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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Beach talk

In which the artist takes a day at the beach, and talks to an elder earth creature...

While we all have different spiritual and religious beliefs, the ocean can not be visited without regaining a new perspective on one's tiny little life.
Walking on the sand, looking out at the endless horizon line of sea, I feel a conversation taking place. One might refer to the 'sound of the waves" but as I walked I realized the ocean is really one long 'crash' or vibration of a living entity. I really believe we are all from the same primordial birth waters, but I think some of us are more sensitive to the chord that still exists from our core to that core of the giant water creature. Hence the term, "drawn to the ocean."

I had not taken a beach day for many months, since... last fall? I can't remember. And I needed to have a conversation with it. I felt some things were a bit unbalanced in me. I needed perspective, from an elder earth dweller like the ocean. I took one book with me, "Wind in the Willows" from my brother's childhood library, complete with his 8 year old handwriting in it. I had never read it, and was drawn to it for some reason. In it, the rat who adores his river home, and has no reason or desire to live anywhere else, speaks of the river as a living being. I read for hours, all with the one long sound of the ocean drumming around me, never ending. Imagine, the sound of the ocean never ends. While some of you sit in offices, or in cabs or subways, the ocean is still shouting.

I walked, and walked. I saw the footprints of a dog, in a running pattern. Close to those prints, a young child's bare foot prints. But no adult prints followed.

In the 60ish, drizzly, and very windy weather, this former prairie Minnesotan, thrived. I wore sweaters and a coat and a handmade scarf from a friend- the latter was blue, deep blue. I grabbed the scarf as I went out the door, not planned, but I think now it was not a random decision. Surely the deep blue color was already the ocean conversing, 'I know you're coming." I picked only 5 special things off the beach. They will go to some land-locked friends that need the ocean hum too. I have quit carrying too much off the shore, as it seems it should stay there. It must be such a shock to live in the ocean, and then end up on the shore after such a long, hard journey. Why uproot it more by carrying it off to a shelf. But these items hold medicines for those that will receive them.

I tried to scientifically ponder sand. How deep it is. Where does it start and end. But I ended up just seeing the sand as skin, sloughed off by the ocean as unnecessary weight, and given to us as a gift. Sand, giant rocks the ocean broke into bits, over and over, and tossed back to land for a better use. While our skin holds our heart and vital organs inside, keeping our veins and bones protected from the elements, the ocean boldly says, "I don't need skin, here, take it, walk on it." Put your ear to someone's chest and you hear a beating heart. Stand by the ocean, and you hear your own heart, and your mother's, and father's and everyone, and every living creature, once here or now dust.

A walk on the beach makes me feel very small which is balancing for the ego, but it also makes me feel very important, very individual, like a grain of sand. The ocean isn't going to do you any favors, but it's always there for perspective.

Groom the one you love

For those without an equine, one might wonder what Paco is doing to little Lucia. Don't fear, this is donkey grooming at it's best.

Equines neck like this, and though to the beholder it can look like rough play, it isn't. When I groom Boone, he will nuzzle me, and of course one must set their own boundaries as to how far they let the horse 'groom' their owner. Teeth are not allowed!

Lucia especially loves to stand facing me and neck with me. But they all like to neck.

Even Frankie will get in on the necking - she stands under Pino's neck and tilts her head. This means, "Nibble my back please, I can't reach yours."

Are you in there?

I draped large white fabrics above my outer studio to help keep the summer heat out of my large 80" windows. Until we get the new metal barn roofing up this works quite well.

This morning I found Pino peaking through, wondering where I was. Or perhaps wondering what I was hiding. He proceeded to stand there draped in white, like a donkey nun, waiting for me to patiently take his picture.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


When we first moved to the farm, we knew there were a number of cat spies that would stealth around at night, seeking warmth and food at the inn. One was the calico that later we named Mama Kitty, who I was unable to trap for two years, so great was her survival mechanism. Within those two years she had three litters, one of which totally disappeared. But the first litter consisted of Sweet Pea, Hazel, Mr. Plum and Mr. Quince, and Angustifolia aka 'Gus'.

My introduction to Gus was charming. I was in the sheep barn and out of nowhere, a tiny orange fuzzball popped out of the hay bales. He looked like something out of a cartoon, and was no more than a week or two old I assumed. Gus was always the chunky one, very brave, very independent, but always willing to be around. He has since grown into a civil little mouser, eating the entire body, which is helpful to the barn master.

Gus is not the cuddly type, but he does allow me to pet him. He has the kind of cheeks you want to squeeze and say things only humans conjure up, "Smooshy wooo-wooo moopsey". Gus prefers polite, but to the point and move on conversations, such as "Mornin', Gus." What else needs to be said?

Note to readers

If you read my blog through a subscription or a feed, you might not be noticing the side bar items on the blog. I list animal ppdates, news, events, raffles and special sale items on my side bars, so check in from time to time if you care about those things.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Chicken Poet

Inspired by Cowboy Dan, the painter attempts to write a poem about Ward the rooster...have you ever tried to take a 'self portrait with chicken' while holding a chicken? I have my own unique way of rhyming in chicken. I will not quit my painting job.

Sitting with my chicken
on any given day,
might appear to be a boring act
if you took our expressions as fact.

For when I sit with Ward
my rooster with wounded leg,
I stroke his flat ears and neck
examining feathers of grey fleck.

This causes my mouth to relax
and my eyes to cloud with calm
and makes my bold rooster close both eyes
just like a creature as he dies.

So if you came upon me and my chicken
as we sat in silent repose,
you might just shake your head and say
'What a most terrible waste of the day.'

And though Ward and I would differ
with such an unqualified remark
I'd remain calmly sitting
and prepare these words so fitting,

"Shhhhh", I would whisper to you,
"My Ward is within a dream"
And disgusted you would walk away
Leaving me and my chicken with a perfect day.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Illustrative encounters

I've been busy creating new illustration work. I love doing fictional stories and operas and plays. I really would love to do some projects with publishers for book covers, or for theater. I did a series quite a few years ago for Center Stage in Baltimore and loved doing it. But I feel like my style has matured and evolved and I would even love to recreate those. It's fun and challenging to try to create something on a single page that captures an essence of a whole book or play, or even a news article or report.. It also challenges me to read things I might not have without the assignment.

I really like illustration. it is such a different mind set than sitting down and just creating a painting at one's inner whim. There are elements of creating 'what you feel' that come through in any illustration job, but the task at hand has boundaries, but boundaries that must be pushed by the illustrator to create their best work. So, open call to art directors: Bring me a play! Bring me a novel! A short story! I will give you my best thought and inner process I'm capable of.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More from the french fairy

In which the older artist sends a message to the young artist in France...

I received some wonderful pictures of Mlle. Thelma, my french chartreuse. Read about my introduction to Thelma here, but for those of you who follow my world, you know and love Thelma already. Mais oui!

What I love about these pictures is they show the rapture and intensity of the child, and I identify with this - not only because I was a child, but because I carry that intensity with me to this day. The expression on Thelma's face could just as well be mine at age 50. The inner being is there before birth and after we die. Hang on to it while you walk the earth. Or while you stumble the earth.

When I was about 9 years old, I got it into my head that I was much too mature to have my 'young' art around and told my mother I wanted to rid the house of it. She resisted, and walked off thinking she had made her point. Being the stubbornly in dependant imp I was, I snuck up to the third floor attic where I knew my 'portfolio' of kindergarten drawings were. I ripped them all to shreds. I do not remember anything traumatic happening before that day that might have caused this, and I remember feeling no remorse over the private attic shredding extravaganza. My mother was crushed.

It was not until years later I regretted it. I can only say it was an honest action. But I wish now I had them. I vividly remember painting a piece in kindergarten. I had painted a thick 3" or so black stripe on the left margin of the paper. The teacher asked me what it was, and I told her "it was night time coming".

So, this is an open plea to my Thelma: "Ma petite fille, s'il vous plait, do not shred thy art. And if you have a moment of wanting to purge, you can send it to me for safe keeping, until you have walked the earth for awhile. Once your feet have some miles on them, you will welcome having them back in your possession, like old friends."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lessons in the field

In which a deer reminds the human that "ill thoughts die and good are born, out in the fields with God..." E.B.Browning

During harvest, one gets wrapped up in it, completely. One has to. But, one is also in charge of their own madness. Yesterday the weather was perfect for my fair skin and slight tinge of weariness from too much wine the night before. During the harvest, we indulge in whatever we need to to sooth our limbs. For example, I had baked an apple pie and took it out of the oven about 5 pm. Instead of waiting for post dinner pie, I thought, heck, I worked my butt off and I shall eat a warm piece of pie before I return to the barn to stand on a ladder to hang bundles for the next 2 hours.

So when I entered the field in the morning, having left Martyn to hang bundles in the barn, I was calculating the harvested amount of lavender in my head. But there in front of me, within 4 feet of the car, stood a yearling. She didn't move and I greeted her out my window. I slowly passed her to my working spot in the field. Being close to any wild animal is an honor, and I took it as a cue to sit for awhile. I sat in the car with my bare arms slightly chilled from the breeze, but warmed as the sun bathed them.

It's a wonderful time of day here. The road is quiet, the roosters from the various properties are crowing. I could hear the young nest of crows on the river. The lavender field is 3 years old in spots so was in full bloom, and the bees were much farther along in there work than I was with mine.

As I began my work, the deer had walked to be on my left, about 15 feet away. She grazed on weeds, as I cut lavender. The wind made a pattern - first you hear the sound, then you feel it, then you hear it again. I worked 30 minutes, then returned to the car to rest a spell. Out the front window, I saw the pasture, full of loved creatures.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Get your aprons!

Now you can bury yourself in aprons! If you are an apron lover, you will have fun. I did looking at them all over again. And with Pino, Lucia and our new friend up the road, Nicolo, doing the modeling, the aprons look their best. Paco was watching, but much to serious to wear an apron.

Pino's aprons online!

Pino has anticipated the moment, as have I, and all the remaining aprons, that were donated by faithful readers, are online, and available for purchase. If you are an apron lover, you will have fun. I did looking at them all over again.

With Lucia and Pino modeling, and even our little neighbor friend Nicolo helping [who happens to need a new home if your looking for a donkey friend-see side bar at left], I think there is an apron for just about anyone. Even some children's aprons. Some from France even! Fabu!

If you don't have any idea why I have my donkeys modeling aprons, visit the Donkey Dream site, it's much too interesting a concept to rush through it here. Besides I've been at the computer for a day with a donkey by my shoulder..."Are you done yet?"...

All money goes into Pino's secret money jar in the barn for his donkey therapy gigs.

If you don't see your apron, it sold at the Pie Day. We had about 100 aprons, but there are still many wonderful ones left - no, they are ALL wonderful! And we thank all the sewers, and senders.

Monday, July 14, 2008

For Phinias T. Barnum

The grandest cat to have walked onto the farm is now safely at the vet. Phinias T. Barnum entered our world about 3 months ago, but his touring schedule kept his appearances at the barn spotty. He would come and rest a day or two, and then take off for a roadshow. It is after all summer theater season, and I expect with his talent he is kept busy. Each time he came back for a home stay, his body was thinner, and he had more skin irritations and slight abrasions. Last night about 9 pm I hear Phinias at the barn - he is part Siamese and his howl is easy to pick out of our cat clan. I rushed out, as I hadn't seen him for a day or more. He was so thin looking, and had some cuts. That was it, I knew I had to get him in. Once neutered, strays tend to stick around. An unneutered male can roam for miles seeking a lady's companionship.

I put him in a crate with food - he went in willingly, like the gentleman he is. As he cried in the background, I hated walking away from the barn. "What's this, I must reside in these cramped quarters for the whole evening!?" I awoke thinking of his dignified face, in a cage, and got a call into the vet as soon as they opened. Fortunately, they had a cancellation, and in I went with my theater cat. I just love the new vet at the clinic, she is so caring and gives optimum time to the animals. As Phinias lay sprawled on the table, the vet said to him, "You must have been some one's cupcake..." I usually just do the neuter, but for Phinias I asked for her to treat his skin irritations, and worm him since he had lost weight. His week long excursions were taking a toll on his physique.

I wish I could bring this gentle fellow into the house. But we have Big Tony in the house, and one can not start bringing in barn/feral/strays, or madness would follow. My husband might become a stray if I did. Or you might see me on Animal Planet some night, surrounded by cats and donkeys, all of us eating chili out of a can. No, Phinias will come back, and I will treat him as regally as I do now, but his throne is in the barn.

So, if you would like to enter the raffle to help with the vet costs, you stand to win an archive print I just did in honor of Phinias. Phinias likes to read his favorite sonnets under the quarter moon, to anyone who will sit and listen. He has found quite a following here on the farm, and I only wish you could hear him - what a showman.

Raffle ends August 1. Visit this link at the store to enter. As usual, you can enter as many $10 amounts as you want - each $10 you enter gets your name in the raffle bucket. The archival print is 10"x14" on a 13" x 19" piece of paper, signed and titled.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

They're coming!

Pino's mannequin arrived, and he's very busy photographing all his aprons for his new Apron Gallery. Hopefully the Apron Gallery will be online within the week.

Pino has tried each apron for functionality, and then, since he understands the concept of sharing, has let little Lucia and Paco try them too. So we know all these aprons function as aprons should.

I must say, starting an apron gallery with your donkey is just way too much fun.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

New creatures seeking love

I've posted many new raggedy creatures on my Etsy shop. These little lavender stuffed beings need good homes, with a stable environments.

Ward on the mend

For those of you who keep up with the Animal Update side bar, you know that Ward Schumacher the rooster was wounded last week. While I did not see the attack take place, it was without a doubt Papa Roo [on the right ] defending his harem from the much larger and movie star like Ward. I know this just because I know this. I know Ward's favorite haunts, and when I found him sulken under my car, I knew something was a miss. Just as I was coaxing him out, I heard a loud sqauking from the hen house - Vivienne, Inkie and Henny Jenny were all shouting out at the same time - explaining the whole situation to me like three sisters competing for a mother's attention. "Ward jumped on me..." Vivienne started..."And then Papa saw..and, and" Inkie stuttered. "Papa came running at Ward!" Henny Jenny said, getting tot he point...I looked at Ward, "I just wanted to be with my girl, Vivienne...I meant no harm. I didn't mean to overstep my line on the pecking order..." Ward said, with his red comb limp, and bleeding.

When Ward's comb is limp, I know there's something wrong. It's a shock to see how easily they bleed, those combs. So just because there is a lot of blood on a rooster comb isn't something to get alarmed about. But when I finally got him out from under the car, I could tell he was quite agitated, and he ran from the hen house area. But his run was more of a hop, fall, limp...and he finally made it to the barn. I examined his head for more wounds, but it was mainly peck damage on his comb. As I started going over his body I could smell a foul odor and upon examining his upper leg area found gaping hole filled with tiny maggots. The wound was down to the interior muscle...It was definately a "eeewwww-icky poo" farm moment.

So I treated it the way I treat all open wounds...iodine. Instant killing of the maggots. I had found the injured Ward at the end of the day, and was shocked at how quickly the maggots had set in. The wound must have happened in the morning, and with the 90 degree temperatures, the little creatures were just waiting for a job. The maggots at that point were actually helping eat the infection. I put Ward in a stall in the barn, with a crate of hay, water and feed. He didn't move much the next day, his comb remained limp. I'm sure he had a fever, as he didn't eat. I treated the wound for three days with morning iodine and water flushings, not a comfortable procedure I'm sure. By day 4, I felt Ward was ready to return to foraging outside.

The morning I let Ward out, a magical, spooky thing occurred. My system in the morning is to only open the front door of the hen house, so the hens can go out to their contained area, but can't get out to the barnyard or barn areas. This allows the cats to eat their food before the chickens arrive. As I was opening Ward's stall door, a hen cam rushing up - it was Vivienne, Ward's muse. She must have 'flown the coop'. She came rushing to that stall door as Ward came out. "Ward, darling, are you all right? Come, let's go out and seek tiny flying things to eat..." and off they walked.

That night as I did barn feedings, the hens were already in their coop for nightly dreaming time. And Ward? He had returned to the safety of his hospital stall. It seems the safety of a good night's sleep is worth being parted from his Vivienne for the night.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I know some people who have made it through cancer treatments and now struggle with the debilitating chronic pain often associated with chemo after shocks. This piece was inspired by an article about the research being done on cancer drugs and medications that target specific pain in the body for post cancer patients.

Pain is so debilitating and I guess we all have different thresholds for it. Martyn actually worked on a broken leg. I on the other hand can not tolerate any kind of head pain. I used to get many headaches in my younger years and could not function. My diet was not as healthy then, nor my mindset, so I think I grew out of them. I rarely have a headache, and for that I'm grateful.

Constant pain can isolate a person. I commend anyone that suffers and carries on with grace through any kind of pain, especially chronic pain, especially without whining. One must not only deal with the physical reality one is trapped in, but with the struggle of not letting the pain become the all powerful Oz in one's head.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

When gas hits $6 a gallon

Hey, the hay

Boone's favorite day of the year came yesterday when 6.5 tons of hay was delivered by a nearby farm. Normally they bring it over and unload all at once, but this year they brought it off the field and had it dumped by the barn, and came back the next day to stack it inside. No rain was in sight, so there was no danger. The cats were in heaven too. "What a magnificent thing you have done for us, creating this living play sculpture from which we can climb and jump from. Thank you." Frankie too thought she had died and gone to heaven.

The next day, the guys came over and loaded it all in the barn. They have one of those elevator conveyor belts that makes stacking it much easier. I don't do a thing. Martyn and I bucked some hay early on, and will do it if we need a half ton to get through in late winter, but the extra money we pay for delivered , stacked hay is well worth it. I have this theory that anyone that bucks hay for a living should not have to pay taxes, or they should be paid the same salary as someone like Brad Pitt.

I always feel so safe when I get my hay delivered, like somehow if all goes haywire, no work comes in, I hurt myself, or the car breaks down, there is plenty of hay to feed the animals through the year.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

L'amoreuse de skunk

This is the face of the chocolate lab named after pie. He is communicating very clearly to me: "I guess you're disappointed in me...I'm so sad."

As we were just finishing up our evening wine last nite, about to head inside for dinner, a thundering of feet over flying pea gravel headed my way. It was Huck, foaming at the mouth and soaked in the effervescence of his main conquest in life, Mlle. Le Pew. He looked at me in a panicked state, saying, "Some thing's wrong, something doesn't feel right, help me!" We have tried explaining to Huck that Mlle. Le Pew really has no romantic interest in him, nor does she even want to be "just friends". But Huck's heart is so big, he wants everyone to come into his world and experience, reciprocate and expand with is love.

And so, at about 10 pm, after 2 glasses of wine, in the dark, I proceeded to give the 95.5 pound skunk lover a vinegar bath. As bats flew over our heads - the bewitching hour- Billy retreated to the house, and Martyn gathered towels and ivory liquid. Poor Huck had it bad this time, in the eyes and a direct intake in his mouth. He had to spend the nite in the 'for the skunked" area of the house.

I will not lecture him today about Mlle. Le Pew. Like all big hearted fellows, he must learn in his own terms. I do know he was very glad to see me this morning, after his 'skunk-out" was over. He came in the kitchen, not bounding in like usual, but in a rather embarrassed way, and with his big brown eyes asked me, "Are you still upset with me?...". I bravely gave him a morning kiss, even though the perfume of the nightly escapade was still lingering. I just think that if one gets skunked, one deserves a kiss. I've smelled worse, but I won't go into details.


I worked most of the day yesterday on this piece, and tossed it in the trash at the end of the day, only to retrieve it the next morning. I had wanted to get back to the drawing table all this week, finally did, but the heat had me feeling lethargic, and stiff of hand. Clumsy. Not fluid at all. Every thing I changed on the piece looked worse than the last change. This happens. There's nothing horrible about this illustration 'The Harvesters", but there's nothing great about it either. I post it as a sample of 'ok-ness' ...Another hot day, then cooler tomorrow. It might bring more fluidity to my instinctive abilities.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Dirty buckets provide insight

With the harvest falling the day after Pino Pie Day, I was overwhelmed with a myriad of chores and things that needed to get done, on top of the usual business of the day. I went to fill the water buckets out in the field, and found them dirty and scummy from the heat. Feeling rushed, I was irritated, one more thing that needed my attention. I had to go back to the barn and get my scrubber so I could clean the buckets, and provide safe and clean water for the animals. So I did. Upon returning, still feeling rushed, I sat and waited while the 15 gallon buckets filled to their quota. This forced me to stop, and as the water was heard streaming into the buckets, I could hear Boone eating nearby. Down below, I saw the sheep in their field. I had time to look at each young ewe and see how they looked in comparison to the adults.

If it hadn't been for that scummy water bucket, I never would have noticed.

Oh, lass-a-asinine...

The only reason Martyn is smiling in this picture is he has subcomed to lavender overload, a common disease of lavender growers, brought on by a mixture of bending over for more than 8 hours and listening to bees buzz.

Harvest season is here, and to be brutally honest, I will not feel badly when it's over. This year we will have double the crop of last, since 1/3 of the field is mature. That means in two years we will double this years. There is only way to describe this. Oh s..t. I don't usually use cuss words in my blog, for I grew up believing what my grandfather told me: "Swear words are for people with little imagination." So I have created my own swear word for harvest overload: "Oh, lass-a-asinine". That one's for you, Grandpa.

We worked all week on the Angustiflio, seen here. It really has a lovely aroma, and after a couple of hours in the field, I give in, my mind starts accepting my fate - I will be in this field for some time today. And then tonight I will have to hang it all in the drying room. We ended up with 2100 bundles. And there's only another 1 million bundles to cut. Are we crazy? Naw. Stupid? Perhaps.

I am excited at how far we've come. We are getting to know what products sell best. We understand the process much better. And our name is definitely getting out there. We are also part of the Portland Wholesale market now and that is going pretty well. I am going to be working on some new bud product ideas, and my goal is to have others sewing them.

I always get a bit spent at harvest. You have to get the product off the plant, and you don't get to pick and choose the time. This year the heat brought on the Anugustifolia fast. It's a happy accident that when we planted our varieties, they mature at different times, so we get a tiny break between varieties. We had three man crew come on Saturday and that helped a lot. My goal is to have a crew for most of the harvest, but we aren't there yet. I brought down a pie in a picnic basket for everyone. One of the those romantic notions of the novice farm woman - oh, I'll grow lavender and feed everyone fresh pie...and eat it in five minutes and get back in my bent over position of choice.

The bees were lovely. No shortage here. It inspired me to do an illustration of the harvest, and today I'm in the studio and I'm not leaving.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

The thread of caring

Back when I sold my sweet, teeny weeny bungalow in Portland, I met Mary, the then owner of the house. One of the reasons Mary hated leaving the house was the next door neighbor was an older woman named Gwen. Mary was really happy that I took on a similar place in Gwen's life, checking in on her, visiting and chatting. Gwen was about 92 when I met her, living alone, and her sister, Bunny was 95 and still out and about. When I moved, the new owners of my house also took on the role of "Gwen-friends".

Gwen died a couple years ago, right after Bunny. But Mary kept coming to our Apifera events, and in the last couple years, she would bring a wonderful elderly woman named Frannie, who had been friends with Gwen. Frannie loved seeing our animals and gardens, and she proudly displays a photo we took of her with one of the horses. Well, this year at Pie Day, I was really excited to see Frannie and have her visit with the donkeys. I knew she would just love it all. When Mary arrived, I was sad to discover that Frannie is now bedridden. But with Mary was Frannie's daughter, Debbie. Debbie was just delightful, and told me how Gwen still cherishes her picture of her and our horse.

I spent time with Debbie [who had on a wonderful red hat], and it turns out she has MS. I know very little about MS, but I know it is debilitating. I invited Debbie to come to one of our private Pino Pie Therapy Days. So in September, we will be having her out for some Pino therapy. We took this picture so Frannie can have it by her bed.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Phew, it's over

The chocolate lab named after a pie and the pug with one eye were banished [in their minds] to the house on Pie Day. I had intended to have them out back, so visitors could visit with them if they wanted. But the heat was too deadly for the pug - one must take heat and pugs seriously. Even in the house, I had to water him down a couple times.

After the event, one of our our house guests from Kentucky confessed that he had been sneaking visits into the house to lie flat on the cool cement floor. "I was just trying to survive!" he declared in his Kentucky brawl. That was the quote of the weekend, and when I think of it I laugh out loud. Good memories.

When the last guests had left, Huck and Billy came out to find the grassy area where we all sat sprawled. The first thing Huck did was roll, laugh, and grin. I love that dog. And the pug? He went for the nearest cat poop, tenderly rolled in some Apifera gravel, his favorite sushi combo. I love that dog too.

The child's way

The Pie Day was so incredibly hot, we found out later it was 99 degrees! There was a moment at around 2pm where I really thought my head might just explode. Amazingly, people kept coming. I figured at 11 am we'd get a bunch of brave folks, as it was already close to 90 degrees, and then by 1pm or so it would be dead. But people kept coming. Martyn mused at what an overwhelming size crowd we might have had if it had been 75 degrees!

One of our guests was Senya, who was turning five. She brought five of her friends, including a pie ambassador, Kiran, to the pie day. The girls groomed the donkeys, visited the pet cemetery, drew pictures for Pino, and picnicked in a shady spot. Senya here is demonstrating her technique for keeping cool, the old ice-cube-under-the-shirt trick.

The girls were a complete pleasure to have. What a great way to turn five, which I explained to Senya, is a very good year. Senya drew this picture for Pino which is of a fairy ship - but you knew that. I know Pino did.

Gifts from afar

One of the greatest parts of pie day was we had two out of town guests, one from Kentucky, and one from NYC. Cathy and I became friends about a year ago when she bought some art and helped donate to raffles for the spay/neuter of the Apifera Farm ferels. She is an avid cat lover, and lives with very refined, college educated city cats on the west side of Manhattan [the best side]...[OK now that I've hurt the east side - I lived on both sides so I think I can say that].

From the minute Cathy and Dan stepped their feet -or in Dan's case, his fennel tendrils - onto our farm, it was like being in a remake of Big Chill, only we had never met. Yes, that's right I invited complete unknowns into my haven. But Cathy and I have communicated so much, and we never had one second of doubt. I new Dan's art and loved it. Like me, he has very sensitive fairy like genes, and communes with creatures.

Well, it was a hoot! It was fun, it was funny, it was inspirational. It was helpful, it was over way too soon. On Friday nite, Martyn made lamb kabobs, and Cathy had brought some of her delicious Romesco sauce. We drank wine and we sat under the stars. We talked, Dan played my guitar, we just had so much comraderie.

I am not even doing their visit justice. It was just one of those weekends you have, and it goes down in your mind as one of the best. We desrved it. We work so hard here, all the time. It was cool to be with like minded, funny, inspired people - crazy enough to get on a plane and fly to a donkey/pie party in the middle of nowhere. And they didn't even know Pino!

When they left, I missed them. The energy had to adjust. But I feel completely confidant saying, we have formed a life long friendship.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Pie Love: Neighborly pies

One of our guests at Pino Pie Day was a neighbor about 5 miles from here. She lived in a house with her husband of 50 some years. Her husband died three years ago, but she still lives in the house with her adult daughter who brought her to the party, complete with fresh gooseberry pie and a handwritten recipe.

It was so nice meeting nearby neighbors - it takes time to mingle out in the country. I was able to sit with Shirley amongst the donkeys, and we talked about her husband and gooseberries [which she still picks and freezes]. She invited us over to pick berries anytime. She and her daughter were lovely, and I found it so wonderful that many people brought pies, or aprons too.

One of the things that was very unique about this event is people were talking and mingling with each other and introducing themselves. It was very different than our past open farm days, which were all great, but people really mingled. You learn something at every event, that will make the next one even better, but this event had perfect flow.

And we found out it was actually 99 degrees! We mused at how many we would have had if the temp had been less, so the crowd size was perfect.

After baking pies and eating pies, the illustration I did for one of my Pino story books has come true. I ate so many pies I almost popped!