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

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. #EIN# 82-2236486

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©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hand Made Treasures

We received hand made cards from all the Brownies who came to visit last week. A basket of home made breads and the cards complete with drawings by the girls - it brought me to tears! It was so special seeing their art - I would prefer to post each and every piece, but time and space prevent that - each card showed something different - the horse, sheep, lambs, etc. Some of the cards had little windows that opened up to show animals inside the barn - I will cherish these. We will display them somehow, as our first official art/animal encounter here on the farm. If any of the girls are reading, please knw each card is special to me, each one is unique. Recieving art from children is a precious gift - thank you.

And this is a good segway to remind all of you to enter the raffles! I've extended it one week since my schedule is so hectic next week - so get to the raffle pages which are listed in the sidebar.

It's Friday, that means it's pizza nite. It's 70 degrees. I painted well all week. So it time to work a little this weekend with Sky, work in the garden and just enjoy the first days of warmth.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Gifts in Themselves

Tonight, sun setting, I came upon the neighbor farmer's Percherons, who like to come to the fence line to flirt with Sky. Sweaty fur caked in dirt they had just rolled in, they are magnificant creatures.

"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and err greatly. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complicated than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth."

--- Henry Beston, 1928 (The Outermost House)

Breathing is a verb

Life is stuff I do right before I pick up a paint brush, or the thoughts that turn into words between me and friends, that often transpire into actions or new ideas. It's a verb. Love is a verb. Art is a verb. I don't have much interest in pontificating 'what art is'. I read very few blogs anymore. It starts to sound sort of like that Charlie Brown movie, where the adults are always in the background saying 'Wah wah wah'. I once had a fellow artist say she wished I'd complain more on my blog, that my days sound so 'peaceful'. I have many unpeaceful moments, I just don't share them in my blog.

The internet is a connector, and allows me to be make a living in the country on a farm - but it has no breath. I am so lucky I can just step outside and feel and hear breath all around me. I carried a cat around on my shoulder today while I carried hay to the sheep, all the while hearing his purring.

It's always something, isn't it, that keeps us all running around doing, going. The car dies, you run around buying a new one, you get a gallery show and you run around framing things, your teeth hurt so you run around to get extra work done quickly so you can take time out of your schedule to go the dentist. It's easy to get caught up in the wave. But the farm's greatest gift for me is the tug of it all day, it's breath, reminding me to come out, live in it, not for it, but in it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Guests of Flight

In the last few days, I have been drawn to the birds, especially in my art. How can one not respond to a bird, for it's messages and meanings to humans are so varied. A vision of freedom, a being that appears to be able to...just fly away.

A little bird

Perches on a branch.
A beautiful, golden-feathered
Little bird.

Her eyelids
Are closed in sleep.
She may have beautiful dreams,

How wonderful to be
A little bird,
To wake up
And fly away.

by Magdalena Klein

So I am going to paint more birds, and trees this week. It seems to be what I need to paint.

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn. Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Little Ladies

The Brownies descended on our farm on Saturday, politely, complete with very clean rubber boots, carrots and fig newtons.

I officially have categorized it a 'success'. I am not sure who had a better time, Sky or Pino. While little girls ogled over Sky with carrots and corn, another gaggle of girls doted on Pino - while he had a girl on each side brushing him, others gathered dandelions for his halter, and he was stuffed with carrots and fig newtonsI think he had post-Brownie let down the next day. He greeted me at the morning feeding as if to say, 'But, where are all those little girls?"

We started the 2 hour gathering with the ever anticipated 'lamb holding session". I had separated out my two head ewes, always calm Rosemary and Daisy. Their lambs are also very calm, including little Lambie Sarah Pie who is the one lamb I have been holding a lot. Even Rosie's little ram lamb sat patiently from girl to girl. We talked about sheep teeth, sheep hair, sheep feet, and more. All were well behaved, thanks to thorough parent supervision and pre-gathering instructions by the leader and myself.I was also thrilled to be on the receiving end of left over carrots and girl scout cookies. We'll take it anyway we can get it here.

The day gave me new inspirations for my 501C dreams [don't forget to check out the raffle] done with other age - combining such a session, but then having the girls draw their favorite animals. This could be groups and seniors too. I really like the Brownie age group - they actually still have independent minds but still think we old farts are sort of cool and look up to us. While they may swoon over the Shanjayas of the world, they haven't completely lost their sense of self or esteem once thrown into the abyss of romantic notions, clothes, competition, and...dare I say...boys.

So, all of us at the farm want to say, "Thank you, Brownies - you reminded us of the joy of being 10, the joy of eating cookies surrounded by donkeys, sheep and one grateful horse."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Art Helps

To regular readers, it is clear I also have a love of animals, and have tried to find creative ways to support them. The outpourings of support from people, many strangers to me, is always heartwarming. But rather than just asking people to donate money if they are able, I realize that I have an asset I can give back - art. I feel good that I have donated my originals and usage rights to many animal related causes over the years - most dealing with animals, but also Planned Parenthood and environmental issues. Those are my big three. I get many requests, but I focus on those three, and will continue to.

So I am trying something new - art raffles. Many people would love to own an original, but they are expensive. Most everyone can afford the $10 minimum entry with the possibility of winning an original piece of art, assuming they want and like that piece of art. The money collected will be used for various causes, spelled out on the store buy page. It will always focus on animals, or nature, but mainly animals. This month, I am having two raffles - one to FINALLY begin the legal process of becoming a 501C for my animal work. Originally I was focusing on the ferels, but I want to include animals in general. I want my 501C to educate and teach respect for animals and to share the joy and compassion animals bring to us. Watching a child pet a horse or donkey for the first time - it starts a process for that child about interacting with animals on a respectful level. I also want to work with elderly people and bring my donkey to them, or have outings here. Ever since working with Rose, a 95 year old woman who lived in a home, I have learned the great gifts of this exchange. I would take my pug there weekly - she had a pug in her earlier life- and she got so much out of it. But so did I. One day, we arrived for our visit, and she had died the night before. I was happy for her - she had wanted to die, but said for me and Billy. We have many elderly people visit our open farm days, and they often get emotional seeing the animals, as the animals make them so happy - many of them lived on farms or had animals but now are home bound and can't have pets let alone a horse or equine. When I am old, I hope I die on the land, but if I can't, I ask my guides to please bring me a donkey to touch, or a cat to sit with me, or drive me somewhere so I can once again smell a horse.

My 501C will take effort to set it up - the paper work alone can take months. It will require legal advice, accountants and time. So this initial raffle will help me with that. I have been told to estimate $400-$2000 for set-up costs, hopefully on the lower end. A 501 C will allow donations to be tax deductible, help me with legal issues, and help me get grants someday. I just know Pino Blangiforti and I can make this work, and help others - animals and people. I think I need 3 officers in the organization chart - even the IRS doesn't spell out "And it can't be a donkey".

I am not getting rich on donations, by the way- which awkwardly seems to be an impression of some - perhaps because we live on a 'farm', perhaps because I am an artist..."She MUST have a trust fund to do that"...The money I collected over the past couple years for cat donations was spent 100% on cats. I have never profited financially from any of it. But I want to take my efforts a bit higher and make it a bit more professional, and a 501 C will say that.

So, to help raise funds to start the 501C process [I tentatively call it Donkey Dreams], go to to this raffle page for directions - April 30th is the deadline.

The Buttercup the Cow painting is being raffled
to help support the fight against sub-developments in zoned farmland. Many of you know we and our neighbor farms are fighting just such a case. We've all donated, in time and money, but if you want to help in the fight, especially if you are an Oregonian, please do so. The money will be sent to the the attorney who is representing the neighborhood and the Friends of Yamhill who have coordinated the appeals on this case.
Deadline is April 30th.

"I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear...And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen." T.T. Williams

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

One Less Tooth and Donkeys Teach

Because of so many who participated in the Big Tony Tooth Raffle, Big Tony is now comfortable and eating well and free of possible infection for his bad tooth. The winner is glowing and I wish we could have sent a print to everyone, but that would defeat the purpose of the raffle. Big Tony is busy as we speak sending thank you notes - it could take some time, he is prone to naps.

Because of the many raffle participants, I found this site and person who is helping animals also - only they are equines. You can read about her efforts here, and possibly even support one of the horses in need. Her site also reminded me that one of my goals is to do more of the pet therapy I started in Minneapolis with my dogs - only now I want to share my donkeys with people. Whisper Ranch is also doing this, and finding her site through the raffle was a little poke of a finger for me - don't forget, you want to do this...

If a child who has never touched a horse or donkey comes to our farm, he leaves with that new experience. Young children learn that being gentle with an animal brings rewards to both. The first time feeling of feeding a horse and feeling his whiskers brings some trepidation but then joy, and accomplishment to a child. Touch is a powerful healer. When one is sad, or lonely, petting an animal and standing quietly brings thoughts of comfort. Energy moves, and the comfort brought about from animals is carried away by the child into a home that might not have comfort for him. If an unfocused child learns to walk a donkey and sees how a gentle nudge can move a 200# animal without a fight, perhaps that example is a tiny step in his or her development.

On Saturday, Pino and I will host a troop of Brownies who will learn about the lambs, and bring carrots for the donkeys. In this small way, I can do my pet therapy. But Pino's heart is so full, and since he will live to be possibly 30 or more, we have some time to get our show on the road. Still, life is short. Pie season is upon us. Just yesterday Pino was eyeing the fruit trees, watching for blooms that will bring berries for his pies.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Thou shall not steal...well...

I know one is not supposed to covet thy neighbor's wife or husband, but what about donkeys? Is stealing a baby donkey, say, for one or two days simply to hold it and squeeze it so bad? I would leave a note, I only live a mile away, and I have her brother Pino, bred from the same mother and father donkey. Surely he should meet his little sister and have some relationship with her...

I stole some gum once when I was age five. Actually, I did not steal it - I thought it was free, as I told my mother that it was just right out there on the counter top when my Dad was checking out at our family hardware store. On the same outing, I also took a red dog collar rimmed with fake diamonds which was hanging in a cardboard display at the checkout. My intentions were to give it to our family poodle, so I was perplexed when I was admonished for taking free things and wanting to share with those I loved. My parents sat me down and explained what I did was wrong, and this was a store we went into almost every weekend and we had a relationship with these people. I was very upset, as the red collar suited my poodle so much - red was her color. So they trotted me back there, and my father explained to the owner. It was family run, and the older mother of the clan, grandmotherly, squeezed my cheeks and said 'Oh that's all right honey, take them home with you.' Not exactly what my parents had intended to reinforce the lesson...

So, that memory popped into my head as I had to leave the baby donkey - perhaps if I took her home, and Martyn would say, "Katherine, did they give you the baby donkey?"..."No"...."Did you buy the baby donkey?"..."No"...."You can't take the baby donkey, it is not yours, you must return her."....And then I would return the baby donkey and her human Mom would squeeze my cheeks and say, "It's alright, honey, you take her home with you."

It's comforting knowing she is a mile away. I will someday soon walk Pino Blangiforti up to meet her, and he can visit with his mother Gabriella and father Angelo - who can bray with a whole carrot in his mouth like a cigar. And of course, we will take a home made pie.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Souls with wings

"For scents that herald spring time, For lilac-haunted nooks. For Violet's purple fragrance, And merry, trickling brooks - For little things that give souls wings - I thank thee..." M.Miller].

In the hustle of getting ready for the show, and lambing, I realized today the fruit tree up the road I always love to see come into bloom each spring has already begun to fade. I spent time this morning visiting with the muscari, for they last such a short time. Everyone's shedding, and to see what forms and bodies are underneath is yet another right of spring. Spring is change. The more we resist change, the more chaos we bring into our lives.

Two little birds came yesterday and sat on a table near the studio. They pecked at a young tree still holding on to some old autumn leaves. I guess the leaves aren't quite ready to let go. As the birds left, one tried to sit on the tiny leaf branch, and it fell to the ground. The worms will eat it now.