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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Nothing is static not even for 103 year olds

I was thinking about the flow of life, how it never stops, even in death. Nothing in Nature or life is static. When we say, "I wish my mother were still here, or I  wish my dog had not died...etc." it defies one universal truth–nothing is static and if we were granted all these wishes, it would mean the space that is about to be empty would not be filled by something that is coming. Even in my darkest days, I have always approached the new week with the inquisitive mind of an optimist,  

What will come to me this week I wonder?

If life were static, and summer never ended, imagine that. The flowers never evolved past blooms, snow never fell and we'd never see spring blooms. There'd be no dusk, or dawn or night because everything would be static.

So, lots of loss here this year. And this week we learned that our 103 year old friend, David, has died. His daughter was kind enough to let me know. Of course one knows that a 103 year old might be in his final months, but still it is a loss. More than any wish, I wished we would be having that parade, outside, for David and family, with Harry the llama wearing the bells David gifted us. That was really my biggest wish of the year. But we are not there yet. I was comforted to know his daughters were able to be with him at some point since he was in hospice his final days.

There are creatures and people that make more of an impact on me-just like in your life. I had first met David when he came to our farm, at age 100, and he was like a child touching his first cloud-he touched every inch of every animal so deliberately, taking in each fiber of their body and being. It was a beautiful communing to watch. He came again the next year, and in time he ended up moving into another care facility where Harry and I could visit through the windows due to Covid.

It's not like he and I shared deep conversations, in fact he said little. He talked more with his eyes and smile. As I said on another post, if you are old and think you can't have an impact on another's life because of your advanced age, you are wrong.

As I look at all the faces we have lost this year on the farm, do I wish they had not died? Some of course were soul animals-Muddy, Birdie, Hughie, Mister Mosely, Noritsue-and I would love to have them still with me. But the space is always filled, not replaced, but filled by the flow....what will come next? Who will touch me next? What person will keep my heart open next? What cat or dog or pug will fall into my arms next? Nobody will replace David, he was one of a kind like we all are...but his energy is not static and it will generate other energy to move towards us when it is ready.

Nothing is static. Imagine if the river sat motionless.

Maybe Birdie has found him.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Teapot's step challenge...and I think I crashed

Announcing The Teapot Step Challenge! This week my goal is to give The Teapot 2000 extra steps...500 in the morning. She needs it and it helps me too even though it’s not a lot but with winter I don’t get my usual 6000 steps of barn work. And for every 10 steps The Teapot hopes to raise $1 for our year end fundraiser. Let’s help me and The Teapot keep on our step goals! Visit the FB page fund or donate at the blo.

I am trying to catch up this week after the computer crashed last week and I'm almost there. But now I have to get Harry's Christmas newspaper ready, and the ornaments we collected need to get to our elder friends at Cove's Edge. We will be putting up our own red ball tree this weekend-our little apple tree is hung with giant red balls and Martyn lights it up-bringing us such joy as we sit inside by the fire.

 I feel like I have not had time to decompress from the election chaos. No matter what 'side' you were on it was a lot to take, and a culmination for me of four years of chaos and sadness. I know some of you don't share that sentiment, but I share it because it has effected my focus and concentration and flow of creative ideas. I am hoping for calmer waters, and more time to percolate without manic distraction from the news cycle. I am just beginning to peal the layers away and I am realizing just how stressed we both were with the situation. I'm sorry if others are now feeling stressed-but we now have that in common, we know what that feels like. COmmon ground has to start somewhere.

In fact, I am really looking forward to this season. We are ready to celebrate in our house. After a lot of loss, I want lights and food and wine and movies and music...art, reading and more. What does next year hold in store for us?

Monday, November 23, 2020

Halfway there

Thank you to all who have donated to our year end fundrasier! We are halfway there! 

Your donations are tax deductible and go directly to the care of the animals here. We do not take salaries for our work but we love what we do. It was a hard year on so many levels-loss, Covid, world events...the list is wide and long. But...being appreciated helps! 

You can donate here on the blog, or over on the Facebook fundraiser page. And of course checks are just as a cceptable.

Thank you! Tail Swishes! Hoof Stomps and brays!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Earnest visits with my mother [dead since 2013]


The note slipped under the front door that morning was written in dirt on an old page from a feed catalog.

I recognized the writing. It was Earnest the pig’s.

“Meet me at the Small Rodent and Bird Cemetery at dusk…alone,” it said.

Now even though Halloween has passed, the barnyard is super charged all year for energetic encounters. Our 1760 house, one of the first houses in Bremen (then Bristol), is brimming with history. From the minute we entered this house, the energy was warm and welcoming. With the exception of the northwest section of The Wood, our land feels free of demons. It can be spooky on any night here, with the breeze from the cove blowing through The Wood, for the night life there is its own entity.

The cemetery I was to meet him at is near the front barn. Dusk turned to darkness.

“Hello,” I heard Earnest’s voice say. There he was, appearing at my feet seemingly from out of nowhere. “I’ve drawn a picture for you.”

As I looked at the image, squinting in the dark, I could see my mother’s face. My mother died out west at age 87 in 2013.

I gasped very quietly.

Earnest and I began walking back to his hut, which sits next to the outer equine barn, where the natives were restless for hay. I asked him how he was able to draw my mother’s likeness so well without a picture.

“Oh, I see her all the time,” he said.

My little hairs wiggled on my neck as a wind blew in just then from The Wood behind Earnest’s hut.

“Does she speak?” I asked.

“No, she smiles though,” the pig said. “She also sits above your bedroom window sometimes, and tends to the hydrangea, dead heading the old flowers.”

I thought for a moment and realized sometimes while I lie in bed I’d hear rustling in that old tree. It is as tall as our two-story house and well over 100 years old, they say.

Earnest went into his hut and started bedding down in his straw. The night was crisp and breezy and the deep Maine sky was glittering with stars, one of the many gifts of life on midcoast. I sat with Earnest for a spell, as I listened, watching for my mother.

Earnest looked up at me. “She usually doesn’t come on weekends.”

So I did my barn feedings and started back for the house.

She comes and visits my pig and not me, I pondered.

I stopped to look up at the old hydrangea by my bedroom window. Turning back for the house, a gust blew, and I could hear the dried, dead hydrangea flowers rattle. Several blew off, landing at my feet.

I picked them up, and placed them in a bowl as I entered the house.

The next morning at feedings, Pickles came to me.

“Mrs. Dunn, do you know that woman who sits up in the hydrangea tree?”

Thursday, November 12, 2020

FInal Year end fundraiser

We are raising $4,000 for our year end fundraiser over on Facebook. They take no fees. However you can donate here on the blog too, or you can send a check. 

Money goes to care for the the animals. We have had an expensive year due to more vet calls with many losses this year of animal friends. It has been grueling but I always say this is part of the gig here-when we take many of them on, we know there time is limited and we just do our best. But so many old friends died, it has been very sad, and many of our in home companions-Muddy, Mister Mosely...Hughie last July.

 We do not take salaries for our work, nor do we charge the elder homes we visit.

I want to thank all of you who support us, be it through donations, cat food, emotional hugs and sharing our work too. Some of you consistently give through the year and we really feel good about that, and it is so appreciated. 

It has been a heck of a year, hasn't it? For everyone, everywhere. I am looking forward to a new year, and am full of ideas-including getting my Lovey Hut running [more on that later], more equine therapy I hope, and more than anything, I hope we can get our elders out of lockdown.

Monday, November 09, 2020

My soul cat...Mister Mosely came as a leaf

Mister Moseley died early Sunday morning. We knew he was close Saturday night. I am so grateful he waited until morning as I was able to hold his little cold paws and clean his eyes and give him one last goodbye. I am deeply sad. I waited my entire life for a cat like Mister Mosely and when our eyes met at the shelter I knew. He was supposed to be my ‘grow old along with me” cat but nature was in charge. I am so grateful he could die with us in his home in his little spot...with Bear’s baby llama blanket under him.


The photo above was the last picture I took, maybe two days ago.One thing about being able to caretake a dying animal, you learn to look and accept that they are not the same animal they were...and you start to want them to let go, and you start to let go.  Mister Mosely's bile duct issue took over fast, so rapid. The weight fell off him in the last week and a half. And when I looked back at photos of him...it was heartbreaking... but also helped me accept it was time for me to let go and help him know I was ok to let go. I sent so much time with him this last month, but especially in the last week, cleaning him [something he'd stop doing], talking to him, making sure he got some water for comfort...but being so intimate with him was and is part of helping a caretaker see 'it is time now'. I'm grateful he could die at home.

His eyes said it all.

We have lost three of our house companions since last summer-Hughie the pug, Muddy, and now Mosely. I miss them all, and today as I washed all the Mosely blankets it brought back visions of Hughie sleeping in them, and how Bear used the llama blankie as a puppy.

There is a space between actual death and spirit awakedness  for me. In other words, the body is gone, and I feel that as a caretaker I need a small space of not seeing the body anymore before I can witness spirit. But yesterday, as I walked back from the barn, I saw this one lone leaf, it had just come off a tree and was falling so gracefully, and so slowly. It felt like it was Mister Mosely and I will accept it as such.

I buried him by The Lovey Hut which I spent all day in yesterday painting the walls. It is where I will have art and books, and animals for healing visits and art sales. Mister Mosely will grow sunflowers too. It dawned on me that Hughie, Huck/Muddy and now Mister Mosely form a triangle with their burial plots. I don't know what that signifies, but I felt it meant something to me to have noticed it.

Friday, November 06, 2020

What a week, but it ends with love

On Wednesday morning at chores, I found old Friede the goat, dead. She had died in her normal position of sleep, her head slightly bent-she had not cast. She died in her sleep. I had told her if she chose to go, it was ok, but that I would help her next week when the vet comes to do equine teeth checks. Friede's crippled ondition-she was born that way-was getting worse since mid summer. In the last week, she could rarely get up on her own, and when I helped, anything could make her easily lose her balance. I had to watch her closely to make sure she wasn't stuck out in the rain. No way to go into a Maine winter, unfair to her. In the final couple days, I left her inside since it was raining and cold. She had one final day of sitting outside, eating fall grass. And she died that night. I admit that morning, I had had little sleep and was on high anxiety due to the election as most of America-no matter what team you were rooting for-so when I saw yet another elder dead, after so many one after another, I had words up to the sky. I have also been caring for Mister Mosely who is in his pre-journey but I have to check him, clean him and just make sure he is at peace, which he is. After I found Friede and came in from chores, I took Mister Mosely and put him by my side on the bed, to take a nap. But first I cried and cried, and told him all the things that were upsetting. I talked to him too about ...everything. I needed that outpouring. I have not had time to just let it out and weep....about the many goodbyes, and the state of the outside world.

The days this week have been tense of course, for many...anxious. Like many, I just want it to be over–of course I want one result over another, but I am done with the analysis. Time to regroup, refocus, peel off some armour and get on with it.

That is why the elder visit here at the farm today, with our friends from Lincoln Home, was so wonderful Firstly, the 60+ degrees and sun was perfect. This group have met Harry, and Opie, and some have been here last year. But this was the first visit we could do this year due to the pandemic [they are under different guidelines that our Maine Care friends at Cove's Edge]. 

We got everyone into the orchard, and then I went and ran in with the goats-they come in like Chariots of Fire, it is always funny for everyone to see their little squat wide bodies churning in. Then I got Arlo and brought him in. I wanted to see how he'd do, and Harry was in the adjoining paddock. Arlo really did just fine, considering he has not been out for over a year. So this was a big crowd of 12 or so, and lots of movement and laughter. He is still too pushy into me, but it is not threatening, more wondering what the activity is. And he still needs boundary work. But he was fine, and he is definately more approachable than Harry in some ways-he tends to lean in for head kisses. Harry is more reserved, more of a dignified gent.

I put the equines, all of them, in the adjoing paddock, and after Arlo had about 20 minutes under his belt, I let him in with the equines. He romped and ran with them. The elders loved it, it really brought them joy. They kept telling me how wonderful it was to be out and about and with the animals. 

One of the residents brought me one of her little bracelets, and it is symbolic to me-bright, shining, glittery-something I didn't feel on Monday. But it felt more symbolic today. I will send her all my books as she is an artist and a very interesting on top of it woman. I also adore her clothing style. I told her I had a style once, free and arty, but now I'm mainly in my farm attire. So I love seeing her outfits, and color, and sprite.

They are a charming group. The new activity director is great to work with and open to all kinds of fun things, so we will have much to do in the coming months.

I know some of you might be disappointed in the election. I was proud to vote blue, and proud to support a new administration. And I am relieved. But some of you aren't. But I am going to kick back and celebrate tonight, I think I've earned that. And then I am going to go on with my work in the community, and if I see  behavior or words spoken that I feel are wrong, or hurtful or bigoted or sexist, I will combat and educate through my actions, and outright words if needed and appropriate and safe. It is what I did when Trump won. So I will do the same with Biden. There is much work to do, there always will be where there are people.

Monday, November 02, 2020

The honor of the death doula

Can you imagine if nobody talked about someone's upcoming birthing process with the mother-to-be and her family? We should talk about death more, as a process, not as an ending, but a process. Doulas are becoming more and more prevelant in our society. Years ago, our communuties were the doulas. People died in their homes, surrounded by the generations. My mother told me many stories of relatives dying in the home, while children went on with life, buzzing about the home. I always felt being able to die in one's environment, with the sounds of life in the distance of people and music and things we know, is the good death–like falling asleep as a little girl while my parents continued to laugh and sing with dinner guests in the nearby dining room.


Herman died last night. I know. 

I had not buried Twinky as planned due to weather so today I put Herman with Twinky in a soft bed and buried them entwined together. Herman started leaving yesterday even though his cold was okay he just was fading. His hind end was worse than arrival and his eyes had sunk backwards-another sign (for me anyway) of the transition. 

I held him a lot yesterday and told him he was safe. I checked on him again at bed and he was sound asleep but his little paws were stretching in the final movements of a body with an already released soul. Maybe he watched Twinky just days ago and felt sure he could do this too. This morning he was just where I left him. I think Herman was really, really old and I think he just knew he could let go. How much longer would he have lived in the shelter? I don’t know, but I do believe some animals once out of the shelter can relax and let go if it is their time. It was Herman’s time. 

There have been many losses one right after the other but...it is what I attract-due to my intention. My intention is to shelter the souls that need help in the end, just to feel safe and warm...creating a space for them to let go, if and when they are ready.

 Last night we watched some James Bond movie. I lost interest and was tired. When I went to say goodnight to Mister Mosely, I knew he was not going to make it much longer. I don't know if it is days or weeks but doubt it is months. We were encouraged when the jaundice went away, but we also know he either has cancer or a tumor or something, but we will never know for sure-we will not put him through a specialist, and my vet said even if we wanted too Mose is not up to surgery. He is becoming more letharci and sleeps most of the time. There are other signs. But last night, I talked to him and told him he could go. It took me awhile to say it as I've care talked him so much in the past month. I've had time to adjust to the reality. And when you caretake anything or one, and you see their true self decline, it is part of the process of letting go as the caretaker. As long as he is comfortable, he can continue to sleep and be in transition. More than anyone, I hope he dies in his sleep, in his little cubby. 

I got into bed and let myself cry, and then sob. I had not done that for awhile. Martyn came in and thought I was having a bad dream. But I told him amidst my soft blubbering that it was just everything, Herman, Mosely, all of them, the pandemic, the election...it was all too much.

But up with the sun we were. And I cared for the bodies of Herman and Twinky. It was a beautiful, but a brooding sky...much like the personality of the current America we live in-there was change in the air, but there was fear, and trepidation and anger...but also some light behind and beside the darkest sky clouds. I watched cloud after cloud roll and form and merge into one another.