escrow fund idea for helping other people with spaying/neutering ferels/strays, but right now, I need to focus on the King. I have gathered a lot of support.

I wanted to write about farm event - which was a huge success - and I will later this week. So many cool things happened and I need to digest it all to write about it. But for now, my heart is wrapped up in a cat, that I care about, and that cat's energy has power and purpose. I want Big Tony home, back on the farm.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Conscious land


This farm has a conscious.
We watched "Farmer John" this week and that thought has been on my mind since. This farm, indeed, does have a conscious.

It is all connected, every element of it a thought that pops into my head often. As I muck the horse stall, I take the uneaten hay and toss it into the sheep for bedding, which turns into compost that covers the vegetable bed. We ate lettuce last night from it, it felt healing. The small farm used to take care of communities and families on a direct basis. Now people eat unconsciously, not knowing where it was grown or how, and much of it is grown not on a farm but in a factory. Farmer John recognized this many times, and lived it, and lived through the '80's while farmers around him went under. But he turned it around. There's a solution to very problem if you think creatively and openly. It took a lot of courage to do what he did,and ingenuity,and hard work. Now he is helping feed people, and educate people from the city - that farm is helping people.

I do not have the adequate time or energy to write a proper post - the farm event this weekend" is keeping me on overdrive - but I wanted to write that. This farm is leading me, us somewhere. Just as it heals us, we are healing it - as it sat so neglected for years. It is a long road ahead for us. But like Farmer John said, it is almost as if the farm tells you, guides you, with what to do. It inspired both of us to continue to work toward our plan of being more sustainable, and then taking that ability and sharing it somehow with a small community.

I think that movie should be required for school children, and then again to 20 year olds with all the answers, and again at 30 when you know you don't have the answers, and again, every decade of one's life - to give courage and inspiration. It is a beautiful, moving, inspiring story of a boy who grows up, a family, a farm, and the struggle, fall and eventual triumph of all.

It also inspired me as an artist - as one can feel like an outcast, odd, 'she's different', quirky, weird, etc,...But you have to find your own beat and drum it out loud, with head up high even while the neighbors snicker at the church social.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bare spaces needed


I have been swallowed up by the details of getting everything together for our upcoming farm event. This morning while doing a brief bit of yoga, I finished with my Tree pose by looking up at the sky and saying, "I'm sorry, God". It was such a sweet, unfiltered expression that came out of my mouth that took me by surprise. I wasn't sure what I was apologizing for, but it must have been a genuine sentiment. Later this morning, I realized I was really apologizing to myself, as I've learned when I talk to the higher powers they are usually just holding up a mirror for me. I had let some crappy energy that came my way via the wind out West hover around me too long. So, that little apology was for me, "Sorry old girl, for letting certain things drag you down when all along you had the ruby slippers and the power to set it all free."

Hence, this particular painting interests me even more, now that I think about it. I painted it last week, in between taking care of the myriad of details for the farm event, like making tin buckets for the lavender, as well as running the business and the farm itself. Somewhere in a daze in there, I rushed to put up another 300 feet of cross fence and electric wire so my mare can be off the other fence line, where she keeps throwing shoes while flaunting herself to the neighbor gelding. When the fence was done, I cried, as I was just so exhausted, and I broke my own rule - I whined- "It's just another 'monkey fence', a piece of $300 crappy fence work I messed up that we'll have to re-do some day". And in his usual calm way, Martyn lightened me up with humor by saying, "Well, it would be good for monkeys." We laughed.

I remember when I finished this piece, I wondered if it was too bare...but it pleased me. One small wave under a moon on the ocean beach. I so wanted to take myself there. But of course I already had by painting this.