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, November 26, 2008

Living in a gravy boat

The simple ability to be able to walk down a gravel road, without feeling pain in one's heart or body, this is something to give thanks for, not once a year, but daily. I was thinking of all the many things I do and enjoy and have passion for that require walking and movement. How we healthy body people can sometime take that for granted. If I can walk, I can see this road that I love, and watch the young saplings emerge and grow come spring. I can walk behind Huck and enjoy the rhythm of his tail, composing an orchestra of his legs and ears flapping.

Once one figures out the basic things that provide a peaceful mind, everything is gravy. So I'm living in a big bowl of gravy.

I thought of all the things I can write about today, on Thanksgiving, but really my whole blog is about thankfulness on a daily basis. Each day is a good day. Ruffled feathers always lay flat again. I have passions, and I get to intertwine them in my daily work. How good this is. And how good it is to recognize it as a gift, not to be wasted. Life is just so juicy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another healing pie story

I received this email from Caitlin Davidson, a reporter for a student newspaper at University of Waterloo, Ontario. Last year, the school did a project, "Differ/end: The Caledonia Project", a production based on an actual event about land disputes in a town called Caledonia in Northern Ontario. Here's her letter to me, and it's a wonderful example of the healing power of pie.

Throughout the production the students highlighted the sides of the argument that hadn't been seen before - both sides, as well they discussed some lesser known facts of the event. This is a story taken from that project - I was the reporter that covered the production for the paper.

On the day of the largest clash between the police and residents of Caledonia (white) and the protesters and occupiers of the Caledonia land dispute site (native), there was a tire fire set. Across the road one of the residents of Caledonia spent the entire day tirelessly making pies - she could see the tire fire on the land claim across the street through her kitchen window.

With forgiveness and prayer, she walked to the native side of the dispute and gave the natives the pies she had spent the day making. Her and her husband did not support either side, but had been working to maintain good relations with both sides. Some say her pie making was a first step toward a resolution, and while the conflict is still ongoing, she and her family have made their peace with what's been happening - while the rest of the town struggles to do that.

While your work is done for the healing and restorative powers, this is another example of hard work and human kindness that is struggling to heal people - although these are spiritual wounds and not physical issues.

"Differ/end: The Caledonia Project" was a great experience for me to watch and for the students involved to help out, and in the same way that it was for me to watch this - it's good to read about the work you're doing.

Thanks for your time,
Cait Davidson

Monday, November 24, 2008

Faces I love

I went for a walk today in this incredible late fall weather. Walking up the long drive, I still get enjoyment upon first seeing the white specks on the upper hill. Closing in, I let out a 'bleet', and the white specks grow to faces I love.

Simple moments of pure enjoyment. Relishment. Internal gratification. Those faces bring that each time.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Love letter to Pino

Pino loves mail. He still gets an apron or two in the mail, keeping the post office in shape. This past week one of our Pie Ambassadors wrote a nice comment to Pino on the blog, and it brought back the fun memory of the '08 Pie Day. It made me smile. Remembering how the donkey door was left open for just a second and little Lucia very politely, and very much in ladylike mode, got out and walked right up to the pie table. It made all the little girls squeal and giggle, and even us old farts got a big laugh.

Note to self: next year, have separate table, smaller, for donkey consumption.

Thanks for writing Lisa and Kiran...we hope you can come next year too..."oh my goodness, in our absence you've been discovered Pino! sorry that Kiran and i have not been able to check in since the end of the summer, but we have not forgotten you and your wonderful farm mates. we loved getting to pet and meet you on your pie day and it was so very generous to let the entire birthday crowd come. the best part, that we still reminisce about, was when Lucia snuck out of the gate and went over to check out the pies herself. i know you were probably saying 'tsk tsk' to yourself in donkey language, but we thought it was very funny.we have also spread the lavender from your farm around the world as gifts, and look forward to seeing you again next year on pie day."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm in love with a pillow

I recieved more of my fabric designs back from Spoonflower and they are wonderful. If I can be more explicit....I am now in love with a pillow. Martyn will understand, after all, he knows all about my various love affairs in the barnyard.

I designed one pillow that's sleeping , and another pillow that's wide awake and greets the other pillow in the morning. You will just have to click the link to see it. I think it will make you smile. If it doesn't, you're just a big grump.

The reason I sound nuts is I spent the last week creating the new image archive on my main illustration site and revamping the site . Art directors can now search through 500 images for their re-use needs. It was fun revisiting so many pieces of art...but...I am drained. Computer drained. Dead head. Me no think no more. Is there wine yet?

As I type I am listening to 'Blood on the Tracks'...and singing....really loud. Don't forget to enter the raffle .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gifts for Pino

Pino received a wonderful gift in the mail from Alicia over at Blog Sisters [if you resend your blog in a comment please, I've misplaced it!]. It was a book "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch, an inspiring story of a man that was dying, but lived life with an attitude that many never find even in the best of health. Alicia put the book in a beautiful gift box, lined in suede, and added little tea packs and linen water too.

It was a kind gesture, to have someone pass something on to us they found inspiring, simply because they thought Pino and me were trying to pass on good things to people in our humble-slow-donkey way.

When we were named Blog of Note last week, it brought a lot of new readers, and most comments/emails were genuine, people responding to what animal therapy can be. Unfortunately, it also brought out some of the dregs of the internet world. Ignorant, or angry, or confused people in their own hearts, who reacted in such silly ways towards a little donkey just trying to make people feel good.

Pino was sheltered from the moronic emails and comments. And I brushed them off to ignorance. So when the package arrived, it was a nice ending to an interesting week.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Standing on the 'it'

After four+ years of living with goats, I truly believe they have Monday morning meetings, complete with note pads coffee, and doughnuts. "Stella, you take down the north side of Pasture A, I'll handle the south side. This should keep the Tailless One busy mending that area of fence, and with the distraction, we can get into the pump house rose pavilion."

But all messes in one's day have a golden lining. Because I had to mend the fences, I also was had a visit to a spot of the property I have loved from the first moment I stood on it. And because it is also part of the Joe Pye field, it is not an area I get to frequent. Joe and I have an understanding - "You stay over there, I'll stay over here. You come in here, I take my head which is thick bone mass and hit your thighs."

Our land used to be 100 acre dairy, mostly on rolling hills that bordered up top to the forest lands and down below to the river. Within time, the farm was cut up and our spot is the original home site and barns. Fortunately, the house was well sited, sitting in a spot where we don't get too much distraction from nearby properties. And the property goes about 10 acres up the hill, so the higher one walks, the more vista one sees. When the fog rolls in, and I stand looking down over the 100+ year old barn, I can't help feel transported back to another time.

There's a certain pull of this spot of the land, and a certain welcoming. Perhaps it is the century old oak that stands there, some of its limbs newly mangled by a wind storm. Those limbs now keep our house warm, and perhaps it recognizes the partnership we have together. I stood up there for awhile, enjoying the view and the silence of the fog, the rose hips scattered behind me. I thought about how I had come here, an unknown to the state, the county, the people, but this one section of land just welcomed me that first day we looked at the property. I like to think it was a personal greeting specifically to me. All the houses I'd lived in and fixed up and nested in over my 30's and 40's, there was still a horizon out there that seemed a bit more enticing. There was always a sense in me the house I was in wasn't quite 'it'.

This small piece of our property always rekindles the small embers in my heart, reminding me in a very physical way, I am standing on 'it'.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Growin' tails, and a big blowout

The rains of the northwest allow us to lull in plants and greenery well into the winter, if not all year. The constant moisture is also perfect for growing cat tails.
We never pick them, or prune them, and we are never sure where they will pop up in the front garden bed.

The rains gave us over 3" last nite. A 'real soaker', as they say. Perhaps the biggest news in the barnyard this week was...

...stop reading if you are a wimp...

the ever anticipated explosion of Mr. T's jaw line abscess occurred. This abscess was from a seed grain lodged in his jaw line, and it began forming over a year ago. When the hair starts falling off of an abscess area, it's time to lance it, so that if it is a contagious sore it won't infect other stock. As I did my usual barn feedings there stood Mr. T at the gate for dinner time, ready for food for his 350# body, and also ready to kick back in a dry stall bed. I noticed the hair was less on the abscess. This abscess was bigger than a golf ball, and hard to miss. I took a rag and gave it a gentle squeeze, just to test it.

Well...'Thar she blows!!!!!!!!'

Man, I won't go into more details than that, but I'm sure Mr. T was relieved. My usual remedy for all gapes, holes, abrasions was applied - iodine. He was not that impressed with the iodine flavor mixed with a fine vintage hay, but he'll be fine.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Art Helping Senior Animals

I'm kind of excited.

Many of you have helped me in my spay/neuter efforts with the cats, along with vet help when needed for those cats. Many big hearts out there! And now, my art will help senior animals needing a final refuge home, where they will be treated with dignity in their final months.

I've always been attracted to the elderly. I don't know why. The bitter sweet qualities of old age seem to resonate in my heart, and art. Older creatures are like weeds I guess, never displayed prominently in the flower shop window, but they are out their in the back alley still hanging on.

Now there is a section on my main art site called Helping Old Animals . When you purchase one of these prints [I'll be adding more as I do them], $25 will be used to support either Old Dog Haven or a senior dog still residing at Oregon Humane Society [they list dogs on their site and allow donations to specific dogs]. A designer is donating services for a brochure that will go to vet clinics [thank you Kristine!]. I'll post updates here, including animal pictures and bios.

Let me tell you more about Old Dog Haven . After creating the One Eyed Pug print for a vet, she put me in touch with them. She does a lot of vet care for them. Old Dog Haven has a network of foster homes that take in dogs who otherwise might have been left to linger in a shelter, or abandoned on the street. Many of these animals have lost their elderly human companions, some are abandoned because of their medical needs. Some people move and 'don't have room anymore." The goal is find these dogs "final refuge homes" where they can live out their remaining days with dignity, love, comfort and proper medical care if needed.

And, I will be a Final Refuge Home. I will take in one senior at a time. When that creature passes on, I'll bring in another one. Martyn has given me his blessing, on the condition I completely fund the dog through sponsorships or collected money. Old Dog Haven provides vet support but there will be food and certain maintenance medications. I will post a donation button soon for that, once I'm paired with the right animal. If you are interested in being a sponsor for my final refuge dog, let me know.

My husband doesn't read my blog. But I'd like to thank him, for being so open hearted about letting me follow my passion of helping animals. I thought I'd really have to work on him, but when I told him what I wanted to do, he said, "I will build whatever you need for it." I'm very graced to have found him. He still hasn't opened up to bringing home a needy pig to hang out with Frankie. I'll work on that. A little pie, some kissin'...I have my ways, all of which are legal.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Muddy fuzzies

The real rains have come. I welcome them, as it signals me to spend more time in the studio, more time in my head. My morning workouts with Boone are all but gone,and even getting a walk in now must be calculated between showers. When I moved from Minnesota, I was amused at all the different variations of the word 'rain' that the Oregon weather used.'Showers'means rain drops but light density of drops, "rain" means "It's really pouring", to name just two. It's interesting how culturally humans have had to find words to describe things. One word now emits a whole visual experience in one's head. Minnesota has many words to describe various intensities of snow - flurries, a dusting, slush, blanket.

I like the rains even with the drawbacks that continual water can create. But when I first visited Oregon back in '01, it was March, and I had left the cold tundra of my homeland. I remember the sensation of stepping onto ground in mid winter in Portland, and 'feeling' the earth as a soft blanket, versus a frozen solid form I had just left in Minnesota. I was ready to live in a climate where the earth was softer, and I wouldn't require a Lake Wobegon outfit just to go to the car and back. I love Minnesota, in fact, I miss a lot about it - the work ethic is more to my liking, the flatness mixed with lakes, and it's where I first walked, first cried, first ate. My Grandmother died on her city street, of a heart attack, 2 hours before I was born. My father once said that studies show most people return to their homelands to die, out of instinct. I can understand that. But I can't fathom that right now.

One of the drawbacks of rainy season, is my morning and nightly donkey hugs are very messy. In fact, I usually have to just kiss noses, and rub the one area between the donkey's front legs that manage to stay dry. This time of year, the donks are fuzzy with winter coats. They still roll in the compost pile, making full body hugs a dirty business. So, until spring, or a dry spell, nose kisses will have to do. Better than nothing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ring them bells

And so it has come to this. Like Maya Angelou said so graciously this morning, "America has grown up".

I awoke buzzing from the events of last night. Still feeling stunned, relieved, excited, hopeful, I did what I never do - I turned the television on in the morning. I wanted more reassurance that it had really happened, and I wanted to enjoy the taste of the win just a bit longer. People of all colors and heritages, women and men, gays and straights, young and old - they all came together to elect this man. But I hope it doesn't stop here. I hope that the grass roots energies that elected President Elect Obama will continue to grow and evolve. If there was ever a symbol of what happens when you work together from the bottom up, it has to be the Obama campaign.

But one President, no matter how intelligent, can't do it all. The old JFK quote that gets replayed over and over should perhaps be hung in nurseries and imbedded in ipods- "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." One must choose to find their own way to to serve this nation, as well as their own individual community. I'm grateful I can share the greatest gift I have, my art, to help animals in need, and other causes I care about. The election results have reminded the world that America is more than ipods and gadgets and 'things' to consume. America is a giant living organism, with a heart and soul. And I felt it last night. Many sacrifices must be made in the days ahead, but if we work together as Americans, we can reach the sky, someday. I really feel that optimism in many people. There will always be cynics. But I always feel cynicism is just a mask for anger and ignorance.

I'm really proud of Obama. I'm really proud he's our new President.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A time for prayer flags

NOTE: I'm shutting down comments for a few days due to the overwhelming amount of new visitors from being named Blog of Note. While I appreciate all of the legitamate commentors, unfortantely I have also been overwhelmed with opportunists just pushing their wares.

I'm very excited about my new fabric samples that arrived. As I told you a few posts ago, I stumbled on a company that prints small runs of fabric with your own design on it. Now that I see how well my two design printed, I'm happy to pass on the name of the company, Spoonflower. I have two designs right now that are available in my 'prayer flags' , and I'm brimming with ideas for more products.

One of my goals with my art, and our farm products, is to create things that I would have in my home. And in these economic times, like many of you I want simple ways to bring some comfort into my heart. I have always created little signs and poems on fabric and hung them around the farm and studio. Last month I did some hand painted prayer flags and you ate them right up. So I created these two designs intended for prayer flags, and you can purchase them over at Apifera-A-Day .

Each flag is still hand made, and I attach fabric scraps, bells, twine, little 'finds' to each individual flag. The fabric with the illustration on it is 8". A small twig from one of many cherry trees is sewn into the top. So they remain one-of-a-kinds, except the main illustration on the front is printed on a piece of cotton so I am not re-creating each illustration from hand [note: even farm girl-artist-apron fanatics have to get more work done than flag making]. So when you order a flag, you know what the main front illustration is, but you'll just have to be surprised with all the little additional items attached to it. Like sometimes a chicken feather - just roll with it.

The fabric is color fast so you can leave it in the rain. NOTE: © is not printed on the image, like int he photo. But future flags will have a tiny © included, discreetly. I add another piece of natural fabric in the back of the flag, and attach my hand made embroidered name.

So, hang a little flag, and hopefully it will make you happy, or calm, or peaceful, in a really small simple way.