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, August 30, 2021

Really fun new holiday cards!

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

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

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

I just love all of these.

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

Friday, August 27, 2021

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I coddiwomple!” said Puddles.

“Me too!” said Pickles.

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

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

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

“What types of situations?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

A quick but hearty THANK YOU


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, August 20, 2021

Hannah makes her debut elder visit

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Memory of the five year old

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 13, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 09, 2021

Things are settling...and thank you

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 05, 2021

Trauma for The Goose, and me...


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

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

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

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

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Monday, August 02, 2021

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

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

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

It'll be okay.

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

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

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