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

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©Katherine Dunn.





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.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Taking care of old and needy animals takes time, money, insight...and of course desire

Old Matida, age 30, walks to the barn.

A couple days ago, a friend sent me a link about a neglect case in southern Maine where many horses and other animals were taken from a property where a woman was taking in needy animals. Neighbors said that the number of horses seemed to be multiplying fast and while there had been complaints, many of the nearby neighbors weren't totally alarmed. When I saw news footage, many of the horses looked in good body shape - I could not see their feet and I guess that was another issue. Some looked thin, but I knew that it takes months to put weight on a horse and maybe they had just arrived. One neighbor said the horses got out a lot.

But maybe she was just in over her head.

I thought of the woman all day, and what she must be feeling. I don't know her nor is she being identified, and because she was cooperating with animal control and police, I thought it was perhaps an all too often case of someone with a good heart but misguided expectations. The woman did not own the large barn and farmhouse, she rented. This to me is an immediate red flag for trouble ahead for anyone wanting to take on as many animals as she was. While the barn looked large, it supposedly did not have adequate shelter for 30 horses.

We have built just about everything here for the animals, over time. It took money  but it also took Martyn and his skills since he did all the finishing and prep work. I could not have done it alone, I have little to no building skills even though I am handy and capable of many jobs here. Each animal that comes along it seems a new fence or paddock has to be built...fencing goes up but you have to maintain it. If you have pigs -and I guess this place had pigs taken too-well, pigs are tough on everything and require an entire different fence than a horse or sheep or goat. And even then, they have strong noses and get out-trust me, I speak from experience, Earnest the pig will concur. ANimals get out, but if they are getting out all the time, something is missing in the managment.

I thought of the weight of caring for that many equines, not only the feed cost, but the hay storage, the farrier work, teeth floatings for any of the needy ones...my vet bills are huge and that is with mainly healthy animals. Just the manure management...and fly control.

I do know that those of us who choose to help animals are always asking ourselves if we can accommodate one more, or one comes along and you just want to help it. When I took the old horse Honey on, I knew she was on her last legs and just wanted to give her a good year in a better situation. And I did. But I thought about it long and hard. If she had been younger, I don't think I would have. Once I had euthenized her, I knew I could handle one more equine and Biggs was presented to us and I'm so happy he was. But I have to think about many things-do I have room for that much hay since I buy my hay all at once for the year which is the safest and best way if one can afford it, and has room for it. We have putrid fields but we supplement with feed and hay so we do not put money into our fields-they are wet much of the year and are not great grass fields. But again, since I supplement I have to be realistic about feed costs and storage.

And how many can I work with at a time? I guess these horses had very little interaction with people, and it showed right away to the people taking them. I work with my equines-not necessarily in the round pen, but in boundary work and manners and such. I am with them a lot.

I feel for this person, without knowing all the details. I think her heart was in the right place, she just did not have the means to make it work.

Just caring for old Matilda is a big commitment. For example, she has Cushings so is on a daily pill. Every year we do blood work to see how her levels are [it's kind of like having diabetes]. She came out of winter thinner than I had hoped-after multiple teeth floatings- but still looking OK for her age. But her levels had really jumped so now she is on a whole tab instead of a half of tab. I think it is $1.50 a day for the tab. It adds up. Multiply that by other horses that might need pills [like Captain Sparkle] and it can get very costly very quickly. I spend lots of time grooming her since Cushings horses often don't shed well [another sign her meds needed to change, we thought]. She's now on other pain meds too, and will have to be regularly floated the rest of her life [some horses, like Boone, went for long stretches without needing a float].

I think one needs to start small if they are taking animals in–and learn how to work with them, and build relationships with their vets. Farming out west and rearing animals taught me so much. I learn something all the time working with my vets and farrier.

It takes time, money, insight, and desire–desire to keep doing it day in and day out. There aren't any vacations and I don't care. I don't need a vacation. Working with animals is a vacation for me.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Pickles to attend Earnest the Pig's Charm School


My latest story from Tails & Tales for the Lincoln County News

“I don’t want to,” said Pickles defiantly.

“That is not your decision at this juncture,” I told the little goat. “It is for the good of the barnyard.”

“But I was just using my Pickles Power,” she pleaded.

“When one has been given such power, one must use it with wisdom, and empathy for others,” said Earnest the pig.

Pickles the goat was turning one. And it had become clear to all of us that she had developed a bit of an  attitude. Her Pickles Power was going to her head. And that is why I told her that for the rest of the summer she would be going to charm school here at the farm.

“Charm school is for girly girls. I’m Pickles!” said the little goat.

“Who will teach Pickles all about charm?” asked Ollie.

Everyone turned to look at Earnest the pig. It was a no brainer.

“I will be teaching you about many things, Pickles-languages, music, cursive writing and how to enter a room and be noticed without being arrogant,” said Earnest.

I wonder if I can attend this, I thought.

“I know how to enter a room!” said Pickles. And she leaped and twisted and turned in the air. “Like that!”

“You can still leap and run, Pickles. You just need to learn how to not be so much of a ….” Earnest struggled for the right word.

“A bully,” I said.

This entire time the two baby goats that had recently arrived, Puddles and Hannah, were sitting quitely watching. They were often on the receiving end of too much Pickles Power, as were the elders.

“I like Pickles, but she hurts my feelings sometimes. She called me a squirt. I can’t help it if I’m extra small and nobdy wanted me on their farm,” said little Hannah, a bottle baby.

“We want you, Hannah” said Poetry, one of the elder goats.

“I’m afraid of Pickles sometimes,” said little Puddles, his head lowered.

Pickles suddenly looked very sad, and worried. She started to walk away from the group.

“Where are you going, Pickles, we aren’t done talking,” I said.

“Mrs. Dunn, I’m sad with myself. I thought I was just being me,” Pickles said.

“You were indeed being you, Pickles,” said Earnest the pig. “And with a bit of self awareness, you will use your Pickles Power for the good of others. You are young, that’s your ownly fault, there is much to grasp at your age.”

Puddles walked to Pickles and said, “It’ll be okay.” And Pickles head banged him in true goat fashion.

“I think this is a good place to start, Pickles,” said Earnest.

And he put his arm around the little goat and began to walk her to his hut. As he walked away I could hear him imparting his first wisdoms on her.

“Pickles, one’s physical strength is temporary. But the actions of our hearts is how we will be judged-for it shows how much we love.”

{Stay tuned this summer to see if Earnest’s Charm School can help Pickles and her Power}


 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

I was too ashamed to write about it, but now I will


I've been wanting to write about this for awhile, but if I'm being honest, and I am, I'll tell you I haven't because there are multiple levels of shame involved. But over the past couple months, I seem to keep running into articles or conversations that remind me this thing isn't going away in my head and I want to face it.

You see, I'm 63. And about a year or so ago, I realized that what I was seeing in photos or mirrors just wasn't me. It wasn't the me in my head. Weight gain after menopause, aging, changing skin and mass–it was all going on at once.

This isn't really even about weight. But it is tied up into it. When I was little I was told I was chubby. Looking at photos, I wasn't it, but I felt it and looking at magazines and loving Twiggy and Cher, I felt chubby. When I was about ten my father patted my belly and said, and these were his exact words, "You are too young to have a pot belly." My mother scolded him. But it stuck, I can still remember how I felt, I felt ashamed, and sad. 

But looking back at photos, I didn't have a pot belly. 

So like many young girls I had body issues that followed me around most of my young life into my 20's. It was at about 25 I started to see myself differently. I started to be okay with what I saw. I maintained a good weight, but again, my scale number always felt too big, it wasn't as small as others my age and height. A masseuse at the time told me I had a 'very beefy back". I did, it was muscle. But that term also stuck. {And I found a new masseuse.}

For my 30-50 years, I really liked what I had. I felt good in my body. Somewhere in there, at about 30, I gained some weight and went to WW. I took off the 15 pounds and never put it back on again. I simply was eating too big of portions. When I saw women older than 50 gaining weight, I figured they were doing something wrong, and I naively thought in my 30 year old head, That'll never happen to me, I do yoga, I hardly eat sugar and meat, I walk, etc. I'll age gracefully.

But I did turn fifty and I did start adding weight and it would not come off. It was slow at first. I even had all my blood checked and thyroid-it must be something, I thought.

My naturapath said not to worry about weight. Do more, she said, just move more, don't worry about the scale. So I did. But the wieght kept coming. Even WW did not work this time. I am not a dieter. I am a realist. Calories in, calories out. But I move, and I eat very healthy food.

I lost 14 pounds last year and had wanted to lose 10 more, but nothing was working, and I gained 4 back. But of late, I have started shifting my focus to simply being content with a working body, a body and face that does not look like the one I had 5 years ago let alone 30.

That is part of it. When I think of me in my head, I think of that time of my life when I was content with my body and image-that was when I was 40ish. Well, I'm 63. What sense does it make to compare myself to that. I mean, we don't look back at baby pictures or photos of when we are five and try to regain that. 

I want to reimagine in my head what I look like and be okay with it.

Here's where the shame comes in.

I work with many people who can't walk. They can't bend over. They hurt. Some of them aren't much older than me. Their bodes are fragile. And here I am being upset that I don't have my 40 year old 'looking' body. My jowels have sunk, my neck profile makes me cringe...and some people just wish they could stroll without a wheelchair, or have dinner with their husband again. I want to stop the negative and damaging and hurtful thinking.

So I am taking a new approach. I ask myself, what has my body done for me today that was helpful, that I need it to do-my hands helped my sick chicken, my arms and legs helped me clean the barn, my spine held my neck and head up so I could see the beautiful garden and flowers, my eyes can see my best friend and husband clearly, my ears hear nature and music, my lungs and organs are not sick...none of it has to do with what my body looks like or what it was like at age 40 or 50 or 55. None of it has to do with a mirror, or a scale number.

I was inspired to write this for two reasons. One was because I saw a post that had gone viral from Instagram, posted by the actress, Valerie Bertinelli, who is 61. I am not a follower of her, but I watched her raw and honest video post she made after a stranger, a troll, had come out on one of her posts and bluntly said, "You need to lose weight." Ms. Bertinelli likes to cook and share recipes. She has gone up and down in weight her whole life. She honestly spoke about the shame of having the weight, and of never being able to conquer it in her 61 years. She was pointing out the troll's comment was unhelpful [clearly it was], she was owning the shame and was owning the fact she loved to cook and just wanted to be what she was. When I saw the video, I cried, for her, but for me too. I knew how she felt.

And then another thing came my way today. It was a post I had made years ago, and someone on Facebook had reshared it when it popped up on her memories. It was so amazing to see that post, I've posted it below. The words of wisdom I obviously took when I first saw it were even stronger and clearer to me today. I loved that she says it can take a while to get to know your new-old face, but once you grow into it your perspective on it will be different.

Today I took the photo you see on the top of the post. My first thought is usually, does that look like me? And of course a photo is not always a good representation of what others see. Lighting, for one shifts. but also when we are with others, in real life, we see a string of movements a person makes, not one head-on view that can be unflattering.

My new project is to re-see what I am, who I am, where I'm headed. I do believe as we age there is a turning point where we are more 'in our new-old bodies'. I never had much issue with aging physically until I was about sixty. It's a challenge. But my body is so much more than what it looks like. It's so much more than that stubborn number on a scale. My body is what it does, what it achieves every minute it is alive. And I'm blessed to still have a working body. I do not want to shame her anymore. I think listening to Valerie Bertinelli speak so honestly was a turning point for me-I felt her pain, and I held my body and felt my body saying, 

"Love me, I am your body and I'm working hard for you, don't hate me because I look different than that young woman you once were, hold me, help me."

I felt my body must have felt the same way that little girl did when her father told her she was too young to have a pot belly. I know how that felt, I don't want my body, or any other person, to feel that any more.




Thursday, July 08, 2021

Old Inky gets roomate and more to come


{Photo taken the day I picked them up, they are sweet but scared}

 It's been busy here and I have neglected to write here. I actually have some thoughts on some issues and I will find time to write about them here and maybe hear your input-more on that next week.

After Walter died, and then old Tommy soon after, it left us with only one old cat in the suite, Inky, who is 20. He is doing fine, getting thinner and more worn but still strong. I don't sense he's checking out soon, but I did not want him to be alone in the room, in case he did. He's very stoic and independent. 

At the same time, my heart needed some space after Walter died, and I threw myself into caring for old Tommy and her matted coat. I wanted her to be matt free before taking her journey, that was my goal. Twice a day I carefully worked n her matts with various tools. And weeks later, I got them all out. She looked like a war hero with her skinny old body but we did it. And then soon after she died.

I decided to let the universe bring me more cats, rather than frantically fill the room up. I did touch base with my shelter contact, but there weren't any at that moment suitable for our set up. But then a few days later, she contcted me with two old cats, bonded, whose owner had died. They'd been to two shelters [often shelters help each other out like this] and they thought of me. And one is orange. We thought he was a boy, but until I can really look we aren't sure as the intake paper says he is a she but my contact is sure he is a boy. Sure acts like a boy.

How nice, and orange boy, like Walter, I thought.

And then, that next day, a 15 year old orange male comes into the shelter. I will pick him up this week.

You know what I think, I'm sure. Walter sent them. Time to get back in there and do some stitching, he's saying.

Old Inky


Sunday, July 04, 2021

News! New wool pillows and tea towels!


I have new stock of 20" merino wool pillows and linen tea towels-just another fun way to bring some Apifera into your home.

The pillows are so soft. Franklin Muffinpants approved too. You get tot choose between three designs: Daisy the sheep [our first beloved matriarch from long ago], Blue Fairies Being Born and Pino and baby Earnest in Sitting Together As Friends.

The tea towels are huge. You can use as a tea towel, or a prayer flag or wall hanging. There is also a merino wool throw with my art-perfect to wrap up in on chilly nights.

Once these are gone there will be no more. These were all from the Apifera Collection that Goldfinch Modern Textile had made in Nepal and since they were relocating, I was able to buy out the inventory.




 


Thursday, July 01, 2021

Four years ago I guess I could have died...or worse


This photo was taken 4 years ago. Boone and I had headed out on a beautiful day to ride on one of the wooded trails-I was so excited to find a real trail, it was about 1.5 miles down to Pemaquid Pond. On our way back, we cantered. I remember thinking 'time to walk, there is ledge coming up on a small incline'. But something went wrong. We'll never know what. I maintain he slid on ledge, his head and neck came back and cut my nose. When I came too, I staggered around, I remember that, I only had 1/2 my glasses. I can still feel the panic I had because I could not tell which way to go in the forest. Boone was gone. Later, Martyn shared the messages I left on his cell, and they were so sad and hard to hear, I was truly lost and scared and kept asking Martyn to help me, that I didn't know where I was. I don't remember making the calls, but I do remember I somehow walked the right way, and I saw a house. I remember being in the ambulance, and asking over and over about Boone. In this small village, word travels fast. Boone had made his way down the busy county highway, heading home-a miracle he didn't get hurt-two women held onto him. He walked a mile I'd say. Then people were calling the town hall, and the town hall called a local horse person who knew it was my horse. Another horse property I knew was suddenly there at the ambulance, I remember that, he took Boone for me. 

I'm very, very lucky. The surgeon said I had a bleed all around my brain and kept me a night, thinking I might need surgery. I was like, "No, I need to go home." It was, shall we say, sobering. I had a helmet on and that most likely saved me. Boone had a few scratches but nothing major and I had not one bruise on me, and I bruise very easily. That is why we think his neck came up as he tried to right himself and smashed in my nose and head, but the helmet lessened the impact. I could have been dragged but fortunately my feet came out of stirrups, I could have been crushed by him getting up...so many 'could haves'. 

It took many months, a year even, to get back to 99%. I often would try to say a sentence and could not get words out. To this day, I like to sleep with a pillow over my forehead for some reason.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

A capture from this morning

I caught this image this morning, right as some rain clouds blew in...I find it both mysterious and mystical. As one of my readers said, it looks like it was taken in the 1700's when the house was built.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

The reality of weather...one more reason we left the West

We had a much needed rain this week, two days of it I think and we are grateful We are down about 5" I believe. June has been a really lovely month this year, seventies and not a lot of humidy, the way mid coast has usually been in non climate change days. I grew up with humidity in Minnesota so midcoast was appealing to me. Being on the ocean, storms come and go and often our little cove pocket here makes our temps cooler than someone just a mile away [colder too sometimes].

I feel for the West. It is dangerously hot and I feel for the earth and animals too. Our area in Oregon were seeing wells dry up. We knew it was a matter of time. We had water rights on the river so we could always know our animals could have water. But as time wore on there were more fires and less rain. The heat was always there, for long stretches. Farming in heat is horrible. After we left the fire that struck was really close to where we lived and I knew people and animals affected by it. I felt for them but was also relieved.

People ask me if I miss the West and I really don't. I loved living there though. Part of the reason I don't miss it is I feel strongly, and intuitively knew then and now, that is very spot, this very house in this very town is where we are met to be at this very moment. I loved the big open skies and double rainbows and wide open public, sandy beaches all up and down the Oregon coastline. It was all wonderful. But it evolved and the dream shifted. It was time for change and I felt propelled, viscerally, to leave, as quickly as we could. Originally it was a two+ year plan but it escalated and I just kept getting shoved by some internal and spirit forces to leave, now. It was almost like these guides were predicting something big, something big we did not want to be in, was coming. That's what it felt like.

So we did go quickly and I'm glad - even though I had much grief over many good byes. I'm glad we got here when we did, we never would have found anything now, the market is crazy.

I read an article the other day that the Pacific North West is not ready for ongoing heat and they need to get it together and face reality. Their systems aren't ready. When I moved there in 2002, everyone bragged you never needed air conditioning. I bought one immediately. Just as many people we met here said, "Don't worry, Maine will never run out of water" [wells were starting to go dry in southern Maine our first summer] many people in the Northwest seemed to think nothing would change in their beautiful Garden of Eden. But it did, and it has. And it is not going away.

Our beautiful mother ship...what have we done to you over the centuries here? And do enough people care to help you? I heard a buffoon the other day stating with great certainty that because the dinosaurs died on their own or by Nature, without any men living then, that that shows mankind has little to do with climate change.

Oooof.

My best wishes and prayers for water and rain for the West. And for Maine too, and for the Earth.

"We will be known forever by the tracks we leave."
- Dakota Tribe


Thursday, June 24, 2021

I wish they could go home too

 

Watch this sweet video-This was a  heart breaker. Dagmar is the sweetest woman.

Harry and I went back to see our friends at Cove's Edge yesterday-the first time since lock downs began last spring. It was so wonderful being together again after a winter of Llama Window Walks and Facetime Fridays. We all got here, though.

This video is so special to me. My care manager there said this is always a favorite song of the elders-they want nothing more then to go 'home'. They each handle it in different styles and ways. I happened to be standing with Harry right next to Dagmar when the song began and she knew all the words.

It reminded me too of the book idea I'm working on in my head-a woman is writing a book about the animals on her farm, they talk to her, and she to them. She eventually is finishing the book but is now in a home. Her reality becomes clear each time she stops writing. The animals in the story will come and take her home. Will they? We'll see how it turns out. It is just an idea and one I had back in the old farm, but I was not ready to write it 16 years ago. It is interesting I had the thought and here I am standing next to Dagmar singing, take me home.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Good bye to a sweet old girl

 

 

We said good bye to Tommy last night. She was almost gone by nighttime chores and I took time to sing to her, with Inky near by. I knew in the last couple days she was transitioning and by the morning yesterday I knew she was close. It was peaceful. She was 20 years old and her time had come. 

After Walter died in May, I made it my mission to get her mats out of her. They had taken over and I could not keep up. I tried many things but each day I found if I took a tooth pick device and slowly opened the mats it worked over time. She was very tolerant. As I worked on her twice a day I remember thinking that I had to give this one last gift to her - to be mat free. I wanted that for her as she took her journey.

Now Inky is alone. I have been holding him a lot more. He is also 20. He has always been quite independent of the other cats and is still in pretty good shape for 20. I have a call into my shelter contact to see what elders might need a home so Inky won't be alone.

At one time we had about 13 elders at once. I am feeling a strong inclination to keep the elder suite to about three cats, and also use it for healing visits, perhaps via Facetime this winter. I think there will be many more lockdowns at my elder residence as fall approaches. I'm looking into adding a separate router and phone line in the room for wifi.

Tommy had trauma in her home before she came here. The older woman had dementia and was put into a home and the husband died in the house by tragic circumstances. I don't know what Tommy saw of any of it. I do know that Tommy liked to take her head and push it into my forehead while I scratched her. So I continued that tradition with her. She was a sweet old girl for sure.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Everyone is spuddling and the pig swoons over a poet

 


{The latest from my monthly Tails & Tales column for the county paper}

I entered the barn  to do chores and Pickles came running to me.

“Mrs. Dunn, we’ve been spuddling!” she declared, and she ran out to the barnyard.

I had no idea what that meant but figured it had to do with one of the new goat arrivals, who Pickles had named Puddles.

Pickles and Puddles came running in the barn, looking rather exhausted.

“Spuddling is hard,” said Puddles.

“I am not sure that is a word,” I said, as I mucked the stalls.

“Spuddle is a useful verb from the 17th century that means to work feebly and ineffectively, because your mind is elsewhere or you haven't quite woken up yet,” said Earnest the pig.

Well, if Earnest knows the word, it must be a word, I thought.

“Thank you, Earnest, it is most certainly a useful word,” I said.

“Do you spuddle?” asked Puddles.

“Often,” I said.

I fed the animals their hay and then sat a spell on a large boulder in the goat paddock. Puddles had been one of five newcomers to the farm that week. We brought home two more elder lady goats, including Puddle’s mother, and another little baby goat that needed a home that had lost her mother. Puddles called his mother Mrs. Puddles, not mama or mom or mother, but Mrs. Puddles out of respect.

“Mrs. Puddles, how are you today,” I asked.

“Just fine, it’s a nice day,” she said.

“Perfect for spuddling,” said Ollie the goat as he walked by.

“We can’t all spuddle at once or nothing will get done,” I said.

“I guess since my name is Puddles ,I’m a spuddled Puddles!” Puddles said.

Mrs. Puddles rolled her eyes.

“I think they will grow tired of this,” Earnest the pig whispered to me.

Just then one of the older goats, named Poetry, wandered over and took a seat next to me.

“I’m old. I don’t intend to spuddle, but it seems I spuddle more and more. It bothers me. But then, I forget I’m spuddling and it really doesn’t matter,” she said.

She was named Poetry because she came from a family of poets. She often could be heard reciting poems while all the others were falling off to sleep. Earnest the pig was charmed by Poetry.

“An older lady who recites Whitman at sunset is a fine lady indeed,” said Earnest with a sparkle in his eye.

I got up to get back to work.

“My spuddle time is over,” I said. “Spuddle on!”

That night, since it was so hot out, I was sitting in the garden in the dark, catching a light breeze from the cove. The fireflies were out. There was hardly a sound. But then I heard it, the sweet voice of an old goat, reciting the words of Whitman, and the gentle snoring of Earnest the pig.






Thursday, June 17, 2021

Harry goes to town...what an impromptu stroll with a llama is like


Our final destination would be the closing reception of Polly's art show, but Harry and I [and my very wonderful volunteer, Joan] had some time so we decided to take a stroll down through our little village of Damariscotta. I have done this before with Harry and the looks and expressions from people is priceless. It brings sheer joy to so many. Plus I wanted to say hello to the new shopkeepers of The Kingfisher and The Queen, a new beautiful shop on Main St. The owners actually lived in our house and sold it to us. We had a great visit and I will be going back, maybe to get some of my art and books in their store. 

Anyway, many things happen when you walk a llama in the village. 90% of the cars going by slow down, roll down windows and take snapshots, and smile. The 10% that are expressionless  must be having very bad days to not smile at a llama [and there are many reasons why people can be having bad days, so Harry and I understand]. We were walking by the bookstore where people hang out and drink coffee, many with dogs, and the dogs just don't know what to do about Harry. I apologize tot he gentleman that had to leave because his very large shepherd became out of control. Harry is not concerned about dogs however. When we got to one corner, a little girl of about 10 was rounding the corner and her mouth just dropped open and she couldn't move. It was so funny. The diners at King Eider's were pleased, and of course I had to walk by Colby & Gale and say hi to our gas guy. We stopped at The Kingfisher and talked for some time to the shopkeepers and then headed to the reception.

As we walked up the busy main street, a guy was driving by with rap on and yelled out to the rap song, "Llama llama". At one of the busiest stop light intersections, where the oncoming traffic had the green light, cars stopped to let us cross. A man yelled out a window in a Maine accent, "Now I've seen everything."

I always say that when I do a village walk I should send a quick notice to the paper so people know we are coming. But I always realize part of the fun of these walks is they are a total surprise to everyone, including me.

The reception was in a shady, breesy spot overlooking the water. Harry did just fine. I did learn though that due to the tight quarters he had the new experience of having people all around his body which he had to adjust to. He did just fine but it was a new experience for him. My volunteer noticed he seemed to take notice of black cars too... interesting!

The art reception raised more than $3,000 for Apifera. Polly is in the throes of living with stage 4 lung cancer. She is having a series of art sales and is giving all of it to Apifera. She volunteered for us and really believes in our animal healing work with elder people. I got to meet her relatives and friends and people said such nice things about us. 

I was also a bit verklempt when I saw David's daughter's there, because I had David's Bells on Harry [ I always do-as I wrote in an earlier post it was one of the most meaningful gifts ever given to me] and they were touched to see the bells. We all said how happy that would have made him.

I don't know how it will play out for Polly. None of us do. She is being practical though, with optimism. I hope to get her to the farm in the coming weeks with help of her friends. She said she would like that a lot. We all have to face death. We have very little choice in how we die. We can make choices while facing impending death, get the house ready so to speak. I know if I was facing death I would have lots of things I would want figured out-like animal care and all that. I suppose though, I feel this, that at some point...we give in, we breathe, we relax to what is coming.

 


 





Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Good news!


Two bits of good news! 

Firstly, the lock down at  Chase Point is over [hopefully it will stay that way - please get vaccinated if you choose to work at an elder home] and so tomorrow Harry and I will be attending the closing reception of Polly Steadman's paintings at Savory Maine. Polly just found at that her stage 4 cancer has not worsened and she will now begin a new drug sometime soon. Polly is donating any sales to Apifera. It is heart warming for us to be loved like that. She is also having a series of art sales and supply sales to benefit us.  People have been asking about seeing and buying Polly's paintings and I'm afraid they are not online. This was out of my jurisdiction and the woman running the restaurant and art show is also helping Polly with her medical and health issues so she is really doing triple duty. If Polly has future sales I will suggest they do a free blog or something. I will post photos after the reception tomorrow.

The other good news I got yesterday was that Harry and I can visit Cove's Edge again and sit in the garden with real living elder friends! I have not been able to do that since March of last year. I am so excited and hope to get there very soon.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

My one wish if I were to be granted one




We work hard here, but we enjoy it. I get so uncomfortable when people suggest we need to relax more. Um...I do relax, it's called tv time and bedtime.  We really love to be physically active and have projects. If we didn't like it, we'd stop. I find that people often, with good intentions, project on to other people. When I moved to the old farm out west, I was 43, and a woman who had lived on a small farm for 25 years and was starting to transition out of it, suggested that I should hold back on acquiring lots of animals. I said I was just getting started on something I'd always wanted-a farm, to raise sheep and have a horse. I realized though that she had been-there-and-done-that and was just projecting that on to me.

So when people make similar comments of 'you and Martyn deserve to relax more", I just know it is because they either want to relax more in their lives, or they do relax more in their lives and they have their life confused with mine.

I have a wonderful routine here. I get up and take the dogs with me, and they romp around while I do front barn feedings and chores. Then I put them back in, because I won't leave them alone with fowl, and then I go out to horse barn and feed and do chores. I come back at some point and let the dogs out and I sit and have coffee and watch the animals roam around, I smell the sea, I look at the garden...then I either do studio or office time until lunch, and then it kind of starts all over again. I have gotten way better at not over scheduling myself because I like lots of in between time for just percolating. So you see, I really do sit a lot, and think, and feel.

Since I'm 63 now, I know many people who are well into their 70's or older. Many are downsizing, as they say. I think about what will happen to us. I hope we can live our lives independently, here. It's the kind of farm we could maintain on our own with a few adjustments. I can't imagine -at this writing-leaving. But that too is my current state of mind projecting onto my future state of mind. Big changes in life require a process [unless a change is thrust on us through no fault of our own, say, losing a spouse]. I know I never thought I'd leave the old farm when we did, after 15 years, after putting so much love and sweat into it...but we did, but that decision was made in a series of epiphanies, probably over about two years. But once made, it went fast and here we are in Maine. It was such a good decision on so many levels.

This is our third garden we have created together. I never thought I'd have a garden I loved more than the last two, but here it is. The sea is right across the road [we do not have water property, which has its blessings, but we get to see the cove]. I think of my parents a lot when I'm in this garden, so many flowers here they would love, especially the peonies which we had in Minnesota. We have their old teak garden benches they always had in all their many gardens and they gave them to us when they moved for the last time. I cherish them. How many times did I sit with them on those benches in their rose garden, sipping coffee, sharing gossip or crying over some old boyfriend?

I guess that is one wish I would grant us, if I were able to grant wishes–that Martyn and I live together, in a home, until we die. I put that out to the universe all the time. I pray for it.

 {Garden photos and daily life here at Apifera are posted daily on Instagram}





Friday, June 11, 2021

A name is chosen...see what I go through?


If you follow along you know I take naming an animal very seriously, treating it like any other creative project. I guess it is my imagination, but I always feel a huge responsibility for naming or renaming an animal. It can take me weeks sometimes, to get to see the spirit or intent of the creature. Sometimes it comes easily but often it doesn't. The other thing is I often think, if  I give a name that is not matched with the true destiny of the animal am I shifting its path in life. I mean, if Officer Mittens had been named, say, Macbeth, would he still find a way to join the police academy? I was about to be named Mary, but my paternal grandmother died on the day I was born and I was named Katherine. I can not imagine being named Mary [no offense to all the Mary's but I just am not a Mary].

I posted a list of finalist on social media a few days ago. I was immediately alerted to the fact that one of the names had other insinuations-I think you can see which one. I just didn't see it! But when I did, I decided to leave it on the list since I thought it was a funny misstep. The choices were: Franklin Muffinpants; Spencer Catfish, Esq; St. Francis Buttons; The Honorable Puff; Chief Mittens; and Master Bates.

I assume you can see the one that was deleted, everyone else did but me. 

We were feeling the Spencer Catfish Esq. was the choice. But I realized that night he just did not feel like a Spencer or a Catfish. I have always loved the name and it has been on my animal naming lists over the years. But the kitten has this innocence about him, not really that mischievious, not bossy [of course this could change]. I loved the idea of having a Chief but again, maybe he doesn't want to be an officer. Maybe he wants to be a writer, like Earnest the Pig, or a poet like Paco. 

I suppose too, he might just want to be a cat.

See what I go through?

It became clear to me he had to be Franklin. Not Frank, or Frankie [we've had both and I love thaat name] but he is a Franklin. Franklin Muffinpants. 

But I'm going to keep that list for future needs.

Monday, June 07, 2021

New arrivals...lots of them...and i just don't know


It's getting to the point where Instagram has become my go-to announcement site. I started this blog as a journal of the first farm, and a way to share my stories and art and photography-before social media [remember those glorious days?] I still like it for a way to share longer ponderings and thoughtful pieces that might get lost in the manic highway of the internet.

But I do feel a bit frustrated as I find most of my followers now follow on Instagram and Facebook. I'm feeling like maybe I need to revamp or retred or regroup the site. I do like that I have a history here on the blog that I can easily look back on. I always felt too it was a safer place for people to converse and leave comments-but we all know most people post comments mainly on social media. I've experimented a lot and people just hate leaving their social platforms. I know one wise guy who claims he doesn't need FB any more, that people will flock to his blog no matter what, and when he made a grand announcement that his blog now could have comments [this is news?], there were none and he still needs FB whether he likes it or not [some of you know who I speak of...meow.]

So I'm not sure. I'm not sure. I feel so attached to the blog, but all things shift and change and evolve.

So anyway, that long introduction is over, I have to tell you that we brought home two elder lady goats on Friday, and two babies. I had picked out a playmate for Pickles, and she had already named that baby goat Puddles, but there was a runt on a bottle and I decided she should come home with us. And, I brought home a retired buck, now whethered who happens to be the brother of...Opie. I was not sure about that but said I'd meet him and see. I thought I might compare him too much to Opie which would be unfiar to him, and upsetting to me [I truly miss Opie almost every day especially with the therapy work]. But when I met him, I loved him, he was of course a bottle baby too, like Opie, as they lost their mother at birth. He has a post-buck strut but is very sweet and sometimes I see a bit of Opie in him.

 And then when I was picking up the goats, there appeared this beautiful mellow Maine Coon...totally chill and huge, reminded me of Mister Mosely but bigger. I swooned not once but many times. They mentioned they just happened to have kittens needing homes.  

Oh I'll just look, in case, I said.

I think you know what happened. {Kitty madness is being posted in videos on Instagram}