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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Early Hen Registration!! Cluck!

As I've already written, the hens get extremely agitated when the term "Early Bird" is used.

"It is we, the hens, who are often up before the birds, hard at work pushing and pontificating while our eggs stretch our bottoms," Florence told me.

Florence almost always speaks for the coop when it involves direct opinion - she's quite stern.

Visit this link to read the Lesson Outline/FAQ's and pay online.

Ends soon! Early Hen Cost: $99.00 [sign up before June 1, 2012] Early Henners also will be sent an art card.

Sort-Of Early Hen Cost: $129.00 [sign up from June 2-July 1]

Regular cost: $149.00 [sign up from July 2nd - ongoing]

Living with the elderly dog

This is my latest post for "Life with Dogs"...

I often hear people say how rewarding it is to live with an old dog, but none seem to share specific examples as to why they find it rewarding. As The Old One Eyed Pug nears fourteen, I’ve been pondering how I can share in words why I find the reward outweighs the constant care taking.

His birth name was Billy Baker, named after my kindergarten friend who had a buzz cut that reminded me of Billy’s soft, round head. But fate gave Billy Baker, the pug not the boy, a name change after one eyeball became wounded and had to be removed. It happened after a complete misunderstanding with a then very young chocolate lab, but the incident did not alter their loving relationship. To this day, Huck licks the little pug’s smooshed in face like a lollypop.

I like to think of his lost eyeball as the full moon watching over my little fellow and shining a light his way to keep him from running into walls. If I’m sitting on the porch with pug in lap, gazing on a full moon, I give him a squeeze and say, “There’s your eyeball, watching over us.”

We thought we were going to lose him a year ago when he appeared to have a mini stroke and lost coordination for a few days. He was off food, tail down, humped back, and we rushed him into the vet. Ex-rays showed deteriorating spinal disks and together with his bad heart, we figured our days together were closing in on us. But he rebounded.

Most of his teeth have been pulled but he still manages to eat like a running back, making one thing the same as in his youth- gas. Ah yes, the gas he doeth pass. Over the year, he sleeps more, and he is so deaf that he doesn’t know if someone is in the room. He goes into deep sleeps and if I try to gently shake him awake, he still lays snoring for minutes until he comes to life. His one remaining eyeball is nearly all fogged up in blindness making stairs or new territories a challenge.

He needs constant guidance now to get around the house. If we are in the kitchen, and I leave for the downstairs studio, I tap him and he knows to follow, but then he needs assistance on the stairs. If I can get him to settle on his fire side bed, he will sleep for most of the day. But it takes him longer to settle, and he often wanders around looking for me, or something that feels right. he often seems a bit delirious, like an old man wandering, looking for the reason why he got up in the first place.

His one sure way to let me know he needs me, or needs something, is to whimper. He whimpers if he needs to go up the stairs, or down. He whimpers if he wants to get off the chair, or if he needs to step the 3 inches over the porch thresh way to come in. He whimpers if I am five feet away but he’s unsure where I am.

Out in the garden, the old pug can still sniff around a few minutes before he starts to cry a bit- “Where are you?” he’s asking. “Do you know where I am? Because I’m not so sure where I am, come find me.”

He used to love spending hours in the garden. But now he’d rather be in my lap, my hand on his worn down spine, his little pug nose snoring in and out with an occasional twitch from his singular eyeball.

And there in lies the answer.

I still provide a shore for him, a respite in his delusion brought on by age. He gives me one more purpose in my day – to give him a safe place to be all that he can be even in his elderly limitations.

We fit together like salt and pepper. I have a nice warm lap that has been reformed over the years to fit his little curled up fawn body just perfectly.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Old soul in the garden

You know how it can be. You're minding your own business, deep in thought, and you catch a glimpse of a creature you love. A skewed eye, a velvet ear you must touch not once, but over and over, a greying chin that reminds you the years are shortened now for you both - and you must somehow document it, capturing that essence in a two dimensional form so you reach for it again and again and again.

I'll never stop swooning over him - the ever soulful, never pompous, always forgiving, Huckleberry Pie.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New! Online Workshop!

I'm really excited to announce - after being enticed by various people over the last couple years - that I am finally doing an Online Workshop. This will be for artists and non artists of any level, animal lovers, barn-want-oners, dreamers, or dreamers who are stuck not dreaming.

Have you had a loss lately? The donkeys and creatures are healing as can be, and even though you won't be here in person, my videos will aim to let you feel their essence, and recapture it in your heart and then on to paper.

The workshop will focus on seeing, feeling, capturing the essence of animals and moments - and looking for your own story to tell. We'll draw, but we'll also explore story ideas, patterns, shapes, feelings and stuffed emotions. And I have some fun stuff in store too- which you'll just have to wait and see.

There is an Early Hen Registration. Don't I mean "Early Bird"?

The hens get extremely agitated with the term "Early Bird" is used.

"It is we, the hens, who are often up before the birds, hard at work pushing and pontificating while our eggs stretch our bottoms," Florence told me.

Florence almost always speaks for the coop when it involves direct opinion - she's quite stern.

So, I'm so excited for September, and so excited some have already joined in. It's going to be fun!

In late August I will be back in touch - so make sure to keep me posted if your email changes.

Visit this link to read the Lesson Outline/FAQ's and pay online.

Regular cost: $149.00 [sign up from July 2nd - ongoing]
Early Hen Cost: $99.00 [sign up before June 1, 2012] Early Henners also will be sent an art card.
Sort-Of Early Hen Cost: $129.00 [sign up from June 2-July 1]

Course lessons and private course blog will be live in September. You can start anytime after that, and finish anytime at your own pace.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Old donkey with flower friends

I saw her as I was walking back from the barn, the sun light ending it's day on her little oasis of flower acquaintances.I had to rush to get my camera, it was such a pretty site.

When I returned, she was just about to head out again, off to another vista to graze.

"Oh, Matilda, but you were so pretty there, don't go," I said.

"It's difficult to eat the grass and not hurt the flowers," she said.

It made perfect sense to me.

"Then again, the grasses get hurt too," I thought.

Friday, May 18, 2012

New work...guided by Old Man Guinnias

I recently finished a nice project for University of Notre Dame magazine - four separate illustrations accompanying narrative articles.

I loved all the pieces, but I wanted to share this one and how it evolved. One of the articles was about a man who worked in hospice. He came to the conclusion that hospice work meant seeing the essence of another person and allowing the dying person to share in his essence. I had sent a sketch of an older woman emanating colors and pattern entwining into a man. I also sent some finished examples of past work, and one of those was a piece I did a couple weeks ago after Old Man Guinnias pasted away in the night. The art director found that piece so spiritual and wondered if it could be used as a starting point for this article.

At first I had an old woman on a cloud, but then realized the woman was still earthbound, though fading. But her faithful companion was floating, waiting to give her a special apple from the trees of the sky, where she'd return to her special chair.

Thank you, Old man, one more gift from you.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hoof stomps and tail swishes

And an oik, quacks, bark, and one Itty Bitty purr. The May newsletter is out!

A busy little Wilbur

A busy goat is a happy goat.

I happened to capture the mixture of busy with happy in this picture.

"Where are you going, Wilbur?" I asked.

"Much too busy to chat," he said.

"Will you be gone long?" I asked.

"My business often leads to other business, so perhaps," he said.

And he was off.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Celebrating Matilda and all mothers

Matilda the old donkey will turn nineteen this month and since she was used as a brood jenny for so many years, it is only fitting we celebrate her birthday on Mother's Day. She will picnic on Donkey Hill with her small little charges. It is hard to imagine any of these celebrations without Old Man Guinnias - he was always there to point everyone in the proper direction with his cane. But Professor Otis Littleberry is rising to these festive occasions and has been working on blowing up balloons all week. He insists on handling it himself - which I assume is why I keep hearing balloons popping in the barnyard.

There are so many mothers in my life- both human and animal. My real mother has the middle name of Matilda and is 86 and thriving. I wish I could see her more, but I have motherly affection from the sheep as well as the old donkey. I have women in my life that provide many nurturing, loving kindnesses on me - some from afar - but all make up my tribe.

On Sunday I will send love to all my mother friends and thank them for their hard work and nurturing. Nurturing is a selfless act and can leave the internal well a bit dry sometimes - this is when I turn to mothers of all sizes and species and just ask for...mothering. I always get it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Quick and easy pie...told by a puppet

Pino the puppet gets all the glory, and sometimes Olive Oil needs some air time. She requested help to wish a friend - a pie loving friend- a happy birthday.

But I personally think what I've discovered is she has a hidden talent- a cooking show in her future? Perhaps.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Tending the graves

When I was young and I first saw the graves at Arlington where my great uncles is buried, I was taken in by the sea of white crosses. I'm not a religious person so never put crosses on any of the graves here relying instead on simple stone markers.

But white sea of Arlington markers kept coming to me, over and over, so I set out to make some for my old goat soldiers. There they are when I walk to the barn each morning, reminding me that none of my old friends are suffering and all are home, safe with the underworld of worms that feed the dirt to grow the soon to be pumpkins.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Tortoise on grey

Hazel, one of the twelve remaining semi feral cats now residing in one of the Apifera barns, creates her own masterpiece as she lounges on on an old shade hut near the chicken coop. The farm began with 25 strays, trapped, fixed all of them and invited them to stay. They all did.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Annual moment to swoon over Lucia

This is what she looked like when I first set eyes on her four years ago. I had agreed to watch over her for my friend, and her then owner. Once a year I like to take this photo out and share it with everyone - how can it not make you swoon and smile.

Did I mention she was so small I could hold her in my lap and she bounced like a bunny?

You can read all about how she first won my heart and I considered stealing her, and then how she came to Apifera.