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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, March 30, 2007

"Innate Refuge" opening

If you're near the Salem area, stop by the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery in April to see the new "Innate Refuge" show, up from April 3-28th. There will be an artist reception on Wednesday, April 4th from 5-8 and I will be there. Pino Blangiforti was hoping to attend, since he is showcased on the gallery invite - but alas, his travel clothes are not ready, nor is his magic carriage, so he will stay behind with Paco Giovanetti on the farm.

The show is a mix of illustrative and abstract pieces, and the Zeek Gallery is a small,intimate setting; Mary Lou does a wonderful job of showcasing in such a small space. I will post some of the show later and if you have interest in any piece you can contact the gallery.

In the meantime, I start painting for the May Astoria show, and then am really excited to start painting for my abstract exhibit in Jackson Hole in August at the Lyndsay McCandless Contemporary gallery. I'll be showing with a wonderful person and artist, Jenny Kostecki , and can't wait to get into the flow of it next week sometime. More later as it develops.

The sun is here for now, the warmer air has returned, the lambs are growing, the hens are up to 5-6 eggs a day...I sat by the Quince for a short break yesterday and was happy to greet Buzzy and Buzzy 1, hummingbird friends back for the season.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Spirit of a Girl

Please meet...Lambie Sarah Pie. For those of you who might not have known the original'Lambie Pie', you can read about it it in this recent post. These pictures were taken when Lambie was only 4 hours old, so I think her yawn is not one of boredom, but rather one of exhaustion. The faint red on her ears is mother's blood. She and her brother are healthy, and mother Rosemary, our head ewe, went through it all with the same calmness as past years.

The spirit of a girl name Sarah and her beloved Lambie Pie now live on in this little creature. I generally do not cuddle any of the lambs the first couple days, so as not to possibly confuse scents of exhausted mothers. But last night when I put mothers and babies in their stalls, Lambie Sarah Pie went into the stall, collapsed in a corner, and her little eyes could hardly stay open. Her mother was busy eating, so I picked her up and held her little tiny body, her head resting under my chin and she immediately fell sound asleep. Her body was like that of a stuffed lambie, that once a little girl named Sarah had dragged around and held onto for comfort. I had a momentary 'spark' in my body, a literal energy 'snap', a good feeling - is one ever too old or jaded to hold onto another creature of any kind, hug them, keep them warm, rock them, and sing to them as they doze, very quietly "Keep on rockin' in the free world...". One is never too young to absorb Neil Young.

So, all are born, it's a bit chaotic at morning feedings, but all are healthy. Names and pictures of more to follow in weeks ahead. In the meantime, Big Tony goes in for his tooth operation on Tuesday - he's not nervous, he likes the vet clinic. So there is still time to add your name to the raffle. . And a big toothy 'thanks' to the raffle entrants so far. Pino Blangiforti can't wait to draw the name out of a hat.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Big Tony Tooth Raffle

The millionaire dollar ex-father-to many-now neutered-once-ferel-Tom now needs more vet care. One of his large front fangs was partially broken off and the gum has now become infected. The danger is that eventually the infection will go up his nasal passage and into his insides. Sneezing has told us the infection is already inside him somewhere, but I have had to put off the procedure due to costs for other farm needs - such as the cut tail of Wild Iris the goat that I just could not get to stop bleeding [fixed, thankfully].

So, it must be done and I am having a raffle to collect funds to defray the cost of the vetting [estimated cost of procedure and meds is $220+]. All dona tors donating at least $10 will qualify to win the archival print shown here [7x7" image on 8x10 archival white paper, framed on backing board, glass front, swiss clips - ready to hang, or prop on a shelf, free USA shipping]. This print has a retail value of $70. Note: There is no © sign printed on the actual print. To donate securely online - please click here .

To qualify for the raffle, donations must be received by Friday April 6. I will have Martyn pull a name out of a bag, assisted by Pino Blangiforti, as I feel Pino is perhaps the most honest helper, and he needs to experience new things to prepare for the upcoming pie season. I will stop the donations on April 6th, and if there is an over abundance of donations before that, I will give people the option of having their money returned, or having it put in the Cat Fund for future emergency needs.

Meanwhile, Rosemary and Lilly of the Valley continue to be ladies in waiting - I hope for babies this weekend. They were looking at me longingly this morning, and I urged them to 'Just go for it, girls', hoping that would inspire the baby muses.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Morning kisses, and naps

We have girls.

After the first two boys arrived, Lewsia Pinkie and Coral Bell blessed us with beautiful girls. Twins from each, so we have 6 lambs to date. Rosemary and Lilly remain as ladies in waiting. I have given up saying "I'm sure Rosie is going tonite"...She is usually one of the first to lamb, and right now is huge. Today she is not eating as much in the herd, so, maybe today. The other good news is Lewisia has matured and is being a wonderful mother, after giving up on Baby Rue last spring. Lewisia has a daughter that looks so much like her. She threw two white lambs with freckles - just like their Papa, Mr. T. These are Mr.T's first babies, and he has thrown beauties. The color of Coral Bell's twins is like a slate blue. Lovely. A list of names is prepared, but I'll wait to announce them untill all lambs are born.

Meanwhile, I am getting a lot of painting done, and besides the two spring shows, I just found out I will have another in Jackson Hole in August - I'm thrilled as it will be all abstracts in a contemporary gallery. Details to follow. So I will paint in focused fashion through the summer.

Martyn and I had a nice dinner with nearby farm friends. They are expecting their first baby soon and we are so happy for them. They will be such good parents. As the evening drew to a close, she invited me to feel her baby tummy - I'd never felt a human belly ripe with child. I joke that the only thing I know about birth is learned through my sheep. Fortunately, she raised sheep too, so I don't think it was an insult.The farm was oozing with mothers and baby energy that nite, and continues on this week. It can wipe out any negatve energy that might linger from other things. Thank you, mothers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Refuge, and more boys

Yesterday, I couldn't paint. It was 65 degrees, I had worked on the weekend, and Daisy went into initial labor by 10 am. I knew the routine with her. While I got her in her lambing den and let her be most of the day, I spent a lot of time checking on her, and massaging her upper shoulders which she always likes. She took a long time to really go into high labor, more than her normal anyway. By dinnertime, she was close. An hour later, we checked on her and she was feeding two beautiful, strong lambs one totally black with a sprinkle of white hair on his cap, one totally deep red also with a white cap.

And yes, they are boys. More boys. The black one is already special, strong, and full of personality at age 12 hours. The usual torment will now ensue - which stay, which go. I won't think about it today. There's no point. We will see how they develop. Martyn joked that we run a 'farm for wanted rams'...

Last night we went out after dinner to check on mother and sons, and it was already dark. The stars were summer like, we saw our first bat, and with flashlight in hand, would get glimpses of tiny eyes shooting about in the dark - cats. But then out of the darkness came two long ears, and then two more. As I shined the light I could see Pino about to open his mouth to bray...'Pino, no, don't bray, hush now"...It fell on deaf ears. Out came his bray, and then a cacophony of chicken sounds, and ram bleets. This led to complete misunderstanding of the animals in the other barn. After all, when the donkey brays, it means I am up and about to feed them, and when the rooster crows, it is definitely morning...We checked in on the ewe barn and all was well. Strong, standing ram lambs. This morning, I checked on Daisy a couple times. I had a moment of being concerned their might be one more lamb in her. I have heard of this happening, but never having been through it I don't know how long a third lamb could stay in the ewe. She just seemed to be stretching in ways that seemed like labor, but she lost after birth last night, so I assume it is all over. But maybe it is an unborn lamb in there. She still looked so much bigger than last year. This is why I don't allow the animals to read my blog - it would unsettle them if they new how little I know.

I named the upcoming show at Mary Lou's "Innate Refuge", for that is what my farm is for me. It is where I like being more than any place - which is good, as I rarely venture far. Some would find this stifling, not being able to jump in the car and go away for the weekend. I mean, even with kids you can load them up and take them somewhere - traveling with a couple donkeys, hens, Joe Pye Weed and a blind pug would prove harder. But I think I am better here. I think I am better with animals.

It seems that people feel more comfortable when they can easily 'define' you as a person or artist. Someone told me I do too many things, and it confuses art buyers.
Hmmmmmmm. Is it so confusing when an artist likes to do abstracts one week and chickens and donkeys the next? Neil Young once lashed back at his record company by making a hokey country twang album, because he had presented them an album and they told him it wasn't "Neil Young enough"...hmmmm. Makes one want to go lie under the walnut tree with a donkey. There are many days when I just want to hold my donkey.

Creative happenings

The farm showcases creativity in elegant, simple forms.

The egg. A perfect little package of protein, which also holds the ability to became a real chicken. Who of us can say we can lay some food in a shell, and then make another in 24 hours. I love eggs. It is so satisfying to go out each day and see what the ladies have made for our benefit. Now that they are settled in, they are producing up to 4 per day, which is plenty. I have not determined who is laying what, but some mystery woman is laying almost 1 beautiful,larger brown egg daily. I suspect Zuchi, the frizzle.

Which reminds me, I have named the chickens, twice. I can't seem to quite get the right names yet. Although I have settled on Zuchi [Zuchini] for the Frizzle, Miss Miho [named for a Japanese friend, means beautiful ears of wheat] and Henny [Hens and Chicks] and Jenny [Creeping Jenny]. The rooster is so regal, I just can't get the name right, even though we toyed with Johnny Ringo. Naming everything after plant life has it's challenges.

And every winter the soil cools. In spring, it warms and percolates, and little flowers re-emerge.

The egg and spring flowers - hold onto these visions when you feel life has no meaning. Creation is everywhere, and is always in one form or another.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Shepherdly expectations

The onslaught of lambs is about to begin. I was sure we'd have some births on Sunday night, and even dreamt something about lambs, but all mothers are still in waiting. We spent Sunday outside in the front sheep field, worked on fencing fixes - or should I clarify and say that Martyn redid all of my crooked 'monkey-house' fencing I did a year ago...he even had the nerve to use a string line. The new fence is straight, imagine that.

Rosemary has a lovely goddess belly to me. A field of waddling, goddess bellied sheep - it's heaven. After 2 lambings under my belt, I'm no expert, but I can see the signs - of my sheep anyway. I won't go into details, as it's rather graphic, but novice shepherds may email for the gory details. I'm especially anxious to see what we get from breeding our newer ram, Mr. T. I have been seeing lambies all over the area, and kid goats, calves...it's a wonderful season. Sunday and today the skies cleared, the warm air returned, and you could feel things growing. Smells returned, the frogs were singing.

My day began with seeing Sky in her pasture, staring down Ethel and her two fawns about 20 feet from her. Looking over at the donkey pasture, Pino and Paco, usually up playing tug of war by now, were laying in the sun, dust covered. All the nearby horses that I can see from our property were also laying on the warm earth. It was contagious - after morning chores and work, I took an hour or so to hang out on a warm cement brick with my coffee.

For one whole day, everything was perfectly perfect. No one thing - man made, business related, or financial - could ruin the feeling of this day. I still have it.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Ears and sun for Frankie, pizza for me

It's been raining, continuously,some snow, no sun breaks...dank...Wine weather, as in wine, not whine.

I cheered myself this week by painting animals. Little Frankie [short for Franklinia] deserved a painting, and to cheer us both up I gave her big suns and red toenails. I also gave her back her birth ears [many owners ago, they left her out in the cold and her eartips froze off - they also sawed off her horns, rather than disbudding her properly and humanely][Thank you to our dear goat friend Ruthie for also taking part in this piece vicariously].

Frankie's day is quite simple. Get up, push other goats and rams out of the way so she can be FIRST at the hay bale...Eat, eat, eat, waddle around [she definitely waddles]...and then the best part of her day is spent squeezing under the pasture fence and ending up in the front garden of the 'big house' where she has discovered the muscari and tulips are coming up. Frankie had an eventful time at Sunday's birthday hot dog bash for Martyn - she was chased by one of the 3 year old guests until she decided it was better to hang out with the rams. Things have to be pretty bad before Frankie leaves her favorite area for the ram area. Everyone kept referring to Frankie as "he" and my five year old niece kept announcing to everyone, "Frankie is a girl!!!" [She also refers to the donkeys as 'bunny horses'.]

Frankie is also asked a lot if she is expecting...ah well, when you are 1 foot high and eat all day, one can look quite pregnant at the end of the day....

I am hoping for the warmer weather and sun this weekend. We are on the countdown for lambing. Daisy is about to bust. It's time for CDT shots, my 3rd least favorite thing to do on the farm. I am hoping not to inject myself as much as last year. Meanwhile, there is mud everywhere, including in my hair, and under the pillow. The latter I can't quite explain, but I suspect Big Tony...he has rarely left the fire this week....

In closing, I can only say how excited I am, for it is Friday, and that means it is Apifera Farm Pizza Night - our new tradition of making pizza from scratch, good wine, and the fire...When I was little, I used to get so excited at the end of the school day knowing my mom was making one of my favorite meals - pizza night is like that.