The Blood Tests are a Yes!


If all goes well, fingers crossed, touch wood and without walking under any ladders or having any black cats walk in front of anything and with some luck and good management she will be having her calf late May.

May is a super time to have a calf as it will be warm, not too many nasty bugs, she can calve on the grass which is so much more hygenic than being huddled in a dark barn with storms raging outside and the mess of birth just everywhere. And if assisting Mama sheep have her quads last March is anything to go by, it is a messy business indeed. Plus she will be eating good grass and good grass makes the best healthiest creamiest milk.

So in May 2012 I will start milking. Then we will have our own raw milk and make  all those lovely milky products. Now I  know you are all going to be looking forward to that performance because I have NEVER MILKED a cow by myself before.  But getting a house cow is central to my plan for feeding the sustainable crew.  Milk will tie our cycle of food in a little tighter. The milk will be a good food for the pigs, cats and dogs will drink it, it will feed calves and baby animals, the chickens have the yoghurt and custard and the milk will supply all the butter and soft or hard cheeses for the homes. Plus raw milk sprayed onto pasture is another super fertiliser as it wakes up all those microorganisms that have been laid to waste with industrial farming.  And did you know you can make vodka from whey, John is investigating.  Here is the new wine working merrily in the snug. 

If they don’t close my post office then more chickens will be delivered soon.  They come in the mail you know. Oh, and they deliver bees in the mail too. John once came home from work and found a tiny box with a very bossy queen bee and her five attendants sitting waiting patiently in the mail box at the end of the drive. I know that the Post Office closures will affect us out here in the country but I have my fingers crossed that our Post Office stays open.  It is so short sighted to let any of them close.

When I first started raising bees I ordered three pounds of bees from an apiary about 100 miles from here and for some reason the Mail God sent them to a big Post Office in a big city. A man called me and said he had the bees. As it was a Saturday, did I want to come and get them myself so that they did end up sitting in a little Post Office all weekend.

When it was our turn at the counter, I said to the little man. Hi, I have come to pick up some bees.

Bees, said the little man.

Yes, I looked at his name badge, um Warren. Evidently you have a package of live bees here for me. I put on my most dazzling smile, that usually speeds things up.

He gaped at me as though a cat had walked into his Post office and begun to speak in Greek.  A pause. Name?  He said, returning to the safety of his keyboard. I told him, making sure to speak loudly and clearly. Maybe he was a little deaf.

He misunderstood me, as they all do (you will remember that I am a foreigner out here, in fact I think I am the only foreigner out here), so I gently corrected him,  and told him my name again. Then with my smile still brightly attached to my face, I carefully spelt it for him.

And you are collecting bees? He said.

Yes, a package of live bees. I got a call that they were here.

You got a call? They said that the bees were here?

My fixed smile slipped into a grimace trying to be a fixed smile. He squinted at his screen. Tapping at keys. At this point Our John began to Loom over my shoulder. People began to shuffle in the line behind me.

So what are you going to be doing with these bees?  He said.

Make honey I hope, I said.  I’m sorry, but am I confusing you? Am I in the right place?

Oh No.  He said. I mean Yes. With a sheepish smile. I just love your accent and wanted to keep you talking. My smile closed then moved to my eyes, I cocked my head slightly. How annoying but sweet.

At this point Our John did that shoulder and neck stretch that men do and the Little Warren realised that there was a really big bloke in Full Loom right at my shoulder. John grunted. The man rose onto the balls of his feet, opened his mouth,  thought better of it and turned and raced out and into the mysterious regions of The Back.

The people in the rapidly growing queue went into mutter and extended shuffle mode.

Warren returned quite smartly with a  wooden box held at the end of his fully extended arms. A little bit of theatre. He placed it very carefully on the counter. We all looked at it. It was about as big as a shoe box for work boots, up on its side and had netting on both sides. Inside was a swarm. A very annoyed swarm of bees. Hungry bees.  Three pounds of bees. They were tightly bunched into a large ball inside the box, every leg and wired head moving and wriggling. The box was alive with movement and sound.  The entire post office went very quiet.

I lifted the box and turned from the counter to find the entire queue had silently dispersed into groups and flattened themselves against the walls.  Mothers holding their children. Ladies clutching their purses. Men attempting to appear nonchalant while pulling down their sleeves and checking out the exits. That lid looks loose John said, careful they don’t get out. Our audience attempted to step further back into the wall. John leaned over and tapped innocently on the box, how ya doin in there? About nine thousand bees turned and glared at him then raised their buzz a decibel. Two men broke ranks and swooped for the doors so we could see our unimpeded exit. You would think that I had a wild rattle snake on the end of a shovel. I turned and thanked the man in my sweetest NZ accent, and serenely, in full procession, we walked between the shrinking people. I smiled and nodded like the queen mother and exited through the two sets of double doors held open by our friendly doormen.

Behind us our little audience released one collective breath,  gliding back into their rightful places in the cue, as the doors swung shut behind us the little man called: Next!

Oh and my good camera is back in action. This is the sunrise this morning. So it is time to go and feed the animals. I shall pass on your regards to the naughtiest Pregnant Cow in the world.






77 Comments on “The Blood Tests are a Yes!

  1. A wonderful piece of writing – you ARE planning to put these together into a book, I take it! I can’t wait to buy it.

    • Well Viv, i am writing another book at the moment but am collecting the short pieces into the blog then I will collate them and write them properly, but one needs an agent before a book so there is lots to do!!

  2. Hurray for Daisy! And for you and yours, of course. There’s something so cheering to me about the continued possibility of mailing live bees in this otherwise paranoid era. Apparently there’s still hope for us. Bees flying by airmail, cows calving anew and giving sweet milk, sheep producing–yipe!–quadruplets, and cameras having successful surgery. Life’s good, innit!

  3. How exciting – I feel ike I am about to become a Fairy Cow Mother!! And love the bee story – Big Man would have been running for the door….very allergic 🙁

    • No more of that grandma talk Giovanna! Gestation for a cow is 9 months and 1 week so we have time to get ready!

  4. Congratulations! 🙂

    I really enjoyed the story of your bees, and your photos are wonderful.

  5. Yippee, we are going to get a calf! This is so exciting. Just realised this is the first “baby” I won’t be knitting or making a crochet blanket for – hee hee.
    Wish I could have been a fly on the wall the day you collected your bees – what a hoot!
    Have a super Sunday.
    🙂 Mandy

    • Oh I don’t know Mandy, sometimes little calves like a wee blankie to drape over their shivery wee selves when they are little. .maybe you won’t get off that easy! c

  6. I’m with little Warren,
    The thing that would have sped things up was just the mention of the live Bees in my Post Office, ..until you smiled, and then I would probably start dragging my feet too…
    Bless You, John, Daisy, Queenie, and all the other critters.

    • Thank you and i must pop over to your place and see what we are having in front of the tele for dinner tonight! c

  7. It is funny that you wrote about this today – I just read an article about cow business in India in The New Yorker. Apparently, young, urban people eat beef in India.(news to me!) The traders were checking if the cow is pregnant by examining its vagina – if it is wet – the cow is pregnant. Hmmm…

    • Hmm indeed.. and young Indians eating beef, well I guess if they are not religious, but it must cause some consternation in their families though..c

  8. Wonderful buzzy bee story! We have received caterpillars in the mail once, to watch them transform into butterflies, but alas, they had no such impact or effect on my local postal community….

    • Thank you Natalia, the bees arrival definitely set them abuzz.. but how cool getting caterpillars, was that to repopulate your area in butterflies? I have never heard of that. It sounds interesting.. c

  9. Oh this is great news. About being misunderstood, we’re mistaken all the time down here. Katherine has it worse because she has a softer voice. We don’t talk like Southerners and our accents can confuse people.

  10. A very nice offering with a touch of…
    Cows? Well congratulations Daisy its
    very good news 🙂

    Have a great rest of weekend now

    Androgoth Xx

  11. Great post office story. I, too, am hoping against hope that our tiny post office doesn’t close. Though, to be sure, I have never sent the crowds scurrying with three pounds of bees in the foyer. 🙂 I hope that Daisy is a great mama!

  12. Excellent news!!! Congratulations for Daisy!!! And as we say in Italy: In bocca al lupo!! (which means good luck!!)

  13. Congratulations Daisy…perhaps her mood will improve.

    I get all drooly thinking of the delicious cheese you can create. What kind of wine do you have developing? So much going on…you are a busy bee (couldn’t resist). Enjoy!


    • daisy is on her best behaviour lately, so far so good.. we have a small really small vintage in the tank of a Vidal Blanc… c

  14. Aw, those poor people just there to get there mail and now worrying if the bees are going to get loose! 🙂 John was playing with their minds.
    Though in all fairness and coming clean, I do the same in my plumbing world and ask nonchalantly I wonder what will happen if I do this? Then watch who ever I am working with or the home owner back off a bit. 🙂
    Congrats to Daisy!

  15. It is so nice to be reminded of the cycle of farming. Pregnant cows mean spring calves. I will be following…

    • Hi Celia, yes the milking will be a learning experience, the first step is to acquire a milking machine! I am certainly not going to do it by hand! c

  16. Here’s to Daisy!
    Let’s hope this ‘settles’ her! 🙂
    I am still laughing about the bees… “top looks a little loose…” what a wicked man you married!

  17. I am so excited about about Daisy, and I can’t wait to read about how she’s doing during the next few months. And as always, your story-telling is a delight. 😀

  18. Honey, yogurt, vodka? When will you start working on making mead? 🙂 Your place just gets more amazing with each post. I vote for Buttercup or Clover for the baby moo moo.

  19. Oh buttercup sounds so sweet!! And now that you mention mead, John is just waiting for me to make more honey than i can sell, then he will turn the left overs into mead.. fat chance! c

  20. This is a wonderful new, congratulations! I hope and wish everything goes well, dear Cecilia. And as always I loved your story. And also your photographs… Thank you, have a nice week, with my love, nia

  21. Don’t know how I missed this post! Congrats and best wishes to Daisy! What a coincidence, you writing about bees and me in Michigan picking up honey for my Chicago “family.” If you want to hold off delivering my wine this Spring until the cheese is ready, that’s fine with me. I’m not unreasonable.

    • Ok we will make it all in one trip.. no probs, just make sure you have the thingamebobs all packaged and ready to go, but what about the limoncello.. do you want to wait for a bottle of that.. I am doing the lemon run in november? c

  22. Soooo excited to here about Daisy’s condition….FINALLY!!! Wouldn’t it be great if motherhood turns her into a sweet and gentle bovine???

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  24. I’m glad Daisy’s pregnant, and hope everything goes well with her, but I have to say that I do understand the trepidation of the other people in the post office; we don’t normally see boxes of angry bees there! Have you had any trouble with the beehive collapse syndrome (I can’t remember the official name) or are your bees doing well?

    • They are doing well Mom,. so far so good, a little bit of a problem with moths. the general idea is to keep them healthy and strong.. and they can combat any disease/intruders.. in fact that is how it is with most organic growing, so fingers crossed they survive another winter! c

  25. I remember the cows calving on our farm in zimbabwe where I grew up – it is a messy business! How exciting! But for all you plan to do with the milk, I think you’ll need a few more cows…

    • mercy, Daisy is enough naughty milk cow for me.. she just broke back in with the sheep again today!, she thinks SHE is the farmer.. c

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  28. You can send bees in the post? Well, you learn something new everyday and I especially seem to learn things from your posts. This was a great tale, I could see those people and their reactions so clearly! 🙂

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