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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Monday, December 31, 2018

The moon for a new year

I spent the week getting the end of year books done, and am pleased that we did so well with the first full year of the non profit. We are starting the year without any debt encumbering us as we move forward, a barn addition was built, the hay is in, the vets are always paid pronto and the feed/costs I estimated were pretty spot on. There is so much we've accomplished, and so much more to do, and learn, and grow.

I want to put more art back into he mix though-I want to open the barn up for drawing days, where people can come for one to two hours with their own drawing tables, sit amongst certain animals and draw, or write, whatever they choose.

I want to find better ways to see people in the winter with the Llama of Love, and work on helping The Teapot become a therapy guide.

I want to have some doll workshops.

I want to expand the Old Kitty Knitty Club to do good with their knitting needles.

I want to have more time with Boone next spring.

I want to never forget the amazing presence of the moon...the circle.

You have noticed that everything an Indian does in a circle,
and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles,
and everything tries to be round.

In the old days all our power came to us from the sacred hoop
of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people
flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop,
and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace
and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain and the north
with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance. This
knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion.

Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle.
The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball
and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls.
Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.
The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon
does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great
circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were.

The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is
in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the
nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop,
a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.

Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux 1863-1950

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Annual Christmas Garland Festival -the importance of tradition

I wasn't thinking I could pull it off this year, with this head/sinus cold going on day nine....but I rose with the Christmas spirit and we had our annual Christmas Garland Festival yesterday. I'm so glad I made it happen. Amazingly, except for Moose and Goose, everyone was on tip-top behavior and this year the garland did not suffer as it has in some past festivals. Even the blind chicken partook.

The garland was a gift to me many years ago from an Apifera follower. I liked it so much-it was handmade out of felt, buttons and jingle bells-that I decided to share it with the barnyard for Christmas photos, and it immediately turned into an annual tradition.

Many of the traditions I had as a child for Christmas are gone, mainly because we keep things very simple around here, and without children or extended family, our holidays are spent like many nights-by the fire with some spirits and good conversation. I cherish our time together. I spent a lot of energy in my youth complete with broken hearts and bad choices looking for a solid mate and friend, so when I met Martyn at age 42, I had no problems with spending time with him. We are rarely apart, but also have very independent lives during the days. I like being with him.

We honor the spirit of Christmas by celebrating with a Charlie Brown tree harvested from The Wood, and in so doing we create more light for the other trees. The tree goes onto the barnyard for the goats to eat and so we honor the gift of food from Nature. So that s a tradition we created. And The Garland Festival has become an Apifera tradition, and it matters. Why? Well, despite all the chaos of life and the world, knowing that there is a day when a beautiful red and green garland-made by hand and given in friendship-will adorn the animals that we care for, it brings a sense of stability. It reminds us that a tradition s something we create, and do over and over, and it shows those watching or partaking what our true values are.

We nourish each other with good food, and warm ourselves with the fire made hot by the wood Martyn has chopped from the our land. That is tradition.

The Garland Festival is something I like to do for the animals too. I really think most of them understand this is a special activity just for them. The one that really made me smile was Birdie. The second I put it on her, she literally posed, she must have stacks of old Vogue magazines that she knows how to stand just like Grace Kelly. She truly loves to be admired but not really in an ego way, it is the same feeling I had about her on Misfit Love Day when I put the crown on her head-she was working the crowd with love and...well, her beauty.

You can see all the photos from this year's Festival on our Instagram feed. And past years too can be seen right here on the blog.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Inviting little me in...where is your wonderment

I'd love to invite her here for a day. Oh the questions I would ask her. The look on my face shows me that even then I did things with strong intention. And Christmas was a wonderful time in our family, right through the final years of my parents' lives.

I am thinking of a lot of people this year, some gone, some are still here but are in suffering states due to people they've lost, or illnesses. So the fact I've had a sinus cold for 9 days now-it seems to finally be clearing but is taking forever-I can't complain when I see so many others in such sadness.

So I'm focusing on the wonders I had when I was this little girl, she still lives with me of course. I was going to the car, and heard a bird, looked up and there was a big jay, so blue, so bold blue against the then grey sky. And I thought,

Imagine the first time you saw a Blue Jay...

That is what Christmas is for me-the wonderment of acknowledging everything this earth, and universe brings into a daily life. The amazing way a heart can seek out what it needs after it has been hurt, the way new friends can enter one's life when you need them most, the way a song can make you cry as it transports you back to a moment you do want to feel even if it makes you miss someone...the way the cat, goat, or horse sound each morning.

Merry Christmas everyone. Happy Holidays. May you feel some wonderment today, even if sandwiched in all the craziness of the current situation we are all facing as Americans...but as importantly, as humans and Earth dwellers.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Moon over The Great Whites, a greeting from a father gone

The moon has been spectacular these last couple of nights. When there is a full moon, I always say,

"Hello, Bob."

Bob was my father, gone since 2008. The day he died he literally became the wind to me, it was so visceral. My skin and body were electrified after he died, I could feel so close to him just by the wind. I had never experienced that before. And that night, the full moon appeared, and I did not hesitate, it was him.

So it was not quite a full moon, but close enough to greet him.

I had been doing barn chores and turned around and there was the moon, right over White Dog. I think this is the blessing of the darn iPhone, I can't lug a camera all over during chores, but that is when so much happens that is the fabric of the life here. I asked him to stand while I got my camera out, and good molly goodness, he did. Thanks, Benedetto, it has been a very well received photo. And then leaving that field for the house, there was Birdie.

Beautiful. A moon over a llama, my llama. How many creatures were bather in that light last night?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The tree still stands!

We have always had little Charlie Brown trees, cut down from The Wood, but this year, with the three cats newly in the house, we were thinking it might be a disaster. On top of that, we both came down with really bad colds so have just been trying to survive, if I may be so dramatic [we are both recovering though].

Martyn's cold was subsiding and he was feeling pretty good this weekend, me, not so much. But when I came down from some time in the upstairs studio, he had surprised me with a little tree, and had all the lights up and some decorations. We had always stuck with a bird and fruit theme, and these are pretty much unbreakable. I didn't put up any of the family treasures, some of those ornaments are 100 years old!

Anyway, I'm so glad he did this, it was such a nice surprise to come down stairs and see it lit up, such a sweet little tree. And so far, no Flying Squirrels have taken her down! Mister Moseley came on the table right after we were finished, and I really felt he was saying thank you, he sat and looked at the lights for the longest time...and then went back to bed.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Teapot thrives, while we get sick

One thing about being self employed, you don't get sick days. Martyn came down with a bad sinus cold last week and yesterday I got it. Chills, slight fever, blah, blah, blah. So what do we do? Go outside and work it off. Now I will say it was a beautiful 40+ degree day with sun, no wind, and the task at hand was not that difficult. We needed to put up pressure treated boards on a fence that divides where I feed The Teapot and the other equines. Boone was pushing over the fence to try to get one blade of hay. I'm hoping I can wait until spring to get the No Chew on it, so I was quite pleased that it was still standing this morning [tongue-in-cheek].

Lydia Rose, aka The Teapot has already shed some pounds. We have her on a good diet of hay and trace minerals and tish of senior feed just so she doesn't lose too fast or lose good resources of minerals and vitamins. Her Cushings test was fine and in spring we will do an insulin test, as per the requirement of the rescue we got her from.

I have been working on her ground manners, she has them lurking in her, taught long ago, she just got away with a lot in the last years, and not because she wasn't loved. She is also settling more when i put her with the donkeys, and less 'ears back' to move them around is happening.

To be honest, she reminds me of a combination of Paco when he first arrived, and Rosie the grumpy pig who nobody wanted as their friend. I do not feel any sadness in Teapot, she just needs a clearer job. So I am going to start walking her on a lead into the woods, and I am planning on having "Wood Walks with Teapot" or something like that.

I had planned to make Paco her buddy, and maybe teach them to pull a cart together. But Teapot is not herd bound, and I'm thinking now since she clearly had some driving training years ago, she might be a good candidate to work with on an individual basis. I also of course hope to have her be one of our therapy healers...but we will proceed one step at a time.

I looked at the photo of her taken right before we picked her up, and compared it with the photo taken yesterday. Her coat is looking shinier and she has lost a little bit of weight.

Making the fence Boone proof
Left, The Teapot after some time on her diet

Friday, December 14, 2018

Opie's elder friends sing along

Opie and I made visit yesterday to our friends in Wiscasset. It has been awhile since I've seen them, since early fall when they came for one of their visits to the farm. I have missed them and after two years of getting to know them, I truly mean it when I say–and I told them–I miss them when I don't see them regularly. The last few months were so full with the new barn addition and other projects....I had to take a step away for a bit.

So it was an extra special visit yesterday. There is a new resident who is very sweet, and I enjoyed meeting her. She is very homesick, and she shed some tears, I held her hand and supported her sadness. She doesn't think she belongs there, but her kids do. At ninety, to have to leave your home...it is all hard stuff.

We talked about that yesterday, how they all do miss their homes, but they know they are lucky to be at WG–and I will say it is a very homey old house, in the beautiful little village of Wiscasset. But...to have to leave one' home...there is no getting around it, it is a sad thing and it is something some people might never adjust to.

I don't know if I will be so graceful at it, if it comes to that. Yes, it comes into my mind from time to time–where will I end up? I of course want the universe to take me out quickly, and let me live amongst my animals, and Martyn, for as long as I am meant to, and then just dissipate me. I think everyone has fear of being put in a 'home' and some are so much worse than others.

I told the new resident that I will be back regularly, and that she is going to find herself falling for Opie. She had a goat as a little girl, it was at her mother's farm, but she wasn't much of an animal person she said, but she wanted to come meet Opie. I hope to get to know her, and maybe bring things to our meetings that will give her some joy, some comfort.

The residents heard it was Opie's 2nd birthday, and they made him a little "2" out of raw squash, and then we all sang. Opie wore his jingle bells too. He was very quiet yesterday, the room was very warm, with a space heater on, and sun streaming in the windows. He took a stand up nap at one point.
The residents also surprised me with a little gift of a calender and a farmer's almanac-so sweet! I told them I had a New Year's surprise I was working on...Joe said they never expect anything in return because they just so love our visits-that was so special, got me verklempt thinking about it.

I'm very excited to start the new year, and get them all out to the farm again too. But we'll be going on visits starting up in January...it clearly brings them joy, as do Opie's letters. In spring or summer, i hope to bring Ollie when we can be outside but I'll need an assistant with Opie and Ollie.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Who is two? A breakfast animal cracker toss!

Our little Ambassador of Love turns two today! He is still stinking' cute, and still full of love, all though on a quieter tone than when he was a rambunctious little sprite-the latter has been taken over by Opie's sidekick, Ollie.

We tossed animal crackers today in his honor, for breakfast, and The Misfits thought a breakfast party was swell-why wait until lunch or tea for a birthday party?

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Annual Live Nativity Scene...who will be Jesus?

Before you ask, no, I never film or photograph the Annual Live Nativity Scene. We have to have some rituals all to ourselves. Besides, it takes a lot of energy to get it to happen, and often ends in disaster, like someone knocking the manger over, or Boone eats the Baby Jesus bed...

This year there is some debate about who should be Baby Jesus. I will let them figure it out, this is really their Christmas event for themselves, so the decision is their's to make.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Odd animal friendships-it's all the rage, but we knew that long ago

In case you haven't noticed on social media, it's all the rage to post sweet videos of odd animal friendships-emus and donkeys, chickens and cows, dogs and ducks, on and on. I enjoy many of those videos too. Although I do sense many are propped.

Many people are out of touch with Nature and I feel like some of these videos present Disney-ized versions of real creatures. There are people out there that truly believe all pigs are teeny [um, those are called new born piglets] and should dress in clothes and live in houses, or that a horse lying on the cold earth in winter is abused and they call a sheriff [please don't do this, horses love to lie on the ground even in winter].

So, I hesitated somewhat to share my Goose & Llama evolving friendship, but after weeks together, the goose, who we named My Grace, does seem bonded with her llama. And I like that, she has a defender. I find them sleeping together, they eat together, and for the last couple days I've allowed Birdie to go outside and get some sun. I wanted to make sure she was stable enough, the last thing we want is for her to fall or pull something due to her nerve damage as it could set her back.

I now have Birdie on anti-inflammatory pills and we have gone to pills every other day after getting good results for one week of daily pills. The idea is to taper her off as much as possible without losing ground. Nerve damage is a long road of recovery, if at all, so I feel we will go a year before we see what recovery we will have.

But I'm pleased with her progress, and she seems like herself too. She tried to do a little llama 'skip' something they do as they run, head and neck down-it is like a frolic and I so miss seeing her do it, it is pure joy. But she couldn't quite make it work, and I encouraged to stop and stand.Still it was a sign of progress.

So Goose & Llama will not be appearing in any viral videos, I am sure of that, but their friendship does seem real. And lets not forget My Grace was there for our old friend, the World's Grumpiest Pig aka Rosie. I've seen these inter species friendships many times, and sometimes they stick, and sometimes they evolve.

I have a crazy theory that My Grace admires Birdie's long neck, and Birdie admires Grace's neck too and how it can twist and turn.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

We celebrate Papi!

Papi turned a year older and we celebrated with him this week. Papi is one of the youngish elders in the Elder Cat Suite, turning 10. When the shelter took him in he had such bad case of urinary issues that he had chewed his penis off. Surgery was done to help what was left, poor chap.

If you have met Papi you know he is not one we have to worry about keeping weight on! The opposite. He is a portly fellow but what is funny is he is always the one to sit back and let everyone else eat first, so I try to give him as little wet food as possible. But on his birthday, we did not measure his intake.

Everyone needs a day off from counting calories, I told him.

{If you are one of the I-Love-Papi-Club people, feel free to send him a donation, or cat food [of course the latter will be hidden in a locked safe}

Monday, December 03, 2018

Will I ever learn

You'd think after all these years I'd learn not to store the Christmas lights in the barn.