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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Misfits seem to have a manual typewriter

When The Head Troll was still alive, she was in charge of Halloween. It was such a relief. Since she died in 2016 the tradition of outfits sort of fell to the wayside. This morning there was a note slipped under the door, typed no less...how did this get by me, a manual typewriter? Anyway, suggestions were made for masks The Misfits want. I yelled out the window,

"Nothing will be discussed until after Misfit Love Day, capiche?"

I could hear the tail swishes and hoof stops from afar.

"I'm only one woman!" I yelled out again. "I love you!"

Whinnies, squeal and chortles rang out.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Little Big Man proves me wrong-surprise!

So...it all started out innocently enough. One of The Secret Sisters went broody on me, sitting on a clutch of three eggs.

"I really don't think there are babies in your eggs, I told her," she stared at me, intently. "I have watched Little Big Man, and even though he surely believes he can get the job done, I don't think he can." More staring.

You see, Little Big Man is the Seabright rooster we brought home after he was left at a local shelter. He is tiny, about a pound. He is way shorter than the girls. I have watched him get on their backs and do his thing, but it's like watching a toy on top of one of the mechanical ponies you see at grocery stores. I could not imagine how he was even close to impact. But I should know better. Where there is a penis there is always a hole. So I decided to let the hen ride out her broodiness with her clutch. I marked the eggs and threw her grain each day. She had found herself the perfect spot, right behind Sir Tripod Goat's cubby bed, tucked under the stairs.

Yesterday after a very long day of work, I was doing front barn chores and noticed that Henneth the blind chicken was very interested in the broody hen. Then I heard it. That distinctive little chirp. And there it was.

I have to tell you my heart skipped a beat.

"You were right," I told her, "I apologize for not believing you," to which she stared at me again.

I gathered up mother and chick, and the remaining eggs and put her in a little stall created just for such occasions.

This morning, I congratulated Little Big Man. I have no idea what his child will look like, and let's all pray it is a girl. Girl Power! A Seabrite mixed with a Buff Orpington should be interesting.

I forgot how wonderful it is to discover these little surprises. Now that we don't breed, ahem, Earnest are you listening, it is up to Nature to delight me with her charms.bI just hope the sound of a baby doesn't give Earnest any ideas.

Little Big Man, on the right, clearly go the job done

Sunday, September 23, 2018

"Martyn, I have a new idea..."

We had a last minute scheduling of some elders who wanted to come see the animals, so we gladly agreed and they came over Saturday for an hour. It was a really sweet visit, as always, but as importantly for me, it helped me think of some next steps to improve and expand our elder visit area.

I had told Martyn I wanted to build a shade hut for the guests, in the same area we now sit. There is shade but it can be difficult to arrange seating especially when some people are restricted by walkers or wheelchairs.

"I have a new idea," I told Martyn after the visit.

He remained quiet and listened.

"I think I need two huts, one for inside the orchard, and another inside the other paddock close by so the donkeys can partake more easily."

He pondered it and said,

"That's a good idea..."

Wow. What a guy.

It's been great to have these visits this past summer, to try out our area and work out the kinks. Actually there haven't been any, and the sand we invested in to make walking for the elders easy has worked great. The huts will also help me provide shelter in case there are sprinkles that day. We obviously would cancel any visits if it is bad weather, but sometimes a sprinkle blows in from the ocean. I also handed out hats this year in the heat, which was fine-and pretty sweet since many of them were old hats of my father. Made me sigh. But it would be nice to have more shade.

On Saturday's visit, it was cool, about 60 but sunny, and I thought it would also be good to have blankets. But then I thought, wouldn't it be cool to have followers of Apifera make...quilts? Then we could have have warmth for the elders if it is a bit chilly [they weren't bothered, but it would be nice I think.]

I've been sad not to have my donkeys at these visits. I haven't had them participate for a few reasons, one being it always seems to rain the day before and they roll in the wet sand/dirt and are pretty donkey dusty. I also have to lead them into the area, and the llama, and then all the little goats are there. Mayhem as not ensued yet, but adding donkeys into he mix might create mischief. So the second hut would let me have the equines in the paddock right next to the regular sitting area, and we could venture in there too, or they could at least see them close by. The elders are of all different memory and mobility levels...so it is good to have these options.

I will have Martyn do a plan and see what money we are talking about. He would be able to do all the building so I'm going to guess $2000 range. We would also like to get more sand for the ground, it really works well with elders and canes, walkers and wheelchairs, and I'm 'guessing' that will be under $500.

Everything is happening in it's own time!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

One must decorate the llama

Yesterday I created a happy piece. I needed to just make something of whim that brought me joy, and I know it will make others smile too. You can purchase this as a print or art cards now.

Thank you, Birdie, for being in my life. I am so glad we found each other. You are a treasure to all of us.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A friend dies of suicide, and I sit with the old donkey

Note: This post was originally written and shared publicly last week after I learned a friend died from suicide. In the past days since his death, his family and friends have begun the process of grieving, sharing and also, teaching, just as Jason would have in this time. I deleted the original post, because I used the term 'committed suicide' and I learned through posts by family, that this is an inappropriate use of words. Criminals 'commit' crimes, suicide is not a crime. So I wanted to edit that. As I said in the post, I have never felt suicide was 'selfish', rather I think it is a courageous act that happens in a hopeless moment. I am still shocked, and so many people are too. I don't have any answers, and am sure I never will. That is the aftermath. But I know he is at peace.

I lost someone I know to suicide this week, someone I never met but had known for about 8 years through blogging and Facebook, and over time, had intimate conversations with. I cared about him and his opinions, and learned from him, and laughed with him too. He stood up for me in a very public way after an extreme group of vegans slandered me and my farm online, really in a vicious way-he turned it into a teaching moment. He was funny, he was vibrant and he could also be biting. He was not perfect, he was damaged like any of us humans are. A friend once said to me, “We are all damaged, some of us just more than others." I only found out about his death the day before I took this photo. When I looked out at the old donkey, Matilda, lying in the paddock near the grave of the elder sheep Assumpta, who died a few weeks ago, I was drawn to go over, even though it was supper time and I was about to return to the house.

I said ‘Hi, Matilda,” and then I sat down on the ground with her. She did not move, she did not even reposition her front leg for comfort. I told her a friend of mine was dead. I closed my eyes and thought of my friend, in light, in calm, out of mental pain. His suicide was shocking to so many. I thought of the place a person has to be in at the moment they do that final act, alone, and how much pain, either emotional or physical or both, they have to be in. Some people like to say that suicide is selfish. I don’t feel that way. I think suicide is a courageous act but it is done within a place of helplessness. For a person like my friend, who was a psychologist who worked with many hurt people, to have reached a place, a moment, where he went over, he must have felt so helpless like it was the only way. He had love in his life, a partner, a career, a family, a dog he adored, he loved to cook and share everything he was thinking and caring about. He was a gay man in a world that isn’t so kind to LGBT people, and he was outspoken and an advocate for them in society. He was outspoken about injustice and racism.

So, I sat with Matilda. It was a beautiful day and night. Autumnal breezes and no bugs, a sunset coming behind us. One by one, the other donkeys left their hay dinner in the barn and returned to our private Donkey-Woman sit down, but they stayed about ten feet from us, as if they recognized-wait, they did recognize-that Matilda was letting me express important things. My friend loved animals and I envisioned him looking down on us, smiling.

“It’s okay, now, Jason,” I said to the sky.

There is a gut wrenching aftermath to suicide. I understand why many people use terms like “selfish’ to explain it. The pain and thoughts that the surviving loved ones are left to deal with, forever, well, it can’t be denied. But it is not about them, or me, or us. It is not to be judged. Nor is this a time to analyze a person’s faults or missteps. It is a time to hold that person in the light.

I thank Matilda for calling me over silently to give me space and time to do that for Jason.

Links from Jason's family:

Talking helps. For the many who have asked for help finding support groups:
Friends for survival: 800-646-7333
Heartbeat: 719-596-2575
American suicide foundation: 800-273-4042
American association of suicidology: 202-237-2280

Monday, September 17, 2018

Everything dies, everything stays

[This is available as a print]
Every year we say a bittersweet farewell to the sunflowers, goddesses in their own right. Such amazing presence these creatures have in the gardens. While there is nothing happier than a sunflower, they look so sad at a certain stage before death is final...but that is just human thought. They are busy spreading their seed by bird and squirrel carriers so that next year we will watch for their kin.

Nature is always my comfort when something or someone dies. It teaches that the energy we hold within our bodies never dissipates, it just expands or changes its foundation. When the rock is washed away by water, what does it become? It is part of the water. When the body is turned to ash what does it become? Part of earth on the ground or blowing in the air only to land somewhere to blend with the soil. We are Earth.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A beautiful day of elder friends...animal and human

Our elder friends from one of The Greens residences came for visit on this gorgeous mid coast Maine day. Oh we had fun!

We all sat with the goats in the orchard, and then one of the elders really wanted me to bring White Dog in. I knew he would do great, but he is about 120 pounds, and though he is so loving, he has big feet and still has a habit of wanting to 'hold hands' and I did not want any tender skin getting broken. But I brought him in on a lead and he was wonderful Perhaps this is a new gig for him now. We shall see.

I also let Freddy the Dreamer, aka Little Lonely, one of the smaller pigs in. They have so wanted to see a pig. The other pigs were in the paddock in close proximity so they got to see them run around and that was fun. Freddy was very interested in the grass since he has been on dry lot for a long time, so he had little interest this visit, but I know he will be good.

Ollie is also a fine therapy goat, so happy for him. Opie was there, and has continued showing his big boy personality of quiet resolve, standing back and letting the other animals do the running around. And of course, there was plenty of Llama Love...including kissing galore. What a showstopper she is.

But what was fun, and always is with this bunch since I have grown to know them pretty well, was just sitting and talking, outside, watching the animals, feeling the breeze, smelling the ocean. They are a wonderful bunch and Martyn was able to be here today too. I just love them all. When they were leaving, one of them said,

"Now wasn't just so wonderful to all be together here, and just sit and talk?"

Yes, I think so.

We are planning to build a small hut for both man and beast, and I'm hoping it might allow some seniors to venture out even in November, or spring time-but we will see.

If you like what we are doing-bringing animals and elders together-please consider a donation to our non profit. Thank you!

Friday, September 14, 2018

The aging of the acrobatic goat

He once flew through the air with the greatest of ease, without a trapeze. Now, years later Wilbur the Acrobatic Goat is turning nine and beginning to show his elder status in both appearance and activity level. The other day, someone chewed his bear off a bit, shortening it.

I looked at all of them, lined up, and asked sternly,

"Who is chewing on Wilbur's beard?"


"His beard has shrunk considerably in the last few days," I said.

Opie stood forward. "It wasn't me but I know who it is," and he returned to the lineup.

"Opie, you are complicit by not telling me," I said.

Earnest came froward, "May I ask what the said consequences will be for the said perpetrator?"

"I will scold them," I said.

"Shaming is harmful to young minds!" Opie screamed.

Everyone hushed him up.

"Opie, I think you know more than you are telling, " I said. "I'm going to count to ten, and if a name comes out, everyone will get carrots, even the perpetrator," I said.

"It's ME, It was MEEEEE!" screamed Ollie in joy and he ran forward to get a hug.

So, I sat amongst them, and we ate carrots. And Ollie chewed on my buttons.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Oscar...the imperfection of his actions confound us...but we love him

Oscar in the front, elder Omar his papa in the back 
Omar and his son Oscar have been with us about a month now and have settled in very well. We really love them. Oscar is a year old and Omar will 14 next month. They are truly bonded and call for each other when they are apart in the house, usually joining up for naps on the bed, and coming together for window sunnings, and movie watching at night on the couch, where all of us human and beasts are stuffed together but happy as clams. Oscar likes to snuggle with Martyn during television time, Omar is my guy.

Every morning when Martyn gets up at 5:30, I stay in bed, and the minute they hear him get up, the two of them arrive with enthusiasm on the bed, to lie on me like a couch.

We have been frustrated with some of Oscar's...confusion, and I have tried everything to get him past it. Oscar uses the litter box regularly, but about 50% of the time, he decides to go pee in the house, in a specific spot by the back door. I tried bringing in a second litter box, I tried cleaning the box-literally-about four times a day. He also will poop in one of two spots on regular basis, but still uses the litter box too. Omar has no issues.

"Can't you explain it to him, Omar?" I ask him.

I can deal with a cat poop-God does know poop is just a thing around here we don't bat an eye at-but cat pee is another issue. Fortunately, he is doing it in a spot that isn't in the main part of the house. Unfortunately it is on the old wood floor. I tried spraying different urine away products that say they keep the cat from re-peeing there. False advertising. I did not want a litter box in my front hallway, so we now put a piece of tin foil down, and then a shop rag on top of that. It keeps it from soaking in the floor. I have caught him in the act and scolded him, I have caught him in the litter box and praised him. I do know there was always sort of a doggie smell there when we moved in. The house is from 1760, I am sure someone peed there at some point, maybe a moose, maybe an early settler. It's just odd he immediately used the litter box regularly, and then started this behavior. The spot he is going on is literally about six feet around the corner to his box.

We talked about separating them and putting Oscar out with the elders. But I couldn't do it. I am sure Omar would have actually kind of liked his independence in the house, but they really are bonded. I've never seen a male father cat so bonded with a youngster.

Omar and Oscar were relinguished to the shelter. From what I understand, they came from a very cat heavy population household that it sounds like had grown because they had not spayed/neautered-Omar was still in tact at age 13. The couple had retired and decided to reduce the cats because they could not afford it. We think there were so many cats around that it had become a free for all. Oscar is also tiny and I would assume was inbred if Omar was running around mating. We also notice that Oscar is ravenous, where as Omar is more mellow about eating, but eats well. When Oscar was at the shelter he had runny stool for many months and they did a bunch of tests, when he arrived here his stool was fine within a few days. I think he was simply stressed. He also barfed his food quite a bit on arrival, and that has subsided, and again I think he was used to having to gorge his food with all the other cats around.

So, that is part of the deal of taking on animals. You have to work through it, try lots of different options and give it time. I really hope Oscar grows out of this one behavior. He and Omar are here to stay...assuming he doesn't start peeing on every thing...but I am confidant that isn't going to happen or he might have to live in the elder suite.

And I look at him, when he has made this mistake, he just looks so stinking perplexed. He is really a sweet guy, as is Omar.

Omar is a truly lovely guy, going on 14 in a couple weeks

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Autumn is here...oh yes oh yes oh yes

I entered the barn yesterday morning humming Zippidity Do Da, the weather had me perked for happiness and enthusiasm no matter what came my way. It is technically not Autumn on the calendar, but, for me Autumn begins on September 1 and I am always so glad for her arrival. The weather cooled off for us, I even wore socks last night and a sweater as we sat outside having a glass of wine.

Oh Glory!

I'm relieved for the animals too, who take any kind of weather without complaint. I'd rather see an animal in freezing weather eating hay, than sitting in humid and hot fly infested air. I think they agree.

So, on we go to the beginning of so many things, for that is what this time of year means for me-beginnings even amongst the dying leaves. Something is always starting. Ideas, new projects, new goals, new memories, new animals...are all in front of me.

I even got on Boone yesterday and took a spin around the fields. We hope to ride into the early winter now that the flies are pretty much busted. It was good to be on him again.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

More elder friends come to Apifera and I now know for sure we are in the right place

We had such a nice visit with new friends from The Lincoln Home, an elder residence in the nearby town of New Castle. It was just a lovely group of people that came, sharp and witty and full of questions.

I brought Birdie in, and all the goats, and you can probably guess who put on a kissing show. I tell you, I am so grateful when I went to get a llama that day that I picked her, she was a kisser then and is to this day.

I felt really good about our first two on site visits. Today, when I looked at the photo of Birdie kissing Phil, the gentleman in the photos here, I just thought,

We really did come to the right place.

Today we brought the benches into the orchard, so we could be in the shade, it was really hot and sticky but we had a breeze. It was good because we are planning the shade hut for the elder guests, and now I know at this time of morning there is good shade where we were, so I thought it would be nice to have some more permanent benches there.

I'm just really so happy thinks are humming along.

I think I want to try and bring Boone in on these too, but I will have to think about logistics. I left the donkeys out of today's visit because it was so hot. And to be honest, Birdie is such a presence and such a hit for people. It is the Time of the Llama. Pino has absolutely no remorse about that. He has done years of service in his own quiet way, and will continue, but we will go with the flow the universe is sending us.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

My Pig: her life with a bed wetter

I've had her since I was four. She has been though so much–bedwettings on an almost nightly occurrence, then subsequent power washings by my mother, and dryings.

It's no wonder she is worn and earless...and lacks her tail.

Her name is simply...My Pig. My mother would see me as a four year old without my pig and ask, as I ventured to bedtime,

"Where is your pig?" and I would say,

"You mean My Pig."

The pink coloring she once had is now faded, and she looks like she might have taken a recent dusting due some graying. I don't want to wash her again, she might have a flashback to those times.

I can remember the feeling I had as a child though, when I held my little pig. She was one of my go-to comfort creatures back then, along with my dinosaur pajama doll-the latter also suffered greatly in bed wettings.

My bed wetting went on for a long time and kept me from going to sleepovers at my friends for many years. I can remember going to some one's house to spend the night, good family friends, and I was to stay there overnight while my parents went out of town that night. I knew this family well, but I remember hearing my mom in an adjacent room, reminding her friend that...well, I wet the bed so my mother had brought a rubber sheet.

Jeeze. Way to ruin the slumber party by bringing your own rubber sheet.

So, My Pig and I soldiered on, through rubber sheets and power washings. I eventually outgrew bed wetting, but never outgrew my pig. And she has come with me to every home I've ever lived in, including NYC, Oregon, Minneapolis and now, Maine. Back then, fifty-six years ago, we were both pink and fresh, and now all these years later we are both a bit worn but still the same at our core. She sits in my studio now and the other day I picked her up, I had not done that for some time. After all, I have lots of pigs now, ones that move and talk and eat. But when I held My Pig, I was taken back to a place far, far away–a place that still exists, but only in one place, my head. A place where the family was under one roof, the dog was in the living room somewhere with red polish I had put on her toes, and I was in my bed near the the alcove window that looked out at the elm branches, and the tiny red roses speckled in the wallpaper were all around me. And beside me, under the covers, waiting for her nightly wetting, was My Pig, not complaining, not shaming, just going to sleep with me without any fear or judgment about what was to come next.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Conversation of the pumpkins

"What a beautiful day," said one of them.

"Can you move a little, I'm feeling claustrophobic," said another deep in the pile.

"Why did she put you on top, you are the biggest?" complained another.

They all sat heaped in the wheeled tub, waiting, their destiny to be decided by me, the steward of the place and that includes vegetables. Of course, Nature herself partook, and continues too. Some of their cousins rotted in the hot sun this year, but not too many. Those orbs fed bugs and grubs.

Some of these chaps will feed the pigs. Some will sit on our stoop for us to enjoy until they soften and then will be gifted to the chickens and goats.

I have always felt affection for pumpkins. How can one not. Yes, cynics will say I am humanizing them, Disney-izying their characters. But I really do sense them as individuals, much more than tomatoes or potatoes. Everything is connected. If I believe my father is dispersed now and exists in The Wind, and that my mother and father can be seen together as red cardinals, why would I not feel the individuality of a pumpkin, and here a voice out of that orb.

I have been shamed online for this before-but I truly take to heart that I'm eating things with energy and character, be it a bean or a carrot. Before I harvested the pumpkins, I started fall pruning in the front garden which is still young and unstructured. I mainly cut back the yarrows and Queen Anne's Lace, but I thanked them all and said I'd see them next spring.

So, it is the beginning of the end for each seed that is now a beautiful little orange orb. One by one, I will pick them out of the heap and feed them to the pigs. I like to think when they are taken off the vine, that's it, they never sense a bite. But who am I to say, who are you to say, if that is true? We will never really know, unless of course someday we are in fact, a pumpkin.

I did save one giant pumpkin out in the patch. Every year, Earnest and I try to grow one of those huge pumpkins. We grow our pumpkins in the compost pile which never require water, of course, adding daily water would help, but that defeats it all. We like to see how big they can grow simply with the sky's water, and the nutrients of equine and sheep fertilizer. We have had many big ones. Earnest always says that every year he will grow a huge pumpkin and enter it in the fair. But he never has-he either forgets to enter, or eats the pumpkin. But the idea that he might grow a huge pumpkin of award winning features is just a worthwhile venture for both of us.

Friday, August 31, 2018

"Rosie! Rosie, where are you?!"

I had one of those heart stopping animal moments last night in the outer barn. I had done my nighttime feedings and chores with the sheep and equines and made my way over to Rosie's private suite. I always check on her even though she doesn't get any feed at night.

But there was no Rosie.

No problem, I ventured out to the new barn addition, which Rosie often meanders to for sun naps.

But still, I did not see Rosie.

This pig can not just vanish. While my other pigs could easily break out of this barn, Rosie is a delicate wildflower incapable of such normal pig behavior.

I looked under hay that had been left on the floor. No Rosie.

I turned, and there she was, a Sleeping Beauty like no other. She had ventured to another part of the barn, an area that had recently been filled with hay, but last weekend we created a semi loft to get more hay off the pallets, and better moving room for woman and animal.

It was the sweetest image-I took these photos. She did not even wake up, she slept through my three minutes of bewilderment. I sat with her for a spell, she hardly let out a grumpf.

Oh! Rosie!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

White Dog the book...continues

I am making progress on the book about White Dog. I think one thing that I am recognizing is how much I have learned since my first book in 2010. One of the best things I did on one of my first set written books was to invest in the services of a really respected and experienced freelance editor who helped me shape the story, and focus the voice of the story–that one became became "Donkey Dream", and although I added the pie recipes and back end story later on my own, years later, the main story was very tight and good. I still feel that way.

"White Dog" is meant to happen and my plan is to finish the writing and art by year's end, then work at editing and shaping it thoroughly, and then have a fundraiser in spring. The other thing I'm realizing as I work on the book, I'm not thinking about the darn money that has to be raised. I am just writing and absorbed with the story. This is a maturation on my part, and also, I think, a sign this book just comes from a very special place. It matters not about money right now, what matters are the words and thoughts coming from White Dog through me. In some ways, I guess it is a co-memoir, but everything comes from his voice.

I aim to do him justice.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Evolving days of Apifera...the dream expands

For years, I tried to get elder residences to come to the farm, back when we were in Oregon. I even talked to some elder consultants, and both of them told me due to laws and insurance issues in Oregon, it would be hard to make it work. This coupled with the fact we were very remote, much more so than we are in Maine.

Like any dream, one looks back and realizes that it wasn't so much doors closing, it was just the dream had to be held onto, percolating, until the right set of circumstances aligned.

And we have aligned, I believe. We have had lift off.

Friday we had our first official elder residents farm visit. I guess I need a catchier name for that. It was so, so, fun. It meant so much to me, and I know how much they all loved it. I had been trying to get this to happen with the folks I visit frequently in Wiscasset, but due to staffing and driver issues, it took awhile to make it come true. This was a test run, and like anything, one learns a lot after a 'first'. I was really pleased with how everyone, staff and residents, were willing and able to go with the flow. I had put the two benches [donated by Apifera Angels] on the outside of the orchard where the animals would be. I wasn't sure who was coming, so decided we would play it by ear to see if some people wanted to be on the inside with the animals, or on the outside just enjoying the animals from five feet away.

It just all worked. Ollie came out at one point-and visited. I knew he would be great and think I might have to take him in for visits now. I kind of always had that in the back of my head. They got to meet some of the animals they've been hearing about, or seeing in pictures, when Opie and I write letters.

And of course, the llama love was spilling out of Birdie.

One of the residents came from a nearby place, and I knew she was a real animal lover. She had met Opie in the past year, and got right down on the floor with him to commune. She arrived eager to be with all the creatures. I am really going to make an effort to go visit her with animals, she needs and wants them in her life. I know I will be the same way.

I also supplied some hats for everyone, and I love that in these photos, they all have on hats that once belonged to my father. In my heart, I said hello to him, and felt him there, getting a chuckle out of that.

I also now feel confident where I want to build the small shade hut so guests can sit in the shade. I'm not sure if we can start that this fall, it would be nice too. I'm also excited that the event manager of this residence is excited to do more of these visits. And next week we have another local elder facility coming. So we are on the road...to love and sharing.

I really felt so good after the visit. We are only one year into the 501[c][3] and I feel we've come along and done so much-and each accomplishment gives me new ideas and energy.

The important thing is that I always focus on our mission-helping elder/special needs animals, and bringing them together with people for...joy. Keep it simple. From the simple gesture of sharing the animals, it brings so many smiles.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Misfits line up for.....scream, squeal, oh no!!!!!!

Update: Less than an hour after posting our needs online, we had our socks knocked off with support-we made it-THANK YOU and we feel so graced.

It's that time again...rabies shots!

Background: collective screaming from barnyard.

Now in Maine, we are in an area where rabies is a threat. We never did rabies shots for the barnyard Misfits out West, but we have opted to do it here. I have even asked the State Vet about it, and we decided it is worth the extra money should we have an incident.

It is costly, so I am reaching out to all Apifera Angels to see if you'd like to help offset the cost, which helps keep our fund healthy. We already did the donkeys, so now we just have the other Misfits to do.

Ollie is the only one who is excited about this. Being his first rabies shot, he thinks it is special that everyone gets to line up and get something. Opie knows what to do, cover your eyes!

I appreciate your continued love and support to help The Misfits! Anyone donating $50 or more can take home one of my books [your choice].

You can donate on the blog here, and if you prefer you can send a check to 315 Waldoboro RD, Bremen ME 04551 made out to Apifera Farm.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Life with the old dog...what is the reward?

I often hear people say how rewarding it is to live with an old dog, but none seem to share specific examples as to why they find it rewarding. This was an article I wrote some time ago for "Life With Dogs" about the first, never to be forgotten Old One Eyed Pug aka Billy. Of course we now have Hughie, The Old One Eyed Blind Pug.

His birth name was Billy Baker, named after my kindergarten friend who had a buzz cut that reminded me of Billy’s soft, round head. But fate gave Billy Baker, the pug not the boy, a name change after one eyeball became wounded and had to be removed. It happened after a complete misunderstanding with a then very young chocolate lab, but the incident did not alter their loving relationship. To this day, Huck licks the little pug’s smooshed in face like a lollypop.

I like to think of his lost eyeball as the full moon watching over my little fellow and shining a light his way to keep him from running into walls. If I’m sitting on the porch with pug in lap, gazing on a full moon, I give him a squeeze and say, “There’s your eyeball, watching over us.”

We thought we were going to lose him a year ago when he appeared to have a mini stroke and lost coordination for a few days. He was off food, tail down, humped back, and we rushed him into the vet. Ex-rays showed deteriorating spinal disks and together with his bad heart, we figured our days together were closing in on us. But he rebounded.

Most of his teeth have been pulled but he still manages to eat like a running back, making one thing the same as in his youth- gas. Ah yes, the gas he doeth pass. Over the year, he sleeps more, and he is so deaf that he doesn’t know if someone is in the room. He goes into deep sleeps and if I try to gently shake him awake, he still lays snoring for minutes until he comes to life. His one remaining eyeball is nearly all fogged up in blindness making stairs or new territories a challenge.

He needs constant guidance now to get around the house. If we are in the kitchen, and I leave for the downstairs studio, I tap him and he knows to follow, but then he needs assistance on the stairs. If I can get him to settle on his fire side bed, he will sleep for most of the day. But it takes him longer to settle, and he often wanders around looking for me, or something that feels right. he often seems a bit delirious, like an old man wandering, looking for the reason why he got up in the first place.

His one sure way to let me know he needs me, or needs something, is to whimper. He whimpers if he needs to go up the stairs, or down. He whimpers if he wants to get off the chair, or if he needs to step the 3 inches over the porch thresh way to come in. He whimpers if I am five feet away but he’s unsure where I am.

Out in the garden, the old pug can still sniff around a few minutes before he starts to cry a bit- “Where are you?” he’s asking. “Do you know where I am? Because I’m not so sure where I am, come find me.”

He used to love spending hours in the garden. But now he’d rather be in my lap, my hand on his worn down spine, his little pug nose snoring in and out with an occasional twitch from his singular eyeball.

And there in lies the answer.

I still provide a shore for him, a respite in his delusion brought on by age. He gives me one more purpose in my day – to give him a safe place to be all that he can be even in his elderly limitations.

We fit together like salt and pepper. I have a nice warm lap that has been reformed over the years to fit his little curled up fawn body just perfectly.

Monday, August 20, 2018

3 days without Martyn...not so sure I would be good at this

I spent the last three days alone, without Martyn. He went to a family outing 4 hours away, and I could not get farm care. That is one of the realities that comes with what I do-the responsibility of care taking never ends. And since we haven't been here that long I have not found farm sitters. I was really glad Martyn got to go, he went fishing at his family's old summer stomping ground, and got to see family too. He needed that. In some ways, I told him, I think maybe I was meant not to go, I would have created a different dynamic, and this way, he could fish all day.

We have not been apart for...I can't even remember the last time, I guess it would have been 2008 when my father died. When he was packing up his truck to leave and I was helping carry stuff to the car, I had this overwhelming sense of...this just doesn't feel good. As I stood by his truck and it was time to say goodbye, my throat started to swell up and I had to hold back my emotions.

Good grief! It wasn't like he was getting on the Titanic.

But it was interesting to be alone again after so many years. Keep in mind before Martyn, I was single until I was 42. I lived alone, except for one year when I hooked up with a moron who happened to be a very good liar, and liars and open-hearted souls often collide, leaving one bruised and battered and leaving the liar to leave, and lie some more. I liked living alone. I really did. I have always been, since a young child, a self entertaining unit. I always had my own room, since it was just me and my brother, and I found multiple ways to amuse and engage myself all day. When I was about ten, I would go to bed really early sometimes, like 8, and my mom wanted to know why I was going to bed so early-it was because I loved lying in bed with the lights out and listening to the stories in my head.

Being alone isn't the same as being lonely, and being lonely can happen even though you are surrounded by people. While I like being alone, I am not lonely. In fact I relish being alone. With Martyn I have found the perfect match, we work well together, but we also work separately-together. We come together at dusk and break bread, share, laugh, yell at the Apple TV, and sleep.

So after he drove away, I went in the house and...I cried, like a little baby. I was sort of caught off guard by that. But they were good tears and then I started on with my day. What was so interesting to me was the energy shift in the house. Everywhere there were marks of Martyn, things he'd built or fixed, his garden, the empty spot out front where his truck should have been, his cap hanging on a chair. That first day, I realized how accustomed living with someone I had become. I knew this, but the physical void was so palpable. By night time I made some pesto and watched a movie and went to bed. When I awoke, I had to remember he was gone. And when I got up to start the day, again, I noticed how the energy was different....it was as if I could feel the energy more.

I thought of my friend, my age, who three months ago lost her way-too-young husband in his fifties, suddenly. He got up to make breakfast, had a seizure which he had experienced his entire life, fell down the stairs, and was dead. She is forging on in her life, not cowering from the pain, but living in it, and she says it is a physical pain right now, it hurts every where. I empathize with her. I often wonder if I could stand this, if Martyn died now. Some people like to shower me with nice comments, based on my good deeds and what they see me doing on the blog, telling me I am 'brave' and 'strong'....hmmm, I am not sure of that. I am not sure I would have the strength to go one, or want to go on without him. I'm not sure I would choose to have the strength..maybe I would just, breathe out, and let go of the earth somehow.

Anyway, it was interesting to be silent for three days and not really have conversation. I sat out in the garden for a cocktail and I do love just sitting...I have always loved just sitting for a spell. But when I got up this morning, I baked a pie for Martyn's homecoming, and some bread so he can have sandwiches for work tomorrow. I'm glad he is coming home. It's the same excitement in my heart as when a new Misfit is arriving!

But I guess it is this decade of the sixties....you do know what you have more clearly, because all around you there is more loss. One can't dwell on 'what if', one must focus on 'the glory of what is here right now'. But then I think of my friend, and what she has right now is a big hole in her life. She doesn't get to have baked pie tonight with her best friend...

Here's to all the brave warriors out there, warriors of love as my friend calls herself, who get up and face the energy shift in the house.

Friday, August 17, 2018

As summer fades...we smile

It has been a humid August this year, and humidity is not my friend, or too many other's either. Since we never had humid summers in Oregon, I've never had to deal with certain things rotting in the garden. On the other hand certain things seemed to thrive this summer-the Queen Anne's Lace for example. But the rains we had, with humid days after, did seem to do some things to certain roots.

I could have an entire yard of The Queens, perhaps with sunflowers too, and pumpkins. Martyn has been patient with my Queen love, letting me keep large plantings of it in both the front garden and back private garden. We kind of have this unspoken rule that the front garden is more his, except for my hollyhock patch-step away from my hollyhock patch-and the back garden is more my garden. It's one of those couple speak things. We obviously are very united on how we take care of Earth.

And the cone flowers this year are phenomenal too.

I talk to all my flowers, how can I not? They are so full of personality.

But, as you can tell by this lackluster post, it is still August, and I am really no different than the plants, or leaves that are crumbling. I really feel this is what happens to me in August, I am no different than every other piece of Earth, I am ready to shed parts of myself, decaying skin and bits of dirt and hair, and start afresh in September. Fall for me is a revitalization, even though it is a time when Nature is prepping for winter. Winter for me is a long, caccoon of creativity and silence.

Fall always has a melancholy too. I think for me it is because it reminds me of days gone by-memories of being a kid and sitting in my leaf huts back in Minnesota, my mom in the house making a good dinner, my dog at my side. Back to school has that same revitalization for me-new pencils, the smell of the new books, who was my homeroom teacher going to be.

But for now, I do try to look at each flower head, marvel, and revel in it all-this setting, how we got here, and what will happen next. If I think of people now gone, or animals, it is not really in a depressed way, it is an acknowledgement that without them I would not be here in this exact spot and time...and that they live in my head.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The blessing of daily faces

It's a blessing to live amongst such a diversity of souls with faces that express their own peace each day, because they just get to be.

Monday, August 13, 2018

White Dog: the new book keeps unfolding

I have been working on the upcoming book about the story of White Dog, the creature that mysteriously appeared in our field one day...the same large livestock guardian breed [Maremma] as our Marcella who at the time was about 8 months old as I recall. Many scenarios were tossed around by readers, and me, and while we did seek answers to where he came from for a return, I'm grateful he is with us. He was thin, long toed and his collar had what looked like an old rope knotted and torn, indicating he might have been tied ups at some point. He was not a chaser of sheep or animals, was calm around all the various Misfits walking around...and he was intact. He also had a fear on arrival if anyone picked up a broom or rake and he would cower.

The mystery of where he came from was juxtaposed by his demeanor, which had a knowing and calm exterior, his inner thoughts seemed to ooze mystical qualities-for me any away. He was a magnet for anyone who arrived at the farm, or anyone that got to know him online too. His eyes are deep wells of story...and I have been trying to start this book for a few years. I realize now that coming to Maine was part of what had to happen, for both me and White Dog, to figure the book out.

One of the beauties of self publishing [a curse too at times] is I am my own boss, and I can share what I want with you when I want. I will be posting snippets as I go along, of art and prose. This book is going to be something substantial to hold in your hands-I am estimating over 250 pages, at about 6.5" square. There will be lots of prose-I have not written a wordy book for while and am ready for that and enjoying it. There will be art and photos. Another nice thing about being independent is when 'experts' tell me you should only have art in the book, no photos, I can just think,


But I have some tricks up my idea hat for this one. It will not be a cheap book to produce, none of them are. And I am not going to worry about that right now, I want the book to be complete by late year, or early spring and then the thought is to do a Kickstarter for it. I know when I get it done, the book itself is going to get people excited, as I know some already are. It's hard to know what will resonate with people, but this is a book I feel compelled to write, and as soon as I can, I don't know why I am feeling compelled this way.

The book shares White Dog's journey, but it also reminds us we can never really go back 'home'- that home no longer exists, only in our memory and it probably wasn't exactly as the memory is in our current brain anyway. The book also will not be for pragmatists, I don't think. I truly believe humans have the ability to hone their innate abilities, to recognize that 'sixth sense's all possess, but most people don't bother, can't see it, or are too busy being human. I have always recognized certain creatures that come to Apifera seem more intuitive than others, and while they all think instinctively, in order to survive in the herd or pack, some animals are just able to tap into people's inner worlds more readily. I think we all can work on our intuition, I know I am always questioning my abilities-and sometimes I stop and think,

Just listen, to your inside.

Friday, August 10, 2018

I refuse to make the bed for good reason

My routine is to get up, do my morning stuff in the bathroom, then make the bed before I have breakfast and do barn chores. Around this place, one of the few vestiges of order is that the bed gets made. But of late, I can't bring myself to disturb these two. I mean, they are still in their we've been through a lot and need extra attention in order to fully relax in our new surrounding.

And so, the bed didn't get made. And life went on just as it does each day.

Omar and Oscar, I am glad life is nor hard for you.