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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Reminders of firsts

Watching Lucia quitely ponder her first snow flakes reminded me to stop and remember the thrill of the first snow. Growing up in Minnesota, we almost always had snowy winters. Winter isn't really winter to me here in Oregon, even though there is a season change. So a breif snow day is magical.

The fact that a liquid up in the sky turns into white flakes - how can one be so jaded not to stop, stand, and admire the snow? It lightens my heart.

I'm glad snow is white. Imagine if it were blue, it would be fabulous, but white goes with everything, and gives everything contrast.

If my posts seem heavy, dulled, it is because I am manically painting the kitchen. We have lived in a torn up kitchen for 3 years, and have finally reached a 'light at the end of the tunnel'. Other jobs were more important when we moved in - the place was a mess, outdated wiring, no furnace, bad fences and more. I feel like this year we turned a corner on the 2 biggest jobs - irrigation and the kitchen. Still so much to do, but an organized kitchen is my yearning, and it's coming to fruition. It's off white beadboard and butter yellow cupboards and plank floor. It screams out for pie baking. Once again, the merits of a handy husband are everywhere. Martyn is doing it all.

And as I paint another cupboard, I prepare mentally for 2008. What will happen this year? What characters will I encounter, or lose? I dream of art directors connecting with my work, illustration jobs, a publisher for Pino, and a new voice for our country. I have so much to paint.

Again - thank you so much to all my readers who write comments, and emails, and cards. I usually don't respond in teh comment section - it takes to long with a land line - but I appreciate your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Peace Please

We awoke to my wish - snow flakes. My other global wish will take much more from many people working together. Meanwhile, the flock is at peace, as are all the animals in the barn. Martyn and I are warm, working inside, the cookies are baking. Pinot Noir tonight, with some of our farm raised lamb meat, sitting in front of the fire with Huck at our feet, Billy on my lap, a blanket, and Martyn in his rocking chair with Big Tony on his lap.

Thank you too to all the cards Pino fans have sent this week - it's heart warming.

I'm full up.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Littles are Happy

The dreary rains have made it necessary to pull out all techniques of fighting the blues...my arsenal includes: lots of fruit, run on the treadmill, keep drawing, donkey-Martyn-pug-Huck-horse hugs and......COOKIES.

I was a self entertaining unit while baking with my new mini donkey cookie cutter from my German artist friend . What better way to give Lucia her first important job on the farm - spreading cheer with cookies. I had way too much fun baking them, but packaging them up with the "Little Lucias" pink label and adorning them in pink cotton rags, well, I was completely happy throughout the whole experience.

The back label points out the farm fresh local butter used, as well as Apifera eggs.
Who knows where the sugar was from - I do buy King Aurthur flour. Testing of cookies was completed by Pino Blangiforti, and Paco Giovannetti gave final approval.

It was almost as much fun sneaking up to my friend's house and tip toeing up to the front porch and hanging the package on the door. A difficult task when the family dog wanted loving, and the barn cat too...

I did have a raw dough hangover for a day. I confess to adoring raw dough. When I was little, my much wiser and very grounded brother would warn me I was going to die someday from raw dough or kissing dogs. So far I'm still here.

More ongoing...

Another installment of the ongoing "He Was" series has been posted on the portfolio site...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Honor the Light

Yesterday was St. Lucia Day, the Festival of Light. I was inspired to do this piece to honor the celebration, after visiting Bibbi Forsman's blog [an incredible ceramic artist!]. . It has been [many] years since I was in Sweden - I'm not even sure Abba was around yet, but her blog reminded me of the charm of her country, as well as all of Scandinavia. I can only imagine the charm of the holidays there, for even in June, Copenhagen and Stockholm felt like a fairyland to me.

Lucia is an ancient mythical figure with an abiding role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters. According to one Swedish website: In the old almanac, Lucia Night was the longest of the year. It was a dangerous night when supernatural beings were abroad and all animals could speak. By morning, the livestock needed extra feed. People, too, needed extra nourishment and were urged to eat seven or nine hearty breakfasts. This kind of feasting presaged the Christmas fast, which began on Lucia Day.

In today's Sweden, people dress in white gowns and wear crowns of light [which used to be candles]. I guess there are many traditional songs honoring Saint Lucia, and the Lucias serve glögg or coffee, along with these little crossed buns. If I've my facts wrong, maybe a Lucia expert can enlighten me, please.

Next year, I hope to remember this tradition, and I'll have a festival with our own Lucia. "Light" is a worthy thing to honor.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ongoing Process

I have begun a new personal series called "Once He". . I began with one original painting, and then created a new painting over top that original, scanned it, and then repainted another piece over that original. In the end, there will be no originals, only scans which I might turn into gicleés and then promote the whole series as an exhibit somewhere down the road, maybe.

The series depicts my personal processing of someone’s life, and death.

A memory or life does not have an ‘original’ to hold in one’s hand, the memory of a life is made from a past series of moments. These pieces also had a moment, a life, and then were painted over to create another. I destroyed one life to get another. The originals were only for me to have. Nobody in the whole world saw the original but me. No one can take that memory of that original from me.

I will post new series pieces as I do them in the "Once He" section of the main art site.

Gifts for Pino from Germany!

What does it mean when the donkey gets more mail than the human? Pino Blangiforti received a holiday gift that filled us up all day with love and joy - and I'm sure it will continue. One of our Pie Ambassadors is Friederike! from Germany, and she sent Pino this wonderful package, full of hand-madeness, as well as a cookie recipe and cookie cutters. And it is his first mail that had to go through customs!

Not just any cookie cutters were in the gift - but a sheep, and a DONKEY! How did she know I was unable to find a donkey cookie cutter? Ah, and it is a nice small cutter, so the baker of these future cookies will only gain, say 10 pounds instead of 20.

The original doll is created by Friederike's! human companion and artist, Sandra Monat , and I've written of her before. This Viking angel will watch over the flock and herd, as well as our whole farm. Visit her site to see her magical creations - a word of warning - unlike my raggedy dolls, this person actually knows how to sew.

Thank you, Blue Sheep, from Pino and me. You made our day and week so much more lovely!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Under deep

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with how deeply intertwined my art is with my sub-conscious. You paint something and it comes true - or I should say, it is already true. My sub conscious just knows things way before my conscious braid does. This spread is from the mock-up of my children’s book about Pino. At one point in our walk home with Lucia, I said, “Look, there’s the valley,” I had my arm around Lucia and braids in my hair. Sometimes the revelations of one's art to the maker are not earth shattering revelations that will change the world. But it reminds me there are many wisdoms within my sub conscious, waiting for me to sit down and recognize them.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

And then there were three

Last Spring, I took care of my nearby farm friend's donkeys while she was away, including a little 2 month old lady named Lucia. She is daughter to Gabriella and Angelo, the same mother and father of our Pino Blangiforti. To be honest, I probably immediately started devising a Lucy Ricardo scheme on how I could sneak her home someday. Well, my friend is reducing her herd [and I will be posting some pictures of the jennies she has for sale later this month], and there was no question, I must have Lucia to finish off my little herd. There was no immediate reason to get a third donkey, but no hard driving reason not to get a third donkey. Like I said, I did my best Lucy Ricardo scheming and pretty much had Martyn on the same page within a day. He's a smart man, he knows how to keep a happy household - let the lady of the house be in charge of livestock and animal purchases and sales.

So today, little Lucia took her first journey outside of her birth farm. My friend and I, accompanied by her ever lovely Fiona the Bull Mastiff, walked the 2.5 miles from her farm to ours. Everything was new to her, the sound of the water in the streams and culverts, cars on the gravel, new sounds everywhere, and smells.

She did so well, and as we neared our farm,, she met Rudy, the gelding that lives across the road from us. Rudy lives alone, is never ridden, and he took such a shine to Lucia. I will have to walk her down there often. She let out a little bray for him!

Up the road we went, and I yelled out to everyone, "I told you I was bringing home something special! Lucia is here". The goats and rams gathered on their hill and watched as we walked up the road. She saw chickens for the first time, and then we let her free with Paco and Pino. Paco did his usual grumpy bossy stuff, but Pino was pretty calm. I'm sure he could smell his mother. I spent the day sitting in one of our grass paddocks with Lucia, and later let the boys in. Lucia is no push over, and after some kicks, things calmed down. I did put her in her own stall tonite, she's too little to be out all nite. She has a special window made for her tiny size so she can reach out to the other donks.

So, please be patient with me and the onslaught of Lucia pictures and art that will most likely come from this purchase. She is very symbolic of many things for me right now, something I will try to put into words later.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

New Pie Ambassador Discovered!

When you get envelopes like this in the mail, your day just gets happier, better than the good it was before you opened the box. Kiran of Portland is now an Official Pie Ambassador, and the art that came with her envelope made me even happier. Her mother kindly wrote a wonderful story about baking their pie, which Pino patiently listened too, as did Paco. [Paco, by the way is grumpy, and is quite content just having pickle duty in summer.] Read more and see Kiran's art over at Donkey Dreams.

Kiran Pronounced New Pie Ambassador!

We have a new pie ambassador, who chose to draw a picture of pie to express her inner most feelings of the subject. I am not one to dissect others art, and always say, if you can put it in words why the need to paint it. I just I was so HAPPY to open the mail box and find this envelope. When I opened it, I felt even happier. As if the drawing were not delight enough, Kiran's mother wrote a long, wonderful story about making a squash pie for our Pino Pie mission. You can read the entire story, - she writes! - but let me highlight what I think is most rewarding to read from her letter:

..."But I knew I needed to make a pie, and it didn’t need to be perfect to make someone happy. After all, as you are teaching us, the beauty of a pie lies in the eyes- and the stomach- of its beholder. Pies are made to be passed on. And so now the difficult question, with whom to share this wonderful new and unusual delight? There are so many deserving, yet only one available (I did make two, but we ate one). But given this success, I doubt this will be my last pie of the season. In fact, this might just be the beginning of a new pie challenge in my life- taking the unconventional, and making it pie. And for that, I have you to thank, dear Pino."

And what's great, the experience of Pino's inspired her to make cupcakes and give them to someone! This is how it works, people! One pie at a time, one donkey at a time, one Kiran at a time.

We thank you, Kiran,and Miss Salmon Poetry Lisa, you will be receiving your official Pino Pie buttons soon.


I was commissioned to do a painting of Neil Young for a person's husband. I put on "Live at a Massey Hall" and jumped on the treadmill at the end of the day. My treadmill looks out of all glass doors, so at night I can see my reflection when I walk on it. The first song came on, and the words grabbed my throat and pushed them into my belly. It was clearly a letter for someone I know, someone far away in body, but who is at the top layer of my heart right now. Someone who is suffering, and I can't get words out of me. I can't. My reflection in the glass showed a woman who is halfway through a life, not a child anymore. Soon, I will be nobody's daughter.

When the dream came
I held my breath
with my eyes closed
I went insane,
Like a smoke ring day
When the wind blows
Now I won't be back
till later on
If I do come back at all
But you know me,
and I miss you now.

In a strange game
I saw myself as you knew me
When the change came,
And you had a
Chance to see through me
Though the other side
is just the same
You can tell
my dream is real
Because I love you,
can you see me now.

Though we rush ahead
to save our time
We are only what we feel
And I love you,
can you feel it now.
© N.Young

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

And the ram got wet

Thank you to everyone who emailed to see how we made it through the wild weather. We fared much better than most, never lost our power and had minor inconvenient damage. My heart goes out to those who had serious flood damage. Some lost everything. Some are not able to business yet. Each hour we had power I just gave a 'thanks' to the upper realms.

The power of water is the message of the week for me - or the power of the elements working together, or against each other. Man makes pithy items like houses, fences, bridges and these are no matches when the elements collide. As much as I love wind, I am terrified every time we have a wind storm. My imagination, which is always in overdrive, imagines all sorts of way I or Martyn can die in the wind - a piece of the 4'x8' metal barn roofing can fly down and slit my throat - people, this happens, who am I to think I am immune.

After the storm settled on Tuesday, the sun came out, it was 60 degrees and just heaven. The sound of the roaring Yamhill River was deafening as were all the small streams on our properties that were now more like rivers. I was going to take a 15 minute gander down the road to spy on damage, when I immediately saw that part of the fence in the goat/ram area was down, pushed over by enormous weight of water. I managed to get there without being electrocuted by the downed wire fence, and immediately felt my boot fill up with cold water.

At the same time, Joe Pye Weed was on to me, and decided to jump in the same area to, well, to basically knock me over. I was greatly amused when the water went up to his mid belly, and he abandoned his farm girl battering idea. I spent the next two hours struggling to get the fence up. But the sound of the water, the smell of spring in December - was nice. Especially mingled with the wet hair of a ram.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Poem for Pino

Pino recieved this wonderful message from a new fan, and he cherishes poetry. I love knowing moms are out there singing little songs and poems to their children. And passing them on to donkeys! Cheers to Rose!


i sing this song to my kids, but i'll put your name where i put theirs:

pino pie
pino pie
if i don't get some
i think i'm going to cry!
take away the green grass
take away the sky
but don't take away
my pino pie.


Wind in the Dolls

They've been talking all week about the big storm coming, and it is now firmly under way. Winds of up to 100 mph are predicted for the coast and our valley winds could make 70 mph. I'm hoping I don't fly away, but if I do I hope I have a donkey or maybe Boone at my side for warmth. I'm keeping my fingers crossed the power and phones stay on. We sat by the fire last night listening to the torrents of rain, dogs and cat warm at our feet. Being inside in a storm, makes one feel graced.

Going out to do barn chores in the wind gusts this morning was special too. There's always sort of this anticipation in a wind storm. I don't take them lightly after making it though a straight line wind storm in Minnesota. Out here, the barn roofs flap and the barn itself makes the most peculiar sounds. The pouring rains pound the tin roofs, animals all inside, soaked, their bodies letting off steam. It feels safe in the barn, especially on a rainy day. I spent time buckling down the hatches, and giving extra hay to everyone. The chickens are miserable and I'm low on feed. I was almost lost in 4 tons of hay bales, as I climbed to the top, about 15 feet up, and put my foot in a crevice. Safely back down on the ground, I slipped in mud but Hazel the barn cat was there to greet me. Even the ewes, always up for stormy weather, have stayed in the barn most of the day.

As I quickly made a new trench in Boone's pasture to help keep as much water away from his dry area as possible, I was struck with the fact that I get to do things almost all day that I got to do as a child. I was making a little river in mud, and creating little channels to alleviate the gutter runoff- it was just like making streams and dams as a child...And I climbed on hay bales - up on top, it felt like a tree house. I came inside and made more raggedy dolls , like this Grandmother Mouse, and the Funny Looking Donkey. Working without a pattern or plan, just free form, just like the messes I made as a young girl.

Here comes another wave of downpours. I can smell soup cooking in the kitchen.