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.





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.