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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Theatrical thoughts

For months, okay maybe over a year, I've been wanting to create more of a three dimensional world for my felted creatures. I think this yearning will eventually come to fruition, but I think it why I've been exploring for the upcoming "Somewhere" show at Zeek Gallery in June.

This piece has sewn items on it and mimics a stage. I'm working on some felted heads that now mimic this staged painting, but who knows how it will end up. Don't hold your breath.

Part of my frustration with 3-dimensional work is my lack of technical ability, and my process does not do well when I can't ad lib. Like the Monkey Houses I've created on the farm, it all just sort of evolves, and with luck, the wind doesn't blow it over. Doing anything 3D will take the abilities of my loyal dirt farmer.

I have this dream of having a show at Zeek Gallery where a long set/stage hangs on the wall, say 6 feet long, 3 feet high and deep, and then I create a set of animals and back drop illustrations. It would take me a year to do it. I guess I should ask her.

June 21st is a Pino Pie Day!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Goat activity guide

On a warm day, wander around a bit, find anything lying around on the ground and eat it. Eat it quickly, and chew fast. Don't bother to even swallow, just eat as much as you can. When full, find a shaded spot, preferably on a discarded piece of wood lying around. Lie there until you're stomach is less full - usually about 30 minutes. Then get up, and eat more. Repeat until sunset.

More chick chatter

We celebrate the three week birthday of the new chicks today and all is well. I'm pleased all are thriving, even the one with a crooked beak who had me worried. And all appear to be hens, thanks to the talents of the hatchery sexers [and it is a talent].

So with feathers popping every day, the chicks left the security of the bathroom dome, and entered their next living area in the hen house, complete with heated box and natural wood perches. Their big day came earlier this week when the temperature outside allowed picnics and bamboo wanderings. They tended to weeding around Zuchi's grave, which was kind and helpful.

Scheduled seminars at the Apifera Chicken Daycare agenda next week: Flight 101, How to Sleep on a Perch Without Falling Off, and Identifying Dirt from Bugs.

And the cat declares a winner

With tender paws, Samuelle helped picked the winner of the raffle today. OK, he watched from the hay bales in the barn where I last saw him this morning. I had an outpouring of support, thank you! And thank you also for the people that sent in small amounts but didn't feel a need to 'win" anything, they just wanted to help. Many of you are repeat donators, and it's very gratifying. And there were some newcomers too, so we thank you too, and hope you continue to help animals all over whenever you can.

The winner is...meow...K.Beck in Washinton! Meow. Paw thumping....

Samuelle is doing very well. What a gentleman he is, he did well taking his meds in tuna. The ulcers have gone down, but his little foot pads are so soft, and will always be. I've never witnessed it before, but when you push his pad, it feels like you are touching the skin on top of a newly punctured blister...He seems to stick around, so I'm hoping we can keep his wounds and ulcers at a minimum so he won't need prednisone.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

RSVP from a rooster

Lesson in this story: If you invite a rooster over, he might just take you up on it.

About a month ago, I was out for a walk with the chocolate lab named after a pie. We were about a half mile from the farm, when I noticed a rooster in the blackberry bramble on the side of the road. We were quite a ways from the surrounding farms that had chickens, and I doubted a rooster would wonder that far from his original flock. He was a beautiful Rhode Island Red, and in good shape. I continued on my walk, but my head swirled with rooster rescue thoughts. "I'll drive back over after my walk and entice him into a crate, " I thought. Oddly, when I had ordered our new chicks, I was torn about getting some Rhode Island Reds, but didn't want more than 10 chicks and stuck with my other picks.

Upon returning to the area where Huck and I had first made acquaintances with the gentleman rooster, I found him in the shaded bramble. I suggested he come over and eat some corn. "Oh, while corn is a delicacy, I don't think so, no, not right now, thank you. " he said politely, and he scurried off into thick bramble. "Suit yourself," I said irritated. "But I hope you make it though the night." Between dogs and coyotes, and log trucks, and other free wheelin' morons, I figured he'd be dead soon.

A week later, I rode Boone over that way, and there he was, alive as can be. He had moved a bit farther from the original spot, but was basically in the same area. He seemed happy to see us, as he flew out of bramble as we neared, and stood quietly in the road, looking head on at us. "Still on your own?" I asked. "Yes, yes, I am. Do you have any more of that corn?" he asked. "I'm afraid not. But if you get tired of bacheloring, you can always come over to our place." I said. I wisely didn't tell him exactly where we lived, but our farm was up the road about 3000 feet, and then down about 5000 feet.

As Boone and I rode off, I swear I heard that rooster say, "See ya' soon..." but it was probably my confusion with the other natural sounds whizzing around me - gravel, Boone's clip-clop, nearby trucks - so I shrugged it off as fantasy. "I did my best to help him, Boone. Rule one, I can't save everything." I could feel Boone smile - his lips turn slightly upward, which tweeks his bit ever so slightly, which tingles my fingers holding the reins.

Weeks passed...

Yesterday, I went for a nice ride with Boone. As we were nearing back to the old barn, I noticed a red chicken free ranging, and in my mind I thought, "My, Vivienne's feathers look long today.....Wait a minute...that's not a hen, .......that's...a rooster!" Once again, I felt Boone smile.

Later in the day, I found the newcomer in the Outdoor Daycare Chick Oasis...with Papa Roo and some hens. Hmmmm, no one was dead yet, no one was doing the Fancy Pants Dance, so...maybe life will settle in for everyone. I've named him Lyndon Baines, in honor of the old Looney Tunes cartoon character- the famous brash talking rooster that was supposedly modeled after President Johnson. I am hoping Lyndon will hang with the new flock of chicks, who some day will become his ladies. I've already explained the rules to him- and read him the story of Bad Ass, so he has been forewarned. While all the chicks, hens and Papa Roo were tucked away in their house for the night, Lyndon slept way up high in the old hay loft of the old barn. I have to admit, it was a photo op missed.

Part of me thought, "Oh geeze, another rooster, here we go again." But I must admit, I was somewhat honored he walked so far to be with us. I thought Martyn might groan to hear a new rooster had checked into Apifera, but he calmly said, "Maybe Lyndon is a gift from Ward." I thought awhile, and figured that's just something that Ward would do.

Ah, the glitches of technology

There appears to be problems with my Earthlink server today - so picture links are broken. I suffer along with all the Eathlink users. No email either. Hopefully it will be fixed soon.

...and I was all ready to tell you about Lyndon Baines...a handsome fellow that came knocking on the door. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday workers

With the first blast of summer like weather, winter coats are shedding, and the grass is growing by leaps and bounds. Our first year of leaving the ewes in the lavender field is paying off. The grass would be mid calf high by now. We are quite pleased, plus it allows us to rotate pastures and let the other sheep field rest a season. And such good fertilizer - right from the source! We won't till between the rows this year, giving the soil a rest, and maybe won't have to in the future with the sheep in there. We still have a lot of thistle and weeding around plants to accomplish, but as the plants are larger now, there will be less 'honey I'm freaking out the weeds are taking over the plants" mode. I'd love to put the donkeys in there, as they adore new thistle, but they seem to think that we planted the tidy rows so they could make special Donkey Row Running Olympics...and I fear plant damage.

For those of you who don't know the Katahdin breed, they are a 'hair' sheep, and shed out their coats. The fields are full of fluffy little shapes, newly fallen from the ewes - perfect house making material for all our bird friends having babies.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I'm busy painting and exploring for my June show at Zeek Gallery. The theme of the show is "Somewhere", which I think is so suited to my work. Recently I was conversing with someone who has some of my work and I think we came up with a perfect way to describe the majority of my paintings- mourning mixed with some optimism and love of life.

I think the symbols and metaphors in one's work, after they've been creating for many years, begin to create an internal encyclopedia of that person's landscape, both past, present and future. I've always had one hand on the worms and matter, decomposed under our feet. It's not a fear of death, it's the fact that death is to the left and right of life. If you don't keep track of death, how does life make sense? To say we must focus on the living is true, but to not walk with the understanding there is death is like getting up each day, and planning away like there will be no night - I mean, daytime does end, and that puts a balanced perspective on the day.

The donkey ear thing....well, I am learning what that symbolizes for me. I don't want to ruin what it might mean for you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Update on Samuelle Noel

Thanks to all the emails and kind wishes for Samuelle Noel. Samuelle is now neutered [cheers, brays, sighs of relief from all females and cat lovers]...Once again, my wonderful vet clinic took a cat in on a moment's notice to help me out.

I picked him up from the vet yesterday and heard the prognosis. He had a bone lodged in his jaw, which had caused no serious damage at this point. Unfortunately his feet condition is a rare cat disorder called 'plasma cell dermatitis' which creates ulcerated foot pads and ulcers on the face. It is incurable, and from my research it is pretty rare. The only treatment is predisone. I brought him home and my plan was to keep in the large crate in the Ward Room for four days, so I could give him the 2x daily medications, and give the ulcerated foot pads a rest. The ulcers will take weeks if not months to unswell, I'm told, but I hoped 4 days would be a help to him. I opened the crate door and Samuelle went into feral kitty mode - jumped about 10 feet straight up, and made a beeline for an open stall window. But he hung around, and the prednisone is small enough to be crushed into tuna. I was pleased to see him this morning at morning feedings, and was able to give him meds. The vet said he was pretty jacked up there, so this pleased me. I guess that there are cases where the ulcers go away and the cat will have long periods without any trouble, so I'll hope for that. Maybe someone dumped because of this. If so, shame on you.

My young nieces heard about Samuelle, and gathered coins for him. Pretty sweet.

I'll pick a raffle winner next week!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Raffle- help a wounded cat

Thanks to so many that entered the raffle, or just sent donations! It's very helpful, especially in this economy, to have support for these strays that wonder onto the farm.I'll pick a raffle winner and announce it on the blog.

I told you all about the stray that wandered onto the farm around Christmas. His name became Samuelle Noel [pronounced Sam-u-elle No-elle].

He's semi feral, a beautiful tabby with white socks. I had planned to trap and neuter him sooner, but then lambing season traumas took over. I had to get him in for a snip, or the enticing smell of in-heat kitties would cause him to stray [An intact male cat will wander up to 3 miles to fulfill their innate sense to breed].

Well, last night Samuelle arrived at the barn in distress. His two front feet looked weird, as did his face. I was able to pick him up -which he tolerates, if only for a a minute] and his feet smelled of rot. Part of his bottom foot pad was gone, leaving open flesh. On top of it, when he tried to eat, there was something causing pain in his mouth. I tried to iodine the pad, but he was anxious, and I lost him.

He was onto to me, so I knew my best bet and least trauma for both of us was to wait until this morning to try again. So I placed one of my many crates on the front porch, knowing he usually showed up for an AM snack. Sure enough, he was there this morning. I knew he'd let me pick him once, briefly, and that was it. After much enticing, I picked him up, and quickly put him in the crate. A miracle.

I'm so relieved, as his wounds look painful, and he's not eating.He has a sweet personality, and I'm pretty sure he was dumped, as he arrived her with good conditioning, and a nice personality.

[raffle is closed]

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Chick lit

In which we first meet the new spring arrivals to Apifera Farm. For those of you not into chickeness, baby chicks are hatched and then shipped to feed stores where buyers pick them up. Imagine that journey...

"I liked the dome, why did I leave my dome?" she asked.

"It's how it works," said another.

"Yes, it's the way," added yet another.

They sat huddled together, warm, with blaring light streaming down from above. "The dome had subdued light, it was better," the one that first started up this conversation said. "I had it all there, I yearned for nothing. Now I yearn for my dome."

"I hear ya'." said another one. The memory of her dome came back to her. It's subdued light, it's warmth, and the lush feeling of the ocean swirling all around her, feeding her, nourishing her. The light from above, seeping in from outside the dome soothed her, as did the soothing sounds of clucks.

She never really contemplated leaving the dome. But one day she felt palpitations all around. She remembers thinking, "This is different. I am no longer what I thought I was." And then a 'crackling", a startling sensation of cooler air on her wet body and garish light blinding her.

"Things happened so fast!" said one. "One minute you're in your dome, the next minute you're in a box, in the air, with clouds."

"Startling, it was all so startling. And then you're out of the sky and in a tub with many other ex domers. It was so... chaotic!" one complained.

"Chaotic! Yes, that's the perfect word for it." another agreed.

"Chaotic indeed!" said another. And then the entire little flock let out their emotions in a chorus of chirps.

"This place seems bigger, more room. It's sort of like a dome without a roof." one said, trying to look at the bright side.

Just then the door opened, a woman walked in. She clucked. And sprinkled more food out in the plate that was setting in the bathtub full of baby chicks.

"Could that be the same cluck we heard in our domes?" asked one of them.

"Well, I'm confused about that too. We're chickens, I'm pretty sure of it. That's not a chicken."

The woman reached in and grabbed a chick, rubbed it on her face, then chirped, then cheeped. She put the little chick back in the tub with it's mates.

"She seems kind of like a chicken." said the chick that just returned from high above.

"Did she smell like one?" asked another.

"Sort of...but there were lots of smells on her. But she was really warm. And smooth."

"Oh, that sounds like a chicken!" said another. And they all rested better that night.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Sale continues

It's not the kind of economy where art is a priority, is it? But artists must eat, and pay mortgages, and buy chick feed and old goat nutrients...

So if you've been wanting to purchase art for your home, it's a good time to do so at Spring Art Sale. Really fair prices, on big and small pieces. And payment plans are available...so just ask. I've adjusted my payment plans to help people out, since many want to pay in monthly installments.

And thanks to everyone who has purchased art this spring, even in tough times.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I'd like to thank the universe

You know how even really famous actors say that it's an honor just to be nominated for an award, but it's even better to win one? Well, I found out today that this image got into Communication Arts 50/ Illustration Annual . I did my best Sally Field impersonation upun opening the winning email - "They like me! They really like me!"

It made my day, scratch that, it made my week.

It's very steep competition to get into it, and I look at it as a little nudge from the universal bosses that things are really just fine.

The issue comes out in July, 2009.

I'm running late - I have to get out to the barnyard for a round table discussion called to order by Paco. We will be debating if it was okay for Michelle Obama to touch the Queen.