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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Paco's Poetry Place

As some of you know, Paco has been writing poems for years, unbeknownst to any of us, in his secret hideaway, "The Bower of Love". He likes to recite his poems to Mother Matilda. You can find out why by reading this previous post, which will allow you to shut out the world for five minutes and read a short story.

Brown spots arrive on apples

Our hair grows thick and

tells us of the autumnal gathering of 


I ate a fallen friend today

a sunflower who fell

like a soldier 

after a good life of purpose

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mr. Bradshaw has left

9/15/2011 Post Note!!! Mr. Bradshaw returned to the barnyard after 6 weeks. Where was he? He was fit, happy and unharmed. He was happy to see me, and I him. So next time he disappears, we won't give up hope for at least 6 weeks!

It's been three weeks and Mr. Bradshaw has not returned to Apifera. The last time he left us, he returned and and we were very glad to see him come back.

But he is older now, probably at least eight or more, not bad for a semi feral barn cat. He started out as quite the bully when he first arrived way back in '04 having wandered over to Apifera from one of the many nearby cat colonies. Within time, he warmed and mellowed and I could even pick him up, although not for long. One day I arrived in the barn and he had a gaping wound to the bone and muscle and I never thought I'd safe him from infection, but I did, and the hole closed in time. That was years ago.

Perhaps by writing this it will shake the currents in the air where ever he is, and like Dorothy looking into the Wicked Witch's crystal ball, he'll see me calling for him,

"Mr. Bradshaw, Mr. Bradshaw! Come home, it's late, Where are you?"

Where ever he is, in whatever form, I hope it has the feel of our barn, light coming in from a distant door lighting a chicken companion, and a horse to provide equine aroma.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Granny speaks

Granny was born with missing and crooked teeth, so her tongue always sticks out of her mouth. While this could have led to low self esteem, Granny has never let it bother her, as this short movie will demonstrate.

She also sings, which I was lucky enough to catch in these pictures. It was off key, with a lisp, but I've never heard a more heartfelt version of "Oklahoma" in my life and I saw it performed live in Cavalier, North Dakota.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Muddy Days of Summer

He mutters, trying to keep himself from falling asleep,

"Must rest, must rest, sun out, sun hot, shade, must rest."

For if he sleeps, he might miss the hot summer day's end when the sun goes down, and his tail flies him out the door to play with his lover, a red ball.

Want to see Muddy as a baby? I don't know if you can handle it though.

Shepherdly duties

I respect that many of my readers might not be meat eaters and I don't begrudge that, nor do I ever question their choice. Part of the reason I write this blog is to share my journey at Apifera with myself. One can choose to read this post or not, but please respect another's life choice if you choose to comment. Thank you.

Today was harvest day for the meat lambs. I did normal barn routines, and brought them to a cool and shady holding pen. I have a ritual of sitting with them briefly thanking them for the good work they've done and how we appreciate it so very much.

This year for the first time, I stayed with the lambs and held each one so the butcher could just take them with less stress for the actual butchering - a quick slit to the throat, through the vertebrae so the brain shuts down. I can't say enough good things about our butcher. But after eight years of hospicing ill animals and watching many die their natural deaths, this year I knew I had to watch the process of my sheep dying after their slaughter. This was part of my personal evolution as a farmer...and for me, part of my responsibility of someone who wants to eat her own farm's meat. It is only right I am here for them in their last breath, as I am there for them at their first breath.

I've said this many times, raising your own meat is a process, for some of us it involves sorting through conflicts. I have evolved over the past eight years of shepherding and each year I have come closer to my quest for comfort in being a meat eater. When we moved here, I decided I only wanted to eat meat we needed and grew ourselves. I was a vegetarian for over seven years, as was Martyn at one time, and we still maintain a 50% vegetarian eating habits. We also buy farm raised chicken from local farmers a few times a year.

Some of you have watched me evolve from angst meat eater to being more accepting of the annual harvest day as part of the cycle of farming and this time has allowed me to formulate a very clear understanding of myself in this universe. I know if I were a bird, the cat would eat me, or a car windshield would, if I was a deer, man would shoot me or the coyote might. The chickens eat the worms that some say have no faces but I doubt that. The rabbits eat the garden veggies that many say don't feel pain when ripped from their stalks, but I doubt that too. I'm at the top of the food chain for now, and I feel better when I get meat in my body. And I want to be there on its birthday and death day. And I have been.

There is always a 'feeling' on harvest day, before the truck arrives. After all, I know something my animal doesn't. But I felt no remorse. I saw my animals die fast, and I watered their blood into the compost area where the chickens stood waiting. I partook in the annual traditions of carrying the livers back to the house and fried them with butter and onions.  It's a serious day, but it's a grateful day for us too.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sheep Chicken Cat Days of Summer

We shall fight it no more, it is the end of August and we shall simply meld into heated concrete and dirt, waiting for September, ah September.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lucia's Little Levities

"Lucia Little Levities" shares the innocence and heart of our teeniest donkey, Lucia Graciella, sister to Pino. While Paco worries and writes poems, Pino heals and humors, Lucia immerses herself in her own innocence. I will post Lucia's Little Levities when she remembers to share them with me.

Want to see the real Lucia? Or buy a print of this Lucia Levity?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Eight years, one man and the memoir lurks

To say I was a different person eight years ago is true on many levels. At this exact hour, I was still single, farmless, barnless, and donkeyless.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Healing my heart inside out

You can see many more felted creatures on the site.

The creatures that walk this farm each have a voice resonating in my head, and heart. While I consider myself a happy, grounded person, living out the dream of having landed in my own sense of place - Apifera - I have much melancholy that I felt into and out of these creatures. I do it for myself but also for them too. Just as I need them to share something of myself, to expunge sadness or spread a moment of joy's essence, they in turn need me to come to life and be the creature they are meant be.

The rage of one's teens and twenties that in my case was unbridled until I matured and found the outlet of working on my art consistently gave way to a more refined angst in my thirties and forties. Often this angst was entangled in the non committed male in my life, but I can say with clarity now that I was not in a place that allowed me to fulfill my potential as a person and artist and when an artist feels they aren't working to their potential, there is angst.

I am restless. August always makes me lazy, but also restless. I allow myself to indulge more in the land and farm projects such as remending fences for the tenth time that a 2 foot tall goat keeps mastering. But I am preparing myself to once again engage in my inner sanctum of creating.

These felted creatures are characters of my own inner village. They are initially inspired by an animal in the barnyard, but always end up meshing memories of human creatures long gone, or those that are lingering in their last days here on earth. In this way they are my healing creatures.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Nuance of the mane

The three minis have distinct manes and Lucia's turns a rusty red in summer. Watching the colors of her hair at sunset makes me pause. soak it in, hold it dear and bring it out some winter night when I feel there's no hope for warmth.

The curve of her back stripe makes a road trip direct into my camera, then my eyes, wafts through each cell and U turns at the heart back out in the words, "Lucia, I love you."

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The pig gets press

To say I am enamoured with her tail is an understatement. Rosie's tail, and the tale of bringing her here with Stevie the handicapped goat, is now published on Huffington Post.

Rosie is settling in very well. Her grumpiness has settled and she seems to really know my voice and smell now, allowing me to clean her eyes without fuss and get her to lay on her side for belly rubs. She is learning words and has a vocabulary of three right now, although I'm sure she has many more in her I just don't know yet myself.

I have many "pig" moments. Like a "horse" moment, this happens when I see her standing in the barnyard in her little piggy pose, and her little piggy tail swinging on her mini hippopotamus butt and I think,

"Wow, I have a pig now."

It is important to point out that at age 53, after being here 8 years, I still have many of these "moments" when I see my barn, horse, donkeys, goats, husband, garden, dogs, chickens, ducks, goose, or cats. Recognizing this allows me want for little...except maybe more fencing and gates. And ceder shakes.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The eyes

“The eyes indicate the antiquity of the soul”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

It's another ZZ Top Moment

They come runnin' just as fast as they can coz' every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man.

Read more about this fine looking goat, a recent arrival to Apifera >