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

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

All images

©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Her name is Fuzzy but she is not a wuzzy

Fuzzy, a new arrival, is 18
My contact at the shelter asked if we had room for this sweet old lady, Fuzzy. She had been lingering at the rescue because she is old, but also because she has a cauliflower growth on her ear and a bleeding cyst on top of that.

She is the sweetest little thing and despite her grumpy look she is a lady. Although you can tell when she is a bit low if the cyst flares up. I've been holding her and she is doing fine.

It is rewarding to take an elder in that lost his or her elder human. It is what we humans all hope for when we die-that our loved ones and animals will be cared for. I like to think that the people who pass know...I will believe they do, as I hope I will when my time comes.

The world continues on in its madness and the farm keeps on going day by day, watching spring so slow this year, it seems. But everything is a bit off kilter, for everyone I guess. I have not really had the focus on the blog to write intelligently about any of it. I sort of feel like I have lead shoes on some days.

But I can not complain, I have work outside, and inside, and while money is not flowing in we are not desparate like many find themselves...who knows what the future holds. I worry that the tourists will come into our villages...too soon...and puts us all back months. I feel for everyone especially those unable to see loved ones, or hold the hand of the sick or dying. So many stories out there-the graduating seniors of high school and college that had their final months together at school taken away. It's not the saddest thing of course, but I feel sad for them, that is an age of great emotion and of a time where intense friendships are formed.

I really hope I can resume my animal therapy sooner than later, not only–selfishly–for me, but for the elders who have been cooped up so long.

And so, bringing on another old cat is rewarding and comforting for me, especially now. I feel useful and I feel like it is a step forward in my passion and life's work. I've really waited my entire life to have my passion for animal and elder and art and writing all mesh, and here it is, and I am grateful. It could be gone in a heartbeat, and I cherish each day, each new photograph before my eyes. Each day with Martyn is a blessing too.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Harry keeps walkin'

I was asked if Harry could do a Window Walk at Lincoln Home and after consulting Harry we obliged. They have really long windows, and no screen so we were able to see in well too. Harry had to figure out the refection and of course he's no dummy, but it did occur to him that there was a really handsome llama looking at him. He touched the glass and figured it out.

And Harry got his first look at the cove, and the little village across the bay.

Harry is proving to be a real trouper. He does everything I ask of him, calmly. He is just a wonderful Love Llama. We will see how he interacts with people when there isn't a window between him and them.

I want to take Harry into the village and just walk hm around, before we are all out of lock down. It will be a good experience for him. I don't think there is a law you can't walk your llama in town, so hopefully we won't get arrested. but if I have to get arrested, I'd be proud to do it with Harry.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Hands reaching out a window-the tradgedy of Covid

I had a really wonderful, engaging visit with Harry at the Cove on Friday. It was a truly special visit. I was told that there would be hearts in the windows of the residents who wanted a Window Visit and when I got there I became teary eyed when I saw all the hearts. It was wonderful My contacts are inside and they go room to room, and then I follow the hearts, it works great.

On top of that, they all had their Harry buttons on. Oh so sweet!

The staff also gets so much out of these visits. I am so happy I can share llama love with them especially in these times.

I think it is so hard especially on elders who already face challenges of isolation and fear of dying alone or unremembered. My goal is to always make them know I remember, even if with the dementia people it might be a fleeting thought to them.

I know how much the visits mean, and it makes my role all the more rewarding.

I just feel like we have to come up with a better way to deal with this for the elders, and patients in hospitals. I do not have the answers, but I do know without tests we will get nowhere safer than where we are.

To see the hands coming out the window, wanting to touch Harry. Wanting to touch. To touch– such a human need, to be touched, to touch. I do not of course touch anyone on visits, and to be clear, nobody could touch Harry at this point. The windows are opened so some residents can get a better look. I have a hard time seeing in due to the screens, but with the open window we can all talk back and forth, from our usual 6+ feet, with masks.

"I love you, Harry," old Sunny yells out to me. And then a resident tells me she has not seen her husband in 4 weeks [I think longer to be honest]. I try to be optimistic, but realistic with them. I don't lie, I don't tell them they'll be outside tomorrow. But I do tell them it will end, and we will all be together outside.

"Cooped up like inmates," one gent said in humor. He was there for rehab and would be going home, which is wonderful.

My visits with Bear and Opie are on hiatus and that is hard. If you read the last post, you know Opie wants a parade when this is all over. I agree. With pot banging revelers too.

These elders have been through many challenges in their lives. They are not sissies. Old age is not for sissies. And as one elder friend added,

"Life is not for sissies."

Friday, April 17, 2020

Opie Misses Cove’s Edge {And the animals have a plan}

{This is my monthly column for Tales & Tails for our local Lincoln County News paper}

“What’s an optimist?” asked Opie the tiniest goat of the farm.

“An optimist makes your eyes clean!” said Ollie the goat.

“That’s an optometrist,” said Earnest the pig. “You’re an optimist when you see that the glass is half full, not half empty,” Earnest explained.

“What’s a glass?” asked Opie.

“It’s a people bucket,” said Henneth, the blind chicken.

“The point is, Opie, you have to look at the situation with optimism– someday you will be able to visit your elder friends again at Coves Edge,” Earnest said.

Just then Harry the llama walked into the conversation.

“I enjoy looking into their windows, they smile at me,” he said. Harry has been going to Cove’s Edge to walk by windows so the residents can see him and wave.

“I’m too short to walk by the windows,” said Opie sadly.

“You need a ladder like the one in the shed,” said Earnest the pig.

“That’s a great idea,” Opie said. And he scurried off to the main house. In minutes, he returned, forlorn.

“Boss lady won’t let me use the ladder,” Opie said.

“You can’t visit your elder friends right now, Opie, but maybe you can make a gift, and then when you do get to go back to Cove’s Edge, you can give it to them,” said Earnest the pig.

Opie thought for awhile.

“I know, we’ll have a parade!” said Opie.

“Fabulous idea!” said Earnest. “We’ll need a marching band!”

Ollie ran in with a stick and began twirling it. “I saw a girl doing this in a parade on TV. She had white boots and fringe on her shirt. I will need a costume,” and he ran off to the house.

I returned with Ollie to the barn to find that the animals already had a sign up sheet on the wall. Earnest had been nominated as Director, Producer and Location Logistics Manager. Henneth the blind chicken was in charge of instruments.

Old Friede came out, she was one of the elder, crippled goats. Friede is very quiet and shy.

“I would like to be a clown,” she said.

We all grew quiet because we were surprised Friede would even want to partake.

“You will be the most wonderful clown!” Earnest told Friede. “Will you be a happy clown, or a sad clown?”

“I will be sassy and laugh out loud and twirl and dance,” said Friede, “just like when I was young.”

“We need someone to lead the parade,” said Earnest.

And everyone looked up, to Harry the llama.

“I’d be honored,” said Harry.

By the end of the day, the donkeys had been chosen to take up the rear of the parade, the ponies would carry flowers to be tossed to onlookers, and The Goose was also asked to take care of crowd control.

“And Opie, what will you do in the parade?” I asked.

“I will run up to all the people and tell them I missed them and that it is a wonderful day,” said Opie.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Old men are just like old trees

When my father was in his final year, he was 82 and his heart made it inevitable he would not live much longer. I was living on the farm out West and I always thought of him when a storm would come through, breaking off branches of old trees, but the tree would usually make it another day. And i'd think of the tree as a soldier of life, battling so many wars, just like my father had.

And then one storm comes that the tree, and the man, can't withstand it.

So I thought of my father again, now twelve years since his death, when we had a heavy April snow on Thursday night, knocking out power for the region for days and damaging trees and power lines.

Our old lilac took a real beating and this old maple suffered, but is still standing. The tree is compromised, just like my father was. The tree had damage at some point to it's truck, making half of it precariously held together. The roots were most likely hurt when the barn was put in in 2005. My father was held precariously together too in the final couple of years, suffering from diabetes issues and heart related symptoms. He hurt. When hospice was brought in, he told my mother he wanted to wait to die until spring. Of course we don't get to make that choice, but my father was stubborn [I have inherited that] and he held on until the day after spring arrived.

Perhaps the trees ask for one more spring, to be in their glory before they fall, full of leaf, baby birds and flowers.

There are limbs now hanging, waiting to fall. And we are looking into taking the entire tree out since it is near the front barn, but the cost might be heavy. Meanwhile heavy rains fell all Monday, over an inch, and it was warm but so wet. The world just felt bleak for all sorts of reasons...I don't have to explain that to you, I'm sure. But Marcella went through all of it in her Grace Kelly pose.

But old trees, old men...they stand until they can't.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

I was eleven, and he liked old people too

I wanted to share my relationship for the past 50+ years that I've had with the music of John Prine. While he didn't know it, his music was a role model for my feelings on elders since I was a young girl.

John Prine was known to often say in interviews how he liked old people. He said, "I just like them." He was very close and fond of his grandfather who he wrote about often in his songs.

I think I first heard the "Hello In There" song when I was in 5th grade and it moved me so much. I didn't know why. I only had a grandfather that lived on the other side of the continent and saw him a spattering of times as I grew up. My other grandparents died before me. So the elders I knew were artists I read about, people in the neighborhood, and Becky and Bill who were like my grandparents and were a part of our life until they died. I remember when I heard for the first time John Prine talk about old people, how he liked them and he didn't really know why, but even as a young kid he just thought his grandfather was cool and he liked old people.

"I'm like that," I thought at the age of eleven or so.

It would take me almost half of my life to put it all to use, that love of elders, but here I am.And that song, Hello in There" takes on even more multi layered meanings to me now.

I have always resonated with his music and words. He was a story teller, and story tellers help us share history, feelings, differences-and John Prine had a way of sharing the absurdity and sadness of life, and humor of it too. Life is sort of a big, old beautiful joke and his songs captured that over and over.

Have you ever noticed, when you're feeling real good, there's always a pidgeon, comes and shits on your hood. J.P.

And he kept going forward, after throat cancer, losing part of his lung...he kept sharing stories to our collective benefit. 

I knew he wouldn't be with us forever. I knew after 8 days in ICU with his health issues it was not good. I knew like many of the people I've listened to for my entire life he would be gone sooner than later. I scrambled to get each new recording. The words from his latest song on the new album are heartbreaking even in good times, but knowing he died in the hospital without his wife or kids, it is extra sad.

So come on home, come on home, you don't have to be alone. J.P.

Then again, like any song, those words can be looked at in a different light than when he wrote them-songs chronicle our lives and evolve with them. For as he was struggling to survive, maybe it was grandpa and all his loved ones up in Heaven, just like in the song, calling him home....where he is surely fishin'.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Who knows what goes on in his mind?

I know life is serious right now, but I moved this green ball into the orchard today for the dogs but Goose has decided to conquer it. Some have suggested he thinks it is an egg. Perhaps, who knows what lurks in The Goose's mind? Bear is trying very hard to befriend him, but since The goose seems to have decided Mud needs more protecting [I have a theory he can smell his arthritis} so Bear will have his work cut out for him.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Yea, I'm grieving, so I touch Earth

The moth was a messenger
{This original available at shop}

It dawned on me that I'm grieving. We all are. So I had to recognize that like any period of grieving it is a process and part of the process is recognizing one's sadness and depression.

Of course this grief is for so many things–the dying, the separated couples and families, and people are dying alone. But I like many of you am grieving for....normalcy, whatever that means in your life. Maybe it means going to your church, your school football games, or visiting friends and family. Maybe it means going to ride your horse at a stable that is closed due to the virus. Maybe it means you just want to walk around without fear, or get your regular brand of peanut butter.

Grief can hit you on the head, or it can creep up on you. I think it's the latter for many of us during this virus. And the constant news bites, dribbling in numbers that aren't just numbers-they represent real people that are dead leaving so many people double grieving.

So when I ackowledged this is grieving for me, I started thinking about the steps of grief, and how I've gone through that in the past. It is easy to get stuck in grief, get stunned into behaviors that might seem soothing but in the long run aren't healthy-like overeating, over drinking, listening to the news over and over-the latter just opens a wound.

I told myself that I am going to do two things every day that are for me....be it a walk to the cove, working with the horses, painting, a nap, baking, working in my garden or just sitting with the animals. I need to walk this out. I need to move my body and not just by lifting hay and shoveling manure. I need to feel joy in movement-like dancing. I need to dance. I will do that in the Llama Love Room where I have a radio.

I did this painting two days ago. I had a white moth land on my office studio wall, right in front of me. It was beautiful. And then hours later it disappeared. When i sat down to paint, I kept thinking of that white moth. I think it was a messenger. I think the white moth will be in more paintings if I open myself to her.

It's scary. I'm scared half the time. Why wouldn't I be? I am scared Martyn will get it. He has asthma. He had an episode today at work while working with cutting stones-the dust. He wasn't sure if it was the dust, and he had a good mask. He knows how to deal with his asthma, he is very good at understanding what he needs to do and when, but I don't want him to get it. I do all the groceries now, and feed store. I don't want him going in. He works outside so it is good he can work still, his crew is taking every precaution, but they are considered an essential business. Martyn needs to work, he loves his work and crew and boss, he needs it mentally as well as financially. But I worry more because of his asthma. Our county has had 7 deaths, I believe all were in health care center situations or elder homes.

Every normal routine is strange now, isn't it? I took Bear to the vet to get heart worm meds. He had to be weighed since his weight is changing as he grows. They come out and take the animal in, then bring him back out. I'm grateful they are choosing to stay open, they are a nice bunch. But it was strange to be handing off my puppy to them, wearing a mask. But we all still laugh and smile and people are caring for one another.

Working with my hands keep me grounded, so that is my goal. I am so lucky to have this particular life and setting-I can get outside and be free, and do what I love. But it is sort of like I'm doing it in a blur. When I feel that blur, I touch something, anything, to bring me back to the now.

If it helps, think about that. Touch something of earth, plant something, bake bread and feel the flour that came from earth. Earth is here, it sounds so simplistic, but turn to Nature for healing.

The white moth that came to me briefly