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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

How to keep a pig busy...and happy

Ernest was getting in my way today, his goal was to escape through a gate I was going in and out of. He was no doubt tempted by the longer grass of the front yard, not to mention his gilts, Doris and Pearl, who he is not allowed to be with for obvious reason. So I did what any savvy pig owner does–grabbed some nature, some round nature that provides said pig with entertainment, exercise and nourishment. And it is very enjoyable to watch.

So for a quick break from shopping, here is a video for you. Of course, when you are finished, feel free to support a small business, um...me, and buy a book or two, or other goodies.

Out and about

The pigs have been escaping through one part of the fence and I was out trying to capture the expressions on the donkeys faces as they watched the porcine ramblings from the other side of their fence. But it was not my day to have my lens in sync with the action I guess. But I did capture Paco in his winter fuzzy suit, as Matilda watches from behind; and Samuelle Noel in repose–who is full recovered from his illness and has gained many pounds. It is gray and I can feel the wetness loading up in the higher air. We will make soup tonight–the thought of the soup, the fire and a glass of red wine just brings me great happiness. Simple pleasures.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Layers of thanksgiving

I was thinking how holidays are multi-layered. They encompass both past and future–memories, joys, disappointments, catastrophes and old family myths. It all gets jumbled into hopes and dreams, and maybe fears of the present and future. It brings up layers of past regrets for some, and anger for others. You can't help but look back on a holiday and see what the view was like, or try to remember what the view was like without rose colored glasses.

I've had an odd week. Not a bad one, but a mixture of melancholy and fun. Watching Rudolph last night was both. Many of us feel that, I'm sure, those of in our middle years will remember being little and watching it. Of course back then the advertisement was the same every year–Norelco, all animated, with the razor sledding down the snowy hillside. Raise your hand if you remember. My mother adored Burl Ives and we always teased her that even in the year 2013 she liked to have Burl Ives on for Christmas. When I cleaned out her belongings, there was a Burl Ives CD, which I brought home. So last night, I sang along with her on my shoulder. And of course, Martyn and I love the Island of MISFIT Toys! Especially the polk-a-dot elephant. Martyn jokes that my favorite lounge PJ bottoms are from The Misfit Elephant collection, since they are polk-a-dot. It always makes us laugh.

Laughing is the key. I married someone who makes me laugh, and I make him laugh. I think I'd have to say it is the number one thing that makes marriage fun-laughing with someone that gets you. I'm so thankful for Martyn.

So, Thanksgiving is here. The firsts are hard in grief. But I'm okay! I made pie, I went for a long ride on Boone and then I hung out with The Misfits. I hugged Little Goose a lot- he still loves to place his head into my body while I hold him, just like he did as a baby. Ernest and the pigs make me laugh over and over. Stevie the gentle giant still gives kisses, and Old Rudy appreciates my touch. I can look out at any given vista from the barnyard and see layers of animals. I miss my mother, but it does not consume me. But it is still there, the hole is bigger than the surrounding space-just yet. That will adjust. Tomorrow I will be grateful for a husband who helps me out, a brother and sister-in-law who are preparing a feast and two newer friends that I've grown to really enjoy-because they make me laugh too.

I hope all of you reading will find things to be grateful for, even if you are hurting or are going through some kind of transition that has you off balance.

Late this afternoon, I took eggs from the girls and made buttermilk pie. I still thinks eggs are the perfect food. Such a complete package, and the ability to be an animal or a scramble, such smart work of Nature. I'll never compete with such wisdom as Nature, but I can walk with Her and pay attention. She is so bountiful.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Misits helping end childhood hunger

I've always loved Jeff bridges work on film, but also his humanitarian work to help fight children's hunger. I've set up a funding page where I will donate $2 of every Misfoot book sold to his cause until I raise $500. My work with animals only comes full circle in a healing way when I combine it with people, especially people needing cheer or peace-or in this case the basic need of food.

Here's how it works:

1] You buy a book[s] on this page, and I automatically donate $2. The donation will come in as 'anonymous' when I enter it on the funding page site. So you don't have to do anything except buy a book.

or 2] You go to the funding page, and make a direct donation to the cause - BUT YOU DO NOT receive a copy of the book.

or 3] You can become a Misfit Troubadour team member, and gather donations from friends. Again, this way you are making your own donations and are not receiving copies of the book.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Open year round

Remember there is a TWO BOOK special going on through the week. New drop down menu helps you buy up to 8 copies with best shipping rate. If you are ordering more than 8 copies, please contact me.

Our enthusiastic team is here to pack, ship and deliver!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Meeting with The Head Troll - don't be late

It has been a whirlwind of book packing and sales in the past couple weeks–grateful for all the comments coming in and well wishes from people who have lurked for years on the blog [nothing wrong with that] and now are popping their heads up to say 'hello' and 'thank you'. It's all nice. Thank you all very much. It is a beginning on a good beat.

But I need to take some time this week to sit with my master plan. Wait, do I have one? I think not, well I sort of have one-but I've always created, painted and written in a fluid way, I guess master planning will be no different. However, I'm feeling we need a bit more structure for my book ideas, and for marketing
Misfits of Love
to the masses, especially since I've got this crazy idea of not selling on Amazon. I think the people who respond to this book are going to respond because of the visceral connection of it and I'm not so sure Amazon is the place for that. I'm not saying I have anything against Amazon, and I did add a page there with description in case someone looks it up or wants to leave a review, but I like selling directly. I suppose at some point I will change my tune.

That's why I set up time this week to spend with The Head Troll. I've named her Marketing Misfit or something like that, I can't even remember the title, but before I knew it she stood before me with pencil and tablet, ready to serve, and direct. As you can see from the photo, you don't want to be late to a meeting with The Head Troll, she does not tolerate tardiness. She is a no nonsense manager type, and you better come prepared with good ideas or she'll cancel the meeting on the spot.

You might think I've gone mad this time, talking to Head Trolls. She's a goat, that's what you're thinking–She's a goat. Yes, but she's a Head Troll. Trust me on this. She knows... a lot of stuff–about a lot of things. She encourages me to think outside the box and to listen to my gut. When something flops, she looks at me, and I can hear words from her,

"Did you listen to your gut on that one?"

The Head Troll knows.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Smile of the acrobat

I'll send you off on your weekend with the smile of goat, a Misfit–none other than Wilbur the Acrobatic Goat who we adopted from New Moon Goat Farm Rescue some years ago. HE came here as a youngster and is about six I think. I just swoon for any creature with brown or red coats. And how can one not admire this face, the pencil thin goatee and the impish expression.

I can say that if i had a dime for every time I raised my voice in my best authoritative mother tone and yelled out a name, it would be,


He is a monkey, a madmen, a leaper, a dancer, a bouncer. I tell him he'll be old someday, and then he'll understand what it is like being around a goat in a monkey suit.

He is of course part of the new book.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Little black dress, hen style

It never gets old, it never is out of style–the little black ensemble, complete with black underpants–you just can't go wrong with it, ladies.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Misfits selected into the Society of Illustrator show and book!

I just got a phone call–and how nice to be individually called by phone–letting me know that art from "Misfits of Love" Healing Conversations in the Barnyard was selected to be in the annual exhibit and award annual in the Book category of the Society of Illustrators. I haven't entered award shows in years but am thrilled I decided too.

I am so proud of my Misfits–these are just 5 of 65 art images in my new book, but I'm glad they were selected. I will post details of the NYC show and book when I know more.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Old Rudy keeping it real

I have been manically wrapping, packing and shipping all the pre orders of the book and totally underestimated the time involved. But, it's okay, it's exciting. I also underestimated how wrapping the books, packaging them in an Apifera way, putting the label on and knowing in 2 days that specific person would open the book-it felt so nice–like giving a gift rather than sending a product out.

The time involved in wrapping them individually with hanging tags and embellishments makes me feel the recipient will feel something tangible from the farm. I suppose the book–if I succeeded-will do this too, but I just like wrapping stuff. My father loved Christmas and birthdays and wrapping things in very special ways–I guess it is fitting then since he is such a part of the book.

But life is here, on the ground, and the animals and farm keep me grounded. I found a quote I had given some years back–

"Painting lets me float, farming keeps me grounded."

I actually sound like I know what I'm talking about! But, I do feel that way. And as I was rushing around all day in the studio and to the post–again–I came out in the rain to do night feedings. The first voice I often hear is Old Rudy who is going on 13. His shoulder is getting very extended and he is on daily pain meds, but his eyes are bright and he still climbs steps to sit up high. He loves to go off into the wood shed area of the barn to be alone–just like Old Man Guinnias did. I'm so glad he found his way here. His former owner is too and it makes me feel good she knows he is cared for. I spoke to Rudy again tonight, as I always do, telling him he is double loved.

Rudy is in the new book of course, and don't forget there is a Special Two Book rate on through November. If you only want one copy, visit the Misfit page.

Friday, November 15, 2013

First book reading!

You know as a troubadour of self publishing, one has to think fast, and outside the box. The fact is The Puppet was not in the book, even though he considers himself a Misfit, but he loves to hear me read from it - so you are officially welcome to share in our first book reading. And more to come.

Continuing magic of moon, Misfits & me

The continuing magic of the moon: So the delivery driver of the books called from the bottom of the driveway at 6pm. He couldn't get his larger truck around the culverts. It was dark. Martyn wasn't home. The pallet weighed 1600+ pounds. No worries, I told him. We busted open the pallet, working with flash lites and our headlights, and he placed the boxes of books on the gravel road. I began transporting them into my truck. He drove off, and I finished getting all the boxes in the car. It began to really mist. I looked up and there were my parents, Bob and Kelly, again- in the moon, just like the other night I wrote about.

"I did it," I said, as I got the last box in the truck. And then the clouds covered them up again. "Aren't you going to come out again?" I asked. More rain drops.

I got in the truck and turned the key. Dead. Dead as dead can be. But I just sat there in the dark, with a little rain, the stream running beside me, nobody around for miles. And the moon came back. It was so....perfect. Now if I'd had some publisher doing all this, I never would have had that moment. That's what I thought.

Ten minutes later, Martyn was home and we jumped the car and ferried all the boxes in the studio. The moon was out over us.

I just held the book. It appears healthy, alive, and ready to get out of it's travel clothes. And I am ready for some wine, a fire, and the next part of the journey.

To celebrate the launch of my new book, "Misfits of Love" {Healing Conversations in the Barnyard}, I am offering a special through November 30th: buy one book and get a second copy for 25% off. Visit the Misfit page to see spreads and more from the book and view a trailer.

If you'd like to buy at the Special Two rate, please pay below. You can also support Apifera Press so I can do a second printing faster, and start new books. Note to international buyers-you will be charged more for shipping {after you pay below I will email you with additional shipping charges.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Patiently waiting - at least Miss Peach is

As I type, my heart is sort of skipping. The truck with all my new books will arrive some time this afternoon. I don't think I've been this excited since I knew they were bringing little Pino here to live some seven years ago.

I am excited.

I am anxious.

I chat in my head with 'What ifs"...

"What if it looks weird? What if that correction I made didn't get corrected?"

Then I busy myself. Or eat a cookie–okay, first I ate the dough. Chocolate chip cookie dough, from scratch of course, with Apifera eggs. I've been eating raw dough since I was about four and I have been warned repeatedly about the dangers of it- but I can't help it. It is my go-to excitement food. Which is why I freeze the dough immediately after I make it.

Okay, I digress. The books are coming today. This is a feat in and of itself for me. I just want to hold one and see that the birth went well.

It took Miss Peach to remind me that in times like these, one must stop, breathe, get a good perspective for oncoming delivery trucks, and enjoy the view.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Meet a Misfit: Granny

To celebrate the launch of my new book, "Misfits of Love" {Healing Conversations in the Barnyard}, I am offering a special through November 30th.

The Special Two lets you buy one book and get a second copy for 25% off. Visit the Misfit page to see spreads and more from the book and view a trailer.

If you'd like to buy at the Special Two rate, please pay below. The current normal price for one copy is $19.99 plus USA s/h. Special price for two copies is $34.98 plus USA shipping.. Note to international buyers-you will be charged more for shipping {after you pay below I will email you with additional shipping charges}.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A hut for a butt, and some prayers

Wilma has lost a lot of weight, the vet was pleased. But don't worry, we still have this wonderful view. I personally like a woman with a strong rear end, don't you?

The pony hut is now graced by prayer flags, sent by a friend of Apifera. It's always nice to get such surprises! Many prayers and wishes are circling as I write, all around the farm.

I'll be watching you

Little Moose watches Old Rudy.
Peach watches Little Moose.
I watch them all.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thankful for old warriors

My father was 17 when he got a plane and then a boat and landed in the Pacific. He was a Marine. After my mother died this April, I helped clean out her belongings. I had seen some of my father's medals and discharge papers after he died. But I never really examined them until after my mother died and I took them all home with me. The discharge papers tell which battles my father fought in, including the dates. I knew he was in major battles, but I researched and was amazed he had lived. I know he once told me only two of his group survived. I only talked to my father once in detail about his war years-over one too many Scotches!-back in my late twenties when he came to see me in NYC. He told me some horrific stories-images of heads rolling by him as he hunkered down in a culvert. We never discussed it again.

He liked war movies–and I can understand that. Perhaps the movies helped him comprehend where he had been, I don't know. I remember we watched Toro Toro Toro together and it was interesting to see his take on it. Later in his career as an architect, he was working on a building in Japan, and he and the other Japanese architect began discussing the battles they were part of in WWII. They think they might have been fighting each other on any given day. They toasted each other's lives, as here they were, without guns or battle helmets–just two old soldiers who made it. Each of their countries had reason to battle. Each of them were brave and made sacrifices we can't imagine.

So here's to all the soldiers-young, old, men and women, dogs, donkeys and mules–thank you for your huge sacrifice. And here's to my old soldier, Robert Louis Dunn, gone now 5 years but never forgotten.

My friend and I used to wonder how we would have handled being put on a plane at 17 knowing we were going off to the South Pacific to fight. We decided we would have cried all the way there.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Update on the elder ponies

The vet came on Friday to work on the teeth of Mama Sugee and Wilma. Equines need to have periodic 'teeth floatings', where the vet grinds down any sharp points or uneven areas. This allows the animal to chew properly, and also makes their life more comfortable, so they don't have a tooth sticking in their gum or tongue.

Unfortunately, Sugee's teeth have never been worked on - or not for many, many years. When the vet opened her mouth, she was a t a loss how to start. Sugee's teeth were so horrible - some had fallen out, others were very long and growing into her cheeks leaving 2" raw, open sores. Some of the teeth were worn down to the nub. The vet had to take as much off as she could so at least they were making more pain for her mouth, but she couldn't get them even and we never will at this point. This means Sugee will always probably spit out some of her hay as she can't grind it down properly, and I will always water-mash her grain.

I'm so glad she will have relief though - the sharp points are gone and won't create more wounds. Wilma didn't need any work, so that was great.

I was really happy when the vet– who originally rescued these tow old gals and was the vet who operated on Sugee's ears after the dog chewed them off– told me how pleased she was to see Sugee with so much more weight on her, and they loved that Wilma was up and about. Wilma was so fat and sore from bad feet she couldn't even get up when they got her.

I have been working on Wilma's attitude. She is not mean spirited, she just doesn't have ground manners. She is learning that she needs to stand still, with her ears relaxed, not pinned back, to accept hugging. And when she relaxes those ears, she's figuring out it's okay and feels good to get petted. She is also learning to stand still after being released, rather than rushing off in a huff. The new pony paddock is next to Boone, and it is so sweet, if not amusing, to see the two old gals flirt with Boone, who nipples on them when they are in heat.

If you'd like to make a small donation to help me maintain the elder ponies and all the other Misfits, I'm very appreciative. There are gift levels, including a copy of the new book, "Misfits of Love".

A cat of Apifera

BW arrived at Apifera around 2006 or so, strutting into the barnyard one day like a visiting dignitary. He had a mellow disposition and was very friendly when I introduced myself– but to this day if guests or visitors come he disappears. I started calling him BW for Black-White, since I was unsure he'd stay, and I think I was on about the third litter of trap-spay-neuter so I was a bit warn out from naming cats–as I recall.

Over the years, BW has become a friend. He is quite the love machine with me to the point he can be a bit of a pest, unintentionally. He has a habit of jumping up on me during my evening wine sipping and has broken two glasses on my end table–which always causes a near riot. He is one of 4 cats that have indoor–at–TV–watching-time privileges but sleeps outside. Like Mama Kitty, Plum and Little Orange, and now Miss Peach, he resides on the front porch or nearby hiding spots and does not venture out to the barnyard much. He is an avid hunter and I respect his quick kill, unlike Itty who taunts. I also can say I've never had a cat that climbs through dangerous territory in the kitchen and can sneak a pork chop off a counter right in front of your eyes.

Some time ago, BW started losing weight but was eating like a horse. The vet suspected thyroid imbalance, which I guess is common in adult cats, and blood work confirmed it. He'll be on meds now for the rest of his days-sigh. Always a challenge medicating the semi ferels. I hope to see weight gain in the next couple months.

I've been loving my macro lens. To the non photographers, that is how I get the blurry parts of the photo. It is tricky to use with moving targets,however, and also means I often chop some one's ears off.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Little Moose, oh our Little Moose!

"Moose!" I say, and he jumps up on his little bed stand in his stall.

"Let me take some photos of you,Moose," I go on.

Moose abides by my request.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The scent of love expanding

I think of my mother every day, in quiet ways, sad ways–but now happy ways.

The biggest lesson I can share-and I knew it, but I relearn each time a creature I love dies, or a friend departs–is that with death comes an expansion of love. The expansion is on both ends–I think the person dying somehow bursts open and the person left behind gathers and breathes all that came before, and all that spills over in that burst of death.

Love lives.

There are intense moments. Anyone who has grieved knows this experience. I find they are short now, usually, and intense, but I go on about the day. Recently I was looking for a sweater in my closet and came upon one that I'd brought back from my mother's after I cleaned out her house. I immediately smelled it-just like a sheep or equine would do–seeking a known scent to make everything seem normal and safe.

I could still smell her scent in the sweater. It was fainter than when I brought it home, as it has mixed with my scent for 7 months now. But I could still smell her. At first I winced slightly remembering the reality, but I buried my face into the wool and lived with it for many seconds, in silence.

Those moments are really interactions of two spirits-one still in her body, one not. It was pleasurable, really–like smelling vanilla out of the jar or cinnamon in a baking cake.

I think that is what I want to pass on today–there is grief and shock and horrible jagged waves in the initial weeks of loss. But there are moments of intense love. That is what is really left–love.

Love expands after death.

{If you've lost a parent or loved one, you might take comfort in the grief journal}

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

And The Mud turns four, with his tail

Today is Muddy's 4th birthday. Along with his tail, he will spending the day as usual - happy.

He is so different than Huck. He is a goofball. We joke that he needs a crash helmet.

While Huck has entered the Grandpa stage, Mud gets up every day–with his tail–and he and his tail go about joyously, no matter if it is drinking water, running, sitting, yawning or eating. He even sleeps, upside down, and if you walk by he doesn't open his eyes, but his tail wags.

He and his tail do it in a frequency so exuberant that one can only admire the twosome. Tonight we are going to light a candle stuck in a buttercup squash and wish him well. He loves pumpkins, but the gas that emanates from him after he consumes one is so overwhelming that we are opting for his second favorite–squash.

So Happy Birthday to The Mud, MudHuck, Mud, My Muddy....and his tail...you can't have one without the other.

{See Muddy as a pup during Muddy Madness Days}

She works the camera like Grace Kelly

I looked down, she looked up. And that was that.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Duck poetry of wits

To tuck your head inside your bed

and nap amongst your own feathers

To let the rain roll off your back

in the worst stormy weathers

Hail! To the quackers in our midst

As they teach us how–so humbly–

to better keep our wits

Sunday, November 03, 2013

When we fly

"The wind's a comin'!" I yelled to the barnyard as the gate I was closing pulled me forward.

It all happened so fast. Ernest flew like a bird, eyes closed, up, up and away and I went right with him. The barn came with me and we floated above the farm, only for seconds, but enough to give me a fresh perspective on the day. All the clutter of buckets, rakes and rolled up fencing on the ground left behind became abstract patterns–goats were spots of color, like paint I usually move around on paper.

I once told someone long ago that I could fly like this. I was young, maybe five. She didn't scoff, but didn't embrace the truth in it. I never told anyone again. The barnyard didn't need to be told though. They know the truth of flying because they fly with me on occasion.