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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I didn't steal him...yet

One of the good things about our farm is that it is 2 miles down the road from another farm where many lovely donkeys live. One of the BAD things about our farm is that it is 2 miles down the road from another farm where many lovely donkeys live.

This young fellow was born to Gabriella and Angelo, parents to my beloved Pino Blangifroti and Lucia. He is as charming as any small ass can be. And at this tender age [4 days] his hair is as soft as a bunny. And he leaps, and jumps, like a bunny. Which makes the entire package very sweet, like a ...bunny.

If you've been visiting here awhile, you might remember my moral crisis when I first met a then baby Lucia. Since that writing, I of course put stealing Lucia aside, and bought her. It was the best thing I ever did with my money, besides bringing the first two donkeys home [even grumpy Paco adds a certain twist to the barnyard that I cherish]. I don't know where this whole donkey life is headed, but I'm holding on and enjoying the ride.

The weather is warming. My focus is scattered, like the seeds I haven't planted yet.
I think the death of a parent takes a lot of creative energy away - or perhaps it's that the death of a parent allows the artist to rest that creative energy for outward purposes, and use the energy to plant new seeds internally in the worn heart. From that will come a summer harvest. I am not a faucet. Nor is it my purpose to create and create only for external showcases.

I will go to the barn now and see if the new beautiful silver tomcat is back - a definite dumped pet, a real beauty, who cried all morning in the woods, and then suddenly rushed to me and let me hold him and carry him back to the barn. He was very hungry. He told me of his journey - it was shocking, he said, to have been left at the road. He didn't understand it.

Yin Yang

"....God is in the roses, and the thorns..."


Monday, April 28, 2008

More wind visits

I just finished this piece "Spring Winds" and am wanting to just sit 'within' the painting. But then again, I already live within this painting. How graced I am for that - even on the rougher days of life. When rough days have so much good, I can't complain.

Available now at the store site.

If look closely, you will see donkey ears. But of course.

The thread of order

One moves to the farm for the first time and makes many mistakes - especially animal lovers like me who have waited years, decades, to get that first farm and fill it up with animals. It is easy to have things grow into complete chaos - even when the new farmers are well intentioned and compassionate people. I've seen it happen, and I've certainly made many errors in judgement, but fortuantely, as I continued to learn, and watch others and learn from their successes and failures, I've managed to maintain a peaceful barnyard, and a healthy one [knock on wood].

I learned the first year that those cute little ram lambs grow into large testicled beings with one job - to breed. If they aren't breeding, it is not wise to have them. We also quickly learned the value of cross-fencing. I think cross pastures have kept our animals healthy and have given me more options on a daily basis for animal management. We are slowly increasing our fenced pastures. It is expensive, and if I had money, I'd do it all at once. But we chip away at it - just this weekend we added another 1/2 acre to the existing area where we put our meat lambs when they've reached that 'I can jump on you missy and make a baby' stage. I know I live on a farm because the one thing I notice most when I drive anywhere out here is...fencing. Good fencing makes me drool with envy. Bad fencing makes me feel like running up to the farm's front door, and say, 'It's ok, I know you're doing your best...want to come over and have some pie?"

I sometimes feel like I am doing everything 'not as good as I should be', - or maybe another way to say it is, I sometimes feel like, "Phew, I did everything well enough today so that no one died, including me." It's a constant learning curve, and a constant shuffling of creatures to keep a nice balance. We had thought about growing our flock up to 50, we have the land, but after getting some lambing seasons under my belt, I feel like the number we have is a good balance for now. And we can't afford the cross fencing right now.The main flock of 10 grows up to 20 with lambing, and then I whittle it down to 10 or so again by fall through sheep sales and butcher dates. Any more sheep and I think I would be doing everyone a disservice - me, my art, the sheep, my husband, and all the other animals I love to spend time with. I know that my mistakes can adversely affect these creatures. Perhaps there is a special place in the after world for farmers to go and meet up with the creatures they have mistakenly damaged, just to apologize again. For when a farmer hurts an animal without intending too, a little needle becomes wedged in his heart - it doesn't feel good.

When I'm in the barnyard, I can breathe in and relax that in that very moment there is a thread of order keeping it from chaos. I've learned many things - like the language of many animals. This picture is a visual representation of how Paco says, "Excuse me, please, could you stop what you are doing immediately and rub that one spot on my rear end that feels so good? I'd really appreciate it."

Friday, April 25, 2008

When roosters come to mind

I sat down to paint. 50% of the time, I don't know what I'll paint. Then as I start, something inside squeaks, urges, cajoles - and out comes...a rooster. A very dignified rooster. With deep meaning of course.

It made me want to paint all the animals in this folk style. Paint, sell it, say good-bye. Paint more, sell it, say good-bye. This piece has asked me if it may stay for awhile, in this home, where it was created. It seems to want to be with me.

I will hang it in the butter yellow kitchen.

Special Visitor from Afar!

We were so thrilled to have an Official Pie Ambassador come meet us - all the way from Mississippi [Pino likes this state because it has a lot of s's and p's]...I confess, she really came to meet Pino, but I wowed her with some of my apple pie. I must say, the crust was especially delicious, mainly because I put in less water and it was like eating butter...I was thrilled when our honorary pie ambassador had a second piece - I feel I can say this, as she often writes about her pie addictions, and well, what's wrong with 2 pieces of pie? Nothin', I say! Life is short, eat pie.

The weather was miserable [and I must say, this picture does not to either of us justice, we are so much prettier in life, right Amy? Right Lucia?].My tea and pie party with Pino had to become an indoor party for our guests. If Martyn hadn't been home, I would have brought Pino in, but, well, I didn't. Our pie guests took a real shining to Lucia, which happens to everyone that meets her. Paco was well behaved, and just a tad grumpy, but he kept an eye on all to make sure no one stole Lucia. He worries about this. In fact, Paco worries about everything, the poor little fellow. We love him so for his worries.

So thank you Amy and Amy's Mom [who came from Texas] for taking time out of your trip to visit us. And they brought us gifts! We love surprises.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

For Pino please

Call for Aprons!

I want to hang a bevy of aprons on a clothesline for my June 28th Pino Pie event.

I am asking people to donate an apron for the event. All money from sales goes into Pino's secret bucket for his donkey therapy goals. Special Pino thankyou's will be sent to all who donate.

Do you love to shop/antique?
If you find an apron and would like to donate it, please do. I will acknowledge your donation with a surprise from Pino. Don't break your piggy bank, just buy and donate an apron you find charming - we especially love vintage finds, but let your eyes and heart do the choosing. All are appreciated. Make sure to include a mailing address, and email address when you mail me the apron.

Are you a sewer, of ANY level?
Then we'd be honored to have you donate an apron for our cause. You might want to tell me the suggested retail - and again, you will receive a special thank you from Pino.

Make sure you sew a label of some kind in your apron. We know it takes time and energy to create things, and we will appreciate any efforts, no matter how humble [remember, I sew 'messes'...Include your name, address, email. NOTE: Include a business card or your promo card so I can include it on the "Apron Resource" board that I will have by the apron clothesline.

Aprons due by: June 20th
Mail to: Pino Balngiforti c/o Katherine Dunn, 14710 NW Tupper RD, Yamhill, OR 97148
Questions: email me >

Include in mailing: your address, email. Label your apron if you sew it yourself.

Equine perspective

Somedays you just need to stick a dandelion behind your ear and enjoy the upward view. I'd like to thank my horse for reminding me of this.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Kids, don't try this at home

I've told her a million times, "Frankie, eat the weeds on the inside of the fence..." But nobody around here ever listens to me, except maybe Huck, or Pino. I guess Rosemary the head ewe does.

Anyway, it was one of those days last week when you wonder what's going to happen next. I went out in the early morning to find the front door window on the hen house smashed, with Vivienne outside, happily seeking worms and such. No one was hurt, and I can't really figure out what happened. I think someone got antsy, since the the old fart farmer girl [that would be me] slept in - heaven forbid. Within an hour or so, after I was contently working in the studio, I notice everyone hovering in one spot in the vegetable bed area. Hmmmm, this doesn't feel right. I suspect the masses are up to no good. Out I go only to find Miss Franklinia, aka Frankie, stuck in the pasture fence.

Many owners ago, Frankie's horns were cut off, terrible as it is. They should have been removed properly, but it is too late now. She can do magical things with those cut off horns - she uses them like cherry pickers, swiftly opening any gate that is not tethered properly. Fortunately Frankie is a homebody, and knows the best way to conserve calories is to lay in the sun as much as possible, and then make one mad dash to the hay bales when I open the gates in the morning.

So I arrived to rescue the little queen, and heavens, she was really stuck. "You got in here, we have to be able to get you out...". She patiently waited for my commands, "Frankie, pull..." but she did not budge free. After about 15 minutes, Martyn happened out to the goat-in-a-fence mishap. He pushed from the front, I pulled from the tail...no go. There was no other way, it was time for the wire cutters. Free at last, that little goat ran straight back to the barn, full speed, it was so funny.

Later that day, I returned to do night feedings. But Frankie had a head start on me. Someone with the initials M.D. forgot to secure the hay area. Ah well, have you ever seen a pygmy in action...here's your chance.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Art makers for life - rejoice!

Dear art makers for life,

I was moved to write this letter to honor all of you who create forever, and don't stop. I was inspired to do this while going through my father's belongings after his death last month. I came upon many photographs, as he was an avid picture taker.
This photo of me made me smile, and it made me see that I am really that same person - I have changed little as far as my essence goes. I can tell exactly what I am thinking and feeling. I know the field I'm standing in, and I know the dog at my feet. The untidy under shirt and baggy pants - not too unlike the outfit you'll find me in now some 50 years later. I hate to admit it, but that little roll in my middle at age 3 that disappeared in my younger beauty days, well, it's back now. So, I am just like her.

I scribbled on paper back then, and painted things. I still do. I haven't given up. I am not a 'dabbler'. It's my biggest asset to myself - "I will always draw or paint something." Like the knowledge one owns the house and has a small nest egg in the bank, I have this thing I do and it brings me...stability. While the financial ups and downs are constant, the art making itself is like an electric cord from the grounded earth to my hands, and the art is like the music that goes back out to the wind. Without the art, I don't think I'd stay tethered too long to any one spot on the ground. I would be alone without it. Completely alone.

My father was an artist. He painted and drew. He was an architect of great success and designed many of the buildings at Mayo Clinic and Notre Dame. He travelled extensively in Europe for his job with 3M and he always had sketches and things around. Our art was very different, he understood perspectives and could draw a room to scale in seconds. I never had a real interest in perspective, but admired his abilities. When I went to help clean out his belongings, my mother casually showed me a small drawing he had done just two days before his death. He was unable to speak much then, and hospice had brought in a hospital bed for him. My mother, who had lived with this person for 53 years and knew him well, gave him a pad of paper to show her how they should situate the hospital bed in the living room. When I saw the little drawing, my heart smashed in pieces, but more out of pride and love, not sadness. It looks like that of the child's hand, abstract. I felt like I had stumbled on a Picasso, and quietly asked if I could have it.

While the drawing was just a sweet story for my mother to tell me, to me it was the culmination of a life. For even in his final days, as he struggled to sketch where his death bed should be placed, drawing was his means to communicate.
I think it is his most humble creation, but his most beautiful.

Like the drawings I was doing at the age the picture was taken here, it is very raw, and it made sense to the maker.

One moment

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I just finished this painting yesterday and am pleased with it. The wind has been so visual and all encompassing in these spring months.On a windy day in early spring, I often have memories of being a young girl, and taking cover in the sumac groves in our back yard. It felt so safe in there, hearing the wind, but being under the leaves. To this day, certain spring smells remind me of those days, and I can vividly remember the jacket I always wore. I remember I loved to put on that spring pullover after a long Minnesota winter.

Now, as an mid life adult, the wind is full of even more intrigue for me. It carries much more meaning, and has so many messages entwined in it's motion. It's been comforting to have lately, it carries love to me from all over. It spreads seeds in the garden that sprout surprises. What are they? I forget, but they grow a little each day.

I'm taking some time today to be outside with Boone. We'll go for a short ride. His mane has such a grand time in the wind. And the tips of my braids will too.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Woman, not chicken

Vivienne's new children's book is out - no, not Vivienne my chicken, Vivienne Flesher the artist and Vivienne the chicken's name sake. Vivienne's newly released book, "Alfred's Nose" has a charming new website. Appropriate because, well, Alfred was charming. I was honored to meet Alfred years ago. He charmed me in many ways - his snorts, grunts, wigglies - but when he put that bat costume on, well, I was really in love. Be sure to roll over the icons for charming Alfred like sounds- why is a fart sound still so darn funny? I love this artist and I hope her book soars.


Post script...My other good art compadré, Jenny Kostecki Shaw, just did a post on her NEW children's book . It's a wonderful, true story of Jenny's own travelling eye. These tow artists have encouraged me in my own efforts to get an editor to publish my book. I appreciate them both and admire them to for their published accomplishments. Someday!

The goodness of trees

I'm sure you can't tell from this picture, but Martyn just got done planting 400 trees on our small 1.3 acre parcel of river front.We learned about the CREPS program from farm friends , and signed up last year. Visit this link to see if you have a similar program in your area. There are also other programs you might qualify for.

Planting native trees on the river front will not only help establish the original native habitat, it will improve the long term health of the Yamhill river by providing shade and help erosion on the bank. The river's inhabitants as well as nesting birds will benefit. And we as land locked livers will see the trees and grow and benefit from their beauty.How can you go wrong by planting trees, and getting 75% back in materials and labor from the government. They even give us a small yearly rent for the next 15 years of the contract. It's exciting, and feels nice. I hope to add some birdhouses next year [they also help pay for those].

Trees have always been such important creatures in my daily life. As a loner by nature, I often prefer the company of a tree to that of a person. I need a lot of space to listen to all the things going on in my head, and though I enjoy and appreciate people in my life, trees are such good, impartial listeners, without agendas or baggage. The leaves they drop are not litter, but rather food for worms and dirt. I've never met a tree I didn't like.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

More online store news

I've made additions and changes to store print section. I've added some new larger archival prints , incorporating hand written words into the pieces, like these. I've always loved the little girl dreaming of her farm...perhaps you know someone dreaming of a farm that would love this print.I'm a perfect example of dreams coming true, even though it took 4+ decades. I wouldn't have been ready before that, the universe wisely knew. I had other things to experience and do that made me what I am now.

I took off the popular small animal prints that were printed as high end art cards. They were very labor intensive.
I have replaced them with archival 5x7" prints on 8.5 x 11" archival fine art paper.
They can be easily matted and framed.

Make sure you check the nursery section too. I added some popular prints there. I also take requests to print an archival from images you see on my main portfolio site. Most can be made into prints, some can't, so just ask. I do charge additional for the service.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Spring for you

I have added this piece to the store site for sale, along with it's companion piece "Summer". I did these way back when I started out, and had them in my kitchen all these years [in three different houses]. I had so many people over the years want to buy them, but for whatever reasons, wanted to have them for awhile. Funny how that is. I think it's now time for them to move on and add shine to another kitchen. Visit the store site to purchase.

More sun bathers

Sun bather