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

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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Ruthie rings in the new year and....


Well, the new year is upon us again. Just like a circle we start and walk around and start again, just like the earth revolving. I usually take the week between Christmas and New Year's Day to reflect, plan, ponder, evaluate...and do taxes. This year that was a bit off due to the kitchen remodel and of course, because of being present as much as possible with White Dog in the final days. 

I'm okay. I'm just really sad, deeply wounded sad. Each little thing I feel and see as I go about my day has lessons about my open wound, or provides a soothing band aid too. 

I am ready to be back in studio but I have to get the kitchen painted and cupboards and it is coming together so I hope to be back in studio in a week. 

So for now, I'm doing as White Dog suggested, when I miss him I turn to see him everywhere in Nature, and I take solace in the energy of all the creatures still here. I have felt him many times. I walk over the grave since it is there in my chores, and I talk to him a bit, or say a greeting like I always did. I still crave to take photos of him and will mourn that too. But I took so many and I am so glad. 

I don't know about this new year. I think we are still in for pandemic issues. I am not allowed to go into Coves with my animals right now. I have to come up with ideas. I will. I want to do more with hospice patients one on one. I want to work more with the blind. 

I want White Dog back. 

I hope you have good health in the new year because without it things get complicated fast. Thank you to everyone who supports Apifera financially and emotionally, and thank you to those who follow along and also buy my art and books. I have a good life and there is not a day I don't think about that.I have Martyn and my art and my farm. I don't take it for granted.

Being spiritual being having a human experience is conflicting-often. No matter what your belief system, we are here in human bodies and we are meant to be in those bodies to learn....and grow. It's the human being of me that is grieved by the absence of a loved one, but it is always the spiritual creature I am that helps me walk through it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

White Dog is now Here There Everywhere

I am just in deep grief right now. If you follow along on social media you know yesterday we put down White Dog. We will bury him today. I just can't write more about it right now. It's like an entire part of the fields and barnyard are gone. I do believe he is Here There Everywhere like all the other creatures and people who have left the Mother Ship. But as a human left behind, I am faced with deep loss of HIM.

The grief is physical.


Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Annual Christmas Garland Festival

Years ago, a follower sent me a hand made felted garland. I had some fun with it and shared it in photos, with the animals taking turns to wear it. It became an annual Christmas tradition and is great fun for everyone, including my followers. That garland has been sewn together so many times! It has been dragged through the mud and pig mire and poop, but still keeps on giving love back to us.

I have been posting daily pictures all week of the Garland Festival over on Instagram.

I have been preoccupied with the kitchen remodel [also posted on IG]. I have never had a harder painting job in all the six houses I've remodeled. We ripped out two layers of ceiling to expose the original hand hewn 1760 beams. I'm finally getting about 2/3 done with just the ceiling. It is going to be so nice. Martyn is doing the counter tops over, and I will be painting the cupboards too. We're going to an alabaster white-pure, clean, fresh.

Monday, December 20, 2021

We get our snow and the ponies run in their bells

 If you follow on social media you know we have wanted snow, not only for White Dog, but so we can run the ponies. It was a pretty, fluffy blanket, perfect for Captain Sparkles tender feet and he and The Teapot are just pure joy to watch.

The joy is good for us, as we are journeying through White Dog's bone cancer. I write about it extensively on IG and FB so follow the journey there. I can't take enough photos of him. The main thing is I was focusing too much on the physical signs, and thanks to a dear soul sister I realized I was not letting him set the pace for what is to him, a spirit journey. He trusts me, and I must trust him, in our language and communication with one another. I must trust my senses so I can do right by him when the time does come. And that time is not today. One day at a time.

A friend sent me this qoute and it is so spot on with the feelings right now with White Dog. I know tohers who are also facing this in between time with loved ones. It is uncomfortable.

"It's hard to be there, that space between what no longer is and what is yet to be..." 

Friday, December 17, 2021

"There are heros in the seaweed", said Leonard

 “Look among the garbage and the flowers, there are heroes in the seaweed...” {L. Cohen}

We have had such warm days, and rain. While I want snow [which supposedly will arrive tomorrow] I have to say the warm weather makes chores easier. And, well, the fowl are extremely happy with their overflowing ponds. I love to look out on the front barn goat paddock at chores and see this scene. To me it is so peaceful. One woman said it looked like one of my paintings and I guess you can say this–they do merge, art and life.

One can see messy mud and mire and leafless trees...or one can revel in the sculpture of the branches and the reflections in earth toned water.


Friday, December 10, 2021

The animals and I pay tribute to Polly, who has given us snowflakes

 “Mrs. Dunn! Polly sent us the snow flakes!”

It was Pickles the goat, running in joy as I came out for the morning feedings.

I was taken aback. I had just found out myself in a morning email that our loyal volunteer, Polly, had died the night before. She had stage four lung cancer.

I stood silently, the snowflakes falling all around me, as the goats gathered at my feet. I looked at the sky and thought to myself, it is something Polly would do.

“Mrs. Dunn, Polly said she sent the snow so you can put the Christmas bells on the ponies and let them run around in the snow,” Pickles said.

I have been asking for snow, I thought.

Earnest the pig sauntered up to us.

“She was spunky, I liked her,” he said.

“She was kind. She put her arms around me,” said the quiet voice of the very old sheep, Calla.

“Remember when I got to pull her around the barnyard? That was so fun!” said Ollie, the biggest of the goats.

Ollie was referring to a visit here at the farm when some of our elder friends came to be with the animals, and Polly was there to help. I handed her a lead rope, which was attached to Ollie the goat, and told her she was in charge of him. Polly was a petite person, Ollie is about 120 pounds. As I went about helping the elder people, I looked around and there was Ollie pulling Polly around the orchard, showing her every blade of grass and all the apple trees he loved. But Polly had a smile on her face the entire time.

The snow continued to fall.

“Polly is free now,” said Auntie Bea, one of the old goats.

“What does that mean?” said little Hannah the goat.

“She is without a body,” said Auntie Bea, stoically.

“She lost her whole body?!” Hannah cried, and Pickles gasped.

“You don’t need your body forever, Hanna. You just need it here on Earth. But remember how you learned about Here There Everywhere? That is where Polly is and she needs no body for that,” said Earnest the pig.

“Polly is free of pain, Hannah. Her body hurt,” I said.

“Polly doesn’t hurt? This is excellent news then!” said Pickles the goat.

Pickles took Hannah and they ran around in circles in the fluffy dusting on the ground.

I headed to the outer barn to feed the horses and ponies. Harry the llama came over to me, his white fur dusted in flakes. Polly often helped me when we took Harry to visit our elder friends at Cove’s Edge.

“Harry, Polly died last night,” I said.

“I know,” he said. “She told me.”

I watched White Dog roll in the snow. White Dog got his snow, I thought.

I put the Christmas bells on the ponies, and off they ran in the snow, bells jingling. It was pure joy.

“Thank you, Polly,” I said.


{A video of the ponies running with their bells will be on Instagram later this evening.}

Sunday, December 05, 2021

New painting

 I had a nice day in the studio and was pleased with this new piece. It is now on the shop. It is called "Tomorrows Were Once Todays"

Visit the shop to learn more about this piece >

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

My little shining Sparkle

He is so gorgeous in the morning sun. He was tied up because the farrier came today. Captain Sparkle had severe laminitis and Cushings that was not being treated or cared for when Horse With Hope took him on-they did a great job helping him and at some points weren't sure if he'd make it through the lamanitis. Grateful he did. But about a year into being here, he started really acting up with foot trims. One day was so bad, and dangerous for him and the farrier, that we give him a little oral sedative for trim days. I don't want him having any bad associations with foot trims again, after all he went through-nor do I want my farrier to struggle with that.

I really am hoping for a few inches of snow so I can let him and The Teapot run in their bells. They only run in snow. If there is one cold short blade of grass to be found, they will find it. But they really love to run. I feel like Captain Sparkle has been a bit blue lately. I put him in with The Teapot the other day thinking he might enjoy it, but she is such a little sass pants that he can't get near the hay, and there he was, standing out in the paddock all alone, looking perplexed. He prefers being with Biggs and Harry.

I love him.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

The msytery of our 1760 house...I love it even more


{I am documenting the work over on Instagram]

What does any sane person do the day after Thanksgiving? Rip out the ceiling in the kitchen!

Our house was built in 1760, one of  the first houses in the village along with the Hilton place [this is my research anyway, still uncovering the history here]. It is a post and beam structure, and the only addition was done in the 18880's sometime when they added what was to be used as a Quaker meeting room [ a Quaker cemetery sits on the property line, property that was once part of this property which at the time covered 300 acres and went from the cove to Pemaquid Pond - I so wish I could see it like that! 

So anyway, we have remodeled many houses and the Yamhill house was a huge job. So the kitchen here is so small it is not that big of a deal. Um, sort of. But taking the ceiling out to expose the original beams is our goal. You never know what hides up there. A lot of mouse dust that is for sure. There was sheetrock from about 2005, then a layer of concrete from about 1800's and original hand hewn lathe under that and then the original pine floor boards and hand hewn beams.

I have to say, I feel like a kid again. This is how I grew up-with an architect father who like to remodel old houses. I thought of my mother a lot yesterday, as I did the hauling of the mess and MArtyn ripped the ceiling. How many houses did she do, a lot, and with two little kids. She never complained.

We found an old sheet from the Lincoln County News, from 1890. So cool. 

I am going to whitewash the ceiling and beams, the kitchen is small and needs the light. I am going to paint the walls and cupboards an antique white. I love the green, a color I've had in all my houses, but lately I want white and off whites. I was also inspired by the roughness and simplicity and sparseness of the Olson House. We will replace the outdated 1970's looking counter with pine wood and a new sink and fixtures, and new lighting. We also will take down the fireplace area roof -we think it will fall easily, it is the oldest in the house.

And we pulled all the old flat nails and will save them or reuse them.

But as we sat, exhausted last night after two days of demolition, I was so proud and felt so connected to this house. I loved this house the second I saw it online, as I sat in Oregon, panicking, since we needed to find something. It came on the market that very day, like an hour before I saw it, and I had email alerts on several sites. I called the realtor that day and put an offer in. We got it, with two other offers that same day. 

I feel like by taking the modern ceilings down, it's like setting the house free. We sat imagining the people that probably were outside the house hand hewning the lathe and beams. I wondered what they wore? Knickers? Probably not. The history of this area is intense. There is not a spooky bone in this house. I have done some research and have gotten to about the 1950's when it seems the house sort of sat uninhabited. We think at some point who ever was living here was living  pretty rough. And then around 2005 someone came in and modernized it-some of which was...mediocre, but none of it was unlivable and it allowed us to live here and work on the barns first.

Anyway, I was sort of dreading the ceiling demolition...such a mess, chaos...but I have to say, I am so energized and it has opened me up to all the other 'little' projects we want to do. And it generated some ideas for short stories I've been percolating for a year. I feel I owe it to the house. I feel like the house likes us and understands what we are doing for it. 

I love our house even more than the day I saw her.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

A new tradition with help from Earnest the Pig

Happy Thanksgiving on this gorgeous sunny, crisp day! I hope the day gives you more light than dark, peace and an ability to see the things that have meaning in your life. I am grateful everyday for simple things-being able to be independent, free of pain in body or mind, a good home and husband, my animals, my life...as an artist and writer amongst the story makers in the barnyard. 

We put up the Red Ball Tree in the front yard and I just love it,  it is our third year of doing that and it brings me pure joy each time. And this year, I decided Earnest needs some extra love as he lives alone in his hut [he has animals all around him though]. We put up a string of red balls for him too. So the Hanging of The Red Balls is a new tradition, and it is not to be confused with Earnest the pig's balls. Sorry, I could not help myself.



Sunday, November 21, 2021

How to be amongst the greiving-slip off your needs at the door

I think I've learned a lot about how to be amongst the sad and weary with my elder work, and I guess part of it is also innate, but like any human, I have daily lessons to learn about how to speak...and as importantly, when not to speak. The latter is harder for us humans.

I know for myself, sometimes I want to fill up a sad space with fun words, and I am very good at making people laugh. I'm learning about how my 'pleaser' MO has effected many things in my life - like choosing people I can not please to come on in. But of late I've learned, as this poem so well articulates, that one should not let the moment be about them, it is about letting the grieving or dying person speak [or not]. Or perhaps they just want to sit with you and let you witness their sadness. They aren't seeking advice [unless they ask] they just want a hand to touch their shoulder and make them feel 'I understand you are sad'.

One pattern I see online, a lot, is when someone posts about...let's use a pet as an example....someone posts that their dog has died and they express their feelings about why they are sad. And then a whole bunch of people [not all of them] post their own stories about their dead pets and how sad it made them when they died. There is nothing horrible about this, but I've learned, having done it myself!!, that this is not being present for the grieving person who wrote the post. There is probably a time and place to share stories of our own.

When I post about the death of an animal, or one in hospice, I don't take the messages like that as selfish, I just know they have not learned the skill of being present with the grieving, and it is a skill. And before the skill, one has to be aware they are doing it. It took me awhile! And I still stumble.

I did this recently, not with someone who was dying, but with someone who fell and has a TBI. It was a bad one. Much worse than what I went through. But instead of just encouraging them, or telling them I was their in spirit, I had to add that 'when I had mine, it took a long time to recover blah blah blah'. I was 'thinking' I was sharing a common understanding of how scary TBI's are. But maybe it just was not the right time or place to say it. No harm was done, but when I saw this poem I had saved, it made me realize this being present, and leaving your own bags at the door, can be applied to more than the grieving.

I will continue to hone this skill, and probably slip up here and there.

Friday, November 19, 2021

The animals worry about the demise of a tree...the annual drama

{My latest Tales & Tails column for The Lincoln County News}

I heard the slow shuffle of donkey feet as I left house.

Paco, I thought.

“Mrs. Dunn, I am concerned about the tree,” Paco said. “It is almost Thanksgiving.”

Every year, I have to reassure Paco that we’ll find the perfect tree in the woods well before Christmas.

“Paco, you need not worry, we will find one in plenty of time,” I said and we headed to the outer barn for his breakfast.

“I just need to get to the know the tree, so I can write a poem in honor of it’s demise,” he said, still concerned.

Just then, Pickles appeared out of nowhere, followed by Puddles and Hannah, and soon all the goats, old and young, joined us.

“Who had a demise?!” asked Poetry, one of the elder goats.

“What’s a demise?” asked little Hannah.

“A death,” said Earnest the pig who had wandered over hearing the commotion.

“Nobody has died!” I said.

“But we are going to kill a tree, so I must prepare a poem for him or her, to honor them,” said Paco.

Hannah began to cry. She had never had a Christmas tree since she was just born in the spring.

Earnest the pig consoled her, “Hannah, the trees have many purposes in life, and one is giving themselves to us so we can decorate them for Christmas.”

“But what if they have another purpose, like holding the squirrels and birds?”

“We always look for tiny trees, that aren’t strong enough to do that,” said Earnest.

Pickles gasped. “We kill the baby trees?!”

By this time we were to the outer barn, and all the horses and ponies and llamas were wondering what the big conversation was.

“Has something of importance occurred” asked Harry the llama.

Paco the donkey said very slowly, “I am worried about finding the tree in time, so I can write a worthy eulogy.”

“Ah yes, the annual tree crisis,” Harry said stoically.

George the goat appeared, eating something. George was always eating something. “The best part of Christmas is the tree, because I get to eat it after the holiday,” said George the goat.

Hannah started crying again.

“We could get one of those pink, fake trees with glitter, I saw one in “Sears and Roebuck”,” said Poetry.

How are they getting that catalog? I wondered.

“Sacrilege!” said Earnest the pig. “There will be no fake trees for Christmas!”

And then Boone, the mellow red horse, walked over.

“Everything we have to eat was once alive. Shall we stop cutting the grasses for our hay?”

Hannah screamed, “We kill grasses too?!”

Boone leaned down to Hannah and said, “My lass, we are in circular relationship with all of Nature. We poop on the grasses, and that feeds them. They thank us by growing tall, and then we eat them.”

Earnest the pig put his arm around Hannah, and Paco, “What do you say we all visit the trees, and share our poop with them?”

Friday, November 12, 2021

Earnie dies...he mattered to me

One of our elder friends from Cove's has died....Earnie, sweet Earnie. If you follow along you know we loved him and have many photos of him with the animals. He was 87.

I think we first met him in 2019, or maybe 2018. It was when we first brought Opie over there. Earnie was a farmer his whole life, since he was a kid. He lost his arm as a young guy in a farm accident. He told me all about it.

Earnie loved animals, and they responded to him. Opie would make his sharing rounds with the people, but then he'd keep returning to Earnie. We all noticed it, and it was a sense of pride for Earnie I think. He was just a magnet. They knew his motives were pure, something you can't say for all people.

And then there was his tie die shirt which he often wore. I will remember him in that shirt.

I was at Cove's the other day dropping off puzzles, and I happened to get to meet his sister in law, who was with him a lot, including the day before, and hours before he died. She got to say her goodbyes and he did too. He lost his wife years ago, and also had two lady companions at Cove's who both passed on.

I suppose when you are in a home like that, especially when you are totally relying on care from others, and you can't walk or eat on your own, you can't do the normal things a body must do just to go through a normal day, I suppose there might be times where you wonder if any of it matters any more, or do you yourself matter. The elders, especially those like Earnie are often the ones people don't want to see, they avert their eyes, they don't know what to say. As one of the elders said to me, "They are afraid they will be like me someday." I believe she was right. Earnie mattered to me. And I know he mattered to the caregivers, and residents, and his extended family.

He was always at our visits and he always was in good spirits despite the losses and the health issues...despite losing all independence...he always smiled. He had some good farm stories too. I always told him I had to find a cow to bring for a visit-he had farmed cows his whole life.

I don't even know if he knew my name, nor the farm's. But when he saw me he knew who I was and what it meant. An animal could take him out of his head, out of his reality for moments and I'm grateful I could do that for him. In that way, I guess I mattered to him weather he knew my name or not.

We will miss him, truly, we will. I think he must be tie dying the sky somewhere, and riding a cow home.

{You can send a donation in Earnie's honor to Acitivity Fund at Cove's Edge. Cove’s Edge c/o Activities Program, 26 Schooner St., Damariscotta, ME 04543. This is a Medicare facility and these people operate on shoestrings.}

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Another new elder creature is birthed

Mrs. Rosas has lived many lives. She still insists on walking in the fields, even though she can barely walk. Her clothes are a bit raggedy-she finds scraps in garbage cans and sews them and mends as well as she is able.

Mrs. Rosas is made of all natural cloths and a velvet cape. She is sewn with embroidery thread and her tail is mohair. She is very crippled, but can stand but needs her canes. She stands about 11".

Visit the shop >


Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Focusing on what I can do...I don't need to know everything about you and vice versa

This is not a political post, far from it, it is more a self healing post. I've been sad about our country for some time....and scared for democracy, to be honest. I wondered if it is wrong to simply turn out all news, all of it...is that selfish, is that the right way to handle all the upsetting [for me anyway] news? I think tuning it all out is irresponsible as a citizen and voter, so I am not choosing that path. I do get my news from online reliable papers, not social media and definitely not Facebook. And I find I'm just passing by certain articles-usually becasue the media, no matter which outlet, likes to rehash something over and over, and it becomes numbing, kind of like the last 4 years. I read it, explore what I need to, and step away...until I might yell at the tv a bit before we watch one of our shows.

But I was thinking that we know way too much about everybody, thanks to social media.

If I knew every thought of every elder I love at Cove's Edge....would that change how I feel? Perhaps. I know many people I enjoy running into in my weekly errands have very different thoughts than I do on many things, but it doesn't matter, because we focus on things we share. For example, at the feed store I have no idea what thoughts or beliefs are in most of their heads, I could assume I guess, but I focus on the fact that I can go in there and they know me and what I do and I can ask for advice on a sick chicken.

I get very depressed about our mother ship more than most of the other madness going on-and that includes important stuff like voter suppression, COVID, congress infighting, women's rights, and more. I am very sad for our Earth and I am not that optimistic, and I have always been an optimist. If we can't get along better than we are in one country, and men continue to rule the world with their main desire being power, I just don't see it changing enough that our beautiful Earth will be helped in time.

Still, I want to help people in my area, and people that are hurting, and animals. That is my plan for emotional survival and health. Just keep making art from my heart, keep writing, keep reaching out if I see someone is down, keep sharing my animals with the elders, keep smiling and being there for them in small ways which to them are big ways...keep my head down in the wind. The local paper had an article from the police departments that are suffering from staff shortages, and they pointed out how many more people are being arrested for road rage and anger disturbances–it makes me even more picky about the people I interact with. I prefer my elders and a handful of people, and my animals.

Because of my age, and because I see elders who must leave their homes or lose their mates, I have never been more aware of what I have. Each night, I really mean this, I look forward to being with Martyn by the fire, talking, sharing, his cooking...falling asleep together and his kiss goodbye every morning at 6:30. It can be gone in an instant, and it often is for people.

I have also taken in, soaked in, life more this year than I think I ever have. My time table is mine more than it has ever been and I've earned it-as many of you out there reading have. I've been a self supporting artist/writer since 1996 and I worked my butt off to get to this spot. I'm blessed to live on my farm, and see the sights I see, like this image of old Luci as I opened the door very early this morning-so regal she was in the sun and crisp air and autumnal colors all around her. I've become stingier with my schedule and rarely -unless I have to -make an appointment before 11. That is not laziness, it is practicality. I do not want to rush with my animals and morning chores which take about 2 hours. Not only to I want to move at a pace that will help me not trip and fall, I want to enjoy them. There are so many ways to fall! You don't think about it much in your younger years. But after the concussion, after aging some, I am very aware of it.

I want to see, like the sun lighting up the tippy top of Pino's mane at sunset.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

November art sale

{This piece just sold, fyi}

I have an art sale up on the shop through November. Lots of doodles, but also I am working on some new things and some will end up there, so check in on it from time to time if you are interested.

 I also have new pieces up in the other sections and, again, am back in studio, focusing!

Friday, October 29, 2021

Pickles learns about Here, There & Everywhere

{I write a monthly Tails & Tales column for the local paper. This was this month's.}

“Goodbyes are hard, I don’t like them,” said young Hannah, the tiniest goat.

“Goodbyes hurt, so listen for the “hellos” that come your way,” said Auntie Bea, an old goat. “They help.”

We’d just found out that White Dog had bone cancer, with an estimate of a few months to live.

“He talks to the coyotes and tells them to stay away,” said Ollie the goat.

“He saved me from an eagle,” said Marta, one of the bantie hens.

White Dog is a Maremma, a breed that lives amongst the farm animals to protect them from predators.

“Mrs. Dunn, are you going to cry now?” asked Hannah the goat.

“I think so,” I said. “Every day, I see him in the field. And at night I see him as the moon rises. I can’t imagine not seeing him.”

Earnest the pig put his arm around me, and said, “I’ll still be here with you, Mrs. Dunn.”

And then Hannah cried, and Henneth the blind hen cried and that started all the hens crying, and soon all the goats were crying too. All that crying made White Dog come to the fence line to see what was happening.

“Are you okay?” asked White Dog.

“We’re sad because you have to leave us. Don’t go,” said Ollie the goat.

“Please stay,” said Pickles.

“It’s not up to me, or you. My body can’t keep up, so I have to let it go,” said White Dog.

“Where will you go?” asked Pickles.

“I will go everywhere, so I will still be over and around you,” said White Dog.

“Like the worms and dirt under our feet?” asked little Puddles the goat.

“Like the clouds?” asked little Hannah.

“Yes, exactly like that,” answered White Dog, stoically.

“That’s where Opie went!” said Pickles.

Earnest the pig got close to White Dog, and whispered to him,

“I’m sorry my tusks hurt you, White Dog. It was a misunderstanding,” said Earnest, referring to a run in over apples some months ago.

“It’s okay, the doctor stitched me up nicely,” said White Dog.

White Dog started to walk back to his tree as dusk and then the dark took hold.

“White Dog!” Pickles called out. “How will we know when you’re ready to go to the clouds?”

“I’m ready to go anytime,” he said, “But I’m waiting for you to understand I’m going to a place that’s here, there and everywhere.”

Pickles and Earnest walked together. “A place that is here, there and everywhere. It sounds really big,” Pickles said.

“That is why he can’t take his body, he needs to be light, like a feather, so he can ride clouds over the farm, or go anywhere,” the pig said.

Back at the barn, I got everyone settled for the night.

We could hear some coyotes far off in the woods. White Dog barked, and the coyote howls stopped soon after.

“Mrs. Dunn, are you crying again?” Hannah asked.

“Yes, she is,” said Earnest the pig.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

RGB reembodied at Apifera

I was minding my own business...when a phone message came in from a woman I did not know. She politely explained she was moving overseas, downsizing everything in her retirement. She had raised her own food for years and at one point had turkeys. But the mother turkey attacked the hatchlings, and although she tried to save them all, only one survived. That turkey was lovingly cared for by the woman and she made the choice not to put her in the freezer [please, no judgement from anyone here, we all make our choices on what we eat-and as a partial meat eater myself, and someone who has raised her own food to avoid supporting factory farms, I applaud anyone who cares for their animals in life and death].

So the turkey became very friendly and imprinted on the woman. When it came to rehome all her chickens and fowl, she was concerned about RGB, aka Ruthie–she wanted  to find her a forever farm home, and somehow she heard of me.

Now, when I listened to the voice message, I was initially saying 'no' in my mind. I know nothing about turkeys, although I've heard some make nice barn pets. But I have a lot of fowl here and was just getting settled with the two naughty boy ducks [who suddenly have become gentlemen and are living again with the Pekin ducks]. And with White Dog's decline and cancer, I thought he might be upset by a larger fowl.

But then I heard the woman say she even thought Ruthie might be a good animal to take on visits to the elders.

Hmmm...um...sure, I thought.

But after talking to her at length, I felt her sincerity, and I agreed to take on RGB.

And I'm so glad I did. She is a lovely turkey. She has the perfect name as she is no push over, but she is not pushy with anyone and the first night I was worried she'd leave the open windows of the barn, but there she was the next morning. Each morning I arrive and she is usually on a perch in the White Dog barn. She wanders around at will staying close to the animals and barns. I can pick her up at will and hold her. Some nights she gets a bit grumpy [perhaps she is telling me, I am not a baby you don't need to hold me all the time], trying to peck my hand if she is perching. I learned from the woman that turkeys don't lay an egg a day like hens, they lay randomly and when they do they often hide the eggs, and they get a bit broody, and sometimes grumpy with you. I have not seen any eggs but they are very crafty.

I'm just thoroughly enjoying getting to know her and learn her language. She has beautiful pink coloring near her mouth and she is very pretty. Arlo the llama has more of a territorial feelings about her-which in fairness is part of being a llama. So I have Arlo and Teapot residing in the outside barn  versus the inner sanctum. That way Ruth can perch and there is no issue. I have seen her go into Arlo's area there, and she puffs up and stands her ground-but I only worry he might grab her neck. On the other hand, I've seen her in there with The Teapot and Arlo just stays a distance. But I don't want any accidents and in time Arlo will learn her space and his. Captain Sparkle also thought she was a space creature. But now they eat in the same place.

I think the moral here is...being open to new experiences. I was ready to say 'no' based on feeling tired about my current bad boy ducks. But the more I heard and read about too, I thought, I think she is meant to be here. And with the sadness hanging over me with White Dog and his cancer, having a turkey embodying RGB is a nice addition to my day.

The other thing that made me happy is when Ruthie and her former owner came, she was so happy to see the farm here and she just felt so good knowing Ruthie would have a good life and be free to roam in the orchards but have a safe spot at night. I know how hard it is to leave or rehome animals when a big relocation happens-we went through it with my sheep and some other creatures when we left Oregon-it is a heavy job finding homes and feeling you are doing the right thing for animal and human. So I was happy I could somehow lesson her load a bit, and she knows Ruthie is safe and happy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Baby Donkey is up for adoption


Baby Donkey wears the same raggedy baby sweater her mother, and grandmother wore. It has been darned many times. Baby Donkey would like a calm, but sometimes festive home with friends of any species as she has a huge heart-her heart is so full of love it is popping out of her sweater.

Baby Donkey is made of a wooden base, and is very sturdy. She is 16" long from nose to tail and 13" tall. Her hand stitching is of Apifera's own fiber, and silk and cotton thread. She is a one of a kind.


Visit Baby Donkey on the shop and see more photos of her and adopt her >


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Are you shifting?

 I feel like I am in a shifting period but I can't explain to my conscious self what that shift is. I feel unsettled. I think part of it is I have put my heart and soul into the non profit and I feel out of balance with my art and studio time, and 'me' time. I love my non profit work and it does combine creativity and my soul and spirit so is creative in its own way.

But I've been having trouble for a long time now carving out time for art, and with art, for me anyway, I need chuncks of time to ponder, explore in my head with out thinking of everything else I have to do.

I feel I'm shifting into my art raggedy dolls too, frustratingly. I say frustratingly because they take a lot longer to birth than a painting. I am also limited in certain skills like using methods to make them stand as I want and I fumble along.

Then again, I have written and created four more illustrated books since arriving in Maine and I seem to forget that.


Anyway, autumn is full on now, it's pouring out today and I love it. I am determined to keep my November through April more open for me and the studio. I will not abandon my elders at Cove's Edge but am going to focus on them as far as elder visits. I also take care of the business side of things here, completely–the books, taxes, bills, truck and tractor work, repair scheduling, groceries, feed stores, vets, furnace and fireplace, doctor appointments. It's amazing how much time is eaten away with that. I think of my mother-and all mothers-who had kids to haul around and how they said their day felt like it was in a car. Mine is often at the computer.

Anyway, the shifting thing. I think in my life there are clear, distinct shifts that have happened. They seem to happen overnight but I think I  gather information in my head for months, years even, and then one day wake up and say to myself, "I'm moving to Maine," or "I'm going to make books now." And I feel my spirit guides want me to shift, but I keep false starting into it. Maybe I'm afraid of losing what I have. But if I look back on any shift I've made, it always brought more abundance into my life.

Or maybe I just need more cat naps, something I've started on a rather regular basis.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

A llama is born

I started out to make a Harry, but Birdie's spirit took over. That's just like her, and just like Harry not to mind. Available through the shop >

Friday, October 08, 2021

"It made me feel like I was home again," she said

Yesterday we had another special visit from Cove's Edge including Linda, who is blind and has many health issues, and Pat the Cat [we have dubbed her this as she adores cats and had a house full at one time].

These smaller visits are really what I love, as they allow more intimacy with the elders, and me, and the animals. I was so touched because before they left, Linda called me over and held my hand [touch is very important for her] and handed me a card. She told me, in tears, that the last visit with Biggs and The Teapot meant so much to her and it helped her spirits for days. I read her card later and in part it said,

"The horses and the dog made me feel like I was home again after years. It lifted my spirits for days and I'll always cherish that visit. I enjoyed myself for the first time in a very long time."

This of course is why we do this, to lift them up, to give them something outside of the confinement and lack of independence they are faced with at the residence. As we had our visit, there was a lawn mower in the distance, and geese flying overhead. I realized at the residence they never hear these things, things we all hear and take for granted, and a lawn mower might be considered an annoyance, but to those in the home, it is a reminder of their old life. It must be a continual bittersweet sensation when they think of home.

Pat the Cat at one point said..."So peaceful." I commented that at the residence it is very hard to find a spot of one's own to just sit, and be alone in peace and quiet. She agreed. Pat the Cat is a friendly, nice woman but we all need, and some of us more than others, our time alone to just be with our thoughts.

Such simple things we often take for granted. My work with the elders has enriched my life in many ways-giving me a sense of purpose, but also, it has cemented my simple need to just enjoy what I have, and I do. Sure, I have off days, but today for example I was walking to the end of our property to put up 'No Hunting' signs that had fallen, and I was looking at the fallen leaves. So many colors dotting the ground, they crunched and smelled so good. Imagine being born and the first thing you witness is the pretty colors of falling leaves. I've always enjoyed nature, and good food too, but now, I relish in them. I love taste and smells and the comfort of good home made food. I do not lack, and I do not have a need to want to dine out. I am a content homebody. It could all be gone someday, my life as it is, and my elder work shows me that. Rather than be depressed of that possibility in the future, I shake it off and relish in the moment. 

I am glad I can help them, I wish I could give them their homes again but I can't. 

I was happy White Dog partook in the day too. He had a sore morning, I could tell, and he dd not come out of the barn all morning after chores. I did not want to force him. But right about when they were due to arrive, he perked up and insisted on coming to the gate and he waited. It's like he knew they were coming. Knowing him as I do, I don't doubt he knew they were coming to visit. So in he came. What a healer he is, but of course, now with his bone cancer, these meetings take on a double meaning, a stoic one, a heartfelt and bittersweet one....but I'm so glad he can have this in his final days or weeks.


Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Beautiful old Calla

She wasn't acting herself last night when I found her alone in the barn, bathed in sunset light. Usually she and her daughter Sylvia Pettini stay together. Her body condition is good and her eyes show good pink color. She might have eaten something, too many apples maybe. But I will watch her, she is eating so maybe she just felt like warming her bones and being alone.