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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Teddy's maiden voyage


It was meant to be. It worked out just as it was meant to. White Dog helped, I know it. But there were other invisible forces going on too. The rescue that had Teddy had been working with him for over a year, making sure they understood what Teddy's true calling was so he would be placed properly in the best situation. He really loved Teddy and after I shared photos of Teddy on his first visit to the elders, he wrote me back and was so at peace with the fact he waited until the right fit came, a fit he would sense and feel was right. I guess several other adopters came along but for whatever reason, he felt they would not be a good fit for Teddy.

We visited our friend Linda on Wednesday and Teddy was great. Linda is our elder friend who is in hospice care and has several medical issues but also went blind several years ago. It really helps her to hold animals, and we spent two hours with her, all the while Teddy stood and was brushed and hugged and loved on. 

Teddy and I are doing great and our routine together is becoming clearer to Teddy and it shows in his demeanor-he seems much less anxious about 'where are you' when I leave the barn to do chores. The routine is becoming consistent for him. Teddy gets to be a dog, Teddy gets to bark in his field in the day if he feels he should, and then Teddy get his own palatial stall to sleep in. I also started bringing White Dog in at night in his final year-there are donkeys and llamas out there and really no need for night time guard since we don't raise animals anymore, and all the goats are up near Marcella.

To be honest, I like this. I like knowing Teddy is safe inside. I have become a wuss, to be honest. It also helps me see how well, or not, he is eating. He is like White Dog, he grazes, or takes days to eat. So I switched foods and that seems to have been a hit, and, wait for it...I've been poaching boneless chicken breasts chucks for him. Gads, I'm getting soft! But he needs to put on weight.

To look out and see him in the snow today, in the storm, it is like white Dog and he were having a brief conversation,

"Teddy, you are doing great, thank you for helping her," White Dog says.

"White Dog, thank you for helping me get here."

Visit Instagram to see more of Teddy's first week.

Monday, February 21, 2022

He has arrived...introducing my heart dog...Teddy!


I knew it was meant to be. I knew White Dog was helping make this connection. I know White Dog felt my pain after he died. He could feel my pain when he was alive and in death I know he knew I needed something huge, a project.

And the I saw Teddy. And I kept thinking of his face, and I ended up adopting him from the Pyr rescue in Virginia, where they had worked with him for over a year to determine what would be the best job for him. I alos found out when he arrived that his first owner, his only owner, was an elderly woman who lost her husband and she had to sell her farm,, and she sent Teddy tot he rescue. My understanding is he went everywhere with her as well as guard her goats and hens. When I hear his first owner was a loving elder who had to give him up, I think maybe she too had asked the spirits to help Teddy land in the right place.

He arrive yesterday, we are forever grateful for the rescue to have driven him all the way here for a very fair fee. We felt it was best for Teddy, so we are so happy he did. I have a secure suite in barn next to MArcella for him. He did just fine on his first day, and night. I couldn't wait to get to him in morning. When I opened the stall door, he was lying about and at first his face looked sort of sad, but then it's like he remembered me and was happy. I did chores in barn while he ate, and then took him out to equine barn where he can be in field and come and go to see me. He definitely is still wondering where he is, but he's happy. I still don't want to put him in pasture alone until he settles more so he is going out in increments with me.

Today I took him to visit Martyn at work. He rides great! SO great for our healing visits to elders. He is unfased by chain saw and loud sounds too.

He is not White Dog, but there are moments where it is like they both merge in and out-when I look out in field and see him. White Dog was more an explorer, more brave, Teddy seems more like he needs my reassurance. He is not timid in the least, he just loves people.

While White Dog was my spirit dog, Teddy feels like he is my heart dog...and White Dog knew I needed him. He is the dog I need. I was thinking how Bear was going to be that, but once Covid hit, and we got Buddy for Bear, I feel like Buddy and Bear are a team, and they need each other. In time I think they will be possible candidates for visits, but not right now.

Teddy is a stoic guy who simply loves touch. How perfect for our elder friends. Stay tuned. And visit Instagram for an overabundance of videos and photos.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Earnest the Pig helps us understand what "hope" is...

 {My latest from my Tails & Tales column for the Lincoln County News}


I was leaving to get some errands done when I heard lots of chatter in the front barn. One learns to check in on such activity to make sure nothing is amiss–and it often is.

“Oh I want green beans, the stringless variety,” said Earnest the pig. “And of course, put me down for some large pumpkins too.”

“How many rows will 1000 beat seeds be?” said Ollie the goat.

My curiosity was on high alert as I looked down at the catalogue everyone was gathered around.

“Burpee’s Seed Catalogue,” I read out loud.

“Oh, Mrs. Dunn, the joy of dreaming of spring in February,” said Poetry, one of the old goats. “Makes my bones and joints hurt less just thinking about it.”

“I plan to grow only lettuce this year,” said The Goose. “I am getting different varieties but want a lot of Buttercrunch...so tender.”

“Mrs. Dunn, what are you getting?” asked Pickles.

“A back ache, thinking of all these garden beds. I can’t take care of all your beds, I have my own to tend,” I said.

“We’ve got a scathingly brilliant plan, Mrs. Dunn,” said Pickles.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” I said.

“We have talked to the chickens who will have grub duty, Earnest will till the rows, me and Puddles will be in charge of harvesting,” said Pickles.

“That is scathingly brilliant,” I said, doing a quick and tiny eye roll. “What if we just stick to pumpkins and sunflowers for you guys?”

Everyone stopped for a minute, some chewing on their cud as they pondered this new development.

“I really had my heart set on a green bean casserole–you know the kind your grandmother made, with mushroom sauce and shaved almonds, and crunched up potato chips on the top?” said Earnest the pig.

I’ll get you an Oysterhead Pizza instead,” I said.

“Fair enough, I like the shaved Brussels sprout one,” the pig said.

“I really like beets,” said Ollie, “especially the tops.”

“I always plant way too many beets and you’ll get some of mine,” I said. “So we’ll order sunflowers and pumpkins, okay?”

I started to walk away, and noticed Earnest the pig gazing out to the fields.

“It’s all about hope,” said Earnest. “In the middle of winter, the little seeds are under ground in the cold and dark. And even though we can’t see them, they are busy percolating, getting ready to be born. Imagine, living deep in the ground, hearing the winter storms above you for months...it takes courage to believe everything is as it should be and will evolve into what it will be. That is hope.”

The animals had gathered around Earnest, and had listened intently to his wisdom.

“Earnest, do you ever lose hope that winter will end?” asked Pickles.

“Well, I do love winter, but some winters are especially bleak, and relentless, and sometimes I feel
I’m losing hope,” Earnest said.

“What do you do then?” asked Pickles.

“I read the seed catalogue,” Earnest said.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Red Bucket

I did this last week, it is now on the shop. I called it "Red Bucket" because I want the viewer to have their own experience in deciding what it is about. Or maybe they just like the colors, I don't know. Some of you will see the symbolism, and the references to Apifera.

But I much like it. It pleases me.

Monday, February 07, 2022

Another very grumpy arrival to Apifera

Introducing…Francine. If you think she looks cross it’s because she is. 

She has been at the shelter since May due to her anti social behavior towards people. They tried many things to see if she would overcome her distaste to humans but to no avail. My contact wondered if a quieter life here would help or at least get her out of the shelter. She arrived today and is safe in a cubby cage and I doubt I will see her for a long time. She is okay with cats. 

I don’t think this will be a Walter story…but who knows. She’s had most of her teeth pulled. So we will let her be herself and maybe in time she might accept my touch.

It made me think of Rosie the pig...aka The World's Grumpiest pig But I'm Fine As I Am Pig. ROsie was living like a princess as a piglet in the home of an elder woman. She had her own room and bed and I'm not sure anyone really touched her. But the woman died and Rosie was eventually sent to a sanctuary. It was there she met Stevie the crippled goat-he was the only animal there that would tolerate her grumpiness. I happened to be wanting a pig back them, at the old Apifera out West. I called them and talked to them about Rosie, and told them I wasn't sure I was right for her since I'd never had a pig, but the more they talked to me the more they wanted me to adopt her. I also said I didn't need another goat as I had many elder goats I was caring for, but they said Stevie the goat had to go with Rosie.

And so we took them both and I am so glad we did. A remarkable story of acceptance and friendship-just the way you are kind of friends. Rosie was able to come to Maine with us. Since she was so grumpy and nobody tolerated ehr well [Stevie had died by then] we made her a special hut for the trip and she slept the entire way and was as content as can be. She lived another couple of years but grew old, and crippled. She was blind. The Goose befriended her and slept on her for warmth. I miss her.

But the point is, I could not change her and it taught me a lesson that my role is to create a safe place for an animal, and to observe, not force. Observe them over many days, weeks and months, and see what they need and want. Rosie wanted nothing, except a safe bed, some sun now and then and on good days, a belly rub.

So we will let Francine have her cubby, and she can come out in the dark and be a cat, and in the morning when the sun rises, she is free to return to her cubby. In time she might enjoy a window seat.