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.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

It's all connected, you can't have love in a body forever or the spirit would die

You can not separate love from loss. You can not ask for the night to be shorter and still want ripe tomatoes. You can not ask for a life to never end or you are also asking the stream to end before its destination to the ocean.

It's all connected.

You don't get life without death...ever.

You can't ask the spirit to stay in its earthly vehicle or you may as well ask a song to stay in a bird. I've never heard of anyone asking,

"Please, Bird, keep your song in, if it means you will never die."

Every day, things are dying–the bugs I hit with my car window as I drive, the insects below my feet, the old women and men and young ones too, the soldiers, the starving, the sick...and dogs, and animals, and friends...and pugs.

I do not look at my life here at Apifera as a series of losses. I don't analyze the months and think,

This has been a year of losses, please stop

because attrition begins in the womb...the biggest loss of all is at birth-we lose that life of floating freely, protected, loved, anticipated before anyone calls us fat or too old or weird.

My last conversation with the old pug...he spoke clearly

Hughie came into my life when he was going on nine. He was totally blind and one eyed. I knew his time with us would be shorter than getting a pup...but every day of his 4.5 years with us was a blessing.

I woke yesterday with a lot on the agenda, but I really didn't think it would be the last day of Hughie's life. I had to be in town early to take Martyn's truck in-he needed all new brakes which had rusted in the Maine ocean air since he doesn't drive it much in winter-so I spent three hours at the library proofing the upcoming White Dog book.

When I got home, I decided to try to get an X-ray for Hughie and was able to get an afternoon appointment. I've been back and forth for a week to the vet because of Hughie's health. Last Wednesday he showed early symptoms of spinal issues and pain-something common in pugs and something he has suffered from twice since we got him at age 9. He is now 13.5. I did not want to be without meds so got him into the vet right away. We put him on pain meds and anti inflammatories immediately and also gave him a shot for immediate relief. I saw some improvement and was hopeful...briefly.

The last time he had this, he bounced back in a couple days. This time his symptoms kept evolving, and it became clear it was more neurological. And he had this strange thing going on in his throat. So on Monday I went in to get more drugs, without Hughie, and ran into my vet and we chatted. We decided to keep him on the meds longer, and do an X-ray when I could get him in to see if we could figure out what this lung/thing was. And that's why I went in yesterday afternoon, to get the X-ray.

But when I carried Hughie to the car, I told him no matter what happened at the vet, it was going to be okay.

I was willing to see an xray, but my heart and instinct told me...he might not come home with me.

When I got to the vet, and he walked in to do the X-ray, I kind of broke down. I told him I wasn't sure if keeping him alive now was the right thing, even for another week of meds. He got down on the floor with Hughie in front of me and assessed him again, he was clearly in pain and showing neurological signs. An MRI would mean a 4 hour trip and having him put to sleep, and there was no point in an MRI if I wasn't willing to do surgery, and I was not. I was very clear on that in my heart. He is old, and the surgery is not a sure bet that what is causing the spinal issue can be fixed. He had hard enough time with dental surgery recovery. The vet agreed with this assessment.

As we talked...I just knew it was time. I had asked the skies to help me be clear when I went in, and they were. So...the vet went to get the medicines to put him down, and I held Hughie as he sat on the table.

And that is when we had our last conversation.

Hughie usually kissed me "goodnight", because I would carry him up on the couch each night to watch TV and at bedtime I'd hold his smoosh face and he'd kiss me, then I'd carry him to his crate. But I wouldn't say he was a smoochy kind of dog. So that is why this last conversation was poignant.

As I waited for the vet, I talked to Hughie and told him what a wonderful journey we had together here, and now he was the one that had to journey on without me, but I told him to look for Huck. He kissed me. Then I told him I was sorry, and he kissed me. I told him I could not see him be in pain anymore, and I felt I had to help him on this journey. And he just kissed and kissed me, slowly, very gently. It was not like him to do this much, but I truly believe he was thanking me, and telling me,

It is OKAY. I am okay. Please don't feel badly, thank you for doing this.

I suppose someone will tell me it was salt in my tears he liked. But Hughie never kissed me when I had salty lips from ketchup or even chicken.

I brought Hughie home to bury him, but was so tired emotionally I wrapped him in a blanket and lay him on the couch. That night, I told Martyn I wanted to watch television with him one last time. This is not like me, I am pretty resilient about death, and find the burial procedure helpful, and beautiful really-the full circle of a life in my hands as I cover it in beautiful Mother Earth. I think I knew his time was coming all week and had some conversations already with Martyn and the vet, and Hughie, but I had not quite accepted it was here, on that given day...I just wanted one more night to have my left hand on his little pug bowling ball head, rubbing his soft ears. His body was still pretty warm.

Martyn was up before dawn and dug me a hole in my hollyhock bed. I buried him without fanfare after morning chores-morning chores that were full of living and breathing charges. AS usual, I told everyone as I did chores that Hughie was gone. I spent time with Marcella. And when I was out with the equines, Pino stood five feet from me, away from the herd, just staring at me. I was too tired to sit with him. But I know he was acknowledging my sadness, that is Pino.

And so, once again, I am pugless for the second time. But Hughie is okay.

Last Christmas

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Two redheads...sort of

The staff at Horses With Hope took this cute pic of me and Captain Sparkle right before I brought him to Apifera. I hate pics of myself but I thought we were sort of a cute pair, a bit stocky and sturdy in build with red hair, or mine used to be that beautiful flaming red.

Captain Sparkle is doing well, even though The Teapot is bossy pants about everything. I am sharing myself with both of them. He also adores Boone and has nose meetings with him on the fencing.

The donkeys also like to play the "Stand Really Still And Keep Your Eye On The Guy" in the Mask game.

Friday, September 06, 2019

The intuitive work of a little goat

Opie has had a busy week, which I guess means I have had a busy week. On Thursday we visited Cove's Edge which is an elder residence, dementia home and rehab facility for short stay patients. They have a beautiful walled in, large courtyard perfect for animal therapy gatherings. I was really happy to meet their manager and she is beyond thrilled we can begin to come for visits.

I decided to just take Opie since I had no volunteer for the day. There were about 30 residents that came, and staff, and I guess some even left lunch early because they had all been hearing that Opie was going to visit!

We met some wonderful folks and Opie was his usual calm and collected self. And he sniffed out some people in real need of love. I have seen this happen repeatedly with Opie, as well as other natural healers-Pino, Birdie, White Dog to name some. The manager whispered in my ear to go over with Opie to a particular resident. I am not privy to medical issues/details with these folks, due to HIPPA laws, but I am guessing this woman who was in her 50's had had a stroke, I don't know. She was very gentle and had difficulty speaking or moving. Opie put his head in between her knees and stood quietly with her, and then I also lifted him up so she could pet him more easily.

And then I took him around to the other guests, and there were so many lovely encounters, like with Ernie, the retired farmer who Opie also took a shine too. There were some people who had goats in younger years. Usually I let Opie choose where to go [he is on a harness] and so when we were all the way at the opposite of the patio, about 30 feet from the initial woman we met, I said to the manager, 'Let's see where he wants to go,"

...and he deliberately walked back to the woman in need. He buried his head into her knees. This act of comfort was repeated several more times in our visit. The care manager was really moved by this, as was I even though I see it in action all the time.

I am not a scientist or theologian or whisperer. But I do know the power of innate empathy which all animals are capable of, some more than others. People are too, but in my opinion humans started using their brain more than their innate senses way back, and here we are with most people unaware of innate sensitivities some people and animals have.

The other interesting thing that happened was that when we went to leave-and we were there about an hour and a half which is a long visit for Opie-I tugged him to go. Usually after a good hour he lets me know he is worn out and ready to go, but this day, he locked his four feet and leaned into the person he was visiting. I encouraged him more forcefully to come with me, and he did, but then he stopped to see another person-all of them were in wheelchairs-and leaned into them.

For whatever reasons, I sense that Opie has deep connections there. There was a lot of energy flowing that is for sure. I was really proud of him, really proud of our day.

We will be making regular visits, and also other animals will join the mix.

If you like our work here, please consider a donation

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

$50 art? Help us pay off the barn addition!

OK. If you follow my art you know I rarely do sales but my goal is to sell this first batch of 100+ sketches/doodles at the very low rate of $50 each-my goal is to pay off the remaining $15,000 barn addition [I had raised $4000 early in spring]. I know, that's a lot of $50's.

Over 100 items and more coming - visit now

I did not do a major fundraiser for the addition because there were so many other financial needs for the animals, and I felt it was too much for me to raise both. So I took out a loan, not pleasant or ideal, but had to be done. My goal is to pay this off ASAP due to the interest rate.

There si something for everyone-hula hooping pigs, chubby ponies in snowsuits, tulips and puppies...and more. I actually love doodles and raw sketches, and in a frame, as my mother used to say, "anything looks better" [Thanks, Mom].

Visit the sale >

Saturday, August 31, 2019

The little red spark plug has arrived!

First glance into Apifera
This little chap is so much fun and I'm so pleased we could adopt him from Horses With Hope Equine Rescue here in Maine. They took him in last fall and he was really in bad shape. He had untreated Cushings and laminitis and was in serious pain. Since the Cushings wasn't being treated it aggravated the laminitis, or caused it, and since his feet weren't being cared for either...well it added up to pain, he could hardly walk. He also was unkept and just looked plain sad [see the photo of his 'before' condition when he arrived at the rescue.] The rescue worked so diligently with him through farrier work every four weeks, vet care, x-rays, handling and improved feeding.

So when I saw that he was ready for adopting, I jumped. Of course you know by now I love chestnut horses, and have always wanted a Mini Me for Boone! But it was really the look on his face, both before and after, that I responded too. When I went to meet him, I knew I loved him. He has a spark for sure, and is no push over. His issues mean he will be on daily meds for his life, and he wears little padded booties to help with his laminitis issues.

So yesterday I drove up to get him. They had him all clean and sparkly after a bath, and he smelled delicious! My animals wondered if he was some kind of movie star. When he arrived here, he walked into a different world-he stood for a moment to assess the scene he was about to walk towards-a goose, goats everywhere, white dogs, llamas, ducks...goodness, that is a lot to take in and he did just great. And then...he met The Teapot. She did exactly what I thought she would, she checked him out, ran around with him, and then told him,

"Look, just so you know, I'm in charge of most of this area."

He of course could sense this from a mile away.

But all is well. I let him run around and let Teapot get some kicks out, no harm done, and then I stalled him for the night so he'd get rest. He could nose everyone all night and this morning, he was full of vim and vinegar and ready to put his boots on.

He seems very intrigued with the equines on the other side of the fence. His buddy at the barn was a Thoroughbred, so I wondered if he wanted to be with Boone. But since he can't eat grass, nor can The Teapot, he will stay put. I might put him over there in time to run around, but while he can run, he isn't as swift escaping from rough play as the others.

I have to say, when I brushed him this morning, he still smelled like his bath, and it made me want to get hot water to the barn for baths [not going to happen].

The rescue had put down the name Spartan...but I kept slipping and referring to him as Sparkle. I have no idea what his name is...yet, but I do know I am glad I was able to bring him here. I think in time he will be a good little therapy pony. He tends to use his lips a bit to communicate "Listen to me, or stop that" but not in a bad way, the rescue worked daily with him so he is pretty well mannered but I will need to test him out a bit.

He is going to be fun.

On arrival at the rescue last year
During recovery, he got lots of mail at the rescue
After months of rehab by the rescue
Seeing The Teapot for the first time

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Dreams of my mother as a pie which has nothing to do with this piece, sort of

I did some art today, quick sketches with watercolor sticks on paper. I really liked this one and I am entering my 'back to studio days' as fall approaches. I cleaned the studio and office this week, what a barnyard it was, and it is like buying new pencils for school, getting ready.

Last night I dreamt I was with my mother, and brother, somewhere in NYC. We were walking through a large department store and they got ahead of me, and then I lost them and it was impossible to find them. I started screaming my brother's name but to no avail. We were supposed to go see a friend I had who lived there years ago when I did. Finally I heard my mother, and she was lying down and not feeling well. In fact, she decided she should go to the hospital, so they were putting a blanket on her, and all of sudden, she became a peach pie. I leaned down to the pie, and I told her not to worry, and I could hear my mother inside the pie blowing me kisses. And then I said I was sorry I had brought her out as it was too much for her, and she blew me more kisses.

Dreams are like paintings in so many ways, a way to explore the insides of the caverns that make up our souls and interior world. I am learning not to really analyze my dreams as much, just like I don't analyze my art much. Why I opted to put black mittens on this piece, I don't know and I don't care. I just know I did just as I was meant to dream about my mother as a peach pie [I distinctly remember it was a peach pie].

I have worked hard all summer with the animals and the senior visits. September and October will be busy too with the weather cooling and it will be a good time for bringing elders here. But I'm readying for my semi hibernation from people. From November through March I will be more reclusive and selfish, I need it. I feel a bit spent. I love everything I'm doing and we are making progress in so many ways, but winter will be my season and nobody else's except the animals, and my regular elder friends too who I truly love being with. In fact this summer was so busy with new elder homes coming, I wasn't able to make private visits as much to my regulars.

Monday, August 26, 2019

I am no saint! And I don't whisper!

I get really uncomfortable on social media when followers refer to me as a "saint" due to my taking on needy animals. For the record, I have never, ever met a saint. And I am not close to being one, nor do I aspire to be. I just try to keep dancing, as fast as I can.

I also get cranky when I see other people referring to animal people as 'whisperers'. This is such an overused term and means little or nothing to an animal. Firstly, communicating with the animals needs no words, it is about intentions and responses to a given moment or encounter. In fact, Martyn sometimes calls me an Animal Yeller, when he hears me out in the barn screaming,

"Georgeeeee!" at the goat who is always in trouble somehow.

My lack of saintness was never more apparent this past Thursday night when I found old Matilda lying, alone, in a far corner of the field, away from the herd. I had wrapped her legs entirely to protect against flies, with vet wrap. The sprays just weren't working as well this year. I figured she had an abscess because she was tender on one hind foot. But I could not for the life of me find one, or even detect heat. I brought her into the stall for the night, worried she might not be able to get up in a far part of the field. And then it dawned on me that the vet wrap might be too tight. I had also been adding layers of it as the wrap slowly slid down over the day. When I took the wrap off, I was appalled to see raw ulcerated areas. I had caught it in time, but she was swollen at the hock on the sore leg. I had certain meds but the next morning I called my vet and she was able to send another equine vet out that day. I was so glad they could come. We dosed her with stronger antibiotics and did intravenous anti inflammatories. I do not do any of my own intra-vein work, always leave that to a vet.

The vet was very helpful and reassuring I was not the year's worst equine owner. But I did learn I made a mistake with the vet wrap. We shaved her legs and I am doing 3x a day topical with a silver mixture. She is eating well, and the swelling is gone. Plus I can just tell she feels so much better. We also did some blood work as she lost some weight since spring when she had come out of winter looking so good. She is going to be 26 so there could be many reasons for this. My vet returns Tuesday to give non equine rabies shots, and we'll reassess her.

But anyway, I did not whisper anything to her. In fact, I just apologized. I know that animals do not hold grudges nor did she judge me for my error. She has always liked it when I work on her, so our routine now to get her over this - and the sores are already looking good- is just one more way to seal our bond.

Seeing her in the field that way gave me pause. I am not one to do heroics to keep an old animal alive. But, I am here to try to make what life they have left a good one and a comfortable one, within reason. Matilda is going to be 26, and I am of course very fond of her. Seeing her alone in the field, I wondered if she was beginning her transition, as an animal will often separate from the herd in their waning days, I've seen this over and over in my work. I think she was just horribly uncomfortable from the swelling. I hope that is the case. I don't want that goodbye right now, even though it will happen. Hopefully her blood work is fine.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

"Fly, oh why?" asks Paco the Poet

{A conversation and poetry reading amongst donkeys and flies}

“I like to let them sit in the sun so the wings get a bit crispy before I eat one,” said Lucia, the smallest of the donkeys.

“You eat them?” asked Paco.

“Yes, but I don’t chew, just swallow them whole, they are less bitter,” she answered.

Just then, a bunch of flies came swooping in, landing on the ears of the donkeys, and their legs, backs, necks and noses.

“Good morning!” said the flies. “It is a wonderful sunny day, perfect for being a fly on a donkey.”

All the donkeys collapsed in the dusty earth and begn to roll and dust.

“I hate it when they do that,” said the lead fly. “It squashed my aunt last week.”

Paco brought out a small piece of crumpled paper. You see, Paco is a poet. He has been writing poetry since he was a young donkey. You might not have ever met a donkey poet most likely because donkeys are very humble about their skills. Paco hid his talent for years fearing the herd might think him odd. But they heard him reciting a poem once to a bird in a tree and they really liked it, so from that day on, they encouraged him to share his poems.

“Do you have a poem to read, Paco” asked old Matilda.

“I do, it is called, “Flies, Oh Why?” and then he cleared his throat and began to recite his poem.

“Flies, oh why?
Why do you bite me? Why do you hover?
It is hard for a little donkey to find cover.

We wait all winter for the warm air
We want to lay about without a care.
But you come along and picnic on our backs
This is very rude, we are not snacks.

Yesterday I was listening to the song of a bird
It was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.
But then there came a buzzing to the left and the right
You ruined my bird’s aria and made him take flight.

Can’t you find another skill that wouldn’t ruin our day?
Perhaps you could learn to fly a kite or make love in the hay.
I know it’s your life and you will do as you please
But I will have to squash you if you chew on my knees.
I’m sorry.”

The flies all stopped for a second, their buzzing was hushed to silence.

“How would we go about learning to fly a kite?” a young fly asked.

“Now listen, you are a fly, you are not a kite flier!” a big manly fly said.

“Let’s go make love in the hay,” a lady fly said to the manly fly.

And with that, the flies all swarmed to the hay barn.

“Paco, don’t let anyone ever tell you that your poetry has no power,” said Pino.

And with that, the donkeys took one last roll in the dust to scratch their fly bites, and headed down to their field of grass.

Monday, August 19, 2019

"What am I doing?" I asked Birdie.

Please meet Harry. He is coming to live with Arlo soon. Harry has a fabulous hairdresser, for sure.

But it took a winding path to get to Harry. I was a bit....well, read on....

So, as you know if you follow along, it has been a whirlwind llama year for us. We struggled and tried to save Birdie for months, but lost her in April. I vowed to Birdie On, and we have. The plan was to bring home Arlo along with old Luna, and then from the same person there was old Lucy who had been bred even at this older age and we were to take on Lucy with her baby cria. The baby, Button, died at one month right before we were to pick them both up. But we agreed to help out and take on Lucy so Luna would have a friend, which was always the plan. The two old girls could live month or a couple years, but they are old.

SO then, since Button died, I had picked out a young female, and a young male for Arlo. These would have been costs out of my pocket, since they were not animals in need but I wanted to Birdie On.

My stomach told me, as did my heart, and my wallet, that perhaps this was all too much, and it was unecessary. After all, I was working well with Arlo, the old girls were settled, and if I brought home two more youngsters especially another male, well that was a lot of training to do.

"What am I doing?" I asked Birdie.

And then I remembered Harry. I had seen Harry back in spring when I found Arlo and liked him but decided I should get a young male to train. But now, I think Harry and his disposition will be not only a good friend and herd teacher for Arlo, but he might rise to the therapy llama category.

I guess this might all sound nuts. I had told Birdie last spring to help me find the right llamas [not easy in Maine, there are no llama breeders here] and I believed the original youngsters I picked out were the right choices. How could I go against Birdie, I thought. But then I realized Birdie has been helping all along, she just knew I needed to walk through this or fumble through it, in my way and that in some way I was trying to actually FIND HER.

Birdie was gone. I had to try to find her again, somewhere, but I couldn't, of course, but I had to try. And my gut told me to stop, my heart told me to embrace Arlo, and now Harry. And that will be plenty of llama love to go around, with Birdie popping in on clouds when I need her.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Our Mother Ship is a creature who needs support too

One thing I have found with raising money for the non profit is people are much more excited to donate when a plea goes out with drama in it,

"Old blind pony without ears needs help" gets attention and action, whereas,

"Final Barn Addition Funding needed!" gets yawns.

The barn is a Mother Ship, that is how I look at her. She is crucial to the well being of our animals, and our hay. She holds us in times of grief, as when I worked so hard to help Birdie. She keeps the wind, rain and snow out on cold Maine winter nights. It gives us space to get out of the sun, and flies. On cool fall days, if you leave her front doors open, she plays music with wind tunnels and dancing dried leaves. In rain, her roof is a symphony.

If you've ever built a farm, you know that the first thing on your mind is the barn. It has taken us three years to get the barn built. We started with the main center structure in 2016, then added the Llama Love Room last year. I had not planned on doing this addition this year, but I am so glad we did. It will allow a shifting of animals and paddocks that will be better over time for feet and feeding. And it will provide additional hay loft space meaning now ALL the hay can be stored there, freeing up a large part of the bottom barn.

We still have so much to do. The barn crew is done. Now Martyn will add the exterior walls and loft. We will have to build a sand ramp out of the door due to elevation change. We opted to do that versus raising the floor. And, fencing will be slightly rearranged to make different paddocks. We also will be getting our crushed granite this fall for the paddock and stalls. We could not get it in spring because the weather was so wet we could not get the large trucks up the road [another job to due-drainage for the barn road].

We have had a lot of needs this year to raise money for besides the usual feed/hay. I opted to take a loan out for the barn which I wasn't thrilled about but it leaves our fund healthy. But, we need to pay that off as quickly as we can, I hope in two years, to avoid spending on interest when that money could be spent on feed and vet care.

In another week the rabies shots will be given, another good chunk will be spent for that. We already gave equine rabies shots. Summer especially July and August are hard times to raise money. If you follow along you know I always feel torn about the balance of asking for donations. Some say I don't do it enough on the business social media page, but others, I assume, think I do it too much.

So please give support to our Mother Ship. She is a fabulous creature and as she evolves...well, who knows what journeys she will be part of–she has already experienced so much.

Oh, Ollie! I love how you love life!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Don't put a fear of death on my old goat

If there is one thing I have come to understand about people, or many of them, is they see death as this giant black curtain, the end, the thing to avoid, the thing to prevent at all costs. Nowhere is it more apparent than in how you see people talking about animals on social media [often other people's animals they have no clue of what they speak]. If you have a personal relationship with an animal, that is your relationship, and any covenant you have with them is yours, not mine. The decisions you make about your animals are, I assume and hope, based on experience, your knowledge of the actual animal and your feedback from your vet if needed. And such is the case with my relationships with all my animals. Just because their might be certain things you can do to keep an animal alive for another...3 months...doesn't mean you should, nor does the animal necessarily benefit from it as an animal.

An animal that's growing old, that is clearly coming to the final season, is not asking for pity, prayers or healing. He or she just wants their space and to be able to find a quiet spot if needed, or maybe change their spot if it doesn't feel right anymore. That's my job - to watch that animal as I go about my business and make sure I can accommodate it's needs as it transitions-and it is a transition. Rarely, in my experience anyway, does an animal get old, and boom, die. Just like with people there are shifts in the body and conditioning and all sorts of things before an animal dies. It can take months or years even.

I have written a bit about old Else in the past summer months. I sense it is her final summer. But we are not there yet. Since I am with her daily, sometimes I am immune to seeing some things, that my vet might see when she comes next time. So I always am open to a discussion. She has gotten thinner. I think her body just isn't absorbing the nutrients, which happens in age. She has never been a voracious eater but gets supplements and all the hay she wants. Her front leg is weakening more, her muscle what little she had when she arrived, is lessening.

What is a good life for a goat? Well, just being–A plot of grass, or sand, or shade mixed with sun, fresh water, a place that they know is theirs to go to-anytime-when they need, a human counterpart that is consistent in bringing food and water and is there for them.

Else has more and more chosen to stay in the barn, especially with the heat. Rather than always helping her out, I test her, and if she is pulling back, she seems very content in her barn with the door open to the outside world. A couple days ago, I was really pleased that while I was busy doing chores, she went out on her own to her orchard, and lay down. I've noticed though that rather than waiting all afternoon to let me know it is getting to be time to return to barn [I bring goats back in each night around 5], she might call out to me sooner. It might just be the flies, but she is sprayed well and they seem to leave her alone. At night, I put Opie with her, and The Goose, and Henneth the blind chicken.

No matter what, Else is not afraid of death. She is not thinking about that. Nor does she sit and wish for another summer, because she lives completely in the moment. Animals are often very stoic about pain,so Try to balance that in my perception of her everyday. But I do feel she is very content to separate out a little but more, which to me is a sign she is on her journey of transitioning.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Oh, Teapot, we are sassy walking together

The heat is subsiding. I have a new scale and am pumped up to lose the ten pounds I've put on in the past few years. I told The Teapot we were in this together. I had taken weight off her, but think it came back in the form of hay belly [My hay net was ruined and I have to get a new one].

So we are back at it together, two slightly chubby around the middle young elders.

I also told her we weren't doing anything obsessive. No diets. Just tweeks. And our walk the other day, I can tell you she had me bursting with love and admiration. When I first started walking her back when she arrived, she would squeal and head toss for some time, try rolling, all sorts of little tricks. Today, not a squeal, not a pause. She even would come and stand by my side at spots, she truly was engaged with me and the walk. I loved every second of it.

And look at that sassy walk.

When we got to the main road, a car slowed and a woman said, "Are you Apifera? Is that the Teapot?" She follows us on Instagram.

I guess we need disguises.

What I love about my journey with The Teapot, and it is similar to other animal connections of the past 20 years doing this, is that...we evolve together through working together. There are days where you think you aren't connecting, but you are.

I was telling someone the other day that most people that show up here at some point say to me,

"Your animals are so people friendly,"

and I always reply it is not that I'm doing anything remarkable, I am simply spending time with them, and I try to find a project or job for them that fits their personality and abilities. I can't give them each a daily job, but, just working with them and giving them confidence is in and of itself a beautiful gift to a creature-and one day you stand back and you realize your rowdy little pony is walking politely beside you and enjoying it, a lot. That is so powerful for both human and animal.

Even if opening a gate with an animal is a teaching experience. Standing with an animal is a teaching experience of boundaries and patience. It is also a moment to mix energies and commune.

Thank you to The Teapot for just being her.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

I fell into a hole

Misty mornings of old llamas

Autumn and winter are my seasons. And there is change in the air. The heat we've been having is subsiding with cooler nights and even morning mists, the air has a different scent to it of late, and there is more crispness in many of the flowers. Certain trees have brown or yellow spots popping out. And I love it. It always gives me hope when I get through August. I just am reborn both creatively and soul wise. I can get really off kilter in August, it has been this way my entire life. I can actually find myself in a hole, without even knowing I slid into it, it's like a slight depression or worry or...feelings of I'm not doing it right...I'm not doing enough...is anybody listening....and other useless thoughts. So the first signs of autumn...I lighten up.

It will also mean that fly season will end...at some point. It has been a tough year as far as bugs go. But soon enough they will leave. Not soon enough for old Matilda who has had her legs wrapped and sprayed daily. After she became infected from bites our first year here I had a vet come to help-never had the issue out west. So I take fly issues very seriously. The last thing she or I need or want is a case of proud flesh. So the wraps this year are helping. Last year the spray worked well, but not this year. Everybody and their mother has given me their two cents on fly control, so I've heard it all, and have tried it all. Yes, we tried predators for two years...meh. Yes, I tried mesh leg wraps...meh. Yep, used Swat and it worked until it don't. Yes, tried all sorts of natural fly products which don' cut it with biting flies. Might help house flies or other things, but not the sharks of the fly world. I had a fan in the barn for the farrier days to help and it did [but leaving a fan on is too dangerous so I don't.]

So, we roll in dust, find shade, and today after a morning of down pouring rain...I can again feel Autumn talking to me,

"We come back every year to you, taking away the bugs and the heat and humidity and we give you your head and heart back. We're coming, soon. Love, Autumnal friends."

Girl George wears breakfast, why not/

The final barn addition has begun-consider a donation

Old Matilda's leg wraps

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Fly Camp!

Welcome to Fly Camp! This morning Paco is teaching all campers about the importance of dusting! This once a season camp is only open to very resilient campers, for example, I was sent home on day one. Campers must know how to get through August without complaint and by using their bodies to communicate their displeasure with biting flies. Communal dust baths are an imperative part of Fly Camp.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Poco the Poet inspired again by summer people

As you might know, Paco is the resident poet. He was inspired to write another poem about summer people, this one after I took him to our local grocery store.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Announcing! New shop!

I have a new online shop and am not only selling my art, prints, books and dolls, but I'm venturing into some product like pillows and papers and house items. Who doesn't love pillows. I am having fun with this and it will allow me to create some new whimsical style work...and maybe work on some private commissions too.

I like the cleanest of the shop. Etsy was just getting too....Etsy for me. I will leave the Etsy shop up for now until I can get an official announcement out. But I won't be adding anything to Etsy, so be sure to bookmark the new site if you are interested.

For newcomers, I always reimburse any severe overages in shipping after you purchase. It is often hard to have the right shipping when people are ordering multiple items and some have to be shipped in different boxes-so I do it this way to protect myself from severely undercharging. It has never been a problem, but just a head's up if you are new to my shop.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Another elder has landed and my butt is sore

Keeping our commitment, we brought home the old llama, Lucy, who was the mother of little Button the one month cria we were also going to take. But Button died at a month old due to who knows what. The plan was to bring home the baby with Lucy so that Luna would have a suitable buddy, since we had to separate Arlo out until he is geldApifera. I had only seen one photo of her, back when she was pregnant with Button, and she had her winter coat. Even though I would not have chosen to breed her, I thought she looked pretty good in that old pic. When I first saw her at pick up, I felt she was thinner on the backbone and hip than I had imagined she'd be. She could be much worse, but...I hope to get more good weight on her. We will see. At a certain age, llamas can also develop teeth issues making grinding their food harder so they might be eating a lot of hay and grass, but it is not getting digested properly. I have her on supplement too.

ed. When Button died, we felt it was only the right thing to still bring Lucy to

Martyn and I got up at 5am to drive west the six hours to our destination to meet up with the hauler. It was not exactly a relaxed ride. I was not looking forward to another 12 hour round trip to pick up a Misfit, but I decided to make it fun and knew I'd get to see the White Mountains. I was raised to always be prepared on the road and prepare your route beforehand in detail, which I did, including knowing where tolls are and turn offs. I used regular maps and online maps. So about mid way through the trip, Martyn is looking at my maps as I drove and he says,

"This road does not exist."

Even though I had printed out the map and there it was right in front of us, it just was wrong, and our phone maps were showing another route, a very different route taking us further south in order to go north to the destination. So there we are in the middle of nowhere and I just sort of got this mini anxiety attack, imagining we would never get out of the mountains. All of a sudden the forest on both sides of us as we drove felt suffocating. I just wanted to be there and get the llama who was on a 6 hour drive in a cattle truck, complete with cattle. The temperature was lovely in mid coast but by the time we got to our pick up spot it was 90. No humidity thank goodness. We had been slated to meet the same driver two weeks ago, but it was the heatwave, and we just felt it was unfair to Lucy.

Anyway, we stopped to get gas and I went in and saw these two locals and told them about my map. They assured me that the way the phone map was telling us to go was right, not the map I'd pulled off the computer. They concurred that road did not exist.

We got in the car and I sang "We're on the road to nowhere...."

We did better on the way home but were irritable as the road signs were really pathetic and misleading, and we're not even morons. Martyn and I do not fight, but I can say that we were both getting grumpy. How we made it driving 6 days across the country and never getting into a fix I don't know. I was glad to get past all the "I'm-too'sexy-for-my-car-and-I'm-driving-90-to-get-to-my-beach-house crowd" in the Boston interchange. I am no wimp on the road but, Gad Zooks, what is wrong with people. We smirked as we saw the traffic going for miles to Boston and points south, back to back and we were causing along going east to Maine. I realized how I used to live in that sort of chaos. here was only one place I wanted to be, home.

To be honest, every time we stopped for gas, I was almost afraid to open the trailer door to check on Lucy. But she was fine.

We both decided that these 12 hour round trips are too much. We've been doing this since 2004. We used to drive up to the goat rescue and it was a 12 hour round trip too and it nearly killed us every time. I was fortunate to have some loyal followers at some point in the Seattle area and they would help us by meeting half way with old goats or even coming to Apifera. SO the next llama run...I think I will have to raise money for a haul.

Having said all that...if you told me there was a blind three legged pony that needing to be picked up 12 hours away...well....

Lucy is sweet. She is much calmer and more confidant than Luna. Not as herd bound. Luna meanwhile recognized Lucy, I do believe. Why wouldn't she? They lived together for some time and it has only been since April that Luna left the old farm. Arlo in the meantime is full of himself, and his testosterone. I dream of the day I can castrate. Meanwhile, I'm doing everything I can to train him and keep him learning that I'm the boss not him. He is living with Teapot and Teapot is still the boss, but there has been no drama. Eventually Arlo is slated to get a buddy.

I often talk to Birdie as I do cleanup near her gave in the equine area. I told her things are in flux. I told her I wish she were here. I recognize all this llama wrangling is not going to bring her back, nor are any of them going to be like Birdie. But I stand my mission-to bring old animals here for respite, and to share them with our elder friends. And I also stand by my continuing vision-to replenish our llama love room. The elder people LOVE the llamas, and if it takes some sweat and tears to get out llama love room hopping, so be it.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

When your hair bolts out

Little Lonely is sporting his summer haircut and wears it proudly! And please don't tell him, or me, it reminds you of a certain slob with dyed orange hair. Little's hair is natural and free and you can't pull it off his head, you see. And also, Little doesn't scream and has not a mean bone in his body.

So just to educate anyone wanting to know, pigs bolt their hair each summer, and some lose it in the funniest ways. Some lose their top hair and it looks like a crew cut and some lose most of their body hair and keep this wig like look. How can we not love Little Lonely!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

You might get a Rosie

After a reprieve, it is back at fundraising with the final 80% of our hay due in the next couple weeks. Going to be doing some print and art giveaways in coming weeks. And who wouldn't want a Rosie gracing their wall? I miss her royal grumpiness...sometimes I forget she is gone and will still look over at her last bed of straw expecting her to pop out of it....grumpily. She would have really liked The Grumpiest Old Men, wouldn't she?

Donate here on the blog, or on Facebook, or by check [let me know if you are sending a check so I can count your name in the art give away. We will need about %3000 for the final hay, so if you want to do a matching donation on any of these print give-aways just let me know.

This print is 9 x 12 and has a retail value of $125.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The past beckons...or something

Memory of my mother's turtleneck sweater
I've been waking up in the past weeks, maybe longer, and a memory comes to me from my past....and then I lay there and I try to remember the context of that memory, where I was living at the time, who I was friends with, etc. Sometimes it is a memory from childhood, sometimes from my time in NYC or Mpls in my 30's-40's...I lay there the other morning and tried to create a timeline in my head of this two year period when I had met someone I became involved with, then he walked away from me in a very secretive-lying way, but sort of lingered and it took me awhile to shut the door on him...but I tried to remember the exact sequence of events and it was sort of blurry. That even was such drama and such a huge part of that period of my life...so it was interesting how memory had adjusted itself...and of course we all know how that trauma led to so much like Oregon, Martyn, Apifera and more. The only thing I don't like about saying it that way is knowing the ego and mind of that person he would probably take credit for my life right now.

OK, so anyway, I've been feeling this pull to explore things of the past. I don't know why. I believe in living in the present and trying not to pontificate about the past or future. But I will listen to my muse. It might change course any moment.

My father's blue checked shirt

Friday, July 12, 2019

A loss, questions, a dream

It was a shock.

We had made plans to drive the 10 hour round trip to pick up the baby llama and her elder mom this weekend. On Wednesday I got a text that there was a setback, that Button was not well, and the vet had been there and certain regimes were in place to offset what it might have been. She was making improvements, but there were also odd signs that confounded the vet and farm.

And on Thursday night, she was found dead.

I was so excited to get her here and start learning her personality-which I was told was a little spitfire of love. The plan had been put in motion when we first picked out Arlo, and also old Luna. The baby female, who was being called Button by the farm because she was as cute as one, would be trained for therapy work along with Arlo. And the elder mother would be a companion for old Luna as she aged-Arlo has to be separated very soon from Luna since he can't be gelded for another year.

But back track...on Wednesday night, before I had heard the baby Button had taken ill, I had a dream. Birdie was in it, briefly, and had a baby white llama with her. {Button and her mom were both black]. When I awoke, I thought nothing of the dream except that it was so nice to see Birdie, as she had not come to me in a dream yet. Later that day I got a text that there had been a setback with Button, but it was not a dire thing at that point. The farm felt she was responding and was acting more normal. We all agreed transporting her was out of the question and we would wait a couple weeks to ensure her recovery was complete. I was disappointed, but was grateful it happened on their watch and not while in transport.

But today, when I got a voice message to call, I had a feeling it was not good. The farm is devastated and I feel so badly for them. Not knowing can really play with a farmer's head -I know because I've been there a million times and you can really kick yourself...llamas are also very exotic creatures and most vets really only have a handful of experiences on treating things.

This week at some point, before I even knew that Button was not well, I was cleaning the barn and when I was by Birdie's grave I told her, "I hope I picked the right little llama, Birdie."

I do feel Birdie came to me. Maybe the baby in my dream is out there and I will find her.

I talked to the farmer and we both agreed that little Button had a month of a wonderful life, running, frolicking, greeting the farmer-she said she was very sweet and loved helping with chores. I am grateful she could die there, on the land she knew. As short as her life was, it was spent the entire time with her mum, and she died right by her.

We will still bring home her elder mother, Lucy, sometime this month. She will not be a therapy llama, nor will Luna, they will be companions and live out their days-be it months or another few years. They are both 19+.

I have picked out another male llama for Arlo and he will be coming in the autumn. He will also be trained as a therapy llama. I still am going to keep my heart and eyes open for a white female. But Arlo will need a friend and the one I picked out is out of the same father as Arlo, but has a white face and is reddish, he is really sweet.

I don't know why this happened. I don't know why Birdie died. Is it all related, or chance. Is it a learning situation or is it simply the way it went? I do know that llamas are very unique and special, and they are still a part of the master love ambassador plan here at Apifera. But today, I grieve a little bit, for Button, and her farm who lost her.

We will Birdie On.