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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

For anyone who has lost someone


This was what White Dog wrote about his death, for me. I've seen so many friends lose mates and others in the past summer, guess it happens more and more as we get up to the autumn of life. So maybe this will help someone.
"When you miss my earthly body,
and you need to feel my fur, touch the snow.
When you need to hear me, listen to the wind.
When you crave to see my eyes one more time,
Look at all the other eyes around you.
When you hear a coyote,
it is me guiding them away from the farm.
There is no place I won't be,
so there is no place you can't find me.
I am Here There Everywhere.
In the coming days, rest by the old apple
where my body will be buried in my return to the womb.
It will comfort you,
until you fully embrace my new way of being
in the Here There Everywhere."
~White Dog~

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Baby elephant

I'm working on a new doll, a baby elephant...a crooked baby elephant. She was stepped on by accident at birth and is crooked. The quilt hanging behind her is one she was helping her mother make, but her mother died, and so it sat unfinished–so I told Baby Elephant I'd help finish it somehow. [The quilt part of this story is inspired by my own mother, age 8, who was helping her mother make a quilt but her mother died suddenly...the quilt sat for years in pieces. I remember seeing the squares as a girl tucked into a sewing chest. I have the quilt now.]

At some point Baby E. will go on the online shop. Contact me if you want to be notified of that. It will be a few weeks. I'm moving slowly.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Hannah sees an...alien?

{My latest for Tails & Tales column}


 “Mrs. Dunnnnnn! Come now, come now!” Pickles screamed through the window.

I dropped everything and ran out the door, and Pickles was rushing back to the barn.

“Hurry, Mrs. Dunn! It’s Marta!” she screamed.

Marta is one of the hens. She is a very special hen and we refer to her as the Pirate Hen, because even though she is a tiny Bantie breed, she doesn’t let anybody, even the rooster, push her around. She stays to herself, foraging far from the flock.

As I got to the barn, all the goats were huddled in one of the side rooms where the hens lay their eggs. From the look of some of their faces, it appears they had just seen a ghost.

“Are they aliens?” asked Ollie.

“Aliens?!” said little Hannah, and she went running to stand near Earnest the pig for comfort.

“Oh, little Hannah, those aren’t aliens, they are baby chicks,” said Earnest the pig.

“They must have been slimed!” Ollie said.

“They just came out of the egg,” I said. “Marta will get them all dry and fluffy, don’t worry.”

About 3 weeks ago, Marta got broody–she started sitting on any eggs that were laid and she clearly wanted to hatch some babies. I knew Marta would be a fierce mother and protector, so I allowed her to keep 4 eggs, and marked them. Every day, I picked up the fresh, unmarked eggs, and Marta sat and incubated the nest.

“How did they get in the egg?” asked Hannah, still a novice about life and death.

“We’ve been through this, Hannah,” I said. “The rooster fertilizes the eggs while the eggs are still in the hen’s body, and then they turn into chickens.”

Hannah looked confused.

“In other words, Hannah, the rooster–without asking permission–has mad, passionate love with the hen in order to show them he is in charge and wants to continue creating children he won’t care for,” said Henneth the blind hen.

Paulo Steadman, the rooster, strutted by, cackling. “That’s rather harsh,” he said, “but it’s true, I have no interest in rearing them.”

“So the baby is in the egg, inside the hen, and then what happens?” Hannah asked.

“Then the egg comes out her bottom!” said Pickles.

“Well, it’s not her real bottom, it’s just...down there,” said Earnest the pig.

Marta stood up to stretch, and sure enough, the little slimy chicks were now dry and fluffy.
“I would appreciate some quiet, I have three more eggs to keep warm and safe, so please
give us some privacy,” said Marta.

“Why don’t I have eggs?” Hannah asked.

“You do,” said Earnest the pig.

Hannah started crying. “I don’t want any chickens coming out down below!”

“You can’t have chickens, Hannah, you’re a goat,” I said. “And you need a boy goat to make baby goats inside you,” I said.

“Ollie’s a boy!” said Hannah.

“He’s a special boy, he can’t make babies,” I said.

“Can you make baby people, Mrs. Dunn?” Pickles asked.

“Not any more,” I said.

“You’re special too!” said Hannah.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Eleanor has died

Eleanor died last night. 
I knew this was coming and so did Eleanor. Eleanor was nine and this is a long life for a retired sow. a few weeks ago there were physical signs she was ill. When the vet was here this week for rabies shots, we made a pallative care plan for Eleanor and unless there was positive change we would help her on her way. I much prefer my animals go on their own but that is not always what is best for them. Vets are uncomfortable with it too, I find, even though I feel my vet trusts my judgement. In this case, Eleanor was basically sleeping all day and was not showing signs of distress. Last night, I knew she was close to going due to some physical signs. This morning it appeared she went sometime last night. There was no sign of a struggle.
When we lived in Oregon, and first moved to the farm, we decided if we were going to eat meat [I had been a vegetarian for years, Martyn was in his 20's but it wasn't good for his health or body] we would raise what little meat we ate, or supplement from other farms. It was a  big deal for me to raise and then eat animals. It was never comfortable. But I thought a lot about it, and the food chain, and living more in Nature molded my eventual decision. Some have never forgiven me for that [I don't care, although it was painful at the time]. Some don't understand it. It was a process for me. But I'm grateful I got to live that life, and I do not regret it, nor do I need to convince anyone of anything. I'm just so grateful for all the good mothers I had on the farm, and what it taught me. I also am past the point where I feel obligated to tell anyone what it taught me. But it taught me a lot.
Eleanor got to die in her own hut with Little Lonely and Uno with her, on a beautiful summer night. Uno and Little Lonely have moved on and were eager for breakfast. This photo shows Little Lonely with his grandmother, Eleanor. Uno is Eleanor's son.
I'm relieved for her, and me. We will bury her near the pumpkin patch. 
Thank you for all you gave us, Eleanor.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Beware of Intruders

"Beware of Intruders" now up for sale >

This piece was inspired by events Apifera when an eagle flew into take one of our ducks. I did this piece back in about 2015, out West, and for some reason hung onto it. Sometimes you hold onto a piece until you are ready to let go, sometimes you let go the minute you finish them. When I look at this piece, I realize the title has a couple of meanings. While an eagle can intrude my space and take an animal, there are worse intruders in one's life. My face half covered keeps out the intruders- I perceive are all around me, or online, or lurking behind anonymous names. Sometimes they are strangers and sometimes you know them. I've been talking to more and more people lately that are feeling this sense of intrusion, and not wanting to be bothered by other people. So I thought it was time someone else take this piece home if it resonates. And take note, the nest of eggs holding new life sits in the hut, unscathed.

12" acrylic, protective varnish, on kiln dried pine board, ready to hang. Signed on back.

Friday, July 08, 2022

Someone else deserves her love now

{PS She found a new home}

I made this doll in honor of our beautiful old Matilda, who died this past month. It was a hard goodbye and making the doll was a way to grieve–and I got to hold her as I sewed her dress and stitched her polk-a-dots.

Matilda came to us a young elder and for over 10 years we cared for her after she had been taken out of a neglect situation. She was in rough shape after being used as a brood jenny for years but without proper care or feed. Her feet were horrible and her back swayed, and she was weak and worn out. In time, we put weight on and helped her. She died at 30. That is a good long life for a donkey and especially after her start.

But I miss her.

Dolls and art are a wonderful way to grieve and say good bye, again. People wonder why I don't keep a grief doll, and there are some I keep. But it is the process that is important to me.

I had over ten years with the real Matilda, so I want someone else to enjoy her as a doll. I made a linen dress for her with polk-a-dots of silk and wool. The dress linen is from my family collection of old Swedish linen napkins. Her face includes natural mohair and hand stitching [raggedy style]. On Matilda's last day I spent a lot of time brushing her, and found her hair in the brush-I'd forgotten about it-but it was bittersweet to find it. So I put it in on the doll's head.

I will also enclose a copy of 'Misfits of Love" because there is a dialogue and story of Matilda in it. 

Visit the online shop now >