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.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pleasant arrangements...and can we say "triplets"?

Some things arranged casually just seem so pleasing. The baking area of the renovated kitchen makes me happy each time I work at it. Four years the basement has held some simple but cherished items - like that apron hook, a gift from a woman friend in my old homeland. I miss her, but it reminds me of her.

Much has been happening. In one word...TRIPLETS!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, just the other day, my mother asked if we'd had triplets, "No, and I hope we don't have any." This set my universe guides into a meeting no doubt - "She's at it again, thinking she has a say in natural occurrences, let us teach her gently, with triplets, but all will survive and appear healthy." Our wonderful head ewe, Rosemary lambed yesterday, on Martyn's birthday. She pawed at the ground at noon, I put her in her stall, she lambed one female 30 minutes later; I went and did errands, and 45 minutes later she had had all three beauties. All appear ok, although one female is quite small, and last nite I was worried about her, she seemed less active. But Rosie hadn't rejected her, and she was drinking. Today all three appear pretty good - the boy is awesome. He might have to be sold for breeding.

One more ewe to go, Lilly, who I was sure was going last nite [ok, the universe thing again]. Lewisia Pinkie lambed unexpectedly on Saturday in the field, and brought her lamb in - a real beauty of a white girl,good size. I'm relieved she singled, she's a bit of a scattered mom.

As for the illness that has kept me under a rock, covered in blankets, kleenex and occasional pug or Labradors...14 days...no fever, still coughing. But so much better.
Like someone else said, you start to feel like a broken record. So unless I drop over, I shall not write about my illness again. However I do so appreciate the kind wishes from all of you!!!!

Stay tuned for triplet pictures! Hail to Rosemary!

New work for LA Times

I was so excited to get my first project with the LA Times through my reps. And the subject matter could not have been more up my current alley - home health care for our elderly. The article, for the Health section, talks about the trend and desire to keep our elderly in their own homes as they age. Finding community networks that reach out for these in home elders to help with simple every day tasks, like opening up the caps on prescriptions, or just providing a 'check in and hello" over tea. We really wanted to emphasize the helping hands of the community, and I was please with the way that worked. Intertwined, the help of others is like a healthy vine, it keeps intertwining, and reconnecting. I think it's always a challenge to do an elderly face and allow it to be pretty, without it looking to young - or adding too many 'old' lines and losing the beauty of an old face. Old people are so beautiful. I think I showed her dignity.
Anyway, I'm grateful for a great job and hope for more.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

First Sun

I took advantage of the sun and warm air to let the four new lambs out in their first sun. Vitamin D works wonders, for all of us. It's an ordeal getting them to the orchard, but the ewes do well to get some sun too. The lambies pretty much stumble around, sleep, get up, quick nip from the mom bottle, stumble, sleep...then do it all over again. Their little ears are still wacky at this stage. I'm hoping I can find a home for this white boy, he's got knees on him that says he's going to be a big guy.

Thanks to all for the get well wishes. I'm better, but not 100%. I did break the fever though, and that alone makes me feel like a million clams. Yesterday I napped, watched a french film, and napped. Tortured myself by watching the Oprah show which was so stupid, I turned it off and napped again.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blurry eyed fever sighting

Last nite I was so pleased when my fever subsided, and by bedtime I was sure this morning I'd be tip top. I awoke feeling lousy again, and my fever was back to 101+. I slept in some, and made it out to do barn feedings. I casually fed cats, horse, donks, goats, and then went to open the ewe stall. "Oh...my.....goodness." I said . There was Daisy, afterbirth still coming out, and what I thought was one lamb. But wait, there's two, and...wait...Coral Bell has two.

I was so caught off guard. End of next week was due day, and there weren't any real heavy signs of lambing yesterday. I think it's so nice they had them early this morning in the stall, or I would have had a real time if they had gone down in the field. I'm greatful none of the other ewes trampled any babies.

Daisy had a beautiful brown girl, and brown boy. Both have her signature white cap on their head. And Coral had a strapping big white boy, and a gorgeous black girl.

Life goes on, fever or not. It certainly took some worry out of at least 2 lambings. This flu has taken my life away for 5 days and I'm more than ready to be back to normal. But having the lambs reminded me certain things just have to be played out by nature. You don't get to set the rules.

New Work

I had a rgood time last week working on this piece for a University of Minnesota publication, illustrating the short fiction winner, "Kalispel".
A rather dowdy gentleman is traveling from NYC to the West, falls ill in a small town of Kalispel, and takes up residence at the local hotel to recover. He becomes enamored with a local woman, who is also being swooned by a WWII pilot [the story is set in the '20's]. The pilot goes out everyday and skywrites messages to the woman, but she carries on with the NYC man. He convinces her to return to NYC with him, but the woman knows she will leave him and go back to the skywriter. He never really had her, and the small town and the skywriter were no match for him.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Get a fever, chase a goat, rest with equines

I'm always so shocked when I get sick. I don't get sick that much, so on Friday when I suddenly felt ill, I ignored it. By the time I went to the barn to do nightly feedings, my entire body was shaking, and my teeth were chattering. The animals were not sure what to make of my groans, but I made it through chores so I could land on the couch. By Sunday, I was pretty sick, and had a 101+ fever.

And why is it, when you get a fever, that is the day the goats get out of the new fence you spent hours and money to put up just last week? And of course they took the rams with them. So with your fever, and a broken rake, you 'encourage' the rams to go up the road. It all works out, but with a fever, even a 10 minute goat round-up can kill a person.

I tried to help Martyn with the new fence, but after 10 minutes, admitted defeat. I was useless, and didn't feel right at all. Back in the house my fever was over 101, so I slept. Later in the day, uncomfortable in bed, I carried a blanket out to a bench in the orchard, with the donkeys grazing around me. I have rarely had a day since moving to the farm where I just rested.

As the sun went down, I retreated in, feeling slightly better, and had a cup of tea in the studio, communing with the horse outside the door. Earlier this week, Martyn added an extension off Boone's pasture, so he can walk right up to one of my studio doors. He knickers outside the window sometimes, knowing I'm there, hoping for apples.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More mail for Pino

It's always so heartwarming to get these little surprises in the post! Last weekend, as Martyn and I sat down by the fire for our evening glass of wine, I asked if there had been any mail. "None for us, but Pino got a package." Such it is when one lives with Pino Blangiforti.

Sugar cubes and the most adorable, tiny, hand made felted pie! I was so charmed anyone would do this. And everyone knows how I love felt and have wanted to do some of my own felt dolls - someday. I'm thrilled this artist lives in Oregon and plans to come to Pino Pie Day, in fact she might be making some more felt animal creations which I will sell on Pino Pie Day. Stay posted - but for now you can visit a sampling at her new Etsy store.

Thank you Deborah! Pino is even sweeter now with his sugar cubes.

Where did that rooster go?

Rooster seeks love, no qualifications needed

Ward Schumacher the rooster, not to be confused with Ward Schumacher the artist, is busy looking for valentines. The Spring like air in the past two days has sent him calling on a variety of the barn yard ladies. I admire Ward, he is not afraid to be spurned by any of them. For any of us who have suffered through past Valentine Day rejections, this is inspiring. And anyone who dares to win the heart of Franklinia, aka Frankie, really has hutzpah.

The first legend of Valentine's Day, and perhaps the best known, began in Rome, when Emperor Claudius II was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns. “Claudius the Cruel” as he was called, was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military due to the belief that Roman men did not want to leave their loved ones. So he cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. The good Saint Valentine, a priest in Rome at the time, defied Claudius and continued to perform secret marriages for young lovers. When Valentine's actions were discovered, he was sentenced to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. But while in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl said to be his jailer's daughter, who visited him during his confinement. Before his death on February 14, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed, " From your Valentine". In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honor St. Valentine.

Monday, February 11, 2008

That motherly glance

With two weeks until due day, the ewes tolerate my 'udder checks', but this morning Coral Bell looked at me as if to say, "You just checked my udder yesterday."

The weather is drying out, and warming to 50's this week. I'm hoping for 2 weeks of dry sun and I have all lambing stalls ready. The grassy orchard area is all lamb proof for the new arrivals. Ah, spring. Newness. Starting over with deeper roots.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Proper proposals

Donkeys are very loving. I have seen Pino Blangiforti quietly swoon little Lucia, but she is much to young for dating. And, well, they are related, I'll have to give her the talk soon. Paco Giovanetti is a much bolder amoureuse, a bit pushy, but some gals like that type.

I did this piece in honor of the upcoming love holiday. I imagined what Pino's father, Angelo, must have done to persuade Gabriella to breed with him. Gabriella is polite and I imagined she required some kind of proposal. Angelo is quite the lady's man, I can attest to this.I'm sure he put out all the stops.

Or perhaps I was trying to recreate my own fantasy proposal. Six years ago or so, my dearest was sitting in the kitchen, in torn jeans, eating cheese - we had just returned from grocery shopping. I remember being very grumpy that night. I'm not sure what he witnessed or experienced at the grocery store to inspire him, but he sat in that kitchen, eating cheese, and quietly, but firmly, said, "I'm going to marry you." It was one of those proposals where the recipient has to stop and say, "Are you proposing?". Martyn has his own very unique, subtle, romantic way, much like Pino Blangiforti. It's charming.

Anyway, so many people have asked me if there are originals or prints of recent donkey art, that I finally did test prints of some choice pieces, and have added some to the store. These are archival inks printed on 13x19" fine art archival paper. The colors are stunning.

Monday, February 04, 2008

In me

"Imagination is my best friend, gotta' watch out for the greedy hand", so wrote Neil. The greedy hand can come in many forms - from the outside world of bosses, big brother, clients, family, pollsters...Or it can come from within - pushing ourselves too far, questioning ourselves, trying to get into the jeans you wore in 1999. So when I feel these greedy hands, I have a variety of ways to conquer them. Call them life skills, that I'm finely tuning.

One way is to create my own special band, perhaps with BW on drums. Kissing birds would arrive and further entertain me. There are many horrible things that us in life, some horrific, some passing nuisances. Some can't be wiped out with one little excursion into the imagination. But, it helps level the playing field. I'm very graced to have figured that out years ago. It's so important to recognize the one thing one has in life that can't be taken away - even if I were blinded, crushed by hospital bills, left in the woods. I'd still have my own unique imagination.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Motherly signs

The anticipation of lambing season hit me this morning, perhaps because the weather has lifted some and it smelled a bit like spring today. Or perhaps because Rosemary's belly has expanded to motherly size, and her udder has developed. Even her teats are huge. Yes, we pay close attention to teats around this time of year. With our fourth lambing upon us, I don't get quite as panicked over lambing time, but I never let my guard down either. I usually pull out my sheep books, and read all the bad things that can happen. Last year I even bought a scalpel, what I was going to do with it, I'm not sure, but it seemed like a good tool to have around. {We found it indispensable when we had to butcher the roosters however.}

I am a bit concerned that Rosie is going to lamb much earlier than her 150 day term, which is 4 weeks off. Usually her 'bag' hasn't developed to this extant, and her hips are sunken too, another sign lambing can be near. But when I saw those teats this morning, all big and shiny, I just had to ask her, "Do you know something I don't know?" Rosie is our head ewe, I depend on her to lead the others when they become rattled. She is an excellent mother. If Rosie could talk, and she told me, "Ba ra ram, we must move to higher ground, now. " I would immediately get the gang going.

Pre-lambing time also means a bit of extra caring for the mothers to be. Like a bit of special mother food [we feed only pasture, and winter hay, but for 4 weeks prior to lambing, and 4 weeks after, we give them a helping hand with supplemental feed]. I have taken to spending more time in the morning with the ewes, rubbing the mothers-to-be- between their front legs which they swoon over. It also allows me to touch and work with the younger ewes which helps immensely in calming the flock when you need to handle them. Keeping the flock under 20 really allows this interaction, and it definitely makes lambing more enjoyable, and makes shots and medical attention much better for all.

I asked Rosie for girls, but, this is not up to us. She will provide us with what we need to survive here. We have not bought any meat since harvest time. We eat vegetarian about 50% of the time, and it is very important to us that we can live like this. It is hard for some people to understand how I can eat lambs, especially since I am an animal lover. I didn't get here overnight, but I have thought about this for many years, and I'm at peace with it. Anyone who raise livestock will tell you, the boys come out cute, but very quickly, the testosterone kicks in, and the farm can fall into chaos quickly. The boys must go. But we thank them for what they give us, and how they sustain us, so we can sustain the farm.