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.

Monday, May 17, 2021

We swoon every day over her

I am so enjoying spring this year, and all the crab apples are blooming together. It is spectacular. So every day I can't help but take as many photos as I can. The bees are buzzing! 

I am watching out for two mother birds who are roosting-one is the mother dove outside my office window, the other is a robin in the rafters above the pony area. The five chicks are feathering out but sill under heat for now. The garden is popping! The vegetable bed is planted. The sheep are being sheered and the llamas were sheered last week. Spring is so full of work, but hope, and beauty and reemergence.

Everyday of spring I am aware that winter is coming, every day of being 63 I know that 80 is right around the corner. It all goes in a flash. It goes fast every year, just like our wise mothers told us. And that is why I will be outside most of this week, just looking, smelling, gardening, brushing horses...because there will most likely be a day when I can't. We work hard and we rest easy.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Harry and I finally go to town and see special friends again...we must find a better way for our elders

This week Harry and I went to see our friend, Polly, who has been a longtime volunteer with us, and is  a lover of animals and all that Apifera does. She has supported us in many ways and we love her. So when we heard she was facing the challenge of lung cancer, we were all pretty sad.

So Harry and I were so happy to finally see her again. And this time, we got to hug!! A momentous occasion. I have not hugged another person except Martyn for a year. I'm sure many of you are in the same boat. Polly chose to leave her house temporarily to reside at a local care facility in a single suite so she can rest and focus on her body and what she is facing now. I thought her attitude was strong, realistic and in true Polly fashion she was looking at the positives of being at her rest home since it was helping her and she didn't have to think about shopping and such.

Cancer. Something is going to get us all in the end. But cancer...and the fight of the chemicals that usually goes with it is daunting. I told Polly we all loved her here and we would visit whenever she wants us too. Polly is also selling her art and sharing all proceeds with Apifera. Harry and I will go to the closing reception on May 26 at Savory Maine in Damariscotta. It's Harry's first gallery show and I'm pleased he will be getting his summer haircut on Saturday so he will look spiffy.

We walked over to Cove's Edge after visiting Polly-they are right across the road. My care manager was expecting me. We were limited on what we could do but we walked outside windows like the old days, and this time, we even could open the windows. Baby steps out of a pandemic. We are looking into puppy meetings soon. One of our lady friends was being picked up that day to go to her grandson's softball game. She had not seen any of them for over a year. She was so excited. I was so happy for her. Baby steps.

What I noticed was how quiet it was. Usually on a nice day the elders can sit in the garden, there are caretakers and spouses coming and going. But when I did look into windows at people-many I've seen for the last couple years-I felt the energy was low. I felt the worn out bodies of worn out souls that got worn out even more emotionally from the lock down.

Something has to be learned from this and perhaps used to reshape how we deal with such pandemics in elder homes. Shutting people away from family...in order to keep the spread of a disease-for a year and a half-is not an answer. I don't have the clear answer. And I certainly know the steps were taken for good reasons. But it should not be applauded as a role model for elder care in the country. I feel we need to have specific people in the various health departments and CDC that specifically deal with elders-maybe we do....but it can't be one size fits all either. Not all homes are the same and they aren't funded or staffed the same. It's complicated, I get it.

Imagine you have a year to live. In fact when you are 80 or older you don't go by years you go by days. And imagine each day, no family, no touch of loved ones, perhaps your spouse is kept from you....imagine  it. Is that living? We help people that are suffering at the end of life. We must find ways to help people in their final days also live a healthy emotional life. It is part of a life-the heart, head and mind. These care managers are stretched to the limit. Staffing is a real issue. At some places, the staff changes 100% every year. Many of the staff are holding down multiple jobs. I care deeply about Cove's Edge because most of the people that wind up their are born and bred Mainers and they are on Medicare and they do not have assets. Some have zero assets. Many end up with about $40 in their pockets after the care is paid for. That $40 is used for haircuts or a sweater or a gift for a child-but we all know $40 does not go far. So Cove's Edge is the top of my list for our animal healing work. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Maine skies

I like Maine. I feel very at home here, with the terrain and feeling of the area. Of course, Maine is big and varied, I might not feel that way farther north I don't know. Maine to me is a mix of my homeland of Minnesota and my memories of New England when I was in college.

But the sky here is very intense. It changes dramatically on an hour by hour basis. We are on the coast so the storms that blow through gives us drama in such a beautiful way-tones of Payne's Gray all over.

I caught this photo the other day and I especially like it.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Swooning over other people's mothers

This is my friend's mother who turned 90 and she secretly asked people to send cards for the affair, and hoped to get 90. She ended up with 140 or more. Her mom was so thrilled. I sent a Harry shirt and she posted this. I guess the package really made her happy since she has been hearing about our animals from her daughter for years.

It's kind of like seeing babies in the grocery store. Sometimes you want to sqoosh them. I'm like that with elder mothers. I want them to come be my mom for an hour or so. I'd hug them, smell
their motherly scent and maybe we could drink coffee and talk about old friends. Or bake something.

So I hope you all have a mother from a distance to swoon over if you are missing your mom like I do.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Harry gets some good press

Harry, and I were very pleased to be showcased by Spirituality & Health Magazine. We were recognized as a Community Champion for our outreach healing work to the elders in our community. I thought they did a wonderful job explaining what we do and why.

It's also a really nice publication. I've written and illustrated for it in the past and it is worth your attention.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Harry gets invited to his first gallery opening


Polly singing to our animals with the Hospice Choir

Polly is on the left, singing with The Hospice Choir that came to Apifera to sing to all the animals. It was such a special day.

Harry will be present at the afternnoon reception for our Apifera friend/volunteer Polly Steadman's art show in Damariscotta in May. He is unsure what to wear to such an event.

Polly was one of my first volunteers here, helping me with the Opie Love Mobile and Harry Window Walks. She has been present to witness the beautiful connections the animals have made at Cove's Edge and elsewhere, has supported our fundraiser and our mission. We were so sad to hear she is facing a huge challenge-lung cancer.

But in true Polly form, she is having a series of art sales and all proceeds will be given to Apifera. I am beyond humbled and touched. Her art will be showcased this month at Savory Maine in Damariscotta and on May 26th Harry will attend the final day reception. I also hope to take Harry to visit Polly while she resides at a care facility during her treatments.

Here is the press release for her show written by Grace of Savory Maine who is a long time friend of Polly's:

Savory Maine, dining & provisions will host an exhibit and sale of the paintings of Damariscotta artist Polly Steadman from May 7 until May 26. The public is invited to an closing reception on Wednesday May 26 from 2-4pm. Sweet treats, savory appetizers, wine and refreshing beverages will be served.

Polly was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer last year and has been undergoing treatment. The reception will be a wonderful opportunity for her many friends and fellow artists to visit with her & wish her well. 

The paintings can be bought any time during the show for the listed price or a bid can be placed in a silent auction for the paintings. Bids will be accepted through 3:30pm on May 26, the day of the reception. The highest bidder on each painting will be fortunate to go home with a piece of wonderful art. The paintings can be viewed during Savory Maine’s regular business hours which are from 12-7pm Friday through Monday. Savory Maine is located at 11 Water St. in Damariscotta. The entrance is on the lower level facing theDamariscotta River.

 The sale & silent auction is a benefit for Apifera Farm. Polly was a volunteer and is an enthusiastic supporter of the Farm.

Apifera Farm is a non profit in Bremen, Maine. Pronounced App-a-fair’-a , the farm provides forever sanctuary to elder and needy animals, but they also share the animals with the elder community through on site visits and by having elder groups come to the farm. Harry the llama has been making visits to Coves Edge and elsewhere for a couple years and when Covid hit, he began doing window walks to bring cheer. Opie the goat was also one of the farm's ambassadors. Through the winter Covid months, a Facetime Friday was held weekly, and a 'mystery guest' was brought into the farm house to Facetime with Cove's Edge residents in lockdown- sometimes it was Harry the llama, or a donkey, a goose, or a goat.
Recently the farm has been having residents of Lincoln Home come to brush the horses and ponies.

Katherine Dunn is an artist and writer, and along with her husband Martyn, own and operate the farm. Katherine has always had empathy for elders be it animal or human and she feels elders are often invisible to society. She also believes the animal visits provide two important things-the benefits of touch for both animal and human, and that animals help bring out story sharing among the elder people. Polly Steadman has volunteered with Apifera on many visits including the initial Harry the llama window walks to Cove's Edge and she also helped with in person visits with Opie the goat and Bear the pup. Polly has a huge spot in all the hearts past and present at Apifera! You can read more stories about Apifera and support them at apiferafarm.blogspot. com. Apifera Farm is not open to the public but instead focuses on
making visits to elder homes and working with care managers. Harry the llama will be present at the reception.

Polly has been “doing art” for fun as far back as she can remember. For years she tried to draw and paint what she saw as accurately as possible, resulting in stiff, colorless works. Over 30 years ago she learned the wet-on-wet technique for painting in oils and has been exploring, discovering, and honing ever since.The composition is usually unplanned at the outset and takes shape as her brushstrokes - long and strong or short, light and quick - blend blobs of color placed randomly on the canvas,while forms and themes emerge. Then the artist’s eye guides the flow of the design to the finished work that is a unique convergence of intellect and emotion. Polly admits, “To be honest, I never appreciated abstract art much. But when I can, somehow, blend the paint into and over the colors while seas and skies and magic planes
emerge, it excites me. There is a point, after an hour or two, when the oil paint sets itself up to be able to be pulled over the undercolors - and that’s when the excitement begins for me. That’s when the refinement of composition and color begin - as well as the real fun." She finds the process itself exciting and liberating – and each time an exploration into the unknown. Painting for her changed from a pleasing challenge to a passionate adventure. The first exhibit at Savory Maine ten years’s ago was of Polly’s paintings. Every six weeks there after Polly organized all of the art shows at the restaurant. She communicated with the artists, wrote the press releases, made the posters, sent out e-mails & hung & took down the shows. She did all of this with good cheer. Savory Maine will be closing some time this
year. The date is still uncertain. The restaurant open for takeout & outside dining only. This will be the last art exhibit at Savory Maine. Grace Goldberg, who is Savory Maine’s owne says. “It feels so appropriate that the first show and the last show be of Polly’s work. Polly is a dear, dear friend. It will feel great to be surrounded by her vibrant paintings while I am cooking.”

In the coastal Maine art community, Polly has shown frequently at the Boothbay Region Arts Foundation as well as at River Arts in Damariscotta. She is also an active member of a cooperative group known as the Saltwater Artists Gallery in New Harbor. Polly grew up in New Hampshire, received her BA in Psychology at Skidmore College in New York, and has lived in Maine for over 40 years.

For many years Polly volunteered at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and sang and danced with Hearts Ever Young. She was also a member of the Homeward Bound Hospice Choir. For further information please contact Grace Goldberg at Savory Maine 563-2111 or e-mail her at gracehgoldberg@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Working in between realities

In between realities....that seems to be the state of my artist brain. When I'm painting, I am in an inner reality, but then when I look outside at my barnyard it feels like I am in the reality of the painting.

Or I've gone mad.

Anyway, the spring is percolating and the garden is popping and the green is greening. The puppy has a week under his belt and he is the bravest little chap, much braver than Bear was. He is also more independent, not afraid to wonder around on his own, although he loves Bear, and Officer Mittens too. He squeezed through the gate and I caught this photo, but rescued him before Calla could pounce him, which she would of. His little bones are ready for that.

I've been wroking on the Walter book. It is really one of those cathartic projects for me, one that I hope to have ready for you in the coming month. It should flow out of me once I'm fully engaged. I'm trying to be in studio working on it at least 4 days a week. May is always one of the busiest months on the farm. We have the vegetable garden to prep and plant, sheering the sheep and llamas is coming up and all the spring vaccines and feet trims and such. The healing visits to the farm are ramping up too and I hope to be taking Harry out in due time too.

I predict this summer will be crazy with out of towners. People are pent up. The grocery store usually sees what I call the polite old timers return to their summer homes. They are quiet, dress down and are polite at the store. Then in July it heats up with many people passing through to Acadia, often with hundred kids in tow. They are louder and more in their vacation mode shouting into phones and such. I was at the store yesterday and the out of towners are already here, and many were not local summer people, I could tell. I sound like a grumpy old fart but you really do feel like they descend on the town like summer flies. Some are quiet, many aren't. I am happy for the shop keepers though, they rely on these same people to make a living and I'm sure they need all the help they can get this year, although I know many that did fine with smart marketing and loyal national base. I'm grateful we got our house when we did. Like many areas in the country, the real estate market is nuts and there is very little available.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Walter's Last Song

 I wrote a lot about Walter this week. I let everyone who follows us on social media that Walter was transitioning - it became very clear on Tuesday or so that he was starting to let go. There is part of me that wonders if he knew we had the puppy–I told him, of course– and he felt he could leave. I don't know. But I did find the juxtaposition of a new pup so full of life and joy next to the dying old man such a story in and of itself, the story of the bookends of life.

I had placed Lemon in the freezer, wrapped, waiting for a better temperature to bury him. I remember thinking that maybe Walter would die soon too andI could more easily bury them together. But I didn't really envision Walter dying so soon after, a month later. He failed really fast. It's like he just ate up all the love and was relaxed and had made his strides and was ready. Maybe seeing Lemon go too helped him. He had a peaceful death, and I was there to the end. It took him about 48 hours to leave. When I sang this last song, he was still conscious, but barely. That morning he was still able to sit lie with his head up, and when I came in he called to me, a little hello-goodby meow. I knew that he was saying one final hi and bye.

So they are buried now, the important ritual the caregiver  does not only for the animal, but for themselves. Martyn often digs the larger graves but this time of year the soil is easy to move and I dug the grave, placing them near the lilacs and peonies.

There is a space after death, a space for the caregiver–'what do i do now with this time I cared for this creature?' I read some things from different native Americal tribes on their death rituals. It was really interesting. Many of the tribes believe that there is a four day period after death where the body must be left ass is, or with rituals and grieving before the spirit leaves. I do think there is a space like this where the dead have to figure out how to navigate that transition form one realm to the next, or maybe it is the final letting go of worry about what they have left.

"Okay, she got me and Lemon buried nicely, I can officially go, and she's okay," maybe that is what Walter said. "She has her puppy to help her be happy, I can leave," he thought.

I am glad I have the puppy. I was very proud of Walter, and me and how we slowly worked through the layers of fear and came to a beautiful place of trust. I plant to write about it in book form. I had been thinking of doing something about Walter, and Lemon, but when I knew Walter was really leaving, I realized just how attached I'd become to him and writing and art will help me, and maybe it will help others in time. I'm so glad I agreed tot ake them in, and so glad the shelter asked me. They knew they were non adobtable and most would not have the time or patience, or set up, to have let Walter and Lemon go on that long. I'm no hero, others could have done it too, but the shelter made the right decision. I'm glad I gave them stability of two or so years in the end. They lived long lives, almost 20 years. And for the last year or so, Walter understood the feeling of touch, companionship and trust. Carrying around all that fear...must have taken a lot of energy.

The elder cat suite is strange right now, it is just 20 year old Tommy and 19 year old Inky. Today I held Inky and got him to purr. He is a nice guy but not that interested in being held. Tommy likes to put her head into your head, as she sits on her perch. I always thought Tommy would be the next to go-she is 20, but she is still here. 

He was such a great friend...such an honor to have worked with him as a team.  When I took this photo five days ago, it was the day I noted on Instagram that he was extra attentive to me that day, as if he did not want me to put him down, and when I did, he followed me and sat at my feet. I think we both didn't want to say goodbye. I think sometimes we have relationships with certain animals and there is a bond like that. I felt that when Opie died, for one. There were others, and Walter was one.

But when I sang that song, he was ready. I drew this sketch as I sat near him sleeping a day before he died. It felt like the way to honor him, but he with him.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

A real buddy for Bear

I got a message last winter from the farm where Bear was born that she was having some more pups. I had planned on another chocolate pup for Bear but was thinking it would be when he turned about 3. We have always had two related chocolate boys and that is what we wanted again. I like knowing they have a real relative in their midst, and I really love these dogs from this farm. They have beautiful personalities and are raised with family love because they simply love labs. 

But after Muddy died too youmg-at age 9.5 from bone cancer- I just started thinking, what are we waiting for? I'm not getting any younger. We tried talking on another very old, blind pug last winter [sweet little Uncle Wally] and that experience also had us realize that right now, in our household, an older dog is not a good fit-with Officer Mittens and our pack. Besides, in case you haven't noticed, I bury a lot of old animals. I just wanted some youth, some hope and joy. So we decided on another lab pup. The more I worked with Bear, and played with him, I got excited about bringing home a buddy for him. Watching Bear this past year and a half try to play kick ball with The Goose and goats has been fun, he certainly isn't depressed, but I really started realizing I wanted him to have his very own little Bear.

The farm emailed me to tell me a litter was coming in April. I told her I only wanted a chocolate male. And if there wasn't one, it was not the right timing for a pup.  On the day of the birth, she emailed me a pic-there was only one chocolate male...so that was proof enough for me. We call him...Buddy. Such a common name for dogs, but it just seemed so fitting. So now Bear has a buddy, his very own Buddy.

If you want to follow along in photos of The Bear and Buddy Show follow us on Instagram. if you don't like an abundance of puppy pictures, you might want to avoid me for awhile. So far Buddy has met The Goose, and goats, and White Dog. Imagine all the new sounds he heard on his first day. And Bear is so happy. You can just see him looking at Buddy and thinking, "I finally got my little buddy I wanted."

One of te first things Bear did was bring out his beloved Mister Bubbles to show Buddy.  

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

I couldn't help it! Pickles Power is Girl Power shirt!

I had to add this design to our Bonfire Tshirt shop [Bonfire helps non profits selling Tshirts, it is a great product and great customer support].

I made these in both adult and kid sizws. I think our young girls would like to wear Pickles Power too.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Yume dies a good death, but what does that mean to a human?

I often use the term 'good death", and I did again this weekend when i let my followers know that Yume, one of the first elder cats to be adopted in Maine, died at 19+. I found her, dead, in her little bed where she always sleeps, pretty much where I left her that morning. It was not unexpected. That morning she was weaker in her body and ate little, I held her and reminded her I had bought her that one way ticket, but there was no expiration date–she could leave when she wanted to. And she did. These are the picture of her as I found her and when my chores were finished I captured how Inky and Walter came to lie with her. They had said goodbye long ago.

What is a good death? As a human, i look at it differently than a cat. A cat just wants peace, comfort and to be on their own terms. They don't use the word 'struggle' but they want to be able to breathe, to not be stressed. So yes, I feel in cat terms Yume had a very good death and i was happy for her.

As a human, I see many people die, as do all of you. I often hear people say they want to die in their sleep, and there is merit to that. I recently heard a doctor on a radio interview say that while many say they want to die this way, usually the body has had a heart attack or stroke when a person dies this way. I am not sure if that matters if one is asleep. With animals, I've been able to witness many natural deaths, and other induced deaths. Generally the natural death is how I prefer to see Nature takes it course, unless their is true distress or pain or danger there will be sever trauma ahead without help. But I've also witnessed how it takes a body a long time to shit down when it is in the active process of dying.

But back to a good death. This same doctor brought up the beautiful words of Maurice Sendak in his last interview with Terry Gross. He was in his last months and was ready. But he talked about how age made him acutely aware of how much he loved life, and he talked about his beautiful trees outside his window. He didn't want to miss his trees but because he loved the beauty of Nature and the trees, each second he got was spent in awe and joy of the beauty of it. The doctor said that he felt that was the layered meaning of a 'good death'–when a person can live that moment, and every moment in the day in awe of what is around them, and also be aware they are going to die and eventually they do die. They die aware of the wonder of it all–that is a good death, to be ready, to have lived, lived, lived, lived.

"I have nothing now but praise for my life. I'm not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more. ... What I dread is the isolation. ... There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready." {Maurice Sendak months before dying}

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Monday, April 19, 2021

Pickles learns about the birds and bees [and lumps] from Earnest the pig


My latest from my monthly column "Tails & Tales of Apifera" for Lincoln County News

“Mrs. Dunn! Mrs. Dunn!” I heard as I opened the front door.

“Pickles, what is it?” I asked.

“It’s Marta! She’s sitting on her egg and won’t get up!” Pickles said, alarmed.

“Well, I suspect she wants to be sitting on her egg, Pickles. She is broody,” I said.

“What’s that?” Pickles asked.

It dawned on me that this was going to be one of those talks, the talk every adult must have with a youngster at some point, even if it is a little goat.

“She wants her egg to hatch into a baby chick,” I said.

Pickles’ mouth gaped open. She went screaming into the barn.

“Everybody! Marta is going to pull a chicken out of her egg!”

Pickles’ shouts woke up Earnest the pig.

“Pickles, did you not know chickens come from eggs? It is time you understand these things,” the pig said.

“How did the baby get in the egg?” Pickles asked. The barnyard gathered around Earnest, waiting on his every word.

This ought to be good, I thought.

“First, you need a lady chicken, and a man chicken,” Earnest began.

“I say, I say, that would be me, I am the man!” said the rooster. The hens rolled their eyes.

“The man chicken sits on the lady chicken, and magic sprinkles are spread in the lady chicken. Soon after, a baby pops out of her egg.”

“Can the rooster make me a chicken baby?” asked Pickles.

Muffled snickers were heard in the group.  “No, Pickles, you are a goat, so you need a boy goat,” said the pig.

Pickles turned around to look at Ollie, Jim Bob and Roscoe–who looked sheepish.

“Those chaps can’t help you, Pickles, they don’t have the right parts anymore,” Earnest said.

Now it’s really getting good, I thought.

Pickles looked confused.
Earnest went on, “Boys are born with lumps, and the lumps carry the magic sprinkles that goes in the lady to make the baby.”

“Do you have lumps?” Pickles asked.

“In fact, I do,” said the pig, and he graciously turned around so she could peer at his backside.

“Oh, goodness,” said Pickles.

“But Ollie and the other boy goats don’t have lumps anymore, they went away,” said Earnest.

“Where did they go?” Pickles asked.

Oh dear, I thought.

“They went to Lumpaland, where lumps are sent to live happily ever after, without their sprinkles,”  said Earnest.

Ollie and the boy goats rolled their eyes.

“But let’s just say Ollie did have lumps, how does he give me the magic sprinkles?” Pickles asked.

One of the old goats jumped in, and said, “He slow dances with you.”

“Or sometimes they do a quick jitterbug!” said Henneth the blind chicken.

“And then where does the baby come out?” asked Pickles.

“Well, between your legs, of course,” said Earnest the pig.

Pickles went screaming out of the barn.

Earnest followed her and put his arm around her. He consoled her, “Don’t fret now, no lumps will sprinkle you,” he said.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Slow stitching with the elder cats & Walter and I are in the in-between time

This week I took my threads out to the cat room and began taking a couple hours a day to slow stitch amongst the old cats. This is a very special time for me and Walter. 

Walter and I [and the other three remaining elders, all are 18-20] are in the in-between. He seems to be losing strength in his hind, which is very common when they get this old. I've seen it a million times. I've noticed that his bone structure in his face is shifting, more sunken as muscle is lost. It's been a few weeks since Lemon passed. While Walter had surely lost weight over the year like Lemon, Lemon was much thinner and clearly on his way in due time. In the past couple days I've seen something shift in Walter. He is not depressed or anxious or sad or ill. He simply seems the most content I've ever seen him, and the most bonded to me he has ever been. Our journey together has been so rewarding and we took our time to get here. 

Today he wanted to be with me, sitting on my stitching, then my lap. He got up a few times but always came back. If you had told me this would be our final part of the journey when he first arrived, feral and scared, I might not have gone along with it.

I think these moments we are having our the most beautiful and profound moments I've encountered for awhile. I had been feeling the muse provoke me over and over to take my stitching out to the cat room and kept forgetting or got busy with something else. But in the last few months there has been a shift in me too. I simply want to do the work I feel like at the moment and not feel any push to do something speciific for the shop. I still make my living this way, but these past months have felt more liberating. I don't know why.

Anyway, today I was thinking -did my muse urge me on to work in the cat room, or did Walter also urge me on, so we could be together even more in these final weeks or months that he has? Yume too is clearly transitioning and she too came and sat in my lap yesterday as I sewed-this is unheard of. She is tiny but now is very, very tiny, and pretty blind too. One can't predict the muse, but when it speaks, an artist learns to listen. If they can't follow the muse, they get all messed up and confused. And if you can't follow the muse you are probably in a part of your art career that is taking you on a certain path that you feel is necessary to make a living or grow a clientele. I'm glad I'm passed that part. I always played with the muse but it is really since I started my own shop and quit reps and galleries and focused on my writing too that things settled into what I have now. It wasn't luck. And it was a winding path. And I made some wrong turns.

I've decided that I like working out there, and I also like having fewer cats in the elder suite [we had 12 at one time and usually had around 8-10, but we are down to four, and they are all very old]. I think I will make it my slow stitch and sewing area. They get my time, I get their time. I think I'll take my sewing machine out there too.

{I post my art and stitching and creative work regularly on Instagram}

Monday, April 12, 2021

New work: The Mailbox in Spring


This canvas is now available at the shop.

There is something so hopeful about spring, things that come out of the ground, after being frozen all winter give one a sense that, for today, it is going to be fabulous. The little pussy willow blowing in the wind is the first sign of spring here. 

And the mailbox waits to give a letter to our mail woman...the mailbox, ready to embrace letters of love, news and support.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Beauty Parlor Day-healing for elders and equines [and me]

We had two of our elder friends out from Lincoln Home today, along with a caretaker and my equine helper. Our task was simple-groom the equines, and have fun making The Teapot girly for one day. Becasue these two women are able bodied we could work in the equine barn which was great becasue all the equines were there. I had Captain Sparkle tied up to work on his ground manners, and The Teapot was with him on a lead. Biggs didn't even need a halter, he stood and loved the attention and grooming. I had Boone tied in the paddock and he really loved the grooming too.

It was really fun. And at the end of an hour and a half one of them said she loved hearing all the stories being shared too. That was so true. I actually know one of these residents who lived near by when we got here aso it was really special to spend time with her, and we shared stories of past things.

We are going to make it a regular outing for these two women-both are starving for fresh air, touch and animals-one of them lived with horses so this is really nice for her.

It is fun doing these smaller intimate get togehters too for healing times.

And the equines loved it, especially Biggs. He truly, truly loves humans-somebody did something right with him at some point in his life. Sparkle was a spitfire but did fine. He needs to partake more like this and learn better manners but we all agreed-we adore him and his Beatle haircut! The Teapot was very good and stood pretty well, I think she was once doted on by her little girls before they grew up and wanted bigger horses.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

I had to let her go...Joliet


If you follow us on social media you know sweet Joliet was leaping around in a video I posted on Friday, and on Saturday I found her foaming at the mouth with extended rumen. I assume it was frothy bloat [even though she had not eaten anything that usually causes this]. I doctored her with the right stuff. She improved slightly. I also noticed her neck felt very large leading me to think something was stuck in her throat. It was also Easter weekend. I was able to talk to my vet on Easter and she said I did the right things but was concerned it was not bloat, which should have dissipated after my treatment, and she did not like the sounds of the enlarged throat area.

So on Monday, nobody could come to me. I did not want to put Joliet through a 3 hour round trip drive to the vet, and said I would wait until Tuesday. But I felt pressure to go, so I went. I knew that all the things we talked about it 'might be' were non treatable. What was the point of putting her through a trip like that. That morning she was ok, but her breathing had changed, and her rumen was softer, which is good, but still large. She got up and walked around. I knew she was uncomfortable but she wasn't thrashing out. When I went to help her to truck, she cried-not in a typical pygmy drama cry [pygmy goats are huge drama queens!], but more in a distress cry. In the truck she did ok on the trip, only talking once or twice.

I was not thinking this would end the way it did. In fact, on the way up, I reminded myself not to feel pressure to do something I felt was not necessary. I like my vets. But out west, my vets treated me more like a farmer versus a pet owner. I feel sometimes, especially with llamas and goats and ruminants, there is too quick a "Time to euthenize"...and it can lead to feeling pressure. Sometimes, you can wait to long to put an animal down. Sometimes they are failing in a normal way, and they die peacefully, and sometimes not. It's a hard call sometimes. But most vets here seem to want the quickest end. I understand not wanting suffering, but a slower natural death can often happen.

But when we got her out of the truck into the working horse stall, my vet went right for her neck area. She immediately suspected lymphoma. This would also make sense that her rumen was still large, since the throat could not cough or get rid of the foam.

She cried when touched by them. I told them I thought the trip was stressful on her, that she was calm in the truck, but I did say her breathing was more labored for sure. Her temp had been normal but this morning it had gone down. 

We opted to do a throat and rumen xray. And blood work. We knew we might not have options once we saw the xrays but it might help in our understanding of what happened. As we started to do blood draw, she clearly was distressed. We decided to go right for the xrays and did those but she was anxious. When I held her she calmed but I was in the way of the xray paddles so could not assist [I did not like this!]. In the 20 or so minutes we were trying to get xrays and blood, she started declining. I was on the ground with her, cradling her head and body and at one point I felt her release and start to want to slump. She cried out-in a death like cry-they are different than a normal stress cry. I told my vet she was dying and she agreed. She got the medicne and we put her down.

I have mixed feelings about it. I wanted her to die at home. I did not want to drive her due to stress on her, but felt some pressure to do that. If I had not gotten her there [she was not as stressed at the barn] she might have gone through a bad death that night. Or she might have died that night on her own.

I know I did what I could. I was with her and she calmed everytime I held her. But I felt out of sorts.

On the way home, the words "death is life, life is death" kept coming to me. They are partners. Like the moon and sun and the wave and the shore-can't have one without the other. I got home and as I walked to the front gate, I saw her little hoof prints in the wet sand. It hurt. I was not ready. But in the end, when she got out of the truck and into the stall, I think she let go. I had told her on the way up we would make it better, and we did. I think she held it all in on the ride, and then let go.

But how she could be in a video on Friday night-I posted it on IG-and she is leaping like Pickles, with no swelling...and the next morning she was down and a day later she is gone...I just don't get it. How it came that fast-if that is what it was. I could have done an autopsy. I've done them before on sheep. They can give you hints but often don't tell you anything conclusive. I declined one and said I just wanted to get her home.

Pickles was there to greet me, and I said a solemn 'Hi Pickles." She kicked a tiny, quiet leap, almost symbolic of my feelings.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Feeling the sadness through the screen

Today Was Facetime Friday. I decided to bring The Goose in...what could possibly go wrong? He stayed in Bear's play pen while Officer Mittens kept his eyes on him. He pooped a lot. He flapped his wings and preened. One woman was worried he was sick due to his wrinkled feathers. We discuss the inside's of a goose bill and how they can really hurt you if they need too.

 I felt the sadness and 'worn outness' of my elder friends at Cove's. They are once again in a 2 week 'can not gather, no visitors' place due to a staff positive test. I just felt we, they, are all drained from staff to residents to onlookers. We talked about how it all seems to go in starts and stops, this recovery. My main gal friday was off today so Amy, my second in command gal friday, did a great job. Since they could not gather in groups, she walked the halls and we visited that way. I got to see some familiar faces I had not seen for a year...including Earnie. I also learned of two passings I did not know about. Everyone is just tired. How can they not be, if I'm tired of it how must it be for them?  One gentleman had just moved in and was not happy, how or why would he be? He wanted someone to help him speak to someone-it was out of my realm and it made me feel upset for him, or anyone in that situation.

I am not sure if seeing a goose in a tiny phone screen helped. I feel sadness.

I am going to think of something to drop of for residents next week, and staff, to lift their spirits.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Thankful for all of you!

{March 31 Update: We are up to $4200- so grateful, thank you!}

Just a quick update that we are up to $2500 raised for the $5000 Spring Fundraiser Goal. Once we reach our goal, a very generous matching donation will be sent our way for another $5,000.

Raising money is an ongoing challenge for any non profit and while I am the pilot of the aircraft here in all fundraising, I can't do it without all of you-all of you, the ones who send $10 when you can, the ones who send parts of their stimulus checks, the ones who send thousands or jump right in when a need arises.

I try to make the fundraising fun, with thank you's from the animals and such...but it is all hard work and effort. But here's the thing, I love doing it because I love my work and I love that I get to do what I am doing. I won't ever take it for granted. And while we don't do this 'for money' [we take no salaries], raising money is a validation of our efforts and work here.

So thank you to those who have given so far!

Friday, March 26, 2021

Help us get this $5,000 matching donation!


Our Spring Fundraiser is active, and if we make our goal of $5,000, we will be given a matching $5,000 donation from an Apifera follower [who wishes to remain anonymous].
Visit our facebook page to donate. Facebook pays all the processing fees for you, so 100% of your donation goes directly to the nonprofit.
Two of these 20" prints will be given to two of the donators of the Spring Fundraiser. Anyone who has already donated will be included in the drawing. We do it very scientifically-if your donation is up to $100 you get your name in the bucket once, if you donate up to $200 your name is put in the bucket twice and so on and so on. Then Pickles or someone pulls out the names. 

We are up to $,300. So help us reach $5,000 so we can get that matching $5,000 donation

Here is the direct link so you can share with friends. https://www.facebook.com/donate/311007570738104/

Thank you!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Lemon lets go...but we are happy for him

If you follow social media Apifera, you already know that Lemon died Sunday. I entered the cat suite that morning and Walter was at the door but Lemon was not in his normal place and out of site. 

I knew. 

The day before I was holding him and Walter came over as usual to be at my shoulder-I told Walter that Lemon was going to die soon-his feet were cold and his ears too. I sang a little of that old James Taylor song “so close your eyes you can close your eyes it’s alright...you can stay as long as you like.” I asked Walter to help Lemon feel it was safe to let go. I figured it was days not necessarily hours. He was so thin though.

I'm actually happy for him. The fact he was able to open up more in the last month -partly due to transitioning but also because I do feel he gave in. The fact I could hold him and be with Walter-that was a gift to me. He gave me all the gifts in the last month. He had a very, very strong spirit to have continued to live in his body like that.

I think I might write a story about Lemon and Walter at some point. The old grumpy man letting go, the scared one finally accepting touch...to be touched like he was in the last weeks, to sit with Walter in my lap...I feel it was a gift for him, but also for me of course. But to have held out all those months [since May 2019] and not allow me to touch him, to hiss each time-the energy that took must have worn on him].

Walter is fine. He is actually doing things he didn't do when Lemon was alive. he is coming tot he door more to greet me, he wants to ride on my shoulder all the time, he jumps off his perch to be on the table while I prep food, he comes to the window to look in while i am in the feed room. he seems lighter and happy, and very much bonded to me. He too is getting thin, nothing like Lemon, but I try to keep the weight on but he is 19.

Someone on IG asked me if I had ever written about the fact many of the animals here die naturally. I wasn't sure how to answer, and didn't [I have learned in the past years of social media it is not my job to answer all the questions posed, and I don't anymore]. There was nothing wrong with the question. The fact is, many animals here are helped on their way with a vet. Every caretaker has a comfort level. My feeling is I want the animals to die naturally if they are not suffering. I have seen suffering, when a vet can't get there, it is not pretty and very upsetting. I have done things I didn't think I could do but when we farmed I learned a lot about death, transitions and what is humane and what isn't. Some people think a bullet is more humane than euthanasia for livestock or equines. In some ways I agree-if it is done properly- and sadly some people I've seen boast about it on social media are not those I'd allow to do it but they think they do it just fine [anyone that has a dying lamb but has to tie it to a tree, and then shoots not one properly placed bullet, but FIVE into that little lamb does not know what they are doing].

With the old cats, the stress of taking one to the vet in my opinion is often way too much stress. I regret taking two of the old cats in to the vet when I knew they were dying. One of those cats did die, with me, at the vet, but he had to go through a night in a cage there. I felt pressure to take him, due to living so openly online. But I wish he had died like Walter. I have taken old cats in- like Big Tony-he needed help, and he was 20. Mister Mosely was able to sleep most of his final days and died with me peacefully. So it is not that I am against it, it is simply on a case by case situation. And of course, things can go wrong quickly. I know people that rush to the vet when a cat has the sniffle-that is their right and their comfort level and their budget, I have nothing bad to say about that. I just approach on a individual basis.

Lemon, I did my best, and I also know you did your best, and I am glad you could just be yourself and do things in your own way.