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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Cheese has died

Cheese has died. I knew it was coming in the past week - she has been fighting being anemic which I've been treating her for. She's old and compromised and if it was due to barber pole or another parasite, even with swift help it often is a death sentence. But like I said, Cheese was 14 and that is old for a goat, especially a disabled, crippled one.

Yesterday she was weaker than usual but still trying to carry on, but kept getting knocked over. At one point I found her cast. It is very cold, and I did not want her to die unattended, by casting. So I got her in the a safe place, covered in six blankets - where I could proper her against wall to keep her from casting. I gave her pain meds. 

The herd came to inspect my work and say their goodbyes. She died within a couple of hours and was pretty much gone even when the pictures were taken. The cold didn’t kill her but in her condition it most likely sped up her death by a few days. I’m grateful we were all their with her before she became unconscious.

I considered putting her in the heated cat suite, but the floor is slippery and it is an unknown space for her. She is a herd animal and I only considered it due to the extreme cold. But I knew her hours were numbered. Her time was here. She died hearing the familiar sounds of her clan, chewing hay.

Hail to you, sweet, determined Cheese. You were a trooper to go through life so boldly with your crippled legs. I will miss you greatly! I always loved seeing her in the morning and yelling out,


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Language lessons of spirit

You learn a new language with the loved ones who depart this earth and realm. It happened with my parents, animals and friends who have left. Just the other day I was cutting vegetables, and I found myself leaning on the sink with my fore arms, slightly bent over as I worked-just like my mother used to do. I smiled and greeted her.

So when I awoke to snow, I said, "White Dog came."

It's our new language, forming. Birdie comes as light delicate flakes, White Dog comes in inches that cover the farm, and his grave. It was so beautifully quiet too. That too is so White Dog, they are shape shifters and he came and went without me noticing as I slept. I read recently that "fresh snow absorbs sound, lowering ambient noise over a landscape because the trapped air between snowflakes attenuates vibratio. That's why it gets quiet when it snows." 



Sunday, January 23, 2022

Into the White...a mystery painting

Painting is a wonderful journey. It allows me to reach inside, share a story or a feeling or a revelation that has not been brought to my conscious yet. I often start with a thought, and in this case I had awoken with the words repeating into my head of into the white.

I know what much of this piece is symbolizing [which I don't feel I need to share here]. But there are mysteries to it I don't grasp. I might someday. That happens too, you paint something and it is years later that you realize what something in the piece symbolized. Martyn asked me what the grey area on the upper left was, and I said I didn't know really, although one could see it as a drape...but I don't know.

This canvas will be going to Sundance this month and be available there sometime in March.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Animals and their Great Heated Bus Idea


I was minding my own business, putzing by the firewood pile, when a familiar voice asked,

“Mrs. Dunn, can we have the old oven?”

It was Pickles, of course. If you follow along, and heaven help you if you do, you will know the animals have been trying to get me to allow a baking oven in the barn. Of course, we all know as charming as it would be to have a bunch of short bodied goats, a pig and some fowl baking cookies, it would most certainly end in a disaster.

“No,” I said firmly.

“What if we kept it outside and used matches and firewood to get it warm?” asked Ollie the goat.

My mind envisioned the forest on fire and animals and firemen running everywhere.

“NO, “ I said, more firmly.

They both walked off, heads down, grumbling.

Later that day, I entered the barn to start nightly chores. The gang wasn’t as animated as usual, except little Hannah who is young enough that every second of the day is worthy of joy.

“You all look down and out,” I said.

“We don’t have a way to share our love with the elder peoples,” said Pickles.

We found out recently that due to the pandemic, we were restricted again from bringing animals into Cove’s Edge, and it was too cold for the residents to visit outside, which is still allowed.

“If we had an oven we could bake them cookies, and giant heart shaped cakes,” said Ollie.

Earnest arrived. He sat next to me, he seemed deep in thought.

“We need a bus, a heated bus, with a ramp,” Earnest said as he handed me an ad for one of those old hippie buses, the kind I saw as a young girl out west. There was a price tag of $50,000 on it.

“That’s a lot of money, Earnest,” I said.

“Mrs. Dunn, a bus! We can roll them in and have music on the radio,” said Pickles.

And they all started chanting, “Heated bus! Heated bus!”

“We could drive our friends to the village and look in the pretty shop windows,” said old Poetry the goat.

“Perhaps, Mrs. Dunn, we could stop at Oysterhead Pizza too,” said Earnest the pig.

“I’m surprised you wouldn’t want to stop at Eider’s for your beloved grilled cheese sandwich with cucumbers,” I said.

“I’m currently hankering for the crust of pizza, wood fired just right,” Earnest said.

“Mrs. Dunn, how much is $50,000?” Hannah asked.

“It’s many, many, many ones,” I said. “And it would take all of you years to raise it.”
Keep your hearts open, gather some things and I will drop them off for our elder friends,” I said.

The next day, Earnest the pig brought me a bucket with three goose feathers, one brown egg and     
some hay twine. A note said, “For our friends, until we get a bus. Love, Pickles and friends”.

“Here’s a $100 bill, Mrs. Dunn, for the bus,” the pig said. “I’ll bring more when I can.”

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Bitter cold, temper tantrums...and the memory of his expression

We've had two days of zero degrees, but sunny. The winds are gone today. The wind here off the coast is strong and impressive, and then it echoes all around in the surrounding forest. But I do enjoy the cardinals in winter. Brings back memories of my parents and life in Minnesota with them.

I've been very temper tantrum prone due to the icey ground and the fact that extreme cold hampers my tasks. I just fly off the handle while I'm doing chores -like today when the goats split open a bag of feed before I could get it in the feed room. They head butted it and it was all over the ground. I had a fit. It dawned on me later that part of that is because I'm still upset White Dog is gone. My partner. I miss him. And even if he had not had bone cancer, 10 is getting up there for a large breed. Of course I don't get to be in charge of such things-perhaps it is best I can't control that.

I apologized to everyone in the barn for losing my temper. They didn't care. They had feed all over the ground to eat. they don't judge like we humans. They move on.

There will never be another dog like White Dog. As a friend pointed out to me in a lovely sympathy card, we all choose the dogs we bring into our lives-but White Dog chose us. And he got to us the year we decided to move to Maine where he could be in his beloved cold and snow. He hated rain. And I thought to myself, I gave him six winters here. I have hundreds of photos of him, and I'm grateful for that.

The night we put him down, we walked with the vet out to the barn, it was dark. And he greeted us like always. I keep seeing his expression he had on his face when we entered the barn. Tail wagged, ears pricked, happy to see us. I know we did the right thing, the leg had grown huge. the vet assured us it was the right thing too, and of course I had talked to White Dog a lot. But I do keep seeing the expression on his face that night- he was just happy to see all of us. And then he was gone.

White Dog arrived in such a mystical way that I know that will never happen again. I can't force a situation to happen like it did when he showed up out of the blue. The whole thing was a miracle.

Next week I'll start bringing Marcella out to the outer pasture...just to see how that feels. Out west she was my main helper, in Maine her duties shrunk a bit due to the layout here, and I want to try being with her more. She is very different than White Dog on so many levels. I'm open to another pup...the rescue dogs have a real risk factor and it's complicated by the many species we have here. 

I'm just trying to stay open.


Saturday, January 08, 2022

An intruder comes


I was actually joyful when I looked out and saw the snow. It snowed all day and it felt like White Dog was....Here There and Everywhere. His snow is different than Birdie's snow. It's stronger and more rampant. I am learning our new language, the language we learn after a loved one of any species dies. Some relationships are more human level based, some more spiritual-and White Dog was my spirit dog. In some ways Marcella is too, but White Dog is becasue he came to us in such a mystical way...his mystery he carried with him was always prevelant. I walk over the grave, palms down, and say morning greetings to him. Today I wrote him a note. When I returned to do chores tonight, it was still light and I was a bit agitated to see tracks all around that part of the barnyard. I searched to find a track clear wnough in the 4 inches of fluffy snow. I finally saw there were claws, so it was not a cat or bobcat [cats prints never show the claws]. The prints were quite small so I think it was a fox. I hope to look more tomorrow when the snow has settled a bit. The lobes of a fox sit differently than a coyote or dog. I'm not the best tracker by any means! It upset me becasue Ruthie could be taken by a fox. I was surprised that I never hear Marcella bark from her pig paddock, but she can't run up to that fence so maybe she was sleeping. The tracks were right up to the sheep gate and front of barn where Ruthie often hangs out. It made me miss him, and I was sort of upset the creature walked all over the grave and around it, upset becasue White Dog never would have allowed him on the property but he was right there on his grave. It shows how important his presence was [and is].

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Healing art


As Old Apple watches, Ruthie stands near the grave and the energy was palpable.

I did this yesterday. Finally got some studio time. It already sold and I was happy it sold to someone who really understands the characters in the piece and what it means.