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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Old Misfit of wood

{My latest entry for Huffington Post...}

"Dream deep," I heard a voice say warmly, like an old Aunt sitting and knitting on the front porch.

It was Old Barn, back on the day I first looked at the property, the place that would become Apifera Farm as we know it.

It was then that my relationship with her began, for she recognized I was a dreamer. It was the first of many brief conversations we would have, as I learned that Old Barn was a creature of few words, but when she did speak it became a pivotal moment for me.

I had no idea at the time that she and I would work side by side with so many animals, old and young, helping some pass on and encouraging others to live. It was all part of the dream and Old Barn intuitively knew about it before I did. Just as I was enticed to move West by invisible wisdoms allowing me to find my human mate, there were powers that brought me to this old barn and her land and together we became a dreamed reality.

One of the last century wood barns in the surrounding area to still stand, she had become a Misfit herself. Her kind had been replaced by aluminum and metal structures that wouldn't rot and could hold off fires. One person suggested we tear her down and sell her fir boards using her concrete pad as a starting point for a new barn. But I approached her condition like I would any neglected creature that would some day arrive here - giving her sustenance to make her limbs stronger. To this day, she stands in a state of elderly attire, rusted roof and faded red wood exterior softening in fog and lighting up at sunset.

Her life of service defines her and she has what many old creatures are missing - purpose and companionship.

{Old Barn is part of a book I am writing about the Misfits of Apifera}

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Old Rudy gentleman in a goat suit

He's not a goat, he's more of a dignified elder that greets you at the front door, welcomes you in, always with a kept beard and good posture even though his arthritic legs might be wobbly.

Rudy and Tasha are settling in amazingly well. These two are so sweet and gentle, and though very arthritic and somewhat crippled from it, they get around on sunny says, not afraid to explore all over the place. I have yet to capture a good shot of Tasha, as when she is moving, she is fast on those crippled little legs!

But Rudy, ah, Rudy, he stands for me, poses, calls out to me as I leave the barnyard.

In other related news, Rosie the pig has two beds now - her overnight sleeping area near Stevie, and now a napping lounge in Rudy and Tasha's stall. Knowing that little pig sleeps next to the newcomers during the day and Stevie at night makes the cynical deed of the outside world melt away.

Meet all The Misfits of Apifera and hear their stories >

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Upon thy neck shall I gaze

There is no more beautiful neck than the old goose's, unless perhaps Grace Kelly stood beside her, but knowing the little I do about Grace I think she would humbly agree with me.

Such a marvelous road way for her food to travel through - Perhaps the worms understand this somehow as they slide to her gullet. I watch her twist and conform this neck under gates, or twist and turn it to communicate pending danger to the Bottomtums.

I had never held a goose or stroked one's throat until I came to know old Priscilla. I am glad our introduction happened.

{ Priscilla came to Apifera after a woman's husband died of cancer, leaving her no choice but to sell her farm. She asked our mutual vet to help find a forever home, and he contacted me. Priscilla was the matriarch of a herd of 6 ducks, known here as The Bottomtums, and they too live in the Barnyard of Misfits with their own lakeside cabin.}

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Final Gift

When rabbits appear in my pieces, I don't question it. But I can't really discuss it because the meaning behind it is very layered, encompassing past, present and future encounters. But as the viewer, you get to have your own relationship with this painting.

This piece will be for sale at Adamson Gallery during the annual Dog/Cat Show which helps benefit the Placer SPCA [both artist and gallery donate partial proceeds].

The preview reception is Thursday, 12/6 from 5pm - 8pm.
The opening reception is Saturday, 12/8 from 6pm - 9pm.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Little bottoms I love

I love her piggie bottom, so round and bulbous attached to a tail of white glazed straw with tassels on the end. I never tire of her piggie bottom. Never, ever.

The satisfaction of living amongst daily encounters that bring pleasure is all I strive for. I worked in an office for much of my twenties and thirties and had many good lessons - but was usually looking for the window. Nature is a better boss, it teaches and never scoffs - however it also pays no mind to human desires, judgments or spoiled states of mind.

I had some really wonderful bosses but I can't think of one that taught me more than the trees, dirt, or water...or goat and pig bottoms.

What does the bottom of my pig teach me? Simply, that to gaze upon it is enough.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful for the Misfits

The Head Troll coordinated the Thanksgiving Prayer for the new Misfits, Rudy and Tasha Teats Tudor. Old Daisy attended for the flock and Pino led a touching version of Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me."

I've always been a bit of a Misfit myself. My art never really fit neatly into one category, nor does my writing. When I was little I had short curly red hair and always felt like I stuck out. My feet were freakishly small with very high arches yet I was not graceful like a ballerina. So I feel like I finally fit in here with my Misfits.

I think Apifera was here long before it manifested itself to me. She was waiting, ripening, exploring - just like I was - until we could come together at the right time. Any sooner, and the relationship might ave have sputtered out of control, or one side might have dominated the other, or lost interest.

I feel so grateful for Apifera and the Misfits in my barnyard along with the donkeys, sheep, horse, chickens, fowl. To every feral cat that now calls the barn, porch or couch a home, I am glad you showed up. And of course Apifera would fall down without The Dirt Farmer.

But I'm also grateful for all of you. Some of you have been loyally following along since the start, others are just coming on board. Some of you I have come to have real life friendships with and you have supported my work as an artist and an animal caretaker. Thank you so very much. It's a lot of hard work here, but it keeps me breathing and vibrant. I still get excited when a new animal comes aboard, still cry over birth and death, still love the smell of my horse's neck.

Apifera has evolved right along with me and it blows my mind sometimes when I look at my life from a bird's perspective - a woman scurrying around, with buckets, and lots of crippled goats following her. I hope you will stick around for awhile with me - who knows what will happen tomorrow or the next day.

Peace and love,

~ Katherine & Apifera ~

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

We interrupt the calm, healing influence of beauty shots of the animals and gentle prose that lulls one to slumber for this business announcement: We have a new fundraising page.

Here's a way to say 'thank you' for the stories inspired by The Head Troll, or the chance to watch Matilda share hugs with guests at Pie Day; None of it could happen if they weren't being fed, nurtured and cared for on a daily basis. There is joy in knowing you can really help the animals directly by chipping in what you can - a little bit goes a long way here, and all money is spent wisely.

Like I've said before, we live non-lavishly and consider sitting on a home grown pumpkin looking at an Apifera sunset much more romantic than shopping for a velvet cushion to rest our feet on.

I am trying out yet another new crowd funding source called GoFundMe. [Thank you to the recent contributors to the ChipIn fund but their service and tech issues weren't acceptable so I switched - but your funds are safe in my account and I'm on the way to the Feed store tomorrow!]

On my new fund page, you can chip in for the monthly care costs of the barnyard adoptees, or you might see a "Wish' item that appeals to you - for example, the current wish items help raise money for a new small shelter [for more small Misfits!] and Pino Pie Day Prep help.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I have an art sale going on over at Etsy and I also have more pieced in the regular art section, including this piece which will help our friends at New Moon Goat Farm Rescue. In the past 5 years, Apifera has adopted 12 special needs/elderly goats. I am so grateful to have helped Ellen and New Moon, and happy to call her a friend - or "Northern Mother" as the goats and I refer to her as. Ellen has become adept at bringing in an old goat, and letting me know 'it would fit right into the barnyard of Misfits at Apifera." She works tirelessly, and teaches photography full time so she is a very busy woman.

$200 from the purchase of  this original shown above will go to New Moon. I also have a watercolor drawing in New Moon's upcoming auction which is being held Friday, November 30th, 6-10pm in Arlington, WA [about an hour north of Seattle]. It's going to be really fun if you can attend and everything helps the goats. I donated bundles for the gift bags too, so get on up there. Here is the link where you can buy your ticket [which includes dinner/drink and more] and you can walk away with some fun art, and help a goat.

Farewell, Big Pig

It is with a worn out spirit but a clean conscious I let you know that Big Pig will not be staying with Apifera.

As charming and magnificent a creature as she is, my first responsibility is to the farm's health and the Misfit's safety. Big Pig and I have talked, she holds no grudge. And I hold no grudge against her for simply being...a 500# pig who continued to do 500# pig things. I have spent almost $1,000 and put so much time and energy into making, remaking, fixing, refixing - all the time not giving up. Some of you might know - I am not a quitter, and I am very loyal to those I give my word to. But I also know the freedom that comes from admitting I made a mistake, or need to change directions.

In the last week Big Pig showed me she was not going to fit into the scheme of things here, and the last straw came when she tossed Rosie aside like a feather - she was not being mean, she was being Big Pig. Each day something happened to make me reconsider her living here, including the day she pushed through the extra plywood I put up
to keep her from ruining a stall door, and in so doing she nearly knocked me down, under the plywood, and was on her way to walking over it with me under it.

I'm too young to die.

Always containing her in her spacious paddock was an option, but the money, time, and energy drain - to fix and refix, and worry of the consequences if she did get out into the barnyard - was what helped me come to my decision.

Big Pig has given me many gifts in her short month here - for one, I was able to experience this creature, in all her pig glory. I will never, ever forget her, or her eyelashes, or her quite grunts that meant, "What are ya' doing? Wanna hang out?" , to her manic grunts and foaming at the mouth that meant, "Come on, feed me, now, I am PIG!"

But the biggest gift she has given me is to put me and my open heart back on the Apifera track - that my goal is to help old, crippled, special need creatures or short term hospice cases. And a 500# healthy three year old pig does not fit into that master plan.

Big Pig will be back with her very good and caring former owners. Some of you might offer optional solutions to returning her there, or ways to keep her here, but I do not want to hear them and won't respond to them.

I will not talk Big Pig again. But she will appear in my art or stories in different ways, I suspect. She has made a huge impact on me. Her destruction here has also made a huge impact on me.

But it is a fact, Big Pig and I have a silent agreement.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Safe landing of old goats

Rudy and Tasha Teats Tudor - I took liberties with her given name 'Teats" - have arrived safely at Apifera. They are snug as bugs wrapped in a blanket of Mother Earth's hay, resting up after a long road trip. We were so lucky to have someone volunteer to drive them here for us all the way from New Moon goat Farm Rescue - thank you Chery! The kindness of strangers.

These two old timers, ages 11 and 12, are very crippled from arthritis but their former owner took very good care of them. I hope I can get them walking some more, but right now they seem content to rest up. They have been through a lot of changes in the past couple weeks, leaving their home of 10+ years, stopping at New Moon for a couple weeks before taking a long car trip to Apifera.

They are locked in my heart already - a very gentle twosome.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Teach thy children

A young guest at this year's Pino Pie Day listening to his first donkey heart beat.

I truly believe if we can show the young ones a creature they otherwise might not have met, if we can let them touch them, hear them breathe, they can connect on some level and embrace their shared traits, but they can also see their differences are not an obstacle to coexisting. And that experience with an animal can be used as an example when they try to coexist in a world of human creatures.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Two more old goats coming to Apifera!

Visit the  Apifera ChipIn page to contribute to help with monthly care costs of all the Apifera adoptees.

Their story - and their owners- grabbed my heart when I read it. A woman and her husband had the goats for most of their goat lives. They were loved and cared for.

But her husband sadly passed away in mid life. The woman's situation changed immediately - and I think any of us can understand this. She did not panic and looked for almost a year for a caring home that could care for her two pet goats - both very arthritic and needing medication and the right home. So after a year, with much thought, she relinguished the goats to our friends at new Moon Goat Farm & Rescue. She really fought it, but knew it was what she had to do.

I am really happy to know they will live their lives out here. I have seen a movie of them and they are very arthritic so they remind me a lot of Old Man Guinnias, and Gertie of days gone by. They come with the names Rudy [the red one] and...wait for it...Teats. Now, I was rather bemused by the name Teats, but the story is the first breeder of the goat called her that because she had an extra teat or only one, I forget, and the name stuck. I imagine I will let Apifera find a nickname for her, if it so desires.

Now would be a great time to let you know that I am trying out ChipIn fundraising.
Many of you say how you'd like to help out but live far away, or you can't get away, or you don't have a lot of money. But you can help in tiny ways monetarily. Each month I spend about $250 on feed alone just for the adoptees - and that doesn't count vetting, extra medicines, materials like gates, straw, hog fuel and more.

Visit the ChipIn Widget on the upper right hand sidebar to contribute to the monthly, or my ChipIn page to contribute. If emergencies arise, or special needs, I will add it on to next month's amount to raise.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Windfall bounties for the beauties

I have been picking the many windfall apples around the area - sweet, little fruits fallen from the Mother tree with nothing to do but rot and feed the worms - which is all good and proper - but I hate to see so much fruit not being eaten by my barnyard of misfits.

So I gather as much roadside windfall as I can and share it with the donks, pigs, goats and Boone. AS you see here, Lucia is very enthusiastic when it comes to apples.

This weekend a kind friend also brought over these apples from her old trees - these are King apples and are huge! Big Pig will be thrilled! Even the One Eyed Pug had his share today when he literally knocked into the buckets - the blind wonder boy couldn't believe his luck, stumbling onto such a bevy of delicious apples - pug gas is sure to be swirling tonight.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lofa love

Little Lofa seems to have fully recovered from his anemia and is eating, walking, and doing all Lofa like things in true Lofa like fashion. A huge collective sigh of relief. Amazing when an animal has been malnourished in the past how much havoc is played on a little body.I've been putting a little jacket on Lofa in this colder weather just to give him some extra heat. I had purchased it for Old Man Guinnias but it was too small, so am glad it is being put to such good use.

Lofa was adopted by Apifera after New Moon Goat Rescue took him in from a neglectful situation. Feel free to sponsor Lofa or the other Apifera adoptees at different gift levels.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Don't forget

I have lots of Apifera lavender products for sale over at Etsy including the dark purple Hidcote bundles that are wonderful for wreathes, floral sags and arrangements. I also have the aromatic Grosso for sale at Local Harvest  and bud for your craft projects [you can email me if you want to buy anything lavender related or large quantities.]

There is also an art sale going on at Etsy through December.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Oh, to float around the farm with my old friend Louie Louie, the fox terrier of years ago. My father's pipe smoke would then arrive before him, and over he'd fly, joining us for his favorite treat - a good piece of cheese. But it's only a dream.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Big Pig Big Mud

We spent the last two days hauling 7 tons of hog fuel to keep the most traveled sheep paths and gate passages free from the mud buildup. But no paddock got as much attention as Big Pig's.

Here's a tip - when you consider bringing home a 500 pound pig, take a good look at their feet. So pretty, they are. But they create more mud in less time than any creature I know. Of course it is NW Oregon, so Rain is our companion and with Rain comes our other companion, Mud.

We had put a small area of hog fuel [nothing to do with hogs, it is a wood by product like mulch, and they used it to burn in hog burners - also nothing to do with hogs] into Lucy's area so she'd have a 10 foot area free from mud. She loved to lay there by her hut. But within one week of heavy rain there was about 6" of liquid mud. Besides her piggie feet being overloaded with wet mud - a bacteria risk - the farmer's feet [that would me moi] were getting mud soaked every time she entered the paddock to give fresh water. When you have a hole in your sock, and you sink down deep into cold mud which goes over the top of your Muck boot and travels down to that hole in your sock, you only have one thing on your mind - hog fuel.

It was a warm day, partially sunny, more like Spring than Fall. As hard as the work was of shoveling, raking and lifting 7 tons of hog fuel, the animals were about, and to see Lucy's big pig body sunning on her new and improved large hog fuel island, surround by mud unable to touch her, it made me happy.