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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Monday, August 31, 2020

{Me and Boone} It-s not overcoming fear, it's about repeating positive experiences

It's been three years since Boone and I had our riding accident which landed me in the hospital for two days with a serious concussion. Many of you know the story-we were riding on a beautiful July day on a trail someone had given me permission to ride on in the woods and we were having a glorious ride, finished off with a canter back...but then something went wrong. I suspect it was the ledge that he slipped on, since the last thing I remember is thinking we need to walk now because I see the ledge coming up.

But we rode on a month later, but that summer I never went back into the woods alone. I tried a couple times but the horse flies were horrible. I got lazy in my mind too, making excuses for myself about riding-letting other tasks take precident over my riding time with Boone. I missed it, but when I'd think about riding, I would get a sensation, and felt maybe I should listen to it. I knew it could be fear, but when I rode I wasn't afraid, ever. it was just the 'before' of thinking about riding.

I was never afraid to ride or be on Boone-it was the idea of what could happen again, and I didn't want to put Martyn through it, or me, or Boone.

The thing is, in order to get confidant at anything-riding, riding a bike, working with livestock, cooking, playing guitar, teaching, hooking up a trailer–you have to do it, over and over. And over. When you stop, you have to regroup and remember that in order to have become confidant, it took repetitive positive experiences.

Repetitive positive experiences.

So, I made a promise this year, after fly season, to begin a new with Boone. Since I'm hauling the llama all over the place, working with a large trailer is back on my 'confident' status. Trailering too requires lots of repetitive positive experiences to feel safe doing it. I've ridden a few times and bought boots for Boone too, since he is so flat footed but shoes right now are problematic because we don't have a bottom wire in our field and he has gotten his shoe caught in the fence-dangerous and scary for all. Boone and I have a date to go up to Camden Hills to ride with a woman who lives next to the state park, I can't wait. And I'm seeking places -short trips-to go with him.

Riding the last two times, felt great. Boone is his usual stoic self. The main road here is busy and a pain, but Boone is fearless and we only go on it in the culvert for a short stretch to get to our other roads. I still hate being on it. But we are very careful.

Getting back in sync with Boone is not about overcoming fear. I do not fear falling, I don't think about falling. Accidents happen, but it is more about rebuilding inner trust that I'm capable of repetitive positive experiences, simply because I'm working at it agian, over and over.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Now available: Dragonflies over Daisies

I completely neglected to get this little painting up at the shop. I really love it. The dragonflies have been wonderful this year. I love them more than almost any insect. I even have a friend that comes back as one from time to time. The dragonfly I was told is the closet thing we have to the dinosaur. Now that is pretty amazing.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Help feed the Apifera elder cat suite!

Your direct donations from our Apifera Amazon Wish list of canned cat food and dry food for our elder cat suite is essential to keeping everybody fed and as healthy as possible.

When you buy, you also have the option of doing a monthly donation that is automatic. This is also very helpful.

Also, just a tip, when you buy, consider adding a note to me so I know who you are. Otherwise, I simply get a receipt with a link that allows me to send you a thank you via Amazon but I don't always get to see the name.

Friday, August 21, 2020

We are learning the souls are in the eyes

When you work with animals, you learn the language of the eyes, or you learn that your eyes can tell a creature a lot about your intention. So does body language of course.

I have been noticing this as I am out and I am with masked people. We still show our heart through our eyes. If we are angry it shows too, if we are smiling it shows. Harry and I made a visit to our Greenies in Wiscasset yesterday. It was Harry's first time there. Look at the intention in Evelyn's eyes. Beautiful to see the elders engage so focused like this.

Harry did great. Next week with two separate visits will make him a busy boy.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

The day a Dunn married a Dunn

We were married in our garden

I think the thing about mid life, or once you pass into that part of your life you view as some kind of internal marker of 'mid', is that time goes very fast. I don't remember life as going fast from age 1-20, or from 20-40. But I find myself saying more and more, "That seems like yesterday."

Such is the case as I write this post. Seventeen years ago I married Martyn, and it seems like moments ago. My name when I woke up that morning was Miss Dunn, and later that day, I became Mrs. Dunn. For those of you who don't know the story, I moved to Portland [Oregon] in 2002, after spending more than a year with my drapes drawn in my old homeland of Minneapolis. I had been suffering from the worst kind of broken heart, the kind that lingers, and leaves a visible dent in one's heart area, and takes your dreams and shifts them around until you start doubting what those dreams were.

I bought a sweet little cottage in Multnomah Village and the very day I moved in, a man knocked on my door. "Hello, I'm Martyn Dunn, and I heard you had the same last name as I did, so I just had to introduce myself."

Yes, we had the same last name, and now instead of having just two Mr. Dunn's in my life, my father and brother, I had many Mr. Dunns - my husband to be and his many brothers and his father. I knew immediately this was a good thing, to have this particular Mr. Dunn right next door, and I did know I'd marry him. I didn't tell anyone, not anyone. And if I had, they all would have rolled their eyes.

Many of you know the rest of the story. He climbed his cherry tree in a heat wave and brought me his harvest, while I sat suffering, my fair Irish skin wilted even in the shade of my bamboo grove. I thought it odd that he'd be up in a tree in a heat wave, but when he brought me his bounty, just like a male cardinal fetching food for his bird, I internally had an epiphany - that this was a worthy mate. The next day I baked him a cherry pie from his harvest and that too led to an epiphany- that if I was baking in a heat wave, this must be love. And it was.

I don't believe that there is just one person out there for each of us, but I do believe we are given opportunities to connect with optimal relationships that change our lives. Each day is full of tiny choices, that can change our paths- and while all these paths teach us, engage us, challenge us....some paths help us reach what I call a "place of sense".

And meeting Martyn has helped me get to this place called Apifera, this 'place of sense'.

I will never forgot the wonder of this story, or how so many things had to line up for us to meet. Like the fact there was already a buyer for the house in Portland, but I insisted I had to have that house, and the details were ironed out so it became mine. Or the fact that when I bought the house in Portland, I gave up on ever having a small farm, which had been my life long dream. I figured this little Portland house was perfect, and my dream of owning a farm just wasn't meant to be and wasn't logical. But we all know that dream was just waiting to present itself in a proper manner. Don't forget your dreams, don't let them down by abandoning them.

So, seventeen years have passed. And the pictures here show us before Apifera exisited. How can that be - no Apifera? I can't imagine it now. I can't imagine life without Martyn. When he married me, he had no idea he'd first become a Dirt Farmer, or be surrounded by a semi feral cat colony, and senior short goats....or be helping me take a llama to senior homes. He certainly didn't think in 2016 he'd leave it all and move to Maine, with 33 animals in a trailer behind him and end up living with a distant view of the Atlantic cove.

He allows me to be very independent, and I need that. I need to be the child of wonder, in my barn, communing on my own in nature just as I did as a girl. I need space and time to think, and breathe into the neck of my horse. It fills me up to make art, and write and create.

But we come together at night, we still like to be together. I still anticipate his car coming into the drive.

He is the most patient person I have ever met in my entire life, and I am the most impatient [although as a 62 emerging crone I find that is changing]. He tolerates the gas emmissions of dogs on a couch, and drove in a snowstorm to help me pick up a senior pygmy goat. We have built and recreated three different properties now, and each one is better than the last.

My old Aunt Emily wrote in her wedding note to us that we only needed three things to succeed in a long life together- bread, love and laughter. We have it all, plus fresh eggs, donkey brays, dog and cat hair on everything, and the smell of the ocean in wafts.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Get your daily Pickle!

Over on the Instagram feed [which usually is reposted on Apifera's FB page] people are really loving getting their Pickle leaps and all things Pickles. It is a simple little bit of joy, which I think we all need more than ever this year. Pickles is pure joy, I'm so glad I brought her to Apifera. We need to mix in some youth amongst the elders and crippled special needs animals. I knew that Muddy was dying when I decided to get her, I knew I'd need joy around and youth to remind me of the other side of grief.

So enjoy your Pickle!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Please don't sit by your pool and tell me to embrace the heat

I always wonder if the people that say they thrive in heat are mostly half naked, sitting still in the shade, by the pool. I had a pretty much complete stranger quip at me online when I was sharing my real discomfort with the heat, to just 'embrace it' like I do winter. I did not respond. I hope her bikini fell off as she waded in the shallow end with her iphone in hand.

I would never tell a person who has a hard time with winter to 'embrace it'. I know a few people that live in pretty harsh climates, much harsher than Maine [I do not consider Maine harsh like some people do who simply view Maine from a distance] and these people complain all the time on social media about winter. Many of them can't move, or don't want to for various reasons. And if I am so physically affected by heat, I can empathise with people that are equally affected by cold.

Everybody's body is wired differently. Leave other people's bodies alone [if only the GOP party understood this, alas].

The person that quipped this absurdity to me some years ago, she also had lovely fingernails. If she came here on a 90 degree hot and humid day, I would love to see how many were left after barn chores. My dream would be to first send her up to the hayloft, and have her buck some hay-it would all stick to her arms and legs and she would have no pool to jump into....I could suggest a mud bath though with Earnest....or a dust roll with the llamas. Then we'd move onto mucking stalls and cleaning the scum in water buckets...all while slapping at biting flies.

I am being cynical. Heat brings it out of me. I always felt cynicism is the exterior cover of anger. So I guess I'm angry...at weather. And my mother raised me to say, whenever there was weather we don't like, "It's only weather." But this was before barn chores and hay bales and biting flies entered my life. Or maybe I'm just angry I can't afford to have a pool. I love to swim, but only in pools. I am surrounded by water but I just can't swim in lakes, ponds or the ocean. Tried it all and I am just too much in love with my feet feeling ground I can see. It's one of my many flaws–I'm a Pisces that can't swim in the ocean. I have much too much respect for the power of the ocean to swim in her.

I suppose I have insulted everyone that has a pool. But it's hot and humid for the millionth day [a pig exaggeration] and you will just need to "embrace it".

Monday, August 10, 2020

Harry holds court

In the high heat and humidity, it pleases me to turn around and see Harry's ears in the wind. While I have a window unit I retreat too, just going out in it for chores affects me physically, not to mention mentally. The animals are such pros at weather, they don't judge it, they just deal with it. Score one for the animals. I am the weather loser in summer.

I took Harry over to Lincoln Home. It was the first time the elders could be outside with Harry, but still no touching! I will do anything they tell me, we all agreed it is a tiny step back to something normal. I know the management is being extra cautious, but we all had masks on and stayed 6 feet apart. Harry basically held court in front of them. It seems if they petted him, and then they could have hand spritzer, and when they return inside, wash hands -the latter they would make them do anyway.

But, it brought them joy, for moments. My experience is elders are just so happy when you show up, and talk, and listen. We will continue to do that.

Harry holds court at Lincoln Home

Friday, August 07, 2020

Opie returns to his healing practice and Pickles comes along

We returned to our old friends at Wiscasset Green and it was so wonderful to see them again. It is the first place we went with Opie, and he made regular visits there. We made friends, lost many of them over that two year period...and now we have made some new friends there and three of the original residents are still there and they were very happy to see Opie. I wondered what Opie would do, since he has not been on a therapy visit for awhile due to Covid. But he just fell right back into place, he visited each resident on his own, and then he gravitated to a couple of them as he always does. When we went to leave, he did not want to go, he stuck to Evelyn's side. I know she was hurting as she told me how hard it is not to be able to touch or hug their families. We got a kick out of Charlie. He was one of those guys that might not have shown interest in seeing a goat, but clearly got a kick out of Pickles. Pickles even fell asleep in Sylvia's lap.

I promised them we'd be returning for regular visits. The new care manager really understands and believes in what we are doing, and like me believes in the power of animals and how they can heal, or help heal a wounded heart. And I think all our hearts a pretty wounded right now.

View more photos on Instagram.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

A dragonfly reminds me to never stop believing

{written last week}

Almost two years ago, my friend Jason died by suicide.

After his death I was blessed to get close with his mother who of course is grieving. We share stories together.

One day after his death, I saw a dragonfly...it was huge and quite blue, bluer than others I’d seen...and I just knew it was him. I told his mom about it. As weeks went on I saw him one more time or maybe two...sometimes I knew it wasn’t him.

Well this year when the dragonflies started returning, I didn’t see Jason. I was telling his mom that he maybe has other forms now, or maybe he knows we don’t need to see him as much...that was about a week or so ago. Last night, we sat outside at dusk and lots of dragonflies came-more than I’ve seen of late and they were zooming in and out. There was one that kept getting really close. I told Martyn it didn’t feel like Jason but I wasn’t sure.

We’ll, this morning I went in the barn and all of a sudden this dragonfly falls out of nowhere at my feet. Never had one in the barn. He hopped right in my hand and I could not see any damage to him but he stayed right there on my hand. I took him outside and placed him on a leaf in the lilac. He sat still for seconds and flew off. I think Jason wanted to tell me to never stop believing he is a dragonfly...and I won’t.