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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

An insult to my work , my heart and my animals

Rather than saying 'adopt don't shop" I prefer to say, 'Help a creature or human in need". I think it is great to adopt animals out of shelters or rescues-I think my track record shows that. But I am not someone who will judge another human being for finding a good breeder to buy the dog of their choosing-for whatever reasons. A few weeks ago someone unsubsribed from my newsletter and cancelled her monthly $20 donation she had paid since last year, writing a note to tell me she would not be supporting our organization further because I am buying a dog from a breeder. She went on to say, quote, "There are many purebred Labrador puppies in rescue/shelter situations that need you. Breeders are useless and greedy." I thanked her for her past support, and also thanked her for taking her energy elsewhere. I wonder if this person and others like her decline going to baby showers if the person didn't adopt, but insted bred their child.

I have had wonderful creatures in my life, some from shelters, rescues and many from breeders. While I would never support a puppy mill or large scale breeder, I value the breeders I've known in my life, since childhood we have always had dogs, both purebred, some mutts. To me they are creatures. I never point out, "Oh this is my rescue dog. Or this is my rescue horse." If that is how you want to introduce your animal, fine, but I don't see the need-they are creatures.

When I got this note, my first reaction was...surprise. First of all, it is not based on facts. To lump all breeders as 'evil' well, I state that is unfair , ignorant and untrue. I can tell you after 15+ years of taking in neglected and needy animals, that the humans on the other end come in all shapes and sizes. And I can also tell you that I have come into contact with good breeders and some not so good...BUT I have come into contact with many judgemental people in the 'rescue' world. There are people doing good work for animals in all sectors.

My reaction was also to want to explain to this person why I thought she was misguided about breeders. It happened four weeks ago. But I chose to walk away. Then I found myself second guessing about posting pictures of Bear, our new pup that will be here in four weeks. I continued to post pictures though, and I will continue to do that. I am not going to hide behind fear of the social Puppy Police-those people out there that spread their judgements as they sit in front of a screen. And if any of you out there feel the need to go, by all means do.

I should say, when you are giving money, no matter how small or big the amount, you have the right to change your mind if that organization doesn’t lie up to what you thought it should. Our mission here is clear-to help elder/needy animals and to share them with elder people. I can assure everyone that the elder people who lay their hands on my animals aren’t wondering if I adopted them or bought them from a breeder. Bear the pup is a dog I am purchasing, from my funds, not the non profits, but he will be part of our therapy work.

Ironically, I saw her note on the day I buried Papi, one of umpteen elder cats that have been brought out of shelters. I wondered how many graves this woman has dug in her life. Is the grave I dug two years ago for Huck, our beloved lab, any less graced and blessed by Earth because he was from a breeder? Of course not.

What an insult to my work, my heart, and all my animals.

Bear turns 4 weeks old

It's hard not to clutch the screen and smoosh his face. Bear turns 4 weeks old and that's half way to Apifera. I'm grateful the breeder send these update pics to all of us. This week should get fun, as the pups will begin to move around a lot at this stage.

I wake up realizing how life will change for us in-house Apiferians, but in a good way. It's been 10 years since I raised a pup. But I'm up for the newness and wonder of it all, and to socializing him when he is ready. This will be my dog, that is the plan. Although let's not forget I bring cats home from the shelter and they fall in love with Martyn. But I will be the one training him, taking him out, etc.

It is just pure fun to have his photos from these early days in the litter. I love you Bear, we are going to have a lot of fun, and good work with the elders too.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thank you

We are blessed to live amongst nature and animals, with each other, in good health and mind. We don't take it for granted. We are rich in hope and ideas. We are richer for the elder animals and people that show us the path ahead. I hope all of you are able to give thanks and break bread today with someone, even if it is a loyal dog or cat-the beauty of solitude is also a gift.

And we are thankful for all your support.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The ponies jingle all the way-this will make you smile

I could watch them all day! I bought some bells and tried them out on The Teapot and Captain Sparkle. They stood patiently while I put them on, no fear at all, and then...they were off! Now we need some snow!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Breaking News: Earnest the Pig Will Not Play Baby Jesus This Year in the Nativity Scene

{I write a monthly column for our local paper. This was the latest episode from Tails & Tales of Apifera Farm}

I was making my way to the barn the other day when I heard a heated discussion going on. As I opened the barn door, I heard Opie the little goat say desperately,

“I want to be Baby Jesus again!”

It was then I knew the holiday season had officially begun. And like every year leading up to this one, the animals wanted to do a live nativity scene.

I’m not opposed to this idea, we certainly have all the right actors to pull it off. But we attempted doing one years ago back West and I swore to myself never again. Every year, I quietly hope they will forget about it and focus on Christmas stocking stuffers or putting their hoof prints on cards.

“Opie, you got to be Baby Jesus last year because you were a baby and were small,” said Jim Bob, one of the older goats.

“So let’s vote, all those in favor of Earnest the Pig being Baby Jesus, raise your foot,”
said Jim Bob.

Two feet went up.

“I don’t want to be Baby Jesus,” said Earnest. “I think I’m more suited for one of the Wise Men.”

“Can I be Mary then?” asked Opie.

Eyes rolled. Just then The Goose rushed in.

“I would like to be the Baby Jesus!” he said.

“The Baby Jesus doesn’t speak, Goose, it will be hard for you to keep quiet,” suggested one of the hens. “So who is the quietest of all of us?” she asked.

Everyone pondered, as they chewed cud.

“Henneth,” many said in unison. Henneth was the blind chicken.

I went about my chores, pretending I had not heard a thing, and days later I noticed they had a list on the barn wall. Where do they hide the chalk to write with, I wondered. More importantly, who teaches who to write cursive?

The list had Pino and Paco, the donkeys, as two of the Wise Men. And they had Lucia the donkey as a Wise Woman. Nice they are in touch with the times, I thought. Mother Matilda, the very old donkey, would be Mary, that made sense. They wanted Martyn to be Joseph. I was relieved I had no role, but then again, this was never going to happen.

Soon after, I put an Advent Calendar in the barn. We always had one growing up. One time when I was about six we got one that had chocolates behind every door. After day one or two, I grew curious what grand chocolate would be behind the door of the 24th, and I opened it. There was a chocolate Baby Jesus. I ate him, and closed the door.

Earnest wandered over to me, looked at the calendar and said, “Let’s open the door to the 24th.”

And we did.

{In lieu of a nativity scene, the Apifera animals participate in a private Annual Garland Festival. The hand made garland was a gift from an Apifera supporter and each animal takes turns wearing it.}

Saturday, November 23, 2019

His name is Bear

I've been getting pup pics from the breeder every few days. I can't believe how much he changed since the last video-his eyes are now well opened and he is becoming a real pup versus a little worm lump. Amazing.

When I look into this picture, I feel he is looking right into me, like we are already communicating.

I am so very excited.

And we have named him Bear. I feel like that is going to fit his personality, from what I can already see. Time will tell.

I know he is in good hands, and with his litter mates getting strong and ready for the outside world. But it sure is hard to not be attached already, and want him here to be with us. I want to tell him,

Everything is going to be okay.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Sometimes you just need to not wonder so much

I really love Captain Sparkle. His personality is emerging as he grows more confidant in his new home. Well, he also has to contend with the boss mare sassy pants aka The Teapot, but he holds his own. He basically defers to her and stays out of her way when there is hay. When I feed in the morning, he patiently waits for me to arrange things, and comes to my side since he knows I'll escort him into the stall and make Teapot move out.

I've been wanting to find something special for Captain Sparkle to be part of, and The Teapot. I don't know if hauling him to therapy visits is the the job, but I will bring him out next spring for sure. He needs more time and handling.

I've been thinking of agility for the two of them, and me. It would be fun. I had started some agility with Arlo the llama but never got a course up. I will keep at it. I need a team! Maybe we will put on a show!

Sometimes, I think it is best not to ponder this much about what his purpose or job is. I will let him be, and continue to have fun with him. Maybe his job is just that.

It's just so fun to work with an animal on different levels, it creates a bond that is much deeper than just owning it and caring for it. Working with an animal brings out connections that might not happen otherwise.

I asked him this morning, "Captain Sparkle, is there something you'd like to try doing, is there something you need to do that will lift you up somehow?"

He did not answer.

I think he too is wondering. Or not. Time will make it clearer.

Boone likes his little Mini Me

Sun napping is an important job

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Me bad!

I was wondering why I wasn't getting any comments anymore, even on the heavier posts. I had my setting switched.

So I'm sorry for almost two years I have missed comments you sent and just published them all. Don't think I was ignoring you.

I guess it makes me happy because someone is still reading!

{Also, if there is a person named L. Hinkley from Michigan reading, please send me your mailing address! The Misfits want to send you something soon.}

I named her Victoria, for obvious reasons

A few weeks ago, a nice gentleman wrote me ad asked if I might take on his elder chicken. He had written me months before, because he had been caring for his son's old chicken, and the chicken had lost use of her hind end and he thought I might have some ideas [which I didn't]. The paralyzed chicken died some weeks later and the gentleman had this elder, single hen. He thought of me again and wondered if I might take her, since he was done having chickens but thought she was lonely.

I agreed. I love chickens. I could be surrounded by them but of course there are limits. But I took her on and I just love her. I think she is a Wyandotte. She had no name. The gentleman told me he quit naming chickens years ago as they came and went. I understand.

I named her Victoria, because I like the royal sound of it, and the woman behind the name, and an old hen deserves some royalty in her final years.

I put Victoria in the special holding area in the front barn. This is my routine with new chickens, they can see through the chicken wire and get to know The Goose and Opie and Else, and Henneth the blind chicken and Hazel...but have a calm couple of days.

But, Victoria wanted to perch on a piece of plywood that was nailed to the framing, and there was a 3" space between that and the wall that she could have fallen into and gotten stuck. So, I held my breath and let her in with the gang. It went fine. I was most worried about The Goose, but he listens to me [a miracle that someone does!] and I spent time saying "No!" if he looked like he was going to peck her. The hens really didn't bother her. But Henneth is still in charge, despite her blindness.

The next morning I slowly opened the door and there were the three hens, perched together.

I hope she lays an egg, I guess she still does. He thought she might be about nine. Today is the first day I've left the barn door open for her so she can forage outside with Henneth and Hazel. I wanted her to have a good week here so she knew it was safe in the barn.

She's very calm and I can catch her easily too, and hold her.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Opie Love Mobile update

I have the Love Mobile almost ready to roll. But...a slight snag. The second time I put Opie in for a test drive with the added wall height we made, the stinker jumped out. I think when he's at the elder home he will be more focused on his duties...but I worked on using a sling system to help assure he stays in. I might also just add more height....

I don't want to take it out for our first visit and have a bad experience for him. The harness system is ok, it just would be nice to put him in and not worry about rigging it up.

But it is pretty cute. I ordered a license plate for him too, we don't want any trouble with law enforcement and since it s a small town every one nows everyone.

So stay tuned to the continuing saga of The Opie Love Mobile!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Puppy madness days

Our chocolate lump of love, at  2 days old
I've never bought a pup and been able to see it develop from it's birthday, but that is what the internet provides these days. It's been 10 years since we brought Muddy home when we lived out West. Muddy was five years younger than his brother, Huck, who was of the same sire/dam and we loved him so much I wanted to have another boy. We loved their temperaments and the breeder was highly respected and was very interested in helping us pick the right pup for our needs.

This new chocolate boy turns 11 days old today! I am so excited to meet him. I just know he is going to be a good therapy dog for me and am so excited to work with a pup again.

While I do hope to find another old and [hopefully] blind pug down the road, I was not ready for that. I take on so many old animals and the loss takes its toll, especially in the Inside Animals domain. Hughie was so loved by me, I was so crushed, but so glad I even had 4 years with him. But...I want a pup to raise up.

This little chap will begin his work as soon as it is healthy for him to go out to meet elders. Initially, he can even ride in Opie's Love Mobile!

We have a list of names going as we sit by the fire. Of course I'll have to meet him, but we have some we think might work. I love that he was the first one out of the litter, that to me was a clear sign he wanted to show me he was ready for action, as I was so worried there wouldn't be a chocolate in the litter.

The breeder takes great care in her line and does not over breed, and she believes in the classic lab. Six more weeks and he will be brought to Apifera.

So thrilled, so excited, so grateful.

That's our boy, age 3 days [on his back, sleeps like Muddy!]

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

It was swift...Papi has died

Papa's final night on this realm
For the past 24 hours, I knew Papi was not himself. He was eating and drinking normally, but he seemed...out of sorts, in small ways that only I who knows his habits would notice. Papi is not a cuddly guy, and while he likes to have his neck scratched, it is always on his terms. He has never liked having his mid back and body touched, probably because of the issues he had when he was first brought to the shelter [urinary issues, that led him to have his penis amputated as it had gone on so long and he had tried to chew it off].

So when I sat with him a day+ ago, I talked to him, and tried to comb out more matts that had formed on his back. I had been working on them a few months, slowly getting them out. And on this day, he let me work on them, without his usual vocalizing. When Papi didn't want you to touch him, he had clear vocalization that told you so. The fact he wasn't doing this, led me to believe he just wasn't himself. That same day, I picked him up to put him on a table to examine him, and he did not fight it, also unusual. When I picked him up, he just seemed...like his energy had left.

Still that day, he got up and moved around and I kept my eye on him, but he was eating and drinking.

Last night, he was in his wood cradle, and I spent a long time with him. I knew he was dying. He just had lost strength, and his eyes were in the pre death vapid look. I talked to him a lot. He was calm and in no agitated state.

I knew this morning he might be gone, and he was. He had retuned to his other favorite place to sleep, on the sheep wool under the benches. He was lying in a comfortable pose, and by the state of his body I think he died within an hour or two.

Papi is lying in state so the elders can see him. Although they knew last night, so did I.

I also noticed last night, as I crouched on the floor to be with Papi, in the dark room since I had no lights on, there was a light presence above me. It was pure white bodied Noritsue, sitting up on the freezer to my side. He was looking down on me, like an angel, his white body visible in the semi dark room.

The other thing happened this morning when I found Papi. I had placed a towel over his body, but his head was showing. I started to do feedings, and I was to his right about five feet. I was opening canned food, and I saw something move to my left, where Papi was, I swung my head to the left and I swear I saw his head rise a bit. It was not like gas leaving his body, it was more like it was lifting. I went over had touched him, and kissed him, and I thought...did he wait for me somehow, and now he really left?

Papi will be missed. He was The President of The Old Kitty Knitty Club. He was a voice in our fundraising efforts. How appropriate Papi left the day I started our final yearly fundraiser, it is a vote of confidence for me, that he knew I could do it. Papi was a strong energied cat, he was his own cat. Much like Sir Tigger, he wanted things on his own terms, he saw no need to be held a lot or interact like some of the other cats. He got to go out quickly, and in a place he knew he was safe. For that I'm grateful.

But I will miss his huge presence in the elder cat suite. He was a great cat.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Opie's Love Mobile is about to roll!

I'm pretty excited that we got a lot of the Love Mobile ready to roll this week. I was able to spray paint the added siding we put on for height, and Martyn still needs to reinforce those sides which is easy peasy. I decided to see how Opie liked the mobile the other day, and he got right in with a little lift. He is used to being in the car with me so he really was fine when I rolled his Mobile around. I have a rubber matt in the bottom which allows him not to slip. He kind of started out wondering if he should bail, but once we started rolling around, I think he really liked it. He will understand the Mobile is his love machine once we start going to Cove's Edge in it. But I'll have a tether on him just to be safe.

Then I decided that it needs a canopy! So Martyn will build a lightweight wood frame today and I can add a fabric top, and little prayer flags of some sort.

I told Martyn that it would be fun to have a little baby cart that was hitched to the back for Opie's chicken. I just can't stop myself.

Martyn refuses to wire it for an AM/FM radio. Geese, some people.

Stay tuned. My horrible chest cold is waning but I'm still not quite ready to go to visit elders. But maybe very soon!

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Opie's traveling clothes

Opie has a good thick natural goat coat. He does not need a jacket. However, I think he might be stinkin' cute in one for his winter therapy visits, in his soon to be finished Opie Love Mobile. This coat here is one that I put on Else, but he looks pretty styling', don't you think?

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

The magical pup

I want to tell you a story.It has some magic in it.

When Hughie died this year, it was heartbreaking, but I had the honor of living with him for four years after taking him on when he was nine. I knew our time would be short like that-like it is with many of the animals I’ve taken on over the past 15 years- and he left a huge hole. We lost Huck at age 12 a couple years ago, leaving Muddy, Huck’s younger brother with us. Muddy turns 10 tomorrow. Any death in the pack brings a shift, and it also opened me up to what was next. This time, I did not set out to find another old pug. I knew in time, maybe, one would come along. But I was hurt, and I realized…I didn’t want that at this time anyway. I also wanted a legacy for after Mud dies, and he is aging now. I realized what I wanted was a pup, a chocolate lab male pup, to train and become another regular traveling ambassador of love to elder visits.

Well, I started looking for a pup a couple months ago. Many were out of my price range but I keep looking and finally found someone I liked and felt good about. And pups were due in the fall. So I put a deposit down and had first pick of a chocolate male. Now if you know genetics of labs, basically one parent has to have the chocolate gene, and 25% of the litter could be chocolate. Once I got attached to the idea of walking my little chocolate love ambassador around the elder home, I realized how disappointed I’d be if there were no chocolate males in the litter, and I’d have to wait. I was already attached to the thought of those pups in the mother’s belly, and we knew there were six. The breeder was supportive and told me…she thought it would work out. The due date came and went and we were on pins and needles. Finally, seven days past due time, I got an email, with the photo you see below. The first pup out, a chocolate male…this image was on his birthday, I swooned. I have never bought a pup and seen them at birth like this. It was both exciting but also made me want to rush out and get him. Well, the breeder wrote me again later the next day to say he had been the only chocolate male.

You know I have a close relationship with optimism, magic and the power of imagination. But I just sense this little guy made a point to me. He is ready for duty.

I am very excited to work with a pup again, it has been a long time. I love my elders. I also have buried a lot of them since 2004.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Strike a pose

Luna strikes a regal pose
I've been very sick with a chest cold for a week or more and it is finally breaking and today I'm feeling better, but still not back to true form, but there is hope in the beautiful blue sky at least. I've been enjoying the sun on my daily chores, going slower than normal and just soaking in the last days of fall.

I felt this photo of old Luna was one of my best in a long time. She sort of struck the pose for me on her own, but the addition of the branches and blue sky....just really loved it.

Meanwhile Sylvia Pettini struck her usual pose but had her own headdress...which I learned from my followers is called a fascinator. Everybody kept using the term and I stubbornly looked it up on my own. Learn something new everyday.

Anyway....here's to a better day for anyone who is suffering through a cold.

Fallen cosmos with the cove in the background
Sylvia Pettini and her fascinator