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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Post Pie Day Ponders: Bake it, and they will come

I've loaded all the pics from Pie Day, so take some time this week to scroll through the last 4 or 5 posts below. Overall, it was all I wanted it to be - people of all ages, from all over, migrating to Apifera because I baked some pies and offered to share them, with donkey hugs on the side.

Post Pie Day Ponders: Coco's back!

If you've read the blog awhile, you will know all about little Coco, and that I once considered hiding her in the barn so that I could keep her for myself- but that would be very un- Apifera, and Pino would never agree to it either, so I anticipate her once or twice a year visits to the farm.
Coco is a bit like Grace Kelly - when you see her face, you can't help but sigh. She does not take a bad picture, so trying to pick just one picture of Coco is impossible, and I can't help give her an entire post. This should not offend other visitors, for all the little two legged creatures that come are adorable, but let's face it, Coco has that "je ne sais quoi' about her. And as there will come a time when she will frown at all the camera glare, we must relish in these Coco moments as much as possible.
The last time Coco came it was her 2nd birthday party, and her mother told her that after her visit to Apifera her main talking point was the one eyed pug. She was very concerned about his eye and what happened to it. So even though Billy was secluded in shady comfort of the house for Pie Day, I brought him out for Coco. While she squealed, Billy's curled tail wiggled.
When I was little, I have vivid memories of certain places when I was very little. One was the home of a painter friend of my fathers who had hammocks and a large garden. It felt magical. He had a black Scottie. Perhaps Coco will retain something in her memory of these Apifera visits.
See you soon, little Coco.

Post Pie Day Ponders: We meet Betty

One of the most wonderful visits came at the very end of the day, when most people had already begun leaving. A car drove up and an elderly woman was helped out by another woman. The elderly woman was using a walker. It turns out she had recently been released from the hospital after a bad fall, and was still in physical therapy. Her name was Betty and her caregiver daughter, Maureen, ventured out to see the donkeys. Betty explained to me that her husband had taken her on a trip many years ago where she saw donkeys in the dessert, and they were so wonderful, she wanted to meet ours.

We sat under the shade of the donkey tent, and communed for some time. Since most people had left, It was a nice relaxed visit, and we talked a lot about getting older and how hard it can be. Betty had lost her husband only nine months earlier, and a tear came to her eye. I told her about losing my dad, and then I got teary eyed. But it was all exactly what I want donkey pie days to be like- therapeutic and sharing of feelings, experiences, as well as the healing energy of animals and farm. Through the visit, Pino stood near by, listening and just being Pino.

Betty was a real apron lover, and a very hard time deciding which aprons to take, so we had to give her some help there- but she loved that the money went to senior creatures.

Because it was so hot out, and Betty had just come out of the hospital, she wore the only outfit she had that was light and breezy - her last wedding dress. She also told me that the watch she was wearing was her husband's, and after he died she had it made smaller so she could wear it.

The gracious way her daughter took care of her was really inspiring. I know that visit meant a lot to them, but I hope they know how much it meant to me, and the other people that were lucky enough to be sitting with us during the visit. I gave them some lavender as a gift, and they were on their way.

Post Pie Day Ponders: Bake them and they come

The visitors came from all over, like Carla Sonheim, an artist compadré who I'd never meant. Their son Wes was on his way to visit his grandmother out West and rather than just put him on a plane in Seattle, they drove to Portland so they could attend Pie Day, and they put him on a plane in Portland instead. Carla has a new book out about drawing, and I have a spread in it. I just saw my copy and it's really a fun drawing book, so check it out.

Then there was Stevie, who came with his mom from the Eugene area, and they drove the two hours to meet Pino and see my art. Stevie has an excellent future as either vet, farrier or perhaps barber, as he was an excellent donkey groomer. He decided that the donkeys were attracted to him, and I'm sure they were with his doting grooming skills. Farmer in training, Dalton, came and we re so enjoying watching him grow from visit to visit. As usual, Dalton wanted to ponder many things on the farm, like the semi hidden water feature under an old tree.

My good friend Emma came to be a helper, and even though she wasn't that pleased with her donkey toe paintings, they were still charming. Emma has been coming to help at our Pie Days since day one, and also helped us put on Hospice Appreciation Day, since she is a hospice worker. Thank you, sweet Emma, we love you!

Pie helpers from Kentucky and NYC came to camp out under the sky, and a full moon. They helped me bake pie - apple, chess, blueberry, peach, cherry and one special pecan for our Pre-Pie Day meal of Apifera lamb on the grill. They also provided enough wine to inebriate the entire farm, but no animals consumed alcohol, for the record. Although Muddy's tail, as usual, was in full swing, and we lost a glass.

So many people I didn't get pictures of who came from out of town- like Lisa Giddings and her young daughter Sophie, who also have pygmies, many from new Moon Goat Sanctuary where our three seniors are from. And Kathy Beck and her fun husband came form Seattle area. That was special, because Kathy is a cancer survivor, and also donated money for the Pino Port Potty, so we thrilled she came and communed with pie and Pino.

And then there was also a documentary filmer who turned up accidently on Saturday, who was making a movie about animal therapy. She was so nice, I had to stop and give her a tour and show her the donks and she did a bit of filming for her movie. We decided it was a good thing she came on Saturday, for on Sunday I would not have been able to give her much time.

Please don't feel slighted if I missed you- we enjoyed everyone's visits!

Post Pie Day Ponders: Young puppeteer from Iowa

One of the very special guests we had from afar was an artist compadré of mine, Emma, and her artist mother Angela. They came from Iowa, and planned their Portland family trip around Pie Day so Emma could meet me and Pino and see Apifera. Emma is a blossoming artist who paints abstracts, tells stories with puppets and uses her imagination in many creative endeavors. Last year she created a wonderful little apron for Pino's cause.

I was told by a Pino Pie Helper that Emma walked into the studio and immediately recognized the Pino Puppet up on a shelf. She also decided that Juliette the folk art donkey doll I made had to go home with her, and it was nice to see Juliette getting a tour of the farm with Emma.

Emma spent time in the barns and met the many animals. Of course, Pino welcomed her, and right before she left, Emma just had to have an apron too.

What a special day for Emma, but, perhaps even more special for me, to see her so happy amongst Apifera's creatures. Thank you, Angela, for arranging your trip so we could meet you.

Post Pie Day Ponders: Nomad attire

I opted to wear a skirt over loose pants....it felt nomadic, and since I am so rooted to the farm, it felt like an antithesis to that. If my mother had seen me in this outfit, I can guarantee she would have said, "What do you have on?"

Post Pie Day Ponders: And in the end

And in the end, everyone was exhausted, but in very good way. Thank you everyone, including the weather committee who made the skies so blue, pie helpers, culvert ditch fallers, apron makers, the Dirt Farmer for putting up with me in my Post Pie Day Exhaustion.

But most importantly, thank you, Apifera, for collaborating with me, protecting me from a cold world, and sheltering the many animals here. Pino, Lucia, and Paco, you were all perfect hosts and we pulled another one off.

Thanks to apron sales, we'll be sending some donations to New Moon Goat Sanctuary, El Refugio del Buritto [donkeys] and Old Dog Haven.

And you can still buy aprons online that didn't sell, and that money will go to senior animals too.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pie Day Ponderings

Beautiful weather, perfect pie crust, pie plethora, children brushing donkeys, beautiful little girls with curls, boys with full cheeks, great grandmothers healing from broken hearts and aging bodies- it all happened with a 5 hour period at Apifera on Sunday.
I am in post pie day pondering mode, and will be posting pictures and thoughts all week. There were some pretty magical moments for me, some made me cry, but all gave me that invisible pat on my back that bringing pies, donkeys and aprons together brings people joy, and comfort. I want to give the many tender moments justice with proper posts. But here is a glimpse.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Life entwined

The beautiful poppies that are thriving on Rosie's grave, nourished by her body, and I like to think, her soul, are spellbinding. A young lab runs by, to break that spell, but so beautiful himself. I wouldn't normally choose to put red next to brown, so once again life has taken the control from me, and given me the gift of a seeing, and being an observer of this chance two seconds.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Aprons from the old prairie

A box of vintage aprons arrived from Sandstone, Minnesota, complete with donkey drawing. Sent by Patty Yager and her donkey friends Lucky and Shamrock. it also had a wonderful little poem:

"Some of these aprons are better than others, But all were worn by sisters and mothers, maybe even by some guy, to knead the bread or bake the pie!"

Thank you, Patty, Lucky and Shamrock! We love your donation and you are official Pino Pie Ambamssadors now. This is a noble title. [And I hope to get them all online before Pie Day].

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Aging with a pug

The One Eyed Pug is aging. He is almost 12 years old now, and his world is now seen out of one side of his head, with a gauzy blur to it due to damage from years ago. His crinkled pug nose is full of bits and particles from his morning breakfast and a bit of Apifera dust. His waistline expands with little bumps, assumed benign. And his tail, usually curled like the top of a phony ice cream cone, will straighten out when he is most relaxed, or worried.

Age does not keep him from emitting large quantities of gas, and unfortunately for the person holding him on their lap - uh, that would be me- the gas is often in the most serious form - a silent, liquid squirt we like to call "Wet WIllies". I have taken to putting a towel under him when we recline together on the couch at night. But if I forget, I arrive at my bed, quite stinky, ready for a night of slumber covered in tiny little brown spots.

Billy Baker, Bill, Mr. Wiggle, Pug, Old Boy, Mr.Bill - he comes to any of his names, that is, when the name is shouted. It is yet one other of his birth rights that have slowly been taken from him, his hearing. He often gets stuck at the bottom of the stairs, and he stands with a worried tail uncurled, one eye ball looking so forlorn, all the while doing a little pug whimpering. It is a sad thing, to see him in that state, all confused, not knowing how to get up the stairs.

He sleeps more and more, and often doesn't know I've entered the room. He's beginning to have little accidents, including a bad mishap last week where he asked to be let up in my bed in the early morning. TIt has been our ritual to snuggle in the morning, after he breakfasts outside, he runs back in the bedroom to be with me. I'd let him under the covers where he'd snuggle his pugged up face in my arm pit. We've been doing that since day one. But one recent morning, he seemed confused, and it turned out, he left much more than a Wet WIlly in the bed on my bare farmer body. I deal with manure on a daily basis here on the farm, but when it's freshly deposited on your naked legs at 7am, in clean sheets, it's rather...shocking. I could tell he felt upset, and no apology was needed.

The body ages, muscles and sphincters and all sorts of things get loosey goosey. It will happen to me too, already is happening, and hopefully no one will shame me for it. He gladly followed right behind me tot the washing machine, and cleaned crumbs off the floor while I loaded the soiled sheets. I of course was buck naked - when a dog poops on you what's the point of getting dressed - first things first. So there we stood together, an old one eyed pug with bodily functions failing, and a naked middle aged caretaker with pug poop on her legs.

Billy is a role model I guess, for all of us aging two footers. You get up each day and face it with all your faculties, even if some of them are a bit worn out. You hope there's someone to give you a lift up in the bed, and a warm touch when needed. You just do the best you can do, and handle what comes your way with a few snorts, and don't worry too much about the wet willies you might let slip out on the way.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pino's pie prance

The time is so full right now, so ripe for goodness. In our third year of collecting aprons from all over the country, I'm always so grateful for people's kindness. But how can you not get behind a little donkey collecting aprons to help raise money for old creatures?

We already have someone who wants to be an Apron Ambassador for Pino's 2011 Pie Day. And as usual the stories behind many of the aprons are really sweet. Some were worn by the sender's grandmother and have come out of storage to help Pino's cause. Some have been made by anonymous church ladies. They come from the east coast to Texas to the great plains and Rocky Mountains.Pretty nice.

You can see the aprons at Pino's Apron Gallery, where you can buy one if you'd like. Proceeds will be gathered and sent to help the old animals at El Refugio Burrito, Old Dog Haven or New Moon Goat Sanctuary. You can read more about these fine places at the Donkey Dreams blog.

So thank you to the apron givers and makers. It's just a little donkey's small way to chip in - he is lucky to have a good home, and there are so many like him that aren't so lucky.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Love thy waistline, taught by a goat

Frankie has taught me that one's waistline expands greatly by the end of the day. It is simply a fact. You eat some stuff, drink water, waddle a little, and by day's end, your body has expanded, just in time for dinner.

Frankie has also taught me that the expanding waistline can be a beautiful, abstract formation, when viewers look at it from a different perspective.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The rich gift of Edith

We brought home a new 3 month old Katahdin ewe lamb to help diversify our genetics in our flock. She comes from a line of wonderful deep browns, blacks and pinto colors, so we are excited to breed her next year. And she'll bring a little bit more size to our flock.

I named her "Edith", which means, "rich gift". The gift she gave me is that she reminded me that I love raising sheep, even when things go wrong, or the duties of shepherding bring me conflicts, or a rushed schedule, or a sore back. I had been having some doubts about continuing to breed, for a lot of reasons. I don't want to rehash them here, right now anyway, I just want to relish in this sweet face.

I spent much of yesterday afternoon in with my ewes, and I just wanted to watch them and be with them. Beautiful little Jane is so like her mother, Olive Oil, and she too has turned out to be a gift, even though we weren't expecting her [if you're new to the blog, the ram got through the fence for 10 minutes back in December and had an indiscretion with virginal Olive Oil... 5 months later, two lambs appeared in the lavender field]. Jane has taken to running up to when I bleat, and likes to be petted, just like here Mama.

Rosalita, Ruthie, Emily Wiggley, Gracie May, Coco, they are all growing well and I do like caring for them, as time consuming as it is. Somehow, I lost the joy of it all this spring. I don't know why, perhaps because we had so many rams and that compounds the angst of impending slaughter. That conflict will never go away, even if I quit raising sheep. And somehow, this new girl has reminded me of how much I enjoy my sheep, their noble noses, the way their ears stick out, the way they get up in a herd and go to bed in a herd. And now that the young boys are out with the big rams, my life is somewhat back to normal. Just me and the girls.

Jane [left] and her brother examine the scene presented before them.

Ruthie is going through her awkward youth and reminds me of me in 6th grade.
Beautiful Rosalita, named after her grandmother, is turning into a wonderful ewe, even though a bit on the small side.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Captured cat epiphany

Moment captured with Big Tony. I suspect he had just had a cat epiphany of some sort.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Brief garden interlude

I stepped outside to take a few moments in the garden just now, and mingled with cats, lamb's ear and other values of green. How fortunate I am. Looking northward, the goats and donks grazed, and as I returned to my studio, my noble insiders were their to greet me with banging tails. Why can 3 minutes like this, recalled only seconds later here in words, make my eyes swell. There was such contentment, such gratitude, in that 3 minutes I just experienced...eyes brimming is just a private acknowledgment of it.