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, June 29, 2018

When goats and art merge...and then there is the calm

"Old Goat Revival Show" available as a print on shop
I've been going through years of art and choosing images to add to the archive print section at the shop. One thing I learned long ago as an artist-just because I have moved on from a painting after I finish it, doesn't mean that a new viewer will show up years later and see it as a brand new piece. In other words, I forget sometimes that my past work is as valuable as my new work, as far as making a living.

And it is fun to revisit these pieces for me. Sometimes there is a sense of melancholy too, remembering a time in my life when I painted something. And sometimes, I have to really search my memory for what was in my head and heart when I did a piece. But none of that matters to the new viewer of the art, they get to resonate with it all on their own with their own set of experiences.

I also had a very good couple of weeks in the studio, finishing off about 5 abstract canvases for Sundance [see below, I think these will be available in late summer]. I always amaze myself when I can still paint! I know many other artists go through that. These came out of me quickly, which in my mind means I really needed to do them. I need to be in the studio more, and that intention will become a reality now that it is hot outside, and fly season is about to reemerge.

One thing I am feeling though–I think I am just starting to really settle into our new life here in Maine. I was remembering that when I moved to the old farm In Oregon, in 2004, it really took a few years to get my legs back, and I didn't even have the blog until '07 I think. There was actually a time in my life when I didn't have Pino, or goats, or characters running in my heart and head, and onto the paper or canvas. And I have been putting a lot of energy into getting the initial year of the non profit up to speed-which of course will always be a chunk of energy and time. But I think I need to tweek things, and make sure I don't neglect to incorporate and merge my art into the non profit too. I already do, but I have been specifically keeping them separate. And the way Apifera was born was due to me merging art, books and animals. So I will be thinking about that and being less shy about showing art on my Facebook non profit page. It's tricky, because when someone buys a painting, it is not a tax deduction, it is how I support 50% of our living here. So I want to make sure nobody confuses that.

Maybe I over think things.

Anyway, the piece above is one of my favorites. I never sold the original. It was inspired by many of the crippled or elderly Misfits that were or still are in my life. I imagined how wonderful it would be if when I went to bed at night, they all got together in the barnyard and had an Old Goat Revival Show, and their physical limitations went away just for a fun night.

The pieces below are the abstracts I did in the past two weeks. They make me feel calm. I have had a very stressful week. It was a mixture of things-the state of our country, politics, the hate and shouting...I felt really hopeless, more hopeless than I have in a long time, so I turned off the radio completely and listened to Schuman and my favorite classical music a lot in the studio and just allowed myself to work with color and shapes. These are what came out. I feel my soul was reminding me that inside there, there is light and color, and it is my best self in there, it is the self I should project to the outside world. And it is easy to fall down a rabbit hole in these times, in any times, because there will always be dark and light forces in the world. Always. The underbelly of America never went away and we are all facing it head on, we must.

But these paintings were gifts of respite from it. I hope maybe they soothe someone else.

"First Fireflies on Path to Ocean"

"Ocean Cove"

"Fog and Road Find Old Orchard"

"Early Spring"

"Full Moon Over Garden"

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The garden awaits those in need, sometimes I see her on that bench

Being able to have a garden is an immense help in my life, a place to be amongst color, texture, seed, dirt, butterflies and hummers. It's a place we painted together, me and Martyn, a creation we enjoy looking at, talking about, and envisioning what to move around like a working collage.

Lately, I have been missing my parents immensely. I think I know some of the things that triggered this, I don't want to share those things publicly, but it took me awhile to figure out why I would have this feeling of loneliness for them, come so hard at this time. I often think of them when I'm in the garden, they would have loved it here. Two old teak garden benches came from their Minneapolis home, and when they moved at some point, they gave the two benches to me and Martyn. My parents jokingly told me that we had to name one of the benches, "Bob" and the other one, "Kelly". When they come over and visit, we always laughed about that, because we never knew if we were sitting on Bob or Kelly since the benches were similar.

Sometimes when I sit and have coffee by myself now midday, in the garden, I look towards the other empty bench-but I can see my mother sitting on it, in one of her hats. I had so many talks with my mom on those benches, in her garden. A lot of those talks I would cry or share some issue I was having at the time. And often, we just sat enjoying the birds and flowers, or laughing about something. When I lived in Minneapolis, I was single and freelancing as an illustrator, my life was forming itself as I entered my late thirties into forty. I would usually have coffee mid morning with my mom. I remember one person telling me that I needed to quit doing that so much, that that was why I had not met anyone, I was relying on my parents too much emotionally. I am glad I ignored them. I am glad I spent so much time with my mom, and my dad.

My life and what I am doing with it, I believe, show I live my life in the present tense, but I am not ashamed to say I still miss my mother, and father. And some days, I feel really lonely without my mom to talk to, I feel like I will never feel exactly safe again, or understood again. It's a different kind of understanding from her than from my husband or anyone else, even my closest friends. I'm blessed I had a relationship with my mother that left such a void.

The idea one is not living in the present if they miss a dead parent, friend, or pet...is rubbish. Death is part of life. Dead people and creatures don't leave us, but they live us as living bodies. Being sad they are gone...is not throwing away the present, it is not avoiding the reality of death-it is simply living with an open heart. I know people that get stuck, they can't 'move on' after a pet dies, or parent/person. I understand how that can happen. To say that person should 'move on' and live in the present, is unfair and arrogant. Nobody knows the make-up of another's heart, mind or soul. If a person simply can't get another dog after losing their old dog, that has nothing to do with not living in the present. It simply means a new dog might bring more pain than joy. That is their heart work to live with, not anyone else's.

The blind one-eyed wonder must sense the peonies
Big Tony's grave amongst the foxglove

Monday, June 25, 2018

Papi is terrified he might lose weight

Shout out to all the Apifera Cat Angels out there- we are very low on cat food for the Elder Cat Suite. The last cat food call was so successful I have not done one for many months, so thank you to all who have helped in the past.

The Apifera Wish List is where you can buy the food for us. It's always nice if you leave your name when you shop, so I know who sent it [Papi keeps a journal of Cat Angels].

Papa was terrified he might lose weight if we run out of food, I promised him that would not happen. We can't let Papi lose his beautiful figure.

We use both the urinary tract canned food, and the dried Science Diet. I also accept the Purina cheaper food, because Anna seems to do well on that.

The cats are all doing well. I keep thinking I need to have some Cat Drawing Days, to bring people into the farm and mingle with the cats and draw. I will. The barn project is keeping us very busy and there are only so many things I can do at once. My art days have fallen to the wayside, but they will return!

Friday, June 22, 2018

I'm happy, they are happy, we are happy

The Hay Greeting Committee
It is always a momentous day when 550 bales of hay are delivered. Any animal that lives in the hay barn area knows its hay day, and they all come up to watch, and of course, test the hay. This year the hay was really exceptional I must say. So exceptional that Boone grabbed a bale or two while we were unloading and stuffed himself silly.

Last year I thought 400+ bales would get us through, but this year I played it safer and got 550 bales. If we have a severe winter, that will make me feel better. Now that the new barn is up-no walls yet, I was able to put some bales in there. We have the main barn stuffed with hay, and all is well. Anyone will tell you that having a barn full of hay for your animals, well before winter sets in, is a good feeling.

I prefer to get all my hay at once. I've done it a variety of ways over the years, but here in Maine, it's crucial for a place like ours to get the hay in. There just are not a lot of growers here, and if you run out in winter, good luck, although our hay guy is pretty well stocked. It's that running out in April that can get you, and I ran out mid May so my timing was pretty good.

Birdie put on a show for the hay guys. Every bale that came in she thoroughly examined it with eyes and nose. All the animals were stuffed in one of the side stalls, watching the event fold. And hay deliveries of this much hay are an event. Young guys most under twenty show up with two leaders and start leaping on bales and tossing them up over their heads. I can't do that anymore...or won't. I bucked enough hay in my years out West, and with my shoulder issues, nope, won't do it.

It is much more pleasant to sit on a bale and watch them all toss them up and down, and sweat. I stayed cool and dry!

We are raising money for the hay to replenish the Apifera coffers. The hay should get us through until May of next year, and hay is probably the most crucial feed for the animals. Our hay guy is really great, and his family are just a delight to work with- all the kids are super polite, and good buckers and stackers. Nothing worse than loose stacked hay.

So Boone is so full right now he is napping and the broken bales will leave everyone feeling over stuffed for awhile, but that is okay.

And the smell of fresh hay filling the barn? Nothing better.

Knowing the hay is in, its just a good way to end a long, hard week.

{Please consider a donation to the hay fund. Thank you!}

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Paco explains summer solstice and Lucia worries her head might explode

I arrived to do morning chores in the outer barn, and there they were, the three of them just as you see here. I stopped in my tracks and took a photo. They did not move, and as I returned to the inner barn to do my cleanup, I heard Paco,

"The summer solstice, also known as midsummer, occurs when a planet's rotational axis, or geographical pole on either its Northern or its Southern Hemisphere, is most greatly inclined toward the star that it orbits."

"Huh, is that so?" asked Pino.

"I don't like thinking of the world as spinning," said Lucia.

"Im glad there's gravity or I'd be on the moon," said Pino.

"And your head would burst open if you didn't have a space suit on," Boone chimed in from the other paddock.

Lucia started to hamper, she did not feel good about this.

"It's okay, Lucia, nobody is going to explode. it is a day of celebration, It is the longest day the year, and think about it, we can take more dust baths under the blue sky today than any other day in the year!" said Paco.

"That is something to celebrate," said Pino.

And with that, Paco rolled, and rolled, and rolled.

I might strip down later today, after the hay has been delivered, and do the same. No pictures.

{The majority of our 540 bales of hay arrive today! Please consider a donation to help us refill our Apifera piggy bank. Thank you!}

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

I'm mad and anger fuels action

I have been increasingly angry, upset, dumbfounded, and worn out by this administration and what they are doing to our country, our people in need, and our global community. My anger spilled over this week, and that turned to hopelessness, what can I do, how many times can I write congress people who turn deaf ears to protect their own interests? There are so many things to cry about, cry in anger, fear, sadness-the earth, the immigrants, the children, lets not forget Puerto Rico, the lies, the I-don't-care-if-they-lie-accomplices. The underbelly and dirty underpants of America is alive and well, thriving, it seems. It was always there. Martyn and I talk about this a lot-that this administration is here to teach us what was always there, and make us wake up and do something about it. I am going to continue my local work helping animals and people, do more art and writing, share inspiration when I see it, show disappointment when I feel it. And I think the get out the vote aspect is so important. I need to do better on the latter.

This is a very disturbing time for many of us, for many in the world. Perhaps the most disturbing to me, is the ugliness, the cruelty and selfishness of the GOP party. And don't sit there and tell me you are a Republican and didn't do this, and don't tell me all Republicans aren't the same [I'm aware of this], don't make this about YOU, this is about our children, our world, our Earth, people that need us. I don't give a rat's ass who you voted for, that's past. I care about what you see and how you are reacting to your country and world NOW. Tell me instead you are spending your days calling your party members and telling them to get some backbone, and a conscience. Tell me you care about the press and aren't buying into the sake screens. And don't tell me it's not your fault because you voted for Bernie, or Hillary...get on the phone and show your outrage...find a candidate and help them. I'm going to listen to Madeleine, she knows what she's talking about.

Let's educate ourselves , and at least one person on fascism-don't tell me it can't happen here...just don't. We are all culpable if we let this happen.

Monday, June 18, 2018

One year ago, I guess I could have died...or worse

Sometimes what could have happened is worse than what did happen. Either way, accidents and their aftermath play with your head.

One year ago, it was a beautiful June day, and after working in the morning, I saddled Boone up for a quick trail ride. I was excited to go back to a trail we had been given permission to ride on, one I had only discovered a week before. It was a well groomed woodland trail leading about a mile or so down to one of the many water bodies here in Bremen.

I remember as I rode off from the drive, feeling like it had been a productive morning, and the ride would be great, and I had ideas in my head to get back to once in the studio.

We rode down the trail. I remember seeing a yellow butterfly dart out in front of me, and I said out loud,

"Joanne, is that you?"

Joanne was my riding buddy, friend and mentor from Oregon, who died shortly before, at the age of 85. Looking back, I think it's interesting I called out to her. I wonder now if she was there with me and maybe she helped me in ways I can't fathom.

We rode all the way down to the water, for the first time, and then headed back. At some point, I asked Boone to canter. I am not a risk taker in riding, I love to canter, but since I had walked and trotted most of the new trail all the way down to the water, I felt safe knowing the path enough to do a slow canter. At some point, nearing the edge of where we had entered the wood, I knew there was a slight incline, very, very slight, but with some slippery ledge rock, so I thought to myself,

Time to walk.

And that was it.

The next thing I remember was being in a daze, trying to figure out where I was. I had no idea. I had my helmet, and phone, my face was bloody and 1/2 of my glasses were gone. Boone was gone too. I don't remember it, but it turns out I had called Martyn six times in a row, and when I was at the hospital, he let me listen to the messages. I wanted to hear them for any clues of what really happened. They were heartbreaking to listen to. I was so scared, each message I was telling Martyn I was lost, that I could not tell which way to go. Somehow, I went the right way. I kept telling him I was scared. I was crying. I asked him to come find me. The poor guy was trying to piece the messages together while at work, and figure out what to do.

The messages lasted 20 minutes.

At some point, I found my way out of the forest, and I hung up on Martyn. I sort of remember knocking on the door but no one was there. I do remember calling 911 at that point, and I remember I couldn't tell them where I was, but I said I lived in Bremen, and I was close to my house. They pinned me and within minutes were there.

I still don't know really what happened. Boone was a cow pony in his early years, and was trained to stop on a dime if you gave even a minuscule infliction with your hips forward. I think as I came down into my saddle transitioning out of the canter, I threw him into a halt, and I lost my balance. People have their theories- a bug stung him, an animal flew out... I had no bruises, and I bruise so easily, my pants weren't scuffed, my hands weren't cut. Boone had a few scuffs on his legs, but that was it. The fact my glasses broke at the nose bridge says my face smashed into his neck, or his neck flew up as he tried to right himself.

I wish I knew. I wish Boone could tell me- he left the scene, at which point I don't know, and made his way towards the farm, only about 1 mile down the road. The fact he didn't get hit on the busy road, or get caught in the reins...it all could have been so much worse.

I had major bleeding all around my brain and was in hospital for two days, but I didn't need surgery. When they refused to let me go home, and said I couldn't eat or drink since I might need surgery, that's when I started to worry.  Recovery was slow, but I was lucky. To this day,  if I am stressed, I can forget words, or get 'stuck' while talking, almost stuttering.

It has effected me. It's easy to say get back in the saddle. And I did, about 6 weeks later. I don't know if I will ever canter again on a trail, which saddens me, but maybe I will. We have had a hard time finding riding buddies, and I miss Joanne. Martyn and I have talked about making a small corral for me so I can keep riding, safely, and still do trails but keep Boone and me in shape together. We worked through so many things in our beginning relationship, I don't want to lose that.

It changed me, it changed my perspective on lots of things. It was traumatic, it was like being so out of control. I think the part I remember the best, is standing in the forest after I came too, and I could not tell which way was the right way to turn. One way led a mile or more down into the wood, the other was probably about 50 feet from the exit of the woods. It all looked scary and deep. The fall also has changed my relationship with The Wood. I see The Wood as an entity, which I always did, but I see it more as a force that has its own motives when I'm in it, not a partner. This is something I think I will work through.

But mainly, I am grateful I didn't die, or Boone didn't, that nothing was broken, that except for some minor things I am the same physically. I still have pain in my inner thigh from it.

Life can change in a second. After the accident, it seemed every where I looked there was evidence of that. I have friends that have taken bad falls, one friend lost her beloved husband of 52 to a seizure and then a fall down stairs. I think about falling and the dangers of it more, and of Martyn or anyone falling and the consequences.

The pundits will say you have to go forward and not get stuck. Not fear. Good for them. How many have had brain injury before, or fell off their horse and had The Wood take over? These are my shoes. I think in many ways I'm still recovering. I was going to ride on this anniversary, but decided not to. I don't know if that is fear. I just didn't want to. I will ride this week.

I told someone I know Boone knows the story. But they wisely said,

"Maybe not, maybe he doesn't want to remember it either, his leader fell, that was scary for him too."

I always wondered what Boone would do if I fell on a trail and was hurt. I like to think he didn't bolt, he is not a bolter. But that he sniffed me, and thought,

"Well she isn't going to be leading me today, think I'll go check out that grass." I'm proud that he calmly wandered towards home, and the women found him and cared for him in their yard before another friend came and got him. He was calm, and stoic.

SO, Boone and i are now in our 11th year together, he is 20, I am 60. We are still together and will be, we will just work through this, we've had some casual rides this month and all was well. I am not scared when I ride, I'm just not the same...yet. Time will strengthen my memory, and it will be okay.

The eyes of White Dog...no words needed

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Time for another Very Bad Haircut Day!

"Not too short on my neck," Birdie said.

"I know, I know," I replied.

"I'd like the Audrey Hepburn look, something that will look good when I'm in a convertible," the llama said.

"With Cary Grant?"

"Yes, he will do, and a scarf loosely around my head, and neck, like vintage Grace Kelly, cruising on the Riviera."

And so began yet another annual Very Bad Haircut. I first started giving them when I was four. I got my parent's dog trimmers, and gave my best friend and neighbor, Julie Cummings, a haircut. My mother spent the rest of our residency in that neighborhood apologizing. I don't know why, me and Julie were thinking it looked great.

Yea, I could hire a shearer for $40 to sheer her in one swoop shave, but what fun is that? Plus, I like her a bit longer and not shaved. This year, Birdie was a pro. After three years she is more mature and likes sitting in the beauty shop chair.

"Do you have any movie star magazines to read? Vintage? Stars today are so crass..." she asked.

The other great thing is we got it done in about an hour, with only one pair of scissors, mainly because Birdie behaved, and I have perfected my Very Bad Haircut technique. It's all in getting under the wool and making continual cuts.

She has a lot of taupe brown under there and even some polk-a-dots.

She had a good dust roll later and seems to look so dainty.

"You look like a tea cup," I told her.

"Heavens, no. I look like Audrey Hepburn," she replied.

Yes, yes, it is true. When not looking like Grace Kelly in motion, she looks like Audrey Hepburn. If we could all be so blessed.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Conversation with Chickens

"She has her camera! Out of my way!" said one of The Secret Sisters.

"You are such a gluten for photo ops, as always!" said another hen.

"The wind will catch my feathers just right, if you would get out of my way so I can run!" said the first hen.

"Oh Lord, you are just too much to behold," said the second hen, and she got out of the way.

After they were done voguing for the camera, they came upon the blind chicken, Henneth, who was hearing all the commotion. She stood at attention, catching what was going on by intuition.

"Watch this," said one of The Secret Sisters, and she quietly snuck up behind Henneth and looked up her underpants.

"That's mean, she can't reciprocate," said the other Secret Sister.

"I don't mind," said Henneth, "I do have beautiful underpants."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

I just had the most beautiful encounter with llama love...I guess I needed that

It was sort of a hard bunch of days for several reasons. Some I wrote about, others I kept private. I was back in the studio this week, much needed, and when I finished one of the pieces, the title came immediately, "Sometimes You're Upside Down'.

As an intuitive person, I know when I'm off. I felt that this week. Being off doesn't mean you are or bad, or unworthy, or doing it all in the improper way. But it can feel that way.

When I was doing chores this morning a beautiful thing happened, an encounter and I needed and I didn't realize how much.

I was mucking out stalls and cleaning water buckets in the outer barn, the sheep were still taking their morning lay downs, chewing cud in the shade. Birdie the llama was nearby, laying down. I approached her and she remained down, and I massaged her neck.

I got up and went about with my chores. Within seconds, I felt a presence, a light breath, and Birdie was standing directly behind me, her llama breath hitting my neck, softly. I laughed, she is known to do this to guests or vets, anyone visiting and talking to me will be checked out by Birdie. But when I turned to leave the stall, to go out to the pasture, she blocked the exit. I laughed again.

"Do you need more attention?" I asked, rubbing her neck. She then laid her head on my shoulder, another thing she likes to do while I cradle her head. Llamas don't usually like their heads touched, or 'patted', which is why I always instruct people to rub the neck. But Birdie has always been different from many llamas-even the breeder said this about her and suggested I not take her as she was already too interested in me, which would not make her the best candidate for protecting the sheep. I took her anyway.

I stood with her for some time, holding her head, kissing her nose and eyelids, rubbing her neck. At some point, I tried to again leave the exit. She repositioned herself slightly, and pressed into me, laying her head, strongly this time, onto my chest as if saying,

"Stop, stay here with me. I mean it, stop."

And I did.

It dawned on me that I am the one who needed this, not her. Oh I guess one can surmise anything in the woo woo world of animal love. {While I'm on that, please don't call Birdie one of my 'fur babies" it really wrinkles us Apiferians to be labeled 'fur babies. We think its fine if you live with fur babies, but we do not.}

I realized this week I was so absorbed in my 'upside downness' that I was a bit shutdown to Mother Earth, and I think Birdie knew this, or sensed my unbalance. I have seen Pino pick out the depressed one in a group, I've watched Opie stay put with one elder over another sensing something I'm not privy too but he senses it.

When I am unbalanced, I feel it inside. I feel uncomfortable with the world, with certain people, with 'the outsiders' which entails anyone outside the front gate. That's a lot of people. If I can feel it, I can rest assured my animals can, and some partake in healing, some down't.

You won't see Girl George coming over to commune with me, but Birdie, White Dog, Boone, Paco, Pino, Marcella-they are pretty tuned into me. There were many like this back at the old farm too. So there I was, trapped by llama love, forced to stop and care for myself with a beautiful long neck pressed against my heart. I allowed myself a short cry. Not a blubbering one, but the kind you have when you stub your toe and it hurts intensely for seconds.

I thanked her, and she slowly loosened her neck from me, but you know,I think she was prepared to stand there longer. I better check in with her later today, make sure I don't need another session.

"When You're Upside Down" an original

Monday, June 11, 2018

Ladies, your beard will grow back

When we did shearing back in March, I neglected to tell our wonderful shearer not to shave Sophie's beard. To be honest, I was so absorbed in dealing with the wool, that I didn't notice Sophie's beard was gone for a couple days!

So I am pleased to announce, The Beard is returning!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

I don't even know how to title this...but it's important...to me anyway

There is no doubt about it that caregivers and managers at elder care facilities have a stressful and difficult job balancing the needs of the elder residents and their needs with the needs and concerns of the outside family and friends. I was aware of HIPAA laws but really not well versed in them, why would I be? I have since learned a lot, and continue to educate myself on it, even though I am not an employee of a hospital or facility. One thing I have learned, even though the law is there to protect a patient's right to privacy and security of their medical information, it is a flawed law, and all you have to do is 'google' it and you will find that out. I am in no way saying people should not abide by the law, but am pointing out how the law can create difficulties.

Some incidences that occur with this law, to give you an idea of why I use the term 'flawed', are that let's say a resident lives in a facility or home, and one day his friend doesn't come to breakfast. The staff is not allowed to tell him what happened, unless by chance the disappearing person put his friend on a list. Anyone that might have been volunteering at the facility, no matter how long they had been coming and no matter how fond they were of the disappearing person, they too would not be told what happened. Many articles talk about how the law has made many hospital/medical/care givers fearful, and when someone is acting from fear, I wonder if the patient is really number one anymore. And it puts stress on the caregiver too.

I found out last week on one of my visits with Opie, that someone I care about deeply and have grown fond of over the past two years is transitioning out of this realm. I will refer to this person as Beautiful Cloud. When I arrived, there was someone in a room with the window open a crack, and there were a couple of people I did not know with name tags on. One of the name tag people tapped on the window, and asked me to hold up the goat. I did, and through the window I heard Beautiful Cloud's voice call Opie's name.

I knew something was happening but did not linger at the window. I went to sit in the garden waiting for the residents. It was a perfectly beautiful day. Before the residents came out, a staff person who has always been very nice came and told me I was not to mention Beautiful Cloud's name. Because of HIPAA laws, no details could be told to me.

One by one, Opie's friends came out. Looking back on this day, I truly think Opie picked up on the vibe of everything...maybe more from me than anything. I was my same usual happy self with the residents, but inside I felt off balance and off guard. If someone could have warned me before hand about White Cloud, or perhaps given me guidelines of do's and don'ts it might have helped, but I was told that is against HIPAA laws. Opie was very quiet, and even lay down, which he has never done on a visit. We all talked about many things as usual–movies, gardens, food, and aging to name a few things. But then the residents brought up White Cloud, and even though my lips were sealed, they told me of White Cloud's situation. They were not fearful for White Cloud. I wanted to talk to them about it, but I decided to be honest,

"I was told not to bring White Cloud up," to which they said they trusted me, and we talked about the idea of heaven and such, and what a good death can be, and we moved onto other topics.

As I was leaving, I had to go by the same window of White Cloud, and I asked the manager if I could at least acknowledge her, with Opie, through the window, I felt it might help White Cloud even for a second–and I wanted to acknowledge this being, this part of our relationship, by saying something. Yes, saying something, anything, to White Cloud would help me too. The manager got the window open more so I could hold Opie up, and White Cloud was only about three feet away. White Cloud said what they always said upon seeing Opie,

"Opie...Opie...Opie..." with a weak smile.

"He recognizes your voice, White Cloud," I said through the screen.

"He does? Opie, Opie..." White Cloud said one more time.

"Opie and I are going to be thinking of you," I told White Cloud, who was now feeling a bit weak, so we departed.

So, I don't know. I get this is part of the work I'm doing. But I left that day feeling frustrated. What will happen to any of us in our old age if we are pent up in rooms with laws meant to protect us, but not able to communicate basic small things to the outside people who might make a small difference in the end of our lives. I will miss White Cloud, I have no idea where they are in their transition, and I will not be told. That is the way it is.

My work with elder creatures has shown me the powerful effect of simply being present at the end of a creature's life...of laying a hand on the brow, to say, "It's okay, someone is here."I realize my role with Opie is not to be a hospice nurse, or daughter, or mother. But I guess one of the things that upset me to my core on this visit was, after getting to know White Cloud for two years, it felt like that was underestimated. I'm glad I asked if I could say something to White Cloud, if I hadn't asked, I never would have been able to say those final words and let them see Opie.

Maybe I don't know one darn thing about anything.

Saturday, June 09, 2018


Just a beautiful image of a beautiful animal under a beautiful sky. That's a lot of beautiful.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Annual hay drive

It's easiest to do this on Go Fund so please consider help-if you can!

I bought 450 bales last year but with the harsh winter we needed another 150 in February and were lucky our hay guy had it. So this year I'm getting 550 bales.

Bales were $5.50 last year, hoping they are the same this year.  Poco the Poet has agreed to partake and send poems out, he is pondering the essence of hay, something he will relish writing about, I think.

There is also a reward level for a print.

If you prefer to send a check, that is fine. Make checks to Apifera Farm, 315 Waldoboro RD, Bremen, ME, 04551 and mark "Hay Fund". I will add your donation tot he online total. Your donation is tax deductible.

Visit the hay funding page >

This is about 1/4 of our annual hay

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Listen in on an old goat cocktail hour

Old Goat Cocktail Hour available at shop
Back in Oregon, Old Man Guinnias, a remarkable goat in case you didn't know, started having a cocktail hour for the other elders. I had nothing to do with it. I have no idea where the gin came from, or the glass ware. I did catch this conversation one night as I did barn chores. It makes me think a cocktail hour might be something to suggest to the elders here. Spirits area fine companion under the setting sun, a way to release memories if done properly. There was that time Wilbur the Acrobatic Goat found Guinness's gin stash though. It's just, without The Head Troll, I am quite lost at organizing them all....perhaps someone will begin to be in charge and more cocktails will be served. We shall see.

"What time does cocktail hour begin?" asked Aunt Bea.

"Same time as yesterday, 5 pm," said Old Man Guinnias.

"When was yesterday?" asked Lofa.

"It was not today, but the day before," said Guinnias.

"What time does cocktail hour begin?" said Lofa.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Martyn clutches his pearls

It was a very busy weekend. Saturday was hot and muggy...that always leads to trouble in the barnyard, not because of the animals, but because of my mood. I have a hard time with summer weather and the humidity is a killer for me. Just as there are folks who really have physical and emotional challenge in cold weather [I do not], there are many of us who rate summer as the least desirable in the seasons. I try to focus on the good of summer, I really do, but if the temp rises, or my arms are covered in welts from reactions to fly bites [which they are] I get a tish spent.

So it was a nice surprise to get this beautiful shawl from a friend who stopped by for other reasons, and handed me this. It is made from our Apifera wool, and I always get verklempt when I work with things that have come from our animals. It is lovely weight wool, soft, which CVM is known for. I even used it last night as the heat dissipated on Sunday with a chill in the air.

As usual, I asked Martyn to pose with it so I could post it. I always admire the way he drops everything without complaint and takes my request so seriously. He was standing there with it over his shoulders, his arms at his side, and I said,

"Pretend you are clutching it, like you were clutching pearls."

And voila, another Martyn Moment caught on camera.

On Saturday, as I said, it was hot. I was grumpy. I got into arguments with many of the animals. They all know what to do when this happens, back off and let it pass. It always does. By Sunday, I was hanging out and communing again. I appreciate their ability to let me be me, as much as even I can't stand walking around as me in the heat. Sorry guys. Winter is coming, I'll be fine.

On Sunday we had to take down a huge tree, by the outer barn, because the third barn begins next week. Martyn is experienced with felling trees, and he does not take chances. I trust him to do anything he thinks he is safe to do. He has all the safety gear needed for this, and he ties an arborist rope to the tree, and then cuts notches in the tree trunk at the correct angle. He also stays safe knowing when and where to stand. I came out to be in sight of him when he was ready. I said,

"We better kiss, just in case." He laughed and we kissed.

But you know how many of these things end up on You Tube. He had the challenge of felling just right so that it missed the roof of the other barn, and also didn't hurt the 100 year old apple. I waited 100 feet away, this tree was about 20-30 feet I guess, a beautiful Ash but the pigs and girldled it so we knew eventually, soon, it would die and could do a lot of damage.

Well, he sawed for about 5 minutes, and the tree fell forward, right in between the barn and Old Apple, just as planned.

Phew. A good 3/4 cord of wood too.

And the goats will get to eat the debris now, they are thrilled. A giant pile of brush awaited them this morning and I watched as they ventured over to the new breakfast bar.

The weather Sunday was so perfect. Seventies, a breeze so few bugs, and the animals, and myself, all communed. I worked on putting up more electric wire to protect the fences from Boone leaning over to greener pastures. But I took time to stop a lot, and sit with the animals.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Don't forget, nor shall I, I am an artist

I'm working on adding to the existing card line–there are currently 26 choices of beautiful art cards at the shop.

I'm going to be freshening it up even more in the coming months and just added these images.