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

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Friday, December 19, 2014

The Annnual Christmas Garland Festival at Apifera

The Garland Festival has become a tradition here at Apifera. It began after a friend and follower of The Misfits and my art gifted me with a lovely felted garland. It was so pretty and I casually took a photo of the dogs wearing it to share with her as a thank you. Of course it grew from there.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The continuing journey of Francis

I am thoroughly enjoying working on the children's book idea and have finished the main manuscript draft and plot and now am working on spreads. Once the dummy is done I'll assess the next step needed.

It's a bout a drunk rabbit who gets lost in the woods....no, no, it's not although I think that would be a fun story to write. Rabbits are too wise to get drunk though.

I won't give much more away accept that here is Francis, taking shelter under some trees, seeking a warm place out of the storm. But he has entered the forest of The Thing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Crew of chickens

You just have to accept the crew you are given on any day around here. I'm thankful for this bunch though. While they were right int he middle of hay debris I was relocating to the piglet pen, how could I not stop and look at them, all lined up like little compost guards.

"Excuse me, you can go now," I said. Seconds transpire. "Please."

And off they went.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

White Dog love continues

I have such strong feelings for these White Dogs. In some ways, maybe too much. I grew up with house dogs as pets, they had every comfort they needed. I never had dogs that lived outside and had day and night jobs. It is an incredibly rewarding relationship, although it challenges some of my comfort zones.

One comfort zone is the fear that Benedetto will flea. It has been almost 2 months since he magically appeared out of nowhere on our farm, and it has been one month since he was neutered and chipped. He is definitely happy here, and every day I notice behaviors that show he has established a real comfort for his new role.In fact, it's like he just knew it all along, there seemed to be no transition period amongst the animals. He was meant to be here for some reason.

He is so eager to work, but I want to wait one more month before he can really be out in the sheep fields-only because there are some areas where he could go under fences. I fear more he will get shot in the upper hills-if he went after a cat, or just showed up-there are people like that around here. My vet told me an adult dog when neutered can still produce pups for a couple months, so I figure his wandering eye and nose might be safer to wait another month.

But I have to learn to trust him, and let go a bit. These dogs, as I was told from the start, can find a way to get to where they want or need to be. That's kind of the point. Benedetto and Marcella are not jumpers, but they can contort themselves in ways to allow them to get under the smallest fence openings, I've witnessed it. Benedetto and Marcella get roaming time every day in an upper sheep field, right now where the piglets are grazing, and they can see the flock in the next pasture. Soon I will be putting them in with the sheep at night to bond, and in a month or so, days will be spent with the flock.

The other day I took them down into the lavender field to walk the fence again with them. Marcella found a hole under the fence-a cat and raccoon door for years-and she was under that thing in a heartbeat, and on the road. While we are a rural road, we have a lot of morons around here who drive like their pants are on fire, so I just did a heart flip flop. I scolded her, and she came back pretty quickly, and was praised. Benedetto did not follow her under and listened to me as I warned him not to go. I was pleased with that. Maremmas do not 'come' on command, it is a fact.

So, baby steps. What is wonderful is to watch these two together. I just can't imagine Marcella now without Benedetto. He is one of the sweetest dogs I've met, very agreeable. I like that they can be independent of one another too, and they do have areas that each one seems to clearly favor, as 'theirs'.

But Benedetto wants to work. He tells me every time I look at him by one of the paddock gates that lead to the sheep fields. Marcella is already working in her own way, in her barnyard, and learning from Benedetto who is older than her. She helps the Misfits eat their hay, keeps the pigs in line if they rush a goat, and sits amongst them, watching, listening. She has also alerted me to a couple of pig escapes.

In the huge wind storm we had last week, I looked out in the barnyard after the dusk, everyone was safe and snug in the barn, but there was White Dog. He was standing on the concrete wall by Old Barn, his hair blowing in the strong gusts of wind, head held tall, watching. It gave me goose bumps.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Over the river and through the mud

It was not fit for man, beast or sheep today. Or shepherdess. I captured some iphone shots as I went to let the girls in. What is usually a 6" wide rivulet is a torrent in spots, but they know all the right spots to jump. Still if this keeps up, I'll have to move them into another area as a couple of the elders might not be able to jump it if certain areas get washed out. If it rains like this tomorrow, the road will surely wash out.

Today was a classic Oregon down pour-the kind that the entire country thinks we get every day all year round. I must say when it comes down like this it feels like it might never stop, like the arc really does need to be built and it better be big, without holes.

Its also the best way to see how well, or not, I did on my extra drainage work in the last month. I still need more depth to the culvert I made at Stevie's hut, but what I made is holding fine and he is dry. Some of my hog fuel paths-thanks to the darn little munchkin piglets, were blown out by water. Sigh. All that work, and one 30 pound piglet takes his nose to it in an hour of fun destruction.

I will be so happy when the new barn is done. I could sure use it right now, but everybody is well. It's a warm rain, which makes all the difference to me, and the animals.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Pino is on Modern Farmer and so is Paco

I wanted to share an article I just wrote on Modern Farmer called, "I Believe in the Healing Powers of Donkeys".

Paco got to be the lead photo and he couldn't look cuter. {This image here was also included, one of my favorites of our Pino}. The article discusses the concept of care farming and how I'm attempting to do that here. I have witnessed the healing powers of the Misfits and the donkeys with a variety of visitors. I also give a shout out to my role models, Sanctuary One, one of the few farms doing true care farming that I know of in the States. Care farming is more popular in Europe especially Britain. Care farming recognizes that there is a reciprocal relationship between land, people and animals.

I hope you'll have time to read the article-I point out one encounter Pino had with a visitor who had recently suffered type of stroke leaving her speechless. It was a really beautiful experience.