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.

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]