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.





Monday, January 15, 2018

Noritsu is a muse


Does everyone really get to dream?


Today we honor the man who gave up so much in his life, and his life itself, to help people of color. The tenacity, insight and bravery it took to continually face oppression, risk physical beatings and jail time, and still set out each day with determination...is to be honored. We honor you Dr. King.

White people are still oppressing people of color, this is no secret. We've come far, but we have so much to do to learn from one another and to let ll people...dream. I looked at this quote from my "Donkey Dream" book, and I thought, some might be offended I post this on the day we honor King. But I thought about it, and thought it might be a good way to point out that I have always been able to dream, and keep dreaming. I have not been oppressed by a system that is run by whites, white men to be exact. Yes, I've had my sexist instances as a woman, I'm constantly being mansplained to, talked to inappropriately, and other things I don't want to share. But I am White, in a White driven country. I never had to fear I'd be beaten, or killed just by the color of my skin. I did not fear for any of my family that they might be disadvantaged or in harm due to their whiteness. I was not wealthy, but I was privileged simply by my whiteness.

So this image of my beloved a donkey-represents the dream I had to have a farm, to grow wings there and allow so many new things to come into my life, and to share it though my art and writings. I think it also represents white privilege. I will still dream, I hope I don't find myself in a position at some time of my life due to age, illness, or economics, that I fear to dream.

But there are many who start out disadvantaged simply by their race, class or circumstances. How do some of them even start to dream if we exclude them, shun them, or oppress them from the opportunities we all deserve in this country?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Old Blind One Eyed Pug has a therapy gig

I decided to take Hughie down to the nearby village of Round Pond to visit with one of our elder homes, a private residence for six elders. I have taken Opie there several times, and Pino, but with the winter weather decided the old pug would be a perfect therapy guy-and he is. I knew he would be. He sat contently on my lap as I sat by various residents and chatted, while he napped, often with his head on someone's lap or arm. I was so proud of him. I did not take photos, but when we drove home, I took this one of the healing pug. right after, his little eyeball had a hard time staying open, he needed a nap.

I really felt like it a turning point visit for me. We talked openly and honestly about how people see elders as...old people...and forget, or fail to recognize these are people like you and me that had full and vibrant lives at one time, and still do if they are given the opportunity. I think part of it is it is uncomfortable for people that are not elderly yet to see what is coming, the fear of maybe having to give up independence is frightening to all of us, so instead of including elder residences into our lives, we hide from them-out of fear of what we might face.

Yesterday I sat on the couch next to Barbara who was born in Round Pond in 1932. She is always very quiet when I visit there, and has always been on that same spot on the couch. She often is awake, but closes her eyes and doses a bit, but she has her ears open and pops to life. Yesterday, the pug laid his head on her arm and napped while we all chatted. As we were all talking, I asked Barbara what she did in Round Pond all her life,

"Oh, I was just anybody," she said.

And of course we all said that was not true. The manager, a very nice woman I am getting to know, jumped in and told me that Barbara was a writer, which of course I was interested in. She likes to write stories, often in rhyme, about people she knew in the little village. They brought in a pamphlet of some of her writings and it was really wonderful to read them. It also allowed Barbara to open up more-it was the most I've ever heard her say.

Libby came to the residence because she ended up in a wheelchair after surgery at some point, and she knew she could no longer live alone in her home, and she loved her home. She is still trying to sell it three years later and it is a strain on her. I could hear the sadness in her voice when she talked about her house on an island, but she also said she was so lucky to live in this residence which is in an old village house.

We talked about how infuriating it is to be treated like a baby when you are elderly, as if you lose all your marbles or ability to think. I found out two of them are knitters and told them about my Old Kitty Knitty Club and they said they could help me learn new stitches.

The six residences, each of them in a small village including the one in Wiscasset that Opie and I go to, are not allowed to have animals so they told me how much the visits mean to them.

I left our get together feeling like Hughie had added something to their quiet day...it added something to mine too. We are all in this together, this thing called life, this process of aging. I do not want to fear the coming years, I want to be vibrant, and share that vibration with others. I hope I can live independently, like my mother who died at 87. But it might not be up to me. In the meantime, I will recognize, or try to seek out, the vibrancy in each elder as I get to know them more.

[If you like the work we are doing helping old animals, but also sharing them with elderly people, please consider a donation to our non profit]

Friday, January 12, 2018

"You're a girl," said Moose


Sophie is our only female goat...at least until yesterday's new elder arrivals. Three new females now call themselves misfits, and it got the boys jazzed up. Of all of them, Moose was the most enthralled. Even though he was neutered early as a kid, Moose still seems to want everyone to know he is all male in his mind and heart. He runs around wagging his tongue a sign of foreplay to a goat, and so he was quite pleased that I finally brought home female Misfits.

I let the new arrivals sleep with Tripod last night and let Opie have a slumber party with the big boys last night. All went fine. But this morning I made further introductions, letting the as -of-yet-unanamed elders hang out with Moose, Goose, Wilbur, Earnest and Marcella. Marcella is very protective of her herd, so I introduced her to the arrivals first, which is how to work with a Maremma. I sat down with her, and petted the new goats letting Marcella sniff and see that I considered them allies, not threats.

I felt confidant all was well and left the stall and a few minutes later peeked over to check on everybody and caught this photo. Moose was clearly in deep conversation with the new elder arrival.

"You're a....girl," he said.

"Yes, I would think so, sort of, I'm a hermaphrodite to be concise," she said. "But don't think anything of it."

"You are beautiful like a cup of coco," Moose said.

"So are you," she said back.

"May I flap my tongue on you," Moose asked.

"Good heavens, no," she said.

Marcella watched the entire conversation making sure no harm was done.

Eventually the old girl turned away. She likes to stick her tongue out.

"You have a lovely tongue," said Moose.

It might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship....or not. We will see, it's up to them of course.


New elders arrive!

Else is on the right, the hermaphrodite is on the left
I had intended on bringing two home. Somehow three ended up in the truck. Oops.

We drove up to Augusta to rendezvous in the parking lot of the civic center to make the big goat exchange. My life is full of wonderful things-getting to visit new places I've never been, hang out with my husband while doing it...and drive around with old goats.

They are all female, although the vets says one is a hermaphrodite. I have not examined her yet, but will need to investigate. It's a first at Apifera, anyway.

They were the most well behaved goats on the ride home. I can not go into any details about the rescue case, but over 100 animals were taken from a private residence, including about 20 goats. Due to the court case, they were in limbo since August and were homed at a rescue farm a couple hours away. I was in touch with the state on the proceedings and the case was finally resolved and we were able to pick them up yesterday. The farm did a great job putting weight on them which I'm grateful for since it is winter-and I also have a new contact to be in touch with about helping animals.

I hung with them when we got home, put them in the barn with Sir Tripod Goat. I decided to put little Opie in with Marcella so the new girls could acclimate without a little bucket of love bouncing all over. Sir Tripod is so forgiving and tolerant and took it in stride napping in his little cubby. I told the girls first thing that this was now their home, they would not have to leave or move again. They have had a lot of change int he past six months. They are doing just fine. I believe animals sense intention in us, and my intention is pure.

The rescue farm was calling the one girl Else, which I think suits her. She is a bit shy around animals but really likes people and I think she responds to her name, so Else she is. She has arthritis. The other two I have to take time to hear their names...stay tuned. The one with the horns has a crippled hind end, but do not let that fool you-she is a whipper snapper for sure. The bigger girl is a beautiful brown-red, I love her, and she likes to walk around with her tongue out–we all have our unique beauties.

Not only do I have a mate that gladly hops in the truck to help me pick up old goats, I found him happily cleaning out my truck after we got home.

Life is good. Stay tuned as the new arrivals settle in.


Else


Best co-pilot ever, and he even cleaned the truck

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

In the studio

"The Day the Ocean Broke" available through studio
"Sound of Winter Waves" available through studio
And my daily studio mate, Isabelle Noir, aka Bun
"Noritsu at Night" prints available

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Opie says, "Let me outta' this barn!"



This morning it was beach weather, all of twenty degrees and it rose to almost thirty by noon with more warm temps and even rain at end of the week. It is a reawakening for all of us, even the birds sounded like they had been reborn. No ice chipping of buckets today, no gloves as I did chores, even my hat felt too warm.

I let Opie and Sophie wander around this morning as I did chores. They have been cooped up, like everyone, in the warmer interior of the barns out of the frigid arctic winds. Everyone is happy to get some sunshine and real out door air, and I was able to do a better barn cleanup.

Opie is our little sprite, such a joy that little chap is. I'm so glad he is with us. We have some therapy sessions planned in a week. He never lets anything get him down. Every morning he is joyful, everything is 'good'-the food, the hay, the running up the steps, the cleaning of the chicken coop, the visiting the chicken coop, the getting in my way in the chicken coop-everything is done with joy in his step and a imp look on his face. Opie also still comes up to me and pushes his head into me, a sign he wants his bottle, but now instead of milk he simply gets petted and loved, and he likes that a lot.

I hope you can all find some Opie joy in your day, no matter what you might be facing in your life, even for minutes as you watch him run.



Sunday, January 07, 2018

Opie puts on his swimming trunks

It's been horribly cold, as you might know, all up and down the New England coast and into the inland areas. We are not as bad off as some inland places and hit -12 last night with little warm up during the day past 0. But I'll take it, and there is no wind, and a beautiful sun on the crisp white.

Still, it starts to wear you down, especially with animals to care for. We did okay though and nobody suffered since we have good barns, lots of good hay and frost free water, and a generator if we need it. Chipping all the water buckets is a lot of work but it got done and was a good workout three times a day. [I had lots of suggestions on keeping water thawed in buckets, none of which work for our set up, this year anyway, so there's no need to give me unrequested advice here on that, thank you.}

Today it really didn't feel that cold to me even though it was zero when I went out. I've had most of animals secured in the stalls to keep the warmth in-the pigs generate a lot of heat in their large stall so they are fine. The chickens are all inside the barn too. In the outer barn, the equines tough it out but have ample area out of wind and elements, and this year for the first time Boone wore a 300g coat-he has a thin hair coat so I got him one and he is warm as toast, as is Matilda who wears a coat in the winter due to her age. The sheep are just fine with their thick wool coats as is Birdie. Rosie is probably the one who has the hardest time in the cold but she has a deep bed of straw about 2 feet thick so is just fine, and also has a coat which often comes off but it helps in this weather. Marcella, Earnest, Wilbur, Moose and Goose also have a large interior area I can shut down to the winds and they were fine. Opie, Tripod and Sophie have an area inside the barn too and are content.

I told them this morning as I did chores that this week the weather is going to warm up, and after this cold it will be just like beach weather. I later found little Opie in his favorite swimming trunks, ready for the beach. Forget how literally they take me.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

The donkey gets mail


This sentiment captures Pino's effect on people perfectly, I think, don't you. Thank you to the kind person who made this sweet card for Pino [and for the little gift that came with it].


Friday, January 05, 2018

Sweet journey, to tiny little Maxine

Sometime last night, the sweet and tiny Maxine flew off.

I was prepared and knew yesterday she was checking out. I had a long talk with her-I try to never tell an animal, "Don't go yet" (although I fail at this in certain situations, which is pure selfishness on my part, of not wanting to lose a friend-death is not about me, their time is not about me),and I knew Maxine's little body just could not go on. She was calm and comfortable when I said goodnight, in one of her favorite sleeping baskets. The winds in the giant mega storm last night were fierce with huge wind gusts until about midnight. I wondered if the sound of the wind inspired,

"I could catch a good ride on one of these," her little soul thought, still attached to her body.

This was not a case of let's intervene and drag her to a vet in a blizzard, this was my innate understanding she was ready to die, or her body was. It is not my teaching to intervene when Nature has given me clear indicators that it is an animal's time. Over the past 16 years of taking elders on, I have learned to step back and try to recognize if this in an animal in distress, or animal that is now in the spiral we all will face at the end of our body's life.

I can tell you that when I first saw Maxine at the shelter website, I felt a pull, but sensed then her days were very numbered and I opted to give it some time. When she was still there when I checked a month later, I called to say I would bring her home here. One of my goals is to always listen to my intuition when I observe animals-and if you look at my last 16 years of helping seniors I seem to gravitate-often-to the ones that are getting ready to die. I am not bragging, I just have learned to be open about this. Sometimes I also gravitate to the ones that need me, or I need them, for some reason. I don't believe any of them have come into my life without a reason.

I sensed this with Max. But when I put some weight on her I thought, Well maybe she has some living to do.

The most important thing to know, is Max was here at the end, not at the shelter (although our shelter does a wonderful job with the animals, and they respect what I'm doing too). Max had been brought in at her elderly age by her family-they said they could not afford her meds which were about $15 a month-PLEASE, No People Bashing is allowed here-I bring it up because while I do not believe animals judge, I do believe they sense a situation for what it is. Which means I know Maxine knew she was here at Apifera and wasn't leaving, except when she chose to. I can tell you she was held every day and was being groomed daily to get all her mats out which she clearly appreciated. I made sure all the other cats saw her and I sat with her this morning while some of the elders acknowledged her body.

Maxine is now wrapped in a warm fabric and has been placed in a special box where she will rest until Nature let's us bury her. I placed feathers with her for her journey. I am happy for her-I could tell life and her body was wearing her spirit down. She was so cooperative taking her daily pills, and she won't have to endure any of that any more. What a sweet, tiny little soul she was.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

The blizzard begins

I was up early to do feedings not sure when the Gabonzo or whatever-they-are-calling-it snow storm was hitting. And there at the gate, as a light flurry began, no wind, was my faithful gatekeeper, Benedetto. He's there rain or shine, wind or sleet...knowing breakfast is in my bucket, but also to let me know that everything is alright or he would not be standing at the gate.

The storm is now in full force. It is 2 pm. It is a whiteout and the gusts are strong. A classic Nor'easter is upon us. But this time we have our new generator so we are better prepared should we lose power.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

We're frosty but all is well

Earnest just getting up with bed head
It has been a tad chilly. Okay, it's darn cold.

#$#$&&?!! cold.

All is well. We are not as bad off as upstate North Dakota where my cousin lives where temps have been around 25 below. We have had more like 10 below at night which is a huge difference when it comes to the water buckets.And tomorrow we will have a literal warm up to 25 for a couple of days. One more weekend of 0's and then next week looks more reasonable.

The air is invigorating. My cousin and I were talking about that-that we grew up in cold climates and know how to deal with it. For starters, you wear a hat. I can't tell you how many people I see running around without a hat when it's 10 below. Good grief. Forget about your hair, mate, keep some heat in your head.

The feeling of breathing in on an extremely cold day is one I actually like. It's almost like an instant detox. It could also take your breath away if it is extremely cold and certain people do have to be careful. But there is an invigoration that happens to the body when doing barn chores in this cold. If my hands can stay semi warm, I'm content.

There are also pain in the butt moments-like when your cloves get a tish of water on them from filling buckets and then they stick to the metal gates. The water buckets are the main chore, but also the poop freezes. This is not a big deal in most areas of the farm but in the equine area it is because the poop is big and it is hard for the equines to step on it. Especially Boone who is flat footed. So I like it when it warms up to at least 5 below because I can still get the poop up.

And shall I mention that taking a pee in the barn -which I do often since I can't seem to go more than 40 minutes without a break-has an entirely new meaning on these extreme cold days. Oh my!

The animals are much more stoic about all this. But one has to know their animals, and watch for signs of trouble. Getting water in them is essential, so water has to replenished more in the cold. I was worried about Sophie at one point so brought her into front barn, and she is just fine. I haven't lost a chicken but I never have to cold and they have a good place in the barn were I also lined one section with old sheep sheerings-they like that. They are still laying, about three eggs a day, but I often get there and the eggs have cracked-which means Earnest gets a treat.

Speaking of dear Earnest, today when I got to the barn early, I caught this photo of him just getting out of bed. It cracks me up. What a goofball. I love that pig. Earnest sleeps under his straw bedding and gets up with bed head.

I do have lots of good news to share. Stay tuned....