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.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The countdown to stories unleashed

The stories from "Misfits of Love" will have a life of their own. The words of each story, printed on paper and then bound in a book, will be yours to mingle with, ponder, and retain meaning or inspiration of your own.

There are 32 days left to gather more pledges, with 29% being funded. Thank you to everyone who has pledged. There is a lot of legwork to do to get more pledges but I feel very strongly that I want these stories out there, in print, to be held.

It's easy to pledge. Your money is held [your credit card is not charged[ and only if the project is fully funded by the deadline will you be billed. Gift levels are spelled out at my page on Kickstarter where you can also read more on the project and see a movie.

But for now, I am posting one story [click "Read More" below] from the proposed book. It's an important one, as it is about the first old creature of Apifera, Old Man Guinnias. He is over eighteen now, and every year I hope for another, if it is meant to be.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Natural hat of hen

They rush about in businesslike manner seeking, investigating, conquering tiny pebbles of grit that many would not notice. Their natural red hats might flop when they scurry off the compost pile but they always right themselves without my intervention.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pino's Christmas Pageant

He's just a little donkey and he had such a dream. Alas, he found out how difficult it can be to direct-produce-act-and-sing in a production. So turn off your tweets, disengage from your face or his face or myface or facebook and give the little guy 7 minutes of your time. It's full of song, philosophy and more...right through the credits.

You can watch the video on our movie channel too, it might load faster.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Tale of The Christmas Garland

One day Apifera received a big box from a kind woman who makes lovely hand made items. She had met many of the barnyard creatures while attending last fall's Art Workshop and inside the box were lots of animal crackers to be shared by them. But what caught the eye first was a beautiful garland of felt and wool she had made. Little did she know it would become a piece of great admiration by so many diverse characters. After last week's sadness, it was good to have such care free joy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Aunt Bea has gone on

Thank you to everyone who partook in Aunt Bea's Celebration of Life to help pay her medical and vet fees.It was greatly needed and appreciated.

She fought so hard, and so did I.

She started here with the cards stacked against her, after being rescued by New Moon out of a starvation situation. Her blood work showed the havoc malnutrition had on her little body.

But one of my three wonderful vets and I fought hard to help her, and I have never had such a brave little patient. Shots and drenches every day, wrapped in old sweaters for warmth, she hung on and on, always eager to eat, but unable to get up or walk. Her walking was worsened when her right front leg suffered some kind of nerve damage making her unable to put pressure on it. I was getting her up at least four times a day to move her, and pat her sides to help her rumen and the water in her lungs. I had even looked into buying a wheelchair for her.

Her treatments were nearly over after 18 days so the vet came to do a blood test on her today. We had hoped to see any kind of improvement in her Pac Cell count. Instead it was worse. We discussed an option of more injections for three weeks to see if we could stimulate the bone marrow - a treatment that has helped dogs and cats. But with the blood work in, we both felt it was time to help her over. It was a hard decision - because I had fought so hard too.

But you have to stand back and ask what you are fighting for - you, or the comfort of the animal. She had become more uncomfortable in the last few days - constant groaning - which could have meant so many other things were going wrong in her.

I held her little head, and she fell off to sleep, sweet slumber, and then she was gone. To not see her teeny little head sticking out of the hay bed tomorrow morning might just kill me. But the vet said it best - she had more attention in the last month than her whole life. I know this.

It was dark when I left the barn. I looked up to the sky but there were no stars. Just like her little blanket had kept her warm all these days at Apifera, the sky now offered her a blanket of fog to keep her warm on her journey.

Thank you to all who helped.

Matilda's window

Matilda will have her own chapter in "Misfits of Love". Please consider pledging for this project. We are 20% funded but time is running out. Help me share stories of old and neglected creatures who have a purpose.

She is the first to dine on hay, which is presented to her through her own window. Too high up for the mini crew to reach through, I show her the hay, she grabs a bite and looks at me with, "That will do, thank you."

I don't ever have to search for Matilda, her ears and eyes are always there for me in the morning and evening as I enter Old Barn. I say her name, and the tips salute towards me in acknowledgment.

We have an understanding that no matter what, it will be a new day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Barnyard harbor

I rarely go to the barn after dark. If I do find myself there after sundown, it is usually because of an emergency or helping a sick or needy animal, including my shepherdly duties each March.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Walk with Professor Otis Littleberry

Much attention has been spent, out of necessity, on helping Aunt Bea, but little Professor Otis Littleberry can not be forgotten.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Christmas for Aunt Bea

Yesterday I intended to finally sit down and spend the day writing. But instead, I was physically and emotionally pulled to paint.

I know when a muse speaks internally like this it is no use fighting it. I painted this for Aunt Bea, or for me, or for both of us. She was outside the studio in the paddock, soaking up the earth and sun, and I painted quickly, with abandon. I had an internal sensation that I had to get it done 'in time' for her, and even had hesitated to look out the window when I was done because I thought somehow my finishing the piece was tied to her time on Earth.

But she was still hanging in there. I showed her the piece and she looked at me in an expression I have grown to know well - little head with little eyes, "Are you really taking care of me? No one has cared for me for so long, when will you leave me?"

I felt Aunt Bea deserved a Christmas, not a holiday, a Christmas. So I painted her in one. No matter how long she is with us, I will know I gave her that.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Aunt Bea we are with you

Sweet little Aunt Bea is struggling to survive. The malnourishment has wreaked havoc on her little system and we are doing all we can do to give her a chance to live more days in the sun.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Help me share the stories of old creatures

I have had this project in my heart and mind ever since the first old goat arrived at Apifera. I guess there was a reason 8 years ago why the universe kept me from doing it - how did I know so many more old, crippled or challenged creatures would wander here, with some floating away to rest above the tree line when there final day had come? Each one is special, with a voice, and a story. We can learn from those stories.

So, I have created a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise funds to make "Misfits of Love" a book of short narratives, photography and art. The funds will get the manuscript professionally edited and prepped for publishing and will allow me to market it to publishers - or go the self publishing route if necessary. Making books is a long process. The campaign page tells how I will use the money.

This is a labor of love, people. While I have lots of book projects out there looking for publishers [with my wonderful new agent- more on that later] and I love all of them and believe in each one - this project is one that obviously makes me sing and cry all at once.

Kickstarter works like this: You pledge an amount [from $15 to $1,000] and I in turn pledge to send you a gift in return [you can opt out of the gift]. Your credit card is not charged but your money is held in escrow by Amazon when you pledge Only when the entire goal is reached will your amount be charged. If I don't meet my goal, you don't pay a dime. I have until Jan 30 to make my goal, and if I do, your card will be charged. Visit my campaign to see more including a video.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


Such beauty in a compact form, my Rosie. Each morning, precisely timed after her breakfast digests and beauty routines are complete, she takes her mass up against the old wall of the chicken coop to gather it's warmth into her skin. Blending together, the pig becomes one more structure in the barnyard with purpose - to stand and be admired in the light of a new day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gifts with spunk from the hand

A dizzying array of unique gift ideas from Apifera. If a link goes to a blank page it most likely means the item sold already. This is a copyrighted image - no usage/copying/tracing allowed.

Love can float

Pillows can believe

Invest in original art and feed an artist

And maybe find  some arty deals

144 pages of art and inspiration 

Tea towels with donkeys...why not?

Prints can help old animals

Put elephants in your closet

Polk a dots and monkeys - who says it's not right?

Blue drawings of bliss

A good boo boo

Donkeys to rest with

A workshop amongst farm and donkey ears

Raggedy messes

Can't have an old goose..or donkey..or goat? Sponsor one.

Deck your halls with lavender

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Breakfast with the Bottomtums

In the morning as they plod out of their Bottomtum hut. They relish the muck, prefer it to the dry straw I place inside. The rain pellets stand on their necks and backs, like little natural punctuation marks, but who needs words for filler?

The neck of Priscilla, so Grace Kelly like, or was Grace Kelly like a goose. I sing to her sometimes, "Beautiful old goose, beautiful old goose, will you swoon for me, twist your neck that way you do, beautiful old goose."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Faces refecting my gratitude

Each day she stares into me, quietly, the matriarch of the flock, waiting for me to start her day with hay and a trip to a pasture carved into a perfect understood boundary by fence.

We have routines changed only by seasons and illness and strung together those moments culminate into a life. It's those minutes, both of us serving each other, that I am most grateful for - the opportunity to live amongst creature and earth worm, and one good man. All the rest is gravy in my boat of paintings.

Thank you too, for reading - your eyes following along on this page make my story telling a circle, not a straight line.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Apifera welcomes....

Post note: The official name is Professor Otis Littleberry, and Aunt Bea.

Well, we're not sure what their names are. However, it appears the little round lady seems like an Aunt Bea.

Saturday the Dirt Farmer and I loaded two crates and some tuna sandwiches in the car and headed up to see the goats at New Moon Farm. The 10 hour round trip was made in sunshine so we enjoyed the beautiful views of the Cascades. I was immediately smitten with a new Pygmy herd that had been confiscated for neglect. We were also so happy to see how New Moon has grown with Ellen's hard work. The place was buzzing with volunteers of all ages and people picking up goats. The last time we were there was to pick up Old Man Guinnias in '08. So these two little creatures are our 7th and 8th goat adoptees from New Moon and we consider her extended family.

I had my heart open to the many other needy goats in Ellen's care - some of the goats I had been drawn to before our trip had found perfect homes, including an old gent that reminded me of a white standard poodle. It was all meant to be.

Aunt Bea was the matriarch to the herd, which at one time was 12, but four had died from mysterious circumstances. The grey gent we brought home was the neighbor goat of the herd, and when Ellen asked what his name was, the response was, "He doesn't have name." I am so delighted with these two. They are in their own area for another week since they were loaded with lice when Ellen rescued them, and their feet aren't so great - but in time I think we will get them fixed up. They are content and very friendly...I am trying out names on the gent - but for now, he is just so happy to be scratched. I wondered how long it's been.

With the holidays coming up, New Moon is a great 501c to consider for gift giving. Like I said, I've known them for awhile and can attest to Ellen's dedication. Apifera is not a 501c, but we are grateful for any sponsorships of our adoptees.

These two have many stories to tell. Just wait.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Head Troll reporting to duty

The Head Troll spent the last day standing guard over the names on the barn wall. It seems the names were written in chalk and kept getting licked off by Old Man Guinnias. This caused quite a dilemma as the names had to be rewritten on the wall, and I guess, from what I was told by Florence, all the names kept getting confused and mixed up. So finally, also according to Florence, The Head Troll ordered everyone out of the barn so she herself could write all the names on the wall, once and for all.

Being a chicken, Florence gets quite excited when procedures don't go exactly as planned. She doesn't roll with the punches well, and begins to talk herself into a series of fast clucks, making it almost impossible to translate into English. I have no idea what she was trying to tell me in the end but I did decipher that she was a bit miffed that Wilbur the Acrobatic Goat accidentally made Saturday plans - so the pillow game had to be decided today which interfered with Fig Newton Friday, a monthly get together of the barnyard to chat, cluck, gossip and eat store bought cookies [considered a rarity on the farm].

Anyway, when she finally calmed down, Florence pulled a piece of paper from under her wing and handed me the name of the person that will be adopting the art pillow. And the name was...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Old man conversation

I took these pictures this morning of my Old Man. He has started going out to the older barn in the morning and resting in a private doorway nook near one of the stalls. It provides him privacy, but with the sounds of nearby sheep and visiting chickens.

I didn't think too much of this in the past couple days, it is after all a place where many of the barnyard will congregate for shelter. It's about a 3"x 2" space and I can understand the temptation to snuggle down in the leftover hay to ponder the taste of chewed cud. Eggs are laid there, old geese have napped there.

But I had a conversation with Old Man Guinnias this morning. The cold rains have come today and he seemed a bit different. I do believe that certain animals hang on longer out of an unwritten code of ethics and I told him he could go anytime he needs to. It is selfish of me at this stage not share that with him. The day after we lost Honey Boy and Granny, I talked to Guinnias and I said, "You just keep on walkin' for me..." It's up to him and his body now, and he might just have a picture of spring in his mind, I don't know. All the animals here are loved and are unique, but Old Man Guinnias has a special place, as first old goat, and hanger on at 18.

When I photographed him today, I couldn't help but wonder if he placed himself in that private nook to entice me over, to take a fitting portrait of him - showing his most dignified, beautiful aged face.

Old Man Guinnias is one of the many old goats Apifera has adopted from New Moon Goat Farm/Rescue.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Art pillows for an old goat

Thank you to everyone for playing along and for your compassion. I maintain and nurture all the adopted rescues through my art and book sales and your support is helping these creatures too. The results?

As some of you know, we had a hard loss last week of two of our adopted old goats, Honey Boy and Granny. I have had some kind donations to help defray the emergency vet bill [thank you so much] but it is still a large one, so, if you want to play along here, you can. We adopted them from New Moon Goat Rescue where most of our other adopted goats hail from.

Deadline to pay is the 11/18.Scroll to bottom of post.
Here's how to play along: Each five dollars gets your name written on the barn wall, so if you pay $10 your name is put on the wall twice. Then The Head Troll, aka Frankie, will lead the other Apifera adoptees to choose name. They will close their eyes, meditate for five minutes, and then open their eyes and point unison. It always works that they point to the same name, I don't know how, but it works. The barnyard works in mysterious ways.

The person the animals choose then gets to pick which art pillow they want of the two shown. Keep in mind the pillow's back might be slightly different. And the fabrics used might be slightly different, but the art panel [all cotton] is as seen here.

Each pillow is 12-14" and stuffed with 100% natural bamboo stuffing [so soft]. Then I also sandwich some of Apifera's lavender bud in between the stuffing [about 1 cup] so it is nice and aromatic. These regularly sell for $144.50.

Friday, November 11, 2011

My red carpet

I'd rather walk through sheep droppings to feel the fog with an orange cat and breakfast with a chocolate goat then wear diamonds on my heels and sit on a velvet cushion amongst people with apps.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Read like a donkey

I suppose Pino the Doll was inspired by Pino the Puppet learning Italian, but the Doll is now learning to read. Like any good little donkey, he is going about it very slowly, and has spent most of the week on this one spread. He's over there right now, struggling with a word. But I shan't interrupt again, he refuses my help,

"I will learn it my own donkey slow self," he told me.

Buy my book and learn to read, or just admire the pictures like Pino.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sale update

I decided to put the sale items online at my site so you can just purchase them there. I have a few others I am going to ad in the upcoming days.

Some people have asked if there is any way they can help with vet bills incurred this week with our adopted old goats. You can buy art, or you can just outright donate at this link too [some have gift levels]. I am not a 501c [maybe someday] but rely on my art income and helping hands that can share to support the many need animals we adopt here.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Art sale

I've pulled together some older work, some not so old, some little, some big and added sale prices to them.

This is a slide show all 30+ pieces. If you see a piece you want, email me, I will then email you an invoice and you can pay online or by check. If a piece has sold, I don't go back in the slide show and note it as sold, so it's first come, first serve. Don't waddle or dawdle, too long if there is one you really want. I can tell you "Blue Donkey" and Queen Bee" are sold.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Barn speaks woman listens

I was taking pictures this week in the donkey area and turned to see Paco licking the grave of Giacomo, our old donkey who died a year ago and is buried in the main donkey paddock. I have spoken often how it is a gathering point for guests, farmers and donkeys, a quiet place to reflect on life, or the moment by moment sensations of the creature in front of me.

We all have our belief systems and my post today will not try to tackle putting mine into a descriptive narrative. But I've been noticing the electrical "skin charges' in the old barn on a more frequent basis. I call them "skin charges" for lack of a better phrase - a physical sensation accompanied by a sense of something watching, participating, checking in on me as I work in the barn. Often, there is something out of the corner of my eye, but when I turn, it's not visible to me. I have always had experiences like this, but the old barn and a few other places on the farm seem very electrified. From the day we arrived to look at the farm [I write about this in my illustrated memoir that is being pitched], the old barn spoke to me, always in a caring way, or a meloncholy way - "Do you know how many cows I've birthed, and buried?" she asked me. "You must come now, dream deep with me."

With each new arrival, or parting, the energy is shifted slightly - sometimes softened, but it can also feel stronger on a given day or month. Lately my little "skin charges" have been abundant, and while it's comforting to think it is Giacomo - and often I sense it is- I also feel the presence of a man, non threatening, someone who just misses his barn and is checking in on us.

Each animal has his or her own relationship with the living, and the dead. When Paco licked the stone of Giacomo's grave, he might have tasted salt or the appealing scent of something that had rubbed on the stone. Or he might have had a "skin charge".

Elephants warding off moths

Some housekeeping items to post today...

New things popping up on my Etsy store all the time - like Raggedy Elephant Hangings stuffed with Apifera's lavender bud and whimsically sewn by moi, for your closet or linen areas to help ward off moths...and tigers and prowlers of any kind..

I've been making one-of-a-king art pillows incorporating my illustrated fabrics, stuffed with 100% bamboo stuffing and our farm's lavender bud. Each one is sewn all raggedy - you know, I close my eyes and let the wind guide me. They take me forever to make since I sew on scraps of fabric and let it all evolve.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Paco celebrates the return of the survivors

Many of you already know our little Paco is a real worrier - he worries about the pumpkins getting eaten every year and he worries about surviving hunting season. This year he confided in me that he didn't want to write his annual tips to surviving hunting season because he wanted to stay in the barn and write poetry.

I encouraged this, as poetry is a wonderful way for Paco to express himself and shed some worry.

But he also began a new tradition to celebrate the end of hunting season. As each one of his old friends returns out of the forest, he presents them with a pumpkin friend. This gives him great comfort, to know his pumpkin will be used as a pillow or side table, versus being made into a pie. As much as he likes pie, he becomes conflicted when he has to kill fruit or vegetables to make one.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Floating while grounded

More than ever before, except perhaps before I was born, I am working in tandem, often unconsciously, with my life's elements. I have not been painting as of late - visuals seem to be coming to me in words and fabric - but I went to sleep two nights ago and an image came to me very clearly. It was not exactly this image before you, it was courser with the donkey holding, gently with his teeth, by my long braid. I awoke thinking of the image and felt I must put it to paper with color to embellish my emotion of the day.

Sitting down to work, it evolved, and although I still might go back and do the other image that came to me, I was urged to add the mystery face alteration. I have been watching my old goose, Priscilla, very closely in the last weeks. She is old, yet beautiful and has an orange globe on her head. She was with me most certainly when I conceived this painting. I am very moved by the whiteness of the donkey and the hair.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Agasped au naturelle goat mask, not available in a store near you

I am one of those people that feels that Halloween has been tarnished by adults and the advertisers that have created an empire of really tacky outfits and masks. Call me an old fart, but my mom made our costumes, darn it. And we made real popcorn balls too, and our candy bags were pillow cases, and yea, we went out in gangs of five year olds - in the dark - and walked for maybe 20 or 30 miles to gather candy. It's my childhood, I tell it like it is.

Since I don't have children, I take great pride in passing down the importance of being a self entertaining unit to the barnyard gang.

"If you want to celebrate Halloween, you need to make your own costumes - I can help, but it has to be your idea and we use natural or home made materials. And no fake blood." I told a few of the goats this weekend.

Stevie glanced at me with confidence.

"I don't need any materials. I am going as an Agasped Goat and I have been practicing by looking at myself in the water bucket," he said, as he then gave me his Halloween face.

The Head Troll didn't budge, but little Hazel, the smallest remaining barn cat, fled to her hay bales. Stevie was proud, but as I walked away I heard him consoling Hazel,

"It's just for one night, don't be scared,I'm hoping to freak out the rams,just once," he said to the tiny cat.

Stevie is handicapped for life due to neglect, but was saved by Sanctuary One where we adopted him. He gives kisses. Read more posts on him or sponsor him.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pino's Italian Lessons

Pino and I are learning Italian, one of the most beautiful languages in the world. His ancestors came from Sicily and i just love the language and want to stretch my mind.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Matilda's shining

I was ending a day of photo taking when I came upon Matilda in the old barn, standing where she knows the hay will fall at dusk. The rich tones of the old wood, her white spots shining from the light emanating from an outer clouded sky all made her elderly glance even more beautiful than in daylight.

There are many spirits in the old barn. I have experienced many but have not taken proper time to write about them. I am still learning who they are and am not sure how to share them, or if I should. I do believe that Giacomo comes and goes. I sense him whenever I place my head down on Matilda's rounded shoulders.

You can read about how the old donkey Matilda came to Apifera, and you can also help defray the costs of caring for an old animal with a sponsorship at any gift level you choose.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

In which I ponder my pig

The nuances of her back always give me pause. One slight movement of her leg and her landscape alters. She is a moving mound of white bristles and she is my pig.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

United in nature

Pino tried to figure out what would happen if 1% of the The One Percenters' salary were used to educate people on the plight of the donkey or neglected animals [or children or the elderly], but the math made our heads spin.

We do not believe that the wealthy should take care of us in areas we are already adept at and prospering in, but when an imbalance happens in nature, nature steps in.

So we stand in our fields today, woman, donkeys, old goats, geriatric fowl, worms working for no pay, and we ask The One Percenters- "Could you go stand in a field, just for an hour, alone, unwired, and commune with a worm or two, look at yourself in the stream's mirror and see what role you could take to shift the wealth structure of the world? If you don't feel the wealth structure needs to shift, we ask you to spend one week in the field, gathering wood for warmth, rubbing stones for fire, and watching birds to see where the best berries are. If you come across a bear or cougar, you are on your own, in a hierarchy you seem to have forgotten."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The donkey ate the apple

I'm working as fast as I can making more Raggedy Aprons and other items, like this lavender filled pillow, for the Etsy shop. Sewing 'raggedy' takes a lot of energy, but I'm always filled with a heart of oxygen and my skin feels dewy and soft when I'm done.

What is "raggedy" sewing? It means I close my eyes and the breeze in my heart lifts my braids up in the air. Sometimes I open one eye so I can see the animals in the barnyard or distant fields.

If you go to the Etsy site and the Raggedy items have sold, don't despair. I'm humming along and will keep posting.

Sales from aprons and items on Etsy help old animals on an as need basis as well as the Apifera rescues. Evey June, Pino the donkey has a big Pie Day where people donate aprons and the net sales go to a selected animal charity we know and trust. You can also buy donated vintage aprons at Pino's Apron Gallery.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Paco's pumpkin...again

This has always been one of my favorite pictures of Paco, my little guard, my worrier, my poet.

It was taken back in '08 when I used to run the donks in the barnyard. I reread that post just now and it made me want to share it again
- I have such a soft spot for Paco, he had such a time fitting in here and settling, but I'm so glad we all were patient with each other.