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.





Wednesday, September 11, 2019

It's all connected, you can't have love in a body forever or the spirit would die


You can not separate love from loss. You can not ask for the night to be shorter and still want ripe tomatoes. You can not ask for a life to never end or you are also asking the stream to end before its destination to the ocean.

It's all connected.

You don't get life without death...ever.

You can't ask the spirit to stay in its earthly vehicle or you may as well ask a song to stay in a bird. I've never heard of anyone asking,

"Please, Bird, keep your song in, if it means you will never die."

Every day, things are dying–the bugs I hit with my car window as I drive, the insects below my feet, the old women and men and young ones too, the soldiers, the starving, the sick...and dogs, and animals, and friends...and pugs.

I do not look at my life here at Apifera as a series of losses. I don't analyze the months and think,

This has been a year of losses, please stop

because attrition begins in the womb...the biggest loss of all is at birth-we lose that life of floating freely, protected, loved, anticipated before anyone calls us fat or too old or weird.

My last conversation with the old pug...he spoke clearly


Hughie came into my life when he was going on nine. He was totally blind and one eyed. I knew his time with us would be shorter than getting a pup...but every day of his 4.5 years with us was a blessing.

I woke yesterday with a lot on the agenda, but I really didn't think it would be the last day of Hughie's life. I had to be in town early to take Martyn's truck in-he needed all new brakes which had rusted in the Maine ocean air since he doesn't drive it much in winter-so I spent three hours at the library proofing the upcoming White Dog book.

When I got home, I decided to try to get an X-ray for Hughie and was able to get an afternoon appointment. I've been back and forth for a week to the vet because of Hughie's health. Last Wednesday he showed early symptoms of spinal issues and pain-something common in pugs and something he has suffered from twice since we got him at age 9. He is now 13.5. I did not want to be without meds so got him into the vet right away. We put him on pain meds and anti inflammatories immediately and also gave him a shot for immediate relief. I saw some improvement and was hopeful...briefly.

The last time he had this, he bounced back in a couple days. This time his symptoms kept evolving, and it became clear it was more neurological. And he had this strange thing going on in his throat. So on Monday I went in to get more drugs, without Hughie, and ran into my vet and we chatted. We decided to keep him on the meds longer, and do an X-ray when I could get him in to see if we could figure out what this lung/thing was. And that's why I went in yesterday afternoon, to get the X-ray.

But when I carried Hughie to the car, I told him no matter what happened at the vet, it was going to be okay.

I was willing to see an xray, but my heart and instinct told me...he might not come home with me.

When I got to the vet, and he walked in to do the X-ray, I kind of broke down. I told him I wasn't sure if keeping him alive now was the right thing, even for another week of meds. He got down on the floor with Hughie in front of me and assessed him again, he was clearly in pain and showing neurological signs. An MRI would mean a 4 hour trip and having him put to sleep, and there was no point in an MRI if I wasn't willing to do surgery, and I was not. I was very clear on that in my heart. He is old, and the surgery is not a sure bet that what is causing the spinal issue can be fixed. He had hard enough time with dental surgery recovery. The vet agreed with this assessment.

As we talked...I just knew it was time. I had asked the skies to help me be clear when I went in, and they were. So...the vet went to get the medicines to put him down, and I held Hughie as he sat on the table.

And that is when we had our last conversation.

Hughie usually kissed me "goodnight", because I would carry him up on the couch each night to watch TV and at bedtime I'd hold his smoosh face and he'd kiss me, then I'd carry him to his crate. But I wouldn't say he was a smoochy kind of dog. So that is why this last conversation was poignant.

As I waited for the vet, I talked to Hughie and told him what a wonderful journey we had together here, and now he was the one that had to journey on without me, but I told him to look for Huck. He kissed me. Then I told him I was sorry, and he kissed me. I told him I could not see him be in pain anymore, and I felt I had to help him on this journey. And he just kissed and kissed me, slowly, very gently. It was not like him to do this much, but I truly believe he was thanking me, and telling me,

It is OKAY. I am okay. Please don't feel badly, thank you for doing this.

I suppose someone will tell me it was salt in my tears he liked. But Hughie never kissed me when I had salty lips from ketchup or even chicken.

I brought Hughie home to bury him, but was so tired emotionally I wrapped him in a blanket and lay him on the couch. That night, I told Martyn I wanted to watch television with him one last time. This is not like me, I am pretty resilient about death, and find the burial procedure helpful, and beautiful really-the full circle of a life in my hands as I cover it in beautiful Mother Earth. I think I knew his time was coming all week and had some conversations already with Martyn and the vet, and Hughie, but I had not quite accepted it was here, on that given day...I just wanted one more night to have my left hand on his little pug bowling ball head, rubbing his soft ears. His body was still pretty warm.

Martyn was up before dawn and dug me a hole in my hollyhock bed. I buried him without fanfare after morning chores-morning chores that were full of living and breathing charges. AS usual, I told everyone as I did chores that Hughie was gone. I spent time with Marcella. And when I was out with the equines, Pino stood five feet from me, away from the herd, just staring at me. I was too tired to sit with him. But I know he was acknowledging my sadness, that is Pino.

And so, once again, I am pugless for the second time. But Hughie is okay.


Last Christmas



Sunday, September 08, 2019

Two redheads...sort of


The staff at Horses With Hope took this cute pic of me and Captain Sparkle right before I brought him to Apifera. I hate pics of myself but I thought we were sort of a cute pair, a bit stocky and sturdy in build with red hair, or mine used to be that beautiful flaming red.

Captain Sparkle is doing well, even though The Teapot is bossy pants about everything. I am sharing myself with both of them. He also adores Boone and has nose meetings with him on the fencing.

The donkeys also like to play the "Stand Really Still And Keep Your Eye On The Guy" in the Mask game.

Friday, September 06, 2019

The intuitive work of a little goat


Opie has had a busy week, which I guess means I have had a busy week. On Thursday we visited Cove's Edge which is an elder residence, dementia home and rehab facility for short stay patients. They have a beautiful walled in, large courtyard perfect for animal therapy gatherings. I was really happy to meet their manager and she is beyond thrilled we can begin to come for visits.

I decided to just take Opie since I had no volunteer for the day. There were about 30 residents that came, and staff, and I guess some even left lunch early because they had all been hearing that Opie was going to visit!

We met some wonderful folks and Opie was his usual calm and collected self. And he sniffed out some people in real need of love. I have seen this happen repeatedly with Opie, as well as other natural healers-Pino, Birdie, White Dog to name some. The manager whispered in my ear to go over with Opie to a particular resident. I am not privy to medical issues/details with these folks, due to HIPPA laws, but I am guessing this woman who was in her 50's had had a stroke, I don't know. She was very gentle and had difficulty speaking or moving. Opie put his head in between her knees and stood quietly with her, and then I also lifted him up so she could pet him more easily.

And then I took him around to the other guests, and there were so many lovely encounters, like with Ernie, the retired farmer who Opie also took a shine too. There were some people who had goats in younger years. Usually I let Opie choose where to go [he is on a harness] and so when we were all the way at the opposite of the patio, about 30 feet from the initial woman we met, I said to the manager, 'Let's see where he wants to go,"

...and he deliberately walked back to the woman in need. He buried his head into her knees. This act of comfort was repeated several more times in our visit. The care manager was really moved by this, as was I even though I see it in action all the time.

I am not a scientist or theologian or whisperer. But I do know the power of innate empathy which all animals are capable of, some more than others. People are too, but in my opinion humans started using their brain more than their innate senses way back, and here we are with most people unaware of innate sensitivities some people and animals have.

The other interesting thing that happened was that when we went to leave-and we were there about an hour and a half which is a long visit for Opie-I tugged him to go. Usually after a good hour he lets me know he is worn out and ready to go, but this day, he locked his four feet and leaned into the person he was visiting. I encouraged him more forcefully to come with me, and he did, but then he stopped to see another person-all of them were in wheelchairs-and leaned into them.

For whatever reasons, I sense that Opie has deep connections there. There was a lot of energy flowing that is for sure. I was really proud of him, really proud of our day.

We will be making regular visits, and also other animals will join the mix.

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Tuesday, September 03, 2019

$50 art? Help us pay off the barn addition!

OK. If you follow my art you know I rarely do sales but my goal is to sell this first batch of 100+ sketches/doodles at the very low rate of $50 each-my goal is to pay off the remaining $15,000 barn addition [I had raised $4000 early in spring]. I know, that's a lot of $50's.

Over 100 items and more coming - visit now

I did not do a major fundraiser for the addition because there were so many other financial needs for the animals, and I felt it was too much for me to raise both. So I took out a loan, not pleasant or ideal, but had to be done. My goal is to pay this off ASAP due to the interest rate.

There si something for everyone-hula hooping pigs, chubby ponies in snowsuits, tulips and puppies...and more. I actually love doodles and raw sketches, and in a frame, as my mother used to say, "anything looks better" [Thanks, Mom].

Visit the sale >