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

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





Thursday, October 31, 2019

Ollie wants to be Ringo....and Halloween outfit challenges


I hear the sound of little feet rushing, and a piece of paper is slipped under the front door lands at my feet. I know what this means. A group request is being expressed by the barnyard. Less urgent requests are verbally brought up at feedings and barn visits.

The paper showed a list of “Requested Halloween Outfits”.

I sighed. I made the mistake of partaking in a small holiday parade at our old farm out west, in which I dressed as a character from one of my favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz. I was a witch and one of the donkeys was at my side, dressed as a flying monkey.

It took a lot of time to make the outfits, but I have to say it was fun, and it made me think of my mother who every year would make me a witch outfit. I was always a witch and my mother took her job as seamstress seriously. Those were the good old days back in the early ‘60’s when as children we could walk all over the neighborhood, in the dark, unencumbered by adults with the spooky sound of blowing leaves swirling at our feet. There was no fear of razors in apples then, or drive by shootings or getting kidnapped. We weren’t forced to pose for anyone’s Instagram feed and we could eat stuff we weren’t supposed to.

So I guess making outfits for a bunch of Misfits in the barnyard somehow fulfilled this yearning for a simpler time, when candy bars were full size, my mother was alive, and all I needed was a good witch outfit.

The list that had been slipped under the door was actually very simple this year, I was relieved. Five of the animals wanted to be ghosts, another group wanted to be spiders. Earnest the pig wanted to be his hero, E.B.White, and Paco the donkey wanted to be an apple. One of the littlest members of the barnyard, Opie the goat, wanted to be a song, and Ollie the goat wanted to be one of The Beatles.

“How do you know The Beatles?” I asked Ollie the next day.

“Jim Bob has a transistor radio,” Ollie said. Jim Bob was another one of the resident goats.

“Well, who knew?” I said another my breath. “Which Beatle do you want to be?” I asked Ollie.

“Ringo,” he said.

“And I want to be the song “Yellow Submarine”!” said little Opie.

I walked around doing chores that morning wondering how I’d pull it off this year, it was clearly a creative challenge. But as I watched all the goats play that day, unencumbered by the weight of the world and all the scary things we all face each day as adults, I thought of my mother. Just as I was thinking how I could make a little goat into The Yellow Submarine, she must have always wondered how she could make that witch outfit even better that year….just to make me happy.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Opie's Love Mobile!

While Opie and I were visiting Cove's Edge the other day, I told my contact that it would be helpful to have something Opie could stand in, which would make it easier for some residents to pet him. Almost all the people we encounter there are wheelchair bound and many are very fragile or not limber, so I often will lift Opie up off his front feet and hold him while they pet him.

So how about a wagon, we thought? And that wagon could also be used to roll Opie around inside too. The setup there is perfect for a cart. This way we can see some of the real bed bound people, or others who might be shy. My contact was excited and so was I.

I immediately came home to research wagons and after a couple days of research found a brand with a good reputation. And one that Martyn can add some height to, and it is made of wood. And it's red! Martyn will be able to help me tweak it too if it isn't quite right. So then, my wonderful followers got onboard and we raised money to make this happen. I just ordered it and I'm really excited.I'm so grateful to these Apifera Angels, many who come through time and again.

Opie wonders about bucket seats, or a radio. I told my contact we could bring his chicken too, maybe, and she loved that.

So, another way to share Opie love.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Acquire an animal versus helping an animal


I have a sentence tacked to my office wall: "Are you acquiring an animal, or are you helping an animal? Does this animal work with your mission or does it simply give you a rush of excitement of something new"

I wrote this while I was struggling with the decision of taking on another equine, which in the end I did. It would be easy to fill the farm up with animals. Over the 15+ years I've been doing this, I've seen others take too much on, or for misguided reasons [this of course was my take on their choices]. I think that is another reason adopting Honey in took me some time to consider it. I know I did the right thing for her, and for Apifera and our mission. But, I get a lot of requests and that sentence helps me stop and consider our mission here. I am not a rescue that rehomes animals, I am no a petting zoo, and while we do take on some youngsters, those youngsters [ie Opie] fit into our mission of animal work and therapy. I can't be everything to everyone. I am on a mission. I like to think its selfless. Maybe that's arrogant sounding. But I do ponder things deeply.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The muse is back

"Red Boots, Yellow Mittens" on watercolor paper

I am entering my time. Art time. More time in the studio because spurts in the studio might bring nice things, but one needs strung out time in the studio to let things develop further. So I was pleased with the last day and a half of studio time, back listening to music, the bunny at my feet...I post art here but more rapidly on Instagram as I finish things, then they go on the shop. So if you follow here to see art, you might want to follow Instagram. If you ever see anything you are interested in here or on IG, reach out to me and I'll share price and details.

"Woman with Holes" on paper
"Last Apples and Chestnuts" on paper
"Pam's World"


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Earnest the pig wants a grilled cheese sandwich...from King Eider's


{"Tailes & Tales" is a monthly article I write for the Lincoln County News. I post the articles a couple of weeks after they appear in the paper. This was last month's.}


“I would prefer a grilled cheese sandwich, like the one you gave me a bite of last week,” Earnest the pig said as I handed him some animal crackers a follower had sent.

You see, some weeks ago, Martyn and I went to King Eider’s with a visiting friend. We rarely go out, but when we do, Eider’s is our go-to place. I’ve become hooked on the grilled cheese sandwich with cucumber, two cheeses and red peppers on rustic bread. It’s not something I eat at home and it is a wonderful twist on a simple sandwich. I pour over the menu, tempted by so many items, but lately I still go to that darn grilled cheese sandwich. Well, the last time, I had a filling soup too, so brought home a half of my sandwich. The next day, I warmed it up, ventured out to the barnyard and sat with Earnest while I enjoyed my beloved sandwich.

“Do you want a bite, Earnest?” I asked.

“It smells appealing,” the pig said, and he swallowed a morsel. I finished the half but left him another bite.

“I am sorry it’s all gone. I would have preferred my own full portion, cut diagonally,” Earnest said.

Back to the present...I handed him more animal crackers, and he ate them, but looked unsatisfied.

“Earnest, I rarely go out to eat like that, so that grilled cheese sandwich I shared with you was a special treat,” I told the pig.

“That’s very disappointing,” he said. “Surely they deliver?”

“Earnest, I don’t think they deliver, especially to pigs,” I said.

Well the next day all I could think about was that grilled cheese sandwich. I had no time to go to lunch on a whim, but whipped up a simple grilled cheese sandwich, and took it out to share with Earnest.

“The bread is not as rustic or crispy,” the pig said. “Perhaps your griddle wasn’t hot enough.”

“I don’t have a griddle, Earnest,” I said.

“There are no peppers in it, and only one rather bland cheese,” he said, but he ate it anyway, and returned to his hut.

A few days later, I was cleaning Earnest’s hut, re-fluffing his sky high straw bed to ensure his pigly comfort. And there in the corner under the straw was a local phone book, ear marked at ‘restaurants’ with a mark by King Eider’s.

I want to assure the staff of King Eider’s that Earnest the pig does not have a phone, nor can he drive.

{Neither woman nor pig were paid to write such a glowing review but I encourage my readers to go to Eider’s and order our beloved grilled cheese sandwich.}

Friday, October 18, 2019

New 120 page photo book now available!

"Healers & Misfits" is now available in either hard cover or soft cover. It is 120 pages of my photographs in a large 8 x 11" format, beautifully printed, with 220 photographs. This is such a beautiful collection, if I may say so, it just makes me feel so many things for Apifera and this life here. I hope it will bring many of you the same feeling.

When you order, it does take a couple of weeks for me to ship. But if you need a quicker turnaround I can add on extra shipping. Just let me know and i will give you estimates.

Here are some sample spreads.







Tuesday, October 15, 2019

I guess my pink bubble suit had a tiny leak...

I was recently contacted by someone who was having health issues, as was her husband. In fact, they were diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, and their adult son died of it two years ago. Times were difficult and getting harder both physically and financially. She left me a message but the cell phone was garbled. So I did not respond as there was no name or number or clear message. About a week later they showed up unannounced at my gate. You all know I frown on pop-ins, but even though I was already in for the afternoon, in my pj bottoms, I looked out and saw them, a couple in their 70's, and figured it might be them. When I opened the gate I was confronted by their sad story, and it is sad. Getting old is hard enough even in the best circumstances but with added medical and financial issues, it is hard. There was emotion in her voice, and the man retreated to the car-because his condition did not allow him to stand long and it was painful. I felt they were genuine people.

Now, I was in no way wanting to take on another equine. Old Matilda will need my care, Boone is turning 22 and the ponies are old too. Equines come with foot care and teeth care and handling care. But I listened to her story, told her I probably could not help her out, but would try to help somehow. You see, the horse was 28, and they were faced with possibly putting her down. They wanted an answer soon for logistic reasons. I had my event coming up, and told her I would do my best to call her in a week.

That time came and went. I was overwhelmed with work, and then I got a bit of a flu or something. I did not call her. But she called me. We talked again. I tried in my head and heart to separate out what was her responsibility, and what my duty was to my animals and farm. I always ask myself with a new animal: am I helping the animal or is it simply an animal acquisition. The woman had a bad experience years ago, where she rehired a horse and in a round about way, it was sold, and then sold for meat. She did not want that to happen. I assured her that would not happen here, but that I could say yes or no at this point to taking the horse. And I wanted to make sure in my mind, that maybe the horse did need to be put down.

There are worse things than putting your old horse down, one you have cared for for over 20 years. The horse had been bought when she was about 8, she was now 28. The woman felt she was being an executioner, because the only reason she was considering euthanasia was because she herself was not healthy. But the process was dragging on and it was clearly causing strife in the household.

So...I went over on Sunday to see the horse, telling her I wasn't sure I could help. I went over with open eyes, trying to investigate all the facts and feel for the real story. I'm not saying anyone was misleading me, I just had on my pink bubble suit-again, what was my responsibility if anything to this animal, and this person.

The horse was clearly old. Sometimes people tell me an animal is old but it really isn't, they just want me to take it. The horse was quite calm, and seemed to like me immediately. I mean, I felt an instant call out from her, like, "Can you help?". I found lots of tick bites and embedded ticks. The woman had been unable to tend to the horse for awhile. I helped her get the ticks out. I don't want to give too many details, but I felt I needed to adopt her. So I said I would. They had been doing the best for the horse that they could in their situation. And the horse is not thin.

We went to get her yesterday. I have more to say on this but not now, to be honest, I just need to...not feel what I felt yesterday for awhile. I just want to get to know Honey, the new addition to Apifera. After the night in a paddock where she had nose visits with equines, I let her out with Luna and Lucy and she has the equines in the other pasture to visit at the fence. The vet is coming this week. I'm betting she has Cushings judging by her coat. Her feet have been cared for but she will need updated shots and a teeth check.

She is settling in. But there is mystery to this story, I know, I just don't want to explore that here, in writing. I'm happy we can help her, and help an older couple who clearly need help. It was a good fit for our mission which also swayed me. The woman was still concerned that if something went wrong, or changed, that the horse would not be sold. I had given her a specific contract stating everything to reassure her, but she still brought it up as we were loading the horse. I was losing some patience as I'd spent a lot of time on the entire situation, and listened over and over to her story, which was truly sad. And it could be any of us, at any time.

Martyn and I were both feeling drained from the experience. There were a lot of angles to this story that have nothing to do with a horse, but instead, with life, and aging, and family, and the luck of the draw...My feeling as I sipped my wine by the fire was...I just want to be me now, at this age now, for this time now...and be old when I'm old. I felt I got washed over with someone else's age and sadness and hard times...even though I had on my pink bubble suit [it must have had a leak].

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Autumnal llamas

I have been so busy with business things and then late week felt a bug coming on so stayed inside doing office things. We managed to drive a bit today as we had to get a tractor part and saw leaves-gorgeous! But what is even more gorgeous are the dark llamas in front of fall color, don't you think?

So, there are lots of photos at the IG site. I'm just too tired to write at length!



Wednesday, October 09, 2019

The old shop is closed, the new one is the place to go

I officially closed the Etsy shop. All my books, art, prints and other goodies are now for sale at the NEW SHOP. There is so much to browse through so if you have any questions, just let me know.

I also offer a payment plant for the original paintings. I need to add that option to the original painting section, but if that is of interest just let me know. I require payment in 3 monthly installments, no interest is charged. If you decide you can't finish payments for some reason, there is no refund but money can be applied to other items for up to a year.

Lots going on her creatively, so stay tuned. There will be a photo book of over 60 pages coming in time for holiday giving, and the first of the year the new White Dog memoir will be open to pre-sales. I also am offering the Goose & Llama tribute book at the shop too since so many people were asking for it again.

A portion of net sales from the shop goes to Apifera at the end of my accounting year. When you buy at the shop, your purchase IS NOT tax deductible. When you make a donation to Apifera Farm Inc, no matter where, it is fully tax deductible.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

What a day, so wonderful

Misfit Love Day 2019 was a huge success on so many levels. We had a steady turnout all day, we had many newcomers, we had a woman drive all the way from NYC just for the event, we had one of our favorite guests come again this year–David who is 102–I almost cried when I saw him coming in. He is a wonder and loves the animals, taking slow deliberate strokes when he meets an animal.

I am tired but just wanted to post these pics. It is difficult taking photos while holding a llama or a pay, and I always feel my main job is to be present so I don't have that many.

Once again, my volunteers were super, and we think we had a t least 100+ people. All ages came and the children were delighted and well behaved. We all agreed that every one who has come to our events are just nice people! And we made -I think_at least $2,000 which is the best we've done at a fundraiser.

And Harry made his debut and was super. He has a fan following now! The trailer worked perfect for it, not tress for him or me that way. Then I brought Arlo out for two walk arounds so he got a workout and di fine. It was a lot for him to take in so I gave him breaks. White Dog proved to be a favorite, and I had him in a stall but we decided next year he will have his own little 'Sit with White Dog' paddock so people can be with him. I couldn't let him be free, it could have proven chaotic. he loves the people though–I can't tell you how many people came and told me about White Dog. I brought Captain Sparkle out just to test the waters and it was a lot for him to take in, so we made it a short 15 minute visit. The goats ran free with the people as did the donkeys and people love that. People always tell me how peaceful it it.

And more importantly, people understand what we are doing and appreciate it and told me-tht means so much. I feel very optimistic as we head into next year.

David came last year and is 102 this year
Harry's debut was a hit

As usual Arlo posed like  a super model

So happy that Roscoe and Jim Bob were so loved and vice versa

And Uno! He now has a fan club and gave belly rubs all day

This is Cora, I considered keeping her-she's a redhead

Thursday, October 03, 2019

If you open a space, they will come to you, they will shift

Captain Sparkle leans into my guest
I wanted to write about this before I get swept up in the next days of the annual event [on Saturday]. Some beautiful encounters took place in the last couple days. I can say this is a daily thing here, but sometimes even I am reminded of the intuitive skills of nature and animals [and humans if we can recognize it and practice it].

Yesterday friends came to visit for the morning all the way from Oregon. It was so great to take time with them, since they knew Apifera out west from the onset, and actually delivered several Misfits to me to help out, including goats and dear sweet Hughie. But what was even more special for me was to see how some of the animals responded to the visit. I was surprised but also delighted that of all the current animals, I never thought Captain Sparkle would show such camaraderie with a guest. I've only had him out with strangers once as you know, and he did fine, but was a bit sidetracked since we were in a strange place. So when we stepped into his paddock where he lives with Arlo and The Teapot, we we all so happy to see that he almost immediately went up to my friend Lisa and leaned into her. He was so quiet and calm, and even started napping. He stood there the entire time. I felt a real shift in him in the last week or so. I think he definitely understands now that he is safe, and that I am the leader and protector against the boss pants, aka The Teapot. Captain Sparkle just swept me away on this visit, and I knew that in time, this little chap will evolve his purpose here, and get great reciprocal healing from it.

There was also an exciting–for me–shift with Harry. We went into the new barn addition to hang out with the donkeys and Harry, and we probably stood there for a half hour or more chatting. Within time, Harry started coming over to me. Harry is not scared or mean, he is still just ungrounded here, but he has begun to recognize my role here. My friend noticed he was paying close attention to me [wow, someone really listens to me].

It dawned on me that the way to put this into words...is that when we give the animals space, they can feel comfortable making their own intuitive response. If you back a horse into a corner and he doesn't trust you, it's dangerous and scary for the horse; if you give that horse space to understand the situation, he responds more calmly. 

I realized that having some people there that I was focused on, allowed Harry to feel more open to exploring...me.

It was a shift.

And then this morning a heart in throat encounter. Many of you who follow along know the beautiful story of friendship between The Goose and Birdie the llama. He was with her through it all. And you know that The Goose seems to gravitate to those in need. I do not take his skill lightly. We all know that Else is very old and crippled and fading...but this morning when I came back from the outer barn, she had brought herself outside to sun, without my help. I squatted down to take a photo as Opie stood near her. And in seconds, The Goose came over to make sure things were as they should be. He preened her some, but not a lot, circled her, and they tilted their heads together for seconds.


The Goose checks on old Else

My friend Lisa gets a surprise visit from Harry

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Would you buy a book from this dog?


If you've ever been to one of our events, you know I kind of like signs. Our second annual Misfit Love Day is this Saturday and I finally figured out how to use the little hut we took from a dump site at one of Martyn's jobs. Someone made the little hut we think for a child-there is a cupboard inside, windows, remnants of wallpaper and a smoke stack for charm [I can assure you nobody built a fire in it].

Martyn saw the hut at his job site and laughed out loud to the crew that he better not show me a picture of it or I'd want it. He had planned to not tell me, but...well, he did, and when I saw it I of course knew it held all sorts of possibilities in it. And the thought that some little kid probably loved that little hut...well, now it would be brought back to purpose. When we went to pick it up at the job site, Martyn's boss was there with some crew and they all just chuckled when they saw him there showing me the hut. They helped us get it into the truck which was nice, and off we went. Then on the way home we stopped at the hardware store, and pulling out was another crew member who knew the whole story, and there we were like the Beverly Hillbillies with this hut on top of our truck-he was laughing.

So this little hut has a local history. I keep wondering if someone will show up Saturday and demand to take it back home. I'd be crushed. It is a small town, everyone seems to know everyone so who knows.

Anyway, it will greet people as they enter the pasture of free roaming Misfits, and it is a perfect bookstore. I opened the back door on it, and White Dog rushed in, it was so funny. He had no idea what to do once inside, as he fills it up, so he looks a bit..."Um, can you get me out of here, please?"

The weather appears to be holding well for Saturday. Either way, we will be here, as will our little Bookstore.