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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Huckleberry Pie eye

Huckleberry Pie, aka Huck, turns seven today.

The greying on the chin has started, the stiff muscles after long runs are showing, the length of naps has increased, but one thing will never change - the look, the eye, the glance. The soul.

I do believe all creatures - and that includes animals, humans, trees, carrots and rocks - have soul. I was once told by an old boyfriend years and years ago - he was raised in a fundamental religion [um, you might understand why that didn't work out] - that animals didn't have souls. This one brief statement put me on a journey to discover concrete answers about the soul. I always thought anything natural had a soul, but had never really researched or pondered facts to back it up. It actually was a blessing because it allowed me to explore a lot of different philosophies and come to an understanding of what my beliefs were spiritually. And for myself, soul became more of a verb, an essence that we all have, that can shine even when we are damaged or hiding.

Soul is bodyless, in my opinion, but it can take up residence in eyes and hearts, or the wind or rain. Carrots have soul, yet we eat them - I truly believe vegetables and grains and grass have souls - As Joseph Campbell said, "Vegetarians have never heard a carrot cry." I have many vegan friends and acquaintances and I never, ever suggested they think differently, in fact, I never bring the topic up because many don't seem to be able to discuss it with a meat eater without going viral. Oddly, many seem to promote vegetarianism on to to me, and one person - a stranger - even suggested I was a hypocrite for saving animals but then eating meat. I disagree, but I really don't owe anyone an explanation. I spent seven years as vegetarian. I spent a lot of time figuring out what I believed. I'm at peace with my place in the food chain and the realm I am in now, the Earth.

What dos this have to do with Huck? His soul is carried in his eyes. He doesn't will it each morning to share his soul, it is just there. I never tire of feeling it, seeing it in his eyes.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Paco's birthday party

I was quite relieved when Paco requested a Fig Newton layer cake for his birthday party on Saturday. Without frosting.

The guests arrived precisely at 3pm and got right to the business of eating. There were no party games or gift exchanges at his request. The party was held in Giacomo Realm and Matilda, the elder of the group, took the first bite. Stella was asked to leave because she ate Paco's bow tie, so Iris left with her. Kind of a relief. Paco did prepare a poem for the occasion but chose to read it telepathically. I don't know how it works but everyone seemed to like it. No candles were hurt- or eaten- during this party.

After everyone left, Paco stood with me for awhile to have his belly scratched, and his butt. Pino gets all the glory, but Paco had his special day and he just looked so content.

See a slide show of the party here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Paco's Party

Our dear little Paco turns seven on Saturday. Unlike many of the adoptees here at the farm, Paco actually had a papers. He has willingly and happily participated in all the Pino Pie Days - in fact he is quite the lush with guests - and he never complains about Pino's social platform.

So I thought this little poet needed his own special party. I told him just this morning, and by noon he was picking dress attire. I hear he wants to read a new poem.

Paco came to Apifera right after Pino and his suitcase had a very bossy bad attitude packed inside. But it was all exterior gruff covering up the heart underneath. He lived in a home with many jacks in one small area, all forest with no grass. There were many goats, peacocks, sheep and lots of testosterone. He was at the bottom of the ranking, so imagine what he had to do to keep up with getting food. So when he arrived here and met Pino, well, he just decided he was going to be in charge....with everyone, including me, the farrier and the vet. It took two years, but Paco has matured and settled into a wonderful fellow and friend. He still likes to scout and let others know he is - sort of- in charge, but he is very loved.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I kicked a gate and cried with the pig

The Head Troll, aka Frankie I'm Not a Boy, turns nine or ten this year. She shows here that one doesn't need a velvet cushion to rest on. But we all need to stop and listens to our light bulb moments.

Before you read this post, know this: I am not going anywhere. And my work has just begun, it's just shifting to my misfit aspirations.

I have been journeying along and have come to a small stream, much like the one that runs through the donkey pasture. I will get to the other side without problem, but I do need to acknowledge that I'm at a crossing over point and I need to make the steps.

Monday, January 23, 2012

And the old goat will speak

We did it. I say 'we' because the fact that my Kickstarter project, "Misfits of Love", funded over the weekend was a collaborative effort. The combination of my heart mixed with the old souls in the barnyard all these years simmered and baked into wonderful stories and art...and some lessons.

Once born, these stories evolved and matured like any child and eventually found the right time to fly off, to be what they were going to be. They interacted with readers all over and many of those readers reciprocated with pledges. Like old geese returning to a needy mate, these stories will journey without me, landing where needed most.

Now the real work and fun begins. I am still reveling in a bath of light. I'm very proud! I have so many ideas. There are still 8 days so you can still pledge - I won't be pitching to you any more - but if you do pledge, the money would be used for more editorial/design help and would also offset any Paypal/host fees. I also am interested in making Podcasts and having the stories narrated. I will be in touch with pledgers in spring with any rewards they are owed.

I am going to think outside the box, which should come easy for me. While I do want to see a publisher pick this book up, I am weary of the slow grinding wheels and trepidation of many publishing houses. I got very depressed watching my memoir "Raggedy Love" sitting at houses and being turned down for being "lovely, but too quirky" or hearing, "It's just not a big enough platform". Perhaps that is another reason it has been very good for me to raise $8,750 in 48 days - I did that. While I will pitch the book to publishers, I also plan to move forward in any way I can to let the stories come alive to the public, via podcast, radio, articles, photo shows and more. So stay tuned. This is an evolution.

I held Old Man Guinnias extra close last night. He is becoming more crippled from his past neglect. His back foot, turned even more and weehttp://tinyurl.com/7c45h2ykend from overcompensating for his front shoulder [or vice versa] has begun to collapse more. But he still stands when I come for morning feedings, he still greets the sun and eats like a logger. One of my goals is to take as many photos of him as I can- my dream is he will see his story evolve and maybe I can sit with a book in my lap and read it back to him. He is nineteen now, as near as we can tell.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Heartburn of the artist and a plea to the silent ones

I am working on ideas and sketches for "Misfits of Love". I am finding the fund raising is sucking my creative energy and many ideas are in left swirling and percolating in my head. I am so very close to getting funded. But I can't stop the chatter in my head until we reach 100% - so please put me out of my madness and pledge. We need only $1,130 to get there.

While I underestimated the stress of raising this much money - for me, and not a sick animal this time - I also was surprised at how proud I felt nearing the end. I didn't realize what a feeling of accomplishment I'd have watching the amount grow. I'm so touched by the many project backers that have raised the amount of their pledges.

So I'm asking the many people that read this blog - especially the anonymous ones - to make a pledge. I've spilled open my heart to all of you for seven years, sharing old goat stories, puppet ponderings, chicken underpants and donkeys poets. Where else can you get all that...for free? It is not comfortable for me to ask for money for myself - I underestimated the heartburn I'd have from 60 days of doing it - but I am now asking.

Pledge here, as little or as much as you can at any reward level.

I gave my love a red bouncy thing

Through torrential rains or fog or sleet, he never ceases to lose exuberance for life. What a role model he can be to us all - the ever joyful, willing, chocolate velvet eared Muddy Waters.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Memory on a sheep's back

Snow clusters in herds on the backs of my sheep. I drift back to a walk long ago with my father. As a pine branch waves to greet us, flakes fall and herd on his wool coat clinging to life, only to melt one by one.

Monday, January 16, 2012

There are 14 days left to fund "Misfits of Love" a book of illustrated narratives about the old creatures of Apifera. I believe these stories, photos and art will inspire readers to look at old creatures in a different way, and that in some way it will also translate how they look at old people or old objects. The world has become fast paced tweets with products are made to only be cost effective if they are tossed rather than refurbished. This quiet little book will take you into the realm of old souls who have wisdom and dignity despite their histories. Rather than pushing them aside as last year's models, I feel one of my roles in this life is to care for them, cherish them and share them through story, art and photographs.

If you have pledged, thank you. If you have shared the link, more thank yous. If you can keep sharing, tweeting or writing one person who might pledge, please do it. If you can up your pledge, please do so. All of these efforts are meaningful.

Here again is the link to the Kickstarter page for "Misfits of Love".

Visit my Kickstarter page now to pledge >

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Floating to heal

It seems so many have lost their way from nature and earth. One does not need to live in the country either to be connected to the natural world on a daily basis. Having said that, just because one lives in the country doesn't mean they act in partnership with nature.

While I have never lost touch with nature, I have felt internal urgings of late to place myself in very specific places here on my farm. One place that keeps coming into my internal movie - commonly called my head or inner vision - is the large Savannah Oak on top of Donkey Hill. This is a magical, powerful place for me. From it's vantage point, the farm floats. I rarely come right out and tell people the farm floats, but it does. It's not a secret, it's just an experience I savor for myself and translate only in color layers in paintings.

I too have been known to float, another experience I have shared with only a few close, understanding people. I have been doing it since I was a child. My first memory of floating off was when I would take a bath, and even though my body was still there, I was somewhere else, just...floating. Not flying, not doing anything, just resonating and floating. I never told anyone for years about floating, and sensed it was not "normal". But I liked it, a lot.

But I began to understand through fellow floaters that I am here on Earth, now, to be a a spirit in a human body, not the other way around. My time here has meaning, and if I am going to float, it should be put to good use. Floating to regain composure in angst or sadness is positive. But to float away to escape is not something I aspire to anymore.

You would think that on a farm, 100% of my interactions are with nature. But like all of you, I am faced with finding balance as a farmer-artist-writer-wife-daughter-friend-worker bee-blogger-marketer...and soul.

I spend a lot of time laying my hands on my animals. What a beautiful, meaningful life I am living. But I am having real urges to spend more time with the Savannah Oak this year. I want to press my back on her waist, letting her arms wrap me and her leaf hands lay on me, healing me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When old and blind hospice the young

There are twenty one days left to fund my Kickstarter project, "Misfits of Love". I'm very proud I have almost reached 50% and am over $4,000 in pledges to help my stories of the old and adopted animals of Apifera enjoy a wider audience. There is still a long way to go, so please pledge now, or share with as many as you can. And thank you to all who have helped! One of the stories in "Misfits" is "Hospice of a Lamb", shared in this post.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Unencumbered bottoms

Sometimes when mingling in the barnyard, I have great epiphanies. Just yesterday I mused that humans have bottoms once tailed but now tailless and when clothed we can not admire the individuality of each bottom.

But in the barnyard, all bottoms are free, unique and unencumbered from cloth.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Distracted normality

I gave myself the task today to get one bit of art down on paper. I also gave myself the freedom to just do it fast and not care where it would end up - in a print, online somewhere, or in a pile of other art - or tossed.

I have been doing a lot of writing and creating art for my book ideas, which keeps me on the keyboard, not the drawing board. The fluid motion of making a line when drawing or painting does not exist while typing. I was feeling stuck, heavy footed, heavy worded. This piece is just a small step back to fluidity.

I've spent a lot of energy this year care taking animals that I know are most likely not going to make it. It affects my flow. After 8 years, I can now say that. And this too makes me want to paint, to free my body up. It also makes me want to walk up to Old Oak and sit with her, my head pressed into her skin. Soak in me, Old Oak, I'll take you places, I'll draw your lines someday.

I yearn to take one animal on a long walk, and document it only in photos. No words. But which animal? Picking one means leaving so many behind. My tendrils are connected to so much, might it be time to snip something in a spring pruning?

I suppose many could look at this piece and decipher many meanings. I know what I feel in it. But while lying in bed this morning I was thinking of myself as a little girl, and how that girl came along on all my art journeys and transitions - my art is full of both child and woman. But I feel my writing is talking more to the woman, not the child. That's not a problem, I just woke up thinking about the child - the one that never felt heard, but learned to entertain herself in nature or where ever she was taken in adult land. I remember someone once told me, "Be nice to her, that little one," and it was those words I awoke too.

I feel huge transitions might be coming. I feel a need to put bigger canvases on the wall and mark them with large strokes. I haven't worked on a large piece for many months. Sometimes I think these yearnings are a panic, where the artist or woman retreats back to a former medium, style or product that feels safer because she did it once and survived or gained some kind of satisfaction from it - either emotional or financial. But other times, like today, I feel a small voice urging me to let go, let go, let go, and go forward - to what will be.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Morning has broken

Morning has broken on Apifera in this new year. The stream in the donkey pasture is on its way to the river at full force, my ewes bellies are filling with life, the promise of "What will come to me and us?" was rampant in my brain as I cleaned the paddocks.

It's so much better not knowing what is to come. No fretting about unknown angst and pain and no reveling in the joys - but the expectations of days full of living is what gets my heart pumped up. It gets me out of bed.

I don't make resolutions since each day I act out my intentions through my work and activities. When I fall or falter, or stagnate on a path I thought I was supposed to be on, I try to figure out what I need to do to either accept a new course, or get back on the path I fell off of. It's a constant dance for all of us.

An author I admire who has been a mentor to me recently sent me an email in which she called me "intrepid". I thought this was a wonderful word for my new year.