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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Raise a toast to a fine dog!

Perhaps the most gentle and sensitive soul on Apifera is Huck who turns 9 years old today. I can hardly believe it sometimes, how fast the time has gone. I'm sure you all know that feeling with your children, parents, pet, or selves.

Huck, aka "Grandpa", is slowing down and getting arthritic, but still loves to go for walks and pass gas on the couch-but only while he is surrounded by me and Martyn. He diligently licks and cleans the cats if they allow it, knows where every cat poo is in the front yard, and to this day, he has a phobia about walking by certain pieces of furniture. He never enters our bedroom unless asked. If I scream at my computer, he rushes to my side shaking.

I never had a Lab before Huck-I was a terrier person- and it was Martyn who asked if we could have a Lab after Louie Louie died.

"A Lab!?" I shrieked in jest.
"Only if it is chocolate," I ended.

Huck is one of those dogs that will leave a pretty big paw print of the heart. I hope we have many more years with this giant chocolate soul.

So raise a toast to a fine dog! Huckleberry Pie!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Happiness of the pig hair

I get great happiness spending time with the animals. Sometimes it is just a small passing of the pig, and I look at his head and admire his beautiful red color. I hope this for others, that they have something like that that gives them moments of pleasure like that.

I always have something to do here and care for; I have an endless supply of stories-too many-to write and paint-and share.

But sometimes, I just want to sit with the barnyard. That is where I'm headed now, to take a cup of coffee and just hang out in a short sun break and observe, quietly, be part of the gang. Goose will likely jump on the concrete wall where I will sit, and Moose will run by and pretend he is not interested but he is; Rudy will be off in the distance in his favorite sun spot by Old Barn and the ducks will most likely be on the compost pile soaking up earth's warmth. Who knows where The Head Troll will be. Boone will be napping I think, as I rode this morning; the elder ponies will be sleep standing. Doris and June will hear me and will squeal and squeal and then go back to napping. Chickens will be about. Just a normal day-but so huge in many minute by minute ways.

If you like what you read and see here, please consider supporting and pre ordering at the Kickstarter project for the upcoming book, "Donkey Dream" {A Love Story of Pie & Farm}.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Another elderly odd couple to adopt

I was minding my own business....

You know how this ends.

I have become acquainted with an elderly odd couple, and my inward barometer is telling me to jump in and bring them to Apifera. An old llama, and his side kick, a little elderly pygmy goat. They are with our friends at Sanctuary One [where Rosie and Stevie hailed from]. The llama arrived there with his elderly mate who has since died. Scooby the goat came from a large rescue. Both appear to be real gentlemen. I would love to take these two on for however long they have-the llama is almost 20 which is getting up there.

I have set up a GOFUND page with a small budget to cover adoption and transport. Please help if you can. Sometimes these opportunities have a real sensory message internally-telling me,

"Yes, you should act on this one."

So I will listen.

Kahile, the llama, lost his elderly mate awhile back and I am told he is a perfect gentleman. I remember when I found Rosie, the pig, Sanctuary One told me she had to be adopted with Stevie the crippled goat. I hesitated a day or more, as I had many goats. But I am so glad I acted in a forward fashion. I can't imagine Apifera or me without Stevie, or Rosie.

I think these two will have the same effect on many - and be ambassadors of peace and community spirit.

Donate to help bring them to Apifera, if you can- thank you!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Paco's birthday with fig newton layer cake

As some of you know, Paco is our resident worrier. When he arrived here after I adopted him from an overcrowded environment, he was bossy, sassy and difficult to handle. It took 3 of us to hold him for foot work. He wanted to be in charge of everyone, including me. It took over two years of tendering for him to be comfortable enough and to fit in. Time is so important when working with these animals-and consistent handling. I'm so glad I hung in there-believe me, I had my days- but he is a sweet little fellow. He still is the first one to arrive for butt rubs or food [and he has quite the butt], and he still worries, but he is a perfect gentleman with the farrier and does wonderfully at Pie Day. And of course, he thinks Mother Matilda is really his mother.

So three years ago, I decided Paco needed something special for his birthday, since Pino gets a lot of the glory. And that is why each January 24th, I have a little gathering for him with a fig newton layer cake. The party is very quick-donkeys do everything slowly-except when eating fig newton layer cake.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Help give this book wings!!

I have launched a Kickstarter project for the new book, "Donkey Dreams" {A Love Story of Pie & Farm}. I'm thrilled, excited, and terrified.

I appreciate so many of you who have pre ordered the last book, supported the Misfits in donations, urged me on with gifts and kind notes- really, really. I am blessed to live this life and feel it is my gift to share it all through art and story. It helps me to share stories and art, and if it makes someone happy, or consoles them, than that is icing on my pie.

Kickstarter projects take an enormous amount of work and blood, sweat and guts-so I am asking for your help, good vibes, cookies-anything you can think of. We have to raise a lot of money this time around. I know we can do this. Remember, I get no money-and you aren't charged-if I don't make the entire goal.

Help me give wings to this book.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


A couple years ago I had my abstracts at a gallery in Atlanta called Dalton Cowan which has since closed its door, but the owner is a friend of mine and she came upon some images of my work. It was so good to see these again, and timely, as I have been feeling the urge to paint abstractly again.

I plan to do so after I get this next book birthed [you'll be hearing a lot about that in the coming weeks]. I'm finding that making books- which I truly love- is like wearing yourself inside out. It exposes things.

Abstracts will let me go inward and explore for awhile, perhaps more in silence without the urge to add words. I can still share the paintings, but won't feel a need to tell you about them, you can do that for yourself which is really the beauty of abstract art.

You can see some more past abstract work here. It's the new website I created this month. The old site will be closed down once I get the domain transferred. I needed a change and I wanted the new site to feel like a book about my life here. And I finally put my old life of commercial illustration where it should be-as a foot note of the past.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Caring for the undercats of the world

I was thinking the other night–as I was hand feeding Mother Matilda her Equine Senior feed–that feeding or caring for a sick or wounded animal bonds human and creature on a different level. Even if it is a creature you've known for some time, caring for it when it is wounded or ill seems to alter the relationship.

As I fed Matilda–yes, I did say 'hand feed'–which means I hold the feed in a dish and hold it up for her so others don't get it. This is to prevent her little rascal compadré to keep from getting a bubble butt–you know who I mean...Paco. So not only can I make sure she gets all her feed, I can observe her and just stand with her silently.

Animals do a lot of things in silence, and standing. For me it has become one of the most important things I can do to win their trust and just become part of the rung–stand with them in silence. I hope to do a book on that someday. No words, just photography.

But my other little sick man is still recovering from what appears to be a chronic infection of some kind. This is the third bout of it, and the meds didn't quite clean it all up, but he is improving and the gurgle sound is all but gone. He is drinking water well, a good sign, and his personality is just like the Samuelle I know-friendly, wanting companionship, non alpha. And yes, he is sitting on a chair in this photo which might lead you to the conclusion he is still in the house.

Um, yes, he is still in the house.

And he is fitting in just fine. I just felt after the chicken kills and the chilly nights, it was best to keep him in. I had intended-really, I did-to put him back out with Hazel and Gus in the goat barn where he resides, but really felt he wasn't progressing fast enough. I felt badly for Hazel, she and Sam sleep together. They aren't litter mates as Sam showed up as an adult years ago. But lately, Hazel greets me at the gate just as usual, and seems to be fine with Gus. The indoor clan seems fine with Samuelle. Well, all but Miss Peach who is part royalty. But she sleeps outdoors. Only Itty and Big Tony sleep inside.

We always suspected Big Tony was Samuelle's father, as they both came from the clan down the road, and the two of them are completely compatible. One funny thing is Sam tries desperately to 'join in' at dinner time. He gets to a food dish while Peach is eating-because in the barn that is how it works-you eat all smooshed together smorgasbord style. Well, not in the Big House. He is perplexed by this, that he gets batted at by any cat he tries to dine with. Poor fellow. He will learn.

Martyn has taken a shine to him. He calls him Little Tony, and Junior. He is the easiest cat to be around. I'm still force feeding him. We think he is eating in the night while we sleep, but I want to make sure he doesn't lose more weight.

We love and appreciate any of you who choose to give small donation-at various gift levels- to help me maintain the Misfits in the barnyard, including the strays. Thank you.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dreaming of fields

As a transplanted midwesterner, I always find what is called "winter' here in Oregon more like what we Minnesotans would call "late spring". I find myself believing it is really summer-because there is green grass and buds on the trees, dafs poking up.

Now, this photo is from a summer gone by, up on Mud Hill. This time of year–no matter how sunny–finds the grass struggling to grow, and I yearn for the fields to be full of bud again. My sheep need the nourishment and eek out enough with hay supplementing them, but I prefer to have full bellies when they return to the barn.

In May I will be saying the sheep can't keep up and we might need to mow a field or two. In any case, the weather has been mild and sunny, and I am so enjoying every minute. Soon we will be walking on Muddy Hill, and the scene you see here today will be once again in my view, in the real.

Friday, January 17, 2014

"Pick your favorite" give-away

Leave your comment by January 24th, midnight. I have alerted The Puppet to get his special bucket out and he will be picking a winner this weekend! It was fun hearing all your comments!

This will be between you and me–there is no point in getting the barnyard involved, as it might hurt feelings. While my photographs of their daily lives might always show peace and tranquility, they are like any community-their are layers of feelings, greed for the extra feed, fear of the unknown...so why add to that.

So, if you've bought the book, or been gifted a copy-tell me which photograph you like the most. Leave your answer in the comment section below and one of you will get a free book, which you can gift it if you wish.

I love all of the photos-I chose them with an open heart and put a lot of time choosing them. They all can take me to a moment or place here on the farm. I will carry this book with me where ever I have to go in the future, to be able to step back here if needed. One of the joys of barnyard life, is having the privilege of walking behind the old goats that have lived here over the years. They waddle, limp and creek, but the view is so humorous, and sweet. I am constantly amused by the animals just being themselves. Lucky I am to have such scenery-and that is why I feel compelled to share it with you-as Joseph Campbell taught me years ago- the hunter that finds the jewel in the forest must bring it back to the village to become the hero. Now I am no hero, but I believe in sharing what gives me pleasure as it might bring someone joy or inspiration to go to their own forest and find their jewel.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Nightly muse

The night in the barnyard is in and of itself a muse.

I hope that years from now, if I'm taken away to live somewhere else–that I'll remember the nights here. I have momentary thoughts of years fast forward, and I am somewhere else, thinking of Apifera, the animals–maybe trying to remember names or the sequence of events–just as I tried to remember some college classmates today as I lay in bed. Will I be haunted by melancholy, or lifted up by those thoughts. I don't know–but the night and the almost full moon made me think of such things as I walked back from the barn.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pig dream

Who knows what dreams mean, many of the metaphors are personal I suppose, but some might be universal. Paintings and art are like that too. I think my weekend had me thinking about many things-spring, for one. The pregnant sheep are starting to get big, due in early March. But it was wet, soaking wet-which came as sort of shock. I know, it's Oregon. But we have had a dry winter-cold, yes-but the temps are rising and the rains are back. Nothing like usual, but it's funny how two days of straight rain and wind gives one a case of the

"Spring will come"


So much is going on with the Misfit book, and the upcoming book, ideas, projects in the house and farm-and then there is this sensation that I must get so much done before the real spring comes and carries me out to the barnyard for lambing and all that goes with it.

The main pig pen, where Doris and June live...wait...

I must tell you, "June" is actually "Pearl" but I keep calling her "June" for some reason, so I guess I will now officially commit and make a grand announcement that her name has changed to "June".

So, back to my thought on their pig pen. It is mud. They love it, and they have an island of hog fuel to get them off the mud, plus their sleeping hut. They have terrorized the hog fuel by digging into it in their piggie way, digging for worms and such so it is quite a mess. But that's pigdom for you. The rains mean it is always require the worst of my mud attire to go out and hang with them. They love to be belly rubbed and ear scratched, and I like sitting with them in their hut. So spring will mean more time with Doris and June.

I think maybe that is part of this piece of art–it's a pig dream, my pig dream.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

High alert fowl

We have been on high alert after two chicken deaths last week. One was clearly a hawk, as I arrived up the drive and caught him in the act. It was my dear Golda-who skipped and hopped like no chicken I've ever had. I will miss her.

The second death happened that night, and although I first figured it was a hawk, the kill area seemed to be a raccoon, maybe several, as the feathers were spread in such a messy way. I suppose it could have been a bobcat, as we've had them, but it doesn't seem to be something a bobcat would have done.

So, much to their dismay, and mine, all fowl are contained in the hut runs and not allowed out to free range. I miss having the busy bodies running, pecking, scraping and working in the barnyard. But I would feel dreadful if I lost Priscilla or little Henny Penny who is elderly now.

I made bamboo floating ceilings to help keep a hawk from landing in the runs. I think they are a mix of "raggedy" and abstract. However at certain angles the duck hut looks a bit like lock down at a duck detention center.

I don't know a lot about hawks, or their territories. I guess all I can do is leave the fowl in for a few weeks and hope he passes through. The farm down the road lost about 20 hens this year- but to raccoons because his hut and fencing are mediocre and they were night kills. He agreed our night kill was not consistent with hawk or owl behavior, or coyote. We've never had a coyote in the barnyard. And when we get that new guard pup...oh there I went, I spilled the beans. You will hear more in mid February about that addition.

So I will try my best within my power to protect my flocks. I can't cover the skies. And I can't blame a hawk for being the hunter he is.

Right now

Right now, here. Go look at your right now, there.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Ellie + Friends to rep the book!

Joanne Rossman from John Ryan Johnson on Vimeo.

I am so excited to announce I am now part of Ellie Garber's group, Ellie + Friends. Ellie will be selling my book, "Misfits of Love" to independent shops around the country. The video above shows one of those shops [with the most wonderful name, don't you agree?] that just placed an order for my books. I think if you watch it, at about second 22, you will see why it is such a enjoyable fit [one of many reasons].

Ellie reps lines of cards and products that are unique, sometimes quirky, but always beautifully done-suited for the indie market and shops with unique flavors and personalities. Perfect for a Misfit like me, I'd say. She also reps one of my dear friends from Minneapolis-Jane Jenni- and I'm so happy to be on board with Ellie.

Book Give-Away!

A loyal follower of Apifera who has supported the many efforts to help "Misfits of Life" the book get published is having a book give-away over at her blog. You have until Saturday to write a comment on her post and perhaps take home a free copy of Misfits.

Visit her post to read all the details! I told her that I must alert the barnyard to all book give-aways, but always tell them they may not participate. The last time they won a book they immediately stashed it in the secret spot known only to The Head Troll-and what is the point of a hidden book, I asked them.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Hawk strike and so it goes

As I drove up our road to the house, I put the truck in park and looked to the left to get out of car.

"NO-o-o-o-o!" I screamed.

There was a one of my Buff Orpingtons, dead, and I cried out again,

"NO-o-o-o-o..." but this time it was a quiet sighing on my part, an understanding.

The brown mass standing over had flown up and out as I left the car, a red tail hawk, leaving behind beautiful red feathers and down from the hen.

I could not find her head–but realized with calmer examination it had been destroyed, the talons had most likely ripped it apart-a quick kill I can only hope, but think it was. I've held a lot of dead animals since living here. After the initial realization of what is before me, there is a scientific curiosity that comes over me. The spirit is not being disrespected if the remaining onlooker holds the body and examines, learns, ponders-and is amazed at the complexity of the feather structure or the myriad of tones in each wing.

I got Boone to the barn and there was an eery calm. The chickens often hang out in various areas of the two barns, but what was different is the roosters had also congregated and were laying low. Some of the hens were in the coop. I was too rushed to figure out who might be missing, but I was relieved to see the ducks in one piece and old Priscilla okay as well. But I haven't seen my last remaining Buff, and I hope she is there. The once three Buff Orpingtons were some of my friendliest hens, and we lost Clara some time ago to natural causes. The two remaining- Florence and Golda- were just so fun, especially Golda. I will be saddened greatly if it was her- I couldn't tell from her body as it was wet-the two hens have different shaped combs and the hawk destroyed the comb.

I am not mad at the hawk. And please don't write here about the hawk as a culprit-he was killing for food. I kill for food and would be a hypocrite if I separated myself out of the food chain- a food chain I am part of. In fact, a calm came over me within seconds of finding the hen. It was as if I was being held by air, with the understanding I often write about here on the blog- it was as it was, this act of Nature. I had no control over it, and never could have. We have free ranged our hens for years and I've never had a hawk kill before. We put our hens in at night, but hawks are always around. We had noticed a younger Red Tail in the Doug Firs behind the old barn some weeks ago, and Martyn saw it swoop in but heard lots of crowing and screeching and by the time he saw the bird lift off, the hens had scattered and the roosters were all prancing around–we think the roosters kept it from snatching someone.

But he's been watching, I guess.

Someone is always watching here, be it owl or upper field coyote-taking notice of many minute smells we humans miss or ignore.

The chickens stay near the barns but do venture out to the house area, some 50 feet from the main barnyard gate. The Buffs have been exploring there a lot–there is mulch and dead leaf areas that are perfect for their protein meal. I suppose maybe there were a few of them pecking around and they were more of a target than the barnyard. Who knows.

Part of my agreement here is to do my best under each individual circumstance–circumstances that are always evolving. I do what I can to make the animals free, but safe. I keep my dogs out of the barnyard, and fence so other dogs can't get in. But I can't cover the skies. I won't say I'm jaded, but I guess I thought a hawk strike would have happened by now, in 10 years, so I didn't worry that much. I used to worry about them in the beginning years when I'd see them high above and I was new to chickens and heard so many hawk strike stories from people. I would call up to them-

"Stay away from my hens!"

So it has happened. They chose to be a hawk today–not a character in a semi fictional story.

I will keep everyone in for a week or so. And I will hopefully take a head count and find my other Buff, and hope it is Golda. She would skip, not run, skip to me in the mornings and evening. Such a happy looking girl. Florence was nice too, but Golda was dog like.

Still, it is a good day. There are no bad days if I am breathing and I can look forward to this day and the next. Hard days, maybe. Not "bad".

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Samuelle's sick room

Monday Update: Thanks for all the good wishes for Samuelle! He is still on meds, ringers [a fluid/electrolyte I give every 12 hours under his skin with a drip line] and force feeds, but his attitude is good and he is getting better-slowly. Still residing in his private suite in the house complete with steam room effects.

Samuelle spent the night in our bedroom bathroom, had a spa treatment of a steamy room to help the congestion. He's still not eating on his own so is being force fed. If he doesn't eat by Monday I'm afraid I'll have to start the electrolyte drip bag each day. He is getting liquid in his medicated food I drench him with, so hoping we can maintain his weight.

Poor fellow. He lifts his head up to alleviate his very stuffy nose, but the drops are helping. I hate to have him away from his barn mate Hazel, but the nights are chilly and I think at least one more night in the bath will help him. Last time he pulled through in the barn in a crate, but he's getting the royal treatment this time.

Thank you for those of you who have emailed support. Starting out the year with vet costs is par for the course-but your support is a counterbalance. I am so grateful I can do this.

I was thinking today how I really just enjoy tending a sick animal. I don't know what this is or where it comes from. It is rewarding to see them improve, and it also brings a new dimension to my relationship with them. I have tended animals that were inattentive, and after healing they realize I'm not so bad after all–they begin to transform how they interact with me, the human. I become an ally. Samuelle really likes being nursed, which makes a huge difference, especially with a cat. Having ended up in the ER while tending other cats in the past, I can tell you it is so much easier with a mellow dude like Sam. He hates the drops, but allows them without much claws in my hand defense.

Please remember your donations will also be reciprocated with either Misfit book or the farm's lavender-you can also opt not to get a gift, and recurring donations lasting a year are also available [and you'll get a book then too].

Friday, January 03, 2014

Vet care for Samuelle Noel again

Back last summer, one of the semi feral cats–Samuelle Noel– came down with a horrific infection which really hung on, requiring me to give him a drip line of electrolytes every day for 2 week,s and two shots of antibiotics. The film clip from back then shows you how horrible he sounded, and he had lost about 1/2 his body weight. We pulled him through.

The chronic issue seems to be back–and I rushed to get mild drugs in him last week, hoping it would help. With the holiday, there was no room to really get him to vet and she didn't want to give the hard drugs at that time, without seeing him of course. So, he's not as bad as he was, and I'm off to the vet now at 4:30pm to try to get stronger drugs to hopefully keep it from getting worse. He gained all his weight back, and his coat looks good- but he is not eating again.

This is a good time to let you know that all donations for the barnyard can now be made here on the blog. With the new year, I shut down the GoFund site-fees are less this way among other things. There are gift levels-including getting a copy of the book, or the farm's lavender- and now you can also subscribe to a monthly donation for as little as $5 a month. As stated before, all donations help defray the some $5-6000 of care for the Misfits [this does not take in our pets, horse or non adoptees].

No matter what, these animals will be cared for-but your support really helps, and is always appreciated.

Press: Pino is in Mingle Magazine

The little donkey and my homemade pie are featured in this issue of Mingle Magazine.

I was delighted to write the article and give photos for the piece, and even more delighted when I got my copy in the mail and saw Pino and got 3 full color spreads. Thank you, Mingle!

You can buy a copy of the magazine here. It is part of Somerset Studio and full of full color inspiration for all your mingling desire.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Fog friends

I went for my morning walk with the dogs and on the return walked part way up Muddy Hill. I haven't walked there in a while because we cross fenced it so the sheep could graze there certain times of year. That means we can't walk all the way up, until we add a gate to the cross fence.

I love it up there, in some ways it is my favorite part of the property. It reminds me of a painting, where we are creatures floating, hovering over the farm. The Savannah Oak grove houses multiple families of birds and rodents-and you can hear them working in the fallen leaves. A covey of quail is usually close by-hiding from the dogs-but ready to take flight if needed.

Stella and Iris were on Donkey Hill, their white coats sinking into the background. I was pondering fog- how I think of it as one giant entity that can cover miles at a time. But then I realized it is like dirt, it is little particles all clumped together into a white coating. I began to see it as individuals combined into a flock, just like the sheep.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

New day, new kiss and the pig blossoms

It's a beautiful new day, a new year, and the sun is out. I started the day like most others, in the barnyard with my chums. Stevie the goat gave me a kiss-and those of you who have been fortunate to be on the receiving end of a Stevie kiss know this crippled giant gives the most sincere, kind kisses-pecks of friendship and acceptance placed quietly on a cheek or hand-wherever his lips first reach you.

The weather was slightly warmer than past weeks-good for the soul of both animal and farmer. Amazing what sun and 5 degrees can do-it seems to lift certain dark areas that might have lingered form the past year. All clouds are blown away, if for one day. I am always optimistic in general, but the New Year Day is one of my favorites. The past is that, the future is so....full.

The pigs got out to saunter in the sun. Rosie and Ernest are friends now. They sleep together in their massive hay bed, tunneled under the cover of nature's golden sheets- you can hear them under there as they get settled, like an old couple that grumpily lays down together, fighting a bit for leg space on the bed, only to finally settle and slumber as one. Stevie helped Rosie navigate after she first was taken in by Sanctuary One, and when they arrived here, he stayed by her side-after all, nobody really wanted to sleep near Rosie due to her tone. As she spent more days here and settled, I noticed pig and goat became more independent of one another. This is a good thing, it showed they were settling and expanding.

And then came Ernest. It was as if-as she watched Ernest be himself-Rosie realized,

"I am a pig too!"

And she continues to slowly blossom. She is still grumpy, but less so. And when Earnest runs to me for possible treats, finds none, but still hangs out for belly rubs, Rosie has taken note and she too is finding human touch to be...okay and less threatening. It took me years to settle in a new place, and so it goes with my grumpy little pig.

Happy New Year everyone!