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

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. #EIN# 82-2236486

All images

©Katherine Dunn.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Misfit gathering

I liked this photo. It captured the random juxtaposition of creatures as I entered the barnyard last night.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer night

The field is browned out into a golden hue and juxtaposed next to the remaining lavender is so beautiful - especially early morning and at dusk. I bring the sheep in and it adds even more hues of umbers and ochres.

Verklempt again on the red horse

Boone and I arrived at our first horse this past Saturday calm and collected. I'm not one to get nervous about performing or doing things in public, but I was anxious to see the arena and get on Boone to exercise him.

All went well. He warmed up calmly, I was calm, the atmosphere was casual and non pretentious. There were all levels of riders and all ages. I was told to ignore the big warm bloods and remember that a retired cow pony can do everything they can do. But I knew that would never bother me.

I was just so pleased to be there, and feeling like I could be there.

A year ago you'd NEVER convince me I'd be in a horse show with Boone, especially a Dressage show. Boone politely tolerated all the mane braiding [I refused to cut Boone's mane, much to the chagrin of my teacher, but I stood my ground] and fancy tail spray over the past weeks to fluff up his tail which he had stepped on about a month ago. He looked pretty cute in his white show pad.

So we entered the arena for our first test - which lasts all of 5 minutes - and the bell rang, and we began the patterns. It felt really good. I knew I was riding well- or riding to my potential at this moment - and that's all I wanted to do going into this. I knew if I rode well, Boone would follow. And he did. And I was smiling! I was so pleased and happy after that test, I knew we'd done our best and that is so wonderful a feeling. If you could have seen us a year ago....and then Saturday...it makes me verklempt.

While I waited for my second test, my teacher brought me my scores. 65.5% which we were both pleased with. And then I got a blue ribbon, and a gift basket! I never win anything, and to get the blue on my fist rinky dink show....it was so...FUN. I was so proud of Boone too, so happy for him and just so in love with him, and us.

I did well in my second test too and tied for first. But again, I was just so pleased that we did it together and rode our best at this moment. We still have so much to learn together and improve on.

This has been a tough year in many ways - losing my mother, saying good bye to old animal friends and learning to reshape my life without those characters in it. Working with Boone on a consistent basis and improving inch by inch has saved me from daily depression. It has been like any project - bumps, confusion at points, frustrated it wasn't going fast enough at times - but when we were both in the zone, like we were on Saturday, it was a beautiful road to be on together.

As I rode home that day, that satisfied feeling was sitting there with each mile I drove. I began to think of the many times in life I'd challenged myself to try new things - and how each challenge brought me new friends, new places, new inspirations, new lessons, new confidence. I'd always been hesitant to show, it seemed so opposite of my personality. I'm unpretentious and I visualized the horse shows as full of snobbery and wealthy people with time to train with their horse and still have time to workout themselves so their breeches looked nice and firm on them. But it really didn't pan out that way. I'm sure there are shows like that but I doubt I'll be in that crowd in the near future, if ever. Everyone I encountered was really supportive and kind,  excited for the middle aged newcomer with her cow pony. There was this sweet little 8 year old - a terrific rider - and her 20 year old horse who got a blue ribbon in her class. When they brought me mine, she came running up to me and was so excited for me. Another woman had a very beautiful big mare, warm blood, full of energy and a bit hard for her to handle. She didn't do well her first test, but the second one, she improved and we all greeted her with encouragement.

Stereotyping could have kept me from going to the show. By going, my horse and I gained even more confidence together, from the much longer trailer haul to riding in a new place with lots going on. It inspired me to want to continue on and do even better next time. And as importantly, Boone had fun. He knew what was going on and liked it. No spooking, no jitters, but he wasn't bored either.

My proudest moment was when I looked at my test scores and notes from the judges and one said - "You two are a perfect match".

Monday, July 29, 2013

In which a relic of magic is found

"Has she lost her magic powers?" asked Wilbur the Acrobatic Goat.

"Hardly, " I assured him.

"Can she still be the notary with only one?" asked Goose.

"I don't see why not," I replied.

We were all looking down on the ground as we spoke. There before us all was a horn. But not any horn. This horn had a million memoirs written on it - each break out, each head stuck in the fence moment, each banging open the gate for me in the morning - they were all written in the scars on that horn. It was like finding a relic, a scrimshaw.

"What will you do with it," asked Stevie, concerned.

"We will gather with The Head Troll to decide this. We will let her make the final decision."

"It would be nice and crunchy, like chips," mentioned The Pig.

"We will not eat it, Rosie," I said.

"It has magic in it, I've seen her use them," said Golda the hen.

"Let's auction it on EBay!" said Raggedy Man.

"We could use the money for winter sweaters," said Professor Otis Littleberry.

"Or cookies," said The Puppet.

Wait a minute, how did the Puppet get out here?

OK, that's all for now. The Head Troll is not mourning, but she's not pleased I poured iodine on her stump.

"Don't call it a stump!" she just screamed from the background.

We will give her some time to see how and what she wants to do with her horn. For now, it is in a secret place in a plain locked wooden box with the initials T.H.T. carved on the side. I've never seen what she hides in there but am dying too, I must admit.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday night performance

I've been aware for sometime that the animals have a summer tradition of giving a Friday night performance in the barn after dark. I have not as yet been properly invited and since the night barn is a sacred place for the animals and all visiting creatures, I have kept my distance. I do hope to go sometime.

This piece is now available for purchase.

I live with Pygmy Shepherd Dogs

It's been suggested time to time - mainly by shepherd dog breeders - that I consider getting a herder. My sheep come to my ba-a-as, and I put them in different pastures each week, so we have our signals down. I rarely have trouble, except when I want them in before 5PM for some reason. This can produce bucket kicking and grumpy cuss talk from the usually calm shepherdess, but it usually works out in time...usually, unless it's really hot and then more cussing ensues.

But I also have a crew of very short statured, some slightly crippled, sheep herders. These unusual Pygmy Shepherd Dogs are handy in getting the flock in at night. Their technique is different than most dogs - rather than running behind the flock, they work them into a flowing rhythm by leaping and running in front of the flock, then prancing forward at full speed, making the sheep feel they must go that way too.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Pig is getting naked

Every summer The Pig loses her hair, except for her top knot or mohawk. She's almost lost all her little body bristles so very soon she will be all naked and pink. Although we lather her up in sunscreen to prevent burning. I wanted to make her a mud hole but she seems uninterested in lathering in mud like many pigs.She is much to princessy for mud perhaps.

Rosie is also thrilled that The Pig Level is helping bring funds for the launch of Apifera Press. It is the most popular level for people so far. In essence they are pre-ordering a book and helping get this venture flying! There is a lot of talk in the barnyard about Submission Requirements and who will be Editorial Director. I suspect I will be previewing several novels from some of them in coming years.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Apifera Press is born

For the past 4 years, I have gone the traditional path of searching for a publisher, being excited about prospects only to be told the consistently frustrating response of, "Wonderful book and art but too quirky", or "too inspirational". That last one was sort of the turning point for me. I want these books to find an audience - before I'm dead - so instead of growing more frustrated, I am going forward on my own.

In order to do this, I have set up a fundraising page because I am already putting capital into this venture. If you want to help, that's great! Funds from the first 2011 Kickstarter for "Misfits of Love" some of you pledged to help me pay for the initial shaping/editing of the manuscript, design initial layouts, making a Blurb book for promo copies and book dummies to possible agents and editors.

Now I need to take the initial design and prepare it for both the actual book printing, and ebook conversion which can be costly and tricky for art books like this. Edits are expensive. I have a designer to finesse the type and layouts and help with cover design, and a production person for creating the documents. Then there are distribution channels to deal with and promo copies for press and reviews.

Think of a donation as an advance purchase of the book. There are also small donations that can be made for no gift level. If I had been picked up by a publisher I would have been paid an advance that would have paid me for my time and talent, then they would have paid for all the design and production and PR. In this fundraising, I'm paying myself about a month's salary and the rest goes to everyone else. It is the goal to break even and have the book for sale by mid-late fall 2013.

Apifera Press Will publish "Misfits of Love" first, then next year, "Raggedy Love" another illustrated memoir already edited that I wrote about my arrival to Apifera. Both are magical stories, embedded with emotive art and the heart of this placed called Apifera. And there will be many more in the future, I can attest to that.

I'll be updating here as the process goes on, and will also show excerpts. If you feel you want to help an indie author/artist - please do! Thank you!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Me and Boone in our dream parade

I've always wanted to be in a parade, on a horse. Ever since I saw my Uncle on his parade horse, when I was very little, I told myself I'd have a horse of my own someday and be in a parade.

And today was the day. It took a long time to get the horse, and few years of being with him get here. But we did it.

There's the the whole "crossing something off a bucket list", my Boone Bucket List that is, that feels like an accomplishment. But it's so much more than that.

It's partially that me and Boone have come so far together in three years and I feel very much like a team now, versus someone sitting on his back hoping for a decent ride. There's the fact that after living here for ten years I finally found a few riding mentors I can trust, and who I really enjoy and aren't full of horse drama. There's all the training I've put in on Boone in the last year and how much we've grown together, and how much more of a leader I am which must make it so much more enjoyable for him.

And I was really proud of him, and glad for him today.

Today as we set out on the parade route, consisting of 3 blocks of the 6 block town, the coastal foothills were in the distance and I saw Martyn in the crowd. He waved and waved and smiled, and I did the same back. But I suddenly got verklept behind my sunglasses. It was a moment of understanding all that I've gained in my life by taking chances, following my own beat - and letting go of other people's agendas. I have this great life, love, companionship, a farm, a horse, animals, my art and a heart that allows me to inspire myself just by walking around on Mother Earth. I got here by simply being me, being true to me.

I braided Boone's mane and added little strips of muslin rags - very Apifera. I thought Boone looked lovely in the gingham picnic cloth. I did get some looks from some of the 4H girls who arrived mainly in pink glitter and shiny tack. I'm used to being a misfit, so I held my head high as we walked around looking at the shiny horses.

Mostly, I kept looking at Boone and felt really happy for the two of us.

Friday, July 19, 2013

From Flop to Ophelia

She was born with extra floppy ears - not unusual in lambs but in a few days they usually perk up. But her's never really did. I always could pick her out in the crowd though and started referring to her as "Flop".

But that was undignified as she grew and I pondered new name for her.

So may I introduce you to Ophelia, the girl with the still slightly flopping ears.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

They're everywhere, chickens, chickens

You look to the right, you look to the left, and there they are.


Behind you, in front of you, on your side, chickens.

Running to the barn in their blurred feather underpants, chickens.

Going up and down stuff and flying on fences, chickens.

They chuckle and cackle and bend over for worms.


Chickens, chickens!

Everywhere chickens!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Beautiful matriarch

Our beautiful elder matriarch, Daisy, after a long hot day in the field.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

On the porch

My summer evenings are treasured. We have the front porch room, then the lower garden room, the under the arbor area for shade, and the under the firs in the grass when it's really hot.

How graced I am, I realize it. The blog makes everything a dream like state - without me even trying to make it that way. It is because I focus on the positive here. I could write a blog that shared every intimate detail of the farm and my life but I choose not too. This is not the same thing as being dishonest, it is being selective and focusing on the stories of the animals, my inner voice, my inspirational moments, and capturing the essence for readers, and for myself. It's to document my time here. For some reason, I'm compelled to do that - all the time.

It does however create a persona of me, I realize that. Nobody can ever fully know someone just by reading their blog or conversing with them - even for years - on Facebook. I have some friends I've met online that have become real life friends, and I have others that have fizzled out - perhaps because they got irritated with what they perceived as the perfect persona - the woman that always seems grateful and never screams, and her dogs are always obeying and she walks elegantly in a flock of sheep. This does occur quite often, or sometimes on a very blue moon...but I also kick buckets. I cuss. If I told you my favorite string of swear words some of you might just die. I scream in the barnyard when I'm inpatient. I yell at God sometimes. I love the Wind but sometimes I yell at it. While I am humane, I can snap like anyone else on a hot day after bucking hay or mucking stalls and make comments to the animals just like I'm twelve and I'm talking to a bully in the playground - sometimes it helps get a goat to move.

I haven't written short stories for awhile. I think I will work on some this summer. I miss talking through The Head Troll and haven't even explored conversations with Moose and Goose. The Pig has so much to say.

Enjoy these photos of my perfectly perfect evening last night. While it fits into my perfectly perfect persona, these photos are all an honest view of the essence of that front porch on a summer night. There was no cussing or bucket kicking, just a breeze, two beautiful dogs, a husband cooking in the kitchen [I know, I know] and a garden movie that needs no soundtrack.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Itty inside, Etta outside

Minding my own business one day years ago, driving a rural highway, a small kitten leapt out and almost was killed by an oncoming truck. I pulled over, fearing the worst. But there sat a cold, wet, tiny kitten. I feared she'd run as I approached her, but she sat still, and cried. She let me approach her and pick her up. I brought her home. She was about 6 weeks old and a bone. We put her by the fire and got her fed and warm. The Old One Eyed pug became her nurse maid, she liked to suckle him. We named her Itty Bitty Etta. But as she matured, we realized she was really two cats. Inside she was a tiny little princess pea that slept under the covers and barely spoke. But outside, she was ETTA, fierce lioness afraid of no heights or size of prey.

"I am not Itty! I am Etta!

I can fly up high.

I can pounce you.

I will carry you off to the den.

Do not try to outwit me. Or out run me.

I will get you.

I will eat you."

From the house came a woman's voice, "Itty, Itty Bitty Etta! Come inside!"

And the little cat once so lion like returned to her inner world.

She was Itty Bitty again, in her itty world, safe on the chair with a blanket.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sun on us

I challenged myself to take photos in direct sun. I have a hard time seeing while shooting in the bright sun and am self taught so I just plug along and try to figure it out. I went up to Donkey Hill and hung out with the gang. I had one of those spells where I thought I was getting awesome shots but upon returning to my studio I was somewhat disappointed in the results. I have a new lens and am adjusting and learning - trying to challenge myself to take more landscape scenes and work with light more.

None of it matters in the end. It's the fact that at that moment, I felt inspired - inspired by light, animal, setting, a place I love - to photograph it. If I didn't, it still would have happened, but each photo is like a blessing or ode to that moment and my compassion for it. It's very non judgmental.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Bucket & Donkey" now an ebook!

"Bucket & Donkey" is now available as an ebook! It is still available as a regular book too.

I have been a bit hesitant about ebooks, but as I go forward, I realize many of my illustrated stories will probably be perfect for this format.

Enjoy - and please share so we can get "Bucket & Donkey " to more people!

And soon, I'll tell you about what's going on with my current book project, "Misfits of Love".

Sunset on Dust Hill

It is a small mound of dust, rounded by the donkeys over the years to be perfect for early evening pondering, or a noontime summer dust bath. The spirit of play overtakes any creature that stands on the mound and soon legs are kicking and tails are swishing. Old barn watches without comment, except for the creaking of the upper loft where a cat pounces.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Yoga on Donkey Hill

Lucia practices yoga on a daily basis high up on Donkey Hill, in the shade of Old Oak as the farm sits below her.

Samuelle: Surprise prints are coming!

Thank you to everyone who played along and bought prints to help Samuelle! He is all through his meds and is done with IV treatments. He has gained weight, is eating well, and most importantly the infection seems to be gone. I still crate him at night to make sure he eats well and is safe while his toenails grow back. I am so relieved!

So, your prints are being packed up this week - watch for them by week's end or first part of next week.

Thank you!

Love, Katherine & Samuelle

Saturday, July 06, 2013

And the pig shall lose her hair

It's that time of year when The Pig loses her hair, leaving her all bare naked and pink if she is in the sun too much. Hence, I smother her in sunscreen and also Destin lotion, which I use myself for all sorts of skin ailments. It helps her chafed skin and keeps the sun out. Rosie has chronic skin issues, and depending on her mood will let me rub sunscreen on thoroughly - or if her Highness is especially grumpy I use the spray on sun screen.

I took this photo last summer, so stay tuned for more naked pig photos as the season proceeds!

Feel free to donate to help keep Rosie lathered up this summer in sunscreen!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Natural fireworks without noise

We live in a very rural area, as you might have surmised, but there are many people up in the hills above us. Each year on major holidays, they usually set off celebratory gunshots and fireworks. One 4th, we had our own private firework display. It was hard to know where they were setting them off, but I suppose it was a couple mile off. It's a part of rural living that many don't see. They think it's the country and people drive slower and everything is hush hush. Nope. Gun shots - to ward off birds from fruit orchards, or hunters in season, or the occasional idiot that decides to shoot a gun down a mole hole {Yes, I've witnessed it} - it's all here.

There is also what I term 'quiet noise' - hayers and tractors in the distance - machines that work the earth. There is a rhythm to the sounds of haying equipment that I like.

But noisemakers shooting sound into the air just to make noise - it makes me cringe. Are they pointing them towards our fields by mistake, are they smart enough not to be near trees or barns that can catch on fire? Who knows. You just count the animals in the morning and hope for the best. I'm sure the local volunteer fire department just loves this holiday, especially with the warm dry weather.

Having said that, I love the idea of the 4th. I love a good parade too and I had thought of arranging one but the heat wave last week just took it out of me.

The globe thistles - the Kings of the garden - are about to bloom. Every year I can't be above nature, or push it. I have to be like the barn and go about my daily chores of nurturing with my soul and when they do finally bloom, I'll stand in front of them, amazed, and declare,

"My God, you've returned to me."

And it got me thinking - aren't they perfect fireworks with their purple spikes against the sky, without noise.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Get your helmets on

Like last year, the barnyard is preparing for the 4th. The Head Troll has a sale going on for ear plugs and bucket head wear.

I myself will be wearing a helmet too, hoping the idiots up the hill don't set the forest on fire or set off celebratory gunfire. But why do I bother to hope.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Ride with Boone

I've always been attracted to cemeteries. I got up extra early to beat the horrible heat to go ride, but I saw my trailer had a flat. So I took Boone out to the pioneer cemetery 3 miles from here. It's a short ride we often take and I always visit this particular grave, I've been attracted to it since I first saw it years ago.

When I went to Paris in the early '80's and met up with my father, the first thing I did was spend two full days in Père Lachaise. There I walked on stories buried underneath the ground - lives, loves, mysteries, murders, forgotten writers and would be artists whose lives were cut short - it was all there, like an underground city of dirt and worms with coffin rooms holding one person's life story, never to be told from their vantage point.

In our cemetery shown here where I ride, there are many graves there form the 1800's, maybe even one from late 1700's. But there are also many modern day people buried there, and now that I've lived here 10 years, I'm beginning to recognize names. But this one tombstone is one I really love for it's simplicity. It's a plain stone, naturally shaped it appears. A young man born in the late 1960's is buried there, he died in the 1980's. I always greet him. Sometimes I wonder if I'm standing over the grave of a kind soul who I would have liked in life, or perhaps it was someone who was very unkind.

Maybe that's the point. They are dead and gone - and no matter who they were in life, a whole new story about them can be formed by the living. Or maybe a better way to say it is one can now look at their life in an entirely new perspective, with less judgment. I am physically drawn to that grave, and always have been, so I can only assume there is good reason - maybe he loved horses, maybe he died on a horse, maybe, maybe, maybe.

The first time I rode Boone to this cemetery, I had a skin sensation when I rode in the shade at the edge of the forest. The cemetery is about 5 acres and sits nestled against a forest of Doug Fir, and the front looks out at cow fields. I remember I sensed lots of energy that day. I didn't feel that today, but I know it's there for another ride.