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.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Thankful for all of you!

{March 31 Update: We are up to $4200- so grateful, thank you!}

Just a quick update that we are up to $2500 raised for the $5000 Spring Fundraiser Goal. Once we reach our goal, a very generous matching donation will be sent our way for another $5,000.

Raising money is an ongoing challenge for any non profit and while I am the pilot of the aircraft here in all fundraising, I can't do it without all of you-all of you, the ones who send $10 when you can, the ones who send parts of their stimulus checks, the ones who send thousands or jump right in when a need arises.

I try to make the fundraising fun, with thank you's from the animals and such...but it is all hard work and effort. But here's the thing, I love doing it because I love my work and I love that I get to do what I am doing. I won't ever take it for granted. And while we don't do this 'for money' [we take no salaries], raising money is a validation of our efforts and work here.

So thank you to those who have given so far!

Friday, March 26, 2021

Help us get this $5,000 matching donation!


Our Spring Fundraiser is active, and if we make our goal of $5,000, we will be given a matching $5,000 donation from an Apifera follower [who wishes to remain anonymous].
Visit our facebook page to donate. Facebook pays all the processing fees for you, so 100% of your donation goes directly to the nonprofit.
Two of these 20" prints will be given to two of the donators of the Spring Fundraiser. Anyone who has already donated will be included in the drawing. We do it very scientifically-if your donation is up to $100 you get your name in the bucket once, if you donate up to $200 your name is put in the bucket twice and so on and so on. Then Pickles or someone pulls out the names. 

We are up to $,300. So help us reach $5,000 so we can get that matching $5,000 donation

Here is the direct link so you can share with friends. https://www.facebook.com/donate/311007570738104/

Thank you!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Lemon lets go...but we are happy for him

If you follow social media Apifera, you already know that Lemon died Sunday. I entered the cat suite that morning and Walter was at the door but Lemon was not in his normal place and out of site. 

I knew. 

The day before I was holding him and Walter came over as usual to be at my shoulder-I told Walter that Lemon was going to die soon-his feet were cold and his ears too. I sang a little of that old James Taylor song “so close your eyes you can close your eyes it’s alright...you can stay as long as you like.” I asked Walter to help Lemon feel it was safe to let go. I figured it was days not necessarily hours. He was so thin though.

I'm actually happy for him. The fact he was able to open up more in the last month -partly due to transitioning but also because I do feel he gave in. The fact I could hold him and be with Walter-that was a gift to me. He gave me all the gifts in the last month. He had a very, very strong spirit to have continued to live in his body like that.

I think I might write a story about Lemon and Walter at some point. The old grumpy man letting go, the scared one finally accepting touch...to be touched like he was in the last weeks, to sit with Walter in my lap...I feel it was a gift for him, but also for me of course. But to have held out all those months [since May 2019] and not allow me to touch him, to hiss each time-the energy that took must have worn on him].

Walter is fine. He is actually doing things he didn't do when Lemon was alive. he is coming tot he door more to greet me, he wants to ride on my shoulder all the time, he jumps off his perch to be on the table while I prep food, he comes to the window to look in while i am in the feed room. he seems lighter and happy, and very much bonded to me. He too is getting thin, nothing like Lemon, but I try to keep the weight on but he is 19.

Someone on IG asked me if I had ever written about the fact many of the animals here die naturally. I wasn't sure how to answer, and didn't [I have learned in the past years of social media it is not my job to answer all the questions posed, and I don't anymore]. There was nothing wrong with the question. The fact is, many animals here are helped on their way with a vet. Every caretaker has a comfort level. My feeling is I want the animals to die naturally if they are not suffering. I have seen suffering, when a vet can't get there, it is not pretty and very upsetting. I have done things I didn't think I could do but when we farmed I learned a lot about death, transitions and what is humane and what isn't. Some people think a bullet is more humane than euthanasia for livestock or equines. In some ways I agree-if it is done properly- and sadly some people I've seen boast about it on social media are not those I'd allow to do it but they think they do it just fine [anyone that has a dying lamb but has to tie it to a tree, and then shoots not one properly placed bullet, but FIVE into that little lamb does not know what they are doing].

With the old cats, the stress of taking one to the vet in my opinion is often way too much stress. I regret taking two of the old cats in to the vet when I knew they were dying. One of those cats did die, with me, at the vet, but he had to go through a night in a cage there. I felt pressure to take him, due to living so openly online. But I wish he had died like Walter. I have taken old cats in- like Big Tony-he needed help, and he was 20. Mister Mosely was able to sleep most of his final days and died with me peacefully. So it is not that I am against it, it is simply on a case by case situation. And of course, things can go wrong quickly. I know people that rush to the vet when a cat has the sniffle-that is their right and their comfort level and their budget, I have nothing bad to say about that. I just approach on a individual basis.

Lemon, I did my best, and I also know you did your best, and I am glad you could just be yourself and do things in your own way.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Sergeant S. Biggs makes hs therapy debut

Sergeant S. Biggs made his first therapy gig yesterday and he now has a new group of friends from Lincoln Home. He was quiet, gentle and everyone loved him-I am so happy for him. I brought him out, along with The Teapot and Captain Sparkle, and Harry. The goats came out later. I wasn't sure if I was overdoing it this first time with the equines, but my volunteer, a horse person, stood with Biggs while I made sure the others were behaving [Captain Sparkle needs some manners work!].

It was a beautiful 50+ degree day, and about 8 people came, many I've met many times with Harry. It was so fun...really lovely people. One of the woman is new to the residence and is someone I know, and she had a horse some years ago. She really misses being outside and active-so I handed her the lead to Captain Sparkle. I know she got some calm, normalcy and fun from that, and a feeling of being needed too. One of the hardest parts of this transition for elders is losing their purpose, or their independence...and their home.

I'm excited for the equines to help out with therapy and the outer barn will play a role in that...So stay tuned.

For now, I am just happy that Biggs not only gave love, he got love-he clearly enjoyed the grooming and touching. I don't want an animal to be forced into this role. Some are born healers, some aren't, and some never evolve into it. Some aren't necessarily healers [like Pino or Opie] but are definately more in tune with human emotions than others.

I wills say this, I really, really missed Opie yesterday. When I let the goats out, they normally run into the orchard and it makes every laugh and smile. But they were a bit wary of all the animals. Opie would have sauntered in to see everyone, as would have old Sophie. 

Next visit we plan to spend a lot of time braiding Captain Sparkles thick mane. He really needs more work at standing still, and not using his little lips to indicate he wants to leave. He sure is a little pistol. Teapot did fine, I think she actually likes the attention more than one would assume from her spunky sass.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

A very special birthday cake for Mrs. Dunn

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

 “Mrs Dunn! Can I borrow some flour?” asked Pickles.

My imagination went wild...are they making paper mache? Lord help us.

“Well, how much flour?” I asked.

Earnest the pig yell from the barn, “Two and a half cups!”

“I’m afraid I’m almost bare,” I said.

“It’s okay, we can substitute mashed pig pellets!” Earnest yelled in.

My instincts kicked in and I grabbed a rake and pretended to tend to the newly unfrozen leaf pile near the barn.

“How many eggs do you need?” asked Mary, one of the hens who had begun laying regularly with the longer days.

“Six,” said Ollie.

“Oh my, I’ll have to get some from The Secret Sisters then,” and she strutted off to the coop.

“Make sure you are reading it correctly, Ollie,” said Aunti Bea, one of the elder lady goats. “Baking is a precise science.”

“Six eggs it says, but only the whites, and it says we have to whip them into stiff peaks,” said Ollie.

Earnest put a bucket down with watered down pig pellets. “Ok, now we put the butter in,” he said.

“We don’t have any butter,” said Pickles.

“It will just be crumbly without the butter,” said Earnest. “But now we need to put the milk in.”

“We don’t have any milk,” said Pickles.

“Milk is just a liquid to hold it all together,” said Earnest. “We can use water.”

The Goose stepped in and offered his bath water out of his rubber dish.

“Thank you, Goose, that will work,” said Earnest the pig.

“We have to add suger, “ said Ollie.

“We don’t have any suger,” said Pickles

“Granite dust will be a good substitute,” said Earnest.

I took my leave to go to the mailbox and upon returning they had a bucket full of mixed liquid with floating pig pellets.

“We didn’t add the salt. Or the baking powder,” said Ollie.

“It won’t matter,” said Earnest.

“Put in a pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes,” said Ollie.

“We don’t have an oven,” said Pickles.

They all looked at me.

“No, you are not using my oven. May I ask what you are trying to make,” I said.

“It was your birthday yesterday and we wanted to make you a cake,” said Earnest. “Would you like to taste the batter instead?”

“Well thank you for this loving gesture, but I want to share it with you, help yourself,” I said, and Earenst dumped the bucket of goop and they ate it right up.

“How old are you, Mrs. Dunn?” asked Pickles.

“Pretty old, I think,” said Ollie.

“I’m 63,” I said.

They all gasped.

“63! That’s really, really old!” said Ollie. “Do you feel alright, should you sit?”

“I think turtles can live that long,” said Earnest the pig.

“I’m not dying, I’m simply turning a new number,” I said.

“It sure is a big number though,” Pickles said.

“The moon is billions of years old and it seems fine to me,” said Ollie.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

New canvas

This piece, like most, went through many transformations, but I finally settled on this and am pleased with it. 

I often post progress photos on IG, mainly for myself so I can look at them on one screen. 

"Prayer Flags and Rain Clouds", 36" x 24" x 1, canvas.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Pickles' pickle and we enter busy-busy season

Yesterday we did major spring clean out of goat barn, taking out the deep bedding I use in winter to help with warmth. I take it all out in spring to help with lice. So I timed it so I'd clean it all out, about 2 hours of time, and then we could rush to feed store to get summer bedding...on arriving back at farm, there were some very familiar looking wide short bodies rushing back inside the enclosed fence...

meaning they were outside the gate.

The slider door had not latched-we've been having trouble with it. Martyn has since fixed it but I nearly died seeing them out of their protected area. Fortunately they went to the back of the barn and not 100 feet out to the busy road.

All is well.

Upon reentering the barnyard, I caught this picture. Pickles looks extremely proud of her recent pickle, don't you think?

I'm spending today getting new bedding in. It works great for the pigs and is fresher and cleaner. We put about one inch of equine bedding pellets down, which will crush over time, and then top it off with about 5 inches of cedar dust. I was never a fan of sawdust in equine stalls, seems in cleanup you lose a lot of it. But this works great and last well all winter with the three pigs. The biggest mess maker is The Goose who insists on bathing in the water and it gets all over. I've tried so many ways to aleviate it but nothing works perfect. Anything to keep The Goose happy though, right?

I'll also be doing spring shots and deworming for the goats this coming week or two. I don't do the horses but do all my own maintenance on goats. Feet trims too will be done. 

 Martyn's been splitting wood all day. Got another cord out of fallen wood from last summer.

So we enter the busy time-spring...shots, annual horse tests and vet care,  sheering of llamas and sheep, spring shots and garden and barn yard cleanup. We are still trying to get vaccinated and someone gave me an insider tip on getting into Walgreens so I will try that this week. We are pre-registered in hospital and they hope that will happen by end of month. I hope many of you have been able to get vaccinated. I am envious each time I see a friend getting it done, but happy for them too.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Age is a daily platform to launch from

I turned 63 yesterday. I have t say it was a really special day. I awoke to the smell of bacon and found that Martyn had made me a piece of bacon and cut it into pieces and shaped it like a heart. I found this so simple and sweet. Best birthday card ever. 

The progressed, beautiful weather, took a long walk with Bear, heard from old friends...and then at 11 my elder friends from Cove's Edge had planned a special birthday Facetime with me. I knew they had something up their sleeves, and they did. They all had on Harry shirts! But it gets better, the shirts were actually sent to them as a surprise by one of my many loyal and kind followers. I was so touched. It really made my day. They are like family to me now. It takes a lot of effort for my contact their to gather them all and get the computer set up right too, so I just love it.

We are trying to get vaccinated, that would have been the final gift, but it will happen as more vaccines are made available. They say it was one year ago we went into lock down. We are moving forward, I have hope for the first time in many months.

If you are lucky enough to have a roof over your head, health, and an income, and love, aging is freeing to the mind, at least it is for me. But I have my health. I think working with the elders, seeing how some people end up in the final years, it makes me appreciate each day of freedom even more. I saw an article recently about how more and more people are living to 100. I have absolutely no desire to live to 100, or even 90. I just don't. I am finding that the internal 'shoulds' we taunt ourselves with in our younger years [i.e. I should do more art today, I should lose 5 pounds, I should this and that] are dissipating. It doesn't mean I am not vibrant, curious or ready to take on new things, it simply means I set my pace and don't get riled about what you or others thinks or want. I always did, but I'd drop everything to take on an illustration project that was strictly for money. I don't have to do that now. I still work hard and get my deadlines met, but it is less hectic. I've worked hard to get to this point-25 years of learning curves and lng hours. I still have to make money but we spend wisely allowing us to live in this little house and live comfortably.

But I was thinking about the number thing. We get all consumed with the number on the scale, the number of steps, the number on the birthday...all the ramifications of those numbers are really set by others. Take weight...I have always been more than the range they drum into your head [especially as girls and women]...always. I gained weight after menapause, about 15 pounds, and then another 5. I took 14 off, and gained 4 this winter. So now I'm even more over the weight guides. But I read this great article the other day about instead of counting calories or points, just learn to listen to your body. If you eeat natural foods, your body will tell you what it wants. If you eat sugars and processed foods your body will crave them. I find this to be true. And the point of the article is, so what if you eat naturally, and not manically, but eat when your body tells you to eat...who says that number on the scale is not right for you.

It was sort of freeing for me. Working with the elders, I know what is important than my slight weight gain and larger girth...it is that I can walk, bend, dance, move, ride my horse, and be independent. That is the focus of each day now. Each day is a launching pad to be free, do what I love doing, give back to my animals and elders, make art or write. it has nothing to do with my age or the number on the scale or the number some group of doctors on a web site say I should be. 



Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Spring=Miracle and Nature moves to the right=horse language

I am enjoying the first day this year where I could sit in the garden soaking up sun without a winter coat. Glorious. I was thinking how Spring really is symbolic of a miracle, isn't it? You just can't believe anything can grow again, then today I saw the first tips of daffodils. Spring was glorious out West, as a Minnesotan I loved spring there as it started [in my Minnesota mind] in November. But there is something almost miraculous about spring in a colder climate. I'm really excited for the warmer temps this year, more so than ever I think.

We are trying to get vaccinated as they lowered the age requirement. It's frustrating but things are moving in the right direction. I am anxious to get some one-on-one equine therapy sessions going. Sergeant S. Briggs is doing fine. He finally figured out that Arlo won't kill him so he now goes to the water bucket. I was carrying water to him twice a day to make sure he drank but now have seen him venture in like  brave chap to drink. Step by step. He still pushes others away to eat hay, which is fine, in time he won't. He is very gimpy on the front right leg with arthritis, making it hard to turn away fast. I think his initial days with Boone made the leg sorer, he was pawing and doing gelding territorial stuff and it probably made it flare up.

A horse friend was sharing some teaching of the Cheyenne. All nature moves in circles and to the right. By moving to the right we are in balance with Nature. She shared how if you want a close relationship with a horse you have to build trust on the right side..horses tend to push us back to the left( the thinking side) and the right side is the “spirit” side . If they allow you to lead them and hang out there without being uncomfortable...you’re in and they will love and trust you forever.

I thought about the 'circle' in Nature, and how certain plant circle tot he right [like twining vines. I knew about how a horse can walk by a mailbox on the left and freak out, but go another direction and see the same mailbox and not care [or vice versa] but I never thought about a spirit side. I do know they tend to prefer turning one way and such, I just never paid attention to which way. So I found that interesting and something to explore. I hne out with all of them on both sides so i am not sure what that signifies but I have been paying attention to things I might have just been doing naturally, or not. 



Thursday, March 04, 2021

The tall, dark and handsome gent has landed

He arrived yesterday. Our friends at Horses With Hope were good enough to trailer him down for us. We all laughed that he kind of looked around and thought,

Am I in a Dr. Seuus book now?

He had to go through so many obstacles to get to the equine area. Of course we don't know if he's ever met a goose, ducks, midgets dressed as goat, dogs, and llamas-but we doubt he ever encountered them all in one place. 

He did great. he came out of the trailer sweating a little, but was dry. I always feel for the animal on delivery day-do they wonder if they are going some place bad, are they worried about yet another trip somewhere. He has been many places since he left the Texas kill pen  beofre landing at Neer North and then Horse With Hope.

He entered the barnyard and I had the donkeys and Boone in an adjoining paddock. Harry and Sparkle, and of course, George, were there to smell him toe to head. He did fine. He was a bit concerned at first with George, but George deserves to get chased a bit. It calmed quickly. he and Boone did their gelding squeels and Harry sniffed his but, disappointed he was a boy not a girl.

AN hour later i let the others in and let them all to their thing. He is no pushover, and is still finding his place in the herd of course. I liked that he would come to me each time he investigated an animal. He seems to be very people oriented which is why they thought this might be a good home for him.

This morning, all was well. I do have to reconfigure the water buckets short term. I noticed at breakfast he was licking snow. I led him to the water bucket, but he really is still unsure about Arlo, who has the paddock right next tot he water. I took water out to him in a bucket and he drank it right up. In time, he will figure out Arlo isn't a giant muppet.

I am excited to work with him with people. My friend who was once an occupational therapist and worked with a local place that helps special needs kids wants to do therapy sessions here, more like one on one with kids. I am not that experienced with kids, so she is the kid expert, and I am the horse handler. I'm really excited about it. Stay tuned on that.

And, we finally settled on a name. Somewhere along the way, he was called Shadow, i don't know where or if that was his kill pen name. Nothing wrong with the name but you know how I am. A new lease on life calls -sometimes-for a new name. So we came to Sergeant S. Biggs.  The 'S' is in honor of his time and journey as Shadow, the Sergeant for his calm and approachable demeaner and the biggs for...well, he's big!

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Thank you, Sundance

I've been working with Sundance now for many years. I feel very blessed to have them as a platform to share my paintings on. It also allows me to create bigger pieces that since I no longer work with galleries, the latter is my choice. Sundance is an excellent client and I really am happy to be part of the home artist group. 

This was from the recent Spring Catalog.

Visit my Sundance page>

Monday, March 01, 2021

Intense moments of being

I was working in the equine paddock while Martyn was putting up boards in the new barn addition-the goal being that the horses won't eat the barn siding. We still have to paint with no chew, a task I hate, I admit.

But I wanted to try to explain this moment, in words. Sometimes it is hard to find the right words to describe a moment that encompasses the past, present and future.

White Dog loves Martyn. He loves men, loves my farrier too. He likes women, but I see his response to Martyn. White Dog has a different relationship with Martyn than he has with me. When Martyn comes out, it is special, where as I am there every day multiple times. White Dog loves to be with Martyn when he works. Sometimes it is problematic, and not so safe if power tools are involved. But this job he was able to be right at Martyn's side...so happy, so content. And I caught a series of photos that slayed me, this one being the most emotive.

It was one of those moments where as you are experiencing it, it propels you to a very spiritual and emotional place, a place of understanding the grace of the moment, the beauty of it, and the fact that it is a moment that is fleeting. It's fleeting because life is fleeting and one day you wake up alone, or in a home, or you lose your mind. I know that is rather grim, but it is the truth we face as we age. It was a moment where in seconds I prayed White Dog would live many more years and that Martyn would stay healthy, and that we would be okay, and be together and not be separated in old age.

The beauty of aging is that you do respect these moments even more viscerally than in your youth. I certainly had many intense moments of realizing I was witnessing something beautiful and profound. But as I add another year in my early sixties these moments just become more profound and special. Sometimes, I hear a voice in my head–my voice–say,

Remember this.