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

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Raggedy Man's birthday hat

The cookie party for Raggedy Man's 7th birthday today was moved inside due to soggy weather conditions. These parties never last long, once the cookies are gone the guest pretty much dissipate and get one with usual routines-chewing cud, napping, head butting, crochet and book club.

I made a hat for Raggedy a few years ago and put this picture up on his wall tonight, to remind him that he is a birthday boy all day-that is the rule, no ifs and or buts, he gets to be king for a day.

To the raggiest little man ever, Muppet feet and all, he is such an endearing fellow. He arrived stinky and...raggedy. And thin and ill kept. But, with time, and consistent feedings, he blossomed, ballooned actually. It's okay Rag, I've ballooned too.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Noses and mugs, but why?

I was thinking today about the ever present camera culture we have become-via cell phones-although I still rely on my Nikon for much of my work. Why am I compelled to take what might be the same photo over and over again? These two mugs are usually at the gate each night, yet each time, it is fresh and new and if I have my phone I take a quick shot. Then I share it with my followers and friends.

In the end, I thought, it's just a bookmark of today. I enjoy the moment, captured it, moved on, but I think the photo is a homage to the splendor I feel in that moment.

And I'm glad we have all these photos to live with. I'm a visual person, a photo is just one part of any story, even if the story is very short, like this one:

Earnest the pig came to the gate, so did White Dog. They smiled in unison, at me.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Horse and Pig speak

"I admire you," the pig said.

He was looking up, toward the blue sky, into the muzzle of a red horse.

"I know," said the horse. "But I am nothing special."

Of course he was special, even though in terms of grand looks or flashy movement, he had neither.

"You undersell yourself," said the pig. "I am small compared to many of my kind, but I have spots that many don't."

"Yes, the spots are catchy. I don't have spots either. Or a long top knot," said the horse.

"But you smell of horse, this is an exquisite attribute to have," said the pig.

"Perhaps," said the horse, "to another horse."

The White Dogs arrived. They leapt up to greet the horse as usual.

"The pig is right, your smell is fabulous," White Dog said.

Back in the house, a woman worked on a painting. She was trying to capture the smell of her horse. She heard a whinny, and left her indoors to be outdoors, and headed towards the world's most exquisite smell.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Don't let the future dictate the weather

We are experiencing gorgeous weather and it is forecast to be sunny and in the 60 degree range all week. The first warm and sunny day always brings out the sun nappers, of all ages, to lie on the concrete to warm their bones. Roosters deliriously hook up with lazy acrobatic goats, and little odd fellows pick bookend spots to nap. Even the ever vigilant Marcella takes snooze, but her ear is tuned to the vibrations of any activity. I found the image of her almost surreal. Some might say she looks dead-but I see the photo as more of a dream, a floating White Dog, dreaming, moving forward.

This weekend was and is busy. We got the lambing pens ready, in the new barn. I decided to lamb there this season so we made temporary stalls for the four mothers to be. Then the old matriarch Daisy, shown here, can be present with her kin of multiple generations, it will most likely be her last season I think. Cornelia, Wild Otis, Lilly and Opal are also in with the mothers to be.

All the ewes will be first time moms. This is always a bit of nail biter, but I've only had a couple ewes be a bit daft at first lambings. Most are programmed much better than a human to carry it all out-Nature's the teacher and instincts are well ingrained.

I had hemmed and hawed about if we should breed last fall, and wasn't sure what my hesitancy was all about, but right after breeding we decided to move to Maine. At first I was kicking myself for not listening to the hemming and hawing better-for the record, it was Martyn who finally made the final call to breed. The lambing would mean more lives to rehome, depending on the move date. But now, I'm really glad we will have one final lambing here. In fact, I think it is an important process for me and the universe knew that. It will be a very important lambing season, more so than the first.

When you put your property on the market, it is easy to get sucked up into limbo. There are many what ifs and now what and why are we doing this. One has toes in two sides of the stream. It can -and pretty much has-turned into a daily good bye of sorts. But in the past weeks, I have been really focused on something-I'm here, now. The lambing will make me very present, with my beloved flock, a flock I will most likely have to part with. Over time, I am becoming more comfortable with that-for lack of a better word. Moving a flock might be too stressful on them, for that long trip. I do believe there are many good shepherds out there that I will somehow be connect with. It will not happen all at once. But the first step is accepting and believing it is all okay.

So, as we sit around at night and often dream and plan our new life-what kinds of things we want to grow and what kind of house we want-what we want to differently perhaps-we are also spending lots of time here-now. We have been working in our garden a lot this weekend. The first thing that came to me when I was weeding was, I have to make the garden presentable for house lookers. But then I realized as I worked, I am doing this for the garden, a thank you, a tidying up to make sure we leave her in the best condition we can before we leave her to evolve into what she will become. Just as I left our last beautiful garden, the next one became the living being of the moment, and that will happen again. The garden here, the land, they do not hold me down, they don't have a motive of any kind, they just are.

The weather is simply...perfect. I will soak it up. Many remind me -why they do this I don't know, as if cold weather will kill me, I'm a Minnesotan for God's sake, I lived on the East coast for many years- but some just can't keep their lips quipping you're going to miss these early springs. I have felt so graced to have lived in this climate, and to have been able to grow so many plants I couldn't in Minnesota.

The future holds many living things for Apifera. Next February 7, I might be in a snow storm. But today, right now, I am not.

White Dog floats forward

Little Moose and Goose are bookends in life

Beautiful Daisy, the elder retired matriarch will be with the new mothers

Otis was brought down from upper flock to be at lambing

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Art for a four year old friend...and Misfits

Goodness! Where did the week go? I've been busy and also Martyn has been sick all week so I was a bit distracted. But I'm back.

I wanted to share a few things art related. I have set up a section on the shop called Henry's Fundraiser. Henry is my four year old friend who I have loved since I met him when he was 'little'. His school is having a fundraiser to help with scholarships and educational field trips. Henry loves his school, and now his baby brother will attend the same school someday too. So I thought I'd try to help him out, and 50% of my sales will go to Henry's school fund, and 50% will be added to the Misfits to Maine fund in Henry's name. There are lots of inexpensive things too, something for all budgets.

I'm also really excited that Sundance is showcasing an exclusive print of my art, and they are now available. it also was in the catalogue this week so I'm hoping for lots of good things to come from it.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Chicken Named Dog on the loose

There was a small break out from the chicken coop this week. I have been keeping my hens, along with Franklin the lead rooster and Uno the subsidiary rooster locked in their chicken run. This is because of the sneaky Banties that lay their eggs in highly sophisticated secret areas, setting on them just long enough to bring us surprise chicks.We have already had two surprise clutches this past spring and are overrun with hens. Along comes three more roosters that I agreed to take on for the neighbor's daughter after her father died as she is cleaning out the place, and I have chick making testosterone raptors all over the place. The three rogue roosters live in the barns and have been, so far, agreeable. Bu they want one thing.

But somebody, "Not I, said the Pig", left the roost door open, and some of the hens escaped, seeking the company of one of the rogue roosters-he is quite handsome, I can't blame them.

One of those was Chicken Named Dog, who is pretty old now, but she still has wanderlust in her feet. I must say she looked lovely with the backdrop here in this photo op that day.

"Get back to your hut, or I will leave you to Nature," I told her.

With that, she flew, squawked, and ran back to her flock. It took a bit of sneaky chicken grabbing to catch the other two hens-young ones, not real bright yet, and I waited until rogue rooster was, well, having sex with them and took advantage of their locked down position and was able to grab them easily.

Never dull with chickens.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Old man

“Age is a seasoned trickster. To our parents, we will always be children. Within ourselves, the same yearnings of youth; the same aspirations of adolescence, will last a lifetime. Only to the young - blinded by our grey hair and slowing gait - do we appear old and increasingly beyond the pale.”
― Alex Morritt, Impromptu Scribe

The Chocolate Lab named after a pie, Huckleberry, aka Huck, has turned eleven today. We will be doing what we do every day with Huck, looking into his soulful and now cloudy eyes, speaking to him through that silence, saying to each other,

We are here together, all is well, we are safe.

Huck came to Apifera as a pup a year after I said goodbye to my original road warrior, Louie Louie, the fox terrier who was my companion in singleness for 14 years. Louie was able to get me to Martyn, and then the farm, and after six months here, I helped him on his way, his life was so full that he went out in my arms with a smile on his terrier lips. So I waited to fill that spot for some time, and we still had the aging One Eyed Pug that became the Old One Eyed Pug I.

I never would have picked a Lab, but since so many animals were my decision, I let my new husband's opinion matter in the decision. I was after all a unit now, with an opinion, but he too had an opinion. Louie was a very alpha dog, as many terriers are, and he was definitely my dog and came with all his and mine insecurities and unbalanced behavior wrapped together. He somewhat unsettled Martyn I think, I can't blame him, the dog used to pee while he ate his food as a warning to anyone to stay away. It worked every time. By the time Martyn met Louie, the latter had calmed some but was almost all blind and he had anxiety attacks if he didn't know where I was. So I asked Martyn what kind of dog he envisioned.

"A lab," he said.

"A lab?!" I retorted, having come from a long line of terrier ownership, with Standard Poodles tossed into the mix.

I paused..."It has to be a male, and chocolate."

I had always loved Chocolate Labs, so the idea was born and I found a good breeder within a couple of hours and we brought him to Apifera. Five years later, we brought home another pup, from the same parents-a totally different dog than Huck but a joy-you know him as Muddy.

From the onset, Huck was a worrier, but very polite no matter what his feelings about anything. When Martyn sits in his rocking chair at night, Huck waits until we tell him it is okay to go to the couch. If we are in our bedroom, he doesn't come in without an invite-while Muddy bounds in every morning to let us know IT IS MORNING!

Huck used to do 'The Scooby Dance", twirling around and around in tight circles. We could tell when one was coming on, he'd sit and get this very goofy expression on his face-his lower lip slightly limp and drooping. Then we'd say, really slowly,

"Oh, Huckleberry, are you wanting to do the Scooby Dance?" and around and around he'd go.

He quit doing the dance a few years ago, as he is very gimpy in his front shoulder. But every now and then, maybe once a year, he does it and we all just get so happy.

Huck has slowed even more this past year and I think his eyesight has definitely failed a bit, especially at night which is pretty normal. His grey has increased even more, his lumps and warts lay on his aging frame with his hips sinking and his back swaying. He was never the athlete Mud is, but he was and is the soul man of the house, the one who comes to me trembling when I cry, or raise my voice at something. He needs more encouragement to do certain things to feel safe-like going to the couch if we are still by the fire.

When he was a pup, the place was in its wild days, raccoons visiting day and night on the porch, and we taught Huck to alert us of any raccoons. He did and then some, bounding out on the porch just so far to ward them off. As he has gotten older, I don't let him do that anymore. And we often turn the light out on the porch as we sit by the fire so he can't see raccoons. He usually is soundly sleeping and just isn't as alert as in his youth. But every now and then, he hears one, his fur on his back stands up, and he barks at the window, then turns to look at me,

The raccoon is here! I'm telling you, do you see him, shall I go out? he tells us with pride. We praise him for his good work, and he returns to lay down on one of his many cushions spread throughout the house, falling almost immediately back into slumber, his legs and paws often twitching as he is most likely chasing that coon in his dream, or doing the Scooby Dance.