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

©K.Dunn. All rights reserved.




Monday, August 21, 2017

Apiferian eclipse

They were very creative in creating their eyewear protection.

I will report back later. I am spending the eclipse in the barnyard with the animals.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Are you distracted?

I've been talking to a lot of people about the current climate and news cycle being such a distraction to the creative spirit. I am never in a creative flow in August, but I do start getting percolations and the itch to be in my studio once I feel autumn coming. There is so much to do on the farm in summer that my writing and art take a bit of a backseat.

But the current world situation and the constant chaos in our country right now really has a lot of people feeling agitated and ungrounded. We are charged up in many ways but I for one am now going to make an attempt to tweak how I go about the day. I've fallen into the habit of checking news online a million times a day like an addiction. This is not necessary, and certainly isn't really helping me in any way. This happened after 9/11 too and I remember people were being encouraged to step away from the TV. There was no Facebook [oh how glorious!] but still we became addicted to checking the TV to see if anything else had happened.

I am lucky I have so many chores. It grounds me to go the barn and work with the animals twice a day, muck stalls, carry buckets, look at trees and faces. Today I noticed the shifting sounds of the seasons-fall is upon us and I love fall more than any other season. The leaves sound different when the wind blows this time of summer and the insects are rabid right now-to get as much biting and blood in so they can lay eggs before dying.

The animals are not impressed with news nor do they need it. They have no idea the turmoil we are in right now. They don't fear global war or white supremacists or leaders lacking in morals or empathy. But I do. Can my art change any of it? I don't think so. I think all it can do is calm me, and maybe others. If I'm calm at least half the day, I can project the best parts of me to the world-which means standing up for the downtrodden, or speaking up when I see something that is racist or unfair. Not checking news all the time doesn't mean I will shut up. We can not be silent.

I've been doing more morning walks with Muddy. He knows when I put on my Muck boots I'm going to the barn but when I put on my walking shoes he gets to walk down to the sea's internal cove with me. He just is so happy when I put on the walking shoes and looks so disappointed when I put on the Mucks.

In this small way-walking with my dog, being engulfed in the Queen Anne's Lace, feeling the dampness of the fog-I am reminded of one thing-I'm of Nature, and Nature is not evil. It might throw a storm our way and take down a tree or flood our villages with mud and rock-it can kill us without motive or ego. But as part of Nature, I'm reminded on my walks that I breathe from the ground up, the air comes from a spiritual space and allows me to live. I do not breathe from the heart of ugly, misinformed people and I will not let their hate or bigotry drown out my creative spirit.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

14 years ago..."I do..."

It seems like a lifetime ago, but also very close to now-that gathering 14 years ago today, amongst so many family members now gone...it was a beautiful day amongst our gardens, in our side by side houses where we met one year earlier, me having just moved to Portland, Oregon. I met Martyn the first day I was in my house, he came a calling to meet me because he had heard we had the same last name. I never told anyone, I didn't even put that in the memoir, that I knew I'd marry him when I shook his hand, but I did. We became friends and then a couple within months-much to the irritation of a few people I'd met there who said, "You can't date the first guy you meet!" Um, yea, I can, sod off. We married on year after meeting, age 44. Anyway, the cake was lemon poppy seed, we had salmon thanks to my mother who insisted I could not have a hot dog machine, which was my choice. We walked into the little patio outside to canned music-Doc Watson "You Are My Special Angel". I wore sparkly $20 flip flops and Martyn had that sweet, crooked bow tie. He still fits in his wedding pants...I've grown a bit, but it's nice to look back and see that younger version of me, pre-Apifera looking so shiny.

It's been a great ride and I hope for many more years of health so I can be with my best friend. I don't take it for granted.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Animal Conversations: The llama speaks, doesn't she?

Birdie popped her head into the barn the other morning, while I was finishing some cleanup of hay spread by sloppy chewers, and then she departed as quickly as she had appeared. I took this to mean she was just letting me know she was getting out to the field again. the flock comes and goes from the larger field this time of year, they get to eat there in the day and the equines eat there at night. This time of year rotating fields is even more important with the grass beginning to fade.

I didn't think much of it. I had to water the vegetable garden so followed her outside and there she was, standing with the small flock, calmly. White Dog was already out doing his daily periphery check of the fence, his morning obsession and of course his job.

I stood and watched.

You know I have a vivid imagination–we aren't a Disney movie but I have many moments in my life including when I didn't live on a farm, where the scene in front of me comes with a soundtrack, or maybe another way to look at it is I am always seeing scenes as story with sub titles. Every minute of the day can be a story. I get great amusement out of my minute by minute stories here on the farm, or comfort, and sometimes even clarity about internal struggles. The animals I guess are conduits of perspective just like a good Shakespeare play.

The sheep had gathered at the newly opened gate, saw Benedetto had run down to the bottom of the fence line to make sure there weren't any prehistoric elephants or bears and they began to gather themselves into a tidy line, just like I used to do as I entered a subway car in Manhattan decades ago, preparing myself to get in line to get the seat to get to the office.

But it wasn't until they were in a tidy line that Birdie turned her head to them, ever so slightly but deliberately and if there had been a sub title in a Disney movie, she would have said,

"Slowly, one at a time, go on now."

And as I turned to go back tot he house I heard the faintest voice of the smallest sheep voices call out to Birdie,

"Llama! Look, I'm fourth in the line today instead of last!"

"Good work, Sylvia, good work," the llama said.







Monday, August 14, 2017

Trying times for all

The sun rises and sets, still...
These are very trying times both politically and emotionally for most Americans. The underbelly has always been here, waiting to rise up without white cloaks or masks this time, and they have found the perfect moment in history to do so. I have been depressed about it all, and angry, all of it, the killing, and the racial injustices that are still going on, the threat of war by someone not capable of leading, the lack of dignity bashing us in the face everyday like the country has become one non ending blaring AM radio station.

There have been some spot on opinion pieces of late. I just hope people read them. I'm afraid we are all reading what we want to read to justify our own opinions. I wonder how the ignorance is being educated out of some people that don't know they are ignorant, and that would include this administration and his followers. Anyone who stands with this President needs to look in the mirror. Anyone who is white in this country needs to look in the mirror too, all of us.

Perhaps one of the best things I've read in the past day was this piece, and I urge everyone to take time to read it. Take some breaths. Some people will feel agitated and uncomfortable with what is said. But my hope is that in this turmoil we are in, still in and bound to be in for many months and years to follow, my hope is the underbelly of America be exposed for what they are.


But each day, for now, the sun still rises and sets. I focus on that, the nature all around me. The animals and my work give me hope when I allow it too, when I remind myself not to wallow in muck created by hateful people. But that muck abounds, and we need to stand up against it and hold our leaders accountable for their words and actions, and lack of words and actions.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Opie the Love Ambassador

Opie was in true loving form on our visit this week to our elder friends. The day was warm with a breeze and we sat outside under the tent. I have to say, Opie is presenting himself as a very intuitive therapy goat-which was what I was hoping for when I found him. He is very calm with the elders, and even almost fell asleep again with one of them. I truly believe he senses they are not as strong as other people he knows. He sits calmly in their lap and doesn't fidget. An elder's skin can be tender so I'm careful about that, not wanting his hooves to break skin, but so far he understands his mission is to commune.

I am really having a good time getting to know these people. I told them all I wanted to learn all their names better, so Thursday I practiced and now have their faces in my mind when I repeat the names: Joe, Richard, Sylvia, Evelyn, Ruth, Jean, Mary and Mary.

We also talked about getting everyone a photo of Opie for their rooms, they liked that. The people at this residence are of varying degrees of physical limitations and backgrounds. I found out that Jean is the resident dancer, even though she walks hunched over with a walker. I am going to explore that more next visit. Joe always has questions about the farm and other things-but they show a man still very engaged in the living world. Evelyn calls Opie "Darlin'" and says he's so cunnin'. Both Marys are quiet but there is a life under there, a history. Richard seems to like cards better than Opie but that is okay. Ruth is funny under a quiet front and Slyvia just is so proud when Opie sits on her lap. We all remembered last visit how Opie seemed to go right to her and he sat with her and fell asleep. Eventually, he made his way to her again this visit, and she just looked so pleased.

I do not like to talk down to elders, or talk to them like they are children, or only talk about happy thoughts; nor do I talk to children like they are invalids or babies. I'm taking my time exploring the people at the residence, but this last visit I felt we were starting to really get to know each other. I also think they realize I am committed to coming to see them regularly and that means something. The days get long for an elder, even one with a good life and caretakers.

I really loved the photos where you can see their beautiful hands. I like to visit when I'm there, and don't want to sit there snapping photos. But I had to take some, and am working on getting each of them a photo.

We also talked about making sweaters for Opie-he actually doesn't need one to stay warm, but I thought it would be fun to get him a traveling wardrobe-he is just as worthy of one as the Von Trap children, don't you think? I'm thinking an autumn sweater, and then a holiday one. I'm not one to dress up animals, but Opie is about the town now and will enjoy it I think. I know my pug does.

Apifera Farm is a non profit in the state of Maine and a pending 501c. Our mission is to not only help special needs/elder creatures but to share them with our elder and needy people that need recognition and love. You can help support our efforts here.




Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Cat Heaven

"Cat Heaven"

He found her again, looking just as he knew her to look, and now they were reunited, forever, in their own cat heaven just a leap from his old home.

{This piece is available at the shop, and I do have a payment plan}

Monday, August 07, 2017

Muddy and Kevin, or is it Fred?

You might recall last winter Muddy lost his beloved frisbee, Fred, in a snowball. It was a scary time for Fred who stuck it out until spring. Of course before the thaw, along came a gift for Muddy, and his name was Kevin.

So I don't know if this is Fred or Kevin, but Muddy still has a strong friendship with both of them.

You can see the animated movie about Muddy and his beloved frisbee friends here >


Saturday, August 05, 2017

Arms of The Sea, May Sarton, E.B. White and me

I'm finding that the Maine Apifera is so very different than the Oregon one. And of course it is, it has to be, it was meant to be different, not only for our evolution as Martyn and Katherine, but because all things have a time and place, and life is fluid.

I can't quite pinpoint what we and this place evolving into...yet. I mean, I know we will care for elder and special needs creatures like we did out West, I know I am a writer and artist and will always be an artist, and Martyn continues to landscape...I know all that. But it is different. And regenerations of self take time to show their true faces. I'm not worried. It's a nice thing of being 59 versus 44 [my age when we moved to the first Apifera], with age and the coming of the final quarter of my life comes more patience. Me? Patient? Well, much more than as a young, alabaster skinned woman.

I also remember when we moved to the Oregon farm, my illustration career was shifting wildly [as were many in the field] and I was evolving myself as an artist-it was scary and exciting. That is what is going on now. I had just started writing-in my head-and it wasn't until about two+ years into the farm that I started finding myself again, and started my blog and writing in earnest. So much happened.

But there is a quietness to this place, more so than out West. We had fog back there and I loved it [except driving in it of course] but the fog here is different. We can see the sea's beginning rivers and bays across the road and I think of the fog here as an extension of The Sea's arms, wrapping me, pushing me down to rest at times, covering my animals and barns when they need to be protected. The Sea and I are just beginning to communicate-or I am just beginning to listen to her.

I was turned on to the books of May Sarton back when I was living in Minneapolis, and I was seeking a country life-somehow. Two years later I'd be living in Portland, meeting Martyn, and then living on a farm, finally, a year later. And here I am in Maine. The other day I picked up one of the May Sarton books and skimmed some of it. Her writing had a huge impact on me-for one, it made me want to write and eventually I did. It also was giving me the inspiration and courage to keep looking for my place of solitude, my country home. May Sarton had left her New Hampshire home that she loved, after feeling compelled, pushed to by internal forces to find a place more remote or protected, and she ended up by the sea in Maine. I had forgotten she moved to Maine! And it just struck me so hard-that even back then Maine was in my front window, it was in my soul and little messages were being planted in my highway map.

Back in Oregon, about three years before we moved to Maine, I picked up a copy of a book about E.B.White and how he wrote "Charlotte's Web". I was fascinated by it because it showed how in his real life things were happening that became part of the book. To a non writer that book might be boring, I loved it. But again, Maine was in my forecast.

I also had a teeny flash as I was looking at the May Sarton book that perhaps I will end up even closer to the sea.

Friday, August 04, 2017

A blanket from the earth for Tony

I took this photo right after we brought Tony's body home. The fog had come in from the sea and it was almost like Earth was giving me a blanket for him before his burial. It was really beautiful.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

"Mama Kitty is waiting for you, be off now, Big Tony..."

We had a sad goodbye last night. A thunderous one we knew was coming.

Big Tony was ready to take his solo walkabout after being with us all these many years, the father of so many Apifera cats. He lived a long life of twenty, eighteen with us.

It is a poignant death for us and it seems to come at a time when we're being reminded almost daily that life does not sit around in the past, it moves forward, and with that forward motion comes many things, including goodbyes. Tony had a magnificent life, let's not forget that. He arrived at the old Apifera, sauntering by me one day when we had first arrived, he barely acknowledged me and seemed to have no motive for being there-he was just cool as a cucumber. It was at the same time we discovered kittens falling [literally] from the hay bales. I set out to trap the kittens when they were old enough to be spayed and neutered, but could not catch the elusive mama. She would have another litter in short course, and it was only then I could catch her too. All the cats lived out their lives at Apifera, most living past ten.

But of all the cats I thought I'd catch first in the trap, I never thought it would be that big old tomcat. I had only seen him a few times, he came and went, but when I went out the first day to inspect my trap, there he lay, completely content sunning in the cage, his Star Kist tuna fresh in his belly. After we brought him back from the vet a day later, I let him out in the barn. It was only a matter of days before he started coming to the front porch. Back then, it was pretty wild and au naturelle at Apifera, we had no screens and bats, raccoons and birds would often find there way into the summer living room. So I guess Tony figured out it was a friendly place. I first brought him inside one night while Martyn sat watching television, figuring I'd warm him up to a cat in the house. Martyn had asthma and said we could never have a cat in the house, nor did he want one. Within a few days, Tony was sitting near Martyn on the couch, enjoying PBS News Hour. Big Tony was the icebreaker for the man who didn't want cats, and in adored a one pound kitten named Itty who slept under the covers with him. He also adored Tony, everyone did who knew him.

When he went to the vet-which was often in the early years-the staff would do their best Tony Soprano impersonations and yell out,

"Big Tony!"

We called him the Millionaire Dollar Cat back then because he had teeth work and stone work done, once leaving him in the hospital for ten days-donations from my followers helped me pay those bills, as well as spay/neuter and care for the clan of twenty five cats that lived in the barns.

Tony is a survivor. How many semi feral cats get to live bi coastal in their life-and let's not forget, he saw America in that six day journey across the States, while piglets slept under his perch.

Tony is symbolic to us in many ways, much like Huck was. He represents the beginnings of the first Apifera, the energy of the beginning there, and all the serendipity and magic that just happened by opening the front door. He fathered at least 10 cats, but for sure more. In fact, we think Samuel Noel was related to him.

Tony tolerated everything-vets, young kittens, puppies, goats, chickens...he was a cat's cat. He was not cloying, he was not a lap sitter. But he liked his people, and he liked our company. We encouraged him to get a paper route because his special food we had to buy him from Canada was $58/#18 bag. He never took us up on a part time job, but he was really good at retirement. As he aged, he softened even more and began to talk more, not a lot, just greetings at night in the bed. He began to sleep on my pillow, above my head at some point, and it required me to get more pillows for my own comfort. After we moved to Maine, after we suffered the jolting, unexpected loss of Itty who chose to stay behind, I found great comfort in Tony. At night, he would still sleep above my head, but I would find him with his head laying on my hand, and sometimes I'd sleep with my fingers wrapped around one paw. I told him back then, a year or more ago, when I was struggling through the story book I was creating about Itty, a painful time for me,

"I should be writing a book about you. You're still here." He responded with tail swishes-real slow and graceful swishes-and non blinking eyes.

he had a beautiful colored nose. I had tried to capture it by mixing up my paints, but never really captured it. Somethings can only be seen as they are in real life, not through a lens or a palette. How many mornings did I wake up and see that beautiful copper colored nose, the color of an autumn leaf not quite fully browned from age.

We knew this week we would have to put him down, but gave him some time hoping he might just fall asleep. I of all people should know better. As his conditioned weakened, we made the drive last night to help him on his way, not wanting him to have seizure or any discomfort.

I took these photos of him yesterday when we knew it was our last daylight together. He used to be a twenty pounder...His face showed a cat ready to rest eternally. His hind end had become very weak in the past days, so I carried him from the bed to his favorite basket. Muddy joined in, and Hughie came by too-it was not usual for me to be there in the day where we gathered at night, but they knew this was one of those occasions where quietness is preferred and something momentous was occurring, but this something was okay.

It would be okay.

I took another photo and when I looked at it, it was so beautiful, like the light I had let come down into the lens made his body begin to fade.

I'd been telling him all month, if you see Mama Kitty, don't worry about us, just go. I like to think of him and Mama reunited. This is the human in me. He might be doing nothing, or other things that are non of my business. When we used to get up in the morning, he'd have his breakfast, and then head out to the porch, where Mama would appear from the garden, and wrap her body and tail around him. He never showed affection to her in the same way, but he sat with her, and let her wrap around him. And she never allowed anyone to touch her, in fact, hardly anyone had ever seen her but me and Martyn.

Right before he went under at the vet's last night, I said two words to him,

"Mama Kitty."




Tuesday, August 01, 2017

A chat with a cat

"What will you do today," asked I.

"I shall sit here up high," the cat said.

"But what else as the morning wears on?" asked I.

"I shall sit here some more and watch clouds pass."

"But what will you do after hours of this?" asked I.

"I don't think in hours," said the cat.


Apifera has been home to more than 25 cats at once-back at the old farm. Now in Maine, we have created a special room for elder cats to live, and in time it will also include the upper loft where they can roam and at times meet visitors. We currently have three resident elders, Anna, Tigger and Yume and plan to bring more elders on board soon.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Great Wall of Earnest

Time has flown by since my last post. Be patient with me..I was busy building a wall for Earnest. I guess I let the situation take over my life, and Martyn's, as all of a sudden it is Monday and I last left you on Thursday.

One thing led to another.

I started out just enjoying a soft breeze in one of the pastures when I noticed a large red and black mass running in the back wood area, out of the fenced in pastures.

Earnest...I gasped inside my head.

And in hot pursuit, his trusted sidekick, Marcella.

It was the end of the day, I was not in the mood to do this, but if Earnest made his way around the entire groomed path he was on he would end up near the front road, a busy road full of people careening up to beach destinations, their stomachs full of lobster rolls and beer, unfamiliar with moving red and black masses. I felt that panic feeling when an animal occasionally gets out. It had less consequences at our old farm, but not here.

Fortunately Martyn was home too and heard me screaming for Earnest. He usually comes to me but he had wanderlust in his heart. I could hear him singing that old childhood favorite song of mine,

"I love to go a 'vandering and a 'vandering we'll go..."

Marcella was near the road, she was casing the joint, she's been wanting to do that for a year now. Martyn met up with her and held her while I followed behind Earnest on his little walk-about. He was just thrilled and was moving at a fast clip, which for him takes a lot of energy due to his shape. I figured if we trotted the 1500 or more feet to Marcella, we could walk her back to the barn and he'd hopefully follow. Instead, we led Marcella behind Earnest and he moved at a quick clip back to his escape hatch.

So, that is what I've been doing for days, with Martyn's help of course. We are blessed with tons of midden walls of rock, piled up like boundaries from many years. Most properties you drive by here have rock walls. We had opened up another section of the back wood near Earnest's barn, to be cleared and to give more roaming room for the goats, and the Earnest and gang. Pigs can easily lift up a fence from the bottom. We had stupidly bought a type of pasture fence that really is not great for pigs, but we were trying to save a buck. Anyway, we made a rock wall to secure the bottom and hope that will keep everyone inside, I think it will.

I continued on with my night chores and when I got back to Earnest's barn some twenty minutes later, he was already fast asleep.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Opie the therapy goat: on the road again

Opie and I went into Wiscasset this morning to visit our new friends at an elder care home. The weather was iffy so we were invited inside to the living area which Opie seemed enamored by. The old house has very long windows, from floor to ceiling so Opie could see the cars going by on the city street outside. He seemed very transfixed by that for awhile.

We all noticed how calm and quiet he was today, sitting on laps and at one point almost dozing off. He was content to sit still and not wiggle. We pontificated what he did last night to make him so sleepy, but in my head, I wondered if he knew that we all needed some calm.

"We want him to be himself," said one resident.

Mary in the floral dress is the quietest resident and last visit she said not one peep, nor did she smile. Today, there were some faint smiles, and as we all conversed a bit about if anyone had lived on a farm or had animals in their past, she said,

"Cow."

Opie is proving to be a natural. They really like having the animals visit. There is a cat that comes once in awhile, and his picture is framed in the room. I might have to get an Opie photo over there. I'm trying to think of special things I can do to make our visits even better, but today I realized there is one thing that matters most-that we care to go visit. That is what they feel-we wanted to come visit, take time and just sit with them. I think Opie understood that–he could just be himself and rest with them, didn't have to jump around and do acrobatics, he just had to be present in his little pint sized goat body.




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Do you remember a place up high in the sky?


I've noticed since the head injury I've had wandering thoughts of youth, and places I've lived. Perhaps my brain is putting things back into proper order, kind of like sweeping up after a light wind storm {I'm doing just fine, by the way}. A couple weeks after the accident, when I was okay to drive again, I had this intense hankering for salami sandwiches with toasted bread and Durkee sauce-this was a family favorite as I grew up. I also had a craving for liverwurst. So I bought both and relished it.

We rarely if ever buy any processed meats, but I enjoyed each sandwich. I decided, besides my body asking for it, it was also my mom stopping in after my accident-lending a comforting nod my way-

"Make yourself a sandwich, with Durkees," she'd say.

I found this photo stuck in some papers yesterday. It was taken in 1963 on Goodrich Avenue in St. Paul in the Crocus Hill area. I loved that house, and neighborhood. It was my second all time favorite place that we lived. It was a big old house, in a diverse neighborhood made up of middle class working people-professors, families, doctors and others. Today we could never afford that neighborhood but I'm so glad we got to live there. I could roam the sidewalks and although I wasn't supposed to, I often ended up at the bakery or hardware store on Grand Avenue. Back when everyone knew everyone-my father would take me to the bakery each Sunday and I'd always get extras since I was so stinking cute with my curly, fire red hair. There were lots of Catholic schools around and nuns were always walking on the streets. I was fascinated with nuns, and i clearly remember meeting one on the street, with my mom. My mom was horrified because I asked the nun if she was a dinosaur [I was four or five]. For years I tried to explain to my mother that when I first got my Madeline books, Miss Clavel the nun reminded me of a dinosaur, but in a good way-I also had a dinosaur doll and thought it looked like a nun in a habit.

We had this simple treehouse in the backyard, an old door with steps up the tree trunk made of simple boards. There was a rope too to climb down. We spent lots of time there. I remember it being way high up in the tree and am glad I can't see it today, I prefer to remember it as the palatial palace I thought it was.

I wanted to bring my little poodle up in it. So I tried all these ways to get her up there–carrying her up, nope, that didn't work; putting her in a basket and trying to hoist it up with a rope-nope, that didn't work; and finally, I tied a rope around her collar and started pulling. My brother knew this was wrong [I was only five] and he got my mom who put an end to that. That poor little dog, she followed me everywhere and was so forgiving. My motives were pure.

Those seemed like simpler times. But in reality, my little heart was often scared or broken back then-like watching my mother sob in front of the black and white television screen when JFK died. I didn't understand the event, but I understood my mother was sad.

The glory days are wonderful to think of, but if you transplanted yourself to such a place, you would still be a human-a flawed, sometimes terrified human in a big world of chaos as well as beauty. I was lucky to have a loving home and family, an education and parents that sacrificed so I could go to good schools.

But often, it's the simplest things that make us put something in our past on a pedestal. I guess that treehouse is like that-it was a place we could be free, be kids, and we were't afraid of falling, and we didn't need cushions or tv's, or helmets. We had no idea what is store as the years went on, and it didn't matter. We pretty much lived for the day for a short period of time.

Rabies shots for all Apiferians

There was a reporting of a rabid skunk not far from here, that attacked two dogs-who were up to date on rabies so are being watched but will be fine. In Oregon, there were not many rabies incidences and we were not required to give shots to the farm animals. When we moved to Maine, we had to make sure all the dogs and cats were up to date, which they were.

I've talked to a lot of farm people here and it is obviously a big expense to have a farm vaccinated for rabies. I was told about a sad incidence where a woman had to relinquish her entire small fiber flock. A vet has to come to the farm and give rabies shots, you can not administer it yourself. So last year, I opted to do all the dogs again, of course, but also we did the donkeys and Boone, and Birdie.

This year I think it is proper to get everyone vaccinated due to the incident just a mile or so away. It will be expensive, but if we can show that we have a history of consistently staying on top of the rabies shots, we should be safe in case anything happens.

So donations are greatly appreciated. We also just brought in 10 tons of hay and our coffers are bare! Help out of if you can, and we thank you very much.

Apifera Farm is a registered non-profit in Maine with pending 501c status.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Don't get attached to..hair

I heard that a long time ago, when I was maybe a teenager-I can't remember where or when or who said it, but the gist was that too many girls and women get attached to outward appearances - such as long hair. It made an impression on me. The hair becomes an entity of its own. I remember some young actress, I forget her name but can see her, a pretty redhead with hair a lot like mine-curls, thick and long. One day, she cut it off in a pixie. Her producer went nuts, and many fans of the show became downright incensed she had the nerve to cut her beautiful hair off. But she said it had become too much of a drain, it had overcome her as a person. She felt like her 'hair' was front and center and everything behind it was invisible to others.

When I was little, my mom made me keep my hair cropped. Eventually at about sixth grade, she allowed me to grow my hair. I mean, she wasn't a tyrant about it, she told me that if I kept my hair short it would grow thicker, and since she had thin hair I suppose she believed this. I really didn't care, I thought my hair was horrid no matter short or long-I was teased on the bus and called "curly fungus, "rusty" and "carrot head".

In my twenties, it was the first time I remember realizing my hair was kind of nice. And I kept it long, then chopped it off and grew it back each time.

It's just hair.

When I moved the farm, it was easier to just always have it in my braid clumps. I never wore real braids, just banded clumps. My hair has gone from a true ginger red, to strawberry blond-mouse brown on the top and reddish blond on the bottom. I'm tired of dabbing color on the top , it's beginning to look...like it's trying to hard at something.

Hair becomes such an anchor for women, much more than men I think. There was a time when women were shamed for cutting it off. Imagine that.

Anyway, I chopped my hair clumps off today. It's the beginning of something I think. It is different than cutting it in my younger years. I've been giving myself haircuts for years now since it's too expensive for me to get it cut, and since I wear it in clumps what difference does it make. Every now and then I went in to have it leveled up, or have some color added to it but ti always felt like a decadence and waste of money once i moved to the farm.

I just suddenly -in the past couple months- I felt tired by it all, weighted down, like it was out of step with my head and heart. I think this entire journey of the late 50's has started to settle, and I'm coming more into the understanding of what the reality is in front of me–I look older, or I look like I'm going on 60 not fifty, my neck and face have lost that perk and wrinkles are there, and puffy skin comes and goes with the weather. But for some reason my long braid clumps needed to get chopped off today. I'm taking the 5" braid clumps and I'm going to make a wig for the puppet-he'll like that.

I took this first chop and  realized it was quite daring of me, but I didn't even hesitate. I'd never chopped this much off without a real hair stylist. But I just thought,

What can go wrong? It's just hair.

I had an image all week of my long hair clumps becoming little shorties. And now I have that.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Light on Pig and Pup, squeals and understanding

Back when Marcella first arrived as an eight week old pup, she took a shine to the newly arrived piglet, Earnest. Many of you enjoyed those early months of Pig and Pup, going everywhere together, whether the pig wanted the pup by his side or not. He put up with so much from that pup. It was charming and funny, over and over.

Their relationship remains strong but has evolved like all relationships do. Right now they are both going on four and I would say they are in their early 'let's get our boundaries rehearsed' stage as far as behavior. Earnest could kill Marcella if he really wanted to with his tusks and strength. She could also do some damage on him if she felt she needed to. When I feed Marcella in the morning, I also feed some of the goats, and Earnest, away from Marcella. The game for Marcella is to eat her dog food as fast as she can so she can then go to Earnest's food, and Earnest's game is to eat as fast as he can so he can steal goat food. The three goats in that paddock-Moose, Goose and Wilbur eat as fast as they can so they can go out to the grazing area and leave the grown Pig and Pup sideshow. By the time I've left that barn to go out and feed equines, Benedetto, grumpy pig and sheep, I usually hear the screams of Earnest and barks of Marcella. To the passing stranger, this might sound scary and severe-but it is not. People need to live with animals to understand their language. Pigs scream, often, they have a very big vocabulary of screams that can mean anything from

"I'm scared, or I'm dying, to I have my head stuck in a fence. They also have various levels of grunts and squeals to equate joy, happiness, or 'get out of my way that's my food dish". When Earnest screams in the morning, I know he is telling Marcella to bud out, and he is usually saying it as he runs from her–for Marcella is still and will always be, I suspect, the alpha.

But then later in the day I go to visit, and there they are, together, bathed in afternoon light, quiet and content. I sit down to give Earnest belly rubs, and over comes Marcella, she always comes to me in the barns and paddocks. There is a bit of,

"Pet me first," from her, but not in an aggressive way. Since she came to me as a pup, we have a strong relationship and understanding of accepted and non accepted behavior. She challenged me a lot in the first couple years but has matured, and I have to say, as a caretaker of a Maremma, so have I. I respect that dog like no other I've had-for her ability to cause me harm, but also her ability to sense danger and when something isn't 'quite right.'

I love seeing them in light from the heavens.


Monday, July 17, 2017

It's another episode of The Very Bad Haircut!

I'm notorious in the barnyard for my raggedy haircut skills. Not only have I taken to whacking off my own hair clumps when needed [soon to happen], I also am in charge of giving haircuts to Martyn and anyone else that needs one...like the llama.

I could pay $35 and have a guy come do it, but I actually like doing it. I will use the fiber for Birdie Bird Balls so a non sheered hair cut is just fine with me. However, it takes me a couple days because I use scissors, and I do her body first then her neck, and then rest couple days and do her legs, which she hates. So right now the llama is walking around with a poodle cut on her neck and body and goofy untrimmed legs and belly.

I figured there was no point in a tight sheer since it is almost August.

I apologized to her for the non Ms. Universe styling job but she didn't care. And it's fun to see her spots come out again. She left the barn and Benedetto greeted her immediately, he was very enamored with her new look, and walked with her side by side for some time.

"That's a pretty bad haircut, but you are still beautiful," I heard him say.

And they trotted off to a dusting spot together for a good roll.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

A miracle at Apifera! Rosie the pig explores the countryside!

Rosie venturing out of her comfort zone
No matter your religious beliefs, it is nice to experience a miracle or two in one's lifetime.

And a miracle has occurred here at Apifera.

I went out to do morning feedings and did a double take in the sheep field. Rosie was grazing with them. Now this might not seem like such a big deal to many of you, but it is, it really is.

You see, her royal highness has not left her private suite and paddock for over a year, and back in Oregon she had not left her Old Barn suite to even go out and get some sunbaths. If you've been following along, you know that The World's Grumpiest But I'm Fine As I Am Pig has very particular needs-sunscreen for her tender skin, just the right bedding so as to help her dream state, and privacy. But in the last months we are seeing her blossom in her older age, to flirting through the fence with Earnest, and to venturing outside more and more in her private paddock.

In the last few days, I've left the gate into Her Most Tender One's paddock open, because there is so much long grass and I wanted the sheep to eat it down-her pigness just doesn't graze fast any more and sleeps most of the time. I left the gate open in the past days since Rosie just doesn't venture out and that way the sheep could come and go.

But there she was, enjoying her grass this morning far from her comfort zone.

We think Rosie is pretty much blind. I think she still has her hearing, and her hind end is arthritic or appears to be so she doesn't move very fast. She's always had an odd walk for a pig. It was so nice to see her out and I decided to let her be, but checked on her mid day to see if she was okay, since she can't see. I found her in the sheep barn with the flock, looking like she really wanted to find her sleeping spot. So I went and guided her to her suite.

There was a time when I thought Rosie had come to a point where life wasn't good for her anymore. I feared the trip to Maine and the winters here might do her in-but no way would I rehome her because I don't think there are many people who delight in grumpy pig needs. And once I commit, I commit. She had lost some weight and her skin was having issues. She was so grumpy for those last couple years in Oregon, no vet could really work on her. I had one though that knew pigs well and always came to my aide and we always got a chuckle out of it all. We had to get a microchip in her for the trip and that was a challenge but we did it. She had a great trip out in her private sleeping chamber, and I think the summers here are better on her since it isn't as dry. Her skin is looking good and her weight is a better. Next spring she will be ten. That is getting up there for a pig.

So Rosie had a good day. I hope she has many more. She is some pig.

Even the sheep greeted her




Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Little Garden I love

Martyn and I do something very well together-create gardens. Our fist gardens were in our side by side houses in Portland, Oregon, where we met. I had started my raggedy garden in my own way, and Martyn-an experienced landscaper for some 20 years, became part of that garden after we became friends and then a couple. It was there Martyn learned that sometimes certain weeds-like Queen Anne's Lace-are a welcome addition to the garden, and I learned the beauty of grasses and other plants I'd never known in Minnesota. I learned to see plants as textures as well as colors.

Martyn also showed me the beauty of rock walls with sedums and herbs, something I love to watch him create. He has learned that sometimes a mass planting of one type of plant is a welcome addition to the garden, versus always going for the mix of species.

So in time, we blended our styles.

Our little private garden is more compact than in Oregon, as is our farm even though it is 29 acres versus 22 acres out West. I have grown to cherish it and my misty eyes when thinking of the more ranch setting out West do not come to me that much. This is our home now.

I was also happy to transplant wild daisies, Black Eyed Susans, Queen Anne's Lace and Feverfew form the outer fields. I just love giving existing plants a new life somewhere-versus getting eaten down by the animals out in the fields.

We are working on the front area too, which will be a place of gardens and an area for visitors to enjoy nature, flowers and animals. All this is happening this year, I hope. We will be putting up a shelter out front for visitors and I want to have a separate holding paddock for Pino, Opie and other animals that will be able to commune with guests and elders or special needs people-which is part of the mission of the forming Apifera 501c.

In the meantime, the garden is lovely, and only a year old. We welcome the summer rains here, and our well water is much better here than out West-for that we are truly blessed. I am glad I had to live for a long time in a drought area, in order to respect water more. So many don't, they turn on a faucet and don't think about it. Even though we have great water, we still treat it like it could be gone tomorrow. But I often think of the West when I work in the garden or water the animals, and I'm glad we are here.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Birdie knows

Birdie has been overly attentive to me since I had my accident. There are skeptics out there, I'm sure, that will say it is because she might be in heat. There is some merit to this argument-when I went to the llama farm in Oregon to pick out a llama, Birdie was under 6 months then, and she came right up to me and was overly amorous. At the time, I was looking for a llama to live with the sheep and I knew that old Aldo was most likely not long for the world since he was almost 20 [he did pass on the next year]. The llama breeder was curious too as to Birdie's overly attentive behavior to me, she said it was not really that usual, and suggested if I wanted a guard she might not be the best candidate.

But I fell for her...hard.

And I'm so glad I did. Birdie continued to show overly lovey dovey behavior to me. Sometimes, I did sort of feel like she was in heat, and I had the sense she just might mount me someday! But she never has. She has proven herself to be a love giver to visitors and I truly believe it is just her way-to be amorous.

So when I came back out to the barnyard the first time after I got back from the hospital, she came right up to me. She followed me in an earnest fashion all over the place. This has continued though my recovery and even last night she was still by my side when I showed up to feed the equines.

I do believe she knows I was a bit off, moving a bit slower than usual. But I think animals have senses they have worked since their birth in ways that perhaps humans once did-that helped us survive as a species. And just as some people have more in tuned senses and a gift for reading feelings of other human beings for healing purposes, I think some animals are more intuitive than others. Birdie appears to be one. Of all the animals I have cared for in the past 15 years, there have been some that just are more in the healer category-Stevie the Kissing Goat was on top of that list, Pino is a healer, Opie is what I would call a joyful healer sharing his joy and zest for life to bring good things to others and Benedetto and Marcella have deep instincts that appear to be healing for me. Benedetto seems to draw people to him and his eyes tell a history of feelings I think, and I often share things with him through our eyes when I need a strong dose of...It's going to be okay.

I particularly loved the image I took here of her walking towards me as I entered the field, the barn centered in the background, her eyes were intent on me. Minutes later I did a selfie of woman and llama-I see the face of a 59 year old emerging crone who is getting used to the looks of that age, and the face of a llama that has eyes of Bambie and a smile to make any age swoon.

I'm glad I listened to my ownself when I picked her out.


Sunday, July 09, 2017

Her royal princess pig sleeps like a queen




I came to the outer barn for chores only to hear the usual snoring of Rosie. But it was coming from an odd position. I looked down to see her nose at the bottom of the barn siding, snorting away.

Rosie takes her sleep seriously and since she is nine, an advanced age in pigdom, she is entitled to sleep as much as she likes.

I have been spraying the bathing beauty in her newly acquired sunscreen-thanks to readers and followers for sending me some. And they were good enough to send exactly the kind Rosie, and I, prefer-the spray on kind. Miss Pig does much better with a quick spray. In the old days I used to spend enormous amounts of energy mixing Destin with oil to rub it on her most sensitive areas. Maybe the humidity here in Maine versus the constant arid dryness of Oregon summers is helping her skin. I think it is. I also noted she did not bolt all her hair like she used to and I'm not sure why.

Anyway, as Rosie ages, I cherish each morning I hear her snores. Nine is getting  up there for a potbellied and I know she won't last forever. For all her drama, she is one amazing pig and has led quite the life having once lived in her own bedroom in a house, to a barn with a crippled goat, to a farm full of Misfits and then traveling five days to get to Maine-where she now seems happier than ever.

Long live Th-World's-Grumpiest-But-I'm-Fine-As-I-Am- Pig...a hell of a porcine.

{Did you hear the big news? Apifera is becoming a 501c!}

Friday, July 07, 2017

Excitement builds for the 501c!

Pino the Puppet is excited. He has been named to the emerging Apifera 501c board as Porta Potty Specialist and Logistics Manager! I'm sure you will hear from him soon.

Our mission:
A non-profit dedicated to bringing animals and elder/special needs people together for mutual healing and wellness. It will also provide a safe haven at its farm for elder/special needs animals [even if it is a hospice case]. 

From crude, out of proportion sketches the new Apifera is emerging. I'm horrible at drawing to scale or very realistically, but this is what I showed Martyn when we began discussing the 501c and how to shape the front of the property to allow for a place for elders/special needs and other guests to come and visit Pino, Opie and others in our care-for mutual joy and healing of heart and mind.

We are also working right now on recreating the once used road out there as a turnaround for safety. The lawyer is in the process of getting out paperwork done, and I hope to be able to start fundraising in a month or 2.

People have asked to donate, but until the date of incorporation, your donation would not be tax deductible. As much as I would like donations right now for feed, I figured I should wait until I can say it is a tax deduction before I start pushing that. If you were to give now, as usual, I send a reward of anything over $30.

The plan is to build a structure where guests and wheelchairs can rest, and Pino and Opie and who ever else is worthy of being polite, can greet and commune with the people. The gardens will have seating, and our private interior garden might be opened up for certain occasions. The Marcella barn will have the loft for workshops-workshops for art/healing, perhaps talks and poetry readings-all with the mission of expanding our arms around elders, special needs and those who need respite and healing. I have lots of ideas for workshops, but first things first.

I'm excited to get official and get the paper work done!

Talking to my Pumpkin

I talk to my head now, or my brain, I guess.

"Pumpkin" is healing just fine. Thanks for the notes and such and if I didn't respond yet, I will in due time. All is well. Each day I am feeling more 'put together' and my head is actually feeling pretty normal now-no headaches. I was surprised though that leg spasms became rampant and really caused a lot of pain and upset about day 6-nothing like a regular 'charlie horse' - more like someone ripping your muscles out of your leg. But those two are subsiding.

A head injury is a scary thing. I suppose hearts and heads are really symbolic to our health and functioning, and it is heavy stuff to see your brain up on the screen with blood. But I'm confidant it will be fine, or they would not have let me out. And my daily progress is also showing it will be okay. I have another scan scheduled in a couple of weeks.

It was life changing though. I had some depression there too, which is normal. Some days of wanting to cry, but it hurt to cry. All this was normal. I took it each day, and I have such a loving mate and friend -thank God for my best friend. Most of you don't know, but Martyn almost died in a car accident in his twenties. He was a front seat passenger and he and the driver were airlifted out after a drunk driver hit them. He only remembers a tunnel like image, with someone pulling for him or reaching for him. He was in coma for three days and broke multiple bones in both legs, leaving him with a shorter leg; he had multiple operations, and his memory of the actual incident never returned.

So as each day and night wore on, Martyn really understood what I was going through. Being able to hear his story was helpful to me. I hope someday to be helpful to another in this position. I was grateful it wasn't worse, but I was also angry, and sad. Each day when I felt angry, I repeated these words in my head:

Alive

Nothing broken

Not crippled

Boone is okay

Martyn

I drew this yesterday. I wondered if maybe I would see everything differently and would I end up not painting the same. Would my passions change? Would I just disappear?

There's a space in my head that is blank. It is bothersome. The impact of the fall and what happened-perhaps this is nature's way of keeping me safe in the present-not reviewing the actual moment of impact over and over like we all did in the 9/11 tower explosions. What good would it do to know the actual moment and how it happened?

I want to know for me and Boone, that's why. Did I go off balance and pull the rein suddenly? Did he sense something in the wood and he raised his head suddenly, and stop on a dime and I went forward hard into his neck? Did I do something I could have done better to help him, if he did in fact fall? Did I put my horse, and me, in harm's way because of something I did or didn't do.

Perhaps the answer is even starker. Perhaps he slipped on a rock-which are embedded in the soil around here leaving flattish areas of ledge rock coming out of grass which could create a slip-and there was nothing either of us could have done. That is what is called an accident, leaving the participants to meddle in trying to create a better outcome, which is impossible.

{I always wear my helmet. If I had not had my helmet on, who knows?}

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

In which Paco smells a spaceship

I was able to bring Boone home on Saturday, four days after he and I took a ride that ended in mystery, and it is still a mystery-at least to me, Boone is the only one who knows what happened. It was so good to have him back. He has superficial wounds adding to the intrigue of what happened on that day, and I have some theories I am still pondering. I am recuperating–but I was naive about the after effects, both physical and emotional, of a traumatic event like this. I will write about at some point, but right now, I will share the conversation the donkeys had on his return to the farm. I took these photos of that moment. It's a beautiful thing that donkeys do, they always check each other out when one leaves or returns to the herd. As usual they were full of questions.

"Was it a cougar that jumped on your back, Boone?" asked Pino.

"I heard there were elephants up that way," said little Lucia.

"It wasn't a spaceship, was it? There are marks on your body,"
said the resident casual conspiracy theorist, Paco.




"I think I do smell a spaceship on him," said Paco.

But Boone did not answer.

Friday, June 30, 2017

In which I take a bad fall off Boone...and only Boone knows the answer

On Tuesday, I took Boone out for a ride about eleven in the morning. Little did I know that some of the nearby property owners and two workmen who saw me head out on my ride might come into play in my day.

We rode about 1/4 mile up the main road and up a private drive to a groomed path–a path that a horse friend had told me was okay to ride on and the owners didn't mind. When I got to their house, I saw a car, and I called out hoping to meet them, but nobody came to the door. I had ridden the path last week and it was really nice, cleared and safe and led all the way down to the water, maybe a half mile or a 20 minute ride down.

I remember all of the ride, making it to the water, and turning around to come back. I remember trotting a lot, and at some point I asked for a canter. I remember thinking,

We need to walk now because the path is shifting levels...

I don't know if that is when I fell. Maybe Boone stopped sharp, he can do that sometimes since he was a cow pony once. The next thing I remember is being in the first medic truck. I had come out of the wooded trail, and knocked on the house door. Before that I guess I had called Martyn six times [I later listened to the messages in the hospital] and at some point I called 911 and they pinged my location. The man at the house also called Martyn. I was very disoriented.

Boone was gone.

Once in the medic truck, I started getting oriented. But I was clearly out of it. They took me to the nearby hospital ER where they did head and body scans. Martyn arrived. And I could hear one of our local friends in the other room. I heard the doctor say,

"You have blood all over your brain and we're sending you to Portland to see if you need surgery."

Surgery? Blood? Brain?

Off we went. It was all weird and I remember thinking life had changed. I didn't know how much at that point.

The next hospital was well equipped for head trauma. I optimistically thought I'd get out and go home. Not. They admitted me for urgent care and I spent the night. Every two hours they came in and gave me medication and stuff. The man next door was in real pain. I prayed for him. Besides a stiff neck and full head, I felt okay, just stiff.

Early in the morning around six, they did another C-scan and the doctor came in to review it with me. The bleeding was stable. I asked on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst, what scale was it, and he said,

"Hmmmmm, a 3."
 

All day long doctors and PT's and neurological people came in and checked me. They all gave me the green light to go home, with many precautions. But the final okay was up to the head trauma doctor. She finally showed up and told me I had a very bad fall.

I told her I was not taking it lightly. I told her I'd been riding since age five and falling is part of being a rider, but had never had such a severe fall or gone into black out.

She then said,

"The next one will kill you."

I was really shocked. I know I was clear headed, despite all the meds. I told her I would continue to ride. She sort of rolled her eyes. We talked about something else and I just found her...annoying and in the know. My main nurse came in and I told her how upsetting that last doctor's statement was, and the nurse understood.

NOTE: I found the staff at the hospital to be wonderful. My night nurse, the medics, supporting staff, they were all wonderful. My care was very good.

So I got to go home. I am to go back in 4 weeks for a head scan, unless I notice certain tings in which I should go to the ER. At home, I slept. I did everything they told me to do. I am continuing to do that. Like I said, it was serious fall and I don't take it lightly.

So many things cross your mind in a situation like this. I thought of many things, scary things. I thought of Martyn if I died. I thought if they had to do surgery would they shave my head and if they did I thought I will just get more GirlBands to wear. I thought of Boone and what that doctor said, her fear mongering statement that the next fall will kill me. I thought of how I could not wait to get Boone home. I thought of all the people I knew that had serious health issues and had to be in hospital. I thought how lucky I was, how it could have been worse.

I started to put the pieces of the day together, the day of the fall. When Boone left me, he went to a nearby hay field. I always wondered if I had a bad fall would Boone stand loyally by my side. I imainged he looked down at me and I was out cold, and he thought,

Well, she is not leading me right now, I will just go eat grass.

The town clerk saw a riderless horse, and called animal control, but also called a woman who happened to be my friend and another horse owner. She in turn called another man that knows me and my horse and was actually the man who told me to ride that trail. They both rushed down there, and got Boone and the man now has him in with his horses. I am so grateful Boone wasn't hurt. But when I got out of the hospital, I called the town clerk to thank her, and told her grateful I was for my friends and for her for helping. She told me that they weren't the only ones who called. As I left my house to ride, the neighbor across the road saw me leave, but not come back and he at some point alerted the town clerk, or he got in touch with someone. And the two workmen I mentioned, they saw me leave, but then saw the riderless horse and called 911. The town clerk said,

"You moved to the right town."

Boone is not a spooker. My one riding friend who has Boone wondered if he stopped suddenly [which he can do as he was once a cow pony] and I fell forward hitting my head on him hard. My glasses were broken at the nose bridge and I was cut and bruised on my nose. Oddly, I had no cuts or scrapes anywhere else, even on my hands. My left side is more sore, but I had no real scrapes and my pants weren't dirty. My helmet had smudge but no dents. The fall remains a mystery I haven't solved.

Only Boone knows.





Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Goose eats a tree fort

Goose in the naked fort
One of the big branches on the tree by the upper barn came down a week ago. Fortunately nobody was under it at the time. It's not a quick task to get it down and since it was secure we opted to let the Apiferian Clean Up Crew organically help out. Earnest is a bit disappointed as the leaved branches covered his swimming hole where he could bathe and soak in mud baths in the shade of the tree fort.

One by one the leaves disappeared.

I have heard rumor that some are hoping the naked tree fort remains so that they can decorate it for Christmas.

Hmmmm...that would be kind of fun.

The tree fort before The Apiferian Clean Up Crew took over