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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

My new project-shadow puppets

I am a beginner, and today I made my first simple joints. It is a learning curve but it is fun. 

I have so much to learn!

I have a crude set but am going to make a better one so i can sit or stand behind it with light in front of me. I have been researching others including a master Richard Bradshaw as well as younger and newer puppeteers.

It is simply another way to share short stories.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Facetime Fridays with the llama in the house

As I like to say, "What could possibly go wrong?"

It was a cold blustery day. I had planned to bring Captain Sparkle in the house for the meeting, but balked at the last minute-I felt it was unfair to bring him like that without any prep work, he is after all not as experienced as Harry. I didn't want him to have a bad experience.  I will work with him in coming weeks.

So in came Harry. He entered the house like a gentleman, and stood like one for over an hour. I placed a thick covering on the floor so his feet would not slip. He did just fine. Of course, Officer Mittens was the first on the scene, but all was well. Bear was in his pen but everyone could see him. I even walked Harry around the rooms at the end and he did just fine. I just love Harry.

The Facetime Fridays are turning into a weekly gathering of our elders at Cove's Edge and I'm so lucky to have Abbey, my activity director there. She really is wonderful with everyone and game for all my ideas. She works so hard, they all do. While I'd rather be there in person, I began to realize that I can look at Facetime Friday's as a talk show-who will be the guest next week? 

My animal therapy work, and my elder care work are meshed with my life now. Part of the reason I am frustrated with the pandemic is I can't due the work that was just taking off -but I can be outside and my life has always been one of happy hermit on the farm. I go to the feed store, and the store once a week so Martyn doesn't have to go in [he has asthma]. I think it will be some time before we can be there in person, but am heartend they are about to get their second shots. I am far from getting one since I am well below the age limits. So is Martyn.

So when I was feeling down about not being able to make in person visits with the elders, I realized I had to tweak my thoughts-and now, Facetime Fridays is a show, something to percolate and plan.

Every Friday, I'll try to put on a show.

Officer Mittens on the scene

Bear is wondering "This is different"

Officer Mittens guards the snake thing

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Teapot has the right idea

The Teapot is not bothered by her waistline, despite the fact we continue to limit her feed. She is thinner than this older photo and we love her just the way she is, then and now. {For those who don't own minis, being overweight can cause issues such as Cushings, so we do limit her hay which is a challenge with a herd}.

This piece is part of the Wisdom series on the shop-art printed on maple panels.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Pickles declares she will never love again, and Earnest steps in

 “It hurts to love something.  I am not going to love anyone new,” said Pickles.

“Love does’t work that way, Pickles, you can’t run away from love, it will find you,” said Earnest the pig.

Two days earlier, Opie the goat had died. He was only four years old and had been diagnosed with an incurable disease. Opie was the first therapy goat of the farm and many people loved him-he visited many of the elder homes in the area.

Pickles started to cry. Everyone in the barnyard gathered around her.  

Ollie the goat came over and said, “I know what it’s like to lose someone too, Pickles. I lost my mama, she died having me.”

Pickles cried even more.

“Opie was my friend. If love means hurting, I won’t do it anymore,” Pickles said.

Mrs. Dunn was cleaning stalls and said, “But Pickles, what will you do every day if you choose not to love?”

“I will run and leap all by myself,” Pickles said.

“But you love to run and leap” Mrs. Dunn asked. “And when you do, others are watching you run and leap and they smile and laugh and they feel love for you,” Mrs. Dunn said.

“Well, I’m not going to introduce myself to any new goats that come here, then I won’t be hurt if they die,” said Pickles.

“Before you came Pickles, I lost many creatures I loved and I hurt too, and I still miss each one. But I can’t imagine a barnyard without a Pickles. If I had chosen not to love another, we would not have you,” Mrs. Dunn said.

“I guess I’m kind of important then,” said little Pickles.

“Did we stop loving trees after our favorite maple tree was struck down from a storm?” asked Earnest the pig.

“No!!!” the barnyard said in unison.

“There are a lot of maple trees, there was only one Opie,” said Pickles.

“That’s right,” said Mrs. Dunn. “And that little maple sapling over there will grow up and be a favorite tree to someone some day. And somewhere a little goat is being born just like you or Opie and they will be loved by someone. Love is being born every minute, even when someone is dying.”

“Love is not your body, Pickles, it is all the stuff inside you that can’t be seen, but it can be felt,” said Henneth the blind chicken.

“Like my intestines?” asked Pickles.

“Well, like your heart,” said Auntie Bea, one of the elder goats.

“I wished things didn’t die,” said Pickles.

The moon was coming up, and Earnest the pig put his arm around Pickles and said, “When you go to bed at night, do you mourn the loss of the sun?”

“No, because the sun is somewhere,” said Pickles.

“So is Opie,” said Earnest.

The stars were now out, filling the sky.

“I think Opie is a star in the sky,” said Ollie.

Pickles intently watched the night sky, and said,
“I think he is all of the stars.”

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Tiny gesture fills my heart...oh, open your eyes too if you haven't

Opie honored by his elders at Cove's Edge

We did another Facetime Friday yesterday. Bear, Officer Mittens, Omar and Oscar and I put on a show, with visits from Pat the Cat puppet and grumpy pig puppet. I also made shadow puppets which was spontaneous because the sun was coming in perfectly for it. I read them "Everyone Poops" a funny look at, well, pooping. We laughed and talked, it helps them a lot. We will do it again next week. At the very beginning when I picked up the Facetime call, the ladies all had animal masks on-and they said they were animals and they wanted to be adoptd into our farm! That just made my day!

But then they told me they had honored Opie. When someone dies at the residence, they put a photo on the front entry table so everyone can see and honor their life and passing ...and they chose to put Opie there. I’m so honored...so is Opie. I have to tell you it made me stop in my tracks. I was so touched and honored. I think I hit a wall. Opie was my partner, he was young, he was a natural. I am mad he was taken. The question,

"Why?" can only be answered with 'Because."

The sadness is piled on with the sadness I have for the country. If you can not acknowledge that there are hate filled whites that want nothing more than to see people of color gone, you are not seeing clearly. It is not about politics. It is about 20% or more of the country truly fearful that their white privlidge is being taken. We've been here before, we in fact never left it behind. If one thing comes of this four years I hope it is that people, white people, will begin to acknowledge this. And it is not all a bunch of neanderthalls that went to the Capital, it was your Uncle, your pastor [I know one who was there], your doctor, your neighbor...the people that went about their lives...until a leader stepped in and gave them a megaphone, and helped choose their mantras for them, they fed off each other. 

So that is part of the real hurt of losing Opie. He was pure love. He wasn't inciting anything. He was just giving his time and love to old people, and to me. And now he was taken.

That is why this gesture of acknowledgment form the elders at Cove's means so much. It was and is a blessing that they ackowledged him, and in so doing ackowledged my therapy work.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

One of the first of the elder cats to arrive...has died.

I arrived at feeding time this morning to find Anna dead. I knew she was starting to isolate herself in the elder cat suite, and was less bossy around her clan than usual. In the past couple weeks, she slept a lot more. She was very still yesterday and last night, she had left her felted cacoon to sleep in an empty bag. I knew her days were fading because she just wasn't interested in life, and wasn't interested in being upset if I tried to brush her too much. She wasn't sitting under the table at breakfast informing the other cats she was there first.

So, there she was, right at the door, outside the bag I'd left her sleeping in. Tommy and Yume were there, sitting, waiting for me. I wasn't surprised, but wasn't completely expecting it this morning.

Anna did me a huge healing service on arrival. We had just moved here in 2016 and some of you might remember the traumatic even where Itty Bitty Etta jumped out of the trailer, just as we were setting out on our journey. We could not find her, and she clearly stated she wanted to stay on her land to roam as she had since her birth in a culvert on the highway. She would have been miserable inside all day and to this writing she still lives at the old farm. But it was so upsetting for me. On arrival we brought in three elders from the shelter–Anna, Sir Tigger and Yume. I thought Anna sort of resembled Itty, but in time I realized she really didn't, but what mattered is I thought she did, and it helped me get over that difficult episode.

Anna was 15, not that old in my terms of what old is since we take on the really old ones. I know she helped me, and I helped her. She had four+ years in which she might have lingered at the shelter. I gave her that space and atmosphere and that is all I set out to do-give them a place to be themselves and not be stressed.

Why she died I don't know. As I've stated before, often we ask "Why?" and the answer is, "Because."

Thank you for helping me, Anna. I will miss seeing you in your window.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

New prints

While I'm always creating new art for originals and archive prints, I'm also adding some oldies but goldies to the shop. I always loved the blue donkey piece, inspired by Pino, back when he was the star character in many of my stories. He is still a star, just a bit shier about always being front and center.

The shop is loaded with art and books and creations.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Goodbye Opie

Opie died this morning minutes after this video. 

I got to the barn about an hour later than normal and I heard him crying when I entered. He was lying down. I got him up but he collapsed. I ran and got a pain shot and he cried when I left. On my return, Goose was at his side. I sat with and repositioned him in a safer spot and added more blankets. I got up after about five minutes and he calmed but I got up to quickly feed in the elder cat suite-and he cried. I quickly fed the cats and heard him cry once, then I heard The Goose honking. I stepped back out of the cat room and The Goose left Opie’s side. That’s when I took this video. I really believe he waited for me. That might sound egotistical but Opie and I were a working team. Last night he fell on his side and I knew it was probably days and would need to call the vet this week. I didn’t think it would be this fast but the CAE had effected his spine and the wasting was rapid. 

I am so glad I got to the barn when I did. It was so like Opie to wait for me. I am very very sad and upset.

It doesn't seem fair when youth is taken. But it is taken all the time. I think he was one more comet in the sky moving pretty fast for his size. He did more in his four years than some people do in a lifetime. He was a natural healer, just like Pino, and Birdie, and The Goose. I have seen it a million times with him, so have my activity directors at the various elder homes. 

I have been crying all day. Usually I am very stoic about the deaths, especially when I know they are coming. But some of them just knock you to your knees. On the one hand, the fact he died so quickly this morning is a blessing for both of us-he is out of stress and I was able to be with him in his home and there were no vets available today. I might have been able to get him up to Warren to the emergency small animal clinic but they might not have wanted to help due to license issues. To hear his cries was very hard. I have been with so many dying animals. Some cry quite a bit right near the end. I feel in many cases it is is fear, they don't understand what they are experiencing. That is why I'm so glad I got there. I wish I had been there sooner but he might have lingered anyway I don't know.

When he was diagnosed with CAE, I knew little about it. I've tried to learn as much as I can. It's a horrible non curable disease. I do know that he was very sensitive in his spine in the last days, and he had become so thin.

I have a huge ripped out heart. I have much to smile about, but combined with the chaos of the Capital mob, the hate emanating from many people-some in my own community-I will continue to weep as much as I need. Feel free to join in, let it out, and then remember that once upon a time a little goat made people happy in his own little natural way.

Friday, January 08, 2021

Officer Mittens makes his first animal therapy visit

Officer Mittens stole the show yesterday at his first FaceTime therapy visit with our elders friends! This is him napping after the hour or more visit.

He really put on a show ...zipping and zooming all over the house. Omar and Oscar and Bear (who was a pup when they last saw him) were also hits. We also visited the front barn. Brought such a break from reality for them. They’ve had their first vaccinations though! One of the residents loved walking around the house with me,  and at one point when she saw the cats and blankets all over -she said it was just like her old house was. A bittersweet comment. I wondered if the visit would linger with her as a nice memory or make her more sad about missing an old life of independence?

Next Friday we will Facetime again, starting in the house. I hope to bring Harry in on this one. And, I thought it would be fun to introduce them to my puppets! I've been wanting to let my puppets get involved with our elder visits. My activity director at the facility is game for anything so it is a lot of fun working with her. We really had fun.

Even though the animals are a hit with them, I know too just sitting and letting them see something, anything, from the outside world is good for them. We looked at photos on my wall and paintings. We laughed at a dried up cat barf on the wood floor. They noticed the open wine bottle in the kitchen from last night and we laughed.

We have to just keep showing up. We enjoy them, I hope they know that, I hope they feel that. And Bear made me proud. He was so calm, just like in the days of his first visits back in January. We talked about that, how long ago it seems, how little Opie and his Opie Love Mobile would come and we remembered some of the elders that loved Bear but have passed this year.

We talked about how cats sometimes wonder off to die. We all commented that might be nice if we could do that.

The front barn gange Facetimed too

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Did you wake up on January 1st with expectations?

I read in the Times that many people across the world were relieved to see 2020 gone, but had the blues on the first day of 2021. I was that person. I couldn't pin point it. It was gloomy weather. We've had little sun and usually we have sun and snow but it was rainy and the snow was mush and blah blahblahblah blah.

I'm snapping out of it though.

I think part of it was the expectation that everything is going to change this year and the virus will be reduced with vaccines and we'll be gathering in nursing homes again and [for many of us] the current commander will be removed. But I think the first day of the year felt like the last day of the last year.

But, I got back in the studio, worked on a new raggedy creature [it went from being a llama to a goat to now I think it is the Teapot's mother], am percolating ideas for projects, scheduled a Facetime with an elder resident at Cove's Edge who is blue...gotta just keep moving.

Everything is going to keep moving around us. Seeds are percolating under us. All of us. Keep moving, even if it means sitting in your chair and moving your arms. The latter will let you feel the air on your body.

Monday, January 04, 2021

The Teapot gets her wish from Santa



A couple weeks ago I posted Letters to Santa from the barnyard, over on Facebook and Instagram. The Teapot had asked Santa for a cape because she thought she would look fabulous running in it.

Well, last night after chores, and I was in a very down mood, I checked the delivery box and a follower had read about Teapot's letter. And she made a little cape. I mean, how cute! Now, I told The Teapot it was Santa, the delivery delayed like many packages this year, and she had no doubt.

I just hope nobody sends Pickles that chemistry set she wanted [do not send Pickles a chemistry set].