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

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. #EIN# 82-2236486

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©Katherine Dunn.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Earnest declares, "Sacrilege!"

{Photo 2016} This is the first year since 2004 on the farm when I haven't grown pumpkins. I have to say I don't like it at all but it was an unusual year with the barn addition which meant our garden was a bit transplaced and I just decided to let it go for one year aand oly do tomatoes and lettuce. Earnest is bereft.

"I don't understand, pumpkins come every year" he said.

"There was no room this year, the garden got moved, but next year the pumpkins will be back," I said.

"I don't know how that will feel, not to have pumpkins," Earnest said, and he walked back to his hut to nap.

I felt terrible. "I guess I can buy you one," I said.

"Sacrilege," said Earnest.

"I agree," I said.

"Oh well," said Earnest. "You're still doing Christmas decorations, aren't you. And the cookies."

"Yes," I assured him.

Which reminds me, I promised them all I'd decorate one of the apple trees so they could see it from the barn. I just hope they give up on the live nativity scene that we suffer through each year.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

I'm scattered...bare with me...Uno shows me the way

One week and it is our main annual event Misfit Love Day [Saturday October 5th, 11-3]. I am officially entering the all systems go and too many ideas and thoughts in my head stage of the pre-week-event. So bare with me if my posts are off until then...I am now torturing myself daily by watching weather forecast [which looks good at this point] and making lists and leaving the lists in various parts of the house which causes me to rewrite the lists. It's just the way I do it, it always seems to work out.

This year we have a very different mix of Misfits from last year. We have the two older llamas who are shier and more reserved and I have gone back and forth on how to arrange my paddocks for the day. The goats and donkeys will once again be out mingling with the people, the guests love that. Hopefully Ollie won't be too enthusiastic with love, as he is much taller now but he loves people. Earnest will be addressing guests from his private hut. Uno and the pigs will be in the paddock so people can meet them-with The Goose, which should be interesting. I could not have Goose out wandering, I know he'd be concerned with strangers coming and going and he'd try to protect me and everyone living creature. And the ponies will be with White Dog. I hate having to stall Marcella away, it really makes me sad-she is such a part of my daily life and we are a team, but she is too territorial which is her job and it would be hard on her, and me, and also could lead to problems-it would be her job to protect. So she has a place int he barn she is used to going, and sleeps there too and it will be fine. I have figured out a way to let Harry and Arlo partake in a way that won't give them too much stress. I want Harry to be part of the event, but he is still new here and I am not going to overwhelm the poor chap. I'll let you see how it works out with photos after the event.

I have some other things up my sleeve I'm trying this year.

Martyn said to me this afternoon as he saw me staring out into the field, "I can see the wheels turning."

So, I try to work hard and fast each day, and then take a cue from Uno, when it is time to go to bed, go to bed.

I hope I see some of you at the event. If you can't make it, please feel free to send us a donation if you like what we are doing for animal and human.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Harry...and his magnificent haircut arrives

Harry journeys from mountains to ocean, complete with prayer flags

On Tuesday I was up at 3:30 to do chores. We were on the road at 4:45 AM headed to the Berkshires, a 6+ hour drive. I told Martyn we were not going to do any 12+ hour round trips anymore to pick up animals...but...it was Harry, he was worth it. And, we got to see the Berkshires, and the leaves had started turning. We also got to meet Harry's owners and see their beautiful place [which by the way has a sweet little Air B&B where you can enjoy the area, but have llamas outside your window].

I had so many memories flashing though me as I drove the old familiar highways I knew from my time in college back in the late '70's. Seeing the road signs that could send me up to the Saratoga area where I spent some summers at school, or small towns in New York and Vermont of college friends...it got me to thinking of memories of long ago-like driving to Canton for freshman year with my parents, and we stopped at the old village historical site, that was jogged in my brain when I saw the road sign. And the mountains. I miss the mountains. I am very happy in Maine, I love the ocean, but...I have to say the mountains have always been kindred. The ocean is more like my inner womb I swam in as a pre-human. The mountains feel like a protecting wisdom all around me.

When I first saw Harry, he was standing next to another male herd mate. He was even more beautiful in person. He is very calm and loaded right up even though he'd never trailed. He rode in the trailer for 7 hours back to Maine, with the prayer flags hanging above him that followers sent for our 6 day journey from Oregon to Maine three years ago. I never took them down and it was nice to know they still send prayers for our travels.

It was dark enough when we got home that I opted to leave Harry in the trailer for the night. He was lying down when I went in to sit with him for a spell [llamas couch/lie down when they travel]. He has a very sweet expression. He listened intently. The time between picking an animal up-when they leave their home-and the arrival is always the most unsettling for me. I want the animal to know it will be ok, and I know Harry felt this. When we loaded him, his former owner took time to say his final goodbyes in the trailer...it was sweet. I truly believe that even though Harry knew this was different, the intention of his former owner was clear to him, and my intention was also clear to him.

The next morning, I brought Harry out. It reminded me of my favorite movie, The Wizard of Oz, as Dorothy opens the door and the b/w scenes turn to color. Llamas are naturally curious, and Harry had so much to see. He had lived in the same place his whole life, so this was a big day for him. I was pleased the The Goose didn't harass him-The Goose is protective of me and when new people come in, he usually runs to them [although he has never down this with elders, which I think is so intuitive]. He heard familiar sounds of donkeys and chickens, but he'd probably never seen pigs so that was pretty new for him.

When we go to the outer barn, I let him nose Arlo, but opted to put him in a stall where he could meet everyone though the fence-sheep, horse, donkeys, ponies, White Dog...and Luna and Lucy were introduced to him too, but he will not share a fence with them for obvious reasons. I did chores and decided to see how he did, and let him out to be with the docks and Boone. My animals know llamas, and there was no drama. I thought there would be more drama between Arlo and Harry at the fence line since they are both intact [which will change come spring] but there really wasn't.

For now, I'm letting him stay with the equines, he seems content. And I can still work with Arlo and keep him more focused on me in training...I will let them in together soon to see what happens, but all indications are it will be fine. Arlo is very content now I think, he has his little Misfit herd of ponies and White Dog at night...and me.

So, welcome, Harry. It will be much fun to see how you settle...will you like therapy sessions? We'll find out. No pressure, Harry. And maybe your purpose is to smile at us....who dos that remind you of?

Harry enters Apifera for the first time

Harry smiles...who does that remind you of?

Monday, September 23, 2019

Arlo expands

I took Arlo, Opie and Captain Sparkle to visit residents at Cove's Edge last Friday. I figured since Sparkle lives with Arlo, I'd bring him along and test the waters. Captain Sparkle did just fine, in that I tied him in the shay area and he was well behaved. I brought him over to meet people and he was a bit mouthy so that is something to work on, but he wasn't horrible and all in all he did just fine. He got a bit any. I will need to do 30 minute sit downs with him in the coming months.

Arlo did great, and this was his first real outing. He really likes it! He stands front and center like a super model, and then shared himself with everyone. He also met his first beard.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Another conversation with a chicken

Hazel the Wanderer arrived at Apifera last week after being picked up wandering on the road by a  good samaritan. After settling in a couple of days, she laid her first egg for us.

"Hazel, an EGGGGG! You laid an egg! AN EGG!" I said upon entering the barn this morning.

"Good grief, have you never seen an egg?" Hazel said.

"Well, of course, I am just thrilled you gifted us one," I told her.

"Gifted? They pop out no matter what, I have no say about it," the chicken said.

"Well, eggs are nature's perfect food, already in a handy carrying package of shell. You can bake 'em, eat em and give them to the pigs too. Thank you again, Hazel," I said as I left to do more chores.

Hazel wandered out to The Goose and Henneth the blind chicken.

"Is she always this excitable about eggs?" she asked.

"Oh yes, I can attest to this, she screamed so loud on my first egg I nearly had a heart attack," Henneth said.

Just then Opie ran by, and Ollie.

"And those two?" Hazel asked. "Are they always so happy?"

The Goose and Henneth nodded in a yes and the three returned to their morning pecking for bugs.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I was minding my own business....

You know the routine, I was minding my own business, intently working in the office when an email popped in asking me if I might be able to take in a chicken. She had been found wandering the road and a good Samaritan was giving her food for a few days when they finally could trap her. She clearly had been wounded in the head area. They took her home and she was living in a crate and they named her Hazel.

So sure, I took her on. She is a lovely lady, a Barred Rock just like some of our flock and she is quite tame. I held her last night and told her I wondered if somewhere out there is a little girl or boy who lost their pet chicken? She had wounds on her head, which the samaritans doctored. Hard to know what got her, maybe a young coon that couldn't finish the job, who knows.

She is acclimating to her new environs. I put her in the private care unit in Henneth and Opie's area, where she could be by the hen hut, but safe. Well, Little Big Man went wild, stomping and strutting his 1# little man body. Good grief. The next day, I tried letting the door stay open and let Henneth wander in. Fight. Henneth started it but since she is blind I can understand but I was sort of surprised.

So the next day, I let Hazel out with The Goose and Henneth where she was in a fenced area pretty much with trees to hide in and this is where Henneth and The Goose wander. It gave her more room and Henneth was less threatened. I think it will be fine. To be honest, I'm hoping she and Henneth get friendly, then again Henneth has a pretty good life and doesn't have to deal with Little Big Man. I think my rooster days are over once he is gone. I just want my girls to be in peace. Since they don't free range anymore, there really isn't a need for a roo. Out West, we never really had rooster issues, and I loved my roos. Its just a different set up here. If somebody came along who loved Seabrights, I'd rehome him but until that might happen he is my responsibility.

The Goose keeping track of the new arrival

Monday, September 16, 2019

Misfit Love Day 2019 is almost here

It's coming up fast! This is our only day of being open to the public and it is to share what we are doing with helping animals and elder people. It is free, but it is a fundraiser so please give as generously as you can. For the past two years we have not charged for any of our elder visits, nor do we take any salary.
More info>

I hope to see some of my followers!

Saturday, October 5, 2019
Rain or Shine
315 Waldoboro RD, Bremen
Please do not bring pets-they will not be allowed in
Children must be chaperoned or we will toss them in with Earnest the pig

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.

If you like our work here, please consider a donation

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 >