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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Whimsical little messes

Our first day at the market was fun, a lot of work, but worth the effort. We pulled together a booth that had Apifera's personality, whim and eclectic flavor. Martyn made a bunch of cool wood stands for me, I bought wonderful fabrics to hang and of course, I had plenty of old buckets. I took my camera and then never got around to taking a picture, so next week...Our banner turned out nice - some people just don't get the art/lavender/sheep colliding thing, but that's okay. There are plenty of other vendors there to fill everyone's different personalities and tastes. People were coming around all day saying the lavender was wafting through the market, and that was nice - I, however, could not smell it! Still can't, I guess because I was immersed in it all week prepping bundles. Huck was a huge help during prep time, and was always at my side, helping to chew any droppings on the floor, which were abundant. My current whimsy is anything braided, including my pigtails, so I have been making 'ragdoll bundles'. They are my current favorite thing - I take vintage or old scrap fabrics and create little whimsical messes. They aren't for everyone's taste, but they bring me great pleasure - and if one is going to make about $2 an hour as lavender growers do, then why not have enjoyment in all the long hours. I haven't put them on our store yet, but if you want to buy some, just email me for now.

We have become acquainted with a few of the other vendors at the market, and it is so cool to see other couples growing things and making it a lifestyle together. Like Oakhill Organics, a sweet couple who grow wonderful organic vegetables and also offer CSA's. I'll be happy for Martyn when he gets his greenhouse up and working, so he can bring some of his plants to market. Right now my art and the bundles that I enhance take center stage, and he needs to have his 'gig' in there too so he can sit and pontificate with passers-by. That is one of the enjoyable things of going to market, pontificating with others! And eating stuff you normally don't eat.

We drove to the market in separate cars because we had so much stuff and by the time we loaded up and were on the road back home
it was 8 PM and dark. What a gorgeous night, a quarter moon, and still about 75 degrees. I drove home by the moon, the coastal range on my left the entire way with a deep purple-black sky slightly lit from behind by the already set sun. I had my window all the way down, and I put a Tom Petty on really loud [thank you Heinz!], and danced with my head and sang. I was really tired, like after a gallery opening, but I felt really 'real'. You know, one of those 20 minute spans in one's day where you know you are definitely alive, and everything is going to be okay, somehow.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Please wish on the stars for Miss Penny

A friend of mine that I have come to know over the last few years through my art, and our shared love of animals, has a friend that is a bit sick right now. Penny is one of our dignified elders, and her owner used to work at a shelter, where she adopted Penny. She also has many other adoptees, all elderly, all abandoned for elderly issues - misfits. I have much compassion for her stories of her animals and her efforts- and plan to paint some portraits of some in time with the hopes of gathering images for a set of cards that can be published and used to raise money and awareness for animals.

But, back to Penny. It is quite simple. I'd like to ask any of you that live under the sky, to take a few minutes, one will do, and visit with the stars tonite. You see, Penny and her owner would often sit and talk together under the stars, and sort out the days adventures or challenges. I am quite certain if many of us asked the stars to send some strength and compassion on to Penny while she is in the hospital, that Penny will benefit in many ways we humans can't even know.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Misfit amongst us

Every night for the past week the starlings have been gathering in the old Doug Fir in the back of the studio. They begin singing at full strength in a group around 6pm. It goes on for about an hour, then, it abruptly ends all at once. Not one or two birds at a time, just boom over. Martyn thinks it is tied to the exact timing of the sun totally setting. I want to paint it , or the sound of it, but am too caught up in some other things right now. But I will, when I least expect it. I have always had a fondness for crows, and starlings too, blackbirds. Most people hate starlings, but I like them. If you look closely at their feathers, they are quite beautiful. I know they do some bad birdie things, but it is survival of the fittest.

We went into Portland to a birthday party the other night. When we first moved here and we would occasionally go into Portland for some event, I would usually get a few pangs of, 'Gee, I hardly got to live there before moving out here, and it's such a lovely place, so much I didn't discover." Now, I have no real thought like that. For the first time, I felt how attached we have become to our life here, and unattached to the one there. The discussions at the party were somewhat superficial, and no one really understood what we were doing out here. They didn't understand why we bought sheep, so we talked about sustainable living and eating local, which no one had heard of or seemed interested in. [I'm sure there are many people in Portland that understand local eating and such, please note, just not the particular people I talked to this nite]. One person felt that the Oregon farm land should all be vineyards, as it is 'the best use of the land". I told him I disagreed, and that if more people valued eating local, and spoke up to large grocery chains, a shift could begin, even if slowly. I changed the talk back to TV and people's new haircuts. We left about 11pm, and we both noticed how we couldn't see many stars. Back home at the farm around midnite, the air was so fresh smelling, and the sky was just loaded with stars. Neither of us said anything, we just stood looking at the sky for awhile before heading for bed.

It was a nice evening and all, but it felt better here. I've always been a misfit anyway. But I do feel like I 'fit' when I'm on our farm.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pumpkins, and a place to bark

The pumpkins are here. The pumpkins are here. The pumpkins are here.

Pumpkins deserve a parade, so I will gather all our pumpkins in the next two weeks. I will wait until Pino Blangiforti is a week mended from his surgery, for I know he loves pumpkins and will want to participate. We will parade down Tupper Road to our nearby farm friends and deliver a pie - not pumpkin - that would be just too ironic for the pumpkins. I believe pumpkins should be honored for their peaceful cohabitation - all lying all over one another in a heap, getting along in all shapes and sizes. I beg people not to smash the pumpkins, or throw them - rather, let then live out their lives until it is naturally over, then they will gladly give themselves to you for a pie or soup.

SO... I put some new Cafe Press products online to honor our pumpkins.

I have also created Apifera-store.blogspot that highlights new products on the store, price changes, special sales and store related news. I hope it will help buyers take note of certain things, and will allow this blog to stay as farm related as possible. So please visit it, bookmark it, and check back weekly. In between all the fun relationship building with the animals and helping the farm grow, I still need to make a living, and it ain't for sissies, as we all know. I appreciate everyone who buys my art and our products!

Speaking of honoring, I was told about a site this week that I must let all my animal loving readers in on. A Place to Bark is a private shelter where a woman and her family helps different animal shelters by bringing home dogs and cats and helping them back to physical and mental health so that they can be better placed in loving, permanant homes. I was impressed with what I saw and read, and I must admit, felt that 'ping'. A 'ping' for me is when I see a person who's art, or life, or actions or words, make me want to more in my efforts and causes. This woman made me doubt I am doing enough for the animals. It inspired me to do more. I know it is not her intention to make others feel they are not doing enough, but I must do more. And I will do it through my art, as always. Please visit her site and you can see for yourself if you want to help her cause. Or maybe it will inspire you to take action in your own area. She is also having an art auction [she is an artist] and has a call for artists and donations - so visit her site for more information...Hats off from all of us at Apifera to Bernie and her endeavors.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Once, a mother kissed him gently

One archival, framed print is now available for sale on the store. "Joe Pye as a Young Lamb Standing in the Lavender Field" harkens back to simpler times when we had just Joe and two ewes. He was such an angel. Kisses in the morning, kisses at nite. Now I still sneak in a kiss to him, but usually through the fence. I only printed artist proofs of this piece, meaning there are only a few of them out there, and this is the only one left. The frame is a simple 1" maple. Visit the print section to purchase.

On a farm note, Pino Blangiforti put on a brave face and became a real donkey this morning. The vet came out to the farm and performed his castration. With Paco nearby, little Pino took it like a man. I will not go into graphic details - and I stood behind Pino so as not to see the actual surgery - but Martyn watched. I did learn quite a bit about donkey testicles, if anyone has questions. He is recovering well, and has a week or so to be back in true Pino form, but there does not appear to be any problems as of this writing. The worst part are the flies, and the yellow jackets ["terrorists" as we call them] flying near his wound . There is only so much I can about that, but fortunately it is cool today.

Pino loves apples and carrots, and while get well gifts are in order here, he prefers you take your fruits and share them locally with your food shelters or other families, or donkeys, rather than sending them to him as a get well gift. He is always thinking globally - one does not benefit from finding the jewell in the forest until one brings it back to his or her own village. And Miss Apple So Full, the little apple tree up the road, has generously given me bags of fallen apples for our animals, and I will share them with Pino tonite.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Protected somehow

This canvas came to me in my head, over time. This isn't usually how it works for me with canvases. I usually just paint and explore what is underneath my skin at that time. It can change from start to finish, day to day. But this 'idea', for lack of a better word, was a vision that kept coming, the three divisions, the shape in the middle. It kept coming back as I would drive, or as I lay down for the night.

Afterwards, I sat for a long time looking at it. What was it? It is one I think that in a year, or much longer, I'll see the underneath meaning. But the word "Protected" kept coming to me. So that is what I called it. At 48", it has a presence. I sent it down to the Atlanta gallery already, and feel it has a destiny that I won't understand or know.

I just ordered more canvas, and am jazzed, anxious, and needing to do more on this line. I don't know why.

The skies turned silver yesterday, and we had rain - a relief for humans, animals and earth. It has been so dry, the barn well has run dry 3x this month, even though we are very conservative with all our water. I spent yesterday in the studio, but also took time to stew tomatoes and bake more zucchini bread. I felt the need to tidy the nest for fall, and bake. As the night came, I put on my favorite nubby sweater and got under the quilt on the couch with my boys in their nightly order - Billy on my lap, Huck in the middle and Martyn on the end, but within hand holding distance.

Big Tony the cat sat looking out the large living room window, the black cows up on the nearby hills stuck out against the burnt hayfields, and the sky was all silver, with one strip of blue at the top.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Pino meet Paco, Paco meet Pino

No, you are not seeing double. Yes, we brought home two more animals. No, we are not crazy, nor have we gone over the deep end. We enjoy each animal and what they bring to our life and farm.

The consensus was, get a buddy of the Equus Asinus species for Pino Blangiforti. I thought the sheep would be companions enough for the little lad, but it appears I was naive in that thought. Would he have survived without a donkey mate? Yes. Would he be more content over the next 30 odd years of his life with a donkey mate? Yes. Donkeys get very lonely without a donkey mate, and cans tart to do some naughty little things out of boredom and depression. So, Paco arrived yesterday, along with the lovely little lady Pygmy goat you see here.

The Pygmy came with the name Tasmania Dirt Devil [all the former owner's goats were named after vacuum cleaners, a wonderful thing!] and they called her Taz. It's not that I don't like her name, but I just can't keep from calling her other things, like Bee Bee, or Meggie as in Nutmeg, or Ruthie [the name of a friend's Pygmy and I have that stuck in my head]. So where her name will fall, I do not know. I just know she is very cute, and when I went to look at Paco, I swooned over her - the owner was willing to trade a small sheep for her, as one of her Shetland sheep had lost its sheep companion. I immediately thought of our Little Rue, our bottle baby of last spring. Little Rue was never fully welcomed into the herd after being bottle fed. She held her own, but no one would snuggle up to her at nite, she was always a few paces behind all in the flock. I felt in a new group of animals Rue would bond with the only sheep, and perhaps it would be better for her in the long run. She can't be bred as she will always be too small, and there was no way I could butcher her for meat. So, we sent her off to her new home, and little Taz-Ruthie-Meggie-whatever now lives with the donkeys and rams. She is a pistol, not afraid of anything. Her little ears had their tips frozen off as the two-owners-ago had neglected to bring her in from their cold climate; they also lopped her horns off instead of taking the entire set off. And, she needs to lose some weight as she was allowed to eat grain from other animals dishes.

Bringing in new animals is always traumatic on farmer and herd. The balanced pecking order must be re-configured. The initial introductions can be ugly to watch, and yesterday's initial introduction of Pino and Paco did not go smoothly. Paco has not been gelded [the deed will occur, thankfully, on Monday] so this added to the unrest. Paco is a bit smaller than Pino, very docile, and gelded. He had been a trio of two other donkeys, and I knew he would bond with Pino fast. Pino on the other hand, saw one thing - another donkey to make love to. I won't go into graphic details, but let's just say yesterday was a bit of a bad John Holmes movie - 'farm porn' as Martyn refers to it. I let the two run in adjoining pastures at first, then put them together - which resulted in non-stop stud activity by Pino, and Paco kicking non-stop. Pino took it like a boxer. Just stayed standing, kept at it. It went on for 20 minutes or so, and I finally separated them for the nite. No scrapes or cuts on either, amazingly. This morning, I had all sorts of back up plans, but decided after a night of sleeping side by side in separate stalls, that Pino might have calmed somewhat. When I put them together, it took a about 10 minutes for the two to settle in more - Pino still has a one track mind, but they have worked it out. There has not been one lonely bray out of little Pino today - a sure sign of good things for him. I spent time with both of them, and our little many named Pygmy, brushing, comforting all with lots of grooming and reassuring songs and words.

So, yes, we let one friend go, and brought home two more. And it's all good.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Oh, my little Buttercup

Buttercup needs a home. I have had this framed painting from old illustration days for a long time and have almost sold it a couple times, but never seem to quite do it for one reason or another. Perhaps now that I am surrounded by my own animals, I feel it is time to really find Buttercup a permanant home to live in, and bring joy for someone else. So, if you are a city dweller with a yearning for a cow, here's your chance. No manure, no annual vaccinations, no flies.

Later, when I have a clear head about it, I will perhaps write about my feelings over my near death encounter on my horse on Sunday. Everyone, including my riding companion and our horses survived, but it was one of those examples of how a situation can go from bad to worse in seconds, and when 1300# animals are involved - well, as my friend said, it is the risk we take as riders to enjoy these magnificant, yet powerful animals.

I am painting and focusing on art as much as possible for 8 hours straight - as it is a big week here on Apifera. The new ram arrives Wednesday, and Tuesday, well, besides the farrier visit, we have a, well....I won't tell you. You will have to wait and see.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Send a message to our dear friend far away!

Today is a special day in Mie-Ken, Japan and Yamhill, Oregon.

For today is the 5th birthday of our comrade Nonoka. Nonoka lives with my art-loving, art-supporting, Japanese friend from a far.

Nonoka loves food. Her main love is food. Her real love is food. She understands the subtle nuances of fresh bananas and tomatoes. If only she were here today, as we have so many tomatoes off the vine to eat, surely we could share some with her - unless Billy Baker was in on the decision. She also loves pastries. So today, she is being treated to such favorites, Japanese style.

So, dear readers, it would be nice, and very United Nations like, if all of you would ask your dogs, or cats, goats, donkeys, horses, guinea fowl, chickens, sheep, whatever, to write a message here to our dear friend Nonoka. I know she would appreciate it, especially as she will get them the day after her birthday - and you know what a let down the day after can be, especially at age five when you got pastries the day before. So write a note, animals! Those of you who don't yet have computer privledges, ask your human mates to help out - Donkey Dan, that means you. Come on, let's see how many species we can get!

Nonoka, eat well, and then rest well and care well for your human companion.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

And the cows got to listen to Neil

Picasso did that painting of his young son, Pablo on a donkey...he must have had a donkey, I mused...I suspect he was the type of person that let his donkey roam free in his studio...

There's something nice about painting with a donkey looking through the studio door.

I broke down and let him in for a few minutes - after all it is a cement floor, and it is MY studio. But, I now have a donkey that wants to come in and STAY in the studio. Hmmm.

Oddly, as I am typing, I am listening to Mark Knopfler and Emmy Lou singing "I've been around in donkey town, too long, baby too long..." Hmmm...ironic, yes?

I put up a 48" piece of clean white canvas today. Why not just staple some Queen Anne's Lace on it and call it a day? It's actually lovely, and I sat with donkey on the right, lab on the left, pug in distance, music loud - this is a nice day. I'm percolating with a new canvas and animals and music all around.

Yesterday I had to drive into town, got in the car and put on an old Neil cd. Window down, I started down the gravel drive and all the cows were in our side pasture, laying down, taking a respite from the sun, taking an afternoon chew. It was Neil singing 'Keep on Rockin' in the Free World", and I stopped for a moment to watch the cows, only 10 feet or so from me. Of course, I had Neil playing really LOUDLY, and I thought, I wonder how many cows have heard Neil Young? It seemed so cool, that these cows got to share in that song. I believe animals should have music in their lives.

As we speak, Pino is leaning in, listening to more Knopfler&Emmy..." here's a rabbit foot, take it when you go, so you'll always know you're safe from harm, wear your ruby shoes when you're far away, so you'll always stay home in your heart..."