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

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©Katherine Dunn.





Sunday, October 02, 2022

We prepare for winter while relishing fall


It is clearly autumn-cool days and nights, flies are dying, leaves are crisping...it has been beautiful. My favorite season, like many of you I'm sure. The animals can stay unbothered all day by flies and soak up sun without being hot.

Martyn is busy as always shopping large logs and then will split them in coming weeks. I also opted to buy a ton of first cut Canadian hay for the elder horses. They kept their weight so well last year, even old Matilda, who sadly lost her strength in her hind end even though she was doing so great otherwise. The Canadian hay is $13/ a bale...ouch...the local went up to $7.50 delivered and stacked. But It just doesn't have the punch for elders. I'll be doing our fall/winter fundraiser soon. Ive held back on them this summer due to my health stuff but am back in the saddle.

I spent all morning cleaning equine barn. Getting winter coats ready, making sure Earnest the Pig and Hannah both have adequate bedding, organizing tack and bringing in any freezable meds. It's time for the monthly llama shots, not my favorite task, but since switching to shorter needles many eons ago it is not that bad. My only bad day was being ribbed with my elbow when Harry smashed his ribcage into mine-lost my breath for a minute or so.

The old hydrangea continues to evolve in color. Such a beautiful creature. I can't help photograph her over and over. She is over 100 years old, if not 150+, according to Martyn. Imagine...if she could talk, or if I could teacher her human English. The black and white image is almost like looking at our house back in 1760 when it was built.

I hope you are all having a good autumn. Our pumpkin harvest, much to the sadness of little Hannah and Pickles, was muted...thanks to the squash bugs. Oh well, they ate well. We got some, but nothing like normal. They still are so fun, so cheery. I don't carve them anymore, it doesn't feel right, they get to die a natural death and then are fed out to the animals. I suppose that is the same fate but I just feel sad carving into them. And pumpkin tosses that are all the range seem so violent to me.



Friday, September 23, 2022

Inspired by the old pig and her roomate, a turkey


I woke up thinking of this piece the other day, and set right out to paint it after chores. If you follow along you will understand that the title I gave it - Ode to the Graham Crackers - is appropriate. Hannah the elder pig arrived with a bag of grahams from her former owners who fed them to her daily. Most animals, I find, do love graham, so this was not a surprise. What was is that the pig's nightly roommate, the very independent thinker, Ruthie the turkey, also likes graham crackers. Well, let me clarify that, Ruthie appears to be slightly addicted to them. I have never seen her get so excited over a food before. The other morning when I arrived, Ruthie was waiting by the orange bucket that holds the graham crackers. She had taken out the package the night before and ate them all. So that morning when I arrived, she was puffed up and very upset, standing by the bucket, carrying on, "Where are the graham crackers?"

So...I painted this. Available at the shop. And if you get a kick out of mailing graham crackers to an old pig or pirate turkey, you can visit the Apifera Wish List.

Friday, September 16, 2022

House dream surrounded by ocean

 


I worked a bit on this yesterday...but there is something so simple about it and I'm not going to alter anything. 
 
I call it "House dream surrounded by ocean". It was first inspired by the 100+ year old hydrangea outside our house, but I think it is also inspired by my innate pipe dream of someday having a shack on the ocean. I do not think that will happen. But who knows? 
 
Anyway, it's up on the shop-maybe there is someone else out there with this same dream.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Wisdom of the Old Donkey {latest from from Tails & Tales}


 “No!!!” I heard a little voice screaming.

What on Earth, I thought.

As I entered the barn, Earnest the pig had his arm around little Hannah the goat, who was crying. This is a very common scene, as Hannah is very sensitive and not very savvy at her young age. She is easily fooled by the pranksters of the group-you know, Pickles and Puddles.

“They ate my pumpkin, Mrs. Dunn! They killed her and ate her!” Hannah cried into my overhauls.

I could see shadowy figures in the not so distant corner of the barn, pretending not to be there.

“Pickles! Puddles! Hop to it, over here, right now!” I said.

“I know nothing!” said Pickles.

“You do too!” said Puddles.

“But Mrs. Dunn, the pumpkin was already mushy and dead because the squash bugs got it first,” pleaded Pickles.

Hannah screamed some more into my overhauls.

“It’s true, Mrs. Dunn. I saw the little pumpkin yesterday. The bugs were on her and eating her up," said Earnest the pig.

More screaming from Hannah.

“Hannah, this is all part of Nature’s way. Nature gives us bounties, and other parts of Nature take it away,” I said.

Ollie the goat, always cheerful no matter what the occasion, came running up to little Hannah. “It’s just like when you eat your hay, Hannah. Nature turns it into something else in your stomach and then you poop and the worms eats it!”

“You mean the bugs are going to poop my pumpkin out?” Hannah cried.

“Well, I guess in a way they are,” said Earnest the pig.

Hannah went running off to her favorite tree, crying, “I will never eat or drink again in honor of my pumpkin.”

“Let her be,” I said. And we all went about our morning.

Around mid day, Earnest and I wandered out to see Hannah, who was still under her tree.

“Hannah, that is a nice little pumpkin you’re holding,” said Earnest the pig.

“It’s my pumpkin’s sister. I’ll never let her die,” said Hannah, still sniffling.

“Death is like a moon that doesn’t see the sun come up, that’s all,” said a slow talking voice. It was Peso, the new arrival. He was a very, very old donkey, the oldest donkey that had ever lived on the farm.

Peso came closer to Hannah. “Hannah, your little pumpkin got to live her life in her field, unencumbered by the man made world. Nobody carved her up and stuck candles in her, or slung her from a cannon, she just got to be a simple, beautiful, humble fruit breathing in the sun on her Earth,” Peso said. Hannah stopped crying.

Just then, Poetry the eldest of the old goats called out, “The Queen is dead!” and everyone rushed to the rabbit ear television I’d finally put in the barn for them.

“She was my favorite Queen!” cried Hannah.

“Mine too, Hannah,” I said. “Were’t we lucky to have had her though?” I asked.

Hannah shook her head, yes, pressing into my overhauls again. “She would have liked my pumpkin, I’m sure of it.”

Sunday, September 11, 2022

The truth about my summer-I had a scare but I'm back on top

I want to share some reality of my summer. I haven't posted about it, but I'm going to, because it ties into why I'm so excited about the Love Mobile. Last June, on a Saturday morning, I did not have my usual yogurt breakfast, I had a toasted scone, and instead of only eating 1/2 of one [my norm] I ate an entire scone. Half hour later, doing chores, I had the most intense heartburn. Now I've had heartburn in the past from food, and from stress-I know how it goes. But this felt a bit different. I alerted Martyn, it felt that weird.

I had also been coughing for months from the fact I work in granite dust that has silica. And, I had Jabbed my elbow into my under sternum so hard that it knocked me backwards and I lost my breath for a minute [I was giving llama shots and Harry shoved me which is what llamas do]. I'd also had a sever bronchial cough for over a month.

At the same time, I had been searching for a new GP and it is hard to find one taking new patients. I finally found one, and signed up but it would be two months before I could get it.

The heartburn subsided, but it also kind of lingered in my sternum for a week or so. I was mentioning it to a friend, and how it would be two months to see my new doctor, and she suggested I go to the ER and they could give me  a blood test that can detect heart attacks. I wasn't so sure about that, but decided to go in. It was a very naive decision. I explained the situation, that I did not have chest pain, etc, and just wanted to have this blood test [again, that was naive!] but they whisked me in for an EKG, blood tests, chest XRAYS...strapped me to a bed and wouldn't let me out. My blood pressure was very high-which is the norm for me at a doctor. In fact, I'd been taking my BP daily for a few weeks because I knew I'd be going to a new GP soon and wanted them to see my BP since it is always high at the doctor [any doctor that denies white coat syndrome is wrong].

Well, all the tests were fine. The ER doctor was someone I hope I never see again. He would not listen to my symptoms, he would not look at my BP diary, he would not listen to the stress that was going on all month-how that very day old Matilda was cast, she could not get up without my help, and I knew her time was coming. He did not care that heartburn over my adult years nearly always came from stress. There had been multiple deaths of people I knew that month too. We'd lost some other animals too. But he was hell bent on making me think I was about to have a heart attack and had to stay in the hospital. He said even though I was in the lowest part of the lowest percentile for dying of a heart attack in a year, I still could. I refused to stay based on my tests.

I did not have a heart attack, and my tests were good. But I did agree to go on BP medicine. I just wanted to get out of there. Within days, I became groggy. I was taking two hour naps. I was very angry too. Short temper. And I was having sternum sensations I'd never had. My BP was so low it seemed unreal. I began researching the medicine and saw I was not alone. By the time I got into my new doctor, I felt like I had slept walked the entire summer. I was unmotivated, even depressed. I could not focus. I could not create. The new doctor switched me to another med, and the first couple days were ok, but then the night terrors and hallucinations began-like lying in bed at night and seeing a man come in and cut Martyn's throat and then killing all the animals. They were not night mares, they were sheer terror. One night I looked over at Martyn and his body was see through. It was hard on him too to have me go through these things.

I told my doctor that was it, I would not live like that. I asked her why I was even on these meds. She agreed the ER doc had done what many docs do-throw you on a pill, and he did it just becasue of a high reading at the ER.  She agreed I should wean off of this med, and see if my BP is as normal as my diary says it is. So far, it is. {By the way, I like my new doc a lot, she LISTENS].

The day I went off that med, I was myself again. It made me realize how out of it I was, out of it as in my creativity and soul were being drugged. There were mornings I didn't want to get up. During my summer daze, I began seeing my life as almost finished. I am 64, I began to feel sort of...old. I always figured 78-80 was a good life. And I thought, man, that's only 14 more years. Is this how it's going to be, drugged up on some doctor's idea of good medicine? I want to be me again. I need to be me to write and paint and create and help people.

The day I went off the drugs, every symptom I'd had disappeared and has not returned. I hope they don't. And within a couple days, my ideas started coming back to me, as did my energy. I bought a Nordic Track so I can make sure my heart gets exercise [my work on the farm is more upper body strength],  I made some slight changes to daily eating even though I eat well, and I bought a new dress!

And that is when the idea of Love Mobile came to me again. And I went online for vintage trailers, and came upon the Happier Campers. And just like I had felt this enormous feeling back west that we had to move, not later but ASAP, I felt this enormous push to invest in this little camper. Moving to Maine was the greatest thing for us, and me, and I feel my little Love Mobile will bring great things to me, and others.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Announcing! FInally, a real Love Mobile is coming!

I had this idea before we moved to Maine. We were going to try to build a traveling Love Mobile where I could sell my books, and have one of the animals with me to share healing and love. But we moved to Maine and it was put away in my heart.

Ideas have a way of being birthed when they are truly ready. And looking back, it was not the right time. Now in Maine since 2016, we are a non profit sanctuary taking in elder/needy animals [and some young, crazy ones] but we also share the animals on visits to elder people's homes. Harry the llama is one of our main love ambassadors, but there are others.

But I still make my living as an artist/writer [since 1996]. Since Apifera Farm became a non profit, my art has merged with the farm and animals even more. I sell my art and books online globally through my online shop , and through Sundance.

The Love Mobile, I've been calling her Lovey at this point, will allow me to get my art/books, and the animals out to a wider audience in the wonderful region we now live, Mid Coast Maine. It will expand my creative ideas-the mobile comes with two fold up windows, perfect for pop up shops. I have so many ideas-perhaps puppet shows!

Over the years, I've searched for the right vintage trailer. Most needed tons of work, and none are cheap. Most were in southern states. And they were not the right weight or size. Building our own was something we considered. Martyn has enough on his plate, and to keep a trailer vintage, lightweight, electrified and more was not something we could do.

When I found the Happier Camper company I was thrilled. Finally! Just what I wanted. Vintage looking, but safe, and incredibly adaptable to my whims. It is a very lightweight double wrapped fiberglass trailer, complete with heat, and 120 and 220 electricity. It is designed in a modular system, so seats [with storage] can be removed to use outside, or moved around. The entire inside can be hosed down and has a drain. It comes with electric brake and breakaway safety measures [many small trailers don't. It is the only small trailer with a back large hatch-perfect for llamas, goats, Goofballs, and a pop up shop. {I will post the specs soon in an update].

This is a leap forward for me-a way to continue to blend my work with animals, art, writing, creation and people. It's like the next chapter. In some ways, it might be my final chapter as I enter my mid 60's.

The entire package costs $34,000. It is an investment. If you have looked at any vintage trailers you know the price. So this one is well worth it for me and my business-it is SAFE, completely road ready, and adorable.

And while this Love Mobile is dual purpose [selling my art, and also promoting and sharing our non profit healing animals] I will be paying for it out of my art business. It is a huge step to do this-but I know this is a good step [just like I knew moving from Oregon to Maine was what we had to do].

I'm so excited to get her this late fall and to see all the travels and experiences we will have. It has ignited a flame inside of me! 
 



 

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Her Royal Highness arrives


We picked up the elder pig today. With a bit of pig patience, and luck, and 'encouragement' at some point from yours truly, we were able to load Hannah up in the trailer in about 30 minutes. Loading pigs is always problematic and we were all pleased it went as swimmingly as it did.

Her name is Hannah and she is about 12 years old. She and Peso lived side by side for years but her owners have fallen on difficult times and have to sell their property and move. They found us through the help of another farm person who knew about us. It worked out well for all involved.

Hannah is settling in and is living like a queen in the same spot that Rosie The World's Grumpiest But I'm Fine As I Am Pig lived after her arrival from Oregon. Peso does not like her much we are told and so Hannah will be where she can see llamas, which she is used to. I think she will spend her final days resting, and eating, then resting, and eating some more. She needs some weight and her toes have not been kept up. Her owners loved her but were physically limited  due to illness. I was happy that Hanna already lay down for me for a belly rub, and while giving Her Royalty a rub down she had no problem with me touching her feet so I hope to get them trimmed soon.

It's the end of an era for her owners. All their original animals are gone now and they will move when the house sells. I know they are grateful they found us, and that is a wonderful feeling that we could help them, and their elder animals. The alternatives were upsetting, so we saved that heart ache for them.

I just hope pig and donkey can have some years here, for my sake. I'm already fond of them and both are quite elderly, so we have no control on that, but...I'm just asking, "Universe, can they stick around awhile?"