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, October 13, 2018

New elders come visit...we plan

Eleanor give a final kiss to Birdie
We had a sweet visit with some 'new' elders that came to visit the farm on Friday. Some I had met on visits with Opie, but one woman, Eleanor, came from one of the homes I have been meaning to visit with Opie and hope to soon.

I was also happy that Birdie was part of it. She was fine and I was feeling good about our treatment she and I have been working through, and she needed some love herself. She did stumble that night, so her recovery-and I hope there is one-will take a month or more to see if she is permanently damaged. But she is walking, grazing and able to get up-although be it a bit wobbly at times. her hind end can be a bit off. But I am holding hope that worst is what we are seeing and she won't decline further.

Eleanor was the sweetest woman and she is 96. She was very appreciative that we have a pig named Eleanor. It's always good to meet people that know it is an honor to have a pig with your name.

This will probably be our last outside visit this season, but who knows. I am excited to get thinking about the indoor shelter we want so elders can sit out of the elements, but now I'm thinking we should go a bit bigger, with a structure that the animals can walk into too, and we could do winter visits with a heated area. I'm thinking about outreach too, and having drawing sessions amongst animals and elders as models, story telling hours where elders can share their stories, cross generational visits with the animals...stay tuned.

I will see as I percolate. We have lots of ideas to consider, and this year we have come so far, so fast in some ways,that I need to sit with my thoughts.

I am really so pleased with how we've come along with these elder visits. I realize too that we are building a community for ourselves, and I never really had that out West.

I'm also finding I need to learn to say 'no' better. I need more studio time, and of course, winter is my best stdio percolating time. I've never been great at making art in the summer. No pressure on myself, I just know that working with the elders takes creative vision too, and I need to not abandon my other passion-painting and story.

Life is very full. Life is rich. Life is a challenge, but it is juicy and I'm dancing as fast as I can.

The Two Great Whites

Red on red

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Another beginning - The Wood on the south side

The Wood, Southern side, that leads to Rag Tree and Quaker Cemetery
Hard to get a panoramic view on the blog
Late yesterday afternoon I took time to walk out to The Wood and explore a bit. I took a bucket to look for apples, and at certain points I took time to sit on my bucket and just look out at the view of our land {it dawned on me I was just like Pino and his bucket.

I feel very comfortable in the southern side of our Wood unlike the West side that feels...eery. The southern side butts up to the Quaker Cemetery [land that was deeded to the Quakers back in the late 1700's by the man who owned our home.] In that part of The Wood you find Rag Tree, and a plot of land that used to be pasture, but over years the trees grew. We plan to return some of it to pasture. It is also adjacent to the property that is for sale, and I still keep coming back to my scheme of someone buying it and working with us, or...sending The Misfits into our bank to get a loan simply because they are so sweet. The properties, like all of up here, are divided by midden walls of rock, and I have a natural place where we could create an opening.

My dream is to create fenced pasture, but also make nature walks in The Wood in that area, so we could do walk about with the donkeys, or whoever. I also just like going there and sitting for some reason. It feels safe to me and I can look over at the barn and animals.

I am slowly researching the history of the land and our area. George Rhodes lived here in the early 1760's with his wife Abigail Lincoln. I assume they built the house since it is one of the first ones, along with the Hilton homesteads [many of the Rhodes family are buried there too] Their son, Cornelius and wife Wealthy had the children that lived here in the early 1800's,, and all the sons died in the Revolutionary war except two. One fought and died in Gettysburg. I think of them when I am walking around, wondering when the pasture first got cleared. It is rare to find cleared areas in mid coast in our area.

So much history and now me, and Martyn, and our animals that return to the Earth are part of it too.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Birdie is in some trouble...and we will fight this together

I have an emergency need. And some scary news that I hope will work out.

Birdie showed signs of the dreaded Menagerial Worm and fortunately I spend so much time with her that I noticed it. I am hoping as is my vet that we have caught it fast enough to help her. This is a horrible worm, that is rampant in the east, and it is carried by white tail deer, and passed onto slugs and snails. If unnoticed and untreated it can kill a llama fast, or damage them neurologically. The deworming regime in Maine is so different than out west, and when we first got here and could not find knowledgeable vets [for ruminants, pigs or llamas] we had to rely on our 15 years of experience out West, and fellow farm people and online support...but llamas are unusual.

Last year I finally found a vet clinic I like and feel confidant with-well known in the region, far away so visits are pricey here, but it is worth it, and since I've built up some relationship with them, it is paying off today. A vet must visit a farm at least once a year [ours obviously comes more than that] and be knowledgeable about an animal before prescribing any medication. When I first noticed the signs [weak hind end] I thought she was just stiff when she was getting up-this first showed itself at the event Saturday. On the Thursday before at a therapy/elder visit, she was fine. On Sunday I noticed nothing that strange except maybe some stiffness but kept my eye on her, and last night I saw her dusting/rolling and when she got up, her hind end was very weak. I knew what it was and thought my heart would sink to my feet.

I treated her with what I had immediately and got up this morning and called my vet and I was right to do what I did, but now she will be on 10x that dosage for five to ten days. The bad news is this is a nasty worm, and some llamas-even ones that seem okay or are showing improvement- can die. I asked my vet to answer the answerable, would Birdie make it? I had researched enough to see university vet sites saying if caught early enough, and it starts in the back legs, there is a 70% plus chance of recovery. But my vet said she has seen all different cases where some llamas are downed and pull through, and some are like Birdie in not so dire a condition but don't pull through.

So I amy really sick about this. I am grateful I had built up this relationship and trust and like this vet a lot. I will be giving Birdie shots 2x day for 5 days, then the amounts change and we do 1x day. It's a blast of meds and includes a 35x dosage of one dewormer, and a double a day of an anti inflammatory drug as well as thiamine shots. I can do all this on my own, and have my vet consulting me as I go. If you have ever medicated a llama, twice a day, you know it is not the easiest animal to treat, but we will be fine. Besides, I get to hold her and tell her we will fight this together. There is a possibility she will go through the treatment and not show any signs in future, or she might be slightly neurologically damaged but all we can do is treat her, watch, and hope, and wait. Even after two weeks of treatments, I might still see symptoms, as it takes a month or more for a recovery if there is going to be one. I was also concerned about seizures which I guess can happen during treatment, but my vet felt this probably is not something to be alarmed about and she thinks we won't have any. Seizures are horrible to witness.

This spring my vet and I are also going to meet and examine all our deworming regimes, some of which are fine, some might need reassessment. I am having the extra meds overnighted to me, since its a two hour trip. If you want to help out, please do, I am not sure what it will cost. I just want my llama to live and I feel really sick about this.

I love you Birdie, I know you have many who love you so much!

Visit the donation page if you are inclined to chip in. Thank you to those who have already.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Overwhelmed...our first Misfit Love Day in Maine was...wow

I am simply so overwhelmed with many feelings, and was yesterday too. I was up at 4:30, it was dark and it seemed like the sun would never rise, but it did, it always has. I was in the barn as soon as daybreak. What had to happen next was a series of maneuvers to get certain Misfits in one spot, and others elsewhere. It all went amazingly well.

The weather could not have been one degree better-6o degrees, no wind and a deep Maine sky sprinkled with floating puffs.

At precisely 11 AM, the cars began arriving and did not slow down until 2. We were open until 3 pm and we are guessing we had about 350 people. This was by far the best and most consistent crowd of any event we had out West. Our location here is so perfect for this. We had people park on the front grass, and it all worked just fine.

But overall, the thing I have to say I am most proud of, and still blissed by, is the openly loving reaction we got from fellow Bremenites, and community people, as well as people who came from Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut just to come to the event. Over and over, people pulled me aside, and first thanked me for what we are doing with animals and people, but they also expressed how important and special the farm was, and the 'feeling' of it all. Many were amazed at 'how calm and friendly' the animals were-of course a lot of this is because I work with them daily, but I like to think the lovers and those needing to learn love come to me asking to live here.

I met so many wonderful people! One woman who had donated months ago came, she had raised llamas most of her life but due to health and aging, she quit and her final llamas were sent to live with a friend. I learned many things from her about llamas, some I knew, some I didn't. But it was just so nice and I told her I want her to come when she can.

We had all ages, but I was really pleased it was heavily leaning to the elder crowd. Of course, our area and state is an older population, but these people are vibrant, interested and engaged creatures, we are finding. I met many people who had been following us since they read about our trip with all the animals across the country.

I had bought a little tiara for Birdie, thinking it might be fun. I wanted to decorate her neck, but due to timing, I opted for the tiara. I told her,

"Look, I'll put it on and if you don't like it, off it goes."

But the minute I put it on, and the guests were arriving, it's as if she took to this new role. She sat herself down and her people flocked around her, snapping photos, she gave kisses all day. She met children, a 101-year-old gent, and her first firemen who really fell for her. We are pleased we now know a fireman in the neighborhood who will watch out for us. Opie and Ollie were great too, and I had the animals all together roaming about, which was a nice pastoral, natural setting. White Dog was with the pigs so people could pet him and he got a lot of attention. I failed to get enough photos, next year I will do better! There some more on Instagram.

There were times I got all swelled up inside. What we have accomplished here in a short time was truly wonderful and gratifying. We are surely meant to be in their spot in this time. My volunteers were so great, we found we needed two people by the gate to greet people but also keep the goats from getting out, and my ladies were so wonderful about explaining our mission and all. It was also rewarding that people, most that I talked to, came with a knowledge of what we are doing.

I think Emma, our board member who also volunteered, said something really interesting and helpful. She lived out West when we were there, and helped at most of our Pino Pie Days. We all loved Pino Pie Days but I felt it had a purpose there, and not 'now', and Pino too had done his duty for years and it felt the animals were shifting. Emma pointed out that at Pie Day, people came to the event for many reasons, some for pie, some just to drive in the country. It was more about self gratification. Here, it was people coming in and sharing their admiration for what we were doing, and wanting to help. I just loved this.

We are really exhausted. The first event in a new place means different set ups, and it all worked. Lots of details though and we of course have new ideas for next year. The fiddler was great too and next year I'll be more on top of finding music earlier on.

We earned $1500 net, which is better than we ever did in Oregon. But the main thing is, we are gaining respect in our area and region. Every bit helps us here. Out West, except for one local paper, I could never get any press. We have a much more engaged community here with what we are doing.

I am so lucky to live with these creatures, and share them. Thank you to everyone who helped. And to Martyn, who did so much to help make it all go smoothly.

Feel free to donate now to our mission here, helping both animals and elder people.
She stole the show

Her first goat friend. Ollie was great.

Pam Weeks came and played fiddle for us.

Our first 101 year old guest-oh he was so sweet!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

A sign to appease the pig

Full speed ahead on the prepping for our big day on Saturday. I'm busy making signs and all sorts of stuff to give our guests a story book feel when they enter the gates. I know this event will evolve over the years like our old event out West...but I am working hard to make it magical and special. The weather is supposed to be good [hooves, toes, tails are all crossed].

This is our first public fundraiser here in Maine so I am a bit anxious to see what our turn out will be. However, we have had wonderful reception from the local papers and that is so rgreat. And we are on a main artery of a road, so it is a convenient location.

And we found a fiddler! Pam Weeks will be playing amongst The Misfits and guests. I am so excited about that, and I know the donkeys especially respond to music, or at least Pino did at one of our past events.

Hope I get to meet some of you!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Miss Spring has died

I have to tell you the news that we had a death last night. It was expected, and in some ways I was relieved. Miss Spring was one of the elder cats. She came here in spring after she was brought to the shelter out of a hoarding home, where the owner had died and neighbors knew there were animals in the house. At the time the shelter told me about her, I put off taking her because Laci was not well, and eventually would die. I think it was another month before I went to see her, and she had been at the shelter for a few months.

I named her Miss Spring since it was a new beginning for her, and it was the season. She was the sweetest old lady, every morning she was there on the table for me, mehing, when ever I opened the door. I always picked her up and held her, I'm so glad I did that. Not every cat likes to be held, and get a smoochy face from a human, but she did. I knew a couple weeks ago her behavior had changed and she was fading and she had declined really fast. On Tuesday when the vet was here, I told her my thoughts, and she concurred. In the last two days, she was transitioning and I was able to tell her it was okay to let go, and slowly she did. I have two piles of raw wool from the sheep and in winter the cats love it. She had bedded down in one for the past few days, it was not her normal spot but I knew she was cradled in comfort there. She wasn't showing distress, just fading. This morning, she was gone, sleeping in her wool bed, the other cats up and about on a new day.

When I got the email about taking on the 20 year old [also a Calico, like Miss Spring] and her 15 year old son, I thought of Miss Spring. One might have thought, "It's not fair to Miss Spring, wait until she dies before bringing in another." But I knew when I got that email, Miss Spring was somehow showing me she was letting go, and she accepted this, and less than 24 hours after the new elders arrived, Miss Spring was gone. She did not rise yesterday, I talked to her and petted her, Noritsu as usual came to my aid to nurse us.

And this morning, I did all my chores in the cat room, and attended to the living, first, before going to her, because I could tell she was gone by looking at her body, tucked into her wool bed. Finally, I reached down to touch her, and she was indeed dead.

But she opened the door for another elder, one who is also probably not going to be around long, but I really innately feel the two lives were meant to entwine like this. One Calico leaves, another Calico arrives.

We are going to bury her amongst some tulip bulbs I just bought, and when I look out the dining room window in the morning, she will rise each Spring, forever.