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.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Porta Potty Madness!

Thanks to all thouse who bought some lavender bud, and to the special people who donated money so that Pino could pick out his porta potty for the Pino Pie Day 201!!!

I underestimated the cost, so the extra money that trickled in on top of a couple generous donations made it all even steven. Don't you love that?

We will name the lovely people who helped us rent this very important piece of equipment for our special day:

Cathy B., Elida W., Cathy L, Justine T., Emma P., and Lisa G.

Thank you!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The visual answer

I did this large canvas today. It says in paint and symbols what words and metaphors say in yesterday's post. I need say no more.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The real woman of Apifera

It seems like everything that comes into my life lately - articles people send me, comments from readers, or just random thoughts as I drive- compound my sense of place here within the boundaries of Apifera. And in reality, everything I write and paint is really a resonance of that sense of place I have developed here. Lately though, I've been feeling I need to guard those boundaries more.

When I came here in 2004, I had city roots with tiny tendrils connected to the memories of visits to my uncles farm. I had lived in cities - Minneapolis, New York and months at a time in some east coast places and I experienced living in Europe, leaving me with vivid memories and sensations of that culture. I was happy in the city and I'm so glad I was raised there so I could take in the wealth of art and education.

But even as a little creature, my eye always focused on an animal, a bird in a tree, or a salamander under the porch. When I was five, my parents moved us from the city to a 5 acre parcel into a tiny cottage that had been the caretaker house of the larger property near by. I was in heaven. When I think about it, most of my intense memories of the past, the ones that make me miss my parents or family, are from that house. I think we all have intense pockets of time in our lives, periods where it is intensely good, or periods where things were really tough going. For me, that little cottage was my first real memory of having a sense of place in the world, a sense of 'I'm safe here'. And the world I created within that 5 acre parcel was just as vivid, imaginative and comforting as Apifera is now.
At age five, I could spend all day alone in my sumac castle with the comfort of knowing my caretaker was in the house baking or cooking, always there for me, always wise and strong. I never had to doubt that. And I knew I could be free to think in my own way in that sumac castle, no one was watching me, or expressing doubt in me, or disapproval as to how I drew a butterfly, or wore my pants backwards. I knew that the guests in that home could not hurt me, or wound me, as long as my parents were there.

When guest were invited into that little haven I called home, there were clear boundaries for them - rooms with closed doors were out of bounds, food was revered and appreciated when passed by the host and everyone was nice to the dog. I would fall asleep on those nights, with my door slightly cracked, so I could hear the grown ups talk. It always lulled me to sleep- they were close by, but I had my own room and could think on my own as my eyes began to close. To this day, if I go to bed before Martyn, and he has the TV on in the living room, it comforts me and makes me feel so loved and safe.

I think that place from 50 years ago is what I always sought, and have found here at Apifera. The characters that come and go are different, the land is farther west, but the main subject still dresses slightly odd, and has castles of blackberry to hide in. She still is uncomfortable with transgressors - those who cross into her Apifera boundaries with misconceived notions of just who she is. She is flawed, evolving, kind but impatient with bullies. She is more comfortable sharing her feelings and passions through art, or stories, or the mouths of puppets. Her farm is more than the sepia photographs, and her carefully worded blog posts are edited to give the reader a genuine experience and sensation of one snippet of one woman's one moment in one day. She bristles at guests that arrive on her farm and want her to step out of that sepia photo, and be what they perceive her to be from her online presence. That's when she wants to retreat to the blackberry bramble, or have a monologue with the barn.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Completed! Pino's Porta Potty Fund

UPDATE: As of today April 30, we have collected enough for a Porta Potty!!

Pino only has 25 cents in his Porta Potty Fund. We need $120 so we can order the porta potty for Pino's Pie Day.

A kind child sent Pino a quarter when she heard about Pennies for Pino's Porta Potty - telling us the a quarter was 25 pennies in one. Thank you, sweet child.

But Pennies for Pino's Porta Potty has flopped, and no more pennies have come in. I guess parents just didn't think having their little ones collect pennies for a donkey who has pie parties was a priority.

So, alas, we shall sell our lavender bud at a discount rate to raise the funds.

When you buy bud on this site at this sale price, the money goes into the Pino Porta Potty Fund for Pie Day 2010.

NOTE: This special price/sale is now over.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sounds of a nap

The quite rustle of an occasional piece of hay as a tail is adjusted, the creak of a nearby barn door in a light breeze, the blink of one eye, and the distant bray of a donkey create the music that lulls the cat into nap.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Daily earth prayer

I was thinking over what to write for an Earth Day post, but as I mulled, I realized that my farm and our endeavors on it are in and of themselves daily prayers to the Earth.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Beautiful Bellota

Another of the senior donkeys being cared for by El Refugio del Burrito in Spain, one of the organizations that Pino Pie Day 2010 will raise money for. Here is beautiful Bellota's story, as told by her caretaker at the sanctuary, Rafael:

Bellota, a beautiful donkey that came from Galicia in northern Spain, is now 35 and is in considerably good shape despite her previous life. She was kept, together with six other mares, in a windowless concrete stable. All she ever did there was eat and produce manure for the vineyards. Her owner never walked her or let her out for a bit of fresh air. When we found her, she was half buried in her own feaces, just as her stable mates, and she will always have leg and hoof conditions because of it. We are glad to say, though, that she now enjoys the best life a donkey can ever dream of at our Refugio, loving sunny afternoons in the company of her good friends Kuka and Lizabel.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Double the chocolate

Pie Love: Room under the sky with pie

Apifera hosted out of town artist-jeweler-yurt builder, Heinz Brummel this weekend. It was a work-cation, and he helped Martyn build a new outdoor room, which eventually will be covered with grapevine. The structure will keep pie guests cool in hot weather, or allow guests to sit under buzzing bees while they commune with a donkey. Dirt farmers can rest there and I plan to hold the One Eyed Pug as he naps there.

Each enclosure we build adds another destination on the property. If only I could build things [properly, things that could withstand wind, or an old goat rubbing up on it]. But you all know I am only capable of building monkey houses, but I'm very capable of dreaming, and letting Martyn know my visions. He tweaks them at his will, and builds them in a proper manner to withstand weather and animals.

I made raggedy lattice top pie for the team, and later we of course enjoyed some good Oregon wine, Andrew Rich to be exact. Thanks, Heinz, it would have taken weekends without you.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hope for Hope

One of the donkey sanctuaries I've been getting to know is El Refugio del Burrito in Spain, and Pino Pie Day 2010 will help raise money and awareness of their sanctuary. I asked Rafael to send me some pictures and stories about their oldest donkeys, and I will post them separately. Each creature is so deserving of help. I am just so glad there are places like this to help these creatures. The cruelty of some people, to abuse others, either in animal or people form, is beyond the caring and reasonable mind. Here is Hope's story, in Rafael's words:

"Hope, probably our most famous mare at the El Refugio, is a lovely donkey, and has probably gone through the worst experience any of our other residents has before joining us at the sanctuary. Originally from Greece, she used to work in the fields with her owner, until one night a group of teenagers trespassed into her paddock and brutally cut her ears off and ripped her back open with a spade. Rapid intervention of vets and readily help from The Donkey Sanctuary, saved her life and it was then decided to move her over to the closer sanctuary (which at the time was El Refugio del Burrito in Spain). She has been living in our Fuente de Piedra, Málaga, farm ever since and we are glad she is celebrating her 30th birthday in a few months. She is an amazing example to us all because in spite of what she had to endure, she still loves humans, and is usually the first one to welcome visitors to our farm."

What a beautiful and brave creature Hope is. Thank you for sharing this Rafael. You can learn more about their sanctuary here.

No double latte required

I need not order a $10 coffee drink to get my engine humming in the morning. I only need step out the door, and see the whir of life at my feet. The chicken door is opened, and no one questions why I am wearing the same outfit as yesterday, and the day before. The barn is 200 feet away and is holding its pre-breakfast roll call. I have such distinct purpose here, creatures count on me. But I count on them, to be there, to turn the key of my imagination.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Coco graces us with a visit

Into every one's world a day should come when you can sit and enjoy....Coco.

Coco first came to Apifera last year on Pie Day. I wrote about how I considered stealing her, whisking her off to the barn or hen house out of sight of her mother, so I could keep her. Coco Fever can hit a person hard, but fortunately I had pie and water at hand, and was able to ground myself. Besides, her mother is much too wonderful, and Coco and her are meant to be together.

But I was so delighted when she wanted to come to Apifera for her 2nd birthday. Now, pie is the normal celebratory fare here, as you must know by now. But I discussed it with Pino, and he agreed that cupcakes were most appropriate for this party. So Coco's mom brought cupcakes of chocolate cake and white frosting, and my cupcakes were white cake with fudge frosting. This was not planned, but I took as one more indication that fairies do live at Apifera and also reside in the kitchen.

Pino stood waiting with painted toenails and baloons, and the cameras were flashing as Coco emerged from the car. She met each and every animal, including her namesake, Coco the lamb. Guinnias the old goat also had a nice time, since everything was on eye level. Coco's attire also left much for me to covet- the red jacket was to die for.

Coco, I can't wait to see you again.

You can see more pictures of Coco at Donkey Dreams.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

From an old goat's perspective

Every morning I make time, even if it's just minutes, to sit with Georgie, one of our senior pygmy goats. Of the three seniors, she is the most crippled, and often spends the entire day just lying in the deluxe senior facility, or as some of you know it, The Ward Room. Georgie loves to be scratched and petted, and it's sweetly amusing to come out in the evening to find her in her suite, surrounded by hens and a lamb or two.

This is one of the many stalls of the newer barn. It was originally for horses, with high openings. When we first brought little Lucia home, one of three mini donkeys, we were afraid to leave her out in the barnyard with Pino and Paco since she was so young, so we cut out a mini window in the lower part of the stall wall. I can't tell you how adorable it was to come out each morning and find Lucia's little donkey head sticking out that window. Now all the pygmies sleep in the stall, and each morning, it is Old Man Guinnias whose head is sticking out, greeting me with his silent bleats [Guin never could bleat properly, but has a raspy call he uses to talk].

One rainy morning this week, I was in no real hurry to get back to the studio, so I sat down and watched the morning's activities from an old, crippled goat's perspective. From the mini window I could see ewes eating, and I could hear the comforting sound of chewing - in all different tones and ranges - the grinding sound of the sheep, and the chopping and nostril blowing of the horse. I heard hens clucking and discussing worm populations. The tip of a cat tail would appear out the mini window from time to time, and a young lamb would come bounding into the stall, and then look at me with, "Wait a minute, this isn't where Mama eats hay!".

Through it all, Georgie just wanted one thing, scratching. Each time I stopped, she leaned her head into my legs, pushed, until my gloved fingers scratched out the hay seed tucked into her old coat. I write often about the comfort the barn brings me- like the feeling I had as a child in my sumac fort in the bramble during a wind storm. On a rainy day, the barn is even more enchanted and powerful in its purpose, and with each rain drop on the tin roof it makes it clear how hard it works for all who seek shelter there.

I'm about to go out now and do nightly feedings. Georgie will most likely be where I left her, pushed up against the back wall, waiting for the sounds of returning ewes, of a horse whinny, and of my voice, "Good evening, Georgie, did you nap well today?"

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Raggedy donkey pillows

These custom raggedy donkey art pillows will help fund senior creatures in need- especially ones I come across from all of Pino's ever increasing friends he's making in the Facebook donkey network.

The pillows are each different [the donkey fabric is always used, however]. Visit the store to purchase.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Blur energy

I've always liked a little blur in my photos. It shows I'm really here.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Musings amongst cats and graves

The torrent of cold rains and winds of the past two days have subsided leaving the blue ceiling of the gods to once again cover all the heads here at Apifera. I took time to visit the front gardens, accompanied by the front porch gang. Long time readers know the story of the Apifera cats, how one Mama kept having morning, noon and midnight dalliances, procreating like a bunny. Before I could get every new litter trapped, spayed and neutered, the original 5 cats in the barn turned into 25. Some of those were strays that obviously heard the word "Apifera" in the wind of our Savannah Oaks, found their way to the barn and took refuge creating the feral empire of today. Since then, we are down to 12 cats due to death by natural causes, but all are fixed, including the survivalist herself, Mama Kitty [the calico on the wicker]. To this day, Mama will not allow anyone within 5 feet of her [that alone took years].

The original barn cat gang of '04 split up, and Plum, Little Orange, Mama and now BW, all live on the front porch. Big Tony lives in the Big House, and has bedroom privileges. BW has 'fireplace and TV watching' privileges' and try as he does to overtake Big Tony's spot, he won't...as long as Big Tony is with us. We expect Big Tony to never die- because I very clearly told him one day, "Look, things die, I'll die, Martyn will die, but you will not die. Let's just get that straight." He cared not, for life and death intertwine for the cats.

The front garden is where Pumpkin Head is buried, brother to Orange, and his grave sits by the infamous rooster, Ward. Just over the split rail is Sheep Hill, where our beloved head ewe, mistress to the flock, is buried with her three lambs; beside her his Coral Bell and her triplets, and the still born lamb of Blue. I was thinking about graves, and how they are really for the living. We can still go to a grave and "attend" it, like a sick old man who needs his hair trimmed because he can't manage on his own. It allows us to continue to nurture the deceased, even if the deceased is long gone, partaking in that mysterious road trip everyone is so curious about.

My father's ashes are sprinkled near these graves, on the Rugosa bushes. When I first scattered them, I would go visit them each day, and could see little bone flecks. Sometimes I'd pick them up, and talk to them, or just be with them. One day I went, and all the ash chips were gone, except one, and I held it in my hand, and tossed it to the wind.

Now my visits to the garden are different. I still attend the graves, but I relish in the soil that has been nurtured by the dead, and I marvel at the beauty of the quince in spring. I watch the cats be cats, climbing on tombstones in play. The graves are one more thing that connect me to this farm and give me a sense of place. How do you leave land after your bury life on it? It happens all the time, circumstances change, people move on. I think about that and I suppose if I had to leave Apifera, it would simply cease to exist, so it wouldn't matter to me, perhaps.

When I was about to go in, I caught the final picture of Plum and Orange, sitting together on Rosie's grave, looking at life all around them.

"These are the good old days,boys," I told them as I walked back to the house.