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.

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.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Winter prep, hay in, White Dog love and the book arrived

 That title says it all. I have been so busy and unable to even focus on anything but the farm. Getting winter ready is always a series of tasks any wheere, but especially on the farm-electric buckets, inspecting the fire stoves, equine coats ready, getting the hay in and firewood. We were so behind becasue of the hot, humid summer we added to our firewood by buying one cord. It felt like sacriledge but sometimes you do what you do. We usually do 4 cords or less [we have furnace heat but keep it at 62].

And thanks to the generosity of Martyn's boss, he had the crew come over one afternoon and we got the 12 tons of hay in. Phew. That was a huge load off my mind. I crashed that night and even though I knew how much worry it was causing me, I really knew after it was all stacked. We could have done it on our own, but...it would have been so hard and taken us 4 separate weekends most likely. I can't toss the bales up high anymore due to my shoulders. Thank goodness I didn't need  to get our usual 17 tons since we are starting later this year to give hay. I have to say, it is such tiny hay bales, they are compressed Canadian, very consistent and better protein. So far everyone is eating it even though there is some stem left but nothing horrible. It cost more by about $2.75 a bale, but if it is higher protein I might try to do half and half next year. But getting the one ton pallets here is a task. I don't think its fair to rely on the crew each year. They did it pro bono for us, which was so helpful and generous but I can't expect that.

Anyway, we got so much done this weekend. Little jobs that mean a lot-like getting kindling cut, getting debris out of fields from past jobs, securing some fence issues, and on and on.

And...the book arrived! Friday afternoon. And it is beautiful. The shipping fiasco-they could not find the pallet in the route from customs-was all because of lack of employees and the mess the world is in all over with Covid. So, I will be getting those out to buyers next week.

Mainly, I want more creative time. It seems like my September was full of so many appointments. And now October is looking like that too-truck fixes, over due doctor stuff, many, many vet visits...I am frustrated by the lack of studio time, but I have to say, I think maybe I needed to be away for awhile from it, I don't know. I just started a raggedy creature and this week despite more appointments I hope to have time for it. I'm percolating things in my mind too as I work.

We also had two vet needs arise in two days-Jonathan the elder cat had what might have been blockage but thankfully it was not and meds helped him. It means going back to all urinary cat food, which I always used before but the then-residents of the elder suite just stopped eating it after years. But now I will go back to it soley. And then I had to have the vet out for old Matilda and her chronic lameness. I had searched for an abscess over the past weeks but found none so wanted an x-ray done which we did. But the vet did fine the abscess which had popped. At least I was looking at the right spot but never found tenderness, maybe I wasn't pushing hard enough. Since it was on the bottom of foot we have her wrapped in a boot. She got instant relief I think. We took a blood panel just to have. And I have her up to 5# of supplement versus the paltry 1# what would eat before we learned her levels had changed and we changed her medicine. She is eating much better now.

Such a mundane boring post! But I have been enjoying getting tasks on my list done. Feels good to get prepped for winter. I hope we have lots of snow this year!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

UPDATE! "Walter" book is stuck at the border

UPDATE! The Walter book was suppose to arrive Friday. It was shipped on time  from my Canadian printer [I have used them for all my books] but is sitting at the US side of the border and has a customs hold on the container [so not necessarily an issue with my books, but with the entire shipment container. 

There are many on all sides trying to get me answers on an arrival date. Frustrating to say the least but in time it will be here. Thank you to all pre buyers for your patience!

This has never happened and I suspect part of the trouble is shippers all over the country are having staffing issues.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Order these early!

The new card designs for the holiday [and other occasions] are here and order early as I will not be able to reorder in time if they should run out. I just love them! I'll be adding to my line all year.

And the other good news is you can now mix and match designs!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

She said, "It feels like home."

We had a very moving animal healing visit here at Apifera this past week. Many of you saw this photo, and others, on our other platforms and were as moved by it as I was, and as I was when it happened.

Linda lives at Cove's Edge where we visit regularly, and she went blind from a disease several years ago. The disease also effects her breathing and she is in a wheelchair. You might remember her in photos, pre pandemic, holding little Bear in her lap, she loved it. She loves animals and once had horses and other critters.

It's hard for her in many ways, physically and emotionally and my Girl Friday at Cove's thought it would be nice to get her out on her own to the farm, and I was right on board. I didn't have my assistant equine person but with two caretakers and me, I knew we could handle the horses so I brought in Biggs first. The flies were bad, but she was moved to feel a horse again. And then I asked if I could bring the pony, and of course she said yes. But also, I wanted to bring White Dog in, who is a natural but under the circumstances I knew he too would benefit. And he did. In fact, when The Teapot was getting hugged, White Dog also asked for more.

At some point, Linda said that "It feels like home."

This is why we do what we do. And I've written about it many times. The biggest sadness of the elders in residences is they are not home. They appreciate the care, but it is not home.

We also talked about touch, the importance of it in our lives, and of course to the blind touch is very important, and smell. I reiterated that the animals allow the elders to touch, and be touched, and I also touch them. Many people without even knowing it are shunning elders in their daily lives, almost as if they don't want to look. Linda said it best, "They are afraid they are going to be old too, or like me'. I agreed. None of us want to become non independent. It is a visceral fear.

Linda has been through so much in the past years losing her eyesight, and her husband and her home. For those two hours though, she was free-free of the constant noise in the residence, free of all the activity around her, and she was also free to talk on her own and have a one on one conversation. To know she felt at home, it just was so heartwarming, even though fleeting.

We described all the things around us, the goats wandering, the ducks and  The Goose-who spoke frequently and Linda talked back to him- and the sheep and llamas in the outer fields.

When it was time to leave, she grabbed her two caretakers arms and wanted hugs and she cried, she thanked them over and over for making it happen. We already are planning another visit. I'm hoping we can do it in the outer barn where she can be surrounded by the donkeys and horses. My Girl Friday is on board. It takes a village to care for our elders.

Monday, September 13, 2021

White Dog has bone cancer...we are gutted

It was suppose to be a day of celebration for me and White Dog. But it is not. White Dog has bone cancer.

I took him to the vet this morning to get the stitches out - I was so excited for him to be able to run free again- but while waiting for my vet, I noticed the hind right leg/elbow was larger than the other. This is the foot that was slightly lame before the accident, but there was no swelling and we found nothing wrong with the foot when he was stitched up two weeks ago. Back then we opted not to xray anything because we assumed the slight lameness was from him getting stepped on on his toes a few days before and there was no swelling.
This morning after we took the stitches out my vet asked me about the lame foot, and I said the elbow swelled up and it seems like it happened overnight. This can and often is the case with bone cancer, it is aggressive and fast moving. It happened that way with Muddy too. He looked at the leg and, I just knew, he knew...we pretended it could be arthritis, and he went to do an xray. I waited in the front room, praying, but I just knew. When my vet came out holding the xray, he was 20 feet from me, our eyes met and I started shaking my head, as did he. Bone cancer.
I know how this goes. We went through it with Muddy, just two years ago. Once you see a lump like this, the cancer is most likely in the lungs and elsewhere. Some people opt to take the leg off, that is a choice they must make about their own situation but we choose not to do that, nor did we with Muddy. I was not expecting this. Since I've been care taking White Dog all these 14 days, I was looking at his wounds and body ALOT. While he still was not putting pressure on that foot, he was not limping, he was able to run, he was eating, and there wasn't swelling.
He probably has about 2-4 months.
I'm gutted. I just...can't...stand it, I feel physical pain right now.
I must watch him and make the decision I had to make with Muddy. He will die here at the farm.
A barn, a filed, a snow storm...without White Dog? It is a hard idea to grasp, and I have not.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

What choices we make at the end

I am a big fan of the NPR show, Hidden Brain, and today's episode was riveting for me. It details the life of a nurse who in her 50's is diagnosed with ALS. The story had insight for me, and resonated on personal levels because I know someone who was diagnosed recently and over time I have been learning a lot about the challenges of ALS patients. It's a cruel disease.

While the episode goes into great detail about how the family cope with the diagnosis, it also focuses on what we might choose at our death, versus what we say we want at our death. This woman saw suffering due to her job as a nurse. She made it very clear to her husband and sons she did not want to linger, she did not want to be lying on a ventilator. She said this many times. The husband faithfully and lovingly cared for her and in the early stages of ALS she is able to live, and travel and do the things she wanted. But soon she begins to have other side effects of this horrid disease, and eventually has a feeding tube put in. But she and her husband continue to walk and drive to the beach where he carries her food and feeds her. They were both living, they did not talk about death, they were still living.

But then one day, suddenly, they are faced with a decision, after she has an episode of her lungs filling up with mucous. They are told she has the choice of hospice, or to be put on a ventilator, which will be permanent. Nobody discussed it with her family, but she chooses the ventilator, and they are shocked and dismayed. But they eventually take her home, and set up an ICU basically, in the living room, and they have four days for 4 full time nurses to teach them how to use the equipment. On the final day, something goes wrong.

I won't go into more of the details of what happens, but the story really focuses on the idea that we really don't know how we might act if we had been faced with death on that day. Martyn and I have had the same discussions-no gallant efforts to make me live like a vegetable, or if I can't walk to the barnyard and can't use my limbs and do what I love, don't do the heroics. No tubes. And this woman was like that. She knew what the ventilator meant, with a tracheotomy. But she chose, when forced to in that situation, to live. Perhaps because she just wasn't ready at that very moment. Even though they all knew her disease was what would kill her, she wasn't ready at that moment.

Every day a hospice caretaker sat with her in the house, sometimes for minutes, but she would tell the husband [in her non verbal way] she just was not ready to die or admit defeat or go to hospice. But one day, the hospice nurse was there for a much longer time, and came out and told her husband she was ready to die. She died two days later in hospice.

I was so riveted by the show. The husband is the narrator as is one of the adult sons and it brought to light many things we all will face, most likely, at some point.

It also made me hate ALS even more than I did. I want my friend to die with dignity and no drama.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Please consider writing a review for our non profit

It really helps to bring in larger donations when foundations and trusts can see valid reviews on trusted non profit sites, such as Great Non Profits [just click on the 'share your story' button]

If you have been to Apifera, experienced the setting and animals, if you follow along and see the work we do in caretaking elder and special needs animals, if you love the work we do helping elder people with our animal visits and you donate because of that, please write us a review-doesn't have to be long.

Or perhaps one of your loved ones has benefited from Harry the llama, or Bear the pup, or Opie the goat or many others via our visits, or by our stories we share.

It takes a village to keep a non profit like this going and I'm grateful for all of your support both monetarily and emotionally.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

How are you? How am I?


I took this photo yesterday and just loved the quiet beauty of it. I had gone out to groom, and deworm, the equines. Spending time without words in the paddock is one of my favorite things. If you sit quietly, they will come. I'm finding besides my visits with the elders at Cove's, I prefer to be alone with my animals even more than ever.

The beginning of September is always a favorite time for me. I always feel like it is a time to take stock on what has been, and what is needed and coming. I liken it to being a flower in the garden, I bloomed all summer full force and now it is time to reflect more and go within as winter comes, a time of creative renewal  once the summer chores of the farm lesson [not that they ever go away].

This summer started out pretty good. We had some equine healing days and Beauty Parlor Days here at the farm with elder residences. But that was cut short quickly with rising Delta cases. We also could not secure a porta potty this year due to the pandemic-go figure! I can't have elders using the house bathroom, it is unsafe due to the old house trip factors, and the many animals wondering inside. It also takes me away from the animals outside and it just isn't practical [we had an incident with someone really needing to go, so we agreed of course, but it wasn't a good situation. I need to be with the animals].

So I was disappointed in the lack of equine healing visits, especially since Biggs really seems like a natural.

But our visits to Cove's Edge have been really special, and to be able to see them in person and not through a window is great. We also have had them come in a visit on their van, and me and some smaller animals go on the van-perfect for hot weather! My Girl Friday there is going to attempt more of these visits with a couple of the wheelchair residents, and one that is blind who loves the animals and touch is so important for her. The heat and humidity made visits a challenge too, and rain!

I have other ideas about how to keep the residents lifted up in winter. I am wondering about a letter writing project where one of the animals writes every week and my Girl Friday can read it out loud. I also am looking into a portable projector where she could put a photo show on the wall.  All of this depends on how the pandemic swings, but I am feeling like things might close up again. We'll see.

I think this year has been even stranger than last year when we were in lock down. Last year, we knew what we had to do-stay home except for the most important tasks. At least that is what much of America did. This year, it felt like starts and stops, more uncertainty, anger everywhere, confusion, misinformation-all lumped in with so many upsetting things in the world like climate change and wild fires, wars, refugees...the list goes on and on.

I feel like I got a bit beat up by it all, as many of you have. I always strive to keep my posts online upbeat, but honest. I'm also more than ever putting on my pink bubble suit to defect many comments that are in my face. I think most people, good people many of them, are on edge. I get it. So I post Pickles leaps and Franklin Muffinpants chats and Harry the llama giving kisses to elder people. And sometimes I slip, and post something a bit more raw, and there's always somebody who calls it out-stop, Katherine, we come here to be uplifted, do not share that side of your feelings!

I'm dancing as fast as I can.

It's hard to be honest right now and upbeat at the same time. Maybe you disagree, but as an empath, and a sensitive soul, I am having many spiritual conflicts...about my fellow humans, and about my feelings toward them. This is a time to really grow spiritually-at some point. When I get there I'll write about it. I was thinking the other day that animals have never angered me-well, except biting flies-and nature has never angered me on the same level...but people do, and I'm working on that through this upheaval of a divided world.

So...goals for the non profit are to keep trying, to keep sharing the animal stories, to keep showing up for our elder people. You know, I don't think they really understand how important the visits are for me too, they feel like family visits to me. 

So, how are you coping in this world these days? Are you isolating more, or are you trying new things?

Sunday, September 05, 2021

A wonderful Harry visit

I have been so busy, time and days seem to go fast er and faster! We are running around getting ready for winter this Labor Day Weekend. Martyn too Friday off to come on a Harry visit to Cove's Edge and I loved that he did that. It was perfect weather and we spent 2 hours chatting and visiting. I love this picture of sweet Earnie. All the animals love Earnie who was a farmer from an early age, which is how he lost his arm.

I am remiss this week. With taking caare of White Dog adding some extra weight on my shoulders [FYI he is doing well, eating and taking his meds and the scars are healing well with no stitches busting, thank goodness] I've neglected writing here...in my quite place. I call the blog that becasue it is where you can come and not be bombarded with ads, feeds, likes and mch of the time, food fights.

Autumn is here [for me anyway] and I always like to take time to reflect on where I'm headed, or want to head-in art and the farm. I always get rejeuvenated creatively in fall and I have lots of ideas. The Walter book should be shipping in 9/20 range and I am mulling doing some weekend art/book gigs in The Lovey Hut this October-depending on the pandemic. 

Anyway, I hope your Labor Day is full of good things.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

To the infamous Miss Careless

Thanks to so many that sent White Dog, and Martyn and I, love and empathy in the past two days since the accident. If you follow us on social media, you know it was our human error after a long day of working on Earnest’s paddock that caused this accident and suffering to one in our care, namely White Dog. We felt his pain and we suffered and still do emotionally. He is on 19 pills a day for 2 weeks, and his two wounds are sore for him, especially the deep buttock area that went deep into muscle.

As I posted online, it was a double whammy to have someone leave a one word comment, “careless”, yesterday on my post. If anything was careless it was her choice of words. Was it careless? Leaving the chop saw out in Earnest’s paddock would have been careless. It was an error…it was a human error. The gate was closed but not secured. After working non stop for the entire weekend to make Earnest's paddock even better than it was (he’d never gotten out in a year) we were tired and we made a mistake. Earnest had a skirmish with White Dog a year ago, in which the wound required stitches. It was caused, as usual, by territoriality over food when I was running White Dog out of a paddock. From that day on, we built a separate hut and paddock for the pig, and his tusks. We also had his tusks cut down by the vet, requiring sedation. But tusks grow back, and those tusks only take seconds to gore an animal.

So to Miss Careless, the writer of the impactful one word comment, if anything was careless it was your choice of word, and the timing of it. Words have power and we all have the right to use them, but we also have a responsibility when using them. I visited your FB profile-there it was full of memes of love and light. But Miss Careless, actions speak louder than memes, and your action spoke loudly of who you are. You are not welcome here, and you are were banned on our other pages. I do thank you though for the $20 donation you made in 2017. 

The discussion amongst my followers-many I'd never heard of and many I had-that came from this was civil and kind, and helpful too. Your comment literally kicked me in the gut that day, the same day I still had blood all over my pants and in my car from White Dog's wounds. I am not so thin skinned that I can't brush off trolls or commenters that are out of line, I usually just walk on by and don't waste energy on them. But your comment deserved attention, and attention is exactly what it got-but it got turned around into good from empathetic people that know that there is nothing careless about what we strive to do here, day in and day out, without pay, without vacations, without help. I doubt you could get by one day here and do what I do physically and emotionally.

Again, thank you to everyone who supported us emotionally. It was important.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Really fun new holiday cards!

I have made some new holiday cards for you and you can order now to ensure you get them. 

AND NOW YOU CAN MIX AND MATCH designs....so many people asked for that and I can do that now because  I'm using my old printer and am doing larger quantities.

They will be delivered to me the first week of September [next week range] but if they sell out I'm not sure if I'll be able to reorder in time for holiday mailing. Just an FYI. Everything is slower due to supply and demand with the pandemic and printers are having those issues too.

I just love all of these.

Also added more designs and revamped some too. I'll be adding to the line all year. Holiday/Christmas is still the biggest seller for cards so I focused on that this time. I try to keep my verbage so that a card can be used for a variety of occasions.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Pickles gets her first report card from Earnest's Charm School


I was walking into the barn and heard Pickles say, “Earnest, don’t show Mrs. Dunn.”

“What am I not supposed to see, Earnest?” I asked, catching them both off guard.

“I have Pickles’ first report card,” said Earnest, and he handed it to me. Pickles looked at the ground.

If you recall, Pickles was required by unanimous barnyard vote, and me, to attend Earnest’s Charm School, with the hopes it would teach her some manners, as well as literature and language.

“I got an “A” in Leaping Off Rocks!” Pickles said with pride.

“I see that,” I said. “But I do see some low marks. There’s a ‘C’ for Politeness, and a ‘D’ in Empathy,” I said.

Earnest chimed in, “She’s a smart little scamp! And she did improve greatly over the last few weeks in her cursive writing.”

“And every week, Earnest teaches me a new word,” said Pickles.

“Yesterday’s word was coddiwomple,” Earnest said.

“Can you use that in a sentence, Pickles?” I asked.

“It was a sunny day and The Goose coddiwompled through the fields,” Pickles said.

“It is a verb meaning to travel purposefully towards a vague destination,” Earnest explained.

The Goose waddled towards us, “I do not coddiwomple. I tend to have a planned destination.”

“I coddiwomple!” said Puddles.

“Me too!” said Pickles.

“Why is your grade in “Empathy” so low, Pickles?” I asked.

“Earnest says what I lack in empathy I make up in perseverance and sass,” Pickles said confidently.

Earnest the pig interjected, “Every day I recite a situation to Pickles, a situation she might find in real barnyard life, and I ask how she would react to it.”

“What types of situations?” I asked.

“Well, if two elder goats are standing in the door, blocking the way for Pickles to get outside, but there is a big bucket of cucumber peelings in a bucket she wants to get to, how would she handle it?”

“I love cucumber peelings!” said little Pickles. And Ollie, Hannah and Puddles and all the old goats chimed in, “Us too!”

“And how did you respond, Pickles?” I asked.

“I said I would do whatever I had to do to get to the cucumbers first, or Ollie or Puddles or someone else might get them,” Pickles said.

“Including pushing the two elders out of the way?” Earnest asked.

“Of course,” said Pickles. “I have to survive!”

“Mrs. Dunn, I have lots of work to do with her,” Earnest said. “But she has great spirit and her attendance is perfect.”

Later that day, I had just started nighttime chores when I heard Pickles call to me.

“Mrs. Dunn! Earnest taught me how to get everyone to line up! Now I can rush outside to a bucket of cucumber peelings and nobody will get shoved!”

I turned to look, and there was a tidy, orderly row of youngsters and elders.

Earnest the pig looked up at me and said, “I told you she was a smart little scamp.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

A quick but hearty THANK YOU


I am so grateful for everyone who helped in the hay fiasco. If you follow along on social media, you know that my hay guy could not come through with hay-or at least hay I felt comfortable putting in a hot loft.  He delivered 100 bales just to get me through [we buy 750] and the next day we discovered very hot bales, all heavy and wet. All the hay was damp, some more so. In a loft, this can cause a fire due to combusted hay. I so wish we had taken the temperature of the hot bales just so I could have told him how hot they were. I texted him and told him, not to complain, but because I thought he might want to know and because he had sent hay off from that field to others. He said he'd come pick up the hay, to keep what I wanted to get by. I kept 25 bales, sent him a check, and hoped for better weather.

But there was no way going forward I felt comfortable getting more hay in coming days or weeks from my local growers. It has been raining non stop and they just can't get their 3-4 days of dry, sunny, breezy weather. It's certainly not their fault. But I did what we were comfortable with-not bringing in wet hay into a hot loft. Certainly not 13 tons of it. Only takes one bale.

Here is a very brief but thorough article on hot hay, and temperature warnings.

I talked to another local grower who offered to do second cut, or even first cut when it dries out. But I decided , and I called him to discuss it, that any first cut in late August is stem on top and then second cut is growing into bottom. Nothing wrong with that, but I don't want to feed the richer second cut to Cushing equines, or laminitus ponies. Plus, I don't see how any hay will be dry enough at this stage since it is going in a hot loft.

Why risk it? I have a non profit to answer to, and I have animals to keep safe.

So the money we raised is to defray the cost of the higher priced bales I am getting from Canada. I actually think I might like them-they are compressed, and very consistent, and their protein level has been tested and is very high. I know of several people who buy them and used to buy local hay but could not keep weight on animals due to low protein. They are also very consistent in weight since they sell by the ton, just like we did out west. Here they price by the bale but you never know how much weight you are getting-drove me nuts when we got here, but we adapted. They also take up about 50% of the space.

It won't be easy getting them here. They come on a semi from Canada, and will go to my feed store. We can't get a semi into the barn area with the tight turn. Each pallet is wrapped, and weighs 2000 pounds with 48/40# bales. So we will have to use Martyn's boss's trucks to pick up three tons at a time, then hand carry the bales into the barn. So that is 4 trips. My feed guy is being very helpful allowing us to make trips over a couple weeks while he stores it.

Anyway, thank you to so many who jumped in to help, immediately. Not having hay in the barn for the year this late in season is like not having oil in the furnace. It was a very upsetting hay year. But as the rains poured down again this week, and the humidity is still here through the week, I don't have to worry about having wet hay delivered again, or turning it away.

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Friday, August 20, 2021

Hannah makes her debut elder visit

We finally got over to Cove's Edge - in person- to visit our elders. I took Hannah for her first time and she did great. It took her about 15 minutes to settle a bit, and it was her first time on the halter too. But she likes to lap sit and the residents really loved her. I put her on the table too to try to get her to do some leaps to no avail. Perhaps the expression on Earnie's face was the most heart stopping for me. Earnie has been a farmer since he was a young boy, which is how he lost his arm as a teenager but it didn't stop him from farming. He is also an animal lover and animal magnet. Opie always loved him.

We talked about Opie on our visit and we all miss him. There will never be another Opie and I wish he had not left us so soon. Perhapes his star was so bright and he gave so much in his short life that he needed to rest, or go elsewhere to help others on a different level. We talked about getting  his Opie Love Mobile out for winter and I hope Hannah and I will be allowed inside this winter...but we will see what Covid does this fall season.

But it was a lovely and fun visit. I know this group of residents now, and they me, so it is like visiting with family and we share stories and laugh and it is just fun. I know it helps break up the day for them, and for the caretakers too. And I hope they know how much I too am lifted by the visits.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Memory of the five year old

When I was five we lived in a little house on 5 acres that was part of larger acreage and the old manor house. The manor house was once a home to a barn with horses and their was a riding ring behind our little house. I dreamed of having a horse. I'd go out to the riding ring and skip around it pretending I was a horse.

Nearby teenage girls would ride over on their horses. I still remember their names-Marta rode a palomino named Sky, and Wendy had a bay quarter horse that allowed me to ride double on her. Sky was always bucking Marta off and she'd run back home, and Marta sometimes cried. Who knew years later my first horse would do the same, and I named her Sky and she was a palomino, in honor of Marta.

But I loved it when I'd see them riding to the ring and I'd run out there and watch, hoping Wendy would give me a ride-she usually always did. My mom told me not to be a pest, but I suppose I was. 

When there were days that horses wouldn't come, I'd walk out in the pastures around the riding ring and follow the well made horse trail-a thin path well traveled, sprinkled with manure here and there. All through my life, before I had my own horses, if I was anywhere with a path like that, it would transport me back to being five, and I could feel that dream, that sensation of smelling 'horse' and wanting one so badly.

It took 44 years, but I finally got one of my own. And now some 22 years later, I have eight equines that make paths, and manure, and I still can feel that five year old dreaming. I still will stop during chores some mornings and just put my face into Boone's neck and smell him.

I was walking this morning to get old Matilda and as I walked this little path, I stopped, and could feel that five year old again–best not to forget her.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Facetime with our elder friends...we had a hoot

We had a heat wave pop in this week so instead of taking little Hannah the goat to see our Cove's elder friends, we opted to do a Facetime. It was so fun, and we all basked in AC too.

I brought Hannah in-she was so good, calm, hardly cried. She is very used to the dogs and was fine with all the activity. I think she might be a good little travelling goat for healing visits. She likes to sit on my lap and is extra tiny so we will see.

Our visit was really fun. We talked about all sorts of things, as usual....and some of the residents filled me in on lots of juicy stories about our area since they know everybody. We of course laughed, tried to tell dirty jokes, swooned over Franklin and talked some about Covid. I was told too that as of October 1, all staff must be vaccinated or they have to leave. About time. Later that day, I saw the governor had also announced this. These people have been though enough already [vaccinated staff and residents] and I guess if you can't do the unselfish thing on your own [assuming you can physically get the shot, as some people can't for medical reasons] it has to be ordered. Kind of like seatbelts, or not smoking in a room of people....I think some people will get it and stay on, others won't. I know they are already short staffed at most places, but this has to happen if we are going to get through this. If my parents were there, and staff were not vaccinated, I'd be doing everyying in my legal power to correct it.

Anyway, I was really happy to visit with my friends. I still want to do my parade, but it will take volunteers and coordination and one of my volunteers who works with horses had surgery and is out of comission for a bit...so maybe we will make it happen in fall. We laughed yesterday how I should dress the residents up like animals for it, and we guessed which animals everyone would be. We talked about what we would do with a million dollars but in the end concluded it would bring possible trouble and it doesn't buy contentment or joy. We talked about pizza.

So until I can get there, Facetime is actually very helpful to everyone. And I am always delightfully surprised afterwards how much fun I have with them. They mean a lot to me.

Monday, August 09, 2021

Things are settling...and thank you

After rushing around for days we have made it safe for The Goose and the other fowl to not have to be terrorized by the male ducks. I know they are just being themselves but I'm relieved we at least got part one of the Keep The Terrorists Out of The Front Paddocks done.

The Goose is relieved and has been back grazing in his orchard and doesn't look terrified anytime the two males approach the fenceline.

Now the Terrorists are living free range in the outer barn and pasture where the sheep and Luci graze. They are harmless with them but they like to corner White Dog in the morning near his food. This is an accident waiting to happen but it is complicated because White Dog comes into the barn to eat so no ponies or sheep will eat his food-and he does not like anyone near his food, as most Maremmas will tell you. So eventually we will have stage 2 and 3 done where we will have a secure area within a couple other paddocks where The Terrorists can stay. At least that's the plan. Plans can shift, especially with marauding terrorists.

I want to thank so many of you for rising to Goose's need and donating! Really, I so appreciate it. It takes a village around here...and Martyn.  

Thursday, August 05, 2021

Trauma for The Goose, and me...


I’m raising money for an unexpected need…$1500 to cover pressure treated posts and boards and no climb fence-materials are more expensive now. For the past months, the two male ducks have really been trouble. They keep squeezing under and through fence areas despite my efforts and harass The Goose. They also harass the three lady ducks and older goats if they get in that area. I am literally adjusting fencing almost daily…but they can contort under. 

I thought I had it down but yesterday was the last straw. I found The Goose battered, panting and panicked. It took me about 30 minutes to calm him, by holding him, stroking him and just sitting with him until he stopped panting. If you have had male ducks you know they get on the back of an animal and pin their neck with their beaks [much like roosters]. Love making to a duck or chicken is the opposite of the word, it is aggressive. They’ve drawn blood now on animals and that’s the last straw. I want to recreate an area near the pigs where they will not get out…I will also rehome them to another duck home if someone out there comes along. For now they are in outer barn until I can get material to contain them. 

 One of the biggest ways I use energy, and creativity, is to constantly be thinking of solutions when things like this arise-and they arise all the time. It is one reason I don't travel [I did my fair of traveling, I am very content as a homebody, believe me]. Even a trip to the grocery store can  have be come home to a surprise situation. I am not complaining, but to people that ask me about starting a sanctuary...I always tell them, you have to be present in mind and body and drop everything to fix or rearrange or interfere.

The Goose was brought to us becasue he was always getting beat up by the other geese. On his arrival, it was clear he was a sensitive soul, seeking out the ill or dying. First it was Rosie the pig who he stayed with, then Birdie. He would stick close to many who were in their final days. He would preen Muddy's cancerous leg. Whenever he starts gravitating to an animal, I listen and watch. He is a spirit animal to me and he deserves to be left alone. I told him I was sorry that once again I had let him down. While I am not the aggressor, I am his caretaker and I keep telling him it won't happen again, but it does and this time was especially bad. So toomorrow and through the weekend I will get it done.

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Monday, August 02, 2021

New work, lots of rain and the boy ducks are criminals

This canvas is called "A Hole In Her Boot". It's been busy but I've managed to get three new large pieces done for Sundance and will ship them off soon. After that I want to spend some time in the Elder Cat Suite with my hand stitching  raggedy messes, and the cats of course.

I'ts August, which means I get to start thinking about autumn my favorite time of year followed by winter, and spring. We are still waiting for hay. The poor hay people can not get on the fields, or it is sunny for 2 days and then pours. My hay guy got me a bunch of bales to get me through and we hope the dry weather forcast for this coming week [after another down pour this morning] will get us our hay. Everyone is waiting on it and Hay Guy is doing his best, I feel for him. As he said, 'You can't make hay on water." No, you can't.

It'll be okay.

I was finally able to get our field mowed and it was still pretty wet but is marshy.

My main farm activity of the last few days has been trying to contain the the two [insert mild expletive] male ducks. They are reaking havok on the poor Goose, and my lady Pekins. They are even going after the little baby goats. I don't like it one bit. They are constantly squeezing out of paddocks, then they run The Goose ragged and he does not fight back. He never did, it was why his former home asked me to take him, he was always getting beat up. He even has lost some feathers on his head. I'm really fed up. So today I worked, again, plugging holes and then I watched the two criminals running about but my fences at least kept them away from The Goose, for now. I have a couple places I hope to build a permaanant place for them, and they will no longer get to free range. I am tired of testosterone!

Speaking of testosterone, of the chicks/ hens I got this spring, it is clear now one is a roo. Dang! I will hope for the best. The other wry neck chick, Golda, is doing well but the other two shun her, and so do the older hens in the special needs group. Golda likes to sit near the goat fence so I might put her in there when she is bigger. She is holding her neck well and gets less wonky now if she gets nervous. She still responds to me when I say, "Calm", by calming. SO I feel good about that, that we got her back on her little chicken feet. And now I have experienced wry neck so another feather in my arsenal.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Official Report from Officer Mittens

Officer Mittens has been busy. It is me who has failed to record all the warrants and citations, I just can't keep up with him. So here is a breif summerary of just the past few days. 

Saturday, June 24. Franklin Muffinpants was given a citation for a Violation of a Protective Order. The Protctive Order was put in place by Mrs. Dunn because Franklin Muffinpants thinks her bare toes are fair game in nightime play. 

Sunday. No arrests. 

Monday, June 26 Franklin Muffinpants was arrested in the refridgerator for accosting a cabbage. Charges were dropped and he was cited with a Silly Kitty Brain In Fridge Again warning. 

Mrs. Dunn was given a warning for being overly grumpy. She talked back to Officer Mittens and he tried to cuff her but her ankles were to big for his cuffs. 

Many speeding and reckless running citations were handed out to Buddy. Buddy does not understand fully what this meaans so Officer Mittens has requested funds to start a Safety While In The House Program. 

Tuesday June 27 Buddy was also arrested and placed in solitary after he ate one of the remotes. Bear tried to take the blame but Omar and Oscar witnessed it and ratted on Buddy. Charges were dropped several hours later due to Buddy's Lack of Grown Brain, and big brown puppy dog eyes. Officer Mittens has now placed a protective order on all remotes. 

Officer Mittens arrested another grocery bag for Failure to Have Doughnuts. 

Wednesday June 28. Officer Mittens requests a larger uniform. He is now 14.4 pounds and his pants must be worn well below his waist which is against police officer academy policy. He also requests old fashioned doughnuts or glazed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Catfish...a gift from Walter? Yes.

Last week I wrote about the two new elder cats that arrived-thier owner had died-and I mentioned there was one more cat coming. I named him Catfish and he is a big beautiful boy of 15.

I have to tell you I am in love Catfish and it dawned on me that way back in 1980 when I was in NYC and I adopted a cat, I wanted a Morris like orange tabby but the shelter only hand a one year old female orange tabby and I took her home. Gracie lived with me until her death at 18. And then all the oranges that came to me were a gift and that included Walter, and Lemon, and now Jonathan and Catfish. 

Catfish says one word when I come in. He is like the Marlon Brando of cats lying about in his kimono not worried about his girth. Catfish likes me and gets up when I arrive in the morning, as does Inky. Jonathan and Nuffy are shier, but loving. And Nuffy has finally started talking too.

This week I felt I was ready to take out the hand stitching I had been doing with Walter before and as he was dying. I looked over and there were orange paws on my table. I did not think I would have orange cats so soon, I figured if it happened it would. But here I am with two male orange cats...and it propelled me to stitch again. 

I know Walter sent them.