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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Now this is what I call bed head

Earnest popped out while we spent the morning moving one of the overgrown manure piles hoping to get it done before the rain. He came out to see what the commotion was. As one person said, looks like he got out of bed on all four sides.  

We got the pile pretty much moved. I was worried that Arlo was going to use it to project himself off and up and over the fence. He has it in him. 

It's pouring now which is actually good since it will help rid us of more ice.

I am planning a new structure in the equine area for therapy sessions. Stay tuned!

Friday, February 26, 2021

Facetime Friday! And we visit the sea, quickly.

View from Cove's Edge, Facetime call

{Photos are views from the other side, from the elders view watching Facetime chat on a screen]

Captain Sparkle walked into the house like he knew exactly what he was doing. No fear, just spunk and sass in true Captain Sparkle fashion. He was not much interested in standing still however but that's okay. He did great and the elders loved having a pony in the house. They really wanted him to poop because we all agree that no matter how old we are, pooping is funny, as is farting.

And of course, my other mystery guest was the birthday boy. We all sang to him. They all loved it. He got the day off which was nice.

We were up early and I got more ice buildup in paddocks cleaned, slowly the ground is reappearing and the poop frozen to ice is lessening. We took an hour out of our day to drive to Pemaquid Point just to see the ocean and drove home. Doesn't take much for us to be content on our birthdays. Each time I'm there-it's only about 20 minutes away, I wonder what it must be like to wake up to the sea. I guess if I had to pick the sea or mountains I'd pick mountains, but there is a mystery and magic to 'living on the sea'. It has a lot of issues that most non ocean people don't think about but there is a romance to it for sure. The small coastal villages are so charming. We actually drove down the road that our old friend David had lived in his younger years-David is the man that recently died, at age 103, and he loved animals and came to our farm and we also took Harry to visit him. He gave us his pony bells and we cherish them. When I was on his road, there aren't many houses on the loop road, I thought of him and wondered which one it was. There was sort a a sad part for me to be there, and know he lived there once and could see the ocean and be there in that spot and that he eventually had to leave it. I thought of him sitting on a porch deck just looking out to sea, maybe thinking of past days, or future ones, or his departed wife. The sea provides a rhythm for one's thoughts, it seems to calm but also keep waves of ideas flowing as we watch it. It creates both ideas but also sometimes answers. I always felt that about swimming-it helped me decompress the day, but it also helped me think of solutions for things I was working on.

One of the elder residents that loves cats said that she was moved to tears seeing the cats on our Facetime Fridays. She meant it that brought her such joy. But...it is a loss when you go into an elder care facility, there is no way getting by that. One's attitude is important, as are the staff around you, but it is still a lot of loss and letting go of a former life.

We all laughed that when the new horse comes next week, he might be too big to bring in the house. And Martyn chimed in that he might have to put his foot down on that one. But I said to my elder friends, "How would he know, he'll be off at work?"

View from Cove's Edge, the birthday boy

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Snow from heaven

I did this piece yesterday. I was thinking about Birdie and Opie and how they are there but life goes on all around down 'here'. Here and there, here and there. But that the here is attached to the there and vice versa.

The red checked table cloth waiting for their invisible favorite meal, and the snow that falls comes from heaven.

Now available on the shop >

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Nuffy leaves for her forever home

I just put Nuffy in her traveling case with her baby blanket and she is off to her new home in Ohio, a very good home so we are happy.

Nuffy is learning to walk. But with that nose it can be a bit of a bumpy road. She is unafraid though.

Nuffy knew her mother briefly. She wishes she was still here, but her mother taught her well and that anytime she sees a tulip, that will be her, or when she smells cinnamon, that will be her. Nuffy also thinks that white clouds with grey spots are her mother so she really sees her often.

She had hoped to be adopted by a home with elephants, but now she just wants to be her ownself and be all elephanty and not told to be quiet or not play with her trunk.

Have a good life, Nuffy, I will miss you.

{See more art creatures at the shop}

Monday, February 22, 2021

In which Earnest the pig plans a trip to E.B.White's


Earnest in his hut, above him is E.B.White and his road map

“Mrs. Dunn! Mrs. Dunn!” I heard as I left the house to get to the barn. It was little Pickles the goat.

“Earnest says he’s taking a train to the sea?” she said, excited, and she ran back to her barn.

Instead of doing barn chores first, I went to Earnest’s hut. He was in good spirits, enjoying the sun on a chilly morning.

“Earnest, what is this I hear about a train trip?” I asked.

“Oh yes, I want to experience the sea, and also see E.B.White’s house,” he said.

Earnest has been enamored with the writing of E.B. White ever since I gave him a copy of “Charlotte’s Web” shortly before we moved to Maine. He began writing short prose and told me someday he’d visit Mr. White’s writing hut, to pay it homage. I’m not sure what the current owners would do if a pig showed up at the gate, especially when he announced his name was Earnest, not Wilbur.

“Perhaps you would like to accompany me,” Earnest said. “Trains are mysterious,” he said.

For seconds, I thought of the romance of traveling by train, the ocean coming in and out view, and my pig at my side.

Earnest continued, “You could bring Boone and ride on the bridal paths at Acadia, you said you wanted to someday,” Earnest said.

And for a few more seconds, I again thought of the joy of riding on a train, with my pig on one side and my horse on the other.

“You’d have to get to a bus first, and then maybe find a train to Brooklin, and there are restrictions about pigs on buses or trains, Earnest, and horses,” I said.

“I can only imagine what opinion piece Mr. White would write if he knew a gentleman pig who wanted to travel by train was being held back by the bureaucracy of a corporation,” Earnest said. “I so want to stand on the balcony of the caboose, like Lincoln, and wave to the villagers,” Earnest said.

We sat together soaking up the sun, not speaking, our breath showing in the twenty degree air.

“Look Earnest, how about we start off smaller. We’ll hook up the trailer and go to Pemaquid for the day. You can see the sea there,” I suggested.

“No caboose, no man in a black captain hat punching tickets, no bar car...no spirit of Mr. White on arrival,” Earnest said gloomily. And he got back under his straw bedding, leaving me to go do chores.

A few days later, I stopped to visit Earnest. He was out and about but I sat in his hut which has always been a comforting place for me.When we first got to Maine, Earnest had pinned a Maine map, and a photo of Mr. White, on his wall. I looked up to see them still there, but now the map had a dark line drawn from Bremen to Brooklin, and the handwritten word, someday, was scrawled next to it.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Shirley isn't trapped anymore

Opie tends to Shirley on our first visit

I found out yesterday that one of the first people I met, with little Opie, at Cove's Edge, has died. She was only 61. 
Shirley really struck me, and my heart. When I visited with Opie on that first visit, Abbey the activity director had brought many residents out-they have a lovely large area outside perfect for our animal visits. I told Abbey how Opie would find who needed him most, but that I would also let him visit everyone. And we did, but Opie kept going back to Shirley. Shirley had just arrived there and of course I'm not privileged to knowing all the details of her condition but I assumed she had a stroke. She could not speak, she could smile though, and her limbs were crippled and she was in a wheelchair. I was told she loved animals and was very depressed as you can only imagine. 
Well, that day, Opie found her, and every time I'd share him with others, Opie kept going back to Shirley. It was a beautiful thing, a sad thing, aand  memorable thing. I miss both of them. 
Sometimes when I went on visits, Shirley seemed more glum, sometimes, as when she saw Harry out the window, she beamed.
Shirley was a nurse before her life changed. She had two children all grown up. She liked crafting and campfires and being outdoors. I can only imagine being trapped in a body, and then with COVID trapped in a building. I hope Opie, and Bear [he sat on her bed many times as a pup and she always smiled] and Harry...helped her situation, I know it did even if it was fleeting. I know we all hope she found Opie, and anyone else she craved to mingle with again. 
You're not trapped anymore, Shirley.

The Opie Love Mobile and Shirley

In her former world, from her obit

She just beamed at Harry the llama

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Brreaking News: Officer Mittens arrests himself!


If you follow us on social media, you know that officer Mittens takes his job seriously. You can hear all about his arrests and citations he gives out on Facebook or IG, but I had to share this one here for my blog readers.

Officer Mittens has arrested himself! He had jailed Bear for eating the cat food but in thoroughly questioning the subject he realized Bear had been the victim of entrapment. Charges for both are pending review once Officer Mittens can consult with his supervisor and consul.

{Officer Mittens now has T-shirts for sale with sales going directly to Apifera.}

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ice...and Boone is good


The storm of Monday night came and went and we got off easy but it still created iced gates and barn doors. The warmer air on Tuesday caused heaving which meant many of my barn sliders were wonky. I had planned ahead and worked on some of them the night before anticipating ice, but forgot one of the inside barn sliders-just meant I had to carry water and hay farther. All is well. And Mister-I-Ate-A-Whole-Bunch-Of-Sand-Clear is fine, what a relief. I love winter, I really do and the snow has been pristing all month [except for the barnyard where I can't shisel the poop up yet]. But I have to admit, I'm ready for warmer sea air to come by, hoping next week. Meanwhile I've had router issues all week so internet access has been spotty but I got it all taken care of with a new router...I hope. It's always somethin'.

Monday, February 15, 2021

All day worry over Boone, but all is well

If you own a horse, you know the dreaded word–colic. Of course there is mild colic akin to a tummy ache, and then the kind that makes a horse owner shudder-impaction and severe colic.

So yesterday afternoon I went to barn early for chores and found Boone had come through the gate inside where I had some Sand Clear–a product we give seven days in a row one week out of the month. This helps keep granite dust out of the gut, which can lead to colic and bad things. Our main paddocks by barn are all granite dust which is great for mud control, which is great for keeping feet healthier [we suffered through very bad White Line disease with paco when we arrived], but it can also be ingested even with buckets.

So I must have not latched the chain properly. Yes, this is all my fault. There he was with the 5 gallon bucket wide open, the pellets all over-no telling how much he got.

Last night I dreampt I went to barn and old Matilda was lying on ground, almost dead, clearly dying. I had no way to save her in the dream. 

So I woke up and got right to the barn, haunted by the dream and worried about Boone. And there was Boone standing in the sun, but he wasn't coming to the gate as usual. He looked dopey. I took his grain out [Boone and old Matilda get supplemental feed] and he didn't even come over. I knew he felt crappy. He then looked at food, and turned around, went in the sun, and lay down [the picture here]. When I touched his belly he put his ears back, he clearly was uncomfortable. I did the skin test and he wasn't dehydrated and his inner gums were good. I really knew in my heart he probably just had a bad tummy ache, kind of like eating 5 pizzas, but then when he did get up, he pawed at ground-another sign of discomfort. I decided to try and walk him in the outer paddock, something to do in colic cases if you can, to keep them from twisiting a gut. He went a bit with me, but he was clearly uncomfortable.

So I got banamine in him. My dang thermometer wasn't working right. I watched him awhile, banamine is for pain but also is an anti nflammatory and takes about half hour to kick in. I waited around longer than normal and he was up, trying to nibble on hay. He didn't drink for me. I called the vet just to make sure of her thoughts, and I had done the right thing, but we agreed if he was still uncomfortable later in day-or if he worsened-she wanted to come out since there is a storm coming tonight. It's an hour drive for her and that made me feel loved and not alone. I checked him on and off all day and he wasn't terrible but clearly felt icky. The fear was that he could be impacted-the Sand Clear is a pellet and is all fiber, so it can expand.

Well, tonight I went out early and he was at the usual spot, and he knickered to me-I was the happiest girl in the world. He proceeded to eat hay in normal fashion and...wait for it...he POOPED! He didn't mind me touching his belly either. I called my vet and we were relieved. I'll keep my eye on him though and hope all is well in morning. But it was a relief.

My day was consumed with that, errands and dealing with internet issues so I was on phone all day with techs. I got little else done, but Boone is okay and that is all I care about.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

The real deal called love


I got the real deal with Martyn. If I'd met him when I was 20 or 30, who knows if I would have recognized what I saw in him the second we met-when he knocked on my door the day I moved into the house in Portland, which was next to his. I immediately sensed what he was. Martyn is not a gift giver-but he brings me many little things -flower buds, seeds for example. He builds things. He cooks. And yes, he vaccums, alot. I am better at other household duties-taxes, the bills, groceries, online needs...We share many dutirs, but he is the vacuum king, I can't deny it. What takes me 5 minutes max to vacuum, it can take Martyn all morning because, well, he's just better atit. So that is my valentine, and I'll take it. I made him lemon bars. But every day is the same-we just like each other and we laugh.

Not deprived without those 10,000 steps

Moth and fog with peonies {Sold}

"Do not deprive me of my age, I've earned it." May Sarton

 I just read a Wall Street Journal article that many doctors and scientists are seeing and referring more and more to the power and healing of Nature-since the pandemic has found more people escaping the city, going to large outdoor areas and such, and many feel the benefits are outweighing this whole idea of "You have to get those 10,000 steps in, somehow, on your treadmill or by walking or climbing up and down the stairs." {snore}

I loved living in NYC, Mpls, Portland and other places...but I always knew I'd end up in a smaller place, eventually-that was my heart move, and it took until I was 42 but I got there, and some 20 years later, I would not change it for the world. I'd be miserable in the city now. I often have vivid recurring dreams of being in the city, often with some of my animals, but I'm lost and I can't find Martyn and I know I have to get back to him and the farm.

I get steps on my phone and I know when I do 5000 or more I feel better. All my steps are from chores, not walks. In warmer months I often do 7,000 or more just in chores. When I add a walk in I go way up. But the time it takes to get 10,000 steps through a walk...just was not a priority in my day. I finally quit letting it be part of the rent in my brain and focus on eating less carbs and simple things during winter. I gained 15+# over the years after marrying/post menapause, nothing like some go through, but I lost 14 pounds since last June and I'm trying to maintain that loss until spring and lose another 7 or so. It's Martyn's wonderful cooking, but I just cut way back on any carbs. I do want to get more walks in when the roads aren't ice and salt.

As I age, I'm 62, the importance of health is more in  the front of the windshield. One's priorities are different, and clearer too, than the 20-40 range. I am speaking for myself but I hear this from most of my friends, especially women. I wouldn't take my young body if it meant taking my younger mind, attitude, lack of experience too. I like my age. So with age comes the perspective that losing some pounds is about how it feels, not how it looks. And having a functioning body is more important than a body losing weight.

Working with the elders...what is important is the fact I can still walk, and bend, and move, and make my own decisions. And I don't fear death, I only fear losing those things-those things that let me live my life in Nature on my own. None of us want to end up in a home, and I often wonder if I could adjust. I don't dwell on it, but seeing the people I see, I just relish pretty much every day as who I am.

You often hear people as they age say things like, "My husband still looks like the young man I met years ago." I feel this way. Just because I am constantly aging, as are you, doesn't mean I give up the same joys I had as a child, girl or younger woman-flowers, gardens, horses, sky, moon, garlic. I speak to some younger women who really are full of it. They have the kind of hunger -for anything- that can make them brazen and snarky. I'm sure I had many moments like this although...I think the internet and social media has emboldened things in some people that are basically just rude behavior and misguided behavior. I have  some younger illustrators or writers/artists that still contact me for advice on breaking into books or magazine-they have been polite and respectful. They do not make me feel like a has been, although I tell them upfront I am out of the loop with most commercial ventures since I'm a one woman band now. There was a time when I worried that I was becoming obsolete in the illustration world. And now I turn jobs away becausue I have so much of my own work to sustain me financially and emotionally. I have no interest in awards shows, agent lists or trying to get published by so and so. I once did. It was draining.

I'd rather be with the peonies, and then do a painting. {And for the record, I paid my dues to get here}.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Harry has a valentine party complete with Harry hats

It was Facetime Friday and Harry was the guest of honor. I had delivered Harry's valentines and gifts to the elders this week, so I knew Harry had to be the mystery guest today. Harry gave them valentines, a poster of himself, chocolates and Harry Loves You stickers. I knew my contact Abbey was going to do something fun–she always does–and sure enough, they all had Harry Hats on! Oh it made my day, I just love those guys, always up for some fun.

Harry wore a red cashmere ascot. It was one of many I brought home after my mother died, they had tons of beautiful fabrics and scarves. I'm sure  she never imagined it would be adorning a llama.

Harry was a pro as usual but was more antsy today, I think because he was intrigued with the many animals loitering around outside, which he  could see through the window. And my internet was on and off–I've been having trouble with it, for streaming too, and I think it's my router so finally found a tech person I can contact. It is so frustrating, so we only did a 40 minute meeting today. But it still brought smiles. 

It's been so cold. I spent last night by the fire, no intrusion of phone or social media.  I've gotten into the habit of leaving my phone off and in the kitchen the minute it is cocktail hour. It can become such a habit, can't it? 

Anyway, Harry sends you all valentine love. 

Wearing her Harry Hat

Wearing her Harry Hat

Wearing her Harry Hat

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Now you can wear Harry, drink from him or carry him around

Trying out a new way, a fun way, to bring some donations into the non profit. I do pretty well with direct appeals and fundraisers [thank you!] but thought I would try out Bonfire that caters to non profits by making quality T's, mugs and totes. They do all the order full fillment and I just make the design. it is different than other product printers becasue they focus on helping non profits. Their service too is exceptional, I've actually been working directly with a REAL person for a couple days. The quality fo the shirts is very good-soft but durable and the ink holds up well in washing.

Anyway, just a fun way to add some whim to your world. Even if we bring in an extra $100 or $200 that is about a week of food. So why not? Go shop.

 Right now I have a Wild About Harry design. I plan to add Pickles and Goose and Mittens...and others as time goes on. It's fun to make the designs too.


Friday, February 05, 2021

It's Facetime Friday...the mystery guest today is....

If you follow along you know that we've been doing Facetime Fridays with our elder friends at Cove's Edge.  I started out with just the cats and Bear....but it has evolved into me bringing mystery guests intot he house. Last week was Harry the llama and today Pino the donkey came in. 

The elders just love it, and they agreed today that not knowing who the guest will be is much fun. When the video turned on and I heard them all say, excitedly, "Oh look, it's a donkey!"...well, made my day. I always end my sessions with telling them all not to get too wild and crazy on me...they like that.

Pino was so great, I knew he would be but it has been awhile since I've had him out on his own. His mates all brayed as he left the barn, but he trudged along with me trusting me as always. I was prepared to let him out if he got anxious but he was calm as can be. It was so nice working with him again like old times. They loved him, and his little toes. The cats were very enamored with him too.

Abbey, my contact there, took screen shots of the setup on the other side. It takes a village to pull these off and she and Amy are so great. We had more people today too so maybe the word is getting out.

We were also very impressed Pino didn't poop. We talk a lot about poop...we get a good laugh about poop, poop is funny, as well as informative tot he farmer types.

So who will next week's mystery guest be? I guess that is the mystery. Stay tuned. 

The set up at Cove's for Facetime Friday

Thursday, February 04, 2021

All of yesterday

Yesterday I got to the barn and just enjoyed my chores. I've learned to slow down in morning and I don't schedule meetings and such until later in morning if I can. I figure I rushed around in my early career and can relax a bit now. 

But the snow was pretty and untouched [in most places, I didn't show you the poop piles in well lived in areas]. 

I took lunch time and hung out with the elder cats. And I talked a lot to Victoria, one of the elder chickens we took on some time ago. She seems to be separating herself a bit more and I wonder if she is starting her next journey. I really love her but she is elderly. I'm hoping she can get to Spring and warmer air. 

There are a lot of angry people out there. I've been inward for many weeks now. I rarely read things online right now except my morning papers, and my business pages. My shadow puppets are really fun and magical and giving me something positive to do. I am percolating a new book but just not ready to explore it in depth. And of course there are our elder friends, and our Facetime Fridays with the animals to bring them some joy. It really helps them and I wish I was more adept at sound equipment and online tactics and I'd put on a better show for them. 

I'm very happy I can help my community and slowly become part of it, all the while being able to paint and write and be with my animals and farm. I think if you can do that it really helps in any time of a life, but especially now.