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.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Old Matilda has died

 She was thirty years old. She came to us out west, from a neglect case where she was being bred at age 19 without hay or supplements. Her feed were curled and back swayed, the latter never recovered from being bred year after year.

I'm so grateful we found each other. She had a wonderful life with us, and her little herd of minis. She and Paco were bonded. A week or so ago I noticed matilda had started separating out from her mini herd, which is not normal. I took note of it one night and said to Martyn, "The fact the donkeys aren't braying for her or joining her is telling."

In about four days after noticing that, it was farrier day, and Matilda was lying in the field and I had to try to get her up, She could still sit up like a dog, but my farrier had to push and i pulled. It was not a one person job. That was eighth days ago. Within another few days, she could no longer sit like a dog so we had to use the tractor to get her hind up with a strap, and I pulled and steadied her. I could not do it alone. 

It became clear this was not a temporary thing. What was most upsetting for me was she had just had her annual checkup and bloodwork done for her Cushings, and her blood looked good. And she came out of winter so good, after a bad year last winter-we altered her meds and she improved so well. So we were all excited how good she looked. Within a couple of weeks after her checkup is when she declined.

I had an urgent call for the vet-knowing this was not an emergency since she wasn't in utter pain, but I knew if the vet came it was most likely the end of the road. I couldn't imagine they would have any other solutions, at her age. We talked about altering pain management that might help her get up. But even one day of her not able to get up was a problem. And Martyn can't keep coming home to help me. We also knew there are dangers to hoisting her up with the aid of the tractor. A downed equine is a hurting equine both physically and mentally. They are a flight animal. I could not leave her in the open field in case she went down in sun, and horse flies. She was beginning to get bed sores.

It was a beautiful day. The vet was due at 2:45. I spent the last hour with her grooming her, and just sitting. I cleaned stalls. She had her morning with the donkeys. It was a beautiful, clear, 65 degree day. The daisies were out. Martyn had stayed home and dug the grave. We anesthetized her, then led her to the grave-after a lengthy discussion about options, if any, and the right thing for her. There was the possibility she'd fight it. But she didn't. She was gone before she hit the ground.

I let the all the animals in to see her body and grave when it was over, as is our routine in burials. I was most interested and concerned for Paco. But he came over, sniffed, and ran off into his field. Like I said, I think the fact she had separated out of the herd, and they were not alarmed, showed they knew and had said their good byes. Donkeys are very loyal and protective of each other.

I awoke with relief -for her, and me. It is no fun knowing she would most likely be down, and unable to get up, and I was unable to get her up alone. I had hoped we could have summer together. But we couldn't.

I'm sad. I miss her big ears already. But I spent every day with her for so many years. I helped her and she gave me so much just by being her. She got to see America when we drove from Oregon to Maine. She had her mates and a nice barn. She was never hungry. She was safe. She had people come and visit and fall in love with her and her eyes. They loved her eyes because she wore her soul in them.

She was a very special Apiferian, never to be replaced, or forgotten.

My beautiful, beautiful, Matilda. 

Friday, June 17, 2022

The Great Porta Potty Scheme

 “It’s here!” Pickles screamed.

All the animals were gathered by the front privacy fence. Hannah, the smallest of the goats, was on her knees, her head positioned under the gate so she could see the driveway.

“What’s it look like, Hannah?” asked Pickles.

“It’s a big ugly box,” Hannah said.

“Why would anyone want to poop in an ugly box?” asked Ollie the goat.

I entered the discussion, “I assume the porta potty arrived?”

“Mrs. Dunn, might I be able to see the inside of it?” asked Earnest the pig.

I sighed, “Alright, Earnest, go investigate, we’ll wait here for you.”

With that, the pig wandered over to the big box. You could have heard a pin drop amongst the animals as they watched from the fence.

“I’m going in,” said Earnest.

The animals’ eyes grew wide with wonder.

Minutes passed, and the pig slowly backed out of the big box. Before he spoke, everyone had gathered tightly around him, as if he was going to tell a really good ghost story.

“There is a seat with a large hole in it,” Earnest said.

They all looked bewildered.

“That is where the people sit down,” I explained. “It’s like a chair, with a hole in it.”

“But how does the poop get out of their pants?” asked Pickles.

“They drop their pants,” I said.

Everyone gasped again.

“Good grief,” said Poetry, one of the elder goats, “Is it too much to squat over some nice grass?”

“Our elder guests that come visit need a safe place to sit and...”

“Poop?” asked Pickles.

“Exactly,” I said.

“How big is the inside of the box, Earnest?” asked Puddles, one of the youngster goats.

“Well I’m not good with mathematical dimensions, but I’d say I could get about ten of me in there,” said the pig.

As I started back to the house, I noticed Pickles and Puddles deep in thought.

Oh no, I thought, I know that look.

Sometime that evening as I did dishes, I noticed what I thought was a very large firefly out the window. It was moving about near the porta potty. I cracked the window and heard a little voice say, in a whisper,

“That’s ten, keep going!”

As I arrived at the porta potty, I could hear muffled giggles.

“You’re on my head,” said little Hannah.

As I opened the door, a flashlight shone in my face, and I felt like I’d stepped into an old Hayley Mills movie. There before me were a bunch of little goats stacked into the porta potty, and Pickles was front and center, Puddles at her side.

I thought everyone had made it out and back to the barn, but Puddles was missing. I found him still in the porta potty, dropping rocks into the big hole.

“Mrs. Dunn, it makes a big kerplunk sound!” said Puddles.

“Yes it does, Puddles,” I said.

“Does the poop kerplunk too, Mrs. Dunn?” he asked.

“Yes, yes it does,” I said.

Monday, June 06, 2022

Is this the last house?

Martyn and I have been talking about the major home renovations we want to do in the coming years. A new roof -we are thinking metal-in the next  few years will be needed and new first floor windows in wood for improved energy conservation, and appearance. We have talked a lot about a heat pump but there are problems with one in this old house so we are holding off on that for now. They are all the rage and I understand why.

But the window is closing as we enter our soon to be be mid sixties in the next couple years. What seemed like years to do things now seems shorter, and one really asks, "What do I want to do with my time?" More of the same, since I love what I do...but, what else?

I've always been a homebody, as is Martyn–besides fishing that is, which he hasn't done much of for years. I like a day trip, but I've done a lot of extensive travel in my time, and now I'm content on the farm and in my garden, sitting with Martyn and the dogs–perhaps boring to some, but peace to me.

But I also love the challenge and excitement of moving. I never thought we'd leave the last farm but after 13 years we did, and it was the best decision. So glad we did. I sometimes find myself wondering, is this the last house? I suppose it might be. My parents kept moving, it was in my father's DNA. My mother was a pro at packing and moving on her own, as am I. I was the one who coordinated the move West, not Martyn. I've fixed up about four houses before I met Martyn. But I also came to a point in my life where I realized that if my life had challenges and excitement on a daily basis in my work, I didn't have the urge to move so much, like in my upbringing [we moved a lot, sometimes just down the street].

This home has some issues for someone growing old in it, but one of the first women to live here, a mother of 7, lived in it until she was 100, in the 1800's. Imagine how different her life was than mine. Imagine.

I always loved May Sarton's memoirs. In her later years she moved to Maine, into a rather large house by the sea. I've always got that in the back of my head-a house by the sea. But it would have to be on the sea and I doubt that will happen not only do to money, but do to the challenges and availability of something. 

I love the house. It has some things I wish we could change-like having a bigger, proper mudroom and closets. That would be my dream. But all in all, we are content. And so for now, it is still where we are meant to be, and will be. I have been through this before, where one thinks they will never leave this house, or this place, or this 'thing', but things are fluid in life, including desires and dreams. 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

A saxaphonist meets the donkeys, and I officially have entered the shortest season of my life

Yesterday we had a wonderful visit with a young man named Vincent who came to play the sax for the donkeys and equines. If you follow along you might remember a young man playing for tips on the street in my village and he was to donate the money to a charity. He had just heard about our mission and sent me two $20 bills. I was touched and honored. His little sister is a brave young horse hearted child who has fallen in love with Biggs, she came too and climbed gates like a monkey. She likes to call him Big.

So it was really fun and if you know donkeys you know they are very curious little creatures. I never have to bribe them into a scene with people, they just stumble on up out of curiosity. I really thought they might bray along, as some music makes them do that.

Boone was the show off. He had a ball. And I will give Vincent credit for being a pro and focusing on his music while Boone proceeded to lick him and investigate his hat. I think that could be his first album cover, don't you?

After they left, I wondered if they would remember me twenty years from now, as I remember some of the horse people I knew as a child. I expect to see this young family over the years, they are new to the area and very nice and it is fun for me to have well behaved, interested youth around as a good mix to my elder work. In my head I counted the years for the five year old to be old enough to drive, and I thought of how old I would be. I also thought of an older women who was about 70 when I met her when we first got to Maine-a horse person-and she is now close to 80. She too had a young family nearby that she nurtured as she could and they all grew up, and she grew old. And now I am her. I have taken my place on the great wheel of life.

A thought has meandered through my brain daily and it is not a scary thought, it just seems to keep showing up. I think it started because I've been seeing a lot of people in their early seventies dying. I read the obituaries, always have, even as a child, I don't know why. But now that I'm sixty four, it dawned on me that if I too died at 74 that is only ten years left. Sobering. I have never been one to have a goal of living to a very old age, I prefer not to. I always thought 78-83 seemed a good time to go. My mother lived alone after my father died [he was 83] until she was 87 and died suddenly but was active until then. 

I've been asking myself, if I did only have ten years left, what do I do with it? How many more paintings will I do, or want to do? How many more books is that? How many more animals can I adopt? Is this my last great house adventure? For the latter, I always thought if Martyn died before me–a horrendous thought–I'd move to the sea and get pugs. I probably won't be able to, but maybe there are great adventures left if I only have ten years. We don't know when or how we go [usually], but as you enter a certain decade you see what's coming up and it seems much shorter than what is in the rear view mirror.

I don't have a death wish. It is just a simple thought that keeps running around my head. In a way, it is a good thing because it makes me say everyday, what will I do today of worth?

Monday, May 23, 2022

Why is this so scary?

When I started this blog back in 2009 it was a new platform. There was no Facebook, Instagram, or TicToc. It was a wonderful time to get into blogs because people actually came here and communicated over a post. I became friends in real life with many of those people, and many still follow along in social media. The blog helped me get into writing, daily and consistently. My writing has really improved over the years because I work at it.

But in time, the other social media platforms have really taken over. I've been digging my heals in the ground about my blog for several years. What I like about it, for me, is it is a history all on one page of the farm and animals. It is a quieter place for people to come without ads and videos popping up in their feeds.

But I think the reality is...people who follow me generally don't come here much, and if they do, they don't comment or partake. That's fine. It's the reality of social media. Nothing stays the same, and blogs have faced that. 

I feel like I've been having to try to write on the blog–where as I more enjoy sharing my day and movies and stories on IG and TicToc - which all are shared on the Apifera Facebook page. 

I feel like the blog is....maybe done. But I'm fond of it. And as social media is always changing, having the blog is a safety net in some ways.

If the blog was gone, I don't think I'd notice much difference in donations, or art sales, since the blog seems to have become more of an archive of the farm's history, and my history when Apifera was started.

I don't know. I feel like it would be freeing to say....it'll stay up, but my daily writings and photos, videos, puppet movies and more will happen on my other platforms.

Why is that so scary for me, to let go...

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Tails & Tales column: The Great Bean Fiasco

As I ventured into the barnyard, I noticed all the goats, and Earnest the pig, standing out in a freshly tilled area of the yard. Earnest had dirt encrusted on his snout, so it appears he had been the lead tiller which he is very good at.

“Pickles, you have the string all knotted up in your feet, and it needs to be straight so our rows will be tidy!” said Poetry, one of the old goats.

As Pickles did her best to make a straight string line, little Hannah followed behind her, plopping in
seeds in the dirt, tasting one every so often.

“You can’t taste them yet, they haven’t grown up yet!” said Poetry, clearly trying to be in charge.

“But they especially delicious,” said Hannah.

“What’s going on here?” I asked. “I thought we agreed you would only be growing pumpkins and sunflowers with my supervision this year?”

Everyone suddenly looked very guilty.

“Mrs. Dunn, it’s my fault. I love green beans. I found your seed packets in the feed room and...I took them,” he said.

“How did you get in the secured feed room?” I asked.

“Pickles,” the pig said.

“And how did Pickles get in the secured feed room?” I asked.

“She stood on me!” said Ollie the tallest goat. “Then she banged her head on the door over and over.”

“Works every time,” said Pickles.

My mind raced, remembering all the times I was sure I had put something in the feed room and couldn’t find it.

“Okay, look, what you did was wrong. But since you are planting the seeds for the good of everyone here, I will forgive you. But I’m not going to tend the bean garden, you will all have to do that on your own,” I said as I walked away.

“It’s just a bunch of beans,” said Pickles. “They have so much food in the house and Mrs. Dunn says her pants don’t fit so good anymore so I don’t know why she needs beans.”

“I heard that Pickles!” I said as I closed the door.

A few hours later I returned to the barnyard to do night time chores. It was eerily calm.  Earnest the pig appeared at the barn door.

“Mrs. Dunn, we decided not to  plant your seeds. I’m sorry we took them. I just love green beans, almost as much as grilled cheese sandwiches,” the pig said.

“It’s okay Earnest. I shouldn’t deny you something you love so much. Life is short, we should relish the bounties of earth, including beans,” I said. “Why don’t you and I go get the beans and plant them together?’

“I like that idea,” he said. He led me to his special corner where he often hid special possessions.
“They’re gone!” he said.

“I didn’t do it!” said Pickles.

“Me either!” said Puddles.

“Not I!” said Ollie.

Just then little Hannah wandered in. “Are there any more of those beans? They are especially delicious!”

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Infrastructure-Boone and Biggs proof, hopefully

We have a lot of one or two day building projects in the barns-one to add a divider wall and gate in current Boone barn. We had used two cattle panels and it worked, until Biggs and Boone decided to Rambo them in gelding over play. They bent them up. Those things are expensive but they refuse to get a paper route. I have to get them No Chewed now before they eat them to the ground. Rascals.

Next up is putting the same divider wall and gate in the Llama Love Room where Luci and the sheep live. Then I'll have two nice roomy stall areas for winter and other needs.

We got the veggie garden tilled but I'm behind! I usually plant by 5/10 or so but it got away from me this year. We've had chilly nights so it isn't a big deal. I do hope my sunflowers do better this year and that I've controlled the rats better. They literally ate almost all my sunflower seeds. Mama Bear was ticked, and sad. I bought my sunflower seeds early as a lot of people are planting them in support of Ukraine which is great. I'll mainly do lettuces and beets and tomatoes. I stay away from squash here since the upkeep of keeping squash bugs off is intense. Of course we'll do herbs and pumpkins and maybe more beans since they are so fun to grow. Martyn has bravely admitted he planted way too many beans last year, mine had all been eaten by rats [last year was bad and I did not eradicate them like I usually do].

We also invested in $1000 of more split rail for the back equine areas. Those split rails were here when we bought the place and have weathered about twenty Maine winters so we are adding and fixing about 20 rails. We also have pasture fence up on it, but it looks nice so we opted to keep it. 

I got the front goat stall's deep bedding cleared out, took me three days. Teddy helped because he can smell the rats under the barn and in their tunnels. He actually did me a favor to loosen up the bottom layer of buildup. 

We still have to get the large dead tree off the coop, and fix the broken areas of the coop.

May is just that way. So much to do. But then at some point it gets a bit, a tish, less manic....until something breaks again or Pickles and Puddles decide to build a go cart.

I'm hoping to start getting elders out here! We were able to snag a porta-potty, not an easy task. I think this summer is going to be heavy tourist traffic. People are pent up. To be honest, every time I think of setting a date for an art sale in my Lovey Hut, I get queezy. I'm still a bit concerned about the virus.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

I sat in the garden and my mother entered my body

The painting is called "Cloud Room", a place I can go to sit with loved ones that I miss.

I was sitting on the teak bench on the garden the other day, a beautiful spring Maine day without flies [yet]. The teak benches, there are two, were owned by my parents back in Minnesota and sat in their rose garden for years. I often had coffee with my mother every day there, as I was a freelancer and made my own hours. At the time, I had one friend who often told me I needed to go see other people and quit doing a mother visit everyday as I would never meet anyone [I was about 40 at the time and very single, two years later I'd meet Martyn]. I told her I liked being with my mom, and I'm so glad I had all those morning coffees with her.

Years later, my parents moved into a place where they no longer could use the teak benches and they gave them to me and Martyn out at the old farm. They jokingly said they wanted us to name the benches "Bob" and "Kelly", in their honor. We did. None of us could tell Bob the bench apart from Kelly the bench but it didn't matter.

So I'm sitting in the garden, as I said, on one of the benches, and I was really wishing my mom was sitting there with me, so we could talk...talk about stuff I wouldn't talk to anyone else about. I thought of all our chats on those benches, some with me in tears over some moron I was smitten with, some debating who would win the election, some just sitting, watching birds. As I thought of all those things, I found that I was slightly bent forward, with my forearms on my thighs–this was a position my mother often would sit in on those benches. I smiled...I knew it was her.

"I still miss you," I said. "But thanks."

Friday, May 06, 2022

The sensitivity of the donkey poet

 Sometimes I stumble on a poem Paco wrote and I am just struck by his sensitivity, playfulness and non ego.

A Poem by Paco
When I’m happy
You might be sad,
When I’m good
You might be bad.
Sometimes I have things to say really loud
Sometimes I look up just happy to see a cloud,
But you might be hiding, wishing I’d go away
You might be hoping to just make it through another day.
My mother told me this
and she told me all the time
"Paco, everyone is different
but everyone is the same,
We all have hearts, we all make mistakes,
We all have to bend over
when we go to lace our skates.”
I’m not sure what all that means
at least the skating part,
But I do know how I can sense
when someone near me has a broken heart.
It’s not really a smell,
nor does it have a sound.
But a broken heart can follow
any creature around.
And when I sense one near me
I stand very still
I imagine there are cookies
up on my favorite hill.
I guide that broken hearted creature
be it man, child or beast,
I take them to my imaginary cookies
and we have an imaginary feast.
We chew them up real slowly,
and with every bite,
The broken heart hears our vibrations
And starts to get a lot more light.
As our bellies fill with cookies
 Even though they’re not real,
The once broken heart
Notices it can still feel.
{copyright: Paco the donkey, Apifera Farm]

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Apifera yarn now available!

I waited a couple years to process the last batches of wool. Processing is expensive but this year I  committed to making yarn, and all net sales go into the Apifera fund. When all the 175 skeins sell, it is a net gain of about $3500 for the non profit. Because the sale of the yarn goes through my online shop, it is not a tax deduction for the buyer, FYI [but donations are always tax deductible].

The white wool is from Calla and her daughter Little Sylvia Pettini. The brow and grey are from the other few sheep we had on arrival, but I rehomed them to a fiber enthusiast. Their wool is so beautiful and once we committed to being a sanctuary, I wanted them to go and have someone who loved fiber to have them. Calla is an elder we took on and her daughter Sylvia almost didn't make it. Calla had mastitis and Sylvia was nursed by bottle. I love them both and their wool is beautiful, and also great for dying.

Each skein is 125 yards, 2 ply and 3 oz. Visit the shop to buy some. If you are wanting a larger quantity, let me know so I can assure the shipping is accurate [I always refund shipping overages on the shop at shipping time].

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Pickles scathingly brilliant idea, again

{My latest piece for Tails & Tales for LCNME}

Teddy, a Great Pryenees, was recently adopted by Apifera from a rescue in Virginia. He was well suited to make visits into the elder homes, and he is a natural with the elders. His arrival to the farm also helped Mrs. Dunn, who was mourning the recent death of White Dog, the farm’s beloved Maremma.

“What do you do when you’re there, Teddy?” asked little Hannah the goat. Teddy and I had just returned from visiting our elder friends at Cove’s Edge.

“I stand, and they talk to me, and they hold me,” said Teddy.

“Did you know White Dog?” asked Pickles the goat.

“Yes, but we never met. He was working in his current realm to help me find Mrs. Dunn,” said Teddy.

“Mrs. Dunn stopped crying when you came!” said Puddles the goat.

“It’s true, Teddy has helped my heart, he is a gift from White Dog,” I said.

“Mrs. Dunn, what’s it like at the old people’s home? Do they have a barn there?” asked Pickles.

“No, I’m afraid not, they have lots of windows and bird feeders outside the windows, and stuffed toy cats,” I said.

“No goats?!” asked Pickles.

“No chickens?!” asked Marta an old hen.

Earnest the pig sauntered over to the conversation, “It’s sad they can’t have animals, but there isn’t enough staff to care for the people, let alone the animals.”

The animals all sat somberly, except for some cud chewing by the goats.

“Imagine, a home without animals?” said little Hannah the goat.

Suddenly, Pickles leapt up and said, “I have the most scathingly brilliant idea!”

“You were watching old Haley Mills movies again, weren’t you?” I asked.

“Yes! So we can be the animal staff! We’re animals, so of course we know how to take care of animals!” said Pickles.

“I don’t think you’ve thought this through, Pickles,” I said. “First off, you’d have to have a place to put the animals there.”

“Mr. Dunn can help us build a barn,” said Puddles.

“He has too many jobs already,” I said.

“We’ll get him more pizza from Oysterhead,” said Ollie the goat.

“Let’s just say Mr. Dunn could help, you’d still have to drive there to care for the animals,” I said.

“So what?” asked Pickles.

“You don’t drive,” I said calmly.

“Oh, I have that figured out. Harry the llama will use his legs on the pedals and I’ll sit on Harry’s lap and use my front legs on the wheel. Earnest says that’ll work,” said Pickles.

“It’s true, Mrs. Dunn, I saw it in an old Western movie,” said Earnest the pig.

Lord help us, and me, I thought.

I continued with chores, in ear shot of the little masterminds in the barn.

“I think we should get three chickens so they can have eggs, and one goat, and a cat,” said Pickles.

“And some frogs!” said Ollie.

I chimed in, “How about a pony to pull them in their wheelchairs?”

“Mrs. Dunn, that is scathingly brilliant!” said Pickles.

I so wish it could all come true, I thought.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

There's a reason they call it slow stitching

Been working all last week on this 20" piece, which I am really enjoying. Sometimes I stitch in silence, sometimes to music, but I do find it is good for me to slow stich, as it makes me be less patient with outcome. One of the reasons I like acrylic over oil is I can cover up images over and over and don't have to wait. Stitching is not fast, everything about it is slow–threading the needle, stitching, reworking edges.

I am a novice stitcher, and sew raggedy just like I paint and make dolls, but I hope do be doing more. I might work on some 8-10" pieces next. It was rather adventurous to start a 20" piece but I had bought these flour sack cotton towels and they are great to stitch on too. It isn't done yet and I'm learning a lot.

I have not had that much to say here on the blog lately. My daily life with the animals and elders is so on display on IG and FB. I don't want to let the blog go though, it is a piece of history for me, I can look back and see the history of our farms and animals.

I guess I just feel that I have more interest in writing shorter things but when I do have something longer to write I will still come here to do it.

I feel that I am entering this new stage of my life. I guess turning 64 got me to seeing the future more as a chunk of time. When I was 30 or 40 or 50 it didn't feel like that. But I've always thought that living to around 78+ seems about right. I have no desire to live into my 80's or 90's if I'm unable to be outside, with animals or creating. Maybe it feels different when you get there. But my point is that I realized if I did live to 78, that's only14 years away, that is the same amount of time I lived in Yamhill. It is so odd to see it that way but it is a fact.

So I started seeing the next 15 year chunk more like a living creative project. What will I do with it?

I will keep doing my work here. I will keep writing and creating. But what else, what might I want to try or expand, or quit?

I do know I'm quitting certain people. I'm quiting 'yes' to many things and instead am saying, "No, I don't feel comfortable doing that for you anymore." As a pleaser, sometimes I say 'yes' before I think it through, or ask myself, "Do I want this, or is it this other person that wants this and I am capable of giving it to them and that is why they are here, but do I want to engage my energy in this?".


Monday, April 04, 2022

The courage of the sunflower

I've been watching this sunflower all winter. It was a volunteer mammoth that never fell and I let her stand. I can't help but see the symbolism of her - as Ukraine's flower, she is like any Ukranian now-roughened, torn and beat up, but she's still standing. I am not going to plow her down and will let her stand until she falls on her own. But my hope is the other sunflowers will be growing around when she goes down. And my hope is the torn Ukrainians will stand to see their next generation.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Goofballs in the barnyard need your help!

Spring fundraiser! I usually do this in early March but the world is so upside down and I hesitated to ask for money when there is so much worldwide need and suffering. But life goes on in the barnyard because of your support. I will be giving away some prints and even if you share now before I announce those you will be eligible to win.

Costs are higher than ever, hay prices are expected to be high due to gas prices, our electric bill alone went up 20%, cat litter has gone wonkers, and fencing and building supplies are rising. 
Martyn and I do not take salaries out of the non profit. All money is put to direct use for the farm, animals, vets and maintenance. We do not charge our elders at Maine care facilities for our animal visits, and only ask for donations from private non medicare homes.
We love what we do. We've been taking in elder/needy animals since 2004. A lot of love, a lot of loss, a lot of beautiful moments-we are grateful for your support!
You can donate here on the blog, or at Facebook Fundraiser page, or by check [made to Apifera Farm Inc., posted to 315 Waldoboro RD, Bremen, Maine, 04551 Att: Katherine Dunn]

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The doves returned, with my mother of course

I had been working on this canvas, and it started with a more realistic dove, but I didn't like it. The thing is my mother came to me the day she died as a dove-she sat in a tree for over an hour not moving while I was inside the picture window painting the house. 

So when doves have come to me in the past 9 years since her death …nine times out of ten it is her. The dove returned that nested here last year and I was thinking of that dove as I painted, I was honored she returned tot he same nesting spot, but I think I was really thinking of my mother.

I am not sure if this canvas will go to Sundance or not. If you are interested in it, please contact me. 

Monday, March 21, 2022

I guess we need more Teapot & Teddy Days

I had gone to the outer barn to get The Teapot, to take her to Cove's Edge to visit Linda, and other elders. As I was standing there getting a halter, a large white puffball showed up...Teddy! He had jumped another fence, this time a pasture fence without wood. The wire was not hot since Buddy had recently chewed the ground wire.

I know he jumped the fence because he wanted to be there in that barn with me, since that is the same barn he goes to every morning with me. He was upset he wasn't going and wondered "why" is she going there without me?

I know a good rule of thumb in working with animals is, what is the motive behind the behavior? Is he jumping fences because he's scared, because he wants me, or because he senses he should investigate?  I don't think he's scared. And as much as he likes me, I think it is a combination of the latter two. He spends his mornings with me in that area and barn, so this is the first time he witnessed me go there without him.

And for the record, Martyn spent all weekend adding taller fencing and getting the wire running again. I spent the morning adjusting some areas too and now I feel good about that one goat paddock. It took a year or so before I really trusted White Dog out west [and before he trusted me, I guess].

So I walked The Teapot out and went to put Teddy in his safe spot, his stall with large kennel. But he refused entrance. I tried many maneuvers, but finally gave in, and said, "Fine, you can come too."

It's something I would have done sooner or later, but since I was on my own that day had intended to leave Teddy home so I could focus on The Teapot, and the elders. But Teddy came and he and The Teapot were both great. There was no trouble walking them together and it was a really good accident that turned out well. The Teapot does great when she is on hard ground and can't be swayed by grass. She seems to really like the attention - unlike sassy pants, Captain Sparkle, who gets fresh [but in the cutest way!].

So I was really happy about this.

Linda, our elder friend who is in hospice, and also went blind a few years ago, gets a lot out these visits. They help her anxiety and she simply loves animals, and was an avid horse person in earlier years. We'd both been waiting for a warm day and it was sunny and 66! Oh was that nice. I was also happy to see how well both of them did when I handed the lead rope to my Girl Friday-there was no bad behavior.

We will have to do more Teapot & Teddy Days!

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Pickles learns what peace is

 “What’s wrong with Mrs. Dunn?” I heard Pickles ask Earnest the Pig.

“She’s feeling upside down today” said Earnest.

“Upside down? That sounds dreadful,” said Poetry, one of the old goats. “It would give me gas.”

“Mrs. Dunn, what does it feel like to be upside down?” Pickles asked me as she jumped up on the rock next to me.

“Out of sorts,” I said.

“But it’s your birthday!” squeeled Pickles. Suddenly everyone broke out in a very disjointed version of the birthday song and despite my upside downess, it did bring a smile to my face.

“Are you feeling old, is that it?” asked Earnest the pig.

“Not really,” I said.

“How old are you, Mrs. Dunn?” asked Hannah, who was one.

“Sixty four,” I said.

“Oh my Lord, that is very old,” said Poetry the old goat. “You must not have long to go.”

“Humans live longer than goats,” explained Earnest.

“That’s even older than that ancient turtle that was in National Geographic,” said Pickles.

“I am moving as slow as turtle today,” I said. “Sometimes, you just have to be with your upside down feelings, even if it’s your birthday,” I said.

“When I get upside down, I close my eyes and think of the things that I can do to make it a better world,” said Earnest. “Like write a sonnet, or a poem of love.”

“That’s very nice, Earnest, and very wise. But the world needs more than I can give it right now,” I said.

The donkeys had slowly made their way across the field to join the conversation.

“Mrs. Dunn is upside down,” Pickles told the donkeys.

“Oh dear, being upside down is a dreadful state” Paco the poet donkey said.

“Just sit with me,” I said. And they did. “I am grateful we are all here, and not in danger in Ukraine. Those poor people, those poor animals,” I said. “If I could have one birthday gift today, it would be peace, and I would give it to Ukraine.”

Pickles leapt to action, and Hannah followed.

“Where are we going, Pickles?!” Hannah asked.

“We must find “peace” and get it to Mrs. Dunn,” said Pickles.

“Oh, little Pickles,” Earnest the pig said, “I’m afraid “peace” is not an object to be found, it is something one grows in one’s heart, and it goes out into the world through peaceful actions.”

“Why is that man hurting the people and animals?”  asked little Hannah.

“He has no heart,” I said.

“Then how will he grow any peace inside of him if he has no heart?” Pickles asked.

“He won’t,” said Earnest the pig. “He won’t.”

Hannah cried. Then Pickles cried. I cried too.

Old Matilda, the very old matriarch donkey cleared her throat to speak. Everyone stopped crying, as Matilda rarely spoke but when she did it was always with wise, motherly love.

“We must visualize the mothers and children and animals and elders surrounded with sunflowers,” she said.

And we did.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Teddy continues to share love

Teddy visited Cove's last week and we saw Linda, our elder friend who is in hospice care, and blind. She loves animals. We haven't been able to get The Teapot to her {she loves horses} due to weather but Teddy is almost as big as a pony so it helps her a lot. Teddy loves to be brushed too.

We also met a new resident and she was sweet as can be. Despite memory issues, she understood what an animal was and is and she enjoyed touching him and petting him. Next week Teddy will visit Lincoln Home for the first time.

He is doing well here. But we discovered he is capable of jumping very high fences if they are wood-he can propel himself over with his strong hind legs and claws. My farrier and I witnessed it and it was amazing. So we've had to adjust many areas so he can't get out. He wants to be with me 24/7! I knew he loved people and it is clear this is not an exaggeration. In fact, he's almost dismissive of the other animals, even Marcella. They get along but he clearly would rather be with me. I have been crating him in his stall at night [which Martyn reinforced for me this weekend] and it works well, as his crate is his safe harbor. I'm a firm believer in crate training. He is afraid of loud storms too and his crate will help him feel safe. I put Marcella in with him in the stall and then in the day I've got them together in a goat paddock. I thought Marcella would help him settle, and to be honest, I think it is more that he needs to know each day I will come out and be there. Once I leave the paddock, he cries for a few seconds, and settles. I've been putting him inside during rain because he's not that demonstrative with the goats and if it gets stormy I'm afraid he could panic.

So he is a very different dog than White Dog, and that is okay. One has to adjust to a new dog and we are. I just want him to be safe, and I also want to be able to sleep well knowing he is safe in his crate which he is. The crate we got is huge, made for Danes. He can stand in it and move around. It also means he can eat in peace, and Marcella can eat in peace. These dogs don't like interaction when they are eating, trust me. 

But he loves to know when we are going in the truck. He is going to be making lots of love visits.