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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Do you know this girl ?

I do...

I'm Just a Wild and Crazy Guy

Ah, the sights and sounds of fall...pretty, crunchy leaves, pumpkins glowing, crisp air to breathe, and the chortling tones of a 300# ram chasing the ewes in the front pasture...

Last night I separated out the 5 yearling ewes who would get to sit out of this year's breeding. "There's plenty of time to get pregnant, enjoy your unencumbered youth and good figures," I told them as I put them in the stall next to their own mothers. I hate the separation stage. This year it went remarkably well. Of the five young ewes, I have twin daughters of Coral Bell, Blue and Honey, who show great promise of being calm leaders of their mini flock. Any shepherd will tell you, a group of youngsters without the head ewe can act downright...well, stupid. But this group tendered up well, and Blue has the calmness of her mother and grandmother Rosie.

As the newly separated ewes ate their dinners, I went to stage two - separating My. T out from his flock of rams. I decided to only breed Mr. T, and then next year both T. and Joe Pye will be bred. I haven't told Joe Pye he's not on this year's schedule, but I suppose he's figured it out by now. He runs in the same pasture with Stella and Iris the goats, and as horrible as some of my tender readers might think, I know he's getting some action of his own. But don't fret, Stella and Iris hold their own, and even flirt with him when in season.

So I put Mr. T in the secure stall next to his ladies in waiting last nite, not wanting to throw him in all at once for what would be a party something like the playboy mansion before even herpes became an epidemic. Mr. T decided that the 6 foot high window was not that far off the ground, and if it got him to his ladies a little faster, well, it was worth trying to jump for it. I hammered up some temporary boards to keep the fellow a bachelor one more night.

Mr. T, like most rams, lives for two things. Food and procreating. That is his purpose and he does it very well. When I let him out this morning for his first day of party down time, he wasn't sure what he should do first - eat breakfast or get right to business. He decided to multi task. Why postpone a good time when you can do it while stuffing yourself at the same time? He spent much of the first 20 minutes or so chortling [ a definite turn on] and walking quickly from ewe to ewe with his head in a slightly lowered position [as in photo], lips curled up and quivering. I won't get any more graphic, but let's just say he got his mojo working.

Each time I looked out today at the front pasture, I saw T chasing after one or another ewe, a quick mount, and then right back to eating. Two or three bites, then rush off to another encounter. As Steve Martin's character would say, "I'm just a wild and crazy guy."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

German Pie Ambassador in Love with Pino

Pino has a very new and dear friend, in Germany, making pies and spreading love to young children. Friederike! and Pino have been exchanging love and letters, and their love of pie. Pino was so enamored by the lovely blue lass that he had me make a small replica of himself, complete with apron, filled with lavender so he'd smell a bit less donkey like for his new sweetheart. You can see how thrilled and happy Friederike! is on her blog entry today ...This is a good way to encourage every one to take an hour and bake a pie, and deliver it to an elderly friend or someone in a nursing home. Pie is love, Pino says, and I have found him to be right. And it's apple season! You can visit your local farms and buy apples, or visit this wonderful resource to find a local farm near you.

Now, we have declared it Friederike! day on the farm. We are saying everything with an ! after it, and giving thanks to our new friends from afar!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Flute on the prairie

The winds have been here, and the ride yesterday was so nice. I am trying to squeeze in as many rides as possible in the next two months before the rains come. Boone's mane blowing, the sound of his feet on the hard dirt road, flocks of quail fleeing from the bush. But the most unexpected memory of this ride was the sound of a flute coming from the property we always ride by, where a young father played for his little girl as they sat outside together, a llama in the background.

I struggled with new phone line issues all week, and the always challenging conquest of working through the automated tech support at the phone company. I worked on an illustration today about this endeavor for my portfolio , but I just kept coming up with thick dark lines and messes. At least I got my venting out on paper. I gave up for the time being, and painted this, available on the store site.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Greet your doorman

When I lived in NYC way before ipods and terrorist threat levels, I lived on the Upper West Side for a couple years and each morning I would walk to my office building on 57th St., winding through the Park and down Fifth Avenue. It took about 45 minutes and was a wonderful morning routine, topped off with a cheese danish at the corner deli...ah the glories of youth, eating cheese danish and never gaining weight. The same elderly door man in the same red top coat greeted me every morning with "Good morning, dear, you look good today, " said in a warmly optimistic way that made me feel good.

Twenty some years later, I put on my office attire of rubber boots and fingerless gloves, greet the sunflowers followed by whatever cats are in my path. I am now the consistently present doorman for the chickens, giving them a routine that is important to all beings. Opening up the back door of the chicken coop, I greet them every day with, "Morning troops!", as they pile out in orderly fashion, usually in a tidy row. They have much to do, and get right to business. No dawdling at the water cooler.

On a sunny autumn day like today, the compost pile full of squash is emitting heat in fogged breath, and I'm aware of the gentle shadows that follow me...donkeys lurking. If you sit still, they always come over. I continue my doorman duties and greet the ewes, letting them out for their daily work, followed by greeting and feeding all cats...and of course, Mr. Boone stands behind his own Mr. Ed like door, nickering lowly. Together, we are sort of co-doormen for each other. I tell him it's a good day, and his muzzle against my chin responds, 'Yes, always can be..."

That doorman in NYC, I suppose he has passed on...I forget his name, but I remember when I walked in the building, I felt welcomed, and it was a crucial part of my morning routine. He served many people this way. No job is too little. Even when you're greeting hurried office workers, or chickens and sheep.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Aprons, again...

And you thought maybe I might have calmed down a bit about apron wearing...I made some apron clad rag dolls, stuffed with Apifera's lavender bud. I sold them all,alas, before putting them online - so made another, shown here. This little farm cat wears a lovely pink and white striped half apron...Her raggedy blue tail is like that of many of our once ferels, caught in too many fences. She's looking for a good home, and can be found at the Etsy shop .

And don't forget about the current September art raffle , speaking of raggedy cats...

Yesterday I was able to take a long ride with Boone. We walked in a recently cut hay field of a nearby farmer who has 300 acres and graciously lets me ride there, enabling me to stay off the busy roads as much as possible. It is flat land, with the coastal range in the distance, but the openness reminded me of riding in North Dakota. And the fall weather made me melancholy. I felt old and young all mashed together. Life and good health are precious. I have so much to create. But the ride helped stop my head for while. Boone's large feet made the dried leaves crunch and the sound was comforting. I remembered other walks and rides, and short journies as a child, kicking leaves as I walked home, knowing there was a homemade snack for me and my dog to play with.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"Animals," they say

I've added a new section to the store site where I will put original animal portraits , such as this new piece "Old Cat Waiting for the Pumpkins to Turn".

I hope to be prolific, but be patient. I only have two hands, and until I learn to paint with my feet, or mouth, I will do my best. It seems I am just not painting fast enough for the animal lovers out there. I am glad so many people are moved by these - the love I have for the subjects seems to be transferred to the viewers, even online, so that is rewarding.

The elusive BW

The yin yang of nature and the universe has once again proven itself. After losing Blackberry to an unknown demise about a month ago, another has taken his place...sort of...or is trying. The elusive "BW" [Black White] has been roaming the farm for a couple weeks, in tact with devises that can make kittens in multiple doses. I will need to trap and neuter him, which will prove difficult, as putting out a trap will more than likely catch a variety of critters - Mlle. Le Pew perhaps, or a hungry and naive Little Orange. But it needs to be done.

The poor fellow appears to have been dumped. On the first sighting, his coat was shiny and clean, he was fatter. He now is thinner, has a gaping hairless patch on his jaw, a fight I'm sure, and his coat is duller. I think I can tame him up over time. But first he must be neutered. I hate trapping, it's traumatic for everyone, including me, but in the long run, it might save his life, as he won't stray as much.

So, I am having a raffle to raise funds to raise funds for the eventual neutering, along with possible med needs. Last month's Last Chance sale was very successful - over 60 pieces were sold out of 100+ pieces, so it really helped clean out the file drawers - or in my case, boxes on the floor. So now, you can enter the raffle for as little as $30 and win over 30 old illustration pieces of days gone by. It's a win-win situation, you help me help an animal, and in so doing you have a good chance of bringing home some little art pieces for yourself or, dare I say, holiday gifts. Visit this link for details and to enter, as well as see the images of all the art you can win . Pass the word around too. And thank you.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Stories in my head

I want to tell stories. Every night I wake around 3 am, the pretty - much - precise - hour that Big Tony announces in body language that he is ready to go out to begin his day. One who lives with cats know they do keep different hours than we humans. I have taken to using the hour or so it takes to fall back to sleep to let a free fall of ideas come, go, come back, fester...It appears that one of my many muses from afar is poking me for stories. And since I basically live within a storybook of my own [don't we all?] I feel propelled to create and write more.

So that is what I'm doing, and I am having so much fun. I feel a huge hand moving me a long since about mid August. Many exciting things happened this week, and next week I should be able to share some.

And now, it is a beautiful day, and to quote from a book I am reading [which deserves it's own post later], "Life is right in any case. Whatever comes, my heart is as open as the sky. "

Friday, September 07, 2007

Me and Mr. Boone

As promised, I wore my apron riding today. I got this one from a vintage seller online from Wisconsin . It lacks a pocket, which would be helpful when gathering apples from the trees along our ride. I'd also like to point out that I do have a shirt on under my apron.

We had a wonderful ride, the weather is perfect, warm, breezy, no bugs. I named him Boone because he is so sound and sturdy that I see him as my guide taking me all over. If I were stuck in the woods, I'd want someone like Daniel Boone around, so I have the horse version. I have not written about him because I wasn't quite ready to talk about letting Sky Flower go. That decision took awhile, it was a process. Sky is now living on the farm of my farrier, an experienced trail rider and mule skinner, and he is perfect for her. She lives with 9 other horses, and goes all over the place with him and his family riding on camping trips. I am so happy for her - I just couldn't take her to the next level, as our two personalities, coupled with my intermediate training skills, didn't mesh completely for me to make her a safe trail horse. I tried two and a half years, and I made the decision my safety had to come first, and hers. I know she is happy, and safe. And I guess she has a pet cow now...can't compete with that.

Boone and I have been out on the trail alone, and I feel safe, confidant and so relaxed on him. He is chestnut, the color horse I've always loved most. He is a gelding, i.e. - he is a BOY, and I love that. He loves food, he loves food, he loves food. And he loves baths and having his stomach rubbed. It takes a while to get to know a horse, but I like him. My goal was always to have one horse I'd have forever. I think I finally have that now. He's only 9, and I expect many rides together, many years together. I think of Sky a lot, she was such a beautiful mover, graceful...Boone is more like a big bear. I haven't taken down her name plate yet, I don't think I will. You know, when someone's gone, and you just can't cross their name out of the address book.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

On the wave

It is the first of September. It is the beginning of the eruption for me.
An eruption of growth and art, so begins my prolific time. Life is very much a wave from the ocean,highs, lows, constant, a shore, a horizon to view and guide you, but always energy churning, sometimes on the surface, sometimes underneath. I love this time of year. While the pumpkins turn orange, and the harvest is in, I have so many ideas and visions. I feel great doors opening...but I really can't tell you what they are, because I just don't know what they are yet. But I am being led to focus intently on art, and I will go there now.

I'm also feeling like I'm being pulled back to illustration, but this time around I want to fit in better. I'm going to explore and paint and draw and focus. I will see, we will see. I feel I have value in the market, but where? Ask and an answer will come. My little book about Pino is percolating out there...and now I have other ideas I want to put on paper and do more books and manuscripts. So I am going to play with those. I'll write what I know. It dawned on me that my whole life I have a been a little entity into myself, always being told very wise things like, "Don't paint your clothes", and I always questioned these tidbits. I dreamed of things and had ideas as a little girl that I knew were not the norm of my little friends or family, yet all these things have manifested into a good life, my life. I took solace in my grove of woods, and did things only the woods and I knew, and we all felt just fine together. I have an idea there for a children's story...I'll percolate. There are many stories here on the farm, many characters. I want the world to know the characters, I think they will feel better after these stories. I think maybe that is my place right now. That's the part of the wave I'm on.