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

©K.Dunn. All rights reserved.




Monday, October 31, 2016

Martyn and White Dog caught in a glance

I was resting in one of the pig stalls and caught some pictures of Martyn and Bennedeto.

Benne loves Martyn. i think it's guy thing. He loves me too but he does love to run to Martyn if he is out in the yard or field working.

I just loved the expression in these photos. Imagine, life without White Dog, or Martyn. I can't.

{Please remember to pledge to help my new book about an itty cat. Only three days left!}



Sunday, October 30, 2016

M'Lady


M'Lady Apple sits below my studio and she is a great creature to wake to, and work with, as I sit up and look out on her, and look at the animals in the field. She was the first creature here that brought me comfort when we arrived. She is over 75 years old.

{Available at the shop}

Saturday, October 29, 2016

5 days left to help this book...no funding, no book

{Love and appreciation to all of you reading this who have supported my book "Itty Bitty & Big Etta" which is entering the final days to get funding!! THANK YOU!  Visit the movie and fund page.}

This is my third self published book where I've used Kickstarter-which means people pledge amounts at a preferred reward level, but if I don't reach my funding goal [which can not be changed] then I don't get one cent, and the pledgers are not charged, nor does Kickstarter make any money.

Raising funds this way is hard work. Each time is a roller coaster. And each time I have to reach out, repeatedly, to my followers and ask for money. It's not all that comfortable for me to do, nor is it easy for any artist I know. It is not a matter of sending out one or two emails, it takes a lot of them-and I'm happy to say I've only lost one email subscriber to it...so far.

But, I have worked hard and with all my heart on this book, and the art,  and am proud of it. I know other people are too. I think it shares a simple but profound lesson-let others be who they have to be, even if it isn't what you want, even if the consequences might hurt you, they need to be themselves to be happy.

There are over 100 supporters of the book so far, but we need more. Time is running out and if the goal is not reached by Wednesday afternoon, there will be no birthing.

I so appreciate the pledgers who have upped their amount-that is so gracious, thank you! And many are really sharing and writing eloquent statements as to why they support this project. That means the world to me-to feel like people appreciate the work I've been doing all these years as an artist and writer. We writers/artists online give away a lot of work and heart everyday. It's part of social media now, it's part of marketing. But I see that changing–I think many of us are worn out, and are seeing less return for all our efforts, not only financially but with results that make giving away free work worth it such as book sales, art being sold, events being attended, and Kickstarters coming to a happy fruition. None of us who truly HAVE to paint or write for our souls do it for the money, but we do need to make a living, fairly, just like a doctor, lawyer or magazine. Kickstarter allows many of us indie authors and artists to create worthy projects that would go unmade without support.


  • Share on social media, tell why you love the book, don't just post a link.
  • Send a message to famous Facebookers, what is there to lose? Or people with high traffic.
  • Pick one person you know who loves cats, or who is living life as their 'ownself' and share the link http://kck.st/2dBkAFF


I do not have anything up my sleeve. I do not have the ability to pay for this book on my own to be published. And I am not interested in producing it by print-on-demand. I have published all my books with an offset printer so I can choose paper stock, have quality hard covers, and have interior end sheets that are illustrated. I have never felt let down by the printer I work with, and I like working directly with a printer that I can talk to. And, the cost per book is so much lower this way, I would hardly make a dime the other way...and I have looked at hose options, and have been contacted by several POD companies and they can't compare tot he prices [the down side, if you call it that, is I have to do a higher print run].

So, that's it. I have until Wednesday afternoon East coast time [so West coast supporters, don't wait until Wednesday]. If you haven't seen the animated movie to promote the book, please watch it, even if you don't pledge. I just love the video [that Angela Kassube made for me]. And of course you get to hear my use playing!


Friday, October 28, 2016

Old donkey

Old Donkey sits...a lot.

She thinks about her life and all she has done, and all she knew, loved and lost. She doesn't dwell on it, well, sometimes because her memory isn't great so she often finds her thoughts seem to be familiar,

"Did I just think this?" she wonders. "Oh, well."

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Secret Sisters and Francis

I have been meaning to write about the chickens. In June, I was chicken less, having left my flock at the old farm with the new owners. I was sad to do that, but taking them on a six day journey would have been risky in the heat, and each one would have had to have an ID implant-which all the animals had to have for travel. I had names for every one of them, and know they were better off staying there. But...I had my favorites, and think of their faces a lot.

So when we got here and were chickenless, I could hardly stand it. A farm without chickens is not a farm in my book. I had to buy eggs and it nearly killed me-I'd wonder,

Were they happy chickens who laid the eggs? 

I decided to get some adult hens since it was already June and brought home some 5 week old Buff Orpingtons, one of my favorite breeds for their personality. Since we weren't totally settled, I opted to only bring 5 hens home, and a rooster.

Upon arrival, the new flock had to live with Rosie in a stall we had created for her majesty. I learned it is best to keep the chickens in an area for a long time, until they lay, so they know to come back to the roost after a day of free ranging. And since there was no adult mamas to guide them, it was the best way. Eventually, to the delight of both chickens and grumpy pig, Rosie moved out to the new barn, leaving the chickens on their own. Every morning I'd come in and there was not a chicken sound to be heard. They were the least chatty chickens I'd ever had.

"Are you there? Are you dead" I would ask upon arriving. No answer.

At some point, I thought they were dying, or just not right. And then I thought they were depressed. Even though they were not laying yet, I let them out for a day. But it's complicated. The set up made it hard to get them into the front barnyard with the pigs where all the good worms were.

So, I devised my scheme. Feed and slop the pigs, and open their door wide so the chickens could come in. At first, it took forever being the chicken patrol guard, but Francis the rooster and I have it down now. He is turning into a fine roo, protective, but not aggressive with me, even tolerating being held. And he's a real looker too. The two piglets were a bit perturbed with the hens, and went after them. Since they are carnivores, I did spend time to make sure I wouldn't find a headless chicken. But it all calmed down, and now we have our chicken routine down.

I call them  The Secret Sisters because they are not like the Buffs I had in the past, they are quite secretive {I also happen to love the girl band of the same name}. They have not shared a lot with me, and maybe that is okay. There will be more chickens to come next spring. For now, I think it is jut fine they are a clutch, with their own stories held closely to the vest. In this day where everyone seems to share everything manically online, I felt it was nice to have chickens with such tight boundaries.

Chickens with secrets...there must be some good stories there.

Every day now, I wait for the first egg. And yes, the cold is coming, but I would assume there will be a few popping out even in winter. We shall see.



Inside creatures

The house is less full without Huck, but I think of him often, and when I do, his face and that Lady Di look he would give me comes into my head; it is our current way of being together.

Muddy in some odd ways has taken on more of Huck's personality. He doesn't come up the stairs, which is so like Huck who was even concerned if he had to go around a scary door jam. He checks on me more and he worries more about some sounds and comes to my side for reassurance. He sleeps more but he is going on seven. We joked that Mud will go out of this world as a pup, where as Huck came into this world as an old man. I've seen this often in the past years of animal care taking-when one of a pair dies, the other often shifts, sometimes by blossoming, as Sophie did after victor passed, and sometimes by becoming more like the lost buddy. I think Mud is just fine. He actually played with Hughie the other day and it was pretty funny.

Big Tony is aging. He is at least 15 we think but could be older. What we've seen in the past months is his hind end is weakening. We have makeshift steps all over the house for him, to get up to his food dish, to get up on his perch, to get up in the bed. He is not cleaning himself as well either and often comes to bed with poo in his hind paws. I figure it will happen to me, unable someday to tidy myself, so I care for him and place no shame on him. He sleeps by my head at night and we have talks. I told him,

"You are the cat I should have written about. You are here."

He is in the book. The book is struggling to get birthed. I can't deny it. Many have come on board, many who usually do, have not. I'm done analyzing it. We even got named a "Project We Love" by Kickstarter, and I'm appreciative of that. When I first wrote what was then called "Raggedy Love' back in '08 era, I worked with a top notch, well known freelance editor who used to be an in house editor at Chronicle and Workmen. He was very helpful and I learned so much from him about keeping a book focused. He also pitched that book to about 12 houses, and it was well received, but it didn't get picked up. He told me something though that was very true and something for all artists/authors to know:

A book has a life of its own.

He went on to share stories of an author's book not getting picked up, and the author went on to make another book, or more, and years down the road, the first book gets picked up. That was true with what would become "Donkey Dream", I had to birth it myself years later, but it sat in a pile for years. So, this Itty book has its own life and I don't have a magic ball to predict its future, or demise.

I do have a really exciting project I'm creating and I can't wait to share it, but it will be after the Kickstarter campaign is over, no matter what the outcome.




Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The survivor...Scooby Keith

In 2014, Scooby Keith entered my life. He was not the healthiest old goat I had taken on-but healthy old goats weren't my goal. He was prone to coming down with pneumonia type symptoms, and each time, he and I would beat it, together.

He of course came with his very own personal elderly llama, Aldo the Elder, who I miss greatly. When he arrived with Aldo, Scooby was very independent of the herd of Misfits, preferring to roam on his own, or hang out with me or Aldo. I always listen and watch a newcomer and try to see what their comfort level is.

So we continue the routine we have had for some time. Scooby currently sleeps with Eleanor and the piglets, and Sir Tripod Goat-the latter is also very much a loner. But when I feed the pigs and Tripod, I let Scooby out to be with me as I prepare all the other breakfasts. Scooby visits his own food dish, checks out the chicken coop and then lets me know when he is ready to return to the pasture-usually just about when I get back from feeding the sheep and equines.

Scooby is going on 16 years old and it shows. His coat is thinning as is the weight on his backbone. But he is still a strong little character. He hasn't had a cold situation for over a year. I am going to put a jacket on him for winter. I did that in Oregon too, but here of course it will be colder, but it will be drier which is a blessing.Cold is one thing, wet and cold is another.

Scooby is not the handsomest bloak, and as far as looks attracting visitors, he is at the bottom of the list. But I am so fond of him, he reminds me a lot of Lofa, and Old Man Guinnias who was also bonded to me not the herd, and did chores with me day and night.

I hope he can be with me into his twenties like Guin, that would be special, if he can do it.


Scooby's current bedroom mates

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

His name is Rat

He still gets up and walks, with crippled bent legs, as he is very old, a survivor as many rats are. He likes to wear his boxer shorts and shirt, and has one nice suit vest he still wears. He doesn't walk far, but always tries to look up at the stars, slowly, as his neck gives him problems now. He prefers night to day.

He also is made of part love, a bit of stoic pessimism for living so long, and rat like ingenuity. One of kind.

His name is Rat.

{Available now at the shop}




Monday, October 24, 2016

Six years ago this week, a one pound sensation came into my life

Six years ago this week, this coming Saturday to be exact, a one pound cat came into my life, out of the blue, on a rainy rural highway. She leapt out of the bramble as log trucks were coming from both directions. My heart almost stopped. She somehow managed to avoid death, and as I pulled off the road, she sat waiting for me, in the middle of the highway, as if the yellow divider line was made especially for her as a guide.

I was on my way to an appointment and had Huck in the car. I remember thinking,

I do NOT need another cat. I can not bring this cat home.

At that point of Apifera, we had 25 cats. We had arrived in 2004 to the farm, and were immediately greeted by a little orange tabby tumbling out of the hay bales. That was Gus. He was one of five, and Mama Kitty was busy getting pregnant, by none other than Big Tony. By the time I could trap/spay/neuter the kittens, Mama had another litter who I also trapped/spayed/neutered. It took me two years to trap Mama, and she had a third litter but moved them to a neighbor's barn. In between, other cats just seemed to arrive, hearing perhaps that the accommodations were good. And they were. Samuel Noel, Mr. Bradshaw, One Eye, BW, Tomentosa, Miss Prairie Pussytoes and of course, Phinias T. Barnum. Oh, and Miss Peach.

I turned the truck around with this kitten on my lap. I was sure she was going to freak out, and driving with an unknown cat, uncaged, was dangerous. I had had trips to the ER because of working with feel kittens. But she sat on my lap, calmly, occasionally uttering her infamous,

Meh.

I took her to my vet to see if they could take her but they were full up. She was only 1#, skinny, bad eyes and we weren't sure if she would make it. When Martyn came home that night, I greeted him at the door.

"I was minding my business. But I had to bring her in," I said.

He later told me he assumed I'd brought a raccoon in the studio or baby skunk. But when he saw her that day, he said, like he was looking at a newborn baby,

"Of course you had to bring her home."

This the man that courteously told me-many eons ago-he could not tolerate cats. He and Itty were bonded from day one. She immediately favored Martyn and we used to joke that I saved her, but she would choose him if forced to pick. He loved that cat. I'd catch him cooing to her, or talking to her like an old school chum. Itty was very independent but each night, when she chose to come in from her Big Etta world, she would venture to Martyn's side of the bed.

Meh, I'd hear, in her faintest form of "meh". And he'd put her under his covers.

So the sign you see here had a real meaning when I made it way back when. No other sign at the old Apifera brought more delight to visitors. To me, it has no meaning in the present day at the old farm, it's a novelty item now and I should have taken it down in honor of the beautiful story of 25 cats that all lived there once. I wish I had. It had a function then, to warn the delivery people and other trucks coming up the road, that, yes, there were indeed cats falling from trees.

So, here I am asking you to once again partake in Itty. That darn little cat. I am making one final push, in her honor, to get funding for this book. We have 10 days left.

If you can honor her, and me, with a pledge, I thank you. And I am grateful for the 90 current pledges, and tot he people who have upped their pledge, and shared the story with others.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Starting from scratch is just fine with me

From "Itty Bitty & Big Etta"
I've had a recurring conversation with many people who have lost parents, friends, loved ones and animals. It is something that I learned over time, that is the only way I get though losing someone-it is an acquired skill of being a living human...left behind at the party after another departs.

One must find their own unique language with the departed love one. No matter how strong one's personal belief's of an after world, or lack there of, it is very hard as a human to live with out the physical presence of a loved one. All the trappings we latch onto as humans are gone- the voice we reached out to on the phone for laughs, comfort, and advice; the image of a pet at our feet; the reality that an old friend is not going to suddenly appear at your favorite bookstore-it's a cold reality that comes with staying behind in the living world.

I also find, for myself, that this language I must learn with to communicate with each passed creature evolves over time–Like learning any new language, one has to work at adding to the vocabulary.

Dreams are important for me, a way to visit in a more visual way with loved ones who are gone. My parents are often in dreams. Oddly, before they died, I used to dream about dining with them but we were also always looking at empty houses, and I was always thinking in the dream I needed to get back to the farm, and find Martyn. They weren't frightening dreams, but those dreams seem to have subsided. They went on for years though. I now tend to have encounters with my parents in the woods, through the sounds of the leaves, or in a snowfall, a red cardinal, the full moon is always my parents together, the wind is always my father, and my mother comes to me in voice all the time-usually in encouragement, or motherly advice.

This art is from the "Itty Bitty & Big Etta" book. Itty doesn't come to me as much in dreams now as she did when we first moved, but it was always with the same message, that she is where she needs to be to be her true self.

The Kick campaign is winding down, ten days to go and we are only at 44%. I have analyzed it to death, asked questions of past and present backers, and am at peace whatever the outcome is. I'm done analyzing it. I just want to work again so am focusing on my studio. Marketing these campaigns is not for the shy-one has to keep asking followers to pledge, and as one successful Kickstarter campaigner told me years ago-you will lose some fans because of it, but will gain others. That seems to be true.

My life is shifting. It appears some followers weren't willing to make the shift. And that's okay. But I'm going forward. I have lots of ideas for shuffling the blog around, how I use social media [I failed last month at deleting my Facebook profile, but I have some new ideas on that for the coming weeks] and what work I want to generate in coming months-including my sewn creatures, and the novel idea I keep procrastinating on.

I'm starting from scratch. I finally figured that out.

I'm rebuilding my intentions. It meant letting go of some things, and some followers.

"Soon or later it all gets real, walk on." {Neil Young}

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Little Sylvia Pettini

Little Sylvia Pettini is doing very well. She has not quite caught up in size with her mates, but is gaining weight and eating well. And also I'm pleased her left eye is healing. She definitely has a slight scar on the interior eye from where she lay on it so much as a sickly newborn, but she no longer holds it shut and I am not treating it any more.

She is just the sweetest little imp. When I look out in the field she is the one that most looks like a little woolen doll. She always comes up to visit and welcomes hugs and holding. Actually this flock is so personable, and if I'm kneeling with Sylvia, one by one they all venture over. I wish I could have some pics of me and the flock. For now I take these rather silly selfies, and ponder at how old I am getting, nearing 59 soon.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The safety of the fallen leaves

I grew up with gorgeous fall color of Minnesota, went to college in upstate New York with road trips to Vermont ,so it is wonderful returning to the gorgeous display of Mother Nature's paintings here in Maine. Oregon was beautiful too of course, but you don't get the reds and oranges there.

An Oregon friend asked, "So, is the fall as great as the New Englanders claim?"

Short answer...yes.

But for me the sounds of fall are what bring me both the comfort of childhood memories, or college days, and also melancholy for those I love and miss. What is melancholy for a past time but the idea that it was safer, better, easier...I doubt it was, but when I walk through the leaves, that sound, it reminds of making leaf houses as a child, knowing I'd be going into a homemade meal of my mother's, dog at my side...nobody could hurt me. Did I have any worries? I'm sure I did. But melancholy makes it all safe, those memories seem worrieless.

So as I did chores last night, and raked leaves into compost piles, I knew I'd be going into a fire, a homemade Martyn meal, and a dog at my side. Did I have worries? Some, but once in the house, or in certain spots of my land, or barns, I feel safe. I suppose someday, I might feel melancholy for this.

{Have you been enjoying the photos and writing of the past ten years here? Please consider supporting my new book project, with only 15 more days to get it funded, I need your help.}


Martyn making another rock wall for next year's veggie garden


The pigs actually have a tiny sliver of an ocean view


The Small Bird and Rodent Cemetery grows

Memory: the day I fixed Opal's broken leg


Sunday, October 16, 2016

White Dog romp

Since The White Dogs work in different areas, I give them days to just be relaxed and romp with each other, lots of wolf play and it is fun and interesting to observe. The weather has been so beautiful and we've been doing lots of pre-winter prep outside so I got to witness all the fun.



This is a crucial crossroads

We are at a crucial stage in the Kickstarter campaign for the new book and have only 18 days left. The initial pledges came in early and strong-thank you! But we are not at 30% which is usually a benchmark of success for Kick projects.

I am not going to ask anyone who has already pledged to up their pledge at this stage. We simply need more supporters. In the past 200 or so pledges usually come in to get us to $12,000-15,000. We are far from that, and only 18 days to go.

I will ask you to one thing. Write one or two people you know, maybe people who like cats, people who love art...people who love small intimate books, and ask them watch the video, and pledge.

If each of you bring in one to two people, it would be powerful!

{FYI, Itty Bitty is alive and well, and still lives on the old farm with the new owners. Some people were afraid to ask. While this is a book about a loss, it is about me losing a creature because I had to accept her true spirit and what was best for her, and accept this as what was meant to be.}

Friday, October 14, 2016

Morning rituals with White Dog...they matter

Rituals are important to the relationships I have with my animals and farm, and land. Rituals allow us to know that even in the chaos of a daily life full of the unexpected, a ritual can keep us balanced, even temporarily until we are back on track. My morning rituals with the animals gets me up in the morning. it is what got me through my father's death, my mother's and any other grief I was going through.

When we moved the farm to Maine, getting the animals resettled was my top priority, both in the barn, and in the house. Since we had such strong relationships, it wasn't that hard. Maybe some of the stalls were temporary, and now we are getting our paddocks and fencing more suited for long term use, but the animals adjusted immediately, very well. There was no drama for anyone. They had food, shelter, water, and the same voice of me coming and going as I always did. I spent a lot of daily time with my charges before we moved, during, and after.

White Dog has taken on a more active role here. I really didn't plan it. In fact, I was most concerned about both Benedetto and Marcella because we are on a very busy road, something I did not realize when we purchased the place. It slows down late autumn through May, but it is only about 300 feet from the barn, unlike our old farm. it is the one thing that, to be honest, I am having trouble adjusting too, but we are doing fencing and planting trees to help.

White Dog now lives with the sheep pretty much 24/7. He lives out in the new barn, with the flock, and The Head Troll, Sophia, Birdie the llama, and the equines in the next over pasture. Rosie the pig, er, The World's Grumpiest But I Am Fine As I Am Pig, aka Rosie, lives in her private suite there too. Marcella lives with Earnest, Moose, Goose and Wilbur the Acrobatic Goat. Sometimes the Secret Sisters and Francis [the chicken flock] visit. The White Dogs have wolf play days where I bring them together and they run and fight and get to relax. Eventually, Marcella will have more roaming room, but the fences aren't good enough, yet.

So here is my morning ritual today with Benne. No matter what gate I enter at, he is there. I can see that nose and those sincere eyes from the porch. I spend a good few minutes holding him, and looking into his eyes, deeply. One is not to over pet a guard dog, they say. I believe this and understand the concept. But Benne needs my acknowledgement, he always has. We still, nor ever, will know his true story. But I do know that he is a natural with the flock, and more relaxed than Marcella. He does a good job at night with wandering coyotes but he doesn't over bark either.

We go off to the barn for feedings, and after, I usually go out somewhere and just...look. I am still soaking things in. I am still introducing myself to the trees and The Wood, and trying to understand exactly what happened, and why. White Dog has definite places, usually corners away from the flock, where he perches himself. He is very content here, I think maybe more so than at the old farm. I think he has more purpose here. He was the barnyard guard there and here he is in charge of a bigger area of his own, and the flock. Marcella has her area to guard, and he has his.

I do my clean up chores and Benne comes and goes, dividing his time between checking a gate or two, and if I am near a fence line where he arrives, he never ceases to put a paw up for me.

"I'm here, don't forget, I'm right here," his eyes say.

Thank goodness.

{If you like the writing, photos and art I've been posting for the past ten years here, please visit the new book funding site. Only 20 days left.}




Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Vintage video of itty



Some vintage video of Itty when she first came to Apifera. Warms my broken heart of this memory. We are at 23% funded for the new book.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Itty Bitty dolls

I decided I'm going to have some fun and make Itty Bitty dolls [5" or so] and offer them on the Kickstarter funding page as a reward level, which has been set up to publish my new book, Itty Bitty & Big Etta {A Tale of Acceptance}.

We have 25 more days and are at 20% funding; no money is released unless we reach 100% of the goal.  

Each doll will be completely unique from the other and this is an example of one that combines felting with cloth. I will use as much found material and fiber from our farm and animals too.


Leaves like potato chips

Mother Earth puts her colors together so well. I was looking out the window at the hydrangea pinks next to bold oranges and thought,

I'm not sure I'd do that in a painting, but maybe I should.

Mother Earth, the painter and weaver of color and texture with the flock's gray's and buff's backdropped with The Wood is so beautiful. I haven't been in a New England autumn since the '80's and it is just as spectacular as I remember it. As a child in Minnesota our falls were beautiful too. At the old farm, we had leaf drop off but it was more like November and we didn't have the old trees around the house except Old Walnut, and of course we did not have the reds and oranges.

My leaf carpet goes everywhere I go right now, and certain animals treat the leaves like an open bag of potato chips-especially old Scooby Keith, he just loves the fallen leaves.

{As you meander through your autumnal day, please consider visiting the Kickstarter page for the new book project, "Itty Bitty & Big Etta" which is the complete opposite of the campaign season. I need your support and love. Thank you.}




Sunday, October 09, 2016

Pino starts his therapy career


Pino has a been a healer since I first brought him to the old Apifera some ten years ago. I have shared many of the special encounters visitors have had. I have seen him walk around a group of people, slowly, and parking himself next to the person who came because they were having medical issues. I have witnessed his intuitive healing nature myself over and over, as he will appear out of nowhere to comfort me when I'm sad, or...perhaps calm me when I'm angry. He might need an entire book about him.

Bringing animals and people together, for mutual healing and respect, has always been my goal. And I am especially interested in working with elders, or the damaged, the sad, the lonely, with my animals to give them a lift, to bring some calm to them, a glimmer of home, or empathy. Touching and grooming an animal is a powerful, yet simple thing, and it provides not only bonding with an animal, it is soothing. I remember how my mother would stroke my hair if we sat on the couch together watching television, even as I grew into a woman. I always found it so soothing.

We became aware of Inn Along the Way, when we first arrived in May and instantly liked the founder. The Inn was once a working farm and stayed in the same family for generations. Instead of selling to a large well known retail chain, they chose to sell it to a group of people who had a vision. This group wanted to create a community for the elders who could live in small, simple but functional homes, and also have community, nature, and more of a farm setting. They are very interested in animal therapy. The group raised more than $500,000 to buy the land and buildings, and have an architect who has created the master plans. There is a beautiful old barn I would die for, and an old farm house to be renovated. It is situated near a wonderful little town so has nature, but is convenient. There will also be hospice caretaker cabins, respite cabins they are calling them.

So, we were asked to bring Pino, and my books, to their event yesterday, from 2-6, and we gladly went. They are now in the stages of having to raise more money-this is going to take a village, and lots of work, but I believe they are going to do it, and we are going to help, and Pino is going to help as are many of the Misfits!

The event yesterday was to generate excitement and also educate people about this concept of healthy and humane living for elders. There was old farm equipment that helped press apples into cider, and an old ice cream maker, and lots of harvest-apples, pumping and squash. And Pino met a new role model-large Belgian draft horses arrived. One of them was 2000# to Pino's 150#. It was pretty special.

But what was most rewarding for me and Martyn, was the people we got to meet that are part of the Inn Along the Way- the board members, and some of the family of the original farm and homestead. We have been invited to be part of the evolution of this wonderful project, and Pino and I are on board. I think it is going to blossom and evolve for us in many ways-bringing in elder facilities, working with art and animals, maybe reading days...I have lots of ideas to share with them. In the meantime you can visit their site -and donate if you are inclined. Or maybe you can generate interest for this concept in your area. Europe is so far ahead of us in this regard.

There was a little monkey named Thomas who was enamored with Pino and had a pretty full day of leading Pino around. Not all donkeys would have willingly been led like this, but Pino is such a natural. He knew he was dealing with a tiny one, and just did his job. Thomas was in the midst of potty training, and was very interested in Pino's anatomy, and how he pooped. It was pretty sweet-Pino can be a role model even for bodily functions!

When we got home, we sipped our wine and sat by the fire. I felt like I had connected with some people that I could be comrades with. I felt like Pino and I can make a difference there, and also have a community. I felt like Martyn can be part of it too, in so many ways.

Thomas was related to the original homestead owners.


Pino wore his Heinz Brummel peace sign and Cathy Loup daisies

Pino's new role model

"Hello, I think you are really amazing," Pino said.

Pino got to eat lots of good grass too

Waiting for the public in front of the old barn

Looking out at the property

Friday, October 07, 2016

We are all together

I get much comfort in the light of the barns, and at late dawn and early dusk. The light and the animals, and me, we are together, although some we knew and loved aren't here physically. But they once rubbed noses with each other, or greeted me with hooves or paws on my legs as I sat on a warm rock. They–the animals and rocks-know me in ways you don't. Even Martyn doesn't really know me in the same way.

Is this our place to stay for 10 or fifteen years? I asked the back Wood, and paddocks now shorn down by sheep.

I did not feel an answer...today.

I cracked my ribs this week. A mishap when a farrier walked into the barn isle, and Boone, behaving like a gentleman, backed up, as I had turned to close a gate. I immediately knew I was wounded but kept it inside, for various reason I won't go into. It makes my chores difficult, but I have had cracked ribs before and will heal. If I squat to pick up buckets [which is wise anyway] it hurts less.

This morning I entered the barn with feed buckets. I always feed Boone first, he is the most vocal. I told him I hurt, and I was walking especially slow. Usually he is over excited for his senior food to be placed in his bucket. I looked at him dead on and said firmly,

"I am hurt."

He stood. He waited, seconds-enough for my retreat-then ate.

I finished my chores and went to one of my favorite rocks, warmed by the sun. The sheep stood with me for a minute or two. They like rub downs, even Assumpta has figured out I am the one who leads and feeds, and rubs. I get up and we meander over to the under boughs of M'Lady Apple, her red bounties dripping off her arms. She has layered the ground too with her harvest so the animals may graze their all through the day for a tart fruit snack.  I say 'Hello," to Huck's grave, and Raggedy Man's. And the day is underway.

{All month the Kickstarter is raising money to publish my new illustrated book, "Itty Bitty & Big Etta". Please visit and watch the very special animated video, I think it will melt your heart.}