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

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. All images ar©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Arlo shines in the spotlight and a shift occurs

No words needed
Arlo has felt the power of love, of being touched. Yesterday we had a wonderful first therapy session of the summer season, and it was Arlo's first official group get together. He was a star! He behaved very well, and lasted about 30 minutes before getting itchy young llama syndrome, but I was really proud of him, and me I guess–all our work together paid off and we still have a lot to do together but he was very good. What was most wonderful is he enjoyed it, and gravitated to people, gave kisses, and wowed everyone with his long neck and soft wool.

It was a new group of elders and most of them were in walkers or wheelchairs, one woman was blind, some had difficulty speaking due to stroke [I assume], but even those people were able to communicate their joy around the animals. The group could not have been sweeter, and responsive to their outing-they were very happy to be there. They came all the way from Camden, which is up the coast about an hour. One of the women had grown up on a farm, and had a horse, which she had named "Pony" because she was only four years old, so she communed with Boone a lot. I was so pleased to have five volunteers, which made it possible for the first time to have Boone and Teapot in the paddock, then we brought Matilda and Paco into the orchard first. Matilda loves people and is usually very calm and special at these things, but she and the minis have become a bit herd bound so she was wondering why she was there alone, and she also liked the grass. So she did great, but I felt bad they didn't get a better sense of her true gifts. They loved her, and her deep eyes. They told her she was beautiful. Then I went and brought the little goats out, which was a hit because they all ran in and it was a fun scene for everyone. We brought Ollie out on a lead too, and he was very happy to partake. And then, I went and got Arlo.

I left Luna in the barn, since I knew it might distract him, and Luna is a real worrier. I could hear her humming the whole time. Argo came in and I let him stand and look at all the people and wheelchairs for a few minutes, and then he did his thing. One by one we visited each person, and he reached down to touch their faces. There were a couple times where I got verklempt, not only because it felt like Birdie was there, but also, I was just so proud of him. I have been training him not to lean into me, and he has been very good, but a few times he came to me for reassurance, and it was ok. He just did great.

Once again, I saw the power of how animals opening people up to share story–and how sharing story opens us all up to listening to others, learning and seeing our common grounds. By sharing story, the elders feel heard, and we all want to be heard.

At the end of the day I asked everyone if they had a favorite animal on the visit..."the llama".

I returned Arlo to the field with Luna, and let the donkeys out too. Arlo proceeded to chase everyone around, to the delight of the guests. He then went into a young male romp, rolling, head and neck twirls like llamas do, and the guests -all lined up in the chairs-sat watching, oohing and awing like we were at a parade with fireworks.

It was such perfect way to start his career. I told him so many times that night that I was proud of him. I also sensed that night when I went out to feed, that our relationship had shifted ever so slightly, like it does when you work with an animal as a team. I sensed he 'got it'.

And so, it begins.

Boone communed with a woman that had a horse as a child

They told Matilda she was beautiful

Arlo's career begins

I felt Birdie at any times

Ollie examines the oxygen cord as Opie looks on

Monday, June 17, 2019

Summer's first therapy visit...and we Birdie On

I am excited for our Wednesday visit, with a group of elder residents coming down from Camden. This is a day of firsts in that it is the first farm visit where there will be a hole where Birdie once stood. But we will have Arlo at his first official therapy day. I plan to also bring in Matilda, and maybe Paco as this group seems enthusiastic about bigger animals.

I am excited but found myself feeling anxious this weekend. I began to realize it was partially sadness that Birdie-a natural at these things-was not there as my partner. I never had to think with her, she was a lady and a love star. With Arlo, he is in training, but is doing very well and I have had people over to due test runs with him. But I will have to watch to make sure he doesn't wear out. And Luna will have to be in the barn I think so she doesn't get anxious and then he will get anxious. He likes people and is also behaving well with learning his ground manners. I have several volunteers coming so am also feeling good and appreciative about that since this day will take some moving animals around. I'd like to have Ollie in the mix too but he is getting so big and is like a giant puppy, so he will be on a halter for control.

I think I miss Birdie more than any animal I've ever known and loved and lost. I think because we were partners, right through her illness and death. But, there is only one thing to do, Birdie On...and I know Arlo is going to bring smiles. He is so soft, and he is caring. The other baby female llama is supposed to be coming this week or very soon and she will be fun to train. She is also black as is her elder mom who is coming. We will then have two elders who will live out their months or years with us–it is hard to know how long they will live but they are up there on the age scale-and the two youngsters. I still would like one more, a white faced or speckled/white one. Selfishly I miss seeing a white llama. So I am putting it out to the old universe, and Birdie. I'm in no rush, and just am keeping my eyes and heart open for that final llama to add to our family.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

I once was a shepherdess

Little Sylvia Pettini is now three and she has blossomed and grown well, even her bad eye is normal. She had a rough start–she almost died after her now retired mother, Calla, who also lives here, rejected her and had mastitis. Sometimes I have to look twice as they look so much alike. Their wool is beautiful. She and her elder mother will live out their days here.

Of the many faces of animals that I've known since living at Apifera it is perhaps the faces of my old flock out West that come to me more often than you might think. I think this is because for starters, I raised them, I watched them get old, I buried them. We were a team. Until you've raised livestock-for whatever your reasons-you will not understand, it is not the same as owning sheep or livestock, raising them is an entirely different relationship. I suppose too one's intent in raising animals is entwined in the outcome. I loved being a shepherdess, as hard as it could be. I loved being their flock leader. One of the hardest parts in leaving the old farm was leaving my flock. I knew it was unfair to bring them to Maine and was unsure of what our land was like here. I did the right thing. They were hair she and it makes more sense to have wool sheep here I think. I chose to euthanize my two weakest and oldest ewes who were on their last year, but I wanted that end to be with me.

I sent some of my flock to live with young farm family and the rest, including that year's lamb's stayed with the new owner. I had many communings with my girls before we left, and I know they wanted to stay-it was the land they had been born on, it was what they as a flock were embedded in-their mothers and sisters, sometimes children or great grandmothers were buried there. While they respected my place in the flock, it was the land that was their true bond.

Besides learning about animal husbandry and all that goes with it-lambing, medicines, fixing broken legs, saving a sheep torn up by a dog, sewing up a prolapsed vagina to name just some of the acquired skills-I learned so much about animals and my place as a human amongst animals by raising sheep. It helped me clearly understand my specific place in the Nature, on Earth. Having been a vegetarian for seven years before moving to the farm, it helped me sort out the conflict of loving animals, and eating some. Some of you might not understand that, some of you might be angered by that...but you are you and I am me and I am grateful I got to live on a farm and watch Nature-not control it or demand it fit my morals-and decide what was right for me and our farm. Some people never get the chance to live emerged in Nature and land so I am grateful for that time there as a shepherdess. I don't miss lambing though or all that went with it, it was a beautiful time of my life, and now I have shifted ever so slightly to be exactly where I am meant to be, still in Nature amongst animals, and elders–but I come with those years of experiences that shaped me.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Another art giveaway to help Apifera

For the coming weeks I will be offering an art print to someone-all you have to do is donate that week and once the pot hits a certain amount one person will take home a print. This piece is 11 x 14". Once we gather $750 from donations [ we are already at $300 or so at this writing, someone will take it home-and this week Earnest will pick the winner. We are collecting donation on this give away through the week.

So donate here if you can. You an also send a check [just let me know]

We are of course always in need of bringing in donations for feed and vet care among other things, but this summer we are putting up the final barn addition which is going to total $20,000 so we need to keep our regular fund healthy for the animal care. Thank you again to all who support and follow our work here at Apifera!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Living with Goats [Prepare to Share your Sandwich]

I have been writing a monthly article "Tails & Tales from Apifera Farm" for our regional paper The Lincoln County News. Since many of you that follow me have no need to subscribe to the paper, I will be republishing the articles one month after they come out in the paper. This article was from March. Enjoy.

Buy a whole bunch of pasture fence. Make sure it's five foot tall or higher. Spend your whole weekend getting it up. Run electric wire on the top and bottom of the fence.

Put the goat in the fenced pasture. Explain to the goat that this is her goat-side, and over there, that is your human-side. Explain to her what an electric current is. Goats are very smart and appreciate facts, even if they often ignore them.

You are now tired, but also pleased with accomplishing your new goat-proof fence. Make a good sandwich, preferably with home grown tomatoes and good bread. Get your lawn chair.

Sit in your lawn chair and enjoy your sandwich.

As you chew, notice the goat roaming in the nicely fenced pasture you just finished especially for her. Call out to her,

"Hello dear Goat! I see you!"

Enjoy the sweet sounds of the goat calling back to you in goat bleeps. I will translate:

"Hello!" says the goat. "I see you too! What are you eating? You are so close, I can smell the bread! I love bread. I'll be right there! OH! Ouch! Electric current, no problem, it's over now. Oh look! Here I am right by your chair, I will join you and your sandwich."

Say nice things to the goat, then lead her back to the pasture with a bit of the bread. Ask her if she learned that touching the electric fence has consequences. Explain to her in clearer terms why this is her side of the fence and that over there is your side of the fence. As you turn around to leave, you swear you can hear laughing.

Return to your lawn chair. Gather up your sandwich, anticipating the fresh bread and tomato melting in your mouth. Look over at the goat pasture. Oh good, she is still there and clearly understands the rules now. Close your eyes as you chew your sandwich. It is a beautiful day and you have so much to do but
you have a few minutes of peace and quiet to just sit in the sun, and doze for a few minutes.

But wait, you hear foot steps behind you.

"Hello! I'm right here with you again!" says the goat. “I did it right this time though. I went under the fence, no electric shock. No consequences!”

Try to refrain from yelling, harshness gets you nowhere with a goat. Accept that your goat simply wants to be with you, and your half eaten sandwich. Forget about the comfortable lawn chair, and walk back to the pasture with your goat. Find a good rock to sit on. It is warm from the sun and feels mighty fine on your old bum. Sit and share the rest of your sandwich with your goat.

Friday, June 07, 2019

More Llama Love arriving!

Hours after being born-look at those legs!
This sweet girl and her mom are coming to Apifera! She was born on Wednesday and we have been waiting for what seems forever but she finally popped out. These pics were taken hours after. She is pure black.

When Birdie died and I began looking for more llamas, I quickly found that it is hard to find them in Maine. So I began to really pursue llama people in New England as I didn't want to go too long without a llama. I also knew I wanted more than one, and if one died, I would not be llama less.

So I found a woman with the young male now known as Arlo, and she gave me the 19 year old we now call Luna. Luna is old, she could live to be 25, or not. SO when I picked out Arlo and Luna, I also was on board to take another elder llama and her baby. The elder llama is 19 which is a bit up there for having a baby and I won't go into details-but there is no 'bad human' story here–and the baby was born healthy and all is well.

Argo can not be gelded until he is at least one and a half, it has to do with his ones and joints forming properly. This of course means I have to separate him out very soon from Luna and will do so once the baby and mama arrive in coming weeks. I was hoping for a girl, as I really didn't want to train two in tact males. I was also hoping for more white, but...I think this is exactly as it is meant to be. A black llama is so different than Birdie and it will remind me of that, that she is her own llama this little girl.

Argo has been doing so well, in fact, I had a volunteer come this week and I wanted to see how he would be with a newcomer in a therapy setting and he was great. i really think he is going to be a good therapy llama. He is inquisitive but has learned boundaries well-something I work on everyday. He is gentle with his head and not spooky. Luna is also getting settled, she is not scared, just a bit shy. She will not be a therapy llama, her job here is to be herself and retire with ease.

I am excited to meet her. I will have lots to do this summer but what a gift!

Hours after being born
One of our volunteers gets to know Arlo

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

When your office is a port potty

If you have followed along you know that The Puppet has always been enamored by the Porta Potty. Out West, we would rent one every year for the infamous Pino Pie Party, and The Puppet just loved it, and would decorate it and sit in it and sing to it...it was always fun the day the Porta Potty arrived. The puppet was quite sad when we had our final Pie Party, understanding his ports potty days might be over.

But they are back, and now in Maine we have decided to have a porta potty for the entire summer season! The Puppet is beside himself. In fact, he asked for permission to put his office in there for the summer. I did not know he had an office but he leads a mysterious life when out of my site despite the fact he is basically a sock.

Anyway, if you want to become a Porta Potty Queen, and you know you do, you can donate $125 to help defray the monthly cost,and you will get a Porta Potty Queen button which you can wear with pride.

{And thank you to our current Porta Potty Queens!}

If you prefer to send a check make it to Apifera Farm Inc.
315 Waldoboro RD, Bremen ME 04551
You will get a receipt immediately after arrival.

Our EIN # 82-2236486

Monday, June 03, 2019

Black fly woman

The black flies are horrible this year. I am very sensitive to any bugs, and ever since a child get huge welts no matter the terrorists that bit me. The black fly season is winding down. Thank God. But wait, that means we are getting ready for biting fly season!

This is my portrait of me and black fly bites. I was pleased at how I got my dropping jawbones.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Healers & Misfits 100 page publication of photos

I am also offering a gift level for anyone donating $250 or more to Apifera. It is a beautiful 8.5 x 11" photo book, soft cover of 100 pages full of beautiful photos and other Misfit musings. This will be sent after the barn addition is complete [August-September]. So no matter where you donate your $250, here, or on FB or by check, you will be on the list to receive one. {People that gave this amount or more recently will get one too.}

I put Luna on the cover. In her elder years, we don't know how long she will grace us here, but I have already grown to admire her. She is beautiful in a very wise crone way.

If you prefer to send a check make it to Apifera Farm Inc.
315 Waldoboro RD, Bremen ME 04551
You will get a receipt immediately after arrival.

Our EIN # 82-2236486

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Time to get busy-you might take this art home

We are entering The Final Barn Addition Fundraiser Freakout with the work scheduled to begin mid July. We have only raised $2,000 of the $20,000 needed. This is pretty much my fault as I just stopped fundraising to give everyone a break including myself.

But, time is of the essence.

I will be sharing lots of goodies you might take home if you donate.

Once we hit another $1000, one person's name will be picked out of a bucket-this time by The Goose [USA only, or you will have to pay shipping]and you will receive this beautiful 20x20 print, signed on the front. Includes a 1" white border.

I am also asking anyone who can do a matching donation to let me know, be it $10 or $1000 or more. It all helps.

The final barn addition will allow better mud and winter management, and safety, for the equine area. It will also allow more hay to be stored in the upper loft, freeing up more space on the ground level. Mud management is essential to foot health, as Paco will tell you who we are still helping resolve his White Line Disease which we are doing well on.

Of course, if you prefer to pay with a check, that is fine, just let me know it is coming and I will add your name to the list of possible print taker-homers.

Fundraising is a challenge and I really appreciate the many people who repeatedly support our efforts! You will be most likely greeted in the after world by old goats, llamas and donkeys.

Donate >

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Can you ever prepare yourself for a loss so big?

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
― Kahlil Gibran

A friend posted this quote on her page today, it is the fourth anniversary of the death of her husband. The quote gave me pause, and the reality of the quote, the truth of it made me stop in my morning routine of checking in on emails and such.

I am well aware of the love in my life, and the fact I'm graced by so much, especially my best friend and husband, Martyn, who I met in my early forties. He is not a space filler, we are blessed with a relationship in which we share so many common desires-the love of nature, building gardens, being outside and working hard...we work hard and then we sit at night and relax, eat a good deal, sip hooch and enjoy discussing our plans fora  new garden or building or land project. We laugh. We share details of the day. Those things are removed when  a mate goes.

I have seen my friends and family lose their mates to old age, suicide, early sudden death, and cancer. Each time, through the thoughts of my compassion for them, the thought creeps in...how can it not...what would I do at that moment, that moment of separation no matter how my mate had died? What would I do to keep breathing at that very moment?

The people I mention above are walking examples of people that kept breathing, somehow.

Every day, I swear, there is not a day I don't reflect on the fact that I am here, with Martyn, and how different it would be if he wasn't here.

Can you prepare yourself for that moment you hear your mate has died? That exact moment? No. You can understand it will be gut wrenching, soul strangling stuff. You get that. But you go about the day or night just happy to have them there.

One can't dwell on it, then you would not be living. But I think when it happens, it will be like being turned upside down, and everything will look strange and disoriented, and scary. The sensations of the wind will feel different and my skin will be so sensitive I might have to stay inside for weeks.

That hour of separation will come. It is why I choose to live so out loud now with Martyn. And soak up our nights too.

Last night I wanted to capture the house and the beauty of M'Lady Apple in full bloom, and Little Apple nearby.  I was swept up in a moment, of how perfect this moment in this time on this piece of land in this little house in this specific location with this exact person is.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The accident changed me...what will Boone and I be now?

This week I worked with Boone a couple times on the ground. The second time I saddled him up and did fifteen minutes of ground work and was really planning to take a little ride. But I held back. The video below was us just sitting in the driveway, in the wind. I love being on him in the wind.

I came to a hard truth...I am still affected by the trauma of my accident with him. I am not afraid to ride. I did get on and we rode in circles in the driveway. But I just kept hearing a voice telling me not to go out on the rode to get to our side trail. We walked back tot he barn and I told Boone I would figure this out. But it saddened me, and it made me really miss my old friend Joanne who I rode with out west. It was she who helped me get my confidence back with Boone. I miss her, and I miss that feeling of being able to feel like I could ride all over with Boone, alone if I wanted. The day of my accident, when Boone and I entered the wooded trail, a butterfly flew right by me, and I said out loud, "Joanne?" Isn't that odd, i thought, that I just said that without thinking. Thirty minutes later I was blacked out after the fall.

If someone came and trailed with me, I would be fine. But I do not want to go through that again, nor do I want Boone, or Martyn, to go through it. I guess the risk of it out weighs the pleasure of it, and that makes me sad. It is like a nagging weight on my shoulders. I tried to find some people to ride with last year but most don't have trailers, or trails. I might keep looking. I had an indoor stable I rode at once, but she wants $25 a ride and I can't afford that. Plus I really want to trail. Both Boone and I get bored in the arena.

I'm also going to look into making an obstacle course or something for me and Boone. I have to find a way to be with him more.

At the same time...I began to think there is nothing wrong with just...being with him. As long as I remain a good leader, maybe that is what we will be now. I don't know.

But I do know that that accident changed me both physically and emotionally.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Grumpiest Old Men being given a chance at Apifera

My contact at the local shelter where all our old cats have been adopted from contacted me a week ago.

For the record, I was minding my own business, working in the office when her email came in.

A woman had reared these two brothers from kittens, the mother was an outdoor ferel and she brought the two kittens in in time and they never left the house. She cared for them all these years but now had to go into assisted living. She cared enough to write a long note about them when relinquishing them to the shelter. My contact spent a lot of time with the two cats over the coming days, and basically, they are ferel. The only reason she asked me to take them in is they get along ok with cats. We all knew these two were not going to get adopted, they are 14.

So, they arrived this week and I can attest they are grumpy. They are also scared and I guess in the shelter went through the usual battery of shots and pokes and prods so were agitated from that. When we opened the crate door they went exactly where I knew they'd go, under the corner bench to the sheep fleece.

I worked with the ferel colony we had out west. Some never tendered up, Mama Kitty being one. I think some ferel or semi ferel can tender, others are wired not to. It is not my goal to tender them, it is my goal to let them live in peace here. At this stage, I am not attempting to get near them, I talk to them when I come in, but they are left alone. They have made it clear at this stage they do not trust me to get to near, one is much worse than the other. This was the same experience my contact had.

Noritsu immediately went over to check them out, no hissing and no claws. I told my contact if there is any sign of danger to the others, we will have to deal with it and she is with me on that no matter what. But they just want to be left alone right now. This was really the only option, they could not be put out for adoption. I am happy to try to give them a final home...as long as they know Papi is in charge, as am I.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Of the light...Tripod is gone

He is now of the light
I knew. He knew. It was time. There was no movement that didn't look uncomfortable, there was no position he could manage to lie in [and Tripod always had issues with lying down due to his condition he was born with] that was helpful at this point. When we took the bandage of the sore, it had worsened, and was eating into the muscle and body.

The vet didn't hesitate, and I knew she wouldn't. We had done all we could and it was time to let go. And we did.

The vet went out to the truck to get her shots ready, and I sat with Tri one last time. What was so telling is he rested his head against me, something he really doesn't do. I knew he was just tired of hurting. He declined swiftly after the initial sores arrived. His body was incapable of healing them and it also causes him to avoid using the leg at all, which caused the other legs to just weaken, almost overnight. When the drug was administered, his eyes flicked immediately, he was gone. No more pain, what a relief I felt for him.

He had become my buddy ever since I moved him into the hay barn when we lived out West. He was not interested in other goats, probably due to the danger of being knocked over. But in the hay barn, he tendered up and recognized I was there as an ally. When we moved East, he had many good days left, to sit in the sun and sniff the wafts of ocean air. I am so glad he ended up with us and that he was in our lives.

I will miss his sweet little face sticking out of his special cubby. But that cubby is full of other life and we carry on. Each brings new stories and experiences. There's isn't a sun until after the dark night.

Waiting for the vet

Tripod last year helping raise The Holy Child

Monday, May 13, 2019

Tomorrow might be a sad day but we will do what is best

The vet is coming tomorrow to give equine annual shots. I always have my vet do the equine shots, I do everyone else but just don't like doing the equines.

The vet will also help me choose the next steps for Tripod. Tripod was born crippled, with a hind hip and leg that are permanently frozen making him only able to use three legs. But it also compromises his body in other ways, and we knew as he aged it would be more and more problematic. And that day has come. This winter, I was able to keep him from getting elbow sores, since he was lying down all winter. He was not getting other sores and I thought we had jumped that hurdle. But then he got a very bad sore behind the elbow, in the crease and it is not healing. Bed sores are real problem for elder, crippled animals and at some point you are fighting an battle you can't win. So we were struggling with that in the last couple weeks. But what began to happen was his 'good' legs seemed to just become unusable to him, and he can't get up anymore. When I help him up, he cries, and gets agitated, so there is pain. He can't even get up on his front elbows much to eat grass. He wants to come outside, but he tries to get up and gets off balance immediately and falls down on his nose. It's so sad to watch. For the past few days I have been putting him in the clam sled and taking him outside.

So...it might be time to let go and let this beautiful soul be pain free. If his wound is as bad tomorrow as it was last week despite meds and treatment, it might be one more reason to help him fly off.

So please send light to Tripod, and me. It is so hard because despite his crippled condition, he has always had a good life here, and this is not how I wanted him to go out, in pain with sores and such. But we will do what is right tomorrow.

People sometimes ask me how I keep saying goodbye to the animals. How do any of us keep saying goodbye to so many things on a daily basis. We say goodbye to our elders, our mothers, best friends, favorite singers...our pets....Sunday always becomes Monday and we say goodbye to our flat bellies for sinking hips and hurting muscles, we say goodbye to youth, to autumn, we are saying goodbye to Mother Earth unless everyone wakes up...we are constantly saying goodbye. There isn't a moon until the sun sets, and there isn't a goodbye unless there was a hello. If I weren't saying goodbye so much, I wouldn't be letting new things into my life. And when I'm tired of saying goodbye, I'll die.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Opie's Surprise is out!

These two retired elders came to us from the same farm as Opie is from. Opie is thrilled to have some of his great great Aunties or grannies or whatever they are in his home. He was really strutting his stuff when they came. These two old gals have been bred every year and have earned their place in the sun without the worry of childrearing.

The black one had the pedigree name of "She's The One" but the farm's little boy pronounced it Cheese. So I kind of like that. So her name is Cheese.

Still getting to know them and listening for the other's name.

I love them. Goose immediately grabbed onto the blonde girl. So funny. he likes light colored animals!

Memory of the concussion

{From the studio this rainy morning, "The Day I Fell of My Horse and Blacked Out"]

It's coming up on two years when I took a bad fall off Boone, alone in the woods on a ride, hitting my head, blacking out and proceeded to walk around for 30 minutes not knowing where I was [yes, I had a helmet on, always wear one]. It turns out I had called Martyn 10 times that 30 minutes. He saved the messages and I only knew I had called him after I got out of hospital. The messages are heartbreaking. I was scared, and unable to tell him where I was at first. I was in the forest, and could not tell which way I should go. My horse was gone, my glasses were broken and my nose bridge was cut. The messages were so hard to listen to, it made me want to hold me like mother and child. I can only imagine how poor Martyn felt, hopeless I'm sure. At some point, I wandered out of the woods, and was able to call 911. Boone had gone down the busy road and a neighbor took him in- it's a miracle he wasn't hurt, or so many things could have gone wrong. My theory is we slid on ledge rock, as we were cantering and the last thing I remember [it had been a wonderful ride]is 'it's time to go into a walk, there is some ledge coming up" My head must have crashed down on his neck rising. Oddly, I had not one scratch on me, not any stains or anything on my pants or bare arms, only a cut nose bridge where my glasses hit the horse. Boone had a few scrapes. I wish I knew what he did after-did he look at me and think, "Well, she clearly isn't going to lead me out of here so I'm leaving'...or did he stick around and sniff me, or just fly off?

To this day the only thing I remember is that last thought of we need to go into a walk from canter, and I do now remember being disoriented, scared, and not knowing which way to walk on the path-each direction looked the same.

I had a severe concussion and spent two days in the hospital. They made me stay to see if I needed surgery. Surgery? I told them that was ridiculous. I was still pretty out of it and Martyn says the surgeon said it was a pretty severe blow so I'm lucky. He said without the helmet, who knows. I got back on Boone a month later, but I will be honest and say the event changed me. I am not afraid to ride, but riding alone in the woods gives me pause now, which is sad. But I never want to put Martyn through that, or my horse, or me again. The thing is here in Maine the woods are so miserable starting about late June if not sooner due to the bugs. It's unpleasant for horse and rider.

Today was going to be my first spring workout with Boone, but it's raining. So I made this painting.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Opie can hardly keep his big secret

"Why can't I tell them?" Opie asked.

"Because," I said.

"Because why?" he continued.

"I said so," I said.

"You says so but I says it is so exciting for me!" he said.

"Well, I just know how this works and it is best to wait until tomorrow, when you have your surprise in your midst to show everyone," I said.

And he ran off singing and yelled to Ollie,

"Ollie, I have a midst!"

{Stay tuned...}

Monday, May 06, 2019

The goose continues on as caretaker

The goose seems to be continuing her-his care taking role. After first gravitating to Rosie the pig in her final weeks, then Birdie his llama in need, he has now latched on to old Else, who is elderly and crippled and frail. She arrived that way and seems to be growing farther into that state. I do not know if she will be with us in the coming winter, or if it is right to let her go through another winter. But for now, she is able to nap in the sun and lives in contentment. It is just much harder for her to walk, and she seems more tired, taking longer to get up in the morning.

The goose still roams and grazes, but he seems to go back to Else during the day to nap with her, or sun near her side.

It's endearing. I know I have a vivid imagination but I truly feel she-he gravitates to those bodies trying to release. Perhaps it is a smell we humans are closed down to. Perhaps she-he just knows.

The goose has not laid an egg. I have taken to referring to the goose as she-he, or The Goose, or My Grace that is Goose a guy. I suppose by mid summer it will be definitive that she-he is in fact either male or female, and not much will change, since I call her-him simply, Goose.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Opie and Ollie and the balloon

Today is Ollie's first birthday. There was an earnest discussion going on when I got outside this morning to do chores. I try to stay out of their personal conversations, but...it appears that Opie gave Ollie a balloon. By the time I wandered in, this was what I heard:

"I saved it for you, from my first birthday last year," said Opie.

"What do I do with a balloon?" asked Ollie.

"Not much," said Opie.

"Can I fly away on it?" asked Ollie.

"I don't know, maybe," said Opie.

Ollie sat on the balloon. It popped, and let out air and squirted and flitted around before there eyes.

"That was delightful," said Ollie, and he ran off.

Opie sat down, holding the remnants of his balloon.

"I have to ask, Opie, where did you keep your balloon safe this entire year?" I asked.

"In the hayloft, under the third beam by the north window where I play sometimes," he said.

"Hmmm, what do you play?" I asked.

"I make card houses," he said. He let out a long sigh. "My balloon is dead," he said.

"But Opie, it made you happy when I gave it to you, and it made Ollie happy when you gave it to him, and it went out flying-that's a good life for a balloon," I assured him.

Opie ran back to the barn. The goose followed him, saying, "All things must pass."
No photo description available.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Monday, April 22, 2019

Well, I think My Grace the goose is Goose the Guy

We have been waiting to see if the goose would lay an egg. We are beginning to realize that My Grace is most likely a My Lord, or a guy. I think she-he would have laid by now. When the goose arrived, the former owner thought it was a girl, but said she was no expert in vent checking geese...who is? I did attempt to research it and spent a short bit of time examining the vent but didn't see anything or feel anything that supposedly made she a he.

But, I am no goose vent expert...again who is?

I also began to think she was a he when she-he gravitated to females–Birdie, Marcella, Rosie. She-he seemed uninterested in the new male llama, and even got a cow kick out of him.

I don't care what sex she-he is, I love the goose. We have worked out the current arrangement in a way that suits many. Goose spends nighttime in the barn, safe, and sleeps with Henneth the blind chicken, Sir Tripod Goat and Else. Sometimes Opie is in the mix, but of late, she-he has gone after Opie at breakfast. During the day, the goose goes outside, but stays on the opposite side of the fence where Marcella is. This allows she-he to be safe from hawks and eagles-I hope-but also hang out with the three goats, and also have Marcella access through the fence. Marcella and she-he were getting along, but Marcella can be really aggressive around food which his a Maremma trait, and even though I separated her at feeding, if there was one kernel of food left she would snap at the goose. I just didn't want any trouble. Sometimes I put she-he in there so she can play in the puddles. She-he also doesn't get along with the male ducks.

In fact she-he is an independent mover and shaker. I suppose I will have to get him a wading pool for the warmer months. She-he seems very content, and when the goats come in at night, there she-he is, I don't have any trouble out of him.

I admit I still look for the golden egg...Earnest would love them.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Our Easter wish for all

All of us are wishing you a joyful Easter, a time of renewal and rebirth in so many ways. No matter what is going on in the world, or your life, I hope you can find things that bring you that sense of renewal that Easter is all about.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Inspired by floating llama and grounded ones

"Upside Down World" {available through studio, contact me}
Yesterday this came out of me. I found it so tender, and sat back and felt comfort from it. I still hurt from the loss of Birdie but the life around me carries me on. The new llamas are so very different than Birdie, in every way, color, personality...everything. There are moments that is a sad thing, then I snap out of it, that is most likely Birdie above, or my guides reminding me how lucky I am to be working with all these beautiful creatures everyday!

I was pleased with this too because I captured, if you look closely, the teeth of the old girl [some are suggesting I name her Kukla, which I thought of too, but it doesn't suit her, she is like a gargoyle on a skyscraper and needs something to fit that]. I also caught the tiny wisp of white on the boy's top notch, and his sweet legs with puffy hair and how he stands. It's amazing how they get in you if you have an open door.

I have worked him on the halter daily since his Sunday arrival. Today he showed more 'I am me' attitude but is learning the right distance to stay from me. We also worked on him just standing calmly while I sat a couple feet from him. I worked today on dragging a tarp around with him, to help him be used to odd sounds and sensations. I also took him into the orchard to meet the crippled Misfits, and the goose. The goose came over, the boy put his nose down, the goose got a bit nosey, and bam, he got a cow kick. No harm done. But the goose shows no signs of interest in him which does not surprise me. He has been very happy in the front barn with Tripod and Else, and then can be near Marcella outside during the day.

So, stay tuned as llama Love grows here. It will be some work but if I brought someone here today and sat them on a bench I know the boy could do the job, but we will keep working together to give him confidence and let him grow to partner with me. I don't want to rush him. He has so much to see and learn here.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Two of the new llamas arrive, Birdie On!

First steps into Apifera
We made the long drive on Sunday to bring two of the group of llamas back to Apifera. I will tell you that it was nice to see the Berkshires in the distance, but more than a few times we laughed that we had no idea how we made that 5 day journey three years ago from Oregon and survived! Our older bones were sore!

But it was worth it and the meet up at a designated exit off I 90 went off smoothly.

This is an exciting time for Apifera. After a year and a half of becoming a non profit, I feel so good about how our mission to help animals and elder people is really jelling. We are getting more known, thanks in part to the monthly article I write for the paper, but also because it is a small, vibrant community of people that are interested in what we are doing, and word travels. I feel really good about the coming months and am so excited to get my elders here to meet the new animals.

I have not named them yet. The older female was really loved, and I know the farm thought good and hard about all this. I'm grateful they took so much time to understand my needs. We decided the young male-he is 5 months-would do better with an older llama around, and since she is retired and had her last babies, she became that llama. She is 19. No spring chicken and I really hope she can live another few years at least. Llamas can live well into their 20's but 19 is considered old. Aldo came to us back west at 19 but was not in good shape ad he lived another couple years. This lady is in very good shape, good weight, strong, gentle, good teeth too. Her pastures have fallen, just like with Aldo, but she gets around well. She has this cute front tooth thing going on, like Kukla the puppet.

The little guy is so great! He has hardly been haltered but is doing great with that, and today I did his first bit of lead training. The most crucial part of working with him will also be a challenge-at least initially- and that is not to 'love on him' too much. Obviously, the first thing I wanted to do was hold him like I did Birdie. But because he is an intact male, and can't be gelded until he is at least 1.5 years, he has to be given clear boundaries, for my safety, and his well being. You can find all sorts of stories of people who bring home a cute fluffy camelid, intact, love on it like a puppy and all of a sudden when it gets a bit more mature it begins to act in a dominant way-jumping up, even biting like young males do in a herd. It is a lot like training a young colt, or Maremma. I can pet him, even kiss him every so often, but right now, I am teaching him that I set the boundaries. When we walk, he can not lean into me [like he is in this sweet pic, which he is doing for reassurance]. As much as I'd love him to lean into me, he needs to learn there is a boundary between him and me. It's kind of like a kid that loves to hug, but as he gets older didn't learn that you don't run up and jump into someone's lap without being invited.

At the same time, he needs to be exposed to sounds and situations, and he seems to be a great fit for therapy. I will be challenging him as we go forward, making him go into rooms, across a bridge, over buckets, etc, just to show him I can be trusted and we can go anywhere and be safe.

Having said all that, he has beautiful eyes, and lashes, and adorable legs. His color is like a slate blue. his fiber is gorgeous.

The female is gentle and calm. She is more personable than Aldo was. We did not think she will be a star therapy llama, but you never know. But her role is to relax and retire and be a role model for the little guy.

Then, we are waiting for another of the llamas to have her cria [baby] in late May or June. I hope its a girl! We will be bringing the mother and baby back her a few weeks after she gives birth. As exciting as it was to maybe have a birth here, we all decided it was much better for all concerned, especially the llamas, to have the baby there where she feels safe. Once born, cries and mamas can travel without problems.

When I got to the barn this morning-I had left them inside barn, for safety at this point-I knocked. That amused me-there I was lightly knocking to alert them. All was well and they ate well which is good. It was just so cool seeing llamas in there. I had two sensations-excitement and joy they were there...and the realization Birdie was not. But later, I realized it was meant to be that I found llamas that are dark colored, and so unlike her. Because. That is why, because.

I also had a beautiful moment where I felt Birdie's spirit. After I had walked the young male, I returned to the barn, and decided to turn on some classical music for their first real day at Apifera. They have access to the pasture, but can come into the barn of course. I stood looking out one of the front doors, and could see the two llamas in the distance, and the empty barn in front of me, with the music playing just like it had for Birdie. I felt her spirit, like she was telling me,

"Okay, good first step, keep it up."

Friday, April 12, 2019

Pre-Order "Goose & Llama"

I'm so excited to share this little story book I made in honor of Goose & Llama, and now you can preorder it.

For every 50 I sell, $500 goes into the barn fundraiser. 

The story is told in the voice of the goose. It is 33 pages of story, photographs and a bit of art. I felt that I needed to do more to memorialize their beautiful relationship, and I also felt my followers, after the shock of it all, might also be comforted by this little story.

The book is a soft cover, on premium paper, and is 8.5 x 11, 33 pages.The $35 price includes USA shipping. INT'L orders will need to pay at least $35 range more for shipping.

Monday, April 08, 2019

New Misfits arrive - introducing Jim Bob and Rosco

Rosco on the left, Jim Bob on the right
They landed yesterday after a long journey from their home they had lived their entire lives. Such sweet boys! They were a bit overwhelmed with all the new sounds and chaos-since the goose immediately started honking because Marcella started barking and when Marcella barks, Goose goes on high alert. The poor chaps had not been around dogs let alone geese.

They were well taken care of. In fact, it is sort of a sad story. The family who loved them so much decided they could not care for them because there was a very difficult ongoing health situation, and they had to downsize, keeping only the oldest goat and an old pony with special needs. They were a really sweet family and I tried to reassure her that she was doing the right thing. I think she was reassured, and grateful. But it is a hard decision and I feel badly for what they are going through.

So they are very friendly and sweet –they just need time to settle in and get used to all the activity. They lived in a more remote and isolated barn. In fact they are a bit chubby which is great! Usually elders arrive to me thin and neglected but these two have been well cared for. I really think Rosco might enjoy elder visits so time will tell.

I've been taking short breaks to sit with them and talk to them. This morning Jim Bob was so startled at the barking dog he ran to me! So sweet. So Jim Bob might look like a monkey - and in time I think his real personality will emerge-but he is a softie.

We are grateful we could help this family, and we get beautiful spotted goats in return...they will be well loved.

{Do you like our work here with elder people and animals? Consider a donation to help us, thank you.}

This morning they met Ollie and gang

Photobombed by the goose!