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

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. #EIN# 82-2236486

All images

©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, January 28, 2022

A gift is coming to Apifera...and White Dog helped, I just know it


I was going to wait to share this news...but decided since so many people loved White Dog I would share now.

About a week ago, I was pretty much minding my own business, sort of, in the office doing paper work. I was killing a few minutes waiting for an upload when I just kind of accidentally, or intently, looked up 'Maremma puppies'. With that, I felt a pit in my stomach. I wasn't ready, and I really didn't think another pup was the right answer. I let it go. Went back to work. But that same day, a tech from my vet clinic-they all loved White Dog-sent me her friend's farm info since she had puppies. That sort of got me to snorting around the internet at puppies and adult Maremmas. Still did not feel right. None of them looked like White Dog.
I realized what I wanted I could not have-I wanted White Dog back. Impossible. 
In the coming days, I spent more time with Marcella, seeking answers about if, or how, to fill the hole in the barnyard left by White Dog. I talked to White Dog everyday when I walk over his grave. I told him if there is a dog out there that needs me as much as I need him, please help get the dog to me.
Well, somewhere in there I had an exchange with a nice farm woman with Maremmas who wondered about a rescue. She said, "It's a risk, but look how it worked out with White Dog." Hmmmm. There are so many Maremma and Great Pyrenees that get bought as pups, end up in a house without proper jobs, and they end up in a shelter. The story is old, it is repeated over and over-they don't have the space, time or understanding of the needs and DNA of this breed, and the cute puppy turns into an LGD without a job. I knew it was a huge risk and I wasn't interested, nor did I think it was wise, to start looking at all the sad ads in rescue groups or shelters. 
But I stumbled on a farm that takes in Great Pyrenees, and helps decipher what kind of job the dog needs and wants. They also raise pups and have goats and is very knowledgeable about the needs of a working dog.This is like Horses with Hope, the two equines we adopted from them were worked with for months to determine the best home for them. I knew what I was bringing home.
I looked at the face of this dog...in the photo you see here. He had been living on a farm so knows life on the farm, but appeared to be sterile, and that was one of his jobs. He was treated well there I believe. But he was placed with the farm that helps Prys. For the past year, the farm tried to find what job would be best for the dog, and even though he did well around goats and it appears other animals, they found that he loved people, and everyone loved him. They began taking him everywhere, and he even showed him a few times at AKC shows just to give the dog a new experience and see how he'd do.
I walked away. I had to separate my feelings of missing White Dog, with everything I thought I needed now, or wanted now. And one part of my grief was that White Dog had just started doing therapy visits and was a natural. I wished I'd started sooner, but that wasn't his main job then.
But I finally contacted the farm, and the more I told them about our set up, our therapy work, and how White Dog had just started doing that when he got his bone cancer...it all became clearer that I was pretty sure this dog could become an Apifera Ambassador. I had no doubts he was the one. But after much chatting back and forth, there was a span of days where I heard nothing, and I thought maybe I had fooled myself with magical thinking. 
But each time I looked into the eyes of this dog, I just felt he wanted this new job here, and I wanted him.
I went to White Dog's grave that night and I said, "Look, I thought it was going to be right, but maybe it isn't, and I'm scared. Can you help, if it is right for him to come here." I cried too. And that very night I heard again from the farm. 
And so...he is coming to live with us, and I will immediately begin walking him in the village. He loves to ride in the car, which also was a plus. He has been to restaurants and outdoor shops. In time, I will take him out with Harry to the village too. Imagine that, walking down the street, and there comes two beautiful white creatures. And of course, my goal is to share him with the elders on visits.
He is 20 hours away and I negotiated a very fair fee for them to bring him directly to us which is so helpful, and I thought best for the dog too. I hope it will be soon, but I will keep you posted. It is winter of course.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Cheese has died

Cheese has died. I knew it was coming in the past week - she has been fighting being anemic which I've been treating her for. She's old and compromised and if it was due to barber pole or another parasite, even with swift help it often is a death sentence. But like I said, Cheese was 14 and that is old for a goat, especially a disabled, crippled one.

Yesterday she was weaker than usual but still trying to carry on, but kept getting knocked over. At one point I found her cast. It is very cold, and I did not want her to die unattended, by casting. So I got her in the a safe place, covered in six blankets - where I could proper her against wall to keep her from casting. I gave her pain meds. 

The herd came to inspect my work and say their goodbyes. She died within a couple of hours and was pretty much gone even when the pictures were taken. The cold didn’t kill her but in her condition it most likely sped up her death by a few days. I’m grateful we were all their with her before she became unconscious.

I considered putting her in the heated cat suite, but the floor is slippery and it is an unknown space for her. She is a herd animal and I only considered it due to the extreme cold. But I knew her hours were numbered. Her time was here. She died hearing the familiar sounds of her clan, chewing hay.

Hail to you, sweet, determined Cheese. You were a trooper to go through life so boldly with your crippled legs. I will miss you greatly! I always loved seeing her in the morning and yelling out,


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Language lessons of spirit

You learn a new language with the loved ones who depart this earth and realm. It happened with my parents, animals and friends who have left. Just the other day I was cutting vegetables, and I found myself leaning on the sink with my fore arms, slightly bent over as I worked-just like my mother used to do. I smiled and greeted her.

So when I awoke to snow, I said, "White Dog came."

It's our new language, forming. Birdie comes as light delicate flakes, White Dog comes in inches that cover the farm, and his grave. It was so beautifully quiet too. That too is so White Dog, they are shape shifters and he came and went without me noticing as I slept. I read recently that "fresh snow absorbs sound, lowering ambient noise over a landscape because the trapped air between snowflakes attenuates vibratio. That's why it gets quiet when it snows." 



Sunday, January 23, 2022

Into the White...a mystery painting

Painting is a wonderful journey. It allows me to reach inside, share a story or a feeling or a revelation that has not been brought to my conscious yet. I often start with a thought, and in this case I had awoken with the words repeating into my head of into the white.

I know what much of this piece is symbolizing [which I don't feel I need to share here]. But there are mysteries to it I don't grasp. I might someday. That happens too, you paint something and it is years later that you realize what something in the piece symbolized. Martyn asked me what the grey area on the upper left was, and I said I didn't know really, although one could see it as a drape...but I don't know.

This canvas will be going to Sundance this month and be available there sometime in March.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Animals and their Great Heated Bus Idea


I was minding my own business, putzing by the firewood pile, when a familiar voice asked,

“Mrs. Dunn, can we have the old oven?”

It was Pickles, of course. If you follow along, and heaven help you if you do, you will know the animals have been trying to get me to allow a baking oven in the barn. Of course, we all know as charming as it would be to have a bunch of short bodied goats, a pig and some fowl baking cookies, it would most certainly end in a disaster.

“No,” I said firmly.

“What if we kept it outside and used matches and firewood to get it warm?” asked Ollie the goat.

My mind envisioned the forest on fire and animals and firemen running everywhere.

“NO, “ I said, more firmly.

They both walked off, heads down, grumbling.

Later that day, I entered the barn to start nightly chores. The gang wasn’t as animated as usual, except little Hannah who is young enough that every second of the day is worthy of joy.

“You all look down and out,” I said.

“We don’t have a way to share our love with the elder peoples,” said Pickles.

We found out recently that due to the pandemic, we were restricted again from bringing animals into Cove’s Edge, and it was too cold for the residents to visit outside, which is still allowed.

“If we had an oven we could bake them cookies, and giant heart shaped cakes,” said Ollie.

Earnest arrived. He sat next to me, he seemed deep in thought.

“We need a bus, a heated bus, with a ramp,” Earnest said as he handed me an ad for one of those old hippie buses, the kind I saw as a young girl out west. There was a price tag of $50,000 on it.

“That’s a lot of money, Earnest,” I said.

“Mrs. Dunn, a bus! We can roll them in and have music on the radio,” said Pickles.

And they all started chanting, “Heated bus! Heated bus!”

“We could drive our friends to the village and look in the pretty shop windows,” said old Poetry the goat.

“Perhaps, Mrs. Dunn, we could stop at Oysterhead Pizza too,” said Earnest the pig.

“I’m surprised you wouldn’t want to stop at Eider’s for your beloved grilled cheese sandwich with cucumbers,” I said.

“I’m currently hankering for the crust of pizza, wood fired just right,” Earnest said.

“Mrs. Dunn, how much is $50,000?” Hannah asked.

“It’s many, many, many ones,” I said. “And it would take all of you years to raise it.”
Keep your hearts open, gather some things and I will drop them off for our elder friends,” I said.

The next day, Earnest the pig brought me a bucket with three goose feathers, one brown egg and     
some hay twine. A note said, “For our friends, until we get a bus. Love, Pickles and friends”.

“Here’s a $100 bill, Mrs. Dunn, for the bus,” the pig said. “I’ll bring more when I can.”

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Bitter cold, temper tantrums...and the memory of his expression

We've had two days of zero degrees, but sunny. The winds are gone today. The wind here off the coast is strong and impressive, and then it echoes all around in the surrounding forest. But I do enjoy the cardinals in winter. Brings back memories of my parents and life in Minnesota with them.

I've been very temper tantrum prone due to the icey ground and the fact that extreme cold hampers my tasks. I just fly off the handle while I'm doing chores -like today when the goats split open a bag of feed before I could get it in the feed room. They head butted it and it was all over the ground. I had a fit. It dawned on me later that part of that is because I'm still upset White Dog is gone. My partner. I miss him. And even if he had not had bone cancer, 10 is getting up there for a large breed. Of course I don't get to be in charge of such things-perhaps it is best I can't control that.

I apologized to everyone in the barn for losing my temper. They didn't care. They had feed all over the ground to eat. they don't judge like we humans. They move on.

There will never be another dog like White Dog. As a friend pointed out to me in a lovely sympathy card, we all choose the dogs we bring into our lives-but White Dog chose us. And he got to us the year we decided to move to Maine where he could be in his beloved cold and snow. He hated rain. And I thought to myself, I gave him six winters here. I have hundreds of photos of him, and I'm grateful for that.

The night we put him down, we walked with the vet out to the barn, it was dark. And he greeted us like always. I keep seeing his expression he had on his face when we entered the barn. Tail wagged, ears pricked, happy to see us. I know we did the right thing, the leg had grown huge. the vet assured us it was the right thing too, and of course I had talked to White Dog a lot. But I do keep seeing the expression on his face that night- he was just happy to see all of us. And then he was gone.

White Dog arrived in such a mystical way that I know that will never happen again. I can't force a situation to happen like it did when he showed up out of the blue. The whole thing was a miracle.

Next week I'll start bringing Marcella out to the outer pasture...just to see how that feels. Out west she was my main helper, in Maine her duties shrunk a bit due to the layout here, and I want to try being with her more. She is very different than White Dog on so many levels. I'm open to another pup...the rescue dogs have a real risk factor and it's complicated by the many species we have here. 

I'm just trying to stay open.


Saturday, January 08, 2022

An intruder comes


I was actually joyful when I looked out and saw the snow. It snowed all day and it felt like White Dog was....Here There and Everywhere. His snow is different than Birdie's snow. It's stronger and more rampant. I am learning our new language, the language we learn after a loved one of any species dies. Some relationships are more human level based, some more spiritual-and White Dog was my spirit dog. In some ways Marcella is too, but White Dog is becasue he came to us in such a mystical way...his mystery he carried with him was always prevelant. I walk over the grave, palms down, and say morning greetings to him. Today I wrote him a note. When I returned to do chores tonight, it was still light and I was a bit agitated to see tracks all around that part of the barnyard. I searched to find a track clear wnough in the 4 inches of fluffy snow. I finally saw there were claws, so it was not a cat or bobcat [cats prints never show the claws]. The prints were quite small so I think it was a fox. I hope to look more tomorrow when the snow has settled a bit. The lobes of a fox sit differently than a coyote or dog. I'm not the best tracker by any means! It upset me becasue Ruthie could be taken by a fox. I was surprised that I never hear Marcella bark from her pig paddock, but she can't run up to that fence so maybe she was sleeping. The tracks were right up to the sheep gate and front of barn where Ruthie often hangs out. It made me miss him, and I was sort of upset the creature walked all over the grave and around it, upset becasue White Dog never would have allowed him on the property but he was right there on his grave. It shows how important his presence was [and is].

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Healing art


As Old Apple watches, Ruthie stands near the grave and the energy was palpable.

I did this yesterday. Finally got some studio time. It already sold and I was happy it sold to someone who really understands the characters in the piece and what it means.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

I get to be angry: soul work...grief work....you have to do it

Grief is active, it's a process they say, and it is. It is a long project without a synopsis, I guess. White Dog's death -in case you can't tell-is a big loss for me, on so many levels. I was dreading it and now that it is here I was right to dread it because it hurts without him. The barn was his domain, and every creature had their respect of White Dog...even Earnest the pig who almost killed him with the intention of it [ a tussle over dropped food].

But it is a process, I'm familiar with the process, and I have Nature all around me. I got in the studio today, finally [the kitchen remodel has consumed us and my brain just can't focus but I had to take a break from that and be in studio for a few days].

I was talking to a friend about anger, within our grief. And I'm in it! It's funny how anger sneaks up on you and one moment you are calm and the next moment you are yelling at the top of your lungs in the barn at a hose-yes, a hose-while your animals quietly munch hay. That was me yesterday, the hose was not cooperating due to the cold temps, so I screamed at it, and I swore and strung together cuss words at the sky. In fact my anger made Ruthie start fluffing up her feathers and chortling. She wasn't sure why I was mad at a hose but she wanted no part of it.

Don't tell a grieving person not to have anger. If you stuff anger, it will catch up to you. 

It's no a process that is linear. You don't walk through the stages of grief without taking a step back to a previous phase. You don't start with shock, then go to sadness, then anger then acceptance. You are in shock at first, and have moments of shock in the coming months. A photo can set you off. And anger is fluid I think, like love, anger twines around like a snake. You have to acknowledge it because if you are angry at a hose you are really angry about something more important. It's what you do with the anger.

So we get to have our anger. The kitchen remodel has also thrown 'order and control' out the window, but it is getting better [and will be so lovely, I will post pics when it is all done].

One thing I found myself being angry at the other day was the fact that my spirit animals have been taken from me, in succession. Birdie the llama, Opie the goat and now White Dog. All were just beginning their work as healing ambassadors. Opie was able to do that for four years, but White Dog was able to partake  here and Birdie really hardly got going but she was such a natural.

Why did the universe take those animals from me? There's no answer. It's not personal. But it felt like it. So I got angry, at the universe. 

I'm getting used to not seeing him in his body. But every morning I walk past Old Apple, and walk right on the grave and say something as I go about my day. I know exactly how is body is laid out and I know Martyn's shirt is under his head. I know he's okay.

Mister Rogers told us to look for the helpers. I was doing chores in the barn, and was reminded that White Dog was a helper to me. He helped in many small ways-like barking at Captain Sparkle if he pushed a gate open when I was doing chores. He alerted me. He could keep certain animals in line if he knew there was trouble.

Who is my helper now? That is what it feels like in the outer barn. Plus I just miss seeing his beautiful, majestic face.