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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Head Mistress on duty

It may not always look like it, but Marcella is always watching what is going on in her barnyard. She is over a year now and I can see the maturity level rising. She has really good instinct which her breeder worked hard over the years to maintain - he breeds for working farm and has a flock of his own and also educates about the Maremma breed throughout the year.

I sat today at lunch and took this sequence of images of Marcella- all within about ten minutes. She may look beautiful, but I wouldn't want to be a stranger entering her barn at night.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Noses on high alert

I finished this piece the other day and found it really evocative for some reason. I think part of my child soul is in this piece, perhaps residing in that little red barn, peeking out at her landscape, planning her day of adventure. The plum trees have blossomed and there is this slightly sweet scent in the air-all noses of Apifera are engaged in active smelling year round, but I suspect spring makes their nose receptors on high alert.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sophie's content morning

I had noticed the fog had begun swooping over the valley after we awoke to a beautiful, sunny morning. It often happens and I suspect by afternoon it will be sunny again. It is beautiful and always catches me in the throat as much as the heart,

"Have to get my camera," I thought.

I was returning from a few minutes of photo play and saw a white mop in the barnyard, perfect positioned against her barn of red. It is a spot she is often in, but today she seemed to pose for me. I didn't have my favorite lens on, darn it, but still, caught her. A photo to look at now, and years to come, and remember,

"That was Sophie."

{You can make a monthly sponsorship to help me with the many Misfits-the special needs animals who come to spend their elder years here, no matter how long they have}

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Preparing for wings now

I'm focusing on painting and creating for both my September show and Sundance. Always a balancing act because you get some pieces done and someone might want a piece, and you the artist want the income, but you need to build a show and get a feel for how it is evolving. For me that means seeing the pieces together. So I just decided the only way around it is to paint my eyeballs out through May! Then break to prep for Pino Pie Day and the Workshop, then continue to create puppets and other creatures in clay or fabric for the show. I'm excited about the show as I haven't done one since 2013 and this one is a 2 hour drive so I have a bit more wiggle room with the types of things I will be able to drive there, versus shipping.

This piece is called "Preparing for Wings Now".

Commune like a donkey...sometimes

One of the graces of my life here is I have many creatures around me without opinions. I have many opinions, I'm sure you do too. Opinions are important, especially to the person with the opinion. With technology today, opinions come all day long. It's hard to look away sometimes, isn't it? I know many people that are irritated by so and so online, yet they continue to peek at their news feeds. I do it too. I hate it, but I do. Such a waste of time and energy. I have a note on my wall in front of me,

"What do you need right now?"

to help me walk away from that compulsive human behavior. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

It seems some people, many with strong Facebook presences, take glory in their opinions to the point where they become bullies. And they are the worst kind of bullies-the ones that claim they don't tolerate bad behavior on their pages, but they turn around and act cynically to certain commenters. Some of those commenters might need a push out the door, but some are just sharing their opinions, or asking the wrong questions in the poster's mind. These same bullies that constantly shame commenters on their Facebook pages, can then turn around and are flabbergasted when that same person stands up to them-and the initial bully calls the commenter a bully. 

It's ridonkulous!

Recently in an interview, President Clinton was asked about race relations in our country, and if he thought they were getting better or worse. Part of his answer resonated with me. He said part of all the problems in the world right now, including race issues, is we care too much about being right, not necessarily discussing issues and exploring facets of opinions.

Like the Buddhist saying,

"Do you want to be right, or do you want to be at peace?"

My interactions with the animals do not require that we sit around and discuss politics or hot button issues- thank goodness, because you know The Head Troll would probably be right about everything. There is no right way for the goat to chew, there is no right way to dress, and the color of my skin or the sagging of it is not important to any of my gang. All the chatter of the outside world can be put in a box while I sit and do chores with the animals.

The trouble is, one still has to live with it and hone our communication skills, and our listening skills, to deal with online aggression and over shouting of opinion.

More and more, I just want to be. I want to paint, and create, and just do it. I love sharing to an audience. I do. I admit it. I see my work as a cycle-it gets created, but it is when it is shown to the outside world that it fulfills its own destiny. It is out of my control after that. It goes off and emotes whatever it has in it to whoever cares to sit in front of it.

I had a thought this past week that has kept coming to me. What if I just disappeared-socially? I lived unconnected before, we all did. Would I be like the tree that falls in the forest-if I wasn't sharing constantly, would anyone hear me? Would anyone remember to check in once in awhile? Would it matter?

It's a beautiful day here. There was no bully behavior in the barnyard at breakfast. There is a big blue sky of opportunity above me and paintings sitting waiting for my non opinion. I hope you might stumble on a donkey waiting to commune with you- or any other creature or human that might sit with you for moments of uninterrupted non opinion time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Watch out for outsiders

I did this piece yesterday, and when I finished, I thought,

"What an odd little piece..."

but I soon realized it is a perfect reenactment of what I feel is going on in my life right now. I can't really figure out how to write about it, yet, or if I should write about it in an public and honest way. So I guess my muses just helped me paint it for now.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Paynes gray and sheep

The sky this time of year can bring incredible displays of Payne's Gray, and juxtaposed next to my sheep is always so striking. I never grow tired of it, never see it without an internal gasp.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Aliens land at Apifera

In the past months, we've been working on developing our upper fields so that we can graze the flock there and give our lower fields more of a rest. This means a lot more fencing, which is half done. It also means I get nervous about passing coyotes and other predators who can easily go under a fences. We've been hearing them more passing through. I still bring my flock in at night to be in paddocks by the barns or the house. And since Marcella is still a work in progress, and Benedetto is still a runner in process and I don't trust them completely yet, I decided to acquire more llamas.

Rather than get adults, I opted to raise some up. I found a great llama breeder nearby who also has sheep. It was a pleasure working with her to pick a couple youngsters out. I am still so new to llamas but find them very interesting. Aldo the Elder was adopted a year or so ago and while he defiantly knows sheep and guards, he is old and his pasterns have fallen. It would be inappropriate to put him in the upper fields. He does really love it when the flock is in the lower field where he can watch over them. Sometimes when he sees them up in the higher fields, he does his little llama whine, telling me he is a bit agitated his flock is so far away.

So, I came home with two 10 month old llamas. My reasoning-yes, I actually had a plan- is that I will put the male up in the upper fields with the flock. When the flock moves down to the lower fields, he will come along, but he will be separate from the female llama. The female llama [the white one in the photos] will stay with Aldo and she will eventually be separate from the black male. This separation will happen in the next couple weeks. I will have to castrate the male when he is about 15 months. I learned you want to wait to castrate the llama male due to growth requirements.

I really wasn't thinking of getting two llamas, but since the Maremmas are being problematic for me, I wanted to know that I would always have a llama in my lower and middle fields where Aldo is now. So when I went to look at the llamas, this little white girl was all lovely with me, and I thought Aldo would love having a mate again since he lost his long time partner to old age. The black male was much more skittish, which is fine. He is to bond with his flock, not necessarily me. I will have to do a bit of work in the coming two weeks though to gain his trust more. He leads very well and his former farm worked with putting halters on them.

We brought them home yesterday and they traveled just fine. The poor boy though was shaking a lot getting in the trailer-so many new experiences all at once. The girl is very calm, more personable. They led well into the orchard area and Aldo immediately rushed over, not so much friendly, as,

"Hey, wait a minute who is coming into MY area with MY sheep!?"

I let the llamas off their leads and there was no real trouble, but within minutes, Aldo retreated from them, which surprised me. But by day's end, he let me know, and them, that he was the lead llama, fallen pasterns or not! It is the first time I've seen Aldo spit, and he did so when the girl kept trying to make friends.

At the end of the day, I wanted to try and catch them both for some one on one time. This was problematic. It didn't help that the White Dogs stood at the gate barking. It became more of a lesson for the dogs, that these two odd looking aliens are now living here, no need to bark at them. I've heard no barking today, they learn fast. But when I did try to catch the two youngsters, I couldn't, and tried all my tricks for llama catching. The boy was getting stressed, and at one point Aldo tried to guard me from them, but then a minute later, Aldo spit on the young arrivals. So I quit for the night.

This morning, I awoke to find the two youngsters under the big Doug Fir out back, surrounded by the flock, and Aldo was nearby. Aldo is still a bit peeved at me, I'm not sure exactly why, I think because he saw me trying to round up the young ones. In time, I know the girl will tender up pretty good, but right now, I'm just letting them relax, there is time for separation and learning in the weeks to come.

The fiber from the male will be beautiful, so I will learn how to get a good shearer for their fiber.

I am awaiting their names, which will come to me as I get to know them better.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Today's guest blogger: Paco the Poet

{I have asked Paco to write today's post. It's a good way to let him express himself and it gives you all a fresh view on life. Paco is our resident poet, and worrier, but he's very loved and no donkeys have been mismanaged to bring you this post.}

They keep telling me to come over.

"On that wood? It seems skinny. I am not skinny," I told them.

I was worried. I might float away on the skinny rivulet below.

They could hear my thoughts.

"Don't worry, Paco, it won't break or float away. We want you to come. There is so much to eat up here."

That was Pino. He is the star. He was the first donkey and he is a star. He has books and a pie day and he is a star. I am a normal donkey.

"Mother Matilda, are you going to go over it?" I asked her.

She just trotted by me and never even looked back. She does that. She is confidant. She shows me in action what to do, without words.

"Wait, you are leaving me here?" I asked them as they turned away.

And they did. They climbed the hill and left me in the pasture.

I will be brave. I will eat here today.

This isn't so bad.

Wait, I can see their ear tips up on the hill. I must call them so they know I am still here.

"I am still here!" and I brayed and brayed.

I see their ear tips again. They acknowledge me with their ears forward. But now their ears are relaxed, in bramble. They are not worried about me.

I was brave all day. The sheep came down and I took them to the barn. I protected them from possible hawks. You never know when a huge hawk is going to swoop out of the sky and pick up a 200# sheep. I worry about that. It could happen. So it is good I'm here for them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Snapshot moment

Sometimes, often really, nature gives us such unexpected and beautiful juxtapositions like Uno the rooster against the little, young weeping cherry tree.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Look carefully and you shall find

Sophie has this knack for finding the best places to take a nap, nearby so she doesn't miss anything, hidden so the pigs and hooligans don't bug her.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Workshop is filling up

If you are pondering taking the June 27th workshop here at Apifera, you might want to consider enrolling now to secure a spot. We have a wonderful group coming from all over the country-I'm just thrilled! This is going to be a day of soul and story, merged with animal energy all around. It will be a gift for me too, believe me.

There are still at least 5 spots left, and I might allow a few more after that. So just a heads up for you.

You can read all about the workshop and sign up if you are ready.

"Hey, lady!"

I get a lot of,

"Hey, lady!" shout outs around here. They have a good point, I think.

"Put that thing down and get us some breakfast!"

And I did!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Marcella and shepherdess confrontation

Marcella at this gate this morning, ready to start over, as am I.

{Update- Marcella has moved on, so have I. We had a great working day yesterday and all is well. Chalk it up to life.}

Marcella and I had a confrontation yesterday. I failed her in a big way. I made a mistake and I am disappointed with myself because I knew the second I was doing it I was pushing her too far.

I got up Saturday all ready to get my flock into the barn to begin the job of giving them spring shots, trimming their feet and deworming them. I would have 32 ewes to do and it would be good day of work with my flock even though it would also be tiring. Tasks like this can clip along at a nice pace, or one snafu in the barnyard can set things off track. I have to bring the flock into the goat barn, but first I have to put any Misfits, and the dogs, into stalls so I can have my sheep in the front two stalls and isle. I herd a few sheep at a time out of the stall into the isle, halter one at a time and work on them; after each one is done, they get sent out to the barnyard so I don't get confused. Much easier than keeping a list like I did in the early days.

I arrived at the barnyard gate in the morning ready for action.

Hmmm, no dogs. No goats, or pigs. It was raining, but that never stops Marcella. I sensed a barnyard mischief session was going on somewhere.

As I got to the goat barn, Marcella stuck her head out. She looked happy. Happy in a way a kid looks after he just stole the entire cookie jar and ate it before mom came home. The goats were standing around looking like they knew something wasn't quite right but weren't able to pinpoint what it was. And Benedetto, sweet Buddha Benedetto was lying in the corner, staying out of all of it.

There in the isle was a white bucket, a white bucket I had hung over six feet off the ground. I had left it there last week, high up on the wall, after I had wormed and trimmed the goats. It had stayed there safely and I thought it was safe from Marcella. I don't know why I didn't take it into the hay barn where I now keep all my meds in safety from her, but I didn't. Marcella loves to chew on plastic, she is getting better with age, but still does it if given a chance.

She had taken the new jar of dewormer that was in the said bucket and dumped it by chewing off the top. I had just bought it. All the needles I had used to give shots the week before were strewn about, fortunately I always recap them, and she had chewed anything that was plastic-all the syringes and wrappings. Thank goodness it was Valbazon and not Ivermectin, the latter is much more lethal in large doses and the wormer had soaked into the straw bedding underfoot.

I was livid. We had a financial snafu this past week , right before my birthday. We will work through it in time, not looking for pity, but the timing of it stunk, like most financial surprises. It put a damper on an already emotional birthday. I was having to really scramble with juggling money and when I went to the feed store to buy supplies, I made a big sigh when I saw Valbazon was up to $50. It seems to go up and up every year. Ah well, all is well, things will be okay, suck it up.

So, besides the fact my day of routine was now altered, $50 was down the drain, and that is a lot of money to lose when you are trying to break even on a small flock.

I scolded her, and she went on her side, submissive. But I'll be brutally honest, I sort of snapped. Maybe from the financial stress, or the emotional issues of grief and loss that came to a head over my birthday, I don't know, but I over reacted. Marcella got up and went into the front stall to be away from me because I was still mad. I followed her and just asked her why she had done that, and went on and on how hard things were right now. But she was up against the back wall, and I was walking towards her as I spoke in an angry tone.

That was so stupid of me. I'm ashamed. My anger got in the way of a good training moment with my working partner.

Of course she took it as a threat. This is not a pet dog. This is not a pug, or a lab or any other non guard dog. This is a breed that for centuries has been bred to protect. And I was in a stall with some of her charges - Victor and Sophie- and I was acting threatening with my tone, and was walking toward her when she was backed up to a wall.

She jumped on me, growling, and latched onto my arm. I had a coat on, and it was a soft latch- but it was to tell me,

"Look, I'm not going to take your threats, stop it."

I turned my face from hers and relaxed and she let go. And I walked away. But it didn't end there.

I took her into the hay barn to feed her, and did other feedings. Eventually I went back to the hay area and I kneeled down about 10 feet from her, and called her over. She came right away, submissively, tail wagging and head down. I petted her and told her I was sorry, that I had done that all improperly, and I went to lean my head near her, onto her shoulder which I often do. I had my big, floppy hat on. I don't know why, but she let out a soft growl at me. Then stopped when I moved my head away. I thought maybe it was my hat, but I got up and went about my business. She was not ready to trust me yet.

Not long after, I was doing more chores in the barnyard, and Benedetto was hanging out with me and over comes Marcella. She leaned her head into my shoulders ad we just sat together for some time, in silence.

I told Martyn about it and I told him how I had really failed out there, I snapped in anger. I wasn't even mad about what she had done, it was all the other stuff that happened that week and I let it take over. They always tell you not to ever get in the arena to train when you are mad. This is so true with any kind of teaching of any creature. I know this, and somehow I didn't have the skills that morning to walk away from my own anger.

It deeply saddened me that I failed her that way. But today, was a new day. I will strive not to fail her again.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Walking with moons and other stuff

Just some donkey house keeping. The new Donkey Wisdom journals are at the printer and I should have them by mid April if all goes well. I'm really excited to get them out to those who have taken time to pre-order.

I might sound like a broken record, but want to emphasize how important pre-sales are to me as an indie creator. It allows me to pay for printing in larger quantities so I can keep the product price down, as well as keeping me out of debt. The money goal on the pre-order site pays for printing only, so I don't see income until after that is paid off. I'm a bit disappointed we haven't had the pre orders for the journal as we have for the last two books. I'm not sure why and we all have our limits of products, sales, crowd sourcing and donkey power...wait, we have no limits with donkey power.

So if you are thinking of buying a journal, it helps a lot if you do it now. And the pre-order pricing is going to be the lowest retail price.

And one other garish mention-the $20 doodle sale ends tonight.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Eerie journey through the woods of light

Yesterday morning I went for an early ride, alone. I am very fortunate to have access to my nearby friend's land with riding trails, free of cars and wandering dogs–although we run into an occasional critter, as there are many living on the 200+ acres of property-all in protected lands.

I know there is the occasional cougar up there but have never seen one. It's ridiculous to think they aren't there, as it is high up, remote and the males have large territories. I have always been afraid of cougars, having read some bounty hunter website when I first moved to the farm that scared the britches off me. Coyotes I can handle, bobcats, hawks, eagles–but I've always felt if I ran into a cougar that would be it. I've heard differing opinions on this, but what most will say is you can't outrun them, and you can't lay down for them. One hunter told me that they are always looking at me if I'm in a remote wooded area. The area where I ride is country, but there are properties of 100 acre parcels around, cow farms, sheep breeders and horses, and of course- filberts, orchards and grapes.

My riding friend had an incident where her very seasoned horse became very agitated on a solo wooded ride. She respected it, and they headed back to more open trails. My other friend was hiking in this area and knew the land well, but it was nearing dusk. She said she had a 'feeling' on the back of her neck, and knew she was being watched by something, and decided to head back since it was getting a bit dark.

So on my ride yesterday, I was pondering how many creatures might have been watching me and Boone. Boone is a very good trail horse. When I bought him, the man told me he was sure footed-which he is- but also that he was very attentive but not in a high strung way. Anyone that knows Boone knows that "high strung" is his opposite! On trails, Boone will often stop, and watch. I allow this-as I feel it is his personality and instinct. Sometimes I know it is a trick to eat grass, but when he stops in a certain way, I assume he is sensing one of our forest friends.

We entered the woods, a nice trail, somewhat spooky but in a beautiful way. The light was exceptionally eerie yesterday-maybe it was my melancholy mood. Yes, it was my birthday, but I was a bit blue. I had certain people on my mind that are aging and failing, and I felt a huge void for my family that are mostly gone now. As wonderful a life as it is, I just felt sad yesterday, sort of like I could feel as a little girl when scared. I felt vulnerable.

As Boone and I rode, I sensed there were many messengers in that forest with me. I don't like to combine technology on many of my rides-but I did take my phone out to capture the light if possible. I did not alter these images but when I got home I felt it was a document of that forest being alive-both in reality but also in a spiritual sense.

When I got home, I had a letter from my only surviving Uncle, my mother's brother. He is a wonderful guy, and health issues are catching up to him and his wife. He always remembers my birthday. He is the final blood elder who will be in my life. He told me he was looking at a photo of my mom as he wrote the letter, and that he too missed their chats.

I think that was my sadness in the forest. It was my sadness, but also the sadness of my Uncle and maybe my mother knew it and just wanted everyone to be okay, she is okay, she said it through the branches in the wind. The light of the forest seemed like the sadness we face after we lose everyone, and the weight it takes on all of us, especially the last remaining elders who are still at the party with one foot in the room and one out the door. But when I looked up through the trees, there was sky, a different kind of light, a light of life here on earth.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I might have been a Bridgette

I was born this day fifty seven year ago, in 1958. That same day, my Grandmother Katherine died–she was fifty seven and left me with the name I now bare. I was supposed to named Bridgette, which really upset me as I was young since I thought Bridgette Bardot was fabulously exotic. I think I could have been a Bridgette, but Katherine is a well suited name for me.

Grandmother's photographs did not show a fifty seven year old-part of it was the era, the hair styles and clothes. And part of it was she worked full time as a nurse, helping start one of the first settings for crippled [the term then] children in Minneapols. She had three sons, one was my father. And when those boys were young pre-teens, their father left my grandmother for his younger secretary. It was a shocker for everyone, as he was a prominent physician in Rochester, Minnesota-a small town of wealthy doctors who all knew the comings and goings of everybody. Divorce was unheard of then, it was a black badge you wore about the town. She did not want a divorce and she carried a torch for my grandfather for many years. My mother told me a really heartbreaking story-a year or so after my grandfather left her, and was with his secretary living in Washington D.C., my grandfather paid for his young sons, and my grandmother, to come out to visit. He paid for everything and put them all up in a hotel. The trip just happened to coincide with their wedding anniversary so my grandmother was sure he was going to reconcile. But he didn't and he had cluelessly planned the trip without even remembering the anniversary. I can feel her body sinking that day.

I was never told about the divorce until my twenties. My parents thought it would tarnish the image of my grandfather in my mind, and they didn't want that. Each year I'd get books for Christmas from my grandfather, and sometimes I'd go visit him in Washington D.C. I did not like my step-grandmother. Nobody did. As my grandfather grew elderly, he invited me out again when I was 17. He hadn't seen me for many years and he kept accidentally calling me "Kappie". This was my grandmother's nickname. He would sit and talk to me, with this adoring look on his face-and he'd slip and call me Kappie. This riled my step-grandmother. But I liked it, as I had grown up thinking of my real grandmother as a mystical creature-one I was named after, and had many similar traits too. The photos I had of her when she was a young woman showed angelic but strong beauty-in my young mind. I'd examine her face, wondering if I could be so lovely someday, and brave. When I turned eighteen, I was given her wedding ring by my father. I cherished it and wore it every day on my right hand, until I married Martyn.

I think of my grandmother a lot, and how she died at the age I turn today. It seems so young, even though back then fifty seven was more like seventy plus. She had diabetes and had a stroke on the cold Minnesota morning I was born, falling to the sidewalk while she waited for the bus to take her to work. My father told me after I was older that he had been called to the hospital and was told that at the scene passers by didn't help her, they thought she was drunk. It haunted him his entire life, and it does me too, that maybe she would have lived-who can know. If that had happened to my mother-I am not sure what scare it would have left-so the older I grow, the more credit I give my father, with all his flaws, to have gone on as well as he did after that.

The juxtaposition of my first day of life with my grandmother's last never fails to capture my imagination. The upheaval it must have caused everyone. But it reminds me of life here, and it helps me feel how my father might have felt. A lamb is born on the same morning an old goat falters, fades and lays its head down one last time. It happens everywhere in the world over and over-light and dark, salt and pepper- come in quickly without choice. Without the upheaval of death there wouldn't be life. It is the only way of nature. A tree seed bursts though the dirt, destroying that smooth surface of ground, to sprout its new trunk. We don't mourn that, we notice the sprout. Somehow I've grown to see death this way-it makes room for other things that might be looking right at us.

I don't want to die on my 57th birthday. But I'll share something. I do think if it all came down to one moment like she had on that street, I think I might take a deep breath, and rest. I plan to go on living, and will relish it, but life does begin to take small chinks out of the armour. These chinks don't make me sad, they just make me realize that the last breaths might be a soft, gossamer piece of relief.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Little $20 gems

Little gems all for only $20 each-I rarely lower things to this extant, but it is time to freshen up and clean up...and make some pocket money for donkey cookies.

Visit the shop-this little sale ends Friday.

Not in the mood for art? You can pre-order the Donkey Wisdoms blank journal-also at a low price that will go up once it is on the retail market.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Glimpses of our essence

I think photographs are glimpses of the entire essence of a day. A string of images that somehow capture the daily magic I feel here-I hope you can here not only the silence of some of these moments-for that is calming-but also listen for the squeals of pigs, wings of birds flipping over head, a snort from a horse, or water being sucked down the long throat of the old goose.

The juxtapositions of the different species always makes the Dr. Doolittle quality of my life here seem bigger than any movie could ever be.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A new journal full of donkey wisdom!

I had so much fun working on this new product and hope it will be something many of you will welcome.

It is a blank–but illustrated–journal of 124 pages. Each page has room to journal or doodle, make lists or ponder life as you see fit-but each page also has whimsical donkey art or photos, complete with a selected wisdom. I've put some samples below.

The soft but durable cover is full color as are the inside covers. The interior is black/white and some pages are gray toned to emerge you in the mood. And everywhere-donkeys!

And you the new owner of this journal will be asked, on the front page, to take the donkey pledge.

I have a pre-order page set up now. As in past self published projects, when you pre-order it helps me as an indie artist/writer enormously-to pay for the offset printing. As with the books, I am choosing to use traditional off set printing for quality, which means I buy big quantities at once, upfront.

Pre ordering also helps you. It gives you an intro price that you won't be able to get once the journal is printed. If you prefer to send a check, first visit the pre-order site for pricing and then email me. I plant to have the journals ready for shipping sometime in May.

The books and product line I am growing have two goals: to share the beauty and wisdom of the animals and farm through my art,photography and writing, and to help me sustain myself as an artist-the latter I've been doing for 20 years. But now I have many more mouths to feed so i aim to build something that can bring in an income as I grow older.

Thank you to everyone who has bought books and other art along the way. I hope the journal will entice you!

Take the donkey pledge!

Over 70 images of art or photography- here is the inside front cover

Over 70 images of art or photography, with room to journal or doodle

The front cover and back are full color

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The donkey has a book mobile!

I've been wanting to do this for a long time, and am finally going to take the leap! Pino and I will be hauling our...er, hauling ourselves into Portland in May to have our first Pino Bookmobile of Love event!

Thanks to a friend of Apifera [and lifetime admirer and girlfriend of Stevie the goat], Pino and I have a place to do a pop-up book event. I mean why shouldn't there be pop-up donkey events. We will be selling our books and Misfit Mail of Love postcards too. I'll probably bring some lavender as well.

But most importantly, Pino will be there doing what he does best-standing politely and oozing patience and donkeyness. Since it is his first event away from the farm, we will be bringing his little sister, Lucia, also who usually gets a lot of attention in her own right.

This event is in the heart of NE Portland. Pino and I worried we weren't hip enough. We rarely get off the farm and when we do, we find we are falling behind in hipster trends. Pino is excited though, he's never met a real live hipster and is hoping some come to his Bookmobile.

I hope this will be the first of many Pino Bookmobiles, and I hope to see some of you there!

Pino's Bookmobile of Love
Saturday, May 9th, 12-3
2008-2112 SE Taggert St
Portland, OR
Rain or shine!

Monday, March 02, 2015

Non manic Monday

I was sitting–sitting– with the barnyard gang this morning after chores. I was thinking about the early days, how sometimes I had so much on my plate pre-occupying me that the chores in the barnyard became just that-chores. It has taken me awhile to reshuffle the priorities of my life and this morning as I was putting my Muck boots on to go to the barnyard, I remember thinking,

"Oh good, I get to go to the barnyard,"
like I would have thought if I was here on vacation.

When I first moved here in 2004, I hardly sat down. While each day was filled with 'pinch me' moments, I can honestly say we both worked in a non-stop mode-we had too. The farm needed everything, it had been neglected for decades–the house was outdated in every manner and there was no proper fencing. The barns were a blessing even though both were neglected and we are still working on Old Barn. They are in constant need of maintenance-as is any barn or house anywhere. We were in our early forties and both worked on the farm full time and our freelance jobs full time. If you think that is impossible, that one can only work 50% on a farm and 50% as a freelancer, you are wrong. It simply means you work 16 hour days and weekends.

I think that aging also helps bring about this return to child like wonder of living. The initial middle age shifts in body, hormones, looks, and loss of family are daunting and uncomfortable. I feel at almost 57, this discomfort is settling into more of a beautiful, fluffy cloud. I suppose this is why high tech companies want youth-they are manic in energy. And of course, after eleven years of fixing and renovating, we are starting to see light in the tunnel. It will never end, the jobs here, but we are in the really fun part now-developing fields, enjoying the bounties more, understanding our flock better to make better choices, having cross fenced pastures to help me cross pasture more efficiently.

At middle age there is a shift in perspective and energy levels. I can't do everything any more- or wait, I could, but I don't want to. I don't need too. I probably didn't need to back then, but I'm glad we worked so hard for this first eleven years, because the fruits of that work are beginning to show. It all adds up to new wrinkles and scars from sharp fencing cuts–but also a lot of inner peace and joy of accomplishments.

While sitting with the morning breakfast club, Iris, one of the Boar goats, choked on hay and began coughing a lot-a normal occurrence, not an emergency. But Marcella jumped up from her place and positioned herself near Iris, then looked at me. I praised her, as she notified me that something might be amiss. She is one year old now and I am seeing many more moments of mature guarding. I appreciated that as a wonderful teaching moment for me and Marcella.

Everything could be gone tomorrow. I could, Martyn could. I must live with that knowledge and do good with it, for me, the barnyard, The Misfits and my creative spirit.