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

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

All images

©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Puppet is back!

Pino the Puppet has big ideas for a little donkey, but that has always been the case. He thinks outside the box. {If you want to help Pino and I see our wish come thru kindly go here, thank you}

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Opie falls in love again

Opie has this way of looking up at the elders as he communes with them, it becomes a shared love between goat and human. While he shares himself with everyone, today he had a very attracted to Jean who gave him a loving head and neck rubdown. I just love the look on her face, and I love her beautiful old hands.

Today we sat outside and took enjoyment in how much Opie likes to eat dried leaves, like potato chips-such a simple pastime but we all got so much joy rom it. I also learned that Joe's love of his life, his wife of sixty years died in January and his son died shortly after of suicide-he was a Marine who came back with horrible physical pain and he just could not withstand it. He told me how they had talked about death, he and his wife, and they had had sixty years together and that was wonderful. These are the scenes of things to come, and I look to them as reminders that they carry on as best they can-and if a little goat helps bring in new memories, this is a worthy job for Opie...and me.

{If you like the work we are doing here, please consider a tax deductible donation. We also have a barn fundraiser going on-and someone is matching every dollar for up to $10,000.}

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Amazing news! Amazing! Amazing!

An amazing opportunity just presented itself to Apifera yesterday. It left me walking on air.

We need to build another barn to be attached to the second barn we built last summer. The new barn will allow us to help more elder/special needs creatures, and will also provide better space for quarantine and special situations-like hospice care.

So there I was yesterday afternoon, minding my own business, when the phone rang. I was informed that The J&J Stanley Foundation will match every dollar donated up to $10,000! I did what any professional does, I got weepy.

Isn't it wonderful?? It made me stand tall and feel like,

Wow, I am on the path I'm supposed to be on. And somebody really cares about Apifera's work!

Because we are now also in communication with state animal welfare people who might need a home for neglected creatures, the new barn will help me say 'yes' more.

So our goal is to raise $10,000 which will be matched dollar for dollar. The barn will cost $25-30,000. Please understand too that the Foundation $10,000 will not be submitted to the GoFund site, it will be deposited directly to Apifera, once we meet our funding goal. All your donations are tax deductible.

Once you donate at the GoFund site, and your money clears into the Apifera account, I will send you a receipt for your tax records.

Also, if you prefer to send a check, that is fine. I can add your donation manually-either anonymously or with your name. Checks can be made to Apifera Farm Inc and mailed to 315 Waldoboro Rd, Bremen ME 04551.

I asked the donors what I could do to show my thanks-and of course they graciously told me to just keep doing what I've been doing. But they also wouldn't mind having a chicken or something named after them. I will discuss this with Paco the Poet who has taken on these decisions since The Head Troll departed.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

When cats dream

The Magnificent Maurice Mittens is one of our residents of The Elder Cat Suite. While he lives inside, he has memories of his younger days when he was able to walk alone and gather leaves and sit under trees and catch the dappled sun. He still has that scarf though, his Aunt Alice made it for him and told him,

"Maurice Mittens, when you wear this scarf, think of me, and all the creatures you have loved, and they will join you on your nightly dream time walks."

{Now available as a print at the shop}

Monday, September 25, 2017

Oh Rosie! Conversation with the waking grumpy pig

I often find Little Sylvia Pettini sleeping in the Rosie's private suite...which I guess makes it semi-private. This morning I saw this scene as I walked to the barn and it was one of those put the feed buckets down and take out camera-quickly-before the opportunity to catch this scene evaporates.

"Good morning, Rosie!" I said, in the same sing-song tone my mother used to get me up as a little girl-which now I would love to hear every morning, but in the cold of a Minnesota winter always in the dark it was the gut wrenching reality I had to get up out of my comfortable dream spot.

The expression on Rosie's face as she lay there, awakened by my footsteps, was priceless.

No matter how grumpy she can be, this past year has been my favorite of our years together, including having her on the six day journey east. I truly believe that somehow, something clicked in that pig's mind as we landed on new soil. I don't know why. Because even though she is still vocally grumpy most of the time, and is needier than ever, she has softened to me in some ways-although a visitor might not notice it. Yesterday I was out near the barn and heard her carrying on in true Rosie grumpiness-loud squeals and hrumpfs and such-and I went to see if she was okay. She was laying down but was frustrated because she couldn't get the flies off of her-due to her more arthritic body. She hates to be sprayed, but I coated her in fly spray, then I sang my old Rosie song to her...which I was pleased to see still gave her some kind of calming, and her groans of despair ceased.

What a pig.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Things the old cat teaches me

The Magnificent Maurice Mittens - my role model
Somebody asked me why I gravitate to helping seniors. I have always gravitated to senior people since I was little. I don't know why. I think somethings are unknowns, and why we do it is less important than recognizing how meaningful it feels when we do it. Working with seniors-creatures and people-feels meaningful, so I continue. I'm not trying to heal old wounds of childhood or family relationships. I just really dig elders. And I really gravitate to them emotionally.

I think of all the senior or special needs animals that have come and gone at Apifera, and how significant their presence was-to me and visitors. If we could all just get second chances, to be recognized for our souls, not necessarily our aged bodies, vessels that don't appeal to the popular marketplace.

As I near sixty next spring, my earth vessel is no longer pretty. I can say that now. I fought it a bit these past couple years. I really could not tell what I looked like anymore. I'd see a photo of me wen I was...say, 55...that's not so far from being 59. But how different I perceived myself to look. I think, for me anyway, there have been stages or passages in my almost sixty years, that took me time to settle into the new me and say goodbye of the old me. Not just the evolving interior of me, but the changing exterior of me-the aging me. I like to think I got about twenty years of looking in the mirror and feeling good at the physical reflection, that's not so bad. But starting about 57, I was really struggling with...my appearance. I felt like I lost what I once saw, and didn't know what I saw in the present form.I think that was part of the reason I chopped my hair off spontaneously-those flying braid clumps were in a lot of paintings of my younger days. I needed some lighter clumps to go with my aging vessel.

I've never really thought of aging as something to fear. The number '60' doesn't really upset me, because I have created a life of meaning. But for some reason, this transition, as far as my outward appearances go, is the one I've struggled with the most. And I always come back to the same internal dialogue-you are healthy, you have love, you have work, people remember your smile and laughter and how you make them feel, not the you look a certain age.

I suppose at some point I will meld into my new body-the fifteen pounds heavier body that try as I may will not shed an ounce. I just have to believe that there is this point that I will look in the mirror or see a photo, and clearly know that is me, just like I did in my prime. Maybe? Maybe not.

And so when I sit with The Magnificent Maurice Mittens, I doubt he's examining my looks, unless it's my body language. He's gotten another chance here, to have a life of meaning amongst the Apifera elders. He will be petted and cared for and make people happy. He can continue to be a cat, just an older version of himself.

"How glorious to go through life without examining one's looks and age all the time." I told him this morning. "But by the way, you look magnificent."

He reminds me that as I age I get another chance, daily, to let my soul shine no matter what my exterior vehicle is looking like. No matter how much examining I do of the reflection in the mirror, its just a vessel. I don't leave it behind, I leave my deeds and art and soul impacts behind.

Friday, September 22, 2017

In which I meet Mrs. Mercy Studley

Yesterday while feeding, I came upon a beautiful rat  in the
pig food can, as I had left the top slightly ajar.

"Hello!" I said.

"Oh, hello, I figure you might come as I heard the animals rustling. I am Mrs. Mercy Studley," the rat said.

I felt the hairs lift on my neck. You see, just the other night I had been reading the history of Bremen, our town here, and Mrs. Mercy Studley was one of the early inhabitants of a nearby village and at the time our house was newly built in 1760 era, Mrs. Mercy Studley was already 106.

"There was a woman from way back with your name, in a nearby village," I said.

"Yes," the rat said.

"Did you perhaps know her?" I asked.

"Oh yes. She is me, or I am her. It is I."

{to be continued...}

She said "It's a place where healing flows both ways"

I was really honored by this review. It sums up my work here at Apifera, it really does. Thank you to Lisa for writing this and expressing my mission in one sentence: a place where healing flows both ways.

It's been a whirlwind week. I've found a wonderful vet for the elder cats who came on Wednesday. We updated some vaccines and rabies and discussed elder issues...of cats that is. I'm really happy I found her. {And if you want to donate a small amount to help with the vet visit, we send you meds and meows}.

Just a lot of things are percolating. I'm finding that marketing the mission of the 501[c][3] is a really excellent way to hone what our goal is, and isn't. I'm reaching out to people about taking in animals but also am beginning to find contacts to bring special needs people here. And of course, I'm trying to raise money to build a buffer and foundation of finances for us as we go forward, so we have feed/vet care monies, but also can begin to make improvement and plan the third barn to hold more animals.

I realized that people might want to 'see' what my vision is for not only the increased Elder Cat Suite, but also the third barn and how it sits on the existing site. I thought a master plan would help people see what we are wanting to create. The third barn will allow us to have more animals-but as importantly it will free up space in the second barn for better feed storage, hospice suites and more. This month we hope to work on better drainage in the equine area.

How can you help?

  • Write a review-tell people, as Lisa did, of your experience with Apifera, or tell people why you donated money to us in the past
  • Donate
  • Send cat food or other small items
  • Send a letter or item to Rag Tree
  • Share our mission with people in New England in case they have goats/animals that might need a home

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Conversation of old cats

Sir Tigger, was 17 when his owner went into a home and he ended up in the shelter.
"She is on her way," Sir Tigger said as he kept his nose close to the bottom of the door.

"She's late this morning!" said Anna.

"There be others she cares for besides us's, or is it we's," said Yume, in her broken English. Yuma was born in Japan and was a stray, so her English, and grammar, are still a work in progress. And learning a new language at an elderly age becomes a longer process for most.

"I got to sleep more, this was good," said the tea cup cat, Maxine.

And then there was a loud thud on the ground.

It was The Magnificant Maurice Mittens who had recently been returned to the shelter for reasons unknown. He arrived with the name Mittens but was grateful his new caretaker adjusted is name,

"as I am more magnificent than a mitten!" he announced.

Maurice Mittens sauntered over to Sir Tigger, and stood behind him. The two got along, but there was a feeling in the air that Maurice could take over if he wanted to, bt he didn't want to. And Tigger liked to stay out of trouble by backing off of any body encounter with another felines.

The door opened, the sing song woman voice said the usual,

"Good Morning! What a great day to be a cat!"

And she plopped down a big box.

"Look what came for us?" she told them all.

They all gathered, except Yume and Anna who watched from their perches.

Inside were cans and cans...and they knew exactly what was in those cans...judging by the tail swishes and humming purrs.

"I hope it's the Seafood Combo," said Maurice.

So you see, dear readers, when you send a gracious gift of canned cat food to the senior felines, a conversation does happen, and appreciation is shown via tail swishes and grrrrr's.

{Apifera Farm is a 501[c][3] and all your donations are tax deductible.}

The Magnificent Maurice Mittens had been returned to the shelter for unknown reasons

Anna was loved, but sent to the shelter in her elder years reasons unknown. Yume  was born in Japan and lost her owners due to another oversea job change and they could not take her.

Maxine is 5# and on thyroid for life. She was sent to shelter at 12.

Anna sent to shelter for reasons unknown

Monday, September 18, 2017

It's different here, I tell you

While there are many things about our Maine home that remind me of my growing up years in Minnesota, there are things here that are still exotic to me-like the fact there is a cove across the road that we see, and some nights especially this time of year, the blue sky at dusk time suddenly is engulfed in a wet fog. The fog here is coastal, it is different than the fog we had in the valley of Oregon.

I watched it last night from the porch and I could see the little wet crystals, almost like there were family clusters of rain or mist. It was really beautiful and moved elegantly. and quite fast.

The Goddesses in the front garden are making me happy. They bring color as the rest of the garden begins to fade into the browns and ochres. It is a beautiful time. I must remember next year to plant the sunflowers as I did this year, two weeks apart to lengthen their fabulous show.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Please share!

I hope you will share this image! I am trying to get the word out that Apifera is here to adopt elder and special needs creatures. I have been sharing our story with shelters and animal control officers too, and as many farms as I can find.

If you know of an animal needing to be rehomed, please contact me with details. We focus on adopting elder and special needs creatures-sometimes this is due to neglect, but often an elder owner has dementia or has passed on, there is a life change and an animal has to be rehomed, or an elder or special needs animal is not able to live safely in the existing herd at a farm. Often on cheese farms, kid goats might have special needs and need hospice or daily care that the farm can not handle.

So please share!

I would also ask that if you can donate, that is wonderful too. All your donations are tax deductible.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Opie has no motives nor do I

The smile on Jean's face is why I am doing the work I am doing. It's pretty simple.

The look on Opie's face as he looks at her is why I bring animal and elder together.

Today Opie and I visited our friends again in Wiscasset Green, an old house that was turned into a private elder home for about eight residents. Each visit, I get to know them more, and them me. I know this little creature well, and I know he is a natural at this. He often places his head on their knees and stares into their faces, or places his head between their legs to take refuge...or perhaps to just show them he's there.

They just like knowing he comes to visit them. We are all better for Opie, and for each other.

{If you like the work we do at Apifera-helping elder/special needs animals and bringing them together with elder/special needs people, please consider a tax deductible contribution.}

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Opie learns a lesson about life

Every year, it happens. We must bid farewell to friends. It was little Opie's first Sunflower Farewell and he got verklempt because he recognized them as big giant mothers and sisters, and now they were dying.

These are lessons we must teach the young.

"But Opie," I heard one of the sunflowers call out, "You can carry one of my seeds, and I'll be with you all winter and spring, then put me in the ground, and I'll come back, slightly different, but it will be partially me, just like you are partially your mother."

This made Opie feel better. But he still shed some tears as he sat on Pino's lap with Birdie standing guard-she had a hankie in her right hand, waiting, just like a good mother would.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Rag Tree has her first offerings

I ventured out to The Wood to see Rag Tree today, and to bring her some offerings, some from me and some from others. I got such a sense of peace being with her. What I love about her is she is very old and failing, we hope that we can revitalize her a bit with more sunlight as we harvest some of the surrounding forest for pasture. Some of her apple tree companions have fallen, but another stands nearby and is in rough shape too. I might make her a Sister Rag Tree.

We chose her for many reasons-she needed attention, respect and some acknowledgment. I praised her for the two small green apples I saw way up high, all she could muster in her condition. Someone before us had found her worthy too, a fort of branches was at her base with shells. I gave her coins to wish for prosperity for our new venture of the 501[c][[3] and jewelry to hang in her branches. I hung prayer rags for Apifera, but also one for her, and I hung two white rags for two sisters, one is riding out the hurricane in Florida and the other sister told me how worried she was.

On my way back I stopped at another old apple and gathered windfall apples-some for the pigs but we will eat some too. All over there are old apples, you just have to look for them sometimes due to how thick the woods can get here.

But what I felt more than anything, was a sense of purpose-not only for my animals and future animals we will help, but for this little piece of land, this old apple tree, and all the connections and communing we will have on these visits into The Wood. I thought how a year ago I wa still a bit lost, sad for the old land we had left and loved...I knew once I poured my heart into this land, all would be well, and exciting again. And so it is.

If you want to send offerings to Rag Tree, visit her page.

Friday, September 08, 2017

You can write our Rag Tree

If you'd like to send Rag Tree a prayer or message, or a letter, please visit this page.

I had one of those thoughts that would not go away-the image of a small hut somewhere, with a single, humble bench and nothing else, barely big enough for one person. And a red box. The red box was clearly in my mind after watching "Victoria" and I was reminded that the Queen, to this day, gets her morning red box full of letters that she responds too.

I thought people could send Apifera letters and I would put them in the red box, and leave them in the hut and when someone happens upon it, they read the letters and it's intent or wish or prayer is released.

I told Martyn about it and as is usually the case with my brainstorms from the heart, he liked it, but helped me tweak it.

As we talked, we realized the trees had to be part of the experience, and I remembered my Prayer Rag Tree at the old farm. I would tie a white rag on a branch with a word or name on it to send a prayer for people or animals. Sometimes, total strangers asked to have a prayer flag on the tree and I always tried to oblige.

So we decided the best place for this will be in a special spot of The Wood, right near the Quaker cemetery from yesteryear, which borders one part of our land. There are beautiful old trees there and dry slopes. It can't be seen from the road and anyone going there would need to seek it out. I want anyone going there to feel they came upon a gem in the woods, like a troll left a light on for them in their shack.

It all jogged my memory to an illustration project I did years ago about a Wishing Tree, something that is done in India-people leave wishes and symbols of hope, coins, trinkets at a designated tree. I also was reminded that in the Celtic tradition, Wishing Trees - also called May Bushes, Fairy Trees or Rag Trees - are all over, and people tie rags of color to ask for blessings from the saints...or wee folk.In Britain a woman saw a pacifier on a tree - a prayer for the new born, or unborn? So the Wishing Trees have been around for centuries. I hear they are a new wedding craze. Yoko Ono has been doing work like this for ages. But I thought it would be nice way for people to partake in what I get to partake in every day-the peace of Apifera, the land and animals roaming that provide beautiful images, and the wisdom and generosity of The Wood.

So this weekend Martyn and I are going to venture out to The Wood and pick a Rag Tree. People will send a rag of their own with their hope, prayer or wish. It might be simple word on a cloth rag, or a note on paper, or wood. Some people might send trinkets.  Some send photos of loved ones or pets. I will leave it up to the sender. I will figure a way to attach them so as not to harm the tree. Perhaps hay twine strung from the branches with notes attached. In time, the rags will fade, but not the energy or intent of the message.This is an evolving, fluid endeavor.

And people can send letters-Letters to lost pets, parents long gone, old friends never seen, politicians, or a higher self. The letters will be put in a special box with the tree...I hope it to be a red box, like the Queen's.

I mentioned the beginnings of this idea on social media and already some want to come to the tree. In time this will happen, although I am not sure of the logistics...a journey to The Rag Tree might be incorporated into Workshops, or people that are supporters of Apifera's non profit might have their own special day. But right now, I want this to be about the tree and its energy, and the hope it will emit into the air, or the comfort it might give someone knowing a small rag blows in the woods at Apifera spreading hope or a desire, or that a letter was written with love and in time will reach the intended recipient now gone.

In time, Martyn will also build a little hut for me with a humble bench...a place to sit and reflect, not speak, read the letters of other souls who needed to write...for whatever reason.

If you'd like to send Rag Tree a prayer or message, or a letter, please visit this page.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Conversation with Birdie, a llama's empathy

Birdie's eyelashes bash. She looks directly at me. She smiles.

In the background I see the Goddesses, their yellow heads bobbing in the light gust that just blew Birdies llama locks out of her big, beautiful, dark, brown eyes. I hear them too, the Goddesses, some humming, others chanting, and one calls out,

Look at me, I am tall today but I am bending, I am lowering to Earth, do you see?

A sheep comes out of the barn, acknowledges our distant figures near the gate and turns to pass the sunflowers, preferring to commune with grasses, chewing some and feeling others under her feet.

Birdie approaches me and curls her neck like a swan, suggesting I stroke her, which I do, how can I not? And she puts her head on my shoulder, we spoon like this all the time, somewhat abnormal for a llama. But she is no ordinary llama.

"Thank you, Birdie, for taking a moment with me," I told her.

Before you go, she says in my ear, before you go, go look at the sunflower. She is leaving soon.

I told you...she is not an ordinary llama.

I leave for the barn to do morning chores, she leaves for her lower field, joining her charges. I can see her looking towards me, or is she watching out for that sunflower?

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

BIG NEWS! It's official!

I am so excited to tell you that yesterday we received our letter of determination from the IRS. In explaining this to the Misfits, I simply told them people can now donate and get tax deductions.

But then they wanted to know about tax deductions...so it became a long drawn out barnyard discussion.

Anyway, I'm so happy that I can now go full steam ahead. As I left the barnyard they were having bit of a squabble about who would represent them at important meetings. This could be problematic, without The Head Troll to step in. I suspect, and can only hope, that Paco the Poet has had enough experience this last year that he might step in.

I have also had a conversation, at long last, with The Puppet, who has been sadly sitting alone on a shelf-with a good view, I'll point out. The poor chap. He is lonely and feeling undervalued, and since one of the reasons we want to work with elders is so they don't feel undervalued, and there was my dear Puppet feeling just this way.

So I told him I am putting him in charge of Porta Potties for any events as well as Puppet Ponderings...the latter I think we might all agree the world needs more of, especially now. He was very excited there might be a port potty in his future. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can catch up here.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Saying goodbye again

When they are in the prime of life as autumn nears, they sway in the wind as if to say farewell to us, but also to each other. Creatures they are to me, faces of all shapes and sizes, some facing down as the heaviness of their short life now takes over. The rains are coming tonight, I spent time with them today thinking many might leave tonight, falling down and leaving their heads for the pigs to eat. Oh, Sisters! We enjoy your arrival each summer, and understand you always must leave, leaving a bare spot in the sky by the barn.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Her Grumpiness lets the village know it's toe trimming day

I waited until the nearest neighbors pulled out in their camper for their Labor Day holiday. Then I snuck into her royal highness's stall, while she slept, where she sounded more like a lumber jack than a princess. I got one toe done before the screaming started. If you ever wondered what a prehistoric sea creature sounded like, I would expect it was something like the sound of Rosie getting her toes trimmed.

Such drama.

As she has aged, and become more arthritic, it takes less time. She doesn't have the strength to fight me so we get it done. I've tried all sorts of things to help in the past...beer-she did not like the micro brew so I gave her some cheap beer...nope. But Marcella and Earnest enjoyed a cocktail that night. Had a vet do them once to the tune of $175...yes, that's right, and we did not do that again.

So, it all got done. And I told her in hopes she would forgive me that pumpkin season is upon us. This made her stop grumping at me for seconds, until she waddled back to her favorite sleeping spot, and before I even turned around she was happily snoring like a lumber jack again.