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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hippopotomamius is coming

It's all over the barnyard that a new hippopotomamius is arriving. Paco especially is enamored with this idea because he is always being told he has a bubble bottom and is excited another bubble bottom will be here now.

This pumpkin with a note was near the front studio door when I went to do barn feedings this morning. Paco has been quietly guarding the pumpkin patch for a month now and he is very protective of his pumpkins. So this was a very big thing for Paco to share a pumpkin with the new hippopotomamius. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Little polk-a-dot pig pajamas

Little pig spends her time napping which leads to dreaming which leads to flying out windows to far away forests, accompanied by dragonflies as her accomplice.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From cat to man and woman, to old man and goat

A couple's beloved pet cat fell ill and it was discovered he had cancer. So they opted to treat the cat with chemo. They visited the cat each and every night of his stay at the vet as he went through treatment, sharing their memories and love with him. One night, they got a call that the cat had quit breathing, and they rushed in to say their final goodbyes before he was euthanized. The vet bill was very high and they now had to start replenishing their savings.

Soon after, the couple went to the hardware store to purchase items to make a proper burial marker for their beloved cat. The woman waited in the car and she saw an older man struggling to strap a heavy welding tool he'd purchased to the back of his bicycle. Nobody was stopping to help, so the woman approached him. Even she was unable to help the man, and when her husband arrived he suggested they drive the man home and then return for the bike and then drive the bike back to the man. This was a good hour back and forth and the older man felt grateful, but insisted on giving them $20, but the couple refused the money.

After the couple returned home, the woman flipped back her seat to retrieve a bag and there was the $20 bill where the old man had secretly tucked it.

Even though they had their own vet bill to recoup, she wanted to pass the small donation onward, and thought about her local Animal Welfare Society - but while reading her favorite blogs, she came upon my story of Lofa, and passed it on to me, sharing this story.

She never got the man's name, but sent a note to the building manager who said he would pass on her note that his money was now helping an old goat in need.

A cat named Blue shared a life of love with two people I never met, who help an old man who helps them, and that helps a little goat and her caretaker far way in Oregon. The circle of love, I'd say.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chickens prepare for Halloween

Each year, the barnyard begins tossing around ideas for Halloween costumes and tactics to spook one another. Here Chicken Named Dog creates a perfect Chicken Without a Head costume.

Their is a sense of macabre in many of their ideas and I get a lot of requests from The Head Troll for red food coloring and black cloth. I try not to interfere.

Post Drawing Day Donkey Nap

The donkeys once again were wonderful models and companions for the small group that ventured to Apifera this weekend to draw and commune with them.

Matilda, as always, seems to have an innate gene for communing. As always, the guests talked about her soulful eyes and old but beautiful posture.

We had perfect weather and the Chess Pie at the end of the session was spot on...if I may say do myself. Rosie put on a show with her unique communication style and I was glad to see Lofa out and about too as we sat in the barnyard after the session.

These Drawing sessions are evolving and I learned that it's difficult to translate the online techniques of the workshop's gestural drawing to the on site drawing sessions. I think it is more important to focus on the quiet communing and healing of the animals, and then offer my simple instructions in the beginning of each session to help people focus on 'seeing' intently with purpose.

While there is no photo taking allowed during the session, two guests took these lovely pics. Matilda provided a sound base of hugs, and after the session, the donks were ready for a nap. It's hard work being a healer and model!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lofa rebounds!

Raggedy man shows off his ZZ Top Moment as Little Lofa stand by.

Little Lofa has rebounded and is eating like a little vacuum cleaner to make up for lost time. For the last week he has eaten well and shown much more strength. He still has white eyes though but I swear I'm seeming a teeny bit of pink.

He still runs the risk of getting knocked down and having trouble getting up, but I've been watching and the couple of times he was accidentally pushed over, he stayed upright and could get up. His runny nose seems better too and his personality is back, as he greets me with his little Lofa love bleats at morning feedings.

I think after trying so hard to save Aunt Bea, and then have this happen to Lofa just brought it all back home - I'm just one person with two hands and one heart. You can only do your best - with your vet at your side - when you take on a creature that didn't have the best nutrition in the pas. Lofa is getting up there in years, turning 8 next spring, but I'm glad New Moon got him when they did, and we in turn could help.

SO thank you again to everyone that helped Lofa! He felt the love and so did Apifera.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The magpies escourted his fur

I just completed a commission of a client's beloved dog, Dylan, who is still thriving at age twelve but has entered his senior years.

I always ask people to write as much or as little about their pet before I create the art for a pet portrait. I have never failed to read something inspiring or magical in one of these brief bios - so many memories and so much love comes out from the human. In this case, it was the image of the magpies swooshing around, waiting for the soft fur to float in the air while Dylan's owner brushed him.

Sometimes Dylan will retreat and sit on the grave of his long time friend, Cam, and I felt he needed to be part of the piece too.

The owner was moved to tears when she opened the portrait and saw Dylan looking at her. I took that as a very good sign - when I was working on the art, as I always do, I just kept calling out, whispering really, for Dylan. I think when I got done I saw or felt that Dylan is in between realms right now - but he is still alive and well, he is just nearing his next float. I have done art of my own animals when I know they are nearing - or I think they are close - to the end. It is really more of a way for me to mourn the The art always shares some truth in it, I've found, some basic truth about our own feelings or fears, or the simple reality of the situation. It is one step to letting go, before the real letting goes is thrust on us.

I was honored to work with Dylan, and hope he has a lot more days ahead with his human.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The accepting ones

I started out the morning task of worming the flock in a chipper mood. I had my flock just about in their holding pen without a snafu when the Hey, Hey, We're the Monkeys gang - that would be the menagerie of crippled and small statured goats led by The Head Troll - stepped upon the scene. Determined to place themselves securely in the same holding pen as my flock, my calm mood soured.

Sourness led to down and out tartness as the ducks, led proudly by old Priscilla the goose, also entered the fray.

"Surely there must be food in that bucket she carries," they quacked.

"I shall investigate," said the Pig.

By now my morning had become a chaotic mess and as I was swallowed by a myriad of feet all around me, I tripped on a bucket. This caused half the flock to scatter, and left me bruised in spirit and skin.

I am flawed. The one place I know I can be flawed and not be judged is in the barnyard. No matter what I say out of frustration - the faces that greet me seconds later show acceptance. I was going to say forgiveness, but I don't believe they ever enter a period where they judge me.

This does not mean I don't try to be the best I can be with my animals. I do, I really do. But I can be tired or rushed like anyone, and they take the worst of it sometimes in my frustrated words to the wind and walls.

I like to think all my songs I sing them, and left over salad, apples, back rubs, and love-ins make up for my falls from human grace. This face of one of the yearling ewes seems to say it does.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Perfect chicken timing

It was if I was meant to look up right at this moment, when red metal, cobweb and white hen all orchestrated a pose of balance.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Duck Days of September

The winds have been here all day - and since we don't have any outstanding forest fires in the area, I can say they are welcome, blowing the warm air around feathers, hay strands, and a farmer's braids.

I went to the barnyard to see if there were any worthy photo opportunities, but ended up sitting with the ducks and chickens and a smattering of goats around the makeshift compost hay pile - which doubles as a bed for pig, goat and fowl. I had planned to move it to the 'real' compost area, but the animals enjoy the warmth that emanates from it so much, I keep putting it off. First threat of rain and I'll scramble to move it.

The wind and warmth combined with crisp, fallen leaves and the ripe scent of grapes and unpicked blackberries always takes me back to being in one of our childhood homes - my favorite childhood home - a small 5 acre parcel cut out of a larger country estate. There I had a myriad of paths into forests - or forests to me, they were more or less groves of sumac - where I could retreat and explore on my own clock. I can still feel that place and I remember the smell of the small cottage as it was the day we moved in - a combination of outside air mixed with vintage linoleum counters. It was the beginning of Apifera in some ways - there were white dilapidated pasture fences, old barns and horses in the distance, ducks and geese graced the nearby pond. I had space there.

So I sat on the concrete with the fowl today, on my own clock. I wasn't making any money doing it - just like I wasn't earning a dime as that five year old back on my old homeland - but I was deep in feeling.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Paco's Henrietta Crossing

As you might know if you follow along here, Paco is our resident worrier. And the autumn winds bring out many worries all at once - he's worried about keeping the pumpkin patch safe [even though I've fenced it hoping it would soothe him], he is sewing elaborate costumes to protect himself from inexperienced bow hunters, and now, with the arrival of Henrietta, he is worried about her safety since she does not have the smarts of a country chicken.

I assured Paco that Henrietta would have to wonder quite far down the road to get to the busy rural road, but he still insisted on creating a special Henrietta Crossing for the new hen. He also has written her a special poem that he insists she memorize to help her keep safe:

"The road is the wide and full of trucks

It makes worms flat and kills the ducks."

"She is citified, it will take her time, perhaps forever, to act like a hen born under the open sky and moon," said Paco.

I hugged Paco and thanked him, for I am very fond of Henrietta.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Update on little Lofa

Lofa's blood test for Johnes came back negative. This is a huge relief as there is no cure or treatment.

Now I just need to keep slowly trying to get energy into him to get those red blood cells reproducing again. An iron shot today for good measure. A little propyl glycol for a few more days.

He's still slow to eat, but is eating. Still weaker than he should be. But this could be a month or more. Of course there could be hidden reasons - tumors or cancer - but we will proceed with positivity and except what we get knowing we have done our best. It takes time to get that blood working right again. I did learn from my vet - and had read this = that just because you have a negative fecal doesn't mean there isn't an overload of parasite in an animal. Since Lofa came from a previous horm where his worming might have been zilch or lax, he still could have been treated by New Moon [which he was, they always worm and delice arrivals and keep them quarantined for observation] and showed up here with worms. He also had another but of topical sucking lice which I treated about a week before the vet came, but I might not have been aggressive enough since at that time he was healthy.

So I will be keeping my eye on this love called Lofa. He gets plenty of hugs and atention!

Thanks to everyone who chipped in to help! [Lofa is too weak to send out his thank you gifts, but I put Raggedy in charge, chaperoned by The Head Troll. Expect them in a week or two].

Monday, September 03, 2012

Love for little Lofa needed

Lofa is still not well and is on his fifth day of medication and shots. I am just heartsick about this one. The vet was here on Wednesday and we haven't gotten the blood results back but are treating him for what we hope is just anemia from worm overload and prior malnutrition.

Lofa came to us via our friends at New Moon Goat Farm and Rescue. He and his herd [including little Raggedy Man] were relinquished by the breeder/owner. I do not know the whole story - one never does in these cases - but I do know they were mismanaged, loaded with worms and lice, had signs of rot and were very thin. Raggedy arrived a sack of bones and I'm really pleased he is putting on weight, his coat is much better as is his skin. They had been at New Moon for a couple months and the lice and worms had been taken care of.

But Lofa started declining a week ago. I didn't wait to call the vet on this one. After my experience with Aunt Bea - another malnourished rescue who sadly couldn't pull through despite heroic efforts on the part of the vet, Bea and myself - I knew anemia can take a malnourished goat down pretty fast. He's been getting daily shots of B12 and penicillin as well as we've hit him hard with daily oral wormers.

He is standing, but last week he couldn't get up when he was pushed over at feeding. This morning I sensed he was a hair better, but he mainly just stands in what I call 'the sick goat stance'. His hair is puffed up due to the anemia, although I felt that was better today too. He is still not finishing all his ration.

I once told a vet that I wanted to be a place that could take in hospice animals, since vets or sanctuaries often don't have the man power to hospice animals. Once again, the intention I released tot he universe has been brought to me. I do believe that I somehow attract certain animals that simply need a place to feel safe so they can die. Not every animal that comes here is dying, but many have been due to old age and malnourishment or a combination of the two. I always tell a sick animal it is okay to move on if they need to. But I told Lofa I want him to fight with me and live.

Raggedy is quite sweet too - his face reminds me of an angelic painting. He checks on Lofa regularly and sleeps with him too.

If you'd like to help defray Lofa's vet bill, please do so. Lofa will feel the love.

Gift Levels

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Nonsense Song to The Pig

Besides drawing and learning to slow down and 'see', the Online Workshop has a lot of 'play' in it, as a way to warm up and also a way to get people to self entertain and let the internal muse get some exercise.

One way to entertain your muse, sing a Nonsense Song, such as this one I sang to my pig. Now if you don't have a pig, you can sing one to anything or anyone.

You come to this world with an imagination. It seems like some people - due to life's load and hard knocks, shut it down. Or maybe they grew up in a setting where using your imagination was frowned on as a control tactic. I truly believe we are here with these gifts - and out of respect to ourselves and the world, and this realm, we should exercise them.

Learn more about the workshop and sign up today!