Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn
Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c]. #EIN# 82-2236486
All images©Katherine Dunn.
Sunday, September 30, 2018
Miss Spring has died
I named her Miss Spring since it was a new beginning for her, and it was the season. She was the sweetest old lady, every morning she was there on the table for me, mehing, when ever I opened the door. I always picked her up and held her, I'm so glad I did that. Not every cat likes to be held, and get a smoochy face from a human, but she did. I knew a couple weeks ago her behavior had changed and she was fading and she had declined really fast. On Tuesday when the vet was here, I told her my thoughts, and she concurred. In the last two days, she was transitioning and I was able to tell her it was okay to let go, and slowly she did. I have two piles of raw wool from the sheep and in winter the cats love it. She had bedded down in one for the past few days, it was not her normal spot but I knew she was cradled in comfort there. She wasn't showing distress, just fading. This morning, she was gone, sleeping in her wool bed, the other cats up and about on a new day.
When I got the email about taking on the 20 year old [also a Calico, like Miss Spring] and her 15 year old son, I thought of Miss Spring. One might have thought, "It's not fair to Miss Spring, wait until she dies before bringing in another." But I knew when I got that email, Miss Spring was somehow showing me she was letting go, and she accepted this, and less than 24 hours after the new elders arrived, Miss Spring was gone. She did not rise yesterday, I talked to her and petted her, Noritsu as usual came to my aid to nurse us.
And this morning, I did all my chores in the cat room, and attended to the living, first, before going to her, because I could tell she was gone by looking at her body, tucked into her wool bed. Finally, I reached down to touch her, and she was indeed dead.
But she opened the door for another elder, one who is also probably not going to be around long, but I really innately feel the two lives were meant to entwine like this. One Calico leaves, another Calico arrives.
We are going to bury her amongst some tulip bulbs I just bought, and when I look out the dining room window in the morning, she will rise each Spring, forever.
Saturday, September 29, 2018
I was minding my own business...twice
A few days ago I was minding my own business, working in my office on paper stuff. An email came in from the shelter, wondering if I might be able to take on a 20 year old female cat and her 15 year old son cat. I said 'yes' without hesitation. And I said I'd come Saturday, today, to pick them up.
I got to the shelter and met the two old cats. The female 20 year old is really slight, and I am not sure how long she will be hanging on. She isn't really sick, except for kidney issues, but 20 is very old, and she is thin in the hindend and seems weak. The male is jet black and a nice healthy build. So I signed all the paperwork, and waited off to the side of the front room.
Once again, I was just minding my own business when I decided to venture into one of the cat adoption rooms, to pass time while I waited.
And there he was.
I swear, I had a visceral reaction. He smooched his face into me and just had this presence. My little head was all full of images of me sneaking him into the house before Martyn saw him, and I immediately began planning my Get-Cat-In-House plot. When I got home, Martyn was out in the field on the tractor-I thought this was a clear sign it was truly my lucky day as star were aligning. I made introductions of the new cat and Omar, Oscar, Muddy and Hughie. I explained to them, it is imperative you act like pros when Martyn comes in for lunch, be cool... Martyn arrived in the house and asked if I had brought home the two old cats.
"Yes," I said quietly.
He knew something was amiss. I turned my eyes toward the window seat where I'd left the newcomer.
Martyn said, "Oh myyyyyy..." in a kitty talking tone. I knew I had him hooked at first sight, just like I was.
"Wow, he is big..." and he started doing kitty coos.
So, all is well.
I have another cat in the house that is so magnificent of a cat, everyone is calm, and I still have a husband. Prepare yourself for lots of cat photos in the coming days. The two new elders arrived at the cat suite without any fanfare, and the twenty year old immediately went to sleep.
|The twenty year old mother|
|The fifteen year old son|
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Painting for Jason...and Maggie
Three weeks ago, I wrote about a friend who died by suicide. It was a great shock to everyone, and to me, and still is. I still have not fully grasped it and probably never will.
People have been grieving and sharing about their loss in many ways-sharing memories, sadness, shock...and also in more uplifting ways...the grief evolves down the winding road to what hopefully will be more peace for the people left behind.
Jason had a therapy dog he brought to his office where he saw his patients. Maggie had a real following and still does. I know she is giving comfort to Tony, Jason's finance, and I know she is cared for and loved. I know in my own life, I have lived with many, many animals, some who have gone through great loss, separation, hard times, or neglect. I've seen that animals do not react to death the way humans do, and why would they? I am not going to say animals do not grieve, I think they sense loss and grief. But I also think they accept it in a much different way than we do. I believe that animals, if given consistent companionship, food, shelter and caring, adjust to loss. I believe they sense our true intent, and they resonate with people that have consistent, pure intent.
I think of Tony a lot, and Jason's mother, and Maggie.
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
The Misfits seem to have a manual typewriter
"Nothing will be discussed until after Misfit Love Day, capiche?"
I could hear the tail swishes and hoof stops from afar.
"I'm only one woman!" I yelled out again. "I love you!"
Whinnies, squeal and chortles rang out.
Monday, September 24, 2018
Little Big Man proves me wrong-surprise!
"I really don't think there are babies in your eggs, I told her," she stared at me, intently. "I have watched Little Big Man, and even though he surely believes he can get the job done, I don't think he can." More staring.
You see, Little Big Man is the Seabright rooster we brought home after he was left at a local shelter. He is tiny, about a pound. He is way shorter than the girls. I have watched him get on their backs and do his thing, but it's like watching a toy on top of one of the mechanical ponies you see at grocery stores. I could not imagine how he was even close to impact. But I should know better. Where there is a penis there is always a hole. So I decided to let the hen ride out her broodiness with her clutch. I marked the eggs and threw her grain each day. She had found herself the perfect spot, right behind Sir Tripod Goat's cubby bed, tucked under the stairs.
Yesterday after a very long day of work, I was doing front barn chores and noticed that Henneth the blind chicken was very interested in the broody hen. Then I heard it. That distinctive little chirp. And there it was.
I have to tell you my heart skipped a beat.
"You were right," I told her, "I apologize for not believing you," to which she stared at me again.
I gathered up mother and chick, and the remaining eggs and put her in a little stall created just for such occasions.
This morning, I congratulated Little Big Man. I have no idea what his child will look like, and let's all pray it is a girl. Girl Power! A Seabrite mixed with a Buff Orpington should be interesting.
I forgot how wonderful it is to discover these little surprises. Now that we don't breed, ahem, Earnest are you listening, it is up to Nature to delight me with her charms.bI just hope the sound of a baby doesn't give Earnest any ideas.
|Little Big Man, on the right, clearly go the job done|
Sunday, September 23, 2018
"Martyn, I have a new idea..."
I had told Martyn I wanted to build a shade hut for the guests, in the same area we now sit. There is shade but it can be difficult to arrange seating especially when some people are restricted by walkers or wheelchairs.
"I have a new idea," I told Martyn after the visit.
He remained quiet and listened.
"I think I need two huts, one for inside the orchard, and another inside the other paddock close by so the donkeys can partake more easily."
He pondered it and said,
"That's a good idea..."
Wow. What a guy.
It's been great to have these visits this past summer, to try out our area and work out the kinks. Actually there haven't been any, and the sand we invested in to make walking for the elders easy has worked great. The huts will also help me provide shelter in case there are sprinkles that day. We obviously would cancel any visits if it is bad weather, but sometimes a sprinkle blows in from the ocean. I also handed out hats this year in the heat, which was fine-and pretty sweet since many of them were old hats of my father. Made me sigh. But it would be nice to have more shade.
On Saturday's visit, it was cool, about 60 but sunny, and I thought it would also be good to have blankets. But then I thought, wouldn't it be cool to have followers of Apifera make...quilts? Then we could have have warmth for the elders if it is a bit chilly [they weren't bothered, but it would be nice I think.]
I've been sad not to have my donkeys at these visits. I haven't had them participate for a few reasons, one being it always seems to rain the day before and they roll in the wet sand/dirt and are pretty donkey dusty. I also have to lead them into the area, and the llama, and then all the little goats are there. Mayhem as not ensued yet, but adding donkeys into he mix might create mischief. So the second hut would let me have the equines in the paddock right next to the regular sitting area, and we could venture in there too, or they could at least see them close by. The elders are of all different memory and mobility levels...so it is good to have these options.
I will have Martyn do a plan and see what money we are talking about. He would be able to do all the building so I'm going to guess $2000 range. We would also like to get more sand for the ground, it really works well with elders and canes, walkers and wheelchairs, and I'm 'guessing' that will be under $500.
Everything is happening in it's own time!
Thursday, September 20, 2018
One must decorate the llama
a print or art cards now.
Thank you, Birdie, for being in my life. I am so glad we found each other. You are a treasure to all of us.
Thank you, Birdie, for being in my life. I am so glad we found each other. You are a treasure to all of us.
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
A friend dies of suicide, and I sit with the old donkey
I lost someone I know to suicide this week, someone I never met but had known for about 8 years through blogging and Facebook, and over time, had intimate conversations with. I cared about him and his opinions, and learned from him, and laughed with him too. He stood up for me in a very public way after an extreme group of vegans slandered me and my farm online, really in a vicious way-he turned it into a teaching moment. He was funny, he was vibrant and he could also be biting. He was not perfect, he was damaged like any of us humans are. A friend once said to me, “We are all damaged, some of us just more than others." I only found out about his death the day before I took this photo. When I looked out at the old donkey, Matilda, lying in the paddock near the grave of the elder sheep Assumpta, who died a few weeks ago, I was drawn to go over, even though it was supper time and I was about to return to the house.
I said ‘Hi, Matilda,” and then I sat down on the ground with her. She did not move, she did not even reposition her front leg for comfort. I told her a friend of mine was dead. I closed my eyes and thought of my friend, in light, in calm, out of mental pain. His suicide was shocking to so many. I thought of the place a person has to be in at the moment they do that final act, alone, and how much pain, either emotional or physical or both, they have to be in. Some people like to say that suicide is selfish. I don’t feel that way. I think suicide is a courageous act but it is done within a place of helplessness. For a person like my friend, who was a psychologist who worked with many hurt people, to have reached a place, a moment, where he went over, he must have felt so helpless like it was the only way. He had love in his life, a partner, a career, a family, a dog he adored, he loved to cook and share everything he was thinking and caring about. He was a gay man in a world that isn’t so kind to LGBT people, and he was outspoken and an advocate for them in society. He was outspoken about injustice and racism.
So, I sat with Matilda. It was a beautiful day and night. Autumnal breezes and no bugs, a sunset coming behind us. One by one, the other donkeys left their hay dinner in the barn and returned to our private Donkey-Woman sit down, but they stayed about ten feet from us, as if they recognized-wait, they did recognize-that Matilda was letting me express important things. My friend loved animals and I envisioned him looking down on us, smiling.
“It’s okay, now, Jason,” I said to the sky.
There is a gut wrenching aftermath to suicide. I understand why many people use terms like “selfish’ to explain it. The pain and thoughts that the surviving loved ones are left to deal with, forever, well, it can’t be denied. But it is not about them, or me, or us. It is not to be judged. Nor is this a time to analyze a person’s faults or missteps. It is a time to hold that person in the light.
I thank Matilda for calling me over silently to give me space and time to do that for Jason.
Links from Jason's family:
Talking helps. For the many who have asked for help finding support groups:
Friends for survival: 800-646-7333
American suicide foundation: 800-273-4042
American association of suicidology: 202-237-2280
Monday, September 17, 2018
Everything dies, everything stays
|[This is available as a print]|
Nature is always my comfort when something or someone dies. It teaches that the energy we hold within our bodies never dissipates, it just expands or changes its foundation. When the rock is washed away by water, what does it become? It is part of the water. When the body is turned to ash what does it become? Part of earth on the ground or blowing in the air only to land somewhere to blend with the soil. We are Earth.
Saturday, September 15, 2018
A beautiful day of elder friends...animal and human
We all sat with the goats in the orchard, and then one of the elders really wanted me to bring White Dog in. I knew he would do great, but he is about 120 pounds, and though he is so loving, he has big feet and still has a habit of wanting to 'hold hands' and I did not want any tender skin getting broken. But I brought him in on a lead and he was wonderful Perhaps this is a new gig for him now. We shall see.
I also let Freddy the Dreamer, aka Little Lonely, one of the smaller pigs in. They have so wanted to see a pig. The other pigs were in the paddock in close proximity so they got to see them run around and that was fun. Freddy was very interested in the grass since he has been on dry lot for a long time, so he had little interest this visit, but I know he will be good.
Ollie is also a fine therapy goat, so happy for him. Opie was there, and has continued showing his big boy personality of quiet resolve, standing back and letting the other animals do the running around. And of course, there was plenty of Llama Love...including kissing galore. What a showstopper she is.
But what was fun, and always is with this bunch since I have grown to know them pretty well, was just sitting and talking, outside, watching the animals, feeling the breeze, smelling the ocean. They are a wonderful bunch and Martyn was able to be here today too. I just love them all. When they were leaving, one of them said,
"Now wasn't just so wonderful to all be together here, and just sit and talk?"
Yes, I think so.
We are planning to build a small hut for both man and beast, and I'm hoping it might allow some seniors to venture out even in November, or spring time-but we will see.
If you like what we are doing-bringing animals and elders together-please consider a donation to our non profit. Thank you!
Friday, September 14, 2018
The aging of the acrobatic goat
I looked at all of them, lined up, and asked sternly,
"Who is chewing on Wilbur's beard?"
"His beard has shrunk considerably in the last few days," I said.
Opie stood forward. "It wasn't me but I know who it is," and he returned to the lineup.
"Opie, you are complicit by not telling me," I said.
Earnest came froward, "May I ask what the said consequences will be for the said perpetrator?"
"I will scold them," I said.
"Shaming is harmful to young minds!" Opie screamed.
Everyone hushed him up.
"Opie, I think you know more than you are telling, " I said. "I'm going to count to ten, and if a name comes out, everyone will get carrots, even the perpetrator," I said.
"It's ME, It was MEEEEE!" screamed Ollie in joy and he ran forward to get a hug.
So, I sat amongst them, and we ate carrots. And Ollie chewed on my buttons.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Oscar...the imperfection of his actions confound us...but we love him
|Oscar in the front, elder Omar his papa in the back|
Every morning when Martyn gets up at 5:30, I stay in bed, and the minute they hear him get up, the two of them arrive with enthusiasm on the bed, to lie on me like a couch.
We have been frustrated with some of Oscar's...confusion, and I have tried everything to get him past it. Oscar uses the litter box regularly, but about 50% of the time, he decides to go pee in the house, in a specific spot by the back door. I tried bringing in a second litter box, I tried cleaning the box-literally-about four times a day. He also will poop in one of two spots on regular basis, but still uses the litter box too. Omar has no issues.
"Can't you explain it to him, Omar?" I ask him.
I can deal with a cat poop-God does know poop is just a thing around here we don't bat an eye at-but cat pee is another issue. Fortunately, he is doing it in a spot that isn't in the main part of the house. Unfortunately it is on the old wood floor. I tried spraying different urine away products that say they keep the cat from re-peeing there. False advertising. I did not want a litter box in my front hallway, so we now put a piece of tin foil down, and then a shop rag on top of that. It keeps it from soaking in the floor. I have caught him in the act and scolded him, I have caught him in the litter box and praised him. I do know there was always sort of a doggie smell there when we moved in. The house is from 1760, I am sure someone peed there at some point, maybe a moose, maybe an early settler. It's just odd he immediately used the litter box regularly, and then started this behavior. The spot he is going on is literally about six feet around the corner to his box.
We talked about separating them and putting Oscar out with the elders. But I couldn't do it. I am sure Omar would have actually kind of liked his independence in the house, but they really are bonded. I've never seen a male father cat so bonded with a youngster.
Omar and Oscar were relinguished to the shelter. From what I understand, they came from a very cat heavy population household that it sounds like had grown because they had not spayed/neautered-Omar was still in tact at age 13. The couple had retired and decided to reduce the cats because they could not afford it. We think there were so many cats around that it had become a free for all. Oscar is also tiny and I would assume was inbred if Omar was running around mating. We also notice that Oscar is ravenous, where as Omar is more mellow about eating, but eats well. When Oscar was at the shelter he had runny stool for many months and they did a bunch of tests, when he arrived here his stool was fine within a few days. I think he was simply stressed. He also barfed his food quite a bit on arrival, and that has subsided, and again I think he was used to having to gorge his food with all the other cats around.
So, that is part of the deal of taking on animals. You have to work through it, try lots of different options and give it time. I really hope Oscar grows out of this one behavior. He and Omar are here to stay...assuming he doesn't start peeing on every thing...but I am confidant that isn't going to happen or he might have to live in the elder suite.
And I look at him, when he has made this mistake, he just looks so stinking perplexed. He is really a sweet guy, as is Omar.
|Omar is a truly lovely guy, going on 14 in a couple weeks|
Saturday, September 08, 2018
Autumn is here...oh yes oh yes oh yes
I'm relieved for the animals too, who take any kind of weather without complaint. I'd rather see an animal in freezing weather eating hay, than sitting in humid and hot fly infested air. I think they agree.
So, on we go to the beginning of so many things, for that is what this time of year means for me-beginnings even amongst the dying leaves. Something is always starting. Ideas, new projects, new goals, new memories, new animals...are all in front of me.
I even got on Boone yesterday and took a spin around the fields. We hope to ride into the early winter now that the flies are pretty much busted. It was good to be on him again.
Thursday, September 06, 2018
More elder friends come to Apifera and I now know for sure we are in the right place
I brought Birdie in, and all the goats, and you can probably guess who put on a kissing show. I tell you, I am so grateful when I went to get a llama that day that I picked her, she was a kisser then and is to this day.
I felt really good about our first two on site visits. Today, when I looked at the photo of Birdie kissing Phil, the gentleman in the photos here, I just thought,
We really did come to the right place.
Today we brought the benches into the orchard, so we could be in the shade, it was really hot and sticky but we had a breeze. It was good because we are planning the shade hut for the elder guests, and now I know at this time of morning there is good shade where we were, so I thought it would be nice to have some more permanent benches there.
I'm just really so happy thinks are humming along.
I think I want to try and bring Boone in on these too, but I will have to think about logistics. I left the donkeys out of today's visit because it was so hot. And to be honest, Birdie is such a presence and such a hit for people. It is the Time of the Llama. Pino has absolutely no remorse about that. He has done years of service in his own quiet way, and will continue, but we will go with the flow the universe is sending us.
Tuesday, September 04, 2018
My Pig: her life with a bed wetter
It's no wonder she is worn and earless...and lacks her tail.
Her name is simply...My Pig. My mother would see me as a four year old without my pig and ask, as I ventured to bedtime,
"Where is your pig?" and I would say,
"You mean My Pig."
The pink coloring she once had is now faded, and she looks like she might have taken a recent dusting due some graying. I don't want to wash her again, she might have a flashback to those times.
I can remember the feeling I had as a child though, when I held my little pig. She was one of my go-to comfort creatures back then, along with my dinosaur pajama doll-the latter also suffered greatly in bed wettings.
My bed wetting went on for a long time and kept me from going to sleepovers at my friends for many years. I can remember going to some one's house to spend the night, good family friends, and I was to stay there overnight while my parents went out of town that night. I knew this family well, but I remember hearing my mom in an adjacent room, reminding her friend that...well, I wet the bed so my mother had brought a rubber sheet.
Jeeze. Way to ruin the slumber party by bringing your own rubber sheet.
So, My Pig and I soldiered on, through rubber sheets and power washings. I eventually outgrew bed wetting, but never outgrew my pig. And she has come with me to every home I've ever lived in, including NYC, Oregon, Minneapolis and now, Maine. Back then, fifty-six years ago, we were both pink and fresh, and now all these years later we are both a bit worn but still the same at our core. She sits in my studio now and the other day I picked her up, I had not done that for some time. After all, I have lots of pigs now, ones that move and talk and eat. But when I held My Pig, I was taken back to a place far, far away–a place that still exists, but only in one place, my head. A place where the family was under one roof, the dog was in the living room somewhere with red polish I had put on her toes, and I was in my bed near the the alcove window that looked out at the elm branches, and the tiny red roses speckled in the wallpaper were all around me. And beside me, under the covers, waiting for her nightly wetting, was My Pig, not complaining, not shaming, just going to sleep with me without any fear or judgment about what was to come next.
Sunday, September 02, 2018
Conversation of the pumpkins
"Can you move a little, I'm feeling claustrophobic," said another deep in the pile.
"Why did she put you on top, you are the biggest?" complained another.
They all sat heaped in the wheeled tub, waiting, their destiny to be decided by me, the steward of the place and that includes vegetables. Of course, Nature herself partook, and continues too. Some of their cousins rotted in the hot sun this year, but not too many. Those orbs fed bugs and grubs.
Some of these chaps will feed the pigs. Some will sit on our stoop for us to enjoy until they soften and then will be gifted to the chickens and goats.
I have always felt affection for pumpkins. How can one not. Yes, cynics will say I am humanizing them, Disney-izying their characters. But I really do sense them as individuals, much more than tomatoes or potatoes. Everything is connected. If I believe my father is dispersed now and exists in The Wind, and that my mother and father can be seen together as red cardinals, why would I not feel the individuality of a pumpkin, and here a voice out of that orb.
I have been shamed online for this before-but I truly take to heart that I'm eating things with energy and character, be it a bean or a carrot. Before I harvested the pumpkins, I started fall pruning in the front garden which is still young and unstructured. I mainly cut back the yarrows and Queen Anne's Lace, but I thanked them all and said I'd see them next spring.
So, it is the beginning of the end for each seed that is now a beautiful little orange orb. One by one, I will pick them out of the heap and feed them to the pigs. I like to think when they are taken off the vine, that's it, they never sense a bite. But who am I to say, who are you to say, if that is true? We will never really know, unless of course someday we are in fact, a pumpkin.
I did save one giant pumpkin out in the patch. Every year, Earnest and I try to grow one of those huge pumpkins. We grow our pumpkins in the compost pile which never require water, of course, adding daily water would help, but that defeats it all. We like to see how big they can grow simply with the sky's water, and the nutrients of equine and sheep fertilizer. We have had many big ones. Earnest always says that every year he will grow a huge pumpkin and enter it in the fair. But he never has-he either forgets to enter, or eats the pumpkin. But the idea that he might grow a huge pumpkin of award winning features is just a worthwhile venture for both of us.
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