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

©K.Dunn. All rights reserved.




Sunday, November 29, 2009

Introducing...Olive!

Visit Tails & Tales to meet her....

Introducing...Olive!

I just wanted you to meet Olive...I'm sure she will be sharing more of herself with you in coming weeks and months.

Reciprocal land love



Huck and I have begun a new ritual. Climbing up the side acreage to view our land from the high point. It is one of my favorite parts of our property, and few people have experienced it. Part is covered in Savannah Oak where I dream of building a small writing hut where I could spend a nite in the thicket, perhaps with a small corral to leave my donkeys at nite, who would carry up my wine, bread and water for the evening.

I have lived in many houses I loved, and had gardens too that I felt connected to. But owning land is a love affair like no other. This may sound over dramatic, but it's not. It's one thing to fix an aging house, it's another to help the land, over grazed, or underutilized. We have much to do, and the work will never be finished to our liking, but I do know this land will be left in better condition than when we bought it. I do know that when I'm walking on that upper pasture, looking down at the old barn, the lavender fields, and the moss laden oaks, I feel appreciated by something very internal in this land.

Perhaps the feeling of walking on this expanse of land is very primordial, poking my heart's library of unconscious memories, reminding me of a time I can't photograph, a time when I roamed the earth free as another creature without a land deed.

When I took a walk with Huck and Martyn up to the top point this weekend, I made a promise to myself, and the land, that I will visit each day if possible. Walking straight up, I watch my feet sink into soft soil, I feel my heart pumping, I hear Huck running and the stream clicking on rock. I have much to do, with pleasure.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving message


May you be surrounded by those things you love, and recognize it as so. May you serve the bounties of the earth and relish in its texture and taste. Never take the warmth of a creature for granted, or the smile of a mate. And may the herds of the world somehow find peace.

Thank you to the many readers who share gratitude for this farm and its creatures, and two aching dirt farmers. Your comments, emails, and packages to a little donkey or an old goat of cookies, aprons, and handmade oddities, make life very special.



Saturday, November 21, 2009

Small gestures, lasting impacts


I felt a need to write this after a conversation Friday with a young artist who reminded me of the power of invisible gifts.

Back when I was single, young, and clean, living in Minneapolis, I had a heartbreak I thought would never heal. A boy I loved had left me behind and at the time it felt like all doors were shutting out the sun. Such drama, I know. I remember the first Sunday after our break up I was so despondent, I didn't know what to do with myself. I really needed to do something, anything, to take my mind of my patheticness, and with my throat cold all but over, I ventured out. The world seemed really big, and noisy.

I am not a church goer, preferring to commune in woods or pastures, enjoying the sermons of birds or wind. But in the spattering of church sermons I had attended, I did occasionally experience epiphanies. Deciding now would be a good time for an ephinany, I found myself sitting down in one of Minneapolis' older churches, known for it's historic building and accomplished choir, not to mention a pipe organ.

I fumbled through the various rituals, not really knowing what I was supposed to do, but I was so morose in my pathetic way that it didn't matter. Any movement on my part was good for me in this state, even if it was mumbling words from a Bible I knew nothing about. Even though my cold was mostly over, there was still a little something lurking in my throat, and of course it decided to rumble right as I sat down in the pew. I clutched a hankie to my mouth, holding in my coughs, when what I really wanted to do was just let it rip. I'm sure I was annoying to be near, but as I held my coughs in as best I could, the elderly woman next to me reached over, and handed me a throat lozenges. She smiled sincerely at me, and patted my hand gently. And then she turned away to listen to the minister. It was the tenderest gesture I had had in a week, and it did not feel the least bit judgmental, just a helping hand and a pat as if to say, "It'll be alright." I wanted to cry. I wanted to sit on her aged lap in a fetal position and tell her how safe she made me feel. She thought she was helping out a person with a cough, little did she know my wounds were much deeper.

That moment comes to me often, even though it happened almost 20 years ago. The elderly woman has most likely passed away, but the effect of her simple gesture lives on.

As I was working last week, a little piece of art sitting near my desk, reminded me of a young artist who had recently visited my studio. She had really liked the particular piece, and wondered if I had a print of it that she could buy. I didn't, and we went about other conversation. The young woman had come from out of town to meet me, and explained I was a role model for her. Remembering all this, something clicked in me and I stopped what I was doing, wrapped that little piece of art up and sent it off to her in the day's mail drop. Yesterday, I had a phone call from her, and as she began to speak, I could hear she was crying a little. She was so overwhelmed with the surprise gift, and she tried to convey what it meant to her.

My phone conversation over, I thought of that elderly woman in the church of many years ago. I did not have the words to tell her what her small gesture meant to me. It made me feel loved, and worthy. The phone call from my younger artist friend made me feel loved, and worthy. I am so grateful she expressed this to me.

I guess we all do little tiny things in daily life, and many of those things make huge, lasting impacts on others. I'm so flawed. I was feeling a bit misunderstood when the day began. But after this call, I remembered that I can make impacts on others. And they on me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Love in a box



One only need look outside the window to catch a glimpse of love. Mr. Plum and Little Orange remind us that one does not need fine Italian sheets to find comfort, nor a bed from a big box store. Cardboard walls, natures finest hay bedding, and a friend keep the chill out, and the heart warm. For the fortunate person taking the picture, these little lessons come throughout the day, and are often expressed by nature's creatures.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Overheard in barnyard



"Think of it this way," said the crusty old mouse to the new arrival. "When you're living you're still dying, and when you're dying you're still living. No point in worrying about either on their own."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stella tunes up

New movie: Stella sings


Thanks to all the kind emails congratulating Stella on her first movie. Pino's worried his place in Apifera Farm movie making will be usurped. But I've reassured him his talent and compassion can never be outdone.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pregnant lady reunion



"Daisy! Daisy!" I said as I entered the field tonight. "It's so good to have all you ladies back together! Come over here and see me!" And she did.


During this breeding season, 145 days of separation anxiety for the lady flock, and shepherdess, I think I missed Daisy most of all. I could see her everyday of course, in Concubine Field, but I didn't get my special Daisy time each morning. That would have meant Joe Pye time too, and believe me, you really don't want to have Joe Pye time unless you absolutely have to. So I missed the lady hay clatches.

I separated the three rams out on Saturday, tearing them from their ladies-of-the-season. This in and of itself was quite a task, if I may brag a bit. Hey, you try it. Now all the pregnant ewes are back together again, along with the younger virgins. I love having my flock back.

I think the reason I miss Daisy the most is she was our first ewe, along with her mother Rosie, who as my long time readers know, died tragically last March, along with her triplets. Daisy spent every day with her mother from birth, and when Rosie died, Daisy was 6. I really felt she changed after Rosie's death. A light sort of went out. Some might accuse me of placing my own feelings onto an animal, but I know this animal. She just seems different...rather sad, or...accepting of the situation at hand, but meloncholy. I was going to retire her this year and let her be baby free for the rest of her life, but I changed my mind, knowing that it is her innate urging to breed. When I saw her in heat weeks before breeding began, and she was hovering on Joe's fence line, away from the flock, I had to look at things from a sheep's inner programed desires. She's programed to breed, and lamb.

But she already looks so huge to me. I hope she doesn't have triplets. I am now officially terrified of triplets. I admit, after the ketosis tragedies of spring, losing our two best ewes and 6 lambs [both had triplets] in 2 weeks, I'm nervous this year.

Seeing Daisy pregnant again brought it all back. But it also reminded me that it's a new lambing season, and that's what we must focus on. And I will do my best for her.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Naked-donkey-old-goat-therapy


The beauty is, I can do what I want, and you, my beloved readers, can believe what you want...

After the creepy energy of yesterday's post, I went out to barn this morning and spent time with the donkeys. I told them their ears and body parts had been briefly pirated, but that all was ok, and we are safe again, at least in the barn, out of sight of any web cams, iphones or apps that might tweet us.

So I took my coat off, and my clothes, and rolled in the dust. I left my boots on, well, just because. It felt really good.

I had donkey hugs while still naked. Now don't be getting all freaked out or starting rumors- but the fuzzie winter coats feel really good on naked skin. It's the beauty of a barn, one can do all sorts of things in it without being egged, or hauled off to jail.

I proceeded onto the newer barn, fully clothed. And hung out with Georgie, Guinnias and Gertie, the senior three. Frankie was busy being Frankie - head butting the ram, positioning herself at the hay bar. But the three old timers amused me. They love to have body rub downs. Man, if I could just explain to them how to do that to me, now there's a viral Youtube waiting to happen.

So, this image amuses me. It will be the print goat sponsors get [really, I am going to send them to all of you who have sponsored, once I get my darn inks loaded again]...I just wanted to share it with you to make you smile.

I'm off to take a shower now.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Copyright infringement

UPDATE Friday, 11/13. The blog owner took the images down [although she has now posted the same copyrighted story of Platero and replaced my images with images from the British Museum which appear to be in accordance with their usage on their website. http://ora25.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/magarusul/] She has now added a quote at the bottom of each of her posts "If you are the owner of this art and object please contact me." Her readers seem to think I'm an ungrateful hussie for not looking at this as PR. One of her readers thought they were being quite funny by calling me a 'donkey' -ha ha- 'ass' since most of the work posted was my donkey art.

This was clearly NOT FAIR USE, as described by the copyright laws. Firstly, she took 16 images [not thumbnails, not crops, full size images]. Many of the images included my donkeys as the main theme, including some from my own children's stories about my donkeys. She then placed them as illustration for a copyrighted book/text of Platero, a story about a donkey [and a lovely story]. This last fact made the infringement even more upsetting for me. As an aspiring author, to have my art used to illustrate another book...um, excuse me, to we all see the conflict. She seemed to think she was 'transforming the art', hence 'fair use.".

There is much confusion among bloggers about copyright. Here is a Blogger's Legal Guide. I thought one more person might understand that just because you put a credit on an image, it does not give you the right to post or use an artist's image without consent or negotiation.Just becasue you have a 'share bottun' on a post, doesn't mean you can take images and illustrate another person's book with them. She obviously doesn't understand, as she continues to post daily a copyrighted book or poem, with art from other people. If someone gave her permission to do this, fine, but ask first.

And what about common curteosy? I always ask people or alert them if I want to post a photo. And for lordi sake, if I posted SIXTEEN of them...which I wouldn't think of, but um, think I'd pretty much ask permission.

Also, this idea that I as an artist should just be thrilled to have anyone post my images to gain more recognition is nonsense. I work very hard to create art for a living, and to create beloved characters from my animals to put in my stories. I don't appreciate having anyone placing my images of my donkeys next to the words of a published book, and I'm sure that author would not be too thrilled either. This person also felt she wasn't doing anything wrong becasue she put a link to my site at he bottom of her post. She cropped out my © insignia that was on the images.Now what happens when 100 others copy the images of her blog.

Thank you to so many that wrote her comments on the blog. You came through for me. Lesson: Don't mess with my donkeys.
----------------------------------------------

My images are being used without my consent. Feel free to leave a comment on this person's blog post [as I have done].

http://ora25.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/sufletul-cetii/

Here's someone who thinks it's fine and dandy to copy and post a multitude of my images, and then write a story around them. Gr---rrr--r-r-r-.

This is NOT alright. From what I can tell by the Romanian-English translation, he/she [there appears to be no link to send an email directly to this person so I wrote a comment] is either writing a story up, or not sure. This same blog has tons of other's art, from what I can tell, and then writes story narrative around it.

I really get irritated when this happens. It is not ok to just cut and paste people's art, and using it in such an arrogant way. I often give people the permission to use my art, and welcome certain shout outs on the internet, but taking this many of my images, without asking, is not only against the copyright laws, it's arrogant.

Post a comment to them if you'd like. Perhaps that will get this person to learn something.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Helping a little Bug


Another senior dog I sponsored through Old Dog Haven, was this sweet little thing called "Bug". Well, my sponsorship was up this month, and I just can't resist that face, or name. So again, thanks to recent print sales, another small amount will be sent their way.

Bug was basically abandonned at a large shelter, with a dislocated hip, heart murmer, horrible teeth with oronasal fistulas which are being worked on. Still, Bug has a sunny personality, say the family that took him in for his forever home. We are so glad Bug found you!

Please consider donating to Old Dog Haven or other animal rescue organizations in your area.

Helping Hewitt


NOTE: 12.30.09 ...Hewitt has passed on, but he died with dignity, and in a loving home where he knew he was safe.

Thanks to recent art/print sales, I can donate a small amount to one of the Final Refuge Dogs helped by Old Dog Haven. Old Dog Haven helps senior dogs by placing them in forever homes, or helping adopt them and get medical care. They are located in Washington and have a network of foster homes that help the dogs in need.

This month I will sponsor Hewitt, an old Chihuahua who was found emaciated on the streets, and hairless. He is fighting seizures and has a serious heart murmur. Despite this, his Final Refuge home says he is a snuggler. No matter what time he has left, he will go out with a full heart and caring home.

Please consider making a donation to Old Dog Haven or the animal rescue organization in your area.

Ladies, prepare your undergarments




During one of the few sun breaks [Oregonians know the term], I took the opportunity to visit with the chickens, who were free ranging right outside my stdio door.

Without fail, the minute I bought my camera out, they start showing off their underpants. One bends over, and it begins a contest for "Best Looking Undergarments of the Moment".

"Lookie here, my underpants are a lovely earth tone!" declares Edmonia Lewis.

"Ahem, but mine are a silver fox color!" says Jane Morrison.

"I feel mine have are slightly puffier than yours though," chimes in here near twin, Lady Jane.

It was 10 minutes well spent. So I'm posting these for my chickenless readers, to make you happy. It is a known fact, I read it somewhere, that chicken underpants make people happy. I can attest to this, as I feel even happier than I did when I woke up, and I was pretty happy when I woke up. I thought of having a "Prettiest Underpants of Apifera" contest, but that would only encourage them, and would be slightly non-Apifera in tone.

Morning Chat with Pino: Raining Pickles

Morning Chat with Pino

Monday, November 09, 2009

Morning dust bath

These pictures [by Jan Harris who visited awhile ago, taking some wonderful Apifera shots]really capture the spirit of a good donkey dust bath.

Huck reporting for duty


Of all the animals at Apifera, there is one that spends almost every minute of the waking day with me, but he is the one that probably gets the least attention on the blog. It's Huck, known in some circles as the chocolate lab named after a pie and friend to the pug with one eye.

When I take 2 steps to the left, Huck takes 1.5 steps. If I move 1 step back to the right, Huck doesn't budge. This allows him to be as close to me as possible without falling over.

Huck sleeps on the couch - yes, the couch- and in the early dawn when he senses the proper amount of daylight is present, he starts yawning. Not little girly yawns, but big manly yawns that an old farmer makes lying in bed, stretching. If he does come to the bedroom, he sits at the threshold, yawning. He's much to polite to come in without an invitation. "Come on in, Huck," and he bounds in and sits yawning at the bedside.

I unabashedly love Huck. His chocolate ears are like velvet, irresistible to my lips. I usually kiss Huck's ears in the morning long before I kiss Martyn.

Each animal has a purpose here on the farm, be it a job of pasture maintenance, laying eggs, or providing a strong back to haul something. Just as we two footers need a sense of purpose to remain healthy, so do these animals. I'm not sure what job the old goats have, or the one eye pug, but seniors can do what they want. For awhile Huck was lacking a job, but he now as two important tasks. When Stella and Iris break out of the fencing, which is pretty much daily as you all know, we say, "Come on Huck, goat duty!" and he rushes to the door. He escourts the goats back to their proper pasture, and returns to the house with a beaming expression. This summer I trained Huck to recognize the sound of raccoons or skunks eating at the cat food bowl on the front porch. Both have distinctive sounds from the cats. Every time I heard a coon or a skunk at the cat food, I'd just say, "Who is it Huck?" and within days he understood it as "Me Huck, must scare off critters." Now he runs to the door on his own when he hears skunks or raccoons.

I've been wanting to get back into pet therapy visits, like I did with the One Eyed Pug back in Minneapolis. My real goal is hospice work with a dog, and I 'm not sure if Huck will be right for that, but he might be great with group visits, or 'reading to kids' programs. He's trained pretty well, but he's led a sheltered life on the farm, so I've been taking him out to public stores to get him acclimated to new surroundings.

This weekend I took him to Lowe's. Lots of sounds, crashing boxes, electric doors, carts on wheels that were a good test for us. He did really well, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I really saw something in his eyes that made me swell up. It was like he was saying, "Yes, I can do this! I want to meet people, I want this job so much." It was a turning point for both of us. He was so happy to be there with me, doing something, anything, with me and for me. He obeyed and sat on command, and except for a bit of pulling, was a gentleman. He also got lots of admiration which was good for him, since the donkeys get all the attention at farm days. As people of all ages asked to pet him, I beamed every time someone said, "He's the most beautiful color." On occasion, he looked up at me as if to say, "It's going quite well, don't you think?" Perhaps the biggest accomplishment for him was he didn't have gas. Huck's admiration for kitty poop, preferably rolled in mud with a dusting of dried leaves, provides him with ample silent gaseous explosions. If you see me in a cold winter downpour, driving with all the windows open, you can be sure that Huck is in the car with me.

The dream I had long ago of one day living on a farm with a barnyard full of animals has come true. But I forgot how much I love working with dogs too. Huck and I will venture into some kind of pet therapy visits and I will of course keep you posted. And, I can't keep the secret any more - we are bringing home a little Huck, a puppy born this weekend from the same sire. The breeder told us it might be one of her last litters, and well, I took that as encouragement from the pet therapy guides above to get one. I'd been contemplating it anyway, knowing I wanted a hospice dog. The breeder has placed many of her dogs into service work, including hospice, so stay tuned. While I advocate bringing senior dogs into your homes, I felt I already have my senior dog who is 12 and has his own heart/eye issues. I decided I deserved a pup, and am really excited to work with him, and continue to work with Huck. And I think Huck deserves this too. Billy can't play with him anymore. It's sad to watch Huck's brown eyes sag when he attempts to get a game going with his senior friend.

Taking Huck and the new pup out for visits will bring stories and inspirations. It will be an honorable way to spend some time with my dogs.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Snippets of Apifera

Donkey and wind converse, he with brays, a flicker of the tail, lips quiver. And the wind caresses his ear tips.


I'll tweet snippets like this, 140 character 'essences' of what I'm trying to capture in my longer short stories [many you have not seen, yet.]

Twitterpated tweets

Those that follow this blog know the uproar in the barnyard when it was discovered that Pino was tweeting. At the time, we felt that as long as our tweets were of service, it was a good thing, and a viable way to communicate to more people. We tweeted sales that would help animals, sales that helped sell art that in turn might help me help animals, things of that nature.

I've spent some time looking at other people's tweets, and much of it bores me. But I've looked at some writers I like and it dawned on me this a wonderful way to get my words out in front of people. And it is a good exercise for me, to hone words into 140 characters but still say something that has an essence.

So you might try following our tweets. Here is one I wrote today.

Cat sits on the bench from which he sees a garden where worms decompose so he can hide in grasses.


Follow our tweets at @apifera_farm.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Part 1: Stella & Iris's Nutty Caper


Scroll down for Part 2...

The morning had brought the dew, just the way they liked it, crispy on the top but wet and soft underneath. This allowed a morning grazing without the shock of cold inner grass blades. It also added an especially fresh flavor to the dried leaves and made their crunch even crisper sounding inside their heads. The chewing sound resonated deep into their hearts, and made them happy.

The House activity started much earlier than normal this morning. Usually the sun rose, and a sequence of events took place in the same precise order: lights on, smoke from chimney, door opens, cats fed on deck, woman out, donkeys bray, rooster crows, woman lets chickens out, loud sound of barnyard gate, upper sheep out first, small goats out next, horse whinnies, loud sound of gate, woman walks back to house.

This consistent routine was comforting to everyone. Order in the barnyard was necessary not only for proper digestion, but it also kept the animals emotionally fit.

But today, the routine was altered. While the barnyard still dozed, and the sun was barely rising, the door opened. But there was no light on, and not a swirl of smoke rose from the chimney.

Stella and Iris looked at each other, quizzically.

Then the woman came out of the House and headed to barn. The large gate is heard opening.

"What? She passed by the chicken house?!" said Stella, quite alarmed.

Stella and Iris then hear the sheep wake in the lower barn and the horse whinny. Small goats were heard bleating, and the sounds of feed bins being opened and closed rattled in the crisp air. Only moments go by when they hear the large gate opening again, then shutting, and they see the woman at the chicken house. As she opens the door, the rooster crows, but there are no leisurely 'hellos' from the woman this morning.

As the woman heads hastily back to the barn, the goats ponder the events.

"It's all cattywompus!" Stella says in her best hushed detective tone.

After the woman enters the House, a light goes on and she is soon seen feeding the porch cats.

"Backwards, she did things backwards!" Stella says, somewhat agitated.

"Could she be sick?" asked Iris.

"Doubtful. The Dirt Man would have come out," said Stella, still in a curious wrinkled up nose expression.

"Perhaps they are both ill." responded Iris.

"Whatever the reason, it's all cattywompus!" said Stella, still miffed.

The two returned to their dirt mound, now slightly warmed and dewless from the sunrise. They lay down, chewed some leaf cud, and waited, never taking their eyes away from the House.

Within about twenty minutes, the House door opens and out come the woman, the man, the dog and the old woman known as Tilly who shows up periodically. They pile into the car, and within minutes the car is gone, leaving the sound of gravel under wheels resonating with the two goats.

"It appears to be a substantial ride." said Stella.

"Definitely. They took the dog, and his water dish." said Iris.

"Yes, I saw that too. Whenever they leave during morning dew time, it's always a full day before they return," surmised Stella.

As the two sat chewing on their mound, it was only seconds before they both seemed to get the same idea at the same time.

"Should be a good day to proceed with Plan M302," said Stella.

"Check. Do we need the ladder?" asked Iris.

"I determined it was physically impossible to retrieve it. Dirt Man tied it to the post to prevent us from further mishaps." said Stella. "But I have another idea."

"Better do a check first," said Iris. And she grabbed her binoculars to view the miles of gravel road to the east.

"It's clear, they're gone." said Iris.

And the two casually made their way through the electrified wire fence, without a blink of an eye.

Stay tuned. Part two to follow this week.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Part 2: Stella & Iris's Nutty Caper



"I'd like to know how you plan to achieve that elevation?" said Iris, as she looked up towards the sky.

"I've been thinking about this all week. With some help, some good timing, and the right balance, it should work out for the best." said Stella.

"Work out for the best? The last time it worked out for the best, I was on the bottom of a pile of donkeys." Iris said skeptically.

"We shall not use the donkeys this time. The effort to get them over the fence, in a timely manner, is not worth the risk. This time we will have chicken aides."

"Oh, Lord..." said Iris.

"They have flight capabilities, very important in this endeavor." said Stella.

Stella and Iris proceeded to walk around the object of their desire, a walnut tree about 30 feet high, and as wide. The tree was over a 100 years old, and had suffered many a lost limb over the years. It had served as a natural swing set for a child many years ago, with rope marks to prove it. And currently the many cats of the farm came to shade there, under it's huge flared skirt of branches. But it was not entertainment through swinging, or shade that the two goats sought. They were after one thing, and one thing only.

"Nuts." said Iris. "Nuts have always gotten us into trouble, " and she shook her head.

"Oh come on, where's your drive? Snap out of it. One can not achieve the height of this tree with such pessimism." Stella scolded. "Are you in, or out?"

"I'm in, I'm in...." said Iris reluctantly.

"Alright, now you wait here." said Stella. And within a few minutes she returned with a bevy of hens: Henny Penny, Henny Jennie, Chicken Named Dog, Alice and the Three Janes.

"I'll go first!" said Henny Penny.

"Nonsense, you're near sighted, I'll go!" said Alice.

"But I'm the youngest, with the most strength!" declared one of the Janes.

"And I am the oldest, I'll go first!" said Chicken Named Dog.

"Calm down!" said Stella. "There is a precise order to your assent."

Iris rolled her eyes.

Stella proceeded, "Iris, you're on the bottom."

Iris rolled her eyes again.

"Then I shall be on top of Iris. Then Chicken Named Dog, followed by Henny Penny, Henny Jenny, and Alice is on the top." explained Stella.

"What about us?" said the Three Janes, three Barred Rocks almost identical in appearance.

"You are the back up squad. So stand at attention in case you're needed." said Stella.

Iris took a deep breath and Stella climbed up on her shoulders, and then Chicken Named Dog climbed up on Stella. One by one the hens hopped up on the shoulders of the creature below them. Except Alice, who tended to over analyze any situation.

"I'm not sure if our initial placement is right. Shouldn't we be standing further out from the main trunk area?" asked Alice.

"Excuseeeeeeeee me! Can we get on with this ladies?!" said a wary Iris, from the bottom of the pile.

"Hop on, Alice, we have limited shoulder strength!" said Henny Penny. And Alice made her way up, one creature at a time, untill she was way up top.

"Did you just poop on me??" said Chicken Name Dog.

"Well, excuse me for relieving myself! Did you have to announce it?" said Henny Penny embarrased.

The ladder of creatures was pretty stable, so Stella yelled out, "OK, on the count of three, we take three steps forward. Then Alice, hop onto the very top of the tree, and start hopping from the branches to promote nut drop!"

And the live ladder moved one step, two steps and finally three steps. Alice hopped on the tree and began hopping, and shaking the branches as best she could.

And it began to rain nuts.

"It's working!" Stella declared. And for a brief moment in history it appeared the caper was going to work out just fine. The nuts kept dropping, forming huge piles all over the ground, deep piles that one could sink their ankles in.

And then Iris coughed.

The ladder of creatures lost it's balance and swayed to the left, and then teeterd to the right, swooned to the front, and swayed to the back, all the while many "Ohhhh -nooooooo- ohhhh's" were heard from both chicken and goat. Seeing the disastor unfolding, the Three Janes covered their eyes and huddled in a group. A swooshing sound was finally heard, leaves could be heard crackling, and nuts were heard crunching.

When the air was still again, and tall ladder of creatures was now grounded, there were a few sniffles, and deep breaths. Stella sat on a pile of nuts, rubbing her eyes and reacquainting herself with the earth. The chickens flapped wings to make sure everything was still working, and the Three Janes came to inspect their mates for serious de-feathering.

And from somewhere, a muffled murmer was heard.

Stella looked at her bottom, feeling a vibration form below her. Suddenly, nuts started spewing up from the pile, like a rodent backing out of its hole. And out popped Iris's head.

"Excuseeeee me! I'm under here!" Iris said, spitting out dirt and grass.

Everyone helped her up, and dusted her off.

There now, you're just fine, Iris." said Stella, helping to pick nut shells out of her hair. "Well, I for one think this was a very successful caper!"

Iris rolled her eyes.

And suddenly, a chicken came tumbling down from the tree top, hitting Iris on the head.

"Ouch!" Iris yelled.

"I'm so sorry, Iris!" said Alice. "I lost my depth perception in the thick branches!"

"What you should have said, Alice, was, 'Oh nuts!" said Henny Jenny, and she laughed heartily at her own pun.

"Nuts to you, Henny Jenny!" said Alice, and she too laughed at her own joke.

"You don't know nuttin' about nuttin flying!" laughed Chicken Named Dog.

"Okay, okay, let's just get the nuts picked up and move them to the barn, ladies." said Iris.

The hens rolled their eyes at Iris's lack of a sense of humor in an obviously humorous time. They diligently began to gather the nuts in buckets found around the House. Suddenly, Chicken Named Dog broke out in a heartfelt rendition of "I Had a Little Nut Tree" and everyone joined in, including Stella. But not Iris.

"Come on Iris! Singing makes the day's work seem brighter! Join in!" said Stella.
Iris rolled her eyes and continued to work.

"Suit yourself!" said Stella..

The group worked diligently gathering nuts, all the while singing their song over and over and over...and over. After the fifth time of hearing the chorus, Iris gave in, and began to hum.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Look at him, look at them



I've taken many wonderful pictures here at the farm. Many have that 'wow' factor, for me anyway. But when someone else comes to visit and they take "wow" pictures, it's a different experience than looking at your own. That person chose the subjects, sought them out, or they sought each other out for their own personal interplay. And even though I'm constantly having "pinch-me-I-have-a-farm" moments, it's moving to see my farm through other people's eyes.

A string of experiences, desires, motives, wrong turns, failures and successes landed me here at Apifera. I think too that the guests that land here are brought for a reason, to teach me, share their inner locomotives, and learn from me. It's a give-take kind of gathering.

I've been posting pictures lately by Jan Harris who visited some time ago. With the past two months of writing the Quarry book, I haven't had as much time to focus on picture taking, so I'm glad I can share some of Jan's. She will be having a show in Vancouver all month at the Sixth Street Gallery in Vancouver [WA], and many of the photos she took at Apifera will be on display.

When I first looked at the disk of the photos Jan sent, I swelled up. I got emotional. These are my mates, these creatures, this barn, this rusting junk and dilapidated chair that someone long dead once sat on. As much as I nurture the farm, it nurtures me right back.

Just as I see beauty in the old barn doors I have doctored in my raggedy fashion, so did Jan. I found it so rewarding that an old door might trust a stranger enough to whisper, "Psssst, over here, I'm around the corner."

Help a donkey rest in peace

NOTE: If you have trouble opening the link here, I pasted the entire post, with email addres where you can help, in the comment section.


The absolute horrific case of animal cruelty in Spain had me writing a letter, and you can do if it moves you.

A donkey was tortured by teens, then had a broom shoved up it's anus, tortured more, caused massive internal bleeding, and died.

The local courts are saying these teens [whose parents are saying how terribly sorry they are...um, yes, now that the media is involved and found them out...]should not be tried for animal cruelty, since the donkey officially died of a'heart attack."

The people over at one of the donkey sanctuaries in Spain that we like to promote, are encouraging people from all over the world d to write a letter to the judge, to ask that these teens be tried for cruelty to animals.

this link will share the story and details, and give you the email [we wrote in English, but they have a letter in Spanish which you can cut and paste].

It won't take more than a minute. Please share this with all your friends.

Me and Oz


Thoroughly enjoying working on my self propelled series of OZ. Intend to do portraits of the characters, then scenes. There are so many inspirations from my favorite story of all time, and movie.

When I was little, the 1939 classic movie was shown on TV every March, and it was a "Special Presentation" with limited interruptions. My mother would make a special meal, which then included restuffed potatoes, and let us eat in front of the TV. Each year, when that movie came in March, it was revered in my household.

That was 1960 era. I haven't watched it for years and when it does show up on cable, Martyn will mention it's on.

"Don't you want to watch it?"

"It's not March, it's just not right." I say.

Monday, November 02, 2009

We shall gaze upon the full moon


It is small moments like these, upon walking back from the barn at night that my day's richness peaks, swells, and I'm stopped by higher powers within and without. Thank you to the hardworking guides that got me here, and thank you to those who are in charge of our daily orchestral arrangement.

Stella and Iris break for a nap



"Phew...that was one heck of a morning."

"One of our best capers yet, Iris."

"Agreed. We always get so much accomplished when she has her mother staying here." said Iris.

"Those long sight seeing car rides they take her on really give us time alone to perfect our escapades." Stella pronounced, after a cud chewed aroma left her lips.

"Yes, a leisurely but intense romp is so delicious." said Iris.

"I must nap now, " said Stella.

"I'll sun bathe." said Iris.


Visit Tails & Tales, the short story site of artist/Katherine Dunn to read the entire story of their caper.

Sunday, November 01, 2009



Gertie and Georgie are adapting well to Apifera and their new senior facility [also in resideance isOld Guinnias. These two ladies are real talkers, and enjoy hobbling out to the sun, where they usually lay down to eat. It is very hard for them to stand more than about 1 minute due to joint deformities casues by improper fot care.

I created this teeny little film to show the consequences of not taking care of a goat's feet. We adopted Georgie and Gertie this past month from New Moon Farm and Goat Rescue in Washington. This is the same wonderful place where we adopted our first senior rescue goat, Old Guinnias. These two senior ladies came from owners that neglected their feet and didn't trim them. This caused them too walk improperly which over time caused crippling effects. I am giving them daily massages and hope to see if an animal therapist might give me tips on getting Gertie to bend her front leg over time.

This is not uncommon. Sadly, many equines, sheep and goats are left in fields or wet barnyards without foot care. These creatures need their feet trimmed on a regular basis. We trim the sheep 2-3 times a year due to our rocky terrain. Our horse is trimmed by a farrier every 2 months. The donkeys are trimmed 3-4 times a year, and I am learning to d that.

If you see an animal with long curled toes, try to get it help, or call your vet to see if they can intervene. And if you plan on buying any animal, remember it is a commitment. It's heartbreaking to see so many 4H projects turn into rescue cases. Goats can live well past 15. Donkeys from 20-30 years, and horses often live past 20. You don't toss Granny away.

Pino's Movies: Update

I decided to make the existing 3 Pino Puppet Movies free to the public for now. You can view them online at our Apifera Farm movie channel.

People know and love Pino the donkey, and Pino the muse of Donkey Diaries and more. But I realized that people need to 'get to know' this charming little fellow as a movie man. So go watch his 2 minute movies. They bring me and Martyn great joy, and I decided the main reason I do the puppets is to have fun, and share. And now you can share them too.

I will still do Private Pino e-movies on request. Have a birthday wish or other message to send a friend, $25 will get a private Pino 2 minute greeting.I also hope I can use them in our Donkey Dream venture, to send cheer to sick kids or seniors.