Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. #EIN# 82-2236486

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©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Beauty Parlor Day-healing for elders and equines [and me]

We had two of our elder friends out from Lincoln Home today, along with a caretaker and my equine helper. Our task was simple-groom the equines, and have fun making The Teapot girly for one day. Becasue these two women are able bodied we could work in the equine barn which was great becasue all the equines were there. I had Captain Sparkle tied up to work on his ground manners, and The Teapot was with him on a lead. Biggs didn't even need a halter, he stood and loved the attention and grooming. I had Boone tied in the paddock and he really loved the grooming too.

It was really fun. And at the end of an hour and a half one of them said she loved hearing all the stories being shared too. That was so true. I actually know one of these residents who lived near by when we got here aso it was really special to spend time with her, and we shared stories of past things.

We are going to make it a regular outing for these two women-both are starving for fresh air, touch and animals-one of them lived with horses so this is really nice for her.

It is fun doing these smaller intimate get togehters too for healing times.

And the equines loved it, especially Biggs. He truly, truly loves humans-somebody did something right with him at some point in his life. Sparkle was a spitfire but did fine. He needs to partake more like this and learn better manners but we all agreed-we adore him and his Beatle haircut! The Teapot was very good and stood pretty well, I think she was once doted on by her little girls before they grew up and wanted bigger horses.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

I had to let her go...Joliet


If you follow us on social media you know sweet Joliet was leaping around in a video I posted on Friday, and on Saturday I found her foaming at the mouth with extended rumen. I assume it was frothy bloat [even though she had not eaten anything that usually causes this]. I doctored her with the right stuff. She improved slightly. I also noticed her neck felt very large leading me to think something was stuck in her throat. It was also Easter weekend. I was able to talk to my vet on Easter and she said I did the right things but was concerned it was not bloat, which should have dissipated after my treatment, and she did not like the sounds of the enlarged throat area.

So on Monday, nobody could come to me. I did not want to put Joliet through a 3 hour round trip drive to the vet, and said I would wait until Tuesday. But I felt pressure to go, so I went. I knew that all the things we talked about it 'might be' were non treatable. What was the point of putting her through a trip like that. That morning she was ok, but her breathing had changed, and her rumen was softer, which is good, but still large. She got up and walked around. I knew she was uncomfortable but she wasn't thrashing out. When I went to help her to truck, she cried-not in a typical pygmy drama cry [pygmy goats are huge drama queens!], but more in a distress cry. In the truck she did ok on the trip, only talking once or twice.

I was not thinking this would end the way it did. In fact, on the way up, I reminded myself not to feel pressure to do something I felt was not necessary. I like my vets. But out west, my vets treated me more like a farmer versus a pet owner. I feel sometimes, especially with llamas and goats and ruminants, there is too quick a "Time to euthenize"...and it can lead to feeling pressure. Sometimes, you can wait to long to put an animal down. Sometimes they are failing in a normal way, and they die peacefully, and sometimes not. It's a hard call sometimes. But most vets here seem to want the quickest end. I understand not wanting suffering, but a slower natural death can often happen.

But when we got her out of the truck into the working horse stall, my vet went right for her neck area. She immediately suspected lymphoma. This would also make sense that her rumen was still large, since the throat could not cough or get rid of the foam.

She cried when touched by them. I told them I thought the trip was stressful on her, that she was calm in the truck, but I did say her breathing was more labored for sure. Her temp had been normal but this morning it had gone down. 

We opted to do a throat and rumen xray. And blood work. We knew we might not have options once we saw the xrays but it might help in our understanding of what happened. As we started to do blood draw, she clearly was distressed. We decided to go right for the xrays and did those but she was anxious. When I held her she calmed but I was in the way of the xray paddles so could not assist [I did not like this!]. In the 20 or so minutes we were trying to get xrays and blood, she started declining. I was on the ground with her, cradling her head and body and at one point I felt her release and start to want to slump. She cried out-in a death like cry-they are different than a normal stress cry. I told my vet she was dying and she agreed. She got the medicne and we put her down.

I have mixed feelings about it. I wanted her to die at home. I did not want to drive her due to stress on her, but felt some pressure to do that. If I had not gotten her there [she was not as stressed at the barn] she might have gone through a bad death that night. Or she might have died that night on her own.

I know I did what I could. I was with her and she calmed everytime I held her. But I felt out of sorts.

On the way home, the words "death is life, life is death" kept coming to me. They are partners. Like the moon and sun and the wave and the shore-can't have one without the other. I got home and as I walked to the front gate, I saw her little hoof prints in the wet sand. It hurt. I was not ready. But in the end, when she got out of the truck and into the stall, I think she let go. I had told her on the way up we would make it better, and we did. I think she held it all in on the ride, and then let go.

But how she could be in a video on Friday night-I posted it on IG-and she is leaping like Pickles, with no swelling...and the next morning she was down and a day later she is gone...I just don't get it. How it came that fast-if that is what it was. I could have done an autopsy. I've done them before on sheep. They can give you hints but often don't tell you anything conclusive. I declined one and said I just wanted to get her home.

Pickles was there to greet me, and I said a solemn 'Hi Pickles." She kicked a tiny, quiet leap, almost symbolic of my feelings.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Feeling the sadness through the screen

Today Was Facetime Friday. I decided to bring The Goose in...what could possibly go wrong? He stayed in Bear's play pen while Officer Mittens kept his eyes on him. He pooped a lot. He flapped his wings and preened. One woman was worried he was sick due to his wrinkled feathers. We discuss the inside's of a goose bill and how they can really hurt you if they need too.

 I felt the sadness and 'worn outness' of my elder friends at Cove's. They are once again in a 2 week 'can not gather, no visitors' place due to a staff positive test. I just felt we, they, are all drained from staff to residents to onlookers. We talked about how it all seems to go in starts and stops, this recovery. My main gal friday was off today so Amy, my second in command gal friday, did a great job. Since they could not gather in groups, she walked the halls and we visited that way. I got to see some familiar faces I had not seen for a year...including Earnie. I also learned of two passings I did not know about. Everyone is just tired. How can they not be, if I'm tired of it how must it be for them?  One gentleman had just moved in and was not happy, how or why would he be? He wanted someone to help him speak to someone-it was out of my realm and it made me feel upset for him, or anyone in that situation.

I am not sure if seeing a goose in a tiny phone screen helped. I feel sadness.

I am going to think of something to drop of for residents next week, and staff, to lift their spirits.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Thankful for all of you!

{March 31 Update: We are up to $4200- so grateful, thank you!}

Just a quick update that we are up to $2500 raised for the $5000 Spring Fundraiser Goal. Once we reach our goal, a very generous matching donation will be sent our way for another $5,000.

Raising money is an ongoing challenge for any non profit and while I am the pilot of the aircraft here in all fundraising, I can't do it without all of you-all of you, the ones who send $10 when you can, the ones who send parts of their stimulus checks, the ones who send thousands or jump right in when a need arises.

I try to make the fundraising fun, with thank you's from the animals and such...but it is all hard work and effort. But here's the thing, I love doing it because I love my work and I love that I get to do what I am doing. I won't ever take it for granted. And while we don't do this 'for money' [we take no salaries], raising money is a validation of our efforts and work here.

So thank you to those who have given so far!

Friday, March 26, 2021

Help us get this $5,000 matching donation!


Our Spring Fundraiser is active, and if we make our goal of $5,000, we will be given a matching $5,000 donation from an Apifera follower [who wishes to remain anonymous].
Visit our facebook page to donate. Facebook pays all the processing fees for you, so 100% of your donation goes directly to the nonprofit.
Two of these 20" prints will be given to two of the donators of the Spring Fundraiser. Anyone who has already donated will be included in the drawing. We do it very scientifically-if your donation is up to $100 you get your name in the bucket once, if you donate up to $200 your name is put in the bucket twice and so on and so on. Then Pickles or someone pulls out the names. 

We are up to $,300. So help us reach $5,000 so we can get that matching $5,000 donation

Here is the direct link so you can share with friends. https://www.facebook.com/donate/311007570738104/

Thank you!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Lemon lets go...but we are happy for him

If you follow social media Apifera, you already know that Lemon died Sunday. I entered the cat suite that morning and Walter was at the door but Lemon was not in his normal place and out of site. 

I knew. 

The day before I was holding him and Walter came over as usual to be at my shoulder-I told Walter that Lemon was going to die soon-his feet were cold and his ears too. I sang a little of that old James Taylor song “so close your eyes you can close your eyes it’s alright...you can stay as long as you like.” I asked Walter to help Lemon feel it was safe to let go. I figured it was days not necessarily hours. He was so thin though.

I'm actually happy for him. The fact he was able to open up more in the last month -partly due to transitioning but also because I do feel he gave in. The fact I could hold him and be with Walter-that was a gift to me. He gave me all the gifts in the last month. He had a very, very strong spirit to have continued to live in his body like that.

I think I might write a story about Lemon and Walter at some point. The old grumpy man letting go, the scared one finally accepting touch...to be touched like he was in the last weeks, to sit with Walter in my lap...I feel it was a gift for him, but also for me of course. But to have held out all those months [since May 2019] and not allow me to touch him, to hiss each time-the energy that took must have worn on him].

Walter is fine. He is actually doing things he didn't do when Lemon was alive. he is coming tot he door more to greet me, he wants to ride on my shoulder all the time, he jumps off his perch to be on the table while I prep food, he comes to the window to look in while i am in the feed room. he seems lighter and happy, and very much bonded to me. He too is getting thin, nothing like Lemon, but I try to keep the weight on but he is 19.

Someone on IG asked me if I had ever written about the fact many of the animals here die naturally. I wasn't sure how to answer, and didn't [I have learned in the past years of social media it is not my job to answer all the questions posed, and I don't anymore]. There was nothing wrong with the question. The fact is, many animals here are helped on their way with a vet. Every caretaker has a comfort level. My feeling is I want the animals to die naturally if they are not suffering. I have seen suffering, when a vet can't get there, it is not pretty and very upsetting. I have done things I didn't think I could do but when we farmed I learned a lot about death, transitions and what is humane and what isn't. Some people think a bullet is more humane than euthanasia for livestock or equines. In some ways I agree-if it is done properly- and sadly some people I've seen boast about it on social media are not those I'd allow to do it but they think they do it just fine [anyone that has a dying lamb but has to tie it to a tree, and then shoots not one properly placed bullet, but FIVE into that little lamb does not know what they are doing].

With the old cats, the stress of taking one to the vet in my opinion is often way too much stress. I regret taking two of the old cats in to the vet when I knew they were dying. One of those cats did die, with me, at the vet, but he had to go through a night in a cage there. I felt pressure to take him, due to living so openly online. But I wish he had died like Walter. I have taken old cats in- like Big Tony-he needed help, and he was 20. Mister Mosely was able to sleep most of his final days and died with me peacefully. So it is not that I am against it, it is simply on a case by case situation. And of course, things can go wrong quickly. I know people that rush to the vet when a cat has the sniffle-that is their right and their comfort level and their budget, I have nothing bad to say about that. I just approach on a individual basis.

Lemon, I did my best, and I also know you did your best, and I am glad you could just be yourself and do things in your own way.