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, February 05, 2015

How am I doing?

So I have a question for all of you- to be answered here or on Facebook [I've given up trying to get people to only comment here on the blog, it just is the way it is!]

The question is:

How do you all think I'm doing? You know, in my work with the animals, my writing, my art, my tone, my sharing of story that might inspire or bring comfort-or bring a smile?

I thought that question was a good way to start a conversation, and request, about and for donations and subscriptions. You might know I've always had a strained relationship with 'donations'. Last year, I decided to deliberately pull back from asking for donations too much. I decided I should let people feel propelled to donate on their own, but only after they saw over and over my work here, work I've been doing at Apifera for 11 years now. I would go about with my writing, painting, and sharing story through books and the blog, and let donations come as they will without my asking. I put up a GoFund page at the beginning of the year to help with our new barn project-which will help house elders and make some hospice work easier for me since it will be right by the studio. But I took that funding page down, it didn't feel right. That barn was paid for out of my work, and the second phase begins this spring.

When I did my year end books this past week, I felt pretty good. I've been a freelancer for 19 years, without the aid of a loan or trust fund [some people seem to think I am rich, perhaps because I went to a private school and live on a farm with a horse and make my own schedule-in fact, my architect father worked and sacrificed to put me through school, as did my mother who worked in retail until her 70's-I am so blessed for that gift! And I didn't get here overnight!].

But at the same time, I don't think I give myself enough credit. I perhaps might have gone the opposite direction, in that I'm not asking for enough help. I put links to support pages but I feel awkward asking for donations all the time, straight out. Someone told me about a writer who is constantly asking for money to pay for things like her truck expenses, and late mortgage payments. I cringed. It seems to be an ongoing thing for this particular freelancer. I do not, nor will I, become dependent on another's incomes to make Apifera run, or to help my Misfits. Obviously emergencies can arise-and people ask for help these days through crowd sourcing. I have no problem with that, for the record. But some people do seem to be using their social personas and bad business skills to get money.

Perhaps this is the old Minnesotan in me-asking for money outright seems rather....non Minnesotan.

So looking at the year end numbers, while my art/book income looked okay, I realized that donations were almost obsolete, because I just didn't promote them. My feed bill has gone up a lot because I've switched to a better feed for the elders and am also buying better hay. Would it seem silly to tell you that I also noted my 'entertainment' total for 2015 in my books was...wait for it...$75. I'm not complaining, working here on the farm, and my art and writing-it is my entertainment. But there were no vacations. There is no running out quickly for a lunch. And again, I'm fine with that, I have what I need to be happy. So today, I just want to give a bit of a recap of my work here.

Current Misfits: 38 [this does not include my horse, my sheep, working pigs]
Resting in Peace: 24
Annual Misfit Feed Bill: $4800-6000
Annual Hay Bill: $2400
Vet Bill this year: $4500
New barn: $12,000

These animals are not just thrown hay. I think you all know that. They are communed, with me and others. They are shared with outsiders to benefit animal and person. They are healed, hospiced and buried. I clean up there loose bowels and give them shots, trim their feet and try to put weight on them-the slow way- with care and love. I have laid with them, carried them, and sung to them. I do everything I can for them and that is just a wonderful gift I am able to give them. And I get to be with them, a gift for me-which I try to return to you through books and art.

So, the question again,

How am I doing?

And one more-are you able to give or subscribe? [a huge rush of discomfort just flew over the room].


sharon stanley said...

well, in a word, you're doing great. i've always felt that you have struck a balance between enough and too much information about apifera/animals/writing/art etc. my first love (from your apifera sharing) is the art. it's what brought me to the blog to begin with. your artwork tells it's own story. it really requires to explanation. it has always spoken to me and i just love it. i would buy every piece if i could. alas, i cannot, so i enjoy seeing it, experiencing it even. i love your writing and enjoy your books. i love knowing what's going on at apifera, and that of course includes the misfits and old folks as well. your photography is beautiful and inspiring. but, for me, it's the art. i understand your fundraising and have always thought it was generous with the 'gifts' you give with the donations. i think you've come up with some interesting incentives. more so that most. so, the truth is, i love what you do and i think you do it well.

Shannan said...

I think you're doing amazing job. You share your stories in rich tones that bring your writing and art to life. I look forward to you posts about all the different species, chicken, dog, goat and on and on. You share your life, which to me seems magical though I guarantee I have no true concept of all the hard work you put in each day to care for these glorious creatures. You also openly share your farm expenses as well as some personal ones. Truly an open book. Thank you for your efforts. I am happy to donate to help your efforts and encourage your amazing spirit.

Erica of Golden Egg Vintage said...

Hi Katherine :)
I don't comment often, but I read each post. Although I've purchased one of your beautiful art prints, your photography is what I enjoy most. I'm a major animal lover, and I appreciate that we get to see the barn yard like we do. I did send you an apron once too.
Being a fellow Minnesotan, this will be hard for me to say, but I guess I'll go for it since you have asked. When I was reading your post (above), it dawned on me just why I've never felt a pressing need to make a financial contribution. I think things are a little unclear. It's been a little hard to tell if all of the animals are there because they needed rescuing, or are they your personal animals?? Or is it a mix? And then I think there have been times when baby sheep or pigs have been born. And to me, when I see new life on a farm, I don't see "rescue and elderly misfits".
Now, don't get me wrong...I certainly know there are elderly misfits, and that you are a Godsend to these animals in need. I'm just tossing it out there that perhaps things are a little unclear to people.
I bet if your blog was called "Apifera Misfit Rescue" or something like that, it might help.
OK- that's my two cents. I hope I didn't offend you! And YES, I do think you do an amazing job!
Erica :)

Katherine Dunn said...

Thanks for writing. Erica, your comment disturbs me. I sense from you...some disbelief in what I'm doing here. I have never hidden the fact we are a small working farm. Are you suggesting that I am taking money and using it on my 'working animals"? You do understand, as I clearly point out, and have for over 11 years, this is a sustainable, small working farm? Please look at both the "Meet the Misfits" page, and the Farm page to see this. I clearly point out who the Misfits are. I'm really disheartened by your comment, to be honest, it smells of distrust. I'm assuming, and correct me if I'm wrong, that you think I am taking money and not making it clear here that I'm using it on my Misfits? Have you read the post?

Anonymous said...

Good karma at your place I say. Your and Martin's spirit infuses everything you do. I love your art and that's how I found you first many moons ago. It is clear to me that your taking care of this misfits is your path that goes hand in hand with all that you do. Farming in itself is damn hard work, sustainability is no easy task either, it all costs more, but the proof of that is in your lavender and how fabulous it is. The glamorous vacation is an occasional glass of red wine with your hubby by the fire I suspect. No fancy nothing as it all goes back out. So to answer your question. Good karma lady, good karma. Excuse me while I go make a "donation". xox

Marianne said...

In my humble opinion, you asked a loaded question. There is a fine line here..... please hear me out. You asked us to answer your question. I only know you as an artist through facebook and I have never been here on your blog. So I poked around a bit here, read several posts, clicked on several links, and generally tried to get a feel for what you are doing. What I found was a passionate woman who truly loves animals. What I don't see is a clear separation between your working animals and your misfits. When I was starting my sanctuary I had my personal pets and my "rescues" But it was hard for folks to tell who was who, it was hard even for me to separate the two. I love them all equally. Back to the fine line. Most people feel more comfortable donating to an organized charity. If the laws are the same in your state as mine, you would need to designate a portion of your farm for the housing and care of your misfits. You would also need to keep documented records separate from your farm records. I think, perhaps, it may be time for you to "grow" your efforts and apply for 501(c)3 status. At the same time drop the "free gifts with donation" ( Sell your art if you want and say the proceeds benefit the misfits.) If you actually have 501(c)3 status, I am sorry I did not see that anywhere on your website. In answer to your question. You are doing an amazing thing for animals and with a bit of organization an fine tuning you will be better equipped to reach out to more people and in turn collect more donations. Again, just my opinion.

Katherine Dunn said...

Thank you Corrine, and thank you for the very generous donation, and Shannon, Sharon, your thoughts are well and graciously expressed and meaningful to me.

Katherine Dunn said...

Marianne, I am not a 501c, which is clearly stated on my donation page. The farm page clearly states what APifera is. I am not interested in not having a farm life. I have discussed 501c status-which is different in every state so you might not know Oregon laws-but I've discussed it ad nauseum with my accounts, laywer and my trusted comrades at both Sanctuary one and New Moon Farm-it is not right for our purposes, I'll leave it that. But thanks for your input. Good luck to you.

Marianne said...

Oh I see it now. I did not go to your donation page yet. I know all too well the amount of work involved to become a non profit charity. I also did not like the fact that a portion of my property would have to be dedicated to my dogs. The third thing that deterred me was the need for three directors.So I decided to not go the 501(c)3 status either.
I am always happy to meet another animal lover and I will be visiting your blog more.

Susan Smith said...

I enjoy following your blog and your posts to Facebook. You're immensely talented and creative, not to mention compassionate. You care for the farm, all the animals, your art, the creativity of others - I don't know how you manage to balance all that you do and think about! I love your sense of humor, too - you keep everything going on about you very "real". Your compassion is also tempered with a liberal dose of practicality. Each day, those whose life revolves around a working farm (with or without "misfits") must constantly manage life or death issues. You do that well, celebrating each life, mourning each death and, at times celebrating the deaths as well. Your post about losing your smallest hen prompted me to look at your postcards and to purchase two sets. I think you are handling things just right!

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, Katherine, I think you are doing astonishingly well for one mere human girl. If I wasn't failing in a big way in my own quest to make a living as a creative person, I would gladly--and repeatedly--send you money and buy your paintings. In the meantime, I send you much love and blessings… ♡ (And don't be embarrassed to ask for help, in whatever form, to care for those *you* help, because your work, your words and your photographs greatly enrich the lives of all of us as we follow your journey at Apifera Farm and through Life.)

Katherine Dunn said...

Thank you for those words, Susan [Smith]! And Susan S.Hill! Really, I think it is a valuable thing to be noticed for the purity I put into my farm and animals-all of them.And sending it back out in art and writing-it takes time as you all understand-and it is nice to be noticed!

Erica of Golden Egg Vintage said...

Hi Katherine-
It never once crossed my mind that you would take money and use it on your "working animals". Never ever! I've tried to support you by sending you two packages and by buying a print.
Even though you have "The Farm" page, and "The Misfits" page, I'm letting you know that it's not so easy to tell what's what as you may think. And I'm letting you know....because you asked.
I won't comment further. Good Luck! :)

Katherine Dunn said...

Thanks for explaining that, Erica. You have not 'tried'- you "have' and I appreciate it. But I am not sure how I can make the Farm, Misfit, and Sponsor page any clearer. And I am up against what anyone in media, blogging or online is- people don't stop and actually read.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~