Mama hates me today and the Pink Pickled Onion recipe.

Mama hates me today. I have begun the process of weaning her lambs from her. She is getting worn down, her udder is looking banged up with dry patches  and these lambs at almost three months old are big and  pushy. Watching those two fly at her at full gallop, charging straight at her udder is too much now. They almost knock her over. They are too big and she is just too old. Her udder too fragile. One side is already shrinking. 

They say that it is harder for the lambs but Mama takes this stage badly.  For a week now she has been in a harder field with no clover.  Yesterday  I brought her into the barn where she cannot see them and it is cool. Her diet will be further restricted for three days, so that she does not produce so much milk during the drying up period. Minty has managed to talk herself in with her so she is not alone.  I am Minty’s milk bar so she will be OK in there.   Nowhere on the property is out of earshot though.   Mama cried at intervals all night and the lambs cried right back. 

Meadow, The Murphy and Aunty Mia are left in the Rat House Paddock.

So the farmy was at odds yesterday and  all last night and will be for a few days yet. Even Kupa could not quiet them last night.  All the bleating and carrying on is so sad.  I had to sit on my hands to resist letting her back with them. But it is time. Mama has had enough.  But she has a big gravelly old sheep’s voice and hearing her cry is heartbreaking.

When she has dried up and has put on some weight, I will put them all back together but realistically that will not be for a few weeks. Over the next few days  I have to watch her carefully for signs of mastitis.  But she has never had trouble with that before so we should be OK.

These guys don’t care though. 

Look at those smiles.

The bad beans are growing. In their slightly wonky lines. 

Chooks drink milk too. Raw milk is good for their tummies.

Good morning. Yesterday many of you asked for the Pickled Onion recipe.  I shall tell you what I did. Remember these are fridge pickles – designed to be eaten straight away.

Fresh Pickled Onions

Heat one cup of cider vinegar and four scant tablespoons sugar. Add a teaspoon each of peppercorns and  coriander seeds. (or whatever spices you fancy). To the jar add a clove of garlic.

Slice two white onions and one red onion thinly. Slice one fennel bulb thinly. Sterilize a jar.

When the vinegar has come to a boil add the onions and fennel. Let them blanch in there for 30 seconds. Then pack the onions into the jar and pour the hot vinegar in on top. Tap the jar to get out the bubbles and seal. Refrigerate when cool. 

I love the pink hue that the red onions bring.

You all have a lovely day.  As I have been writing Mama has been quiet. Weaning is my least favourite time.

celi

85 thoughts

  1. Weaning is hard and heartbreaking – as much for you as the animal. But you´re sensible and you´re doing it because ultimately it has to be done. And they get so much love and attention, I think deep down your animals know and understand!

  2. Poor Mama! I don’t think weaning is easy for any mother. I can’t imagine listening to her and the babies cry for each other all night. Heart wrenching!

    Every time I see how fast those pigs are growing it amazes me. I’m assuming the eating ones are getting just as big. How long do you fatten them up before they reach your table?

    I hope they at least warn you before they spray the soy beans with pesticide so you can get everyone inside! We have wheat farming family members who used to sit outside with iced tea and watch the spraying planes do the fields. As you can imagine, with even a tiny wind, they were doused with pesticides and back then, didn’t even think a thing about it. They are in their late 60′s now and have all kinds of health issues. Scary!

    Thank you for the onion recipe! I was just going to send you a little note today and ask how it’s done.

    Hope you have a lovely day~ April

    • The pesticides are now genetically written into the seed. It is only seldom that they will spray a pesticide anymore, sometimes they will spray a fungicide by air. And of course the herbicides are sprayed on the ground in the spring. This genetically modified seed which repels its own bugs is actually what is killing the bees (and many other insects) in such an insidious form because the pesticide is plant born now, it is in its pores. if you like -the plant sweats its own pesticide. It flies with its pollen. How is that for a lovely morning story! c

      • Yikes. I just recently read about the corn that is being modified with a pesticide that bursts the stomachs of bugs that eat it. (I can only imagine what it does to people.) The whole GMO thing is infuriating. There will be a day where I bet we can’t even find ground that hasn’t been contaminated and seeds that haven’t been altered. A sad day indeed!

        But until then, we will enjoy what we have and try to ignore those soy plants next to the farmy.

  3. I hope the weaning goes faster than you think it will, for your heart’s sake! You are a good mama to mama and her babes (and all the animals). Hope you have an easier day of it today than you did yesterday!

  4. Great pickling minds thnk alike, I’ve just been making a version of your radishes! Delicious, I can see me having to make some more very soon as they are being loaded into sarnies as we speak. I don’t grow onions, but I’m sure I could find an excuse to pickle some of these, besides I love th eidea of using fennel in a pickle (must sow some more!)
    And Poor Mama and lambs and poor Celi’s ears!

  5. The cows up the road (beef cattle) are being weaned, too. The owner has two large land parcels, abot a half-mile apart on our road. The Mamas are near our place, and all the calves are down the lane…such a sad-sounding racket!
    Making beet pickles with fennel later – just the refrigerator kind. I love your brine recipe!

    • I look forward to pickling my beetroot too. I have not done it before. It might be the Year of the Pickle. Also I like to do stuff in little batches for the fridge, so stress free and fast! Poor you having to listen to multiple cows and calves.. That will be noisy.. c

  6. I don’t envy you having to listen to Mama’s bleating. I hate it here in the glen when they separate the calves from the cows, all their distressed moo-ing echoing around the surrounding hills. Heartbreaking.
    Christine

    • morning diane, you will have to do this too with your kids next season.. but it is over quite quickly and they will all be together again in a few weeks.. c

  7. Listening to the lambs bleating for their mother all night long would be very tough. And hearing their mother calling back would be even more agonising. What a tough time for you. I’m glad you shared your pickled onion recipe. I make something similar with gherkins and use mustard seeds for flavour xx

  8. A hard few days ahead for the farmie, I fear. I hope it all settles back into normality soon. Claire’s pickled radishes look marvie, and I’m think that the combination of your pickled onion and her radishes might be worth trying. Our Danish cucumber plants are just sitting there looking sad and not growing at all. I might be buying cucumbers for pickling this year. Nuts.

  9. Poor mama – I remember what it feels like, enforced weaning, and it’s not pleasant. I like those wiggly rows (to look at) though hate the idea of GM and pesticides and all the other cides.

  10. Hope you have an easier night tonight, it must be heart wrenching to listen but it sounds like it also has to be done. Definitely going to try this pickling recipe. I pickle my own green chillies with rice wine vinegar and ginger but need to try something nnew.

  11. This is such a tough time for all of you.. if only you could speak to her, she’d know she’ll be reunited with her babies soon! Love your wonky lines of beans and milk slurping chooks:) xoxo Smidge

  12. Poor Mama. The Li’l Ones grow up so fast. They’ll be starting schewel soon and, after that, it’s the empty flock syndrome. It’s not easy being a Mom, no matter the species.
    Seeing the chickens, all ponied up to the milk bar, gave me a chuckle. Who knew?
    Have a wonderful day, Celi!

  13. Oh poor Mama, poor lambys, poor Cinders! :( But I have a feeling there’s going to be alot of pickled onions going on soon, all over the country!! :) Thanks so much for your recipe…can’t wait to try them!! I make fridge pickles every summer, so this will be a nice addition to them!!

  14. My heart aches for mama. I know exactly what she is going through. My youngest is moving out in a few weeks, off to college, and my oldest and her hubby are moving away to grad school. It is a hard time for mamas when their babies grow up. This mama has intermitant crying splls too, in between trying to keep very busy. It is the way of nature.

  15. Great journal as usual. You’re really cropping your pictures very well and purposefully. Another great pleasure for me to read after I’ve struggled trying to be a carpenter, which I’m most definitely not, all day.

  16. The pickles look great, but sorry that Mama is suffering the separation – always the hardest thing with animals, for me, is when you have to do something you know is the right thing for them, but they may not understand and/or expect you to help..

  17. Poor Mama’s circumstances provide us such a metaphor…sometimes it’s these really difficult circumstances that are our preservation! I guess that’s all you hold onto when you hear that pitiful bleating…it would be heartbreaking. Thanks for the photos of the bad beans…it’s incredibly ironic that they are so completely in your face, Celi! I will focus with you on the good stuff…like those gorgeous onions! Debra

    • Thankfully the bad beans (I presume you mean the naughty Shush sisters) will be on the farm for a while yet. John wants to keep them both and is trying to talk me out of selling Charlotte! c

      • Oh Celi! I think I missed something! I somehow got it into my head that when you mentioned the bad beans you were talking about the view of the farm “next door.” Ha! Isn’t that funny! Well now I know that Charlotte and the Shush sisters have a chance to stick around! That’s a good idea…I say. LOL! D

  18. i think i would be horrible at weaning. the cries would break my heart. i love making pickles and rarely are without them. i just made sauerkraut and i love pickling beets with hardboiled eggs. we still have not had a single drop of rain and are in the upper 90′s endlessly!

  19. Poor Mama…I’m sure this never gets easier. How old is Mama, and how long does the average lamb live and breed? Love your pickled onion recipe, so pretty and I must try them…thanks for sharing!

    • good question Chris. She would carry on being beaten up by these big lugs and if she did not get mastitis from udder damage and keep getting thinner then she would ultimately wean them herself in two or three months. Often a sheep will feed ;ambs for about 5 months if left to their own devices. Mama did this last year, but her udder is looking a bit shaky this year and I am calling it. They are old enough. Morning Chris.. c

  20. Oh no, I couldn’t cope with the bleating but I suppose in natures way they would have had less to eat and mammas milk would dry up sooner. Love the fennel with the onions and this method is so much easier than whole pickle onions

  21. Thanks Celi, will be making these as I always have huge supply of red onions and any excuse to use coriander seeds draws me right in. Roz

  22. You are doing this for Mama my friend, although it does sound very hard on her. I’m sure everything will look better for both you and her in the long run :)
    I hope it gets easier for you day by day my friend!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  23. Hopefully Mama will thank you when this process is over. The pickled onions are almost too pretty to eat! The milk would appear to be a hit with the chooks!

  24. Sometimes you need nerves of steel to be a farmer! Mama will come through, and she will feel better for it. Good for you, for knowing what’s right and not being swayed by sentimentality. I was surprised to see the chooks eating milk – how marvellous to have enough to share with all the animals, as well as making fabulous cheeses, yoghurts etc.

  25. Cecelia, if I make the pickled onions tonight will that be alright? We are leaving on Wednesday the 4th and returning on the 8th. Or should I wait until Wednesday morning?

  26. I enjoy reading your blog but never comment. However I walk past a cornfield every am with my little dog. For a few days it smelled like something died off in the trees, then I noticed everything between the corn rows turning brown and realized they had sprayed the corn. Now I stand and look and find it frightening – the corn (even though it’s been very hot with no rain for weeks) is robust and green while everything around it has died. That corn will be going mostly to animal feed (primarily dairy cows, this is Wisconsin!) and I really don’t like the idea of drinking that milk or eating that meat as whatever is in that corn that shrugged off the herbicide will soon be in those animals that eat it! I so wish the producers had to label gm items.

    • I absolutely agree Sherry, if it is so “safe” why does Monsanto spend millions of dollars in court making sure they do not have to label it.. this is one of the reasons i grow my own food and I am lucky to be able to, the GM in America is out of control. There is a corn glut too, that is why they are endlessly looking for new places to use it. We need to be as careful as we can. And thank you so much for commenting, i love these conversations! if we are aware and talking about things we have more of a chance of finding ways to eat safe.. c

  27. As strange as this might sound…reminds me of weaning Miss A. It was much harder on me than on her. She was ready. For me it was the end of a life stage. I think if I could bleat I would have. ;) Good luck with the weaning. I’m sure it’s terrible heart wrenching, but definitely for the best.

  28. Reminding me of my son weaning me! nyhoo, love the pickling…will try anon…(thanks so much for “chooks”, miss the vocab of my southern hemisphere friends….please use chilly bin as often as possible! or is it eski in NZ and chilly bin in Oz? Need a memory boost!

  29. Pingback: Pickled Onions « annashortcakes

  30. Pingback: A Mish Mash of Life | gluten free zen

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