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.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Art! Yea, it has a llama in it.

Available as original and a print [on shop soon]
In my quest to get art back into the mix of my other role as caretaker/therapy nurse/mire slinger, I actually whipped up a piece yesterday. A miracle!

It's okay. I love my life, I love working with the animals even in trying times. Sometimes things come in waves...wait, they always come in waves, like weather. Snap out of it is my motto.

So I got the Birdie Wall of Hope painted [we put some sheet rock up in her suite so I can draw on it on one side and also there is space for words of encouragement and letters, pictures, etc]. Now the weather is starting to warm we have Biride's music there too, the barn doors can be opened, she can look out at part of her old world when life was normal, feel the sun and breeze. But I guess this is what is normal, for now.

So rather than going against the tide, I am incorporating my daily activities into my art. Haven't I always? I am past the stage of where I used to look at the number of paintings I did for a month and feel I better add more. Been there, done that. I am much more interested in doing what I need to do not what my former illustrator or higher paced art life of the past made me do to keep in the eye of the commercial world.

I am now in the eye of old goats, donkeys, pigs and blind chickens...

Anyway...stay tuned. There is lots percolating around here-new goats are arriving. The chickens are laying including The Holy Child [the unexpected hen from the secret liaison between Little Big Man and Mother Mary]. Opie has three therapy gigs coming up at at three different places. And the tulips are vibrating under the earth as we speak.

And I have an exciting venture with a textile company to share...soon.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

What it is really like...and I will be the hope other llama owners might need...and by the way, this is one hell of a llama

The warm sun was let not Birdie's barn, finally some spring weather
I have to say it is an honor working together with Birdie, and having Martyn here helping is also very rewarding. I could not have gotten this far without his help in constructing the lift. Let's remember 5 weeks ago we were using a hand pulley system and Martyn would hold the pulley while I worked with Birdie.

But here is the reality of it all...it's hard.

My followers and Apifera friends have been generous and kind and pulling us forward with positive messages. When we first started this regime, the message from the internet and my research was bleak at best. There was very little out there I could find from people that had actually pulled a camelid through this. Much of what I was reading, and being told by a few llama people, was 20% chance of recovery...or if she isn't up in two weeks you should put her down. But I did find stories of people who were doing what we are doing now and their llama lived to tell the story-one was down for over a year and stood up one day, he lived another seven years to 15. That is the story I keep in my heart. Not everyone has the time to do what we are doing or the person in that story.

I read another person's story of how she went through what we did-people telling her to put her llama down if it wasn't up in two weeks. Her llama was up in six weeks and she wrote about it on a llama forum, simply because while there is a lot of info out there on what medical treatment to give a llama with brain worm, and how to deworm to help prevent it, there is nowhere for llama owners to go and see encouraging stories. Even on that forum, people that commented wanted to focus on the negative, and the woman finally had enough and said she was there to provide encouragement to others.

The thing is, this is incredibly intensive work, both physically and emotionally. But that doesn't mean I hate it. I am blessed that I can be with her and help her. If I had a full time off the farm job, I don't think I could do it, or it would be very hard. If Martyn had not been here in the beginning to help it would have been really tough, and it was also really cold out. It took us a while to figure out a lift system since there was no place to go to find out how to make a lift for a llama. We had to dig around to find some videos, and then make ours work. We started with a strong cloth and hand pulley, and graduated to an electric lift and engine lifter and balance, and then added in the butt straps. We researched acupressure and had help with that, we had help from healers we trust, we talked to my physical therapist and adapted techniques from that, adding massage, light therapy, heat therapy, music therapy. When this settles, I will provide a resource page on the blog for people who might have to deal with this dreaded worm, in the hope it will help them and their animal.

We feel we are doing the right thing and that Birdie is still with us 100%. I know this animal. She is working with us. She has had a couple days out of the 5 weeks where I felt she was down. We have worked with our vet to adjust the anti inflammatories and we have the back up of a stronger one when needed. She is eating well, and is getting some supplements like Turmeric and oxygenated water. While nobody can say if any of it will help, we are doing it and we are going forward with the mindset that it is helping.

I don't know what will happen in a week or months. We are seeing improvements in her strength when she is up in the sling. She took some steps, she is applying more weight to her feet, she is stretching on her own more. But she still can't walk or stand without us. Her legs are still bent. She eats like a hungry lioness and drinks well.

A big challenge is to keep the bed sores away. We pad her with hay, and we are wrapping her legs which is working. In the beginning we weren't, and a couple of sores started but we caught them early. that is why I put a call out for a different kind of wrap, which I had on hand from a long time ago. The vet wrap works great for certain areas, but this other wrap is wider and important for certain part of her body-like the upper thigh. When she is down, she can squiggle around at night and the smaller vet wrap seems to loosen and move. I'm terrified of the bed sores. It is a daily double check of all her body areas to make sure we aren't missing any.

This week we finally could open the front of her barn to give her sun. I know she liked this. The music is so nice too. When I arrive in the morning I present myself with optimism. It is one day at a time. It is really hard. And yes, at times, it is just so damn sad. I have a hard time seeing photos of her just 5 weeks ago standing. What is perplexing to both us and our vet is we began treatment for the Meningeal Worm in November, she was only down for two days, and could stand if I helped her up those two days. She rebounded quickly. Two weeks later she was down again and we retreated her to make sure. She rebounded again, and then out of the blue, two months later, she was down. This time, she could only get up about three days with my help, then she was completely down. Three days before that she slipped in mire and got stuck/down and I had trouble getting her up, but she was walking and seemed okay. We wonder if she tore something or slipped a disk. We don't know. The vet thought it so odd she went down suddenly after responding to the past treatments. [And our vet and us have ruled out other things like lames, tick paralysis and a couple other things because her symptoms didn't match those] That is another reason I'm not giving up. If it is something related to the fall, it will take time to heal.Or it could be a combination of things.

It takes time. This takes time. My time, Martyn's time, the llama's time. Today I'm finally going to get her Birdie Wall of Hope painted so I can start some drawing out there and post encouragement on the wall for her, and me. I ned to bring art back for my own heart and life, and I figure there is a project in this somehow, and I can still be there with her.

I thank so many of you who have sent love and other things, donations, support of materials to us. It takes a village to help a llama.

This is one hell of a llama.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

When women merge with cats

This is the current sale piece at the shop. It is called "Woman Merging with Cat". I know many of my readers have merged with cats and are perfectly accepting of the situation.

I also caught these photos a couple days ago from the Elder Cat Suite.

Sir Tigger sits as Noritsu's shadow lurks


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Okay, we will miss snow covered Teapots

Spring is upon us...really, it is. It has been sunny and 40's for two entire days and the ice is dropping and birds are singing, the pussy willows are popping...and just two days ago this was the scene. It has been a long, icy winter [for so many] and as difficult as that can make farm life [or any simple tasks for all of you reading] I have to say I loved seeing the The Teapot and donkeys in their snowflake suits. So I guess just as we yearn for the tulips and spring blooms this time of year, come November we will look forward to seeing our little short and stout masterpiece in the snow. The donkeys and her are getting along well, although Old Matilda still thinks she is a bit forthright in her attitude. The Teapot comes into a separate stall at night to prevent overeating. Earnest, the poor chap, has given up on being friends, I think. He moved his bed to be near Boone's area. I thought it was sort of sweet, he has always liked Boone and can commune through the fence.

Sun on an Oscar

He never fails to slay me, in his tiny little 5# body, sitting on the muslin of cloud color, soaking up the sun.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

When you are given a lemon make it into a project-my time with the llama is ripe

Today is my birthday. I would have liked nothing better to walk into the barn and see Birdie standing. But of course that is not how this is going to work, I do not have the magic wand, nor does Birdie. We only have each other and our inner strength to plod through this. How it evolves nobody really can predict. I am finding beautiful moments with her, like after our sessions I put a heat blanket on her and do massage, and we listen to the music. It's beautiful work to be able to do this.It is hard, but I am so lucky I can help her. If I had a job off the farm it might be very different-and many people have had to face that with their llamas when they are stricken with brain worm.

It makes me feel vulnerable I guess. A life can change in an instant.

But, this is the relationship I have at this moment in time with this particular animal, and I will take it and make the most of it. Yesterday, we put up some sheet rock in Birdies' barn and I will be turning it into a Birdie Wall-full of hope, messages, quotes, poems, art, inspiration and humor. I realized that I was looking at something wrong too. I've been a bit torn because my focus has been on Birdie, as it needs to be, but it has made my studio time somewhat fall to the wayside. While I've made lots of headway on my White Dog book, I've felt scattered and unfocused in the studio, or I haven't even made it there too much this month. So by putting up the Birdie Wall of Hope, I realized I can turn a lemon into a project. This is the project I am meant to flow through right now, a three dimensional project with my llama. I am going to do some drawing out there in the coming days now that the temperatures are finally going to get more normal. I don't know what will come of it, but I feel the need to be out there and draw.

The other wonderful gift that came this week was an old boom box so we can have music for Birdie in her recovery. Someone gifted it to Apifera. Another one is coming for the front barn so the elder cats and goats can have music too. Birdie and the goose seem to really like it. Right now they are listening to classical but we will mix it up for them too. Opera had the goose really jiving, see the video posted here.

This is probably the biggest challenge I've faced with a creature, and an ongoing one at that. I've ordered some more things to help with out our therapy sessions. I want to have straps that will help lift her hind end better, just ordered some I hope will work. I also invested in some minerals and therapies to maybe help with nerve regeneration. My vet is helping as much as she can, and I have been working with my wonderful healer/guide back in Minneapolis on healing things–I've known and worked with her for 30 years and trust her sense immeasurably. When I enter the barn, I am upbeat, and so is Birdie. If I feel myself getting non upbeat in my heart, I step away and snap out of it. She needs me strong.

Which is perhaps why this birthday had me in a funk. It's grey, snowing, and I could not even manage to decide what special meal I wanted. I didn't make a cake or anything. I felt like Eoreye when I awoke. I did go and buy myself tulips. I used to buy flowers a lot in Minnesota during the winter, and in Oregon never did because to me it was always spring during winter. But today, I bought tulips and thanked them and talked to them. I know when the temps rise this week and when we have sun, I will feel more like myself. I kind of miss my parents today, more than normal.

But the pussy willows are popping. This brought me great peace.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Look for sale pieces at the shop

I'll be posting items randomly at the shop for the next few weeks or more. It's easier than setting up an entire sale section. So visit there or follow Instagram feed to see what goes up. Right now there is this beautiful print of Cat and Pussywillows.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

The innate painting-what did I know?

I did this painting in late October last year, after Birdie initially had succumbed to the Meningeal Worm, and we began treating her immediately. She was never down like she is now, we could get her up and she was fine. Even though she improved and responded to treatment, I was scared.

I took to paint. I have always let my art do what it is meant to do for me. I don't plan paintings. I didn't sit down and decide what shapes and such would be on this piece. I just knew I wanted to focus on what I could do for Birdie, or what was happening. Of course I knew that the worm even when killed can float around her spine, and I knew this was a time when we wanted her spine and nerves to recover and heal [which they seemed to be doing until early February when she relapsed for some reason].

When I looked at this piece last night, it amazed me. What the symbols are of the floating figures I am not sure...her guides? My guides? Me? But what took my breath away was the floating white cloud coming from her spine. It is the exact place on her body that seems to be causing issues. Her wings are off to the side, she is not needing her wings right now, she is of Earth and she intends to stay for now. I know she can change her mind...but it did not appear that way this morning, and we had a very good therapy session.

I just was reminded after looking at this, art is my conduit to pure prayer-prayer not asking for what I want, but what is needed now and can be accomplished, and what is truly before me, not what I I may want. A long time ago I learned that spirit or God or Universe gives us not so much what we think we need [ie, I need a mate to love, NOW] but instead gives us the wisdom and strength to learn, persevere and move forward to a place that will let us be on higher ground. I think this painting and art is like that.

And of course, sometimes, usually, it isn't that clear what is before us. It takes human steps of days or months, years even, to see clearly.