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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And we shall take flight again

The anticipation of what is to come, the idea that dreams continue to take flight exhibiting themselves days, weeks or months later. And the chickens dance because light is added to the day. It is good we don't know the year to come-we would not be ready for it in one setting.

I must melt into each day's occurrences, sometimes crash through them, but always-revel at what happened.

And I must thank the many of you who follow along, either hidden or well in view, for because of you I can live here and do may art and writing, and care for the farm and animals. Thank you for your help, encouragement when needed, support in so many ways-I am truly appreciative.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lessons from a donkey

I don't know about you, but I'm always glad for the holiday, and relieved when it is over. We had a wonderful Christmas though, spent with a small dinner at good friends, and my brother and his wife. It was not sad. I was wondering if i would go into a slight tail spin as this is the first holiday period without my mom.

I am living a life I chose to live-and it took me awhile to get to my farm– with the right guy, so I'm just grateful for each day. Each day I can still get up on a horse, or carry a bale of hay-that's a good day. I am surrounded by land and nature and that is where I feel the most confidant and optimistic. It is where I feel the closest to my parents or any creatures or friends that have left. I have so much richness in life.

I took note of the donkeys the other day. I think they are such good role models. In the cold, they walked on, endured and didn't complain. They take time to just stand around and be donkeys. I like to stand around sometimes and be me.

I'm so looking forward to a new year–with new ventures for the Misfit book, another book on the horizon and who knows what new Misfits might show up.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A moment

The fog this morning made the world monochromatic-beautifully toned in grays and whites. I walked the dogs up to the old cemetery. Then came a "swoosh", flapping, and fluttering. Out of the fog in the field to my left came a flock of birds- their blackness became focused as they flew towards us, only to slowly fade, first to grey and then to pure white as they disappeared back into the fog.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Annual Christmas Garland Festival!

A couple years ago, a kind friend of Apifera sent us a hand made felted garland, thinking it would be nice on a tree. She had no idea what it inspired in the barnyard-an annual day to celebrate the merging of animal, woman and one Dirt Farmer.

What do we do at this festival? Not much, except I always leave full of appreciation for this life and these animals, embraced by this farm on this specific spot. So many imperfections here which make the days rich with compromise and appreciation. I can not complain, nor do the animals.

It was the first festival for Ernest the pig and Little Moose and Little Goose-and Doris and June. As a child, I hated when I was forced to sing or do pagent things at school-so nobody is coaxed into wearing the magic garland. It is said that by wearing the garland for at least one minute allows the soul to cement some future dreams. So Little Goose jumped right in-that is so him- but I wasn't surprised that Little Moose felt like watching. And Pino and Lucia were feeling voyeuristic too-perhaps Pino likes to just be a donkey during the non pie months, I can't blame him really. Doris and June were very eager to eat the garland, and Old Rudy likes to suck on it like a binkie–so one Christmas miracle is the garland still exists- another indication of its magic.

Sit back, and enjoy the photos from this year's festival.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Working on magic

I am working on two new book projects, although have been focusing on a book about how I met Martyn, got to the farm and–well, you know what followed–donkeys, pie parties and chickens with pretty underpants.

I love this book. It is a book that has actually had many lives, and it almost has come full circle. I guess this often happens with a project. I find it interesting though that i am going back to the book the way I first envisioned it-before editors and agents at the time started putting other ideas into my head-to make it more commercial. They weren't bad ideas, but I feel much more convinced that this way is the way the book was meant to be.

This is a happy book, a magical book. I wrote a huge portion of it a couple year ago, and had it professionally edited and shaped by a good editor. We pitched that portion and it got turned down by many places. This new version is much more lifestyle oriented, versus the old version which was a memoir. This version will have fun recipes and lots of Apifera wisdoms. I forgot how much I loved the original story of how I left Minneapolis and met my next door neighbor–who happened to have the same last name as me–it is easy to forget that broken heart that I carried with me to Oregon, only to be healed by loved, friendship and homemade pie...and then Apifera let me blossom.

So stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A fog salute

It was about 4pm when I buried BW yesterday, near the One Eyed Pug and others under the lilacs. It was quiet. The fog silences things. While it might seem very egotistical, I welcomed the fog like it was there to embrace me. It was as if all the trees rose to the occasion at hand and dressed in Black and White in B's honor, to wrap a cloth around him as he left. It was very beautiful-perhaps the most poignant funeral I'll ever attend.

Monday, December 16, 2013

In which I lose a dear friend, a very fine cat

I had to say good-bye to a dear friend. A comrade of theatrics, a warrior, a thief of meat on the counter, a lover, a survivor-a cat I have grown to love very much.

B.W. was euthanized today and I told him how wonderful our time together was, how compact that time seems now since he wandered onto Apifera in 2007 with a swagger no cat has ever outdone. I had been trapping, spaying and neutering the semi feral colony that had grown to about 25, and my energy to find the correct name for him was waning, so we started calling him BW for "Black White". It stuck but he had many nicknames as such a cat with such magnificence should –

Dub, B, BB, Mister Magnificent...

His personality and expression had grown even more entertaining in the past year after he lost a front incisor, making his upper lip cave in on one side.

Damn it, I'll miss this cat. He was one of the four privileged felines allowed in "The Big House" as they call it in the barnyard–but he always was put out at night, along with Miss Peach–only Big Tony and Itty Bitty have night time curfews.

He loved coming in for food, and lap sitting. He adored to sit on me and had a very loud humming purr. He also loved to eat, more than any of the other cats over the years, this guy loved anything–the stinkier the better. He was the only cat we've had around that would climb kitchen shelves to find a pork chop marinating and then walk into the living room with it hanging in his mouth, calmly strutting towards me like that black cat in the Loony Tunes. In fact, we mimicked that black cat in Looney Tunes as we spoke like how we thought BW would.

I've known him six years and he has come into the house with head wounds, broken teeth, blown abscesses and more-but I doctored him up and he always rebounded in style. He took my Dr. Doolittle techniques and seemed to show appreciation for each one. But this time, I had nothing I could do for him.

BW came in this weekend with a hind leg that appeared paralyzed. I assumed it was a stroke which can happen to older cats with thyroid issues. He did not appear in pain, so I made a Monday vet appointment since my clinic was closed. He was eating and drinking. By nighttime, he was in horrible pain and was ill too. He lost control of both legs, and they were numb to the touch. By morning, Xrays told us it wasn't a fracture, and other things told us it wasn't a stroke. I won't go into why we chose to let him move on, but it was a well thought out decision by me and the vet–there are layers of things going on in him, and we feel it is best for him and his quality of life. Treatments that might not help would have left him suffering at a clinic for days on end with limited positive results.

This is a cat that lives to be in and out. He was a stray that learned to survive outside and while he loved being in for certain night time communions, he loved to be out. In the past days of having in all day, carrying him into the litter box, He looked up to me like he always did when he wanted out or in–but this morning, both Martyn and I saw there was something gone in his eyes, a light had gone out. the vet saw it too. When I held him at the vet, he still looked up at me like he always did when I held him, but this time, i know he was asking for help.

It all happened so fast. But I can say this, I have cared for him well, and he has returned the favor by just being himself-the one and only Mister Magnificant–a cat that walked into a room like he was about to accept an Oscar or sign an autograph.

BW–I love you and will miss you. Thank you for coming to us.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Misfits warn of waning mail dates

If you want to gift a copy of "Misfits of Love" Healing Conversations in the Barnyard, don't get too comfortable-time is of the essence. The Two Book rate is still on. I'll be here Christmas week filling orders if needed, but the early bird gets the worm before the duck, as we say in the barnyard.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Living in a cathedral

I always liken the fields as open cathedrals, ready for worshipers of all denominations or non denominations, especially on days like today-frosted with pure white.

While the weather has created non stop hardship for many farmers, there are moments I have to remember to stop and breathe–in, and out. I'm lucky to work out of my home studio, at my pace, and to be able to take my morning walk surrounded by all this.

Today I spent a lot of time going through lots of old photos for a project- I looked at many images of the farm, and of me and Martyn and the animals–some are gone now but many are growing old with us. I had some overwhelming feelings as I looked at photos from our arrival in 2004–there were no real paddocks or gardens, the fields were overgrown,and it just looked so alien in a way. I realized just how wrapped up in Apifera I am now, we are joined together at this stage in life and I don't go anywhere without her. As I looked at myself–younger by ten years–with less midline, less wobbly neck, not only did I see how much I've aged physically, but how much I've evolved too. There were photos of art and things I was creating that just seem very foreign, like I had landed here and was evolving so rapidly that I was just trying each and every thing I could to stay focused. It was a time of upheavel-in a good way. But it was a huge transition to move here, not know anyone, be new to all the things we set out to do-farm, raise sheep, harvest lavender.

But it was all meant to happen, just as it did, and with the exact people and animals that came with it.

Time is going fast. It's been ten years in June since we moved here–what will the next ten bring to all of us?

While time goes fast, the days that make up these years will be filled with many beautiful slower, moments, hard times and lessons, but beauty in the faces of my sheep and the comfort of the melancholy fog. Melancholy brings our sensations to the outer planes of our skin, allowing us to be moved by even the minute detail of one leaf covered in frost.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Grumpy Farmer Syndrome

It's been horribly cold. As a Minnesotan I often get a bit cynical with the West coasters–a dusting of snow usually shuts everything down. But there aren't the same infrastructure resources here for winter weather, and heaven forbid the state consider...sales taxes to help with road crews for storms.

However, it has been one of the coldest snaps on record, and we have had to haul warm water twice a day to both barns and all paddocks. It is especially worrisome for the elders, the cold. I was relieved that everyone appears to have made it through, and we are hoping for a thaw tonight into the week, with rain coming, but at least above freezing.

The Bottomtums just go about their day, taking frigid baths and accepting the weather presented to them. What else can one do? I did leave them and Priscilla in their hut for two days straight, which was kept warm by their huddling body masses.

I think more than anything, hauling water creates the Grumpy Farmer Syndrome. Martyn stayed home in the cold too-not much a landscaper can dig in this weather-and I'm so glad he's been here to help. Now, if I was just hauling water to one or two buckets, that would be less grumpy accumulating. But I have ten areas to keep water in–so I have a lot of time to grow my grumpiness.

And my sciatic nerve got tweaked from hauling buckets. More grumpiness.

By night time I am so ready for a fire and a glass of wine and it makes it all the sweeter. But I forgot, I have to carry warm water to the multiple outdoor cats–more grumpiness.

So, I was watching the ducks, bathing, dipping and drinking water in the frigid cold. They did not dip a toe in to test the temperature, they leapt in. This is the only cure for Grumpy Farmer Syndrome-dive into the cold and get it over with.

I am less grumpy today, as it feels down right balmy at 30 degrees.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Buy and prosper with art...maybe

If you buy at the Two Book Special rate, you might be one of 8 people who will take home a print of art from the book [the flying pig is not in the book, and of course all art in the book is in full color, just to be clear]. If you hear from me after 12/15, you will get one of these single images sent to you. [I choose the image, so it is a surprise to anyone getting one].

Please remember that all sales through the month also help fight children's hunger. $2 of each sale is donated by me to No Kid Hungry. We are about 35% of my goal.

The comments coming in about the book are really wonderful. I am really excited for the new year to further expand the Misfits into the world. Feel free to leave a review at Goodreads, or email me what you think of the book and I will post first name basis] on the Misfit page.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Moosin' it

Yesterday-like today-was very cold. Moose ate food in the morning which was great, but his temp was very low. I called the vet and he said to bring him inside to warm him up. I made the bone head mistake of not warming his drenches in the morning before giving them to him-and I think that was the culprit.

So, I had a Moose in the house. He warmed up very fast and ate well last night and there is no coughing. I will continue his shots and antibiotics for three more days and then I think I can relax. Tonight it will be even colder so I am going to put The One Eyed Pug's old sweater on him, it should be a perfect fit. It will be bittersweet to see that sweater on him, without a pug in it.

Little Moose is so charming. I'm so glad it appears he is on the mend. But until the warmer air returns, I will not let my guard down.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Gift ideas of meaning Apifera style

Don't stress! I can share some simple gifts with meaning for your holiday gift giving. Of course, each thing you buy on this list does help me keep writing, helping animals, sharing story and art–so it is a gift to me too.

Buy a Misfit! For the person on your list that loves art and animal, or that has gone through the loss of a parent or loved one, "Misfits of Love" Healing Conversations in the Barnyard is a gentle choice. You can read reviews and see spreads at the Misfit site. And there is a Two Book special [buy more than two if needed] right now. I hand wrap each book in true Apifera style and sign the inside.

Original Canvases can be purchased in several places: through Sundance, through Adamson Gallery [view a PDF of the pieces that might still be available at Adamson] and through me. Right now, most of my pieces are with Sundance and the gallery. You can always look at my site and email me if there is a piece you like and I can direct you.

Art cards and smaller prints at Etsy.

You can help support The Misfits in the barnyard-old donkeys, elderly goats, ducks, a goose, old ponies and more by making a small donation [gift levels available]. Meet the many Misfits here.

Support my indie publishing venture by donating to help defray the cost of the first book-gift levels available.

Help end children's hunger by buying a book. Buy a book on the Misfit page and this month $2 will go to help fight children's hunger at No Kid Hungry. You can also go directly to the No Kid Hungry Misfit page and make a donation [but you don't get a book that way- some people made donations anyway, yay!].

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

When you love a Moose

I read once in a care taking/hospice book, to not say, "Don't go, stay with me," to a patient, rather say, "Stay as long as you need to."

I use that as my code. I've only broken my code once while at the farm-once while trying to pull Aunt Bea out of decline. On Monday, Little Moose was very ill–the night before he had seemed a bit off, and I gave him probiotics. But in the morning he was way off. His mouth was cold, but he had good color in his eyes and tongue. He wasn't down, but his breathing seemed odd. He wasn't eating. I had a sick feeling about it. Decided not to risk it but none of my vets were available for an ER call to the farm, so I drove him into one of my vets. No liver issue in blood work, no worms, no pain/tension in his gut. Could be a neurological thing, or pneumonia-the latter is bad. So we treated him for infection and fever and I brought him home for Apifera care.That was Monday night. Tuesday his temp was better, but he still wasn't eating or drinking. We continued med regime and electrolytes, and force feeding at night. But I was worried.

Some of you will remember how Little Moose landed here. My mother died in April, and my old pug right after that. I then lost two other of the elders in a short time span. Of course, this is part of aging on neglected elders–I understand. But I needed life. I needed youth. I wanted a gift for ME. Little Moose was born on my birthday, up in Washington to a trusted friend of the farm. I was honored she let me give this special fellow a home. They brought him down on Pino Pie Day last June.

I can't tell you how fond I am of this guy, as well as Goose–who was born on Martyn's birthday, and his client needed to find him a non breeding home; Martyn knew I wanted some youth, so we ended up with two youngsters and I named them Moose and Goose. They are also nicknamed The Monkees. Endless humor from both of them. Endless terms of endearment could flow from my typing onto this page–but on with the story.

So last night, I was feeling much better about Moose since his temp was down. But something just grabbed me while I was with him giving him his med regime. I took him into the hay barn with me so he could hang out with me, away from the chaos of The Misfit hay smorgasborg–and I could watch him while I did feedings. He seemed pretty strong, not declining, a bit more coughing but not a lot. No runny nose. He nibbled on hay. I force fed him some rice bran mixed with beer, my vet's suggestion. His temp went up slightly but I think that is normal. And I held him in between force gulps of his mash.

"You're my little knight in shining brown armor. You came to the farm for me, born on my birthday and you are suppose to get old with me and share birthday stories with me. Don't go."

I had a good cry, mashing my face into his. He tolerated the drama.

"This is so selfish of me, Moose, forgive me,"

Nature will do what she will do. I can intervene, aide, but I can't control it. I usually have a sense about things, an inkling of an outcome-but I didn't last night. I felt 'off'. I rode in the morning yesterday and felt 'off'. I got the trailer stuck on a hill in mud. I broke an egg in my jacket. I stuck the med needle into my thigh by mistake.

Maybe that's why I asked Moose not to go, maybe by asking it makes me feel like he has the power not to go, or that one uncontrollable outcome-no matter what it will be- will be my divine gift from Nature, this one time.

When I left the barn, the sky was so red! "Don't take him!" I said.

I'm getting soft.

And then this morning...

"Moose!" I said as I entered the barn. I could hear him, in his recovery suite, near Goose. It is my morning ritual. First I say, "Boone!" as I walk across the barnyard after I hear his knicker, then upon entering the barn, the first faces I see are The Monkeys and I say, "Moose! Goose!"

I had walked to the barn this morning in the 25 degrees temperature-very cold for here. Frozen, frosty, and a beautiful sun against one huge blue window. But what really lit up my face was seeing Moose this morning. He was looking up at me with the wide eyed look I know and love-the look of,

"Hi! Moose here! Good day, eh? Let's eat!"

He seemed so good. Active, ready to scamper. He ate a tiny bit of food with Goose, Ernest, Professor and Wilbur-his normal routine. I let him out in barnyard with everyone and he nibbled hay with the usual suspects. And the sweetest part-he waddled over to Old Rudy as only Moose can waddle, and hung out with him, just like he did on his first days and nights here. He always goes back to Rudy.

I watched him for 30 minutes and he seemed pretty good–for the first time I am openly optimistic. He still coughed with his drenches, but that isn't that unusual. And his temp was really low, but it's cold. He has another week of meds which we will continue [always finish a med regime, FYI] and I am hoping for continued goodness.

I am now trying not to look at every goat in the place and think they look 'off'. I suppose kindergarten teachers go through this–one kid goes down with a fever and she envisions them all as possible next victims.

Hail to Moose! Little Moose! I will say it again to those of your reading–I don't want him to go!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Special Two book rates through 12/15

The Special Two Book rate has been popular, so I am leaving it up through 12/15. But now you can also double and triple the order. These prices in the drop down menu below INCLUDE USA S/H. Normally each book is $27.50 [includes USA s/h. Int'l orders will be notified of additional shipping fees after they buy]. And this month $2 of each sale goes to the No Kid Hungry campaign [we have raised 20% of our $500 goal].

Remember, each book is lovingly wrapped Apifera style with hang tags and Apifera embellishments. I sign the inside of the book and leave the hang tags blank unless you give me a name.

If you only want single copies, visit this page at the Misfits.

2 Book quantities