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

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. All images ar©Katherine Dunn.





Friday, January 29, 2010

I open it


Every wall is a door...Ralph Waldo Emerson

The things we surround ourselves with, in our homes, our studios, our sacred places, act to unite us with past, present...and future. The beautiful wings of Lyndon Baines, framed in weathered wood, remind me of his presence, brief as it was. A fountain no longer working is a remnant of my father's garden and acted as a drinking well for animals I loved but like him, are all gone. Lavender of last year's harvest urge me to imagine this year's purple haze to come.

I see these things each day, repeatedly, as I enter my home. The wall holds a door, and open to a refuge from the nonsense that can often swirl overhead. From the east coast to the plains to the oceans of the Pacific Northwest, this wall is always a door...for me.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pino's "secret admirer" strikes again


Pino has many that love him, and some like the sweetness of remaining 'secret'...Pino likes it too. He relishes in wondering who this secret admirer is? Could it be another donkey who likes aprons and sharing? We don't know, but we love getting secrets.

Last year, his Secret Admirer sent him this lovely package, which we still have. The package that arrived yesterday was also embellished with sewing, and had this fun sticker on it saying, "Who?"... I think there was one more, I will have to go look.

Anyway, it made my day. Thank you Secret Admirer. We love you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just let me paint it out


Dear readers, in a time of chaos and economic stress for many, I felt I needed to write this, for myself. While I always look at things positively, I also felt that it is wrong to not, on occasion, let you in a bit deeper. For while I often share my sadness with you, and joys, it is anger that is unrepresented sometimes on this blog. And I think there is a lot of anger out there.Hermann Hesse explained it best, that we artists and humans are not masters of our universe, we are the birds in a storm. "Everything in you is gold as well as mud", but sometimes we are masters at hiding the mud.


I painted this yesterday. Yes, it's a donkey, and a woman holding a pie. They sit together, in the dark, with remnants of sun from the past - or are they sun specks growing in the future. Life is what you make it. Glass half full, or half empty.

Martyn confessed he's quit listening to the car radio because the news infuriates him. I quit listening on a daily basis last year for the same reason. He said he found himself muttering and yelling at the radio. Now that he quit listening, he says he mutters more at the fences and shovels and bricks and ladders on his job sites [he's a landscaper].

Anger. It's everywhere. Where do you put it? In today's world, you can disguise your anger in cynicism and post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Blogger. One button push on iphone could blast your anger all over the universe. We're all just so connected....and now all that anger is part of the connection.

We talked last night about a simple reality. People get angry, and they can hold it in, or let it out in unproductive ways. Martyn said the suicide rate is way up. I think people are angry at their bosses, angry at Obama, angry at Cheney and Bush, angry at the ocean for wiping out Haiti, angry at mothers and fathers and neighbors. They're angry their fat and angry they're not rich enough or young enough, or old enough, or too old. They can't have an iphone NOW, and they get angry. They can't get to work fast enough, and they get angry. Angry people in tin cans full of gas....a lethal combination.

And I get angry too. I present things on this blog in tones of composure, because I choose too. I always feel grateful there was no internet/blogger when I was in my 20's-40's...I had less discipline for spilling my guts. I see so many people building entire careers and book deals on dreadful blogs and for me anyway, boring unmeaningful chatter. Um...I guess that can make me angry too. I bet there's a bunch of people that read my blog and for one reason or another, they get angry [like the woman that told me I was a scam artist for asking for cat food donations to help feed the then 25 ferels in our barn - she felt naming cats things like "Mister" Plum was manipulative.]

What do I get angry about? Junk cars in yards, the puppy won't come, I missed garbage day - again, my waistline is thickening and I have no control over it, my bank account is smaller than my to do list, total strangers asking if I'd lower the price on a $5 bundle of lavender that cost me and my back $25 to produce. Everyone wants a hand out, but I have my hand out too.

So yesterday, I admit, I was really depressed. I was down. I cried. I lost my temper with the puppy. That's pathetic. So I walked, and I talked to all the powerful sources I knew were right there in me and around me. And then I came back and said to myself, just paint what you want today, not what you 'should' to add to a portfolio that no one seems to have any use for in today's market.

And I painted this. It's just a little prayer for myself, all these paintings are. I'm no rock star illustrator, and probably never will be- but I put food on my table from my land. I do it without an iphone, or even an app. And I have a donkey, make that three donkeys. Yes, I have that. It's all mine. It makes me happy, not angry, and that's why I keep painting it over and over again.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pie Love: Pie for three, please


Visit Donkey Dreams blog to see all the pictures from today's Pie Picnic for Three.

The beauty of this day will be savored. The freedom I have to wake up and choose to bake a pie is not taken lightly. I have all my senses, and I chose to work in a field with my husband at my side..."for the exercise" I told him. It would make room for the pie, I secretly thought.

And at the proper moment, when my back hurt, I declared it pie time. I gathered up my little donkey, and I sit for 20 precious moments, on a warm, spring like day, with a pie, a husband and my muse.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mud moment


I can't seem to find words to describe the intense sensation when I look at this somewhat blurry, but very mystical photograph, taken today on the morning walk...so I think I shall take time to try to paint it's essence.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First aprons arrive!!!


The first aprons have arrived! It's always so fun to have the mail woman hand me a box for "Pino Blangiforti'. Now that the post office knows it's a donkey getting aprons, it's even more delicious.

The package of wonderful vintage aprons showed up unannounced from Helen Hoelck from Connecticut, so it was a surprise. We love surprises. Good ones anyway.

When I emailed Helen to thank her for the generous donation, I discovered we have other things in common She too has cared for stray cats and senior critters , including her beloved Yorki who lived to be 20 years old. And when she saw the links on the site, she graciously made a donation to Old Dog Haven. That is one of the great things about the networked world we live in, it can bring causes and people together. I'm happy Pino and the aprons had something to do with it. Helen had also just made a donation to Haiti, so, we wish we could feed her some pie. She is an artist who specializes in restoring dolls, and had planned to use the old aprons for her work - but was having a hard time cutting into them [know the feeling]. And when she saw a little donkey needed aprons for a pie party, well, that sealed their fate. Saved by a donkey!

Thank you, Helen. You are now an official Pino Ambassador.

Monday, January 18, 2010

How to help Pino for Pie Day 2010


1] Send an apron: either hand made or one you find in the antique/thrift shop, Include your name and website link, or email, and tag it onto the apron if it is handmade. Safety pinning a tag on is fine. And make sure you send your mailing address and email for Pino - he sends thank you notes.

2] Become a Pino Pie Ambassador: No matter where you live, you can help Pino. Collect 10 aprons from your friends or coworkers, schoolmates, and send them to Pino by June 21. I'll add a link here to your site. Send your mailing address because Pino sends Ambassadors a little gift later in the year.

3] Pennies for Pino's Porta Potty:. Pino needs a wheelchair access porta potty. Get your children involved collecting pennies for him. We fin d the kids just love the porta potty for some reason.

4] Volunteer at Pie Day: Pie servers to keep the table tidy. Depending on what help I get from friends and others, I might need general helpers, so let me know if you want to be on the "Pino Call" list.

5] Spread the word: Twitter, blog and Facebook about the event!

6] Donations: We aren't a 501c, but ewe gladly accept donations. Money is used to purchase pie ingredients, insurance, supplies and promotions. We also save some donations to help needy senior animals, or have private Pino Pie Parties for those needing cheer [like last year's Hospice Day].

7] Make a pie. Share it with an elderly neighbor or person. Then write Pino and tell him all about it.

Update: 2 new Pino Pie Ambassadors!

Pino's new Facebook Page is gaining awareness, and we have two people that have already stepped up to become Pino Pie Ambassadors for the 2010 Pie Day. They will each gather 10 aprons and send them to Pino, and these aprons, when sold, will help raise money for the cause.

We want to thank Sharon Stanley [and Jubell the donkey] and Karen Grell Suesens [and Ophelia the donkey].

To see how you canhelp Pino on his 2010 Pie Day, read more here..

Mud farming philosophy



When I lived in Minnesota, or other eastern cities, January met your feet felt like stiff boards pounding into an equally stiff earth. I remember often feeling a desperation that things would never grow again. It just seemed so impossible. That's why spring in the Midwest or east has incredible power over people's heads and hearts, and bodies. Twitterpation does not just happen to fawns in the woods, trust me.

In Oregon, I never have that sense of desperation. After all, it's January and small buds are on the trees, the Muscari are popping up and just last week Martyn brought me a branch of Sarcococca. But I do sometimes have a feeling that the mud will never be covered with grass again. I slosh through the sheep path to bring in my flock, and find them standing in their usual slop spot by the gate.

"Can't you stand on the grass so you'll lesson your chances of bacterial toe fungus?" I ask them.

"Who, us?" they bleat. "Just get us to our dry stall with that nicely scented pine bedding you lay down for us, thank you very much."

To be in your third trimester and having to stand in downpours, let alone mud, without a complaint, now that's a working woman.

So the Dirt Farmer and I took a brief time out on Sunday to watch the second half of the Viking game, a real treat since we never get to watch football. It was absolutely pouring outside, without one break, and by the time the game was over at 1, we still had an afternoon of tree planting to do. We brought home some Leylandii to plant on one of our property lines. We did one property line in Western Reds when we first moved here, but we failed to irrigate the first two years since we didn't have our tank set up from the river. Dirt farming mistake 101. We lost 10 trees out of 30, and had poor root growth. But now they are set and doing well.

Planting trees makes me so flippin' happy. Besides baking pie, or pushing my nose into the neck of any equine, planting a tree just makes my head fill with thoughts- like, imagining how old the tree will live, or imagining walking out to the tree when I'm really old and remembering the day I planted it and then that makes me think how that whole time period between now and when I'm old will be filled with events and stories, unknown to me at this moment. It's like the beginning of a mystery - you sense it's going to be juicy, but you don't know what will happen.

So this weekend, two fifty somethings slopped around in the mud most of the day, and because of their efforts, another 10 trees will grace the earth after their human bones turn to ash. We still have so much to do, but it feels like each week we take leaps and bounds. And with each leap, new ideas come and the challenge of creating them into a reality begin, making every day full, and vital. Reshaping this small piece of earth, establishing it as a safe harbor for those that walk and sleep within it's boundaries, it's good work despite the non existent paycheck. Unlike many of my colleagues I left behind years ago, I am not wealthy in cash, or bonds. But I have a lot of mud providing shelter for the earthworms who give their protein to my hens. One thing I've learned here. You can plant a lot of trees in the time it takes to watch 2 quarters of football.

"There's a comet in the sky tonight
Makes me feel like I'm alright
I'm movin' pretty fast, for my size"
Neil Young


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Muddy Morning


My morning walk with Muddy had the Dirt Farmer tagging along. I had told him he needed to come with us today, to witness the traditions Muddy and Huck are forming on their daily ritual. And he needs to have time to look down at the farm from the highest point, so he can feel small and big at the same time. The Savannah Oaks are now are wearing their best mossy coats, and the grass is yellow and amber mixed with a tinge of green in spots. The water can be heard under your feet, as it follows its own heart downward, downward, anticipating it's reunion with the Yamhill River.



Thursday, January 14, 2010

Donkey Diary 1.14.10

Announcing: 100 Artist Show


Each artist received a tin can [read below] to embellish or paint. I really wanted to cut my can open and make some kind of diorama, but after nearly cutting my wrist and finger tips, I was banished from can cutting by Martyn. I then had the brilliant idea of turning the can into ball [I won't even go into my idea], but after nearly smashing my finger tips, I stopped with the can smashed into sort of a flat dome shape. It had ridges on it too, not that conducive to certain techniques. I was sort of angry at that can, and the process. But I sat down and thought about what hunger , real hunger, would do to me. I wouldn't be able to focus, think or create. I've only experienced thirst and hunger on minute limited levels, and for those children and adults who are hungry, their day must be spent focused on hunger. After I eat, I'm nourished, and my ideas can float and be free. So that's what this smashed can means to me.

Read below to see how to bid on the piece, with proceeds going to Marion-Polk Food Share. Piece is acrylic, pastel, some collage, and a tin can. 8"x8". Created on 120# watercolor paper. Two small bolts allow it to be hung as is.

For the 7th consecutive year, during the month of February, the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery will be presenting their annual 100 Artists Show. Benefiting the Marion-Polk Food Share, the theme of this year’s show is “Nourish & Sustain” and appropriately, the 100 participating artists were each sent a large empty food can through the mail and were asked to use this as their starting point for their piece of art. Each can was sent “as is”, and was not packaged or boxed, but rather processed directly by the postal service firsthand. The stamps and addresses on the cans remain a part of the artwork for identification and for evidence of the actual mailing. Each artist, starting with the exact same object, has had over three months to transform, build, infuse, reduce, paint or reinvent the can into their own unique work of art.

The exhibit will open on Tuesday, February 2nd at 10:00 am pacific time. The public will be invited to bid on their favorite artwork via a silent auction that will run through Friday, February 26th at 5:30 pm pacific time. Beginning bids are $50.00 with minimum increments of $5.00 and a maximum purchase price of $300. The entire show will be posted online at Zeek Gallery site. Bids can be made in person at the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery or by calling 503-581-3229.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pino Pie 2010 Facebook Fan Page

I created a Facebook Fan Page for Pino Pie Day 2010 and encourage you to become a Fan, and spread the word. It will help raise money for the event and the wonderful causes we hope to help. I hope to people can feel free to share aprons they will send, or pie recipes, or ways animals have made them feel better.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

We all need each other


"Why hasn't she been taking pictures of my underpants?" I overheard Jane Morrison asking.

Yes, it's true, my duties as loving companion to many was inadequate all last week. Amidst all the Muddy Madness of the past 7 days, an entire barnyard of creatures continued on with life as usual, aware of the mushy goo goo talk going on at the Big House. There have been many direct hints that it was time for me to get back to my on-top-of-it care taking, versus my hi-guys-gotta-get-back-to-the-puppy-and-book schedule I was on . Not that any one was neglected. But my daily interactions in the barn had to be kept to a bare minimum this past week so I could not get my manuscript finished [which I did], but so I could also guide Muddy in his first week here. Both were necessary.

And it didn't come a day too soon. Arriving at Boone's stall this morning, I gasped. "What in heaven's name, Boone. Did you rock the house last night?" Boone lives in his own turn out stall, meaning he has the freedom to go in and out when he wants. He has a shade porch too so can stand outside but still be under cover from sun or rain. He has it made. He has chicken friends that dine with him, Frankie spends much of the day with him, and he chews on the backs of the rams who share a fence line. He gets a daily brush, one animal cracker a day if available, fresh hay and water from the sky. His feet are cared for by a good farrier and he gets eyeball massages regularly.

Now Boone's always been a tidy housekeeper, unlike many horses. He never poops in his stall, unless it's really raining hard for days. We've had fine weather, not poop-in-the-stall weather, and I was shocked to see his entire stall covered with some of Oregon's finest horse manure. He stuck his head out of the stall like he always does, and nickered, like he always does. And then he turned his big old butt around and pooped.

Man, you slack off for one week to help a puppy and that's the thanks I get.

So, I stood on the hay bales and made a grand declaration to every living creature there. "I am here for you, I never left. I have overcome my 106 Muddy fever, and I will rub your feet again, and your bellies."

As I cleaned Boone's stall, the air felt spring like, and damp. It smelled good to me, manure combined with damp grass and horse all mixed together. As Boone ate, I leaned into him and rested in silence for awhile. I'm lucky to have so much companionship that means so much to me. And I'm lucky I can feel love and give it out to living creatures and people - be it in a horse hug, an old goat massage, or a fresh home made pie.

Living isn't always a picnic in the park, but I need to be alive right now.

And as I left the barn? The three Janes ambushed me, bending over to show me their beautiful, puffy undergarments. I so wished I'd had my camera. Next time.

Pino's 'Call for Aprons'!



Stay tuned for the 2012 Call for Aprons - where every year people from all over the globe send vintage or handmade aprons to Pino as a donation for his annual Pie Day. The money from aprons sales is then donated to senior and/or needy creatures. A different animal charity is picked each year.

Call for Aprons!


It's now time to start sending in aprons for Pino's Pie Party 2010!!! Send vintage, homemade, adult, or child's. We put a $25-$35 price tag on all [I know many are worth so much more!] Include your name, email, address and website if you have one.

Aprons should be sent by June 21st if possible [Pie Day is set for Sunday, June 27th]. Send to Pino Blangiforti c/o Apifera Farm, 14710 NW Tupper RD, Yamhill, OR 97148.

Aprons? Donkeys? Pie? Pino the donkey wears aprons in his many stories, because aprons just sassy a fellow up, and they have pockets to carry important things- like hay twine, animal crackers and nails. You never know when you'll need any one of those things.

So readers and Pino fans send us aprons. Some are vintage, some are hand made. We hang them up on Pie Day and people can buy them for $25 [some are worth much more, but people understand it's all for a cause]. That money helps fund our efforts with senior creatures. It also helps us put on a private Pie Day later in the year. Last year we hosted a group of hospice workers to come eat pie, commune with donkeys and just enjoy themselves. I haven't picked a group to invite this year, but will post it here when I do [and if you are a worthy group, hospital, cancer clinic, etc in Oregon area, email me]. Pie Day is free to the public, and all the pie is handmade by me, fresh ingredients, to be shared with our guests.

Besides raising a little money for senior animals at organizations we try to help with print sales [Old Dog Haven and the donkey sanctuaries we are getting to know],this year I'll be sending a donation from Pie Day sales to our friends at New Moon Farm and Goat Rescue

You can see some of the aprons still left at Pino's Apron Gallery. And I encourage you to buy them and pass on the link, since money will go into this Pie Day, and our donations to others.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Muddy Madness Day 7

And so it has come this, my fever is breaking. It's a new morning, a new week full of all the possibilities for accomplishments, and failures. And what have we learned from this onset of fever? That new life is something to be grabbed onto, relished, watched, - not with envy- but with the clear belief that anyone of us, at any given age, can be happy just because we live.

Thank you, little Muddy wonder, for being with us.

"Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be."
Grandma Moses



Thursday, January 07, 2010

Muddy Madness Day 4's Double Dose!



Please, help me! Step-away-from-the-camera, Katherine....

Really, I'll refrain until...tomorrow. But when I saw these three images, I had to post one, and then each facial expression, each slight pose ever so different in a teeny way, I posted all three.

I think one week of Madness will do the trick.


Muddy Madness Day 4


Life is hard, so having the proper role model is important to a little fellow. Today's lesson in the "Huck's School for Little Me" - proper tail movement.

I went to vet today with Huck to get his shots. The vet took my vitals too and said things were subsiding somewhat, evening out. She recommends I ingest higher doses of sugar, combined with concentrated times with equines, smelling their necks to bring me closer to functioning Muddy love levels.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Muddy Madness Day 3: Mud Love


Learning to share one's favorite spot is a job of the elders. The One Eyed Pug's cushion by his studio fire is ample for two, or three, or more.

Other lessons learned today: if you get up from bed and go down the stairs at full speed, you're legs fly out all over the place and you fall on your head. However, getting up with such exhuberance screaming, "MY GOD!!!!IT"S A NEW DAY!!!!! GOOD GRIEF!!! ANOTHER DAY!!!!! LET'S GET GOING!!!!!!" should be applauded.

Post note: The vet took my vitals. He says the Muddy Madness fever is still coagulating or some medical term, but he feels soon, very soon, it will work itself to a normal balance and turn into traditional mushy love.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Muddy Madness Day 3: Mud on the Rocks


Today's lesson: every element of the earth has a sensation to be reveled in. A gravel road is no less desirable than a bed of fine Italian linen.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Muddy Madness: Day 2



It's hard work being 8 weeks old. Thank you, Muddy, for reminding me how exquisite the smells of the earth are, how fun it is to feel mud and play with leaves, how raindrops and bugs are like flying toys and how each day that front door opens it's just like a scene out of Wizard of Oz.

And to my readers, be gentle with me, I have been officially diagnosed by the vet with Muddy Madness. He suspects this bout might last a week or two. He suggests deep breaths, cat naps, and petting the many other animals to stay as grounded as possible.




Sunday, January 03, 2010

Apifera welcomes Muddy Waters



I'm not sure who is more handsome, the guy on the left, or the one on the right.

The long trip from Yamhill to Benton City, through the beautiful Columbia Gorge, was well worth the trip. After looking at the litter of 7 boys, we narrowed it to two pups, and as hard as it was to pick, I knew immediately this guy was the one. It's all in the feet for me. His personality was eager, non shy but non alpha.

And may I also say that Huck has been a wonderful, patient big brother so far. And Uncle Billy, well, he's charmed that the little pup licks his ears and eye lids.

To say you will see more of Muddy in the coming weeks is an understatement.

We adore him.