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.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Update on Birdie...it's a long road ahead, I think

The fact she can still smile gets my heart. Birdie relapsed.

It has been about a month since we ended the two week treatment for Birdie's fight with the meningeal worm, and she was doing really well, although I could see the wobbles and damage in her balance/rear end, but she was able to rise on her own, eat, graze, etc. We knew it could take months or longer for slow improvement, and we might never get better results. But I was feeling hopeful.

But that changed yesterday-Birdie could not get up without my help. Once up it took her some time to get balanced. I opted to put her in barn to be safe. At feedings last night she was unable to rise until I helped her. I also noticed her neck had developed a slight curve-which I now realize is a normal part of this dreaded disease.

I called my vet and we are going back to a shot a day of anti inflammatory med to see if that will help. The vet said not to panic that the nerve damage is there and it is a slow process for nerve recovery-and she will always have some. It is also possible she fell due to her condition [I witnessed her falling a few days ago] and that is adding to immobility. It really bummed me out that it seemed so sudden, but the vet said this is a pretty typical way the recovery can work. I have been researching as much as possible, and this post had several success stories, and then some not so positive outcomes. There is no answer as to 'if' of 'when' she will be 'okay'. And okay if she is in time, will most likely mean 'damaged'.

This morning I again had to help her up and she fell in the beginning. There are other anti inflammatory drugs we can try but we are trying to start with this one to see how much it helps.

She is up and eating -and still smiling -it’s so hard to watch her like this.

This is largely my fault. While I can't control Nature, I did not know about the M. worm and being new in Maine and without a vet when we arrived, I treated/dewormed like I always have out West. Once I began researching it was too late. She most likely contacted the worm in the summer, and we saw the first symptom on October 6. Fortunately, we got to her right away, since I spend so much time with her and saw the symptom. But...I feel responsible for this.

I will fight for her and with her for as long as I have to. She is one of the most special creatures in the entire universe and I will never give up on her. I hope together we can pull through this.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Teapots can run like Abrabians too

She certainly does not lack confidence, that is for sure. She is brave and strong and it is clear already that the short stout teapot might be running the place before we know it.

Today I put the new addition out with the donkeys for the first time. They've had ample time to sniff and snort, so it was time. All went well. The ground is chunky and frozen, so footing is not the best. For that reason, I did not want the pony running with the llama, who after her bout with Meningeal Worm can fall more easily due to her hind legs/spine being weakened.

So I put her in with the donkeys, leaving Boone out at this time. Boone has never done anything to the little donkeys, but I wanted to be cautious on this first outing. Matilda was the most cautious, and her footing is not great due to her age, but all was fine.

Soon, I'm sure they will be taking hiking expeditions together and Paco will write poetry to her. I did overhear a conversation this morning as I did my usual barn chores:

"So is she really a teapot?" Lucia asked.

"I don't think so. But she is round so she is a living teapot," said Pino.

"She is like a big round ball," said Lucia.

"The moon is round, so is the earth, so it is good to be round," said Pino.

"Cookies are round," said Paco.

"What is your name?" asked Lucia.

"She told me it will come," said the Teapot.

The donkeys returned back to their hay, all except Paco, 
who put his nose close to the fence that separated him from the new arrival.

"If your roundness means you are like the moon or earth, 
I wonder if you are some kind of Goddess?" Paco asked her.

She stomped her little feet, and squealed. And Paco ran off.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Who says?" Me and the Teapot Pony start to listen

I worked the new arrival [still no name] this morning on a lead line to see what training she really does have. I can tell she has some foundation work, which was what I was told [supposedly she was trained to drive many years ago]. It's been awhile since I've had an equine 'project' so this will be a really good thing for me, I think, and her.

She is a pistol. She has a mixture of sass, but then walks over to you and puts her head next to your leg for love and reassurance.

She is rusty, but so am I, we will relearn together.

Today I simply worked on the basic commands. She did fine, although it was her first time out into the new barn addition, which still doesn't have the wood exterior up [happening in coming month] so she could see out to the woods and pasture she doesn't know yet. I let her trot her circle with her head out, she clearly was not paying attention, but I allowed it for the beginning of our first session.

This has to be fun or her, and me.

She needs work on 'stop' or 'ho', but all in all, we had some good beginnings. By about 20 minutes into it, she was listening better, turning her ears into me. Considering she has been here two days, I wasn't going to push her. I'm excited to continue though, and make progress.

I think she is going to be a mixture of Boone and Paco. Boone was trained well, a former cow pony, but he was desensitized -which had/has its merits. He is quite bomb proof [although no horse is 100%, and it would be foolish to not be aware of that on any ride]. But Boone needed a leader, and I had to learn that with him, how to be a better leader. This sassy lady is not fearful, which is good. If anything, she is a lot like me-when told to do something that might seem contrary to my liking, or makes me feel uncomfortable, I ask a simple question,

"Who says?"

There is nothing wrong with that, especially as a woman in a white man's world-why should anyone else think for me.

I have to show her I'm trustworthy as a leader. I have to be patient, and clear, and let her make the choice I want her to make-like backing up, or turning right-before I am tempted to over correct her, or tell her to do it again before she has had time to make the decision. Be still and wait. Let her make her move, it might be the right one. If she makes a right move, and is praised, she will safe to make other right moves.

It is pouring so hard with over an inch of rain today, so being able to work with her in the new barn addition was great. It makes me want to keep the barn addition a large open space but I am not sure if that is functional for us. If I were rich, and I am not, I'd build another small barn for therapy visits where I could also work animals. Who knows, maybe that will happen in time.

First things first. I really feel this little teapot of vim and vinegar is going to be fun.

Inspired by the new pony...available, just inquire

Monday, November 12, 2018

A new Misfit arrives and Paco thinks she is like a teapot

We love her free style hair do
We made the 7 hour round trip to pick up an 18 year old mini horse that needed rehoming. I had heard about her through the New England Mini Horse Society which helps network adoptions and rehomings. I have been keeping my eyes open for one, thinking it would be a wonderful addition to therapy sessions with elders.

This little lady was well loved, and had two little girls that cared for her, but as little girls do, they grew up and went onto other things. Their mother was feeling overwhelmed with some of the animal care of some of the girl's animals, and she knew in her heart the best thing for this horse, and her mini horse companion was to find a new caring home that could give her more time. As you can see, she is a tish overweight, actually 'obese' if we are being honest. It is said that in her earlier days she learned how to drive, and we will begin working with her, and Paco, to see if we can get them to pull little carts full of...cookies or something. Who knows.

Many years ago, when I had to rehome a horse that was way over my head, and dangerous actually, I felt like I was letting the animal down. I wasn't. I had tried hard to work through issues we were having, but I wasn't ready for that horse, and she was well ahead of me and knew I was not a good leader for her. She went onto a more experienced horseman, that took her all over the place on rides and it was meant to be. I was telling someone about feeling like I had failed her, and they said that they believed a horse comes to an owner it needs at the time, and vice versa. I believe that to be true. I encouraged this owner with those words, that this little lady is meant to go on now and reinvent herself. She did the right thing, the brave thing, really-it is never easy saying goodbye to a creature you've watched your children grow up on. She was really happy to know this little horse will work with elder people, and have a purpose again.

She will need some supplements to help get her coat back to snuff, and we'll have the vet out soon to do a Cushings test just to be on the safe side. She will have to watch her calories, but I told her I have to also so we are int his bulging midriff thing together.

Bringing home a creature is always a bit stressful. You get them on the trailer, and you reassure them that it will be okay, but of course they sense something is happening. For me, I know once the trailer begins to move it helps calm them too, and our little friend-who knickered her goodbyes as we left [that was hard to hear] rode very well and didn't break a sweat. On arrival, she looked around and realized,

OKAY, there are trees, and leaves here too, and I hear animals...there is grass, and a barn where I sleep

I opted to put her in a stall where she could meet everyone over the fence, but would be safe on her own and get a good rest. Boone was right on it, being the first to give his approval. White Dog was really excited and is about the same height. Birdie was cautious as always but very interested. This little pony [she is a mini horse, but it is impossible not to call her a pony] is no push over, but seems to have a very good personality-she definitely likes people as she came and stood with me a lot. She likes to be brushed, and she lifts her feet well so the farrier will be happy. She is easy to catch and halter. So there is a lot of ground work in her, and I think she will fit in just fine.

She had goats and a large Thoroughbred at her old home, and when Girl George, the goat that lives on Boone's side, gets too nosy, she squeals and tells her to back off. But that will all end in time. And Girl George needs some tough love!

Poco is interested, but also cautious of the new arrival, all the donkeys are not afraid, but until they can get in the same paddock with her they won't be able to show some true bonding. I hope to do that this week sometime. Boone has never tried anything stupid with little Lucia so I think it will be just fine.

I have told her that everything is okay, everything will settle, it always does in a new beginning. I truly believe we will all look back in a few years and be so happy she came to us, and she will blossom in a new direction as she enters her senior years. We must all recognize we can readjust, and reinvent ourselves...it keeps hope in the heart that we will always be inspired by new things.

"I like the way she looks, too," Paco said. "She is like a little teapot all short and stout. Perfect."

{We welcome any donations to help offset the cost of this new little arrival and upcoming vet check}

First nose introductions

"She looks like a very nice teapot," said Paco. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

What if I had to choose: the horror we feel for the fires

Every time there is a major fire out West, I have visceral reactions to it. It is so hard to see the images of people and animals in such desperate situations. I have read some gut wrenching stories of people faced with leaving their horses to run free, and one woman rode her horse to a shopping area, waiting and hoping to somehow get her and the horse out. The firemen told her she had to go, and they promised they would do what they could for her loyal horse, and they didn't let her down. They told her they would get a Uhaul from down the street, and haul the horse out, and they did. The woman though had to leave the scene without him, they really made her go. Nobody knows where she went so she didn't get to see her horse driven away in the Uhaul.

Just writing that makes me agitated. To have to make these hard choices, stay and die, leave your horse and know he will suffer, and die...just so hard to watch. I get to turn off the images and walk away, they don't. Although i can't stop thinking of the images either.

I saw a pot bellied pig being guided out of a house by police, to a car I suppose. Thank you to all those people. Can you imagine if it were Rosie?

I saw llamas and a pony sitting on Malibu beach, tied to posts, their owners probably had no other choice and hoped the ocean water would at least keep them safe.

Two frightened shepherd dogs, dirty but healthy, looking lost and scared.

I took this photo of Benedetto two nights ago, the sunset was so striking. But when I looked at it again this morning it made me think that anyone that lives through a fire must see a sunset like this in a different way. I would imagine if it effects me to read these stories, the people that live through them are never the same, and visceral reactions must come even when they look at something as beautiful as a sunset.

We can only pray from our little house. They are facing such horrible things all at once, those people and animals.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

My blue hangover was worth it

Yesterday, Muddy came bounding into the bedroom at 5 am like always, pushed his wet nose under the blankets and flipped them up sending a shot of cold air on my skin. He does this every morning. But this particular morning was his 9th birthday so I sensed he was a tish happier than normal. Muddy starts everyday with enthusiasm,

"It's a new morning! Isn't it great?!"

Yep, yes, it is, Muddy, especially with your wet nose on me.

The excitement of the day's voting was also part of the energy and I was excited, but anxious. I know many were. In Maine, we overwhelmingly sent a message to the sitting governor, president and current political believers of the administration–NO MORE.

We elected a moderately leaning Democrat woman, and put the house and senate in Democratic hands. We voted against another Trumper business man for governor - and we have suffered through a horrible governor here for years. What I'm proud and relieved to see is there were no tight races, this was a mandate, with most Dems getting over 60% of the vote, and turnout was high.

I have hope. I think what I hope for most is that there will be an effort, somehow, for politicians to come together more in the House. Dump is not going to change, but he at least won't go rolling down a hill without brakes out of control without any speed bumps. He has wasted no time going right back to his onslaught of the media, and lies, pointing fingers, and we're right back into the circus.

One thing I feel needs to happen is to bring more understanding to the city elite and progressive leaning people about their rural neighbors, and that somehow rural people with certain views have to be more clearly heard and understood. I'm not talking about persuading either side to switch views, but I live and work with many people in my rural villages that are good people that voted for the current president. I do not believe everyone of them is a racist. I do however feel after two years, that sexism, and racism has to be acknowledged by everyone. If you can't see it, I believe you need to be educated on it...but I'm sick of rural people being designated as ignorant and uncaring.

To me, many [not all] of the city elite saying these things sound as elitist as the white men of the Senate and former House they love to criticize.

SO I was excited for the voting results. I also realized as I was in my little town hall in my village of 600, how much I love where we are, and how we are truly meant to be here. I feel a real sense of community here. When people went in to vote [it's the old school building that is now the town hall] there were-mainly elder-towns people there volunteering, and then there was a long table of sweets and goodies manned by other towns people. People stood and chatted. I stopped to get my trailer license, and someone said,

"Oh are you the ones who live at 315?"

Two years ago that might have freaked me out. Today, I feel we are becoming part of the community and region, and we are also giving back to it with our work. I walked out of there just feeling so positive how the universe brought us to this exact town, and house and at this time, for a reason. It's all part of our path here.

I also feel the current administration-which is exposing the underbelly of America that has always been there-is also meant to be here, at this specific time, for a reason. I don't like it, and we can change it, but it is teaching us all many different things-be it the fact that whites are born into privilege no matter their income, and that racism is alive and thriving, as is sexism and every other ism.

But I felt hope again last night. And I do have a tish of a blue hangover, after a bit too much wine runneth over. But one has to let off steam.

And besides, it was Muddy's birthday.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Everyone wants to be heard, even the ones we think are hateful

I choose to believe the crow that I heard high up in a tree this morning, cawing, was sending me a message of hope, and a reminder to carry on. No matter what happens on Tuesday night, there is a lot of work to do in this world.

Crows have always been messengers, for me, and many others...and I suppose the cynics will say we read into anything when we need it most. Years ago in my youth, with a broken relationship haunting me everyday, I believed that when I saw two crows together, it meant the person was going to come back to me. I would find two crow feathers on walks and felt optimism. As months wore on, I would only see single crows. I told myself at that time that I just wasn't seeing the crow pairs, but they were there, and that this entire 'believing in crow messages' was a farce.

But the crow's message, and my reading of it, was accurate back then. Seeing the crow pairs was true to my mindset, as I had not let go of the relationship and there were still lessons for me to glean from it. In time, a single crow was exactly the message I needed at the exact time I was ready to see it.

So this morning, like many people, I'm anxious about the world, the hate, the underbelly of America that has always been there but in the past two years-or more-has been given a green light of acceptance from the top.

Democracy is not a straight path. Nor is freedom. I have remained silent on social media about it. For one, as a non profit, one is not supposed to be talking politics, and I don't on the Apifera business page. As for my personal Facebook profile, something I rarely interact on anymore except to post links to the blog, I see no point in giving my opinion there anymore, and my personal profile page is basically a way for me to interact with some people I actually know in the real world. There is no real discourse between 'the sides' and there are so many 'sides' these days. I see people talking to their own choirs over and over. I just backed away from it. Some people I respected I've lost respect for, not because of their beliefs, but because of how they are banging them over other people's heads, daily, hourly. These same people despise Dump [a sentiment I share] but they are using tactics of 'sharing' their messages to their own choir that–in my eyes–are some of the same tactics the president and his party are using.

But just because I'm not posting about the political environment, the racial hatred, the sexism, the fear mongering doesn't mean I'm not working against it in my own way. I wonder what would happen if people that only post their political hates [this goes for either party] of the moment, had face to face conversations with other people.Talking to people with different views-especially hot button issues-is not easy. I think we should have community help in this. It is a skill to share your beliefs without shaming others. I'm no expert at it either. But FB is not a safe place to acquire the skill, or hone it.

Everyone wants to be heard, even the people we feel are wrong and hateful.

Llama Update!

I’m feeling optimistic about Birdie who is doing well after our scare in early October with the dreaded Menagerial worm which we caught early and treated aggressively via my vets recommendations.

Her swelling has noticeably disappeared in her rear upper legs. I feel her wobbliness is at a minimum–in fact I doubt any of you would notice–and could still improve since it has only been 2.5 weeks since treatment ended. I doubt I’ll ever totally relax about it-but am grateful for this outcome and hope it continues. She now will get a monthly dewormer shot, versus a twice a year dewormer which was our protocol in Oregon. Our land here is wetter, and although we don't have dear walking around, they are here passing through The Wood, so...it is what it is.

I'm so grateful I noticed it when I did [on Misfit Love Day, I was talking to a llama person as we stood by Birdie and when Birdie went to get up, she stumbled and acted crippled]. I also feel badly that I didn't understand the problems of this worm. Part of it is the fact I am just now finding my vets, so I really didn't have anyone to guide me with llama issues here when we arrived, and llamas are an exotic, so there are not a lot of vets that really don't know them well.

Anyway, I've asked for Birdie's forgiveness, and even made art in her honor, which she appreciated.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Now what? The ongoing thought process of one woman and two goats ambassadors of love

I took this photo today, spontaneously, as I walked in the front gate after doing errands. There they were, just set up for a perfect moment caught forever by a photo.

Sometimes things evolve so fast that I have to stop and take stock of what was and what will be-or what I want it to be. I am after all the co-pilot of this raggedy ship. I've been doing a lot of thinking about how I want to grow our ability to share our love ambassadors. When I looked at these two, and then the photos after I got in the house, I got this big feeling in my throat, like my heart shifted up to my throat but then it fluttered all around my body and then burst out into the room where I sat.

Somehow, I stumbled on Opie and then I stumbled on Ollie, or someone stumbled on me to send me Ollie. Was it all written out on a map of my soul long ago before I was a human vessel? As I drove to the feed store this afternoon, I was again in awe of how beautiful the autumn was this year. And then I realized I was beginning to know certain areas more on my routine drive, I knew the coves and bays more and it felt familiar, it did not feel like we just got here and were fish out of water [even though we always felt good here]. I thought of the couple of friends I've intertwined in my life now who are loving, funny, positive creatures and I'm thinking as I drive-I'm here, this is so the way it is supposed to have played out.

I feel like I'm on a nice speed–propelling forward with my work, and life.

Opie will be turning two in December. Look how little he was! Meanwhile, Ollie is growing like a weed and continues to be a lover not a fighter. We need more lovers, don't we?

Yesterday I went and visited a very beautiful elder residence, with beautiful views of New Harbor, right on the water. I will be taking the animals there after the holidays for regular visits. The residents there have come here twice and I'm so excited to have yet another nearby place to visit. Remember the wonderful 101 year old gent that came to Misfit Love Day? He lives there.

Tomorrow we will have the residents of some of The Greens come for a farm visit. I'm glad. I love my "Greenies" as I call them - The Greens is a group of seven homes, in small little vintage houses in different village settings, where 6-8 elders reside. And next week, I'm visiting one of The Greens I have not been too that we've been given the go-ahead to have animal visits at, and residents from the other homes can come on designated visit days. Part of the reason this is happening, besides my interest, is the help of one of the Greens employees [thank you, Cindy!} and a local man who now can drive the residents. This is so wonderful and he's great with the people too. It's very hard for the elder homes to get people places, due to staffing issues.

So one of my big goals is to develop these winter visits.

My other ideas are to start drawing days in the upper loft, which we plan to winterize and summarize -hoping to do that this winter. The elder cat suite will be opened up so the elder cats can walk around up there too. Elder people won't be able to get up there, it is a lot of steps. So I'm a bit frustrated on not having a place here for elder people for winter. But maybe it is meant to be that I find these other places for winter animal therapy visits?

I still would love a little winterized shed for animal visits-but the logistics of keeping the snow plowed around it, safe for elders-it's the little details I need to figure out.

Meanwhile, Opie and Ollie, are ready to report to duty as soon as I say, "Let's go!"

Opie on arrival back in December 2016