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

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

All images

©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Kindred Donkey Vibes

Two really nice things happened in the last 24 hours. This helped me get over my angst over a particular major shipping company trashing a major canvas going to my August 3rd show, and put some yang in my yin, or yin to the yang.

One was, while sitting on the porch last nite recounting the day's toils, a car drove up and out popped the very first donkey mother of little Pino Blangiforti - and she was not empty handed. She had a freshly baked pie in her hands to give us, with locally grown cherries...and...the..pie...was..still...warm.

Then, a fellow artist graciously is honoring Pino's Pies by donating all money she might earn from sales of these beautiful photograph/prints she did. Amy Evans has a bit of a donkey hankering herself- I know that hankering, look what happened to me when I had mine after meeting Donkey Dan - So visit the Donkey Dream blog to see where you can buy them and to read more.

Pie, kindness, sunny day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pino's Pie Crust for Any Skill Level

Now, I sense that some people are a bit intimidated to make a pie crust from scratch. It is not hard, and even though I have been baking since I was a little girl, I am a messy baker -and sort of 'casual'. I was going to copy word for word the pie recipe directions from Joy of Cooking,but am going to do it very simply here. True gourmet bakers might cringe at some of my directions - but the point of Pino's Pies is to have fun, enjoy baking experience, and share it with another. The woman at the elder care facility will remember your time to visit her, not if the crust was flaky or not.

Pino's Favorite Pie Crust for Any Skill Level
adapted by me who got it from my mother who got it from Joy of Cooking
2.5 cups of flour [we like King Arthur's - Pino likes the name "King"]
2 sticks of butter COLD [very important][1 cup]
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tespoon sugar
8 T + chilled water

1] I use the Kitchen Aid, but within reason. Put in 1/2 of the flour with all the butter, mix until just crumbled. Add remaining flour, do a quick mix, you still want to see butter chuncks!
2] Add in water a bit at a time, maybe in 3 parts, mixing each time -you don't need to turn the mixer on and mix it for a long time, just until the bread begins forming ball dough then stop.
3] Chill one hour minimum. You can freeze the ball at this time too, or, fridge for 5 days. I usually use mine within 2 days or so if they are in fridge.Let sit out for about 30 minutes before rolling.
4] Flour your rolling surface, flour your rolling pin, and take the ball of dough, put it on surface, and pat it down a bit. If you can keep patting it with one hand, then use your other to form a circle, so the shape stays like a circle. Then roll it out., about 1/4 " thick. I scoop it up with a spatula, and quickly lift it into the pie dish [which you buttered]. Pat it in, trim edges with a knife, and then I scallop it. Just play with your edges, it's all dough!
5] You can make a lattice with remaining pie scraps, and I love to make messy lattice work..So much fun...
6] BUT don't forget to save some of the dough bits to make PIE CRUST COOKIES sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Pino's favorite.

Monday, July 23, 2007

For Chickens Only

Since it appears from my perspective that the entire world is on holiday,
I have enrolled in the Apifera Farm Summer Camp for Chickens.

Today we are learning important chicken behavior such as proper perching,
wing flapping without leaving the ground, running quickly so you can hide and
look like just another dandelion, and perhaps most important, digging holes to sit in
while lifting your bottom up so it looks like you have on big puffy underpants.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Blackberry is gone

The last three days of rain - unusual for our parts - bring me relief from the heat, and a sense of home. For I grew up in the Midwest where summer was sprinkled with rain showers and storms. Who as a child hasn't reveled in running to the protection of a tin roofed shed, then busied themselves with play under the sound of the plunks on the tin. As an adult, perhaps this is why rain on our many tin roofs, including our front porch, bring a sense of home.

For the last three days and nights, Blackberry has been missing. I must now accept he is not coming back. Born in the final little of Mama Kitty before we were finally able to trap and spay her, he was brother to Little Orange and Pumpkin Head. His two other litter mates were given to a nearby farm at birth. This final litter was born in a brush pile of blackberries, hence his name, but soon after Mama Kitty carried them under our front porch, far from the safety of her barns. I considered it an act of trust, that after two years, she finally calmed enough to rear the litter so near our daily boundaries. To this day, we can not touch Mama, but she does sit nearby on the deck with her final kittens, and still reveres Big Tony.

When he did not show for dinner three days ago, I knew it meant trouble somewhere. For he never went searching far for anything. He and Little Orange were compadrés, staying close to the house, and are somewhat little Poindexters. If anything, they would go back to the blackberry area where they were born, to escape heat, and catch some mice. I can only surmise he was over inquisitive with a raccoon or possom. The difficult thing of being human is we seem to need to constantly categorize and compartmentalize, and nature does not allow either to happen. We've gone to the trouble of naming seasons, yet every year we are all so shocked when we get winter weather in spring or a hot day in November. So when an animal one has cared for for 2 years goes off, and does not return, my human brain has no tidy way to categorize it. It's so clear he's gone, yet there are so many things that could have happened to him that one fails to find a neat compartment in one's heart to shove the feelings into.

This morning when I picked up my emails, I was saddened to receive a note that a fellow painter, Ann Broadaway , had died. She had written to me admiring my work, and we briefly chatted. Her abstracts resonate with me, and our mututal attraction to each other's work is understandable. In her bio, she writes that our childhood homes allow us to develop into our true selves, and if we are lucky, it is within a place that fosters a sense of safety and 'home'. She writes: "However, as adults that home no longer exists and we must look for and create another home for the present moment. The places we live in and create are reflections of our process of becoming wholly ourselves. As a child I conceived and implemented homes in corners of the wrap-around porch of our house, perched above the ground in trees, curled under the arch of the firebushes in the yard, and with my stomach flat against the ground, even under plants where bugs lived. "

So, a small black cat wanders off and doesn't return. A talented, breathing, painter dies. Both breezed through my life, but I felt the breeze. And like Anne, I am still trying to create 'home' in my painting, in my interconnections with people and my animals, in my daily chores on the farm.

To honor Anne, please spend time visiting her website . And to honor Blackberry, I have added two originals in the Donkey Dream section, with all sales going to the cat fund .

Monday, July 16, 2007

Remedy for the blues

To cheer myself up from my over- heated- blue- mid -summer -funk, I am working on some new pattern and floral work, intended for the gift/surface market. I love these new organic compositions, created from cuttings of my abstract work and layers of background patterns. I've added a section on the main art site specifically for the license market . It also includes my first spreads for my Donkey Book I am writing and illustrating.

And I am going to be starting new paintings next week for my solo September 13 artist reception with Zeek Gallery. I want to explore animal/people portraits, a change from the large abstracts.

I also want to thank so many people all over the world for their emails and comments about Pino's Pies! It is heartwarming to have people writing with ways they want to help, or just want to participate as pie bakers in their areas.I'll be sharing some of these soon, and I will be getting some recipes over at the Donkey Dream blog this week.

Someone asked me about our little Paco Giovannetti, Pino's donkey compadré and why he isn't delivering pies. Little Paco came to us after Pino, and he has settled in very well but had some insecurity issues, and is learning many things - like how to walk calmly with a pie, definitely an acquired donkey skill. So until he learns this, I have him helping in other ways - like checking on blackberry growth.

Relief from a cat

It has been hot.

I do not function well in anything over 85, so life has been heavy and brown. While summer is the time of harvest and flowers and tomatoes and corn, it is also the time of year my body and head lose interest in many things. My creativity is sucked up by the harvest, and wrangling the young rams to put them in the various makeshift pastures. The latter must change, and next year the special 'chosen one" field will be complete with water, living quarters and grass pasture. At this time of year, my optimism - usually abundant- wanes, and I seem to lose my ability to go through a whole day without musing things like, "I'll just tell Martyn we must sell the farm and move to 5 acres". Then I sleep, and waking up to see a cloudy sky, I once again start all over.

I found Big Tony hidden in the 12' high fennel forest. He spends much of the hot days there, hidden from sun and other cats. He is King of his own forest. I took time to sit with him a few minutes, and life didn't seem quite as brown and heavy.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Dreams Coming True, and Some Pie

If you read this blog on any regular basis, you will know I am inspired greatly by all my animals, perhaps none more than the little donkey named Pino Blangiforti.

So, it is with great pleasure I announce [braying in background]....Donkey Dreams.
Donkey Dreams will involve both artist led workshops, but also the outreach program of "Pino's Pies". It is a part of Apifera Farm that will combine my love of animals and my visions as artist and dreamer...and pie maker. Please visit the brand new separate Donkey Dreams blog and bookmark it, and encourage others to visit there to.

"Pino's Pies" will encourage people of all ages and backgrounds around the world to bake a home made pie and give it to a chosen recipient - all to demonstrate the simple joy of giving of oneself, reaching out, and making another person happy in a simple way. Pino's Pies when I baked a pie and hand delivered it to a nearby neighbor with my little donkey at my side, and it brought such a heartwarming reaction for all that it has been in my mind ever since how to expand on the idea. So, call me nuts, but Pino and I are expanding. I want Pino's Pies to reach more people by investing in a trailer to take Pino and our pies even farther, to nursing homes and other people who might feel cheer from a little donkey and a little pie, free of charge. This will take time, to save money for the trailer and get the right permissions from the right people. But I have set up a separate blog called "Donkey Dreams", that will devote itself to our new venture. It will include ways you can become a pino Pie ambassadorand spread love through one simple pie delivery.

The Donkey Dreams art workshops will involve drawing animals, teaching respect for animals and promoting the healing effects of animals all the while making art of some medium - including writing and poetry. Workshops will be led by me, and/or visiting artists, and will be held on the farm or sometimes nearby venues.

Again, the Donkey Dream blog will focus on developments.

My hope is that not only will the workshops be fun and teach, they will help me and Pino carry on as pie ambassadors.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Now I lay me down to nap

As we toil in the lavender field - and temps reaching 90's now - you can browse and shop on the online stores. I have a new section of select originals on sale and some other lavender items on sale over at Etsy.

And stay tuned - for the announcement Pino and I have as soon as we can agree on the proper wording...hopefully next week.

Thank you to everyone who writes nice comments on this blog - and emails me how my writing soothes them in a hectic world, reminds them of simpler times on their family farms, gives them inspirations, or just makes them happy. Even though I rarely post my own reply comments on this blog, I do appreciate all my readers.

I'm going to take a nap now - under the Doug Fir where the Western Tanangers have nested. Huck has shade there, the branches blow and I can see the horse field and hear a sheep every now and then.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Beginning of a Dream

For a year now I have had this dream, this little Donkey Dream, to combine my skills as an artist, with my love for animals into...something.

While Donkey Dreams is inspired by Pino Blangiforti the little donkey, it was initially sparked years ago when I began taking my little pug on weekly visits to an elderly woman in a care facility. She had had a pug in her young married days - and that was why she had taken such a shine to us. Her room looked out at the top of a tree, but nothing else. She would hold that pug in her lap on our visits, and she would tell me stories of her little farm she lived on, her three children, her husband who long ago died. We talked about her garden, and her animals. Her family was small and scattered across the country. All three of us got a lot out of those meetings - old woman of 95, woman of 45, and a little pug of 8. On our last visit with her, there was just a quiet sense in that room, not sad, just a knowing sense - and I'm telling you, that little pug felt it. Usually a bit squirmy and wiggly, he sat so still that day, while she held his paw. The next week, as we entered her room, we found an empty bed. She had died the nite before, pictures on her bedstand of her holding my pug.

Twenty minutes to get there, 40 or so minutes to chat, twenty minutes to get home. That was how much time it took to make an impact on her life, as well as my own.

So, years later, I move to a farm. Suddenly, I not only have a pug with therapy skills, I am surrounded by healing beings in the form of horse, goats, sheep, lambs, dogs, cats, birds and...donkeys.

And I am an artist. Litebulb moment.

Pie Love: Heart in a crust

"To make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe." Carl Sagan

Why is it so special to make a pie for someone? Why is it different than bringing flowers, or sending a letter, or giving some art, or a nice piece of jewelry - all of which are wonderful. After all, a gift from the heart, spontaneous or long thought out, is a gift that touches and lasts for the recipient.

I think making a pie is a lot like making art. The process itself is unknown to the recipient, but the energy and experience of the maker is embedded in the final product. Fingers touch the dough and mold it, apples are cut by hand, care is taken to mix and match spices like paints. One does not go online to make a pie, one does not rush a pie, the pie is it's own entity. It starts as a bunch of ingedrients all from live beings, and ends up in one final shape. The dirt rooted the trees that grew the apples and wheat and the bees pollinated them and cows kindly made butter. Oh, let's not forget our chicken ladies, brilliantly making eggs. Spices, a tish of salt, squeeze of a lemon - all act together for the final act.

Making a pie is not drudgery. If it is, I believe one might be wise to rest a while, until they can fully enjoy the process. Otherwise, the first taste might be off putting for the recipient.

How many of us, when baking, are brought back to a similar time in the kitchen with our own mothers - I suppose this would be categorized under the buzz word of nostalgia - but I know that in any pie I make, there is a little bit of my own mother in it, whose hands taught me to roll my first dough, whose recipe cards I still have in her own hand writing. This should not be a sad memory for anyone, it is part of the eternal heart wisdom we all possess. Clearly, I have found, pies are love.