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

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©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

We have a Pickles, and a Puddles, and now we have a Pancakes!


This weekend we picked up an old goat to bring to Apifera. She was a working girl for ten years and needed a new home after being retired. This often happens and I am happy to help these animals that have 'worked' for a living a now get to relax for their remaining days. Her name is Helen and she is actaully in good shape and I hope stays that way for some time. While I was there, there were some young kids running about and one had been given the name "Kevin". They name them to keep track of who is who. Well, our little Opie was the same color and he also was givien the name Kevin. Opie was a bottle baby, and Opie was a healer of natural born talents. While I know he will never be replicated, I just let my heart take over and take on another youngster. Maybe Opie was helping. Maybe my heart was in charge. I like having youngsters mixed into our elder community-just like in the old days when generations grew up, and died, in the same house. The young animals bring such joy to our elder visits too. Like putting a baby on the floor, bringing a baby goat over brings joy. Many names were discussed, as Pickles explains in the video. Even I am surprised by the outcome and I owe it to Pickles and Puddles, and my ability to stay open on naming day.

Friday, June 23, 2023

We say good bye to Jim Bob

I have sad news. Jim Bob died last night. I took this photo two days ago. Of all the goats I never would have guessed he’d go now. He is ten, which is old but not ancient. He was in excellent condition and showed no sign of anemia or parasite issues. Two days ago I found him trembling in the morning. He ate and drank. I checked his eyes and they were healthy and temp normal. I gave him probiotics and a pain shot. He was up and about and normal for the next two days. 

Yesterday I noticed after breakfast he separated from his herd and went to sleep on his own. I took note of that. Jim Bob has always been a bit of a boss in the herd so this was not normal. Last night he was lying down and seemed distant. But there was no sign of dehydration or pain. I knew he wasn’t himself. I did sit with him for some time and talked to him and rubbed his ears. He is not a touchy-feely guy so the fact he seemed to respond to it also gave me pause. 

I’m glad I took that time with him. This morning…that feeling…first thing I did was look into the stall and he was dead, lying in the same spot, no signs of a struggle. He was quite stiff so I’m sure he died not long after I said goodnight. I covered his head and he’s lying in state until Martyn gets home. His stall mates were eager for breakfast and to get in the sun-they know long before a death something has shifted…and they move on after acknowledging it in their own way. I don’t know what happened but I’m grateful he had such perfect weather to sun in.

Jim Bob arrived with Roscoe in 2009. He was healthy and robust and stayed that way right until the end. I've been doing this since 2004 and each situation allows for me to learn. This situation I don't feel I will learn anything that might help in future incidences. Was it dehydration I wondered last night, but his eyes weren't really that recessed, they did look a bit dull. But he'd been drinking. One can google things and be left with more questions than answers. The only way would be to do an autopsy, and I've done one at the old farm on a young sheep who died-she had a shard in her lower tract. But there was no sign of that here, nor of poison, nor of anything I've experienced. And it was so fast. I think with many animals, once you see them outwardly ill you've sometimes lost them. So knowing signs of various things is important. I'm not beating myself up on this one. There was no reason to call a vet two days ago since he rebounded immediately, and even if she had come out and taken blood work, he would have died before results. Dehydration is serious though and maybe she would have seen something I didn't but I saw no signs of it.

I've had deaths here that the vet just says, 'It could have been this, or this, probably not that..." and of course, it could have been cancer I suppose.

The main thing, he did not appear to suffer. If he did, he held it inward very well-no teeth grinding, pacing, up and down-none of that. So in my experience, Jim Bob had a good death, with his mates around him, before fly season, and had the warmth of a perfect Maine day for his final hours. We should all be so blessed I guess.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

PRE SALES of the Apifera Farm 2024 calendar [100% net to Apifera]


The pressure is already on about who is on the cover. I'm getting pleas and bribes from the barnyard. Maybe I'll do a throwback to the Beatles with a white cover. 

Anyway, pre-order your calendar! The price includes USA/CAN s/h. {International orders would be adjusted as needed].
I have included an OPTIONAL tip on the shopping cart button if you want to add a little more support. The intial investment is $2,200 but once 500 copies are sold Apifera will net $5,000. Pre-sales help me offset the printing charges. We need to sell about 120 calendars to break even and then if the remaining quantity is sold we will net about $5,000 for the farm/non profit. 

And course, selling them before the end of the year is essential.

If you want to buy a larger quantity for gift giving, just let me know and I can provide a separate link to buy from. I wanted to keep it simple.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

My Pig-she's worn and faded but she and I went through a lot, including the bed wetting era

I've had her since I was four. She has been though so much–bedwettings on an almost nightly occurrence, then subsequent power washings by my mother, and dryings.

It's no wonder she is worn and earless...and lacks her tail.

Her name is simply...My Pig. My mother would see me as a four year old without my pig and ask, as I ventured to bedtime,

"Where is your pig?" and I would say,

"You mean My Pig."

The pink coloring she once had is now faded, and she looks like she might have taken a recent dusting due some graying. I don't want to wash her again, she might have a flashback to those times.

I can remember the feeling I had as a child though, when I held my little pig. She was one of my go-to comfort creatures back then, along with my dinosaur pajama doll-the latter also suffered greatly in bed wettings.

My bed wetting went on for a long time and kept me from going to sleepovers at my friends for many years. I can remember going to some one's house to spend the night, good family friends, and I was to stay there overnight while my parents went out of town that night. I knew this family well, but I remember hearing my mom in an adjacent room, reminding her friend that...well, I wet the bed so my mother had brought a rubber sheet.

Jeeze. Way to ruin the slumber party by bringing your own rubber sheet.

So, My Pig and I soldiered on, through rubber sheets and power washings. I eventually outgrew bed wetting, but never outgrew my pig. And she has come with me to every home I've ever lived in, including NYC, Oregon, Minneapolis and now, Maine. Back then, sixty some years ago, we were both pink and fresh, and now all these years later we are both worn but still the same at our core. She sits in my studio now and the other day I picked her up-I had not done that for some time. After all, I have lots of pigs now, ones that move and talk and eat. But when I held My Pig, I was taken back to a place far, far away–a place that still exists, but only in one place, my head. A place where the family was under one roof, the dog was in the living room somewhere with red polish I had put on her toes, and I was in my bed near the the alcove window that looked out at the elm branches. I lay in bed counting the tiny red roses speckled in the wallpaper  Beside me, under the covers, waiting for her nightly wetting, was My Pig, not complaining, not shaming, just going to sleep with me without any fear or judgment about what was to come next.

I remember that my bed wetting felt like a secret I had to keep, and I was ashamed when I knew somebody was told about it. I remember my mother taking me to our pediatrician, who we had for many years, and he asked me if I knew why I wet the bed. And I remember, clearly, I said, “Because I’m dreaming I’m in the bathroom.” Always the dreamer. He didn’t shame me, he suggested when I dream this, I could alter my dream. Now that made sense to me even as a child.

I think the shame of bedwetting is a lot like the shame I have for the 20+ pounds I’ve put on and can’t get off. Despite healthy, mainly veggie and soy diet, it just doesn’t come off anymore. So I’m trying to start this year without shaming my fat middle. If I get that feeling of shame, I try to recite all the things my body does for me-and of course it is very important to the farm, this old, fat body. I am fat. I am. You might think I’m exagerating, but I’m not. Its 20 pounds of fat in my belly. The other day, I was trying on some new clothes, and I was undressing in front of the mirror and caught a full glimpse, naked, and was so shocked. What has happened? How did this happen to eats-like-a-bird-runs-like-a-wolf woman? I felt shame, but I also felt sadness, the same sadness I know I felt when I would be at a sleep over and I’d hear my mother handing over the rubber sheet. I’d hope I could have a night without wetting my friend’s bed, but I would. They never made fun of me, but I hurt.

I think of that Little Me now, when I feel ashamed of my fat midriff. I recite all the deeds my body does for me. I remind myself when I leave a room or a person, or an animal, they aren’t thinking of my fat middle, they are basking in what I hope was good energy, love or caring that I left in the room. I put my arm around Little Me in my mind.

I bet many of you know this shame-from weight or whatever trigger you have from the past. My goal this year is to stop it in its tracks when I feel it slink into view. Focus on my heart, which my body bravely carries around in such a turbulent world. I also realized, I need new role models-woman my age or older who are honest about life, and aging. I found that in a recent interview with Candace Bergen-always honest, witty,smart- and she talks about being 75 and wanting to do it ‘autentically’ , as in ‘this is how 75 looks and it is an honor to get here.

Maybe this is something that doesn’t ever go away, it is just part of being human and alive in a body?

And of course, I always have My Pig.

Friday, June 16, 2023

The Teapot is ready for some girly stuff


Saturday, as in tomorrow June 17, is our Love Day here at the farm. I'm trying a new set up in the front gardens, rather than letting people parade around the farm and barns. That was then, this is now. We have a little paddock we built out front by the Lovey Hut/Gallery where The Teapot and Stink Cartwright will be. Stink will also be doing some Flower Power work, handing out English daisies. Harry the llama will be in his trailer for greetings and the Lovey Mobile will be open so people can sit in her and enjoy the views, look out at the goats and horses in the fields, and learn more about our farm and mission and what we hope the Lovey Mobile will become. Peso will be brought in too.

I'm happy The Teapot will be helping, especially since she is in charge and obviously provides a calm role model for little Stink. The Teapot had two little girls that loved her and took care of her, but as happens, they grew out of her and wanted 'real' horses and The Teapot got put on the back shelf. She also gained a lot of weight. So we took quite a bit off on her early months here. But I bring it up because when I groom her, or do her hair up all girly, I can tell she really likes it. It makes me think she remembers being the centre of the hearts of those little girls. So I like to do that for her-give her girly days.

I hope we get some visitors. When we did our first two open farm events pre-Covid, the turnout was great-it was in October. I'm wondering if I should have done it then. But, I wanted to get Stink out there and start working with Lovey mobile. Getting volunteers is getting harder and harder. Two of the four volunteers became ill, one with Covid, so I was able to snag a new one yesterday. I lost my most loyal volunteer, Polly, a year ago to cancer and I miss her a lot. She would have loved Stink, and Lovey! She was so loyal and enthusiastic to what we are doing. I hope she'll be with us tomorrow.

I've never had a 'bad' event. Somehow something magical always happens with the animals and it all works out. I hope tomorrow will be like that.

Mainly, I want it to be a positive experience for Stink, Teapot, Harry...and Peso the old donkey who I plan to bring in. And of course, we are looking for donations. This area has so much wealth, a lot. I have worked hard to get our work out there-by writing articles for the paper-and I feel I just haven't cracked the lid on that -yet. I do have some loyal larger donors and it is so helpful to the health of our farm. We appreciate small donations too! But the larger ones help provide a cushion. Still, I get donations for locals, often they read my articles and it makes me feel like someone is noticing. In the meantime, we go about our work!

So maybe I'll see some of you there!

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Stinkin' good day

So I am feeling skinkin’ good because today I followed through with Plan B and brought Stink Cartwright out with The Teapot into the front paddock. Firstly, she was a calming influence even from the get go and even though Stink could hear Oliver squealing in the distance, he just kept walking and watching The Teapot my cues and not one squeal, not one head toss. He was his stinkin’ cute self. 

He was calm in the paddock as was she. The Teapot did let out one little bunny hop kick at Stink-but it was basically her saying, “Hey, you're short and cute, but not my type, but I’m happy to be in charge so just call me Auntie Teapot.” I left them in the paddock while I worked in the Lovey Mobile and gallery preparing for Saturday’s event. 

I am feeling relief because I thought, “Mrs. Dunn, are you going to have a wild pony show here or what?”. I knew The Teapot would be thrilled to get out and would not care one bit about leaving the barn. She’s on dry lot so the fact she got to eat three bites of grass was thrilling for her.

I also am really loving the vibe of the Lovey Mobile. 

I’m also going to bring Peso out. I’ll have him in the lower paddock, where I can easily retrieve him, and return him if gets tired. I think he will love the attention. Peso is a lover but when new people come into his paddock he often does a bunny hop away and then waits to sniff you out. I do think he has some sight/hearing issues, and his former family explained how the past home Peso lived as a youngster had a bull who would cause trouble and the farmer tossed things at the bull [and I guess Peso] so he might be upset to this day if someone tossed something. I haven’t seen that with him, but if he’s with me standing I think he will like the love. 

We had two of the four volunteers cancel due to illness and one of the remaining two is iffy since her husband is home on chemo. But I was able to snag someone today and Girl Friday and Martyn and me will be fine. The weather was good, then cloudy, then light rain, then no rain till 4, now its back to some drizzle but only .1” over 6 hours. For me, it is perfect as I don’t like heat! 

 It’s Love Day! Stink will have daisies! Harry will have His Haircut! The Teapot will get some beauty tips!

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Hairy and His Haircut - Volume Up!


@katherine_apiferafarm The annual haircut day!! I always say our shearer is like a ballet dancer the way he moves with them, not against them. #haircut #llama ♬ My Haircut
The annual Haircut for the llamas was this week and as usual Harry did his 'tap dance' as our shearer says. It's funny that the most gentlemanly llama is so ornery on shearing day. But it tickles, and llamas perceive their legs being touched to being preyed upon. Neil is a dancer, I say, he flows with the movement of the llama, he doesn't fight it, and he said he learned that early on after watching some shearers trying to control the llama too much. But it is a tough job, not for sissies and I'm grateful to have him. He also does alpacas. Visit his page to see more of his expertise.

Friday, June 09, 2023

Spiritual lessons of the little seed

Nature is my teacher. And as I age it becomes even more of a spiritual teacher.

By looking at the life of a seed, I have learned to have hope when things aren’t working fast enough for me, or it feels like they aren’t. Of course, things are working but at their own speed. So in the vast snowscape of winter, I always think about the little seeds percolating under the ground, lying dormant but always evolving. There is always something percolating out there where we can’t see it. It appears when it is meant to appear.

Going further on looking at seeds as a teacher I began to realize that a seed must destroy itself as it is to become what it will be.

The little sunflower seed is placed in the ground by a bird. It has known one life, to be a seed in a shell.But one day it bursts out of its shell and sprouts. And so it becomes a sprout. And now it knows itself as a sprout. But then it grows into a tall sunflower and it lives its life as a sunflower. And then it begins again.

To think of my own life, I had to let the self I knew or identified with be destroyed–over and over– just like the shell of that seed. I couldn’t imagine what would sprout, but something even bigger and better did. A breakup that had me on my knees but eventually led me to leaving one home for another and that led to Martyn and then the farm. Or when we decided to leave the old farm–a place I had nurtured and loved and identified with–but by leaving it led to something even bigger here in Maine.

I used to have a saying I often incorporated into art: leaves know more than I do. It came to me when I was deep in grief over that break up I mentioned. I was having trouble letting go and I began to feel deep empathy for leaves and admire their ability to just...let go, fall, drift, land, dry up, crumble, and then nurture the soil. They too had to be destroyed to begin another stage of existence.

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

What is helpful right now? This piece of art? I don't know.

"They Broke The Dam And Tears Are Water And Arms Are Wings But Putin Will Never Have Wings"

The Ukraine War...or should I say The Putin War Against Ukraine continues and it is frustrating and sad to watch. How much they can take I can't imagine. I sit in my privileged American viewing spot, horrified by what I see, but I am free to walk away, put up a bubble, to protect myself.

The dam collapse just sent me spiralling -all the horrible stories of animals and humans dying and in despair. The zoo that had survived the war so far...but now wiped out. The suffering that must have occurred.

I have gotten better at not 'taking on' all of the woes of those suffering, but it usually strikes me when I see vivid images, and then I have to stop and help myself be protected from it.

By not looking I feel I'm letting those people and animals down. By looking it hurts. The conflict of life on earth as an empath and human-what is helpful? Being outraged on social media? Doing a paintings? I did this painting, working intently on it, feeling it, yesterday. I guess it is an homage to the dead and dying. I had seen a pot bellied pig in a dog house, on top of a lot of the flooded area. He was safe for the photo, but I let myself go there, thinking of my pigs if they had been there. The suffering of so many.

I guess the best we can do is support Ukraine with money and weapons...and by calling out current elected officials who feel it is not in our best interest to help them, the head of the House for one. It is not in the world's or America's best interest to vote in any lawmaker that thinks Putin is a 'strong leader' and should be negotiated with. That is misguided and those people have ulterior motives. Putin is evil pure and simple.

The conflict of wanting to love all humans. I can not love Putin. The challenge of accepting that all humans have some light in them-not if they are truly evil. Putin is evil. He has no light. I have come to that conclusion after being on earth this long. Some humans are evil beyond rehabbing them. 

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Mrs. Dunn falls in a hole

 “Mrs. Dunn fell in a hole!!!” screamed Hannah as she ran through the barn.

I could hear the feet of small goats rushing about, as I lay on my side...in a hole.

I suddenly felt a nose near mine, as I lay there making sure all my parts still worked. It was the nose of Earnest the pig.

Mrs. Dunn, are you alright?” he asked.

Somewhat,” I said.

The entire herd of goats was around me, including Ollie, the largest goat and also the one who helped get me in this position.

Mrs. Dunn, why are you lying in a hole?!” said Ollie.

I am in a hole because you twirled around me and made me fall into this hole,” I said.

Marcella, the Head Mistress, the Maremma guardian dog who watches after the herd, came over to me. We are a team in the barnyard and she has been with us since birth and is now 9 years old.

Marcella, you made this hole, I know you did and I’m now the victim of it,” I said.

I had very good reason to make the hole,” she said. “Actually, two reasons: rats, and a skunk.”

The large rubber mats in the barn stall lay on top of dirt, and under the dirt down deep are the myriad of tunnels where the rats run, and other critters. Marcella is a Maremma and you can not get anything by her. If there is anything running under those floors she will dig, and dig. I pity those she finds.

I had walked into the stall and as I put my foot down, it sank, into an abyss. At that very moment, Ollie and his 250# body encircled me-a goat trait employed to ensure he will get food. The buckets I was holding went flying, my bum went down and there I was, lying in a hole, surrounded by the perplexed faces of goats and dogs. Their perplexed expressions were not of concern for me, rather they just wondered why the usual routine of me walking into the stall -upright- had changed this morning.

But Mrs. Dunn, you must get up, it’s our breakfast. There’s no time to lay about in a hole!” said Ollie.

I will get up in due time!” I snapped.

What is “dotime?” asked little Hannah.

It means that she will rise up when she feels she is emotionally and physically capable,” said Earnest the pig.

Poor Mrs. Dunn,” and she put her forehead into mine.

It’s okay, Hannah. Falling is hard when your body gets a bit….”

Ancient?” snapped Poetry the old goat. “Tell me about it. Just wait until your my age,” the old goat quipped.

How old is ancient?” asked hannah.

Hundreds of years,” said Pickles.

Are you hundreds of years, Mrs. Dunn?” asked Hannah.

Somedays, I think,” I said.

You should be in National Geographic, Mrs. Dunn! You’re almost as old as that giant tortoise we read about!” said Puddles the goat.

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