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

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Opie and Pino are ready

I'll share photos of tomorrow's event at Inn Along the Way, where Pino and Opie will be holding court to share animal heart and healing. It is the Inn's summer celebration to share their mission and goal of creating a retirement community, and Apifera will be there to support them and share our mission of bringing animal and people to together for mutual well being. I'll also have my books and products there too, of course. And Martyn.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Do not deduct from my life, she said

I finally got to have a long ride with Boone yesterday. We have not ridden together since October and in Oregon I rode all winter usually 2x a week since I had easy access to a barn and trails, and no icy winters. So it was a long time coming. I wondered if even at 19 if my noble steed might be frisky but he was just fine, and I can tell enjoyed himself. Before anything else, Boone is a trail horse.

The wind was consistently blowing which was perfect for an 80 degree day and heat-hating rider, and fly-hating horse. Boone is really sensitive to bugs so the wind was a pleasant addition to our ride. And we found some new paths to take thanks to a nearby property with horses that made some suggestions. I felt like we were on an adventure and I thought how far we had come since landing in Maine. I felt sturdy and confidant on the ride yesterday, mainly because I am reforming my identity here with new people and terrain, and that takes time.

I was thinking of my old friend Joanne, who died this year at age 85. She was my riding mentor and buddy and we rode right up until we left for Maine. She was the first person I thought of when I knew we were moving, and how I did not want to leave her, or our rides together. When she died I just was so sad even though she had a long life but a car accident took her in the end, a guy ran into her as she crossed a walkway at the hospital and she went into coma at some point, dying at home.

Joanne and I use to talk about aging, and how she did not like how her body was putting limitations on her, but her mind was clear. But she rode 2-3 times a week. She also talked about how others would try to put limitations on her as she aged. I saw this happen to my parents, especially my father who had many physical issues, and one by one he had to give up things like driving, smoking his pipe, walking the dog...things he loved. I had a recent conversation with a woman in her late eighties who wants to get another dog because her beloved pug died, but some think she should not because they think it would be unfair to the dog since she might not be around long. This woman said something that really stuck me: she said she did not like it when others wanted to take things away from her, to deduct things from her life.

I think this is the biggest challenge we face as we age-being deducted, being told we must conform and shrink with age, rather than to keep evolving into things we can handle physically.

I guess there are situations where an 85+ year old should not ride a horse, or buy another dog-but that is up to that person assuming they are of sound mind.
I thought of Joanne so many times on my ride, and felt she had prodded me to get back in the saddle yesterday even though it is a super busy week. I talked to her a lot. And I thought of how glad I was that she had not been forced or felt pressure to deduct riding from her life.

So to all the merging elders, and current elders, I say we must strive to add things into life, not shrink away. When we shrink back, and deduct, then it will be our time. I know at some point, the body and mind deduct on their own, but to be forced to give up things because someone deems it necessary is an unfair stance to put on an elder. Perhaps limitations mean you can't have a dog, or a horse, but perhaps there are solutions that could bring joy to the elder, an addition in their life.

That's why I want to work with the animals and elders in get togethers-it is an addition to their day, not a deduction.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Photobombed by a piglet and Earnest gets an edible fort

I was admiring the already growing pig pool, noticing that Eleanor had started her pool and then the piglets were creating another above it, almost creating a waterfall effect from upper to lower. In time, that pool will hold all nine piglets. I won't let you down and will get a picture of it as summer heats come on. If you don't have pigs, I will tell you that if you give them even drippings of water, by a faucet for example, they will make a wallow in no time. They use their strong snouts to dig the dirt. It is really fun to watch, and also makes you understand quickly the challenges of containing pigs due to those strong noses. They can also lift gates, or bend them if they are securely intact.

I was taking a photo of it and a flying bat came across my lens. They are like little bats right now, flying around the paddock at ease, stopping to sniff, then flying the other direction. When they get going all it once it's like a swarm of polk-a-dot flies.

There was great excitement in the barnyard yesterday morning, or was it Sunday? I came out to hear quite a bit of conversation,

"I don't know, maybe she planned it this way?" asked Goose.

"It's a fabulous gift, a tree fort over my water hole, and edible too," said Earnest.

I looked out to see a large limb had cracked off the nearby maple. Thankfully nobody was hurt. Unfortunately there is another larger limb that is dead, still upright and we will have to get help taking it down, sooner than later. I'm afraid it could easily pierce the barn, or take down the coop roof.

It's always something.

But for now, I imagine Earnest lying under his edible tree fort, sitting in his pig pool, nibbling on maple leaves as he cools his body in the heat.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Rosie the pig continues to blossom, grumpily

I came upon Rosie this morning outside her sleeping suite visiting the grasses and  Ranunculus flowers nearby. When Rosie arrived at the old Apifera, she would roam a bit more, biting off grass blades and napping in the sun. But over time, her grumpiness grew and she preferred her own company, especially after Eleanor arrived. Even Stevie the Kissing Goat didn't seem to be able to entice her out of Old Barn, where she retreated to at one point, living for the last two years of our time there in  a private suite. Visiting chickens were allowed to roost near her, and the sounds and faces of passing sheep and donkeys on the other side of the fence did not bother her.

So each time I find her outside in her private paddock, it makes me happy.

"Rosie!" I always say.

"Rrumpf guru aaaa hrumph," she says. Sometimes she is calmed by having the backs of her ears rubbed, as she was today.

Rosie has also been found lying on the fence line that is shared on the other side by Earnest and the goats. I find him lying there too and it's heartening to see she seems to finally understand,

This is a pig, I am a pig. 

I would love to let Earnest in with her, but I just think it could be a disaster. He has tusks, number one, and he is much heavier and stronger than Rosie who has a weak hind end. If Earnest decided, as he probably would, that love making was needed, I'm afraid he could hurt her already weak hind end. So their get-togethers are like those of prison inmates, meeting at a designated dividing fence where they can touch noses. I can not imagine the pig squeals she would emit if their relationship was consummated. Fortunately, she was spayed before we adopted her, so should Earnest someday make a valiant effort to be with his grumpy cougar girlfriend, there would not be little grumpy Rosies in three months.

Martyn and I have laughed at this thought-Rosie with children. Would she eat them? We imagined them running around like gremlins, complete with horns.

There is only one Rosie and there will never be another one....perhaps this is good. But I've become very fond her royal highness, she and I have learned each other's languages and I am enjoying her new 'tender' side that emerge here from time to time.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Opie the therapy goat has new elders to love

Opie and I made are way into Wiscasset today for our first visit with the residents of Wiscasset Green, a beautiful old house that now is permanent residence for seven elders.

Let me say right off, Opie is a natural healer. He has the Pino gene.

He strutted in there in his I'm a big boy now way and greeted everyone. We sat out in the home's lovely patio and started to get to know our new friends. We really had a wonderful visit and are so looking forward to getting to know the residents on a more personal level. Already, after a one hour visit, I feel inspired and refocused on making my life here in Maine about bringing animal and people-especially elders-together for mutual healing and sharing of story.

Even in one hour, the personalities of the residents began to emerge. I wonder what their life stories are? I hope to work on that over time, and share their stories. So many people look at elders as...being at the end of the line, finished with doing new things, or uninteresting. I see elders as a unique vessel of knowledge and experience, a child that continued on and led a long life, a human on a journey-with so many stories. Imagine if Abe Lincoln had lived to be 90 and was sitting on a park bench and nobody stopped to talk to him-what a waste! Why do we listen to the young, marvel at the child in the room talking, or the thirty something with a brilliant new novel, but we as a society in the whole aren't excited to sit and listen to our elders?

Well, Opie was excited. He does not choose who to share himself with based on their age, looks or physical limitations [just ask Sir Tripod Goat]. I am really excited to begin this new relationship. I plan to visit twice a month on Thursdays. We are also hoping to have a farm visit in the near future.

Opie's presence immediately brought out smiles. We all had something in common, despite our age differences-we all were inspired to touch and pet Opie. That led us to talking, about lots of things. There were a couple of really shy people there, or, maybe shy is not the right term-I need to interact more over the coming visits to get to know each person.

We also talked about bringing Pino and other Apiferians which was met with excitement. As we said our goodbyes, one of the residents made me promise we'd come back. And we will. Over and over. This is a covenant I have made internally with them. I learned way back when I used to take my old blind pug to visit with Rose, a resident of an assisted living facility, that I really thrive when I can have a smaller group to interact with, and it made it special to get to know Rose one on one. Just as Wednesdays became a light for Rose knowing the pug was coming, I hope that the residents of Wiscasset Green will wake up and think,

Oh good, it's Opie Day!

Warning: this is an ongoing fluid project for me and Opie and the other Apiferians. Stay tuned on this new adventure of our animal therapy.

This is Joe, he was so sweet and Opie rested on his shoulder
"You are so cunning'" she told Opie.

He gave and received kisses

This resident was very reserved but hopefully we will get to know her heart.

Saying goodbye to a chicken, hello to the lupine

I lost one of the hens last night. She was only a year or so and one day ago she took to laying about, not eating. I suspected a bound egg, from her appearance and behavior. I tried the usual olive oil drip and lubricating the vent, and I made her a scrambled egg-yes, I give scrambled eggs to my hens on certain occasions for protein, they love it. Ad no, I do not think it is canabalistic.

So last night I decided to put her back in the coop with the girls. She wasn't horribly weak and was walking a little, I thought she might work through it. But I could feel crunches when I gently massaged her sides.

She was gone this morning. The hens had been busy scratching for bugs and had partially covered her body. I became very brave and tried to do an autopsy of sorts, curious if I would find egg shells. But it got messy, and I buried her.

I hate losing chickens. But as an old farmer told me years ago,

"Chickens just...die sometime."

Or another,

"If you want chickens, you will lose chickens."

 I had named her Gracie because she was the only Sexlink of the Buff Orpingtons flock, The Secret Sisters. Gracie was much more personal than the flock of Buffs. My old Buffs were so friendly, this group, stand offish and a bit flighty for Buffs. So I was sad to say goodbye to Gracie.

To juxtapose the death of a friend who gave us beautiful food-the world's most perfect food,eggs-I enjoyed the Lupine on the drive. One must always look for a juxtaposition to a sad event to survive the human condition.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Little shares his mobile milk bar

That's Little on the far right.
Little was born 15 weeks ago on the coldest night of the season, and all his litter mates died of hypothermia. He struggled a bit in his first days, but he made it. I named him Little Lonely because certain situations require a name and he was so small, and alone. Once you see a litter interact, to see only one with nobody showing him the ropes was sad. But he's a chunk now and in the past few days, the new litter of his grandmother, Eleanor, has been allowed to romp and run outside for the first time. I underestimated how happy it was to see Little with his own kind, a litter he never got to have [which is why he is now a super chunk]. This morning as Eleanor took a break in her wallow-it is very hot today-Cornelia snorted around for dropped feed, and Little graciously allowed the litter to snack on his private milk bar. I sat and imagined the conversation.

"Wow, you're a huge piglet," said one of the litter.

"I'm older than you, I think that's the reason," said Little.

"You have your very own milk bar, wow," said the largest piglet.

"It's okay to have some milk, but don't take it all," said Little.

"What are we going to do today?" asked the little red runt girl, politely.

Just then she got bashed by her bigger brothers, and Little touched her nose.

"You took a direct hit, but you're okay," he told her.

"I'm used to it, but I have gilt power," she said.

Just then Cornelia made an about face and the milk bar was once again on the run.

"It's hard eating and running, isn't it?" asked Little as they all ran by the running teats.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Crone and donkeys

Available at shop
As an emerging crone myself, I think often of my life with animals, and how my crone-ness has been helped by our silent communions.

When I'm really old, I hope they are still with me.

This piece is dedicated to all the crones out there who live with animals, or once did, but could not continue. I hope you can still feel them. It will be my wish at that time, my hope, to die with animals still around me.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Pino and Opie have a gig!

Pino and Opie will accompany me and Martyn...or maybe I should say we will accompany them, to the Summer Social at Inn Along the Way on June 24th, in 741 Main St, Damriscotta.

It might not look like it in this photo, but this small room in the 100 year old barn will be set up in a very Apifera way, with books and art, bird balls, fiber and other goodies for the public. At my side will be Opie. Opie is turning into our pint size ambassador of love and I'm sure will grow his fan base each time he is out with the public. Pino and Martyn will be outside of the room, and Pino will be ready to give hugs and impart silent wisdoms.

There will also be kite flying, wagon rides, Round Top ice cream and the beauty of the farm.

We became familiar with Inn Along the Way last year when Pino made his first visit there. The Inn is located on what was Chapman Farm, in the same family for generations and now it will evolve into a eldercare community  for residents but will also provide respite and encouragement for families and caregivers helping their elders. A non-profit, the Inn will also be turning the old farmhouse into a cafe and place for visitors to rest, gather and stay over and will also be open to the public.

My hopes are to be a regular visitor there, with Pino, Opie and other Apiferians, to share the healing qualities of animals and people coming together. The Inn also reflects values that are important to me and Martyn-working with community to help our elders, but also engage the outside world while still maintaining nature as an integral part to a happy life-no matter your age or condition.

My work with animals is evolving, something I have been writing about as it emerges to take shape. Ever since working one on one with an elderly woman in a facility, weekly for one year with my old pug at my side, I knew I wanted to work more with elders and animals. At the old Apifera, I had open events but here due to our more central location, and my ability now to have a working trailer, I hope to increase therapy visits. I hope to do things on the farm too-but that will shape itself in time.

I hope maybe some of my readers from the Boston area or other states can pop up to Maine!

This room in the 100 year old barn will be transformed into an Apifera shop of books, art and fiber!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Animal conversation of the day

"Who are you?" said Opie.

"What are you?" asked the piglet.

"Well, I'm an Opie," said the little goat.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Pig Sunscreen Drive!

I haven't done the Pig Sunscreen Fund for a couple of years because Rosie was in her private suite in Old Barn and took a hiatus from daylight-despite all our efforts to encourage her outside.

But now in Maine, she has sort of re-blossumed into a real pig, or as real a pig as Rosie will ever be. This morning she was outside sunning and her legs were getting pink. T don't have this problem with the other pigs, but Rosie bolts her hair in spring and gets all naked...and pink.

So I am doing another Pig Sunscreen Drive for her royal highness.
I used to massage her with baby oil at night. Then in morning I add Destin in, and the left over baby oil on her body helps spread out the thicker Destin. But it is much easier to use spray on sunscreen.

If Rosie is in a grumpy mood - a 90% possibility - covering her in rub on sunscreen can be quite a challenge- but anything for our Rosie.

How to help:

Donate: a small amount at the funding page


Send Sunscreen:
Rosie is accepting spray on sun screen this year. The spray on is much easier to get good coverage on her grumpy body. Send your sunscreen to: Rosie Rosie McDonald McDermot, c/o Apifera Farm, 315 Waldoboro Rd, Bremen, ME 04551

Friday, June 02, 2017

Walking the horse and my pants still fit

I took Boone out this afternoon for our first light walk of the season–and I do mean walk, as I decided to just walk side by side with him rather than riding him.

First I spent an hour or more grooming his mane and tail which I sadly neglected for many months and there were lots of wind knots. But some cheap conditioner from the store solved that. He is shedding out leaving him with his new nude look until fresh hair grows in, leaving him almost dark brown in areas. He came out of winter a good weight.

It felt so good to be with him again. I opted to work on the ground with him since we're both a bit rusty. I used to ride 2x a week but that didn't happen here and doubt it will with winter. I have no desire to winter board him just so I can ride in an arena during icy months. I had a great thing in Oregon with my friend, Joanne, and her gorgeous land and arena, and companionship. I missed her today, but I thought she was probably smiling down on me from somewhere.

I don't do round pen work any more with Boone, just not needed and he and I are both bored quickly with it. But we have a flat area of sand on the front drive so I worked him there for about 15 minutes just to see his mood. Man, he obeyed everything pretty much and was very attentive to me. When I first got him, he would do 30 minutes with barely looking in to me!

So I decided, let's just go for a walk down to the bay. Woman and horse, side by side, walking on the road. I got some looks. It's a small town, people talk–I mean they really talk here, like an episode of "Murder She Wrote" or "Father Brown". We get a kick out of it-but we wonder what they say about us. Something like,

"That woman, you know the one we saw walking a llama once, and then the donkey, and that tiny goat, she was walking a horse on the county road today. Kind of odd."

The lupine are just starting. They are beautiful and just to be able to stand near the sea with my horse, smell his wet coat of shedding hair, and walk side by side with him was so nice. I stop, he stops, one foot forward, one horse hoove forward...and so it goes.We saw our favorite little shack near the bay and I took a photo of it-it is images like that when I go,

Oh yea, I live in Maine, by the sea.

It was a good beginning for me and Boone.

And my riding pants still fit, this is the icing on the cake for the day.

Cake? Did I just say cake? Hmmm.....

Mysteries of the painting

I'll be putting up originals all this coming week at the shop. June is usually not my 'in the zone time' for painting, but I've been working on some new pieces, such as the one at top here which is still in progress. I've painted over it several times. I used to have a woman in many of my pieces back when I started painting. I was thinking it is similar to being of a certain age where one might be propelled to take more selfie photos-maybe to figure out what we look like, maybe to show off that we feel good about what we see, or to help grapple with our identities we project inward or outward.

So it was interesting to have a female figure keep coming in this one. Who knows if she'll stick around.

The little donkey piece was done when I was in Oregon, before we knew we were moving. I was sort of awed today looking at it. Now you know I have a big imagination, but this piece just seems like Maine to me-a deep sky, the stars are very much in the forefront of the night, and the little paddock is intimate. This si not usual-to have a painting know deep facts and upcoming things before my conscious catches on.

Visit the shop to see what pieces are available, or Sundance.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Big bottom Littles and piglet mayhem

It's going to get wild around here very soon....I guess it already is, but even more so. The piglets are eight days old and are starting to leap and explore in the stall. They are not outside yet as I have to create a separate safety zone for them. I let Eleanor out once a day to roam a bit but she needs to feed every two hours and if she doesn't, bam, smash, she'll go right through the wood gate to get to her babies.

Meanwhile, Little Lonely has a fine butt, don't you think? You can see it waddling in the final movie below. He is still very polite, but also he and his mother Cornelia now bash each other around a bit at dinner time-normal behavior. In fact Eleanor bashes her daughter Cornelia around at dinner. Can you imagine having to bam your mama in the head to get more food at the cereal bowl? She hasn't totally weaned him, and I've always been one to let animals naturally wean-if I can. So he is a chuck!

All the nine piglets are doing well. They are available so if interested you should contact me.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Signs that The Head Troll lingers

It's not that we're unfriendly. it's just that we need out privacy. And it is true that you never know what is behind the big, sliding gate. Some people just need a little encouragement to keep a boundary. If they don't one thing or another will pop out and get 'em.

We are busy recreating our private area of gardens. We are also creating a beautiful front garden-even bigger than the old farm-that people will be able to enjoy from the road or on farm visits. Stay tuned. Apifera is blossoming.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Death comes in waves-we lose the runt and an old Rosie the goat

I don't know why death seems to come in waves-perhaps it helps us focus to the tasks on hand.

Yesterday afternoon we lost the tiny runt gilt who was born with a very weak hind end and quite thin. A litter of ten is big, so there was bound to be a runt or two. She latched on to the teat well, so I kept my eye on her and she seemed aggressive enough at the milk bar. Yesterday morning I decided to start her a bottle too because I felt she was getting more stumble in the hind end. I got some mil in her and she was strong fighting it, and was not near death at that point. Mid day she also did not seem in dire straights-she just needed time and milk. But at 4 pm when I checked on her, she was gone. In my previous check on her, she had been napping in the pig pile, and i wondered if she had been crushed, without the strength to move out.

I don't know.

I do know I tried, and she tried, and she had a short life of three days but was with her mates and mother in a warm, safe place. And I got to hold her a lot and care for her, so we all did what we had to do.

While we lost the tiny runt yesterday, today I approached the barn and had a thought just popped into my head as I opened the doors,

Death comes in waves...will there be another?

And there was old Rosie the goat, dead, Sir Tripod and Opie happily greeting me for breakfast.

She was never healthy - I took her on last fall from a breeder who said Rosie could not keep up at the hay stand and was getting thin, and wasn't aggressive enough to get enough feed. I had found this breeder and approached her via email, explaining how I took on old goats, and she said she let me take Rosie. When we picked her up I knew this goat was not long for the Earth, although I didn't say anything. The woman wanted $100, and I paid it and brought her home and did my best. I guess I'm a knucklehead for paying $100 for what was clearly a sick old goat, but she got one on one here and didn't get pushed around.

She was so thin and weak in the rear, often stumbling. I got a bit of weigh on her and got the lice under control, and wormed her. At on point she showed signs of congestion, but no fever, so I vetted her and brought her through that but every week she seemed to struggle with one condition or another. I felt sorry that she had given so much to this breeder and arrived here full of lice and thin as a bone.

I buried her and the runt together amongst spring floral to remind Old Rosie of youth and to show the runt the flowers she never got to see. They lie near The Head Troll and Scooby Keith, and the other piglets that died in the extreme cold farrowing in January. The gardens will be planted there though and it is a beautiful spot to be returned to earth.

Sometimes I question if what I'm doing helps or not.

{There are ways to support my animal efforts}

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Paco's Poem

{As many of you know, Paco is a poet. At the old farm back West he wrote in his Bower of Love, but here he was a bit lost since he had no private writing spot. I created an area for him in The Wood and I was so happy to see he is writing again}

I hear the leaves as they lay


I stand to their right, left and front and center

But the road people rush

Their vibrations shove the air

Leaves scatter

It will take me all day to place my feet 

Right, left, front and center of them

There’s a sun beam

On a dirt patch

I’ll wait for them there

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Eleanor delivers ten!

I knew when I left her last night she was ready. Eleanor is not one to lay down for belly rubs, never has been. But last night when I checked on her before calling it a night, she was laying down and didn't bother to get up. She seemed to appreciate a belly massage.

I checker her tweets and they had milk.

Well, that was a give away.

It was day 115 and she always farrows by day 116. And she had discharge. She got up and I was checking for heartbeats for fun, and she tossed her head into my leg, a clear sign she was ready for me to leave and give her the space she wanted.

I discussed the situation with her. Eleanor is stoic, calm and a very good mother. I knew she would do the job and do it well, and she did.

The weather was perfect for farrowing, unlike the night Cornelia lost all of her litter except Little due to hypothermia.

When I arrived this morning, I could not wait to open the door, and there they were, up and about, strong and healthy. There were ten of them, which is a very big litter.

"It's a basket of pigs," Martyn said as he went off to work.

There are four boys and six gilts. The more girls the better. I must say, the markings are just wonderful, lots of waddles [which really means nothing but they are fun]. I'm very happy for Eleanor that all is well, and this litter is really up and about and doing well and not even a day old.

Mother creatures are heroes. I was thinking this morning of all the animals in the wild that birth on their own, and stoically carry on to fend for their young, and keep food in their own bellies along the way. I learned way back in our first lambing seasons to give the mother space, be aware of the conditions and situation, but stay out of the way unless it is dire. I roll my eyes thinking of the first lambing, the ewes must have been talking behind my back,

"I wish she would just leave us alone, if she checks my udder one more time I will scream."

I took the afterbirth and fed it to the chickens. Our eggs will be nourished my Eleanor and the life she gave us today.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Conversation with chickens

I was minding my own business, doing chores in the front barn, and was kept company by a chicken conversation. They were in their coop while I was attending feedings, manure cleanup and water bucket cleaning. Their clucks and whirs kept me company, and amused.

"Move over," one of the Secret Sisters said.

"I was here first," another hen replied.

"Na-uh," I heard.

A series of clucks in varying degree of irritation erupted.

"Can you speed it up, my egg is killing me!" the intruder exclaimed.

"I can not rush perfection," the hen replied.

"My eggs are much larger," intruding hen said.

"Na-uh," was the response.

It went on like this for sometime, until I finally came upon them in their preferred hen laying box. You give a bunch of chickens a lovely array of nesting boxes and they prefer to squish into one.

By the time I left, they were still at it.

"Good Lord! I hope there isn't a fire today or you will be fried," said the intruder.

"How crass," said the laying hen. "Go lay somewhere else-you are disturbing by peace and it will effect the taste of my egg."

I swear I could hear the eye roll.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pig mystery

The Pig's Prayer Flag Forest is available at the shop
There are many mysteries here on our Maine farm, many start in a story but appear before me in real life. This is the life of imagination and reality mixing. I just finished this piece and it's based on a real episode, which someday soon I must share, but for now you will have to look into this piece deeply and hear what it is about.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

M'Lady returns

I have waited patiently, full of anticipation. I will never tire her. Last year when we arrived, almost a year ago today, she was in bloom but due to the dry winter and spring last year, the other apple trees around her [there is Little Lady, Little Apple and Old Apple at the outer barn] were not as full of flower. This year we had lots of rain and they are all so beautiful.

I see her from my studio and from many of the vistas from the house. When the sea blows in dark, brooding clouds, she stands firm, her color pops out even more boldly, and in the the sunny days with deep, blue windows behind her, she sings, literally, with hummingbirds and cardinals.

She is a confidant of sorts when I sit under her to give myself shade.

I realized this weekend how much I love it here, how this location is a blessing-despite my initial mistrust of the front road, that road will also bring me what Apifera needs. I started planting the vegetable garden this year and thought when people drive by they will see my sunflowers at the barn and it will make many of them happy.

The land is old here, who walked her in 1760? It also means it has seen and felt trauma of many kinds, struggles of our first Native Americans and their struggle with the Europeans that would come and push them out, killing and judging. I was on the fence during a lot of our first year, about opening up-truly opening up-to our land. But as I plant the vegetables, as we shape the front gardens this year and give it our touch, our covenant, I can feel it now-the land is reciprocating and recognizing we are committed to her.

This is when the magic really starts.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Earnest and I wait, and I will make a covenant with the sea today

Earnest and I are awaiting the arrival of Eleanor's piglets. I thought she was due on Monday, but I looked at my farrowing calendar wrong and she is due early next week. She is huge and while I had her in her farrowing stall for days, I let her out yesterday so she could wallow. Her belly is low to the ground and I've felt the little buggers inside moving a bit. She is getting a puffy posterior and is holding her tail upright, another sign she is close.

It's very busy here, May always is on any small piece of land. And I'm behind. We got the veggie area tilled and fenced and this weekend I will plant. I always had my entire garden planted by 4/15 in Oregon, but things are different here. Today is 90 degrees! I need a wallow. I had planned to go get my seeds, but instead, I feel a strong pull from the sea. I have had some things I need to work on, as in self realization and goals, and today I decided it's so hot, too hot for me to be planting, and I just kept hearing the word "sea" in my head.

I will go to the sea and I will make my wishes known to her, and tell her I need help and strength...and focus, to make them come to the light. I have been wanting to begin my communing relationship with her, something I didn't get to take advantage of in Oregon. But I sense now is the time for this.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Earnest's pig love song: can Rosie share love after all these years?

In which Earnest the pig tells of his attempted flirtation with The-World's-Grumpiest-But-I-Am-Fine-As-I-Am-Pig, aka Rosie.

I have been watching her all these years, since back in Oregon. She is not really a looker, as Eleanor is, I do like the looks of a red head I must say, but sometimes in a new environment a pig can get a second look.

She is grumpy. This can be problematic in pig love making. Perhaps it was my first Maine spring, after a long, dark and chilly winter, that made my loins itch for her. I waddled over to her area last week and watched her casually from across the fence-a fence that protects her from me, and every other creature. Rosie is not mean, she just doesn't quite understand the beauty of reciprocating attention with other creatures. Only Stevie seemed to be able to discuss life issues with her, or sleep without being compromised by her gruffness. He was a hell of fellow, that Stevie.

We had warm weather again. This intensified my itching loins. I made my move. I put on my best performance of a love song I heard my father sing to my mother. I hardly remember my father. He was stern, but I do remember that love song he sang. He too was across a fence, and it made me wonder why the guys always get on the other side of the fence. I was a piglet, and that was the last I remember seeing him.

I sang that song to the best of my ability. It did not phase her...at least not that day. She continued to ignore me and ate the left over dinner of White Dog.

I do understand that most often food comes before love to a pig.

The next day, I returned to give it one more shot. Rome was not built in a day, they tell me. Well, to my surprise she was there at the fence.

"What brings you to the fence line this morning, Rosie?" I asked, quietly. We have all found the best way to address the grumpy pig is to speak softly. This saves our energy in case she does a rant or head toss in one's direction.

"I am not sure, but I felt enticed by something to venture to the fence," said Rosie.

"Shall I come by again, then, in the coming days?" asked Earnest.

"I suppose that will be acceptable," said Rosie, and she returned to her private suite, to nap, all grumpy like.

But I did notice a slight lightness in her step.

{Like all Apifera stories, this is to be continued.}

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother - it's the journey

There are many feelings on Mother's Day for the daughters and sons left back on this realm with their memories. I can tell people that are freshly in a loss of a mother, the days get lighter, the nights become for sleep again, and you will learn a new dialogue with your departed loved one.

I was reading over some entries from the blog I kept after my mother died. It was so visceral, those first entries, but one does see the evolution I went through that year. I encourage everyone in a loss to write, paint, make a memory doll, listen to Nature-for if you listen, truly listen to Nature, you will hear, and even see your loved one.

It's a new language to learn after you lose someone. I have so many fun conversations now with my mom. Is it as good as picking up the phone? Well, I think the key is not to compare it. It is almost like asking, was it better being five or twenty or forty or now? It's not the age that counts, it's the now. Dead does not mean gone. When one travels, I came to the realization it is a lot like dealing with the death of a loved one. You can take photos of the journey, you can describe the place to your friends, but travel transports you individually in an your own individual experience with your thoughts, sensations, and epiphanies. Even if you travel to Paris with your best friend, you both have your own interior life while you are there. And I think experiencing the death of a mother or loved one is like that.

It's a journey while you have her here on Earth, it's a continuing journey when she leaves this place. No matter what your belief system, your interior life remains as your own, and that will include your mother.

That may seem depressing to anyone just having lost a loved one. But in fact, it grows richer as you learn the new vocabulary. It takes time to learn it and appreciate it.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Soaking up Maine

"Spring Morning View from Window"
I did a lot of driving yesterday to drop off my wool, shop for food and pick up the rototillers so we can get going on the gardens. I had a nice day. I felt settled. I had a moment where I thought as I was driving,

It's really pretty nice here. I like it.

I suppose that might seem silly. Of course it's nice here, you're thinking, it's midcoast Maine. People plan vacations here, and I get to live here. But it takes time to settle after a huge move, and settling we are.

And the environs are merging into my art, as usual.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Awaiting M'Lady with Lady Birdie

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of M'Lady Apple's spring frock of deep red pink blossoms. It will most likely be my go-to photo shot of this particular land. I can not tire of her beautiful bows standing naked in winter, and then transforming into sight red dust this time of year. Soon she will be in her full glory.

I like to imagine all the various people and animals that she has met under her tangle of arms. Considering the house is from 1760, I don't know when she might have been planted. I think she is at least 100 years old, but I'm not sure.

Has she ever met a llama? I have not heard her answer.

She is so crucial to my heart that every time anything new is planned in the garden or near the house, I always state matter-of-factly,

"As long as it doesn't block my view of M'Lady."

I have always had strong relationship with specific trees in any place I've lived. While I believe that trees are a global clan and are connected by the dirt, reverberating language we humans don't appreciate [or many of us], some in that clan take on more prominent communications with me, or you. When I was leaving trees I loved in Minneapolis, for Oregon, I was reminded of this by a wise teacher-the trees there are a clan with the trees you will meet.

Trees have helped me get up in the morning, soothed me in frayed times, brought light and beauty after the dusk when the moon shines on them and sheltered me in hot weather. They are the symbol of being rooted, even in a storm. They break limbs but go on. And at some point, they will succumb to age and their life will return to the Earth underneath, or above., just like yours will and mine will.

I can only hope that in the next realms I venture to, I will see many old friends in one form or another-and I imagine that M'Lady and many of the trees I've communed with will be there.

I will share M'Lady with you as time goes on-a gift for recipient and sharer.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Conversation of donkey and pig

A version of this piece is available at the shop
"We look so different," said the donkey.

"Your ears are fabulous," said the pig.

"Thank you. I'm impressed by your nose. To be able to root up the ground must be thrilling. I must use my feet," said the donkey.

"My nose is worthy of your respect," said the pig. "But your hooves can kick away badness and strangers."

"True," said the donkey. "I see you have adorned yourself today with daisies?"

"I like daisies," said the pig. "You too, I see?"


And the two that look so different went on with the day.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Chunk of pig love

I guess Little isn't so Little anymore. He is more like a Chunk of Pig Love. These things happen. Piglets get bigger and grow out of their piglet pants into big boy pants [and don't ever let anyone tell you there is a creature called a micro pig}. Another week and holding him will be difficult. He is still a charming fellow, and today he finally got to graze and get outside. Eleanor should be farrowing in a week and a half. I will relish that one since the plan is that it will be out last litter. However, Earnest has not been told and he might have his own plans. I caught him snorting around Rosie's pen gate. I explained I was pretty certain The-World's-Grumpiest-But-I'm-Fine-As-I-Am-Pig has no interest in love making or romance.

I hope this piglet smiling face will make up for this lack luster post. I'm on day ten of this dang nabbit cold and it has finally turned a corner for me. I spent the entire day outside in sun and beautiful sea wind helping Martyn put more electric wire up in equine area. Another rite of spring greeted me: the infamous black flies of Maine. I was not impressed, nor were the equines!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Faces as medicine

I'm on day 6 or 7 of this horrible cold, working it's way slowly out of me. I made a note to myself,

When sick, do not try to outstay the llama.

I'm lucky to have so many faces that look to see me each morning. It gives one a reason to get up even when your head hurts and takes your mind off your own pain.

How can I not feel better for a moment looking at these faces?