Water in the garden and an important discussion.

I have always been fascinated by water in the garden. And butterflies, bees and birds, not to mention toads, frogs, snakes and our collection of  little garden inhabitants share my fascination. 

Water adds a reflective shimmer to the ruffled, vibrant, undulating collection of colours and textures in the flower garden.

My little bowls and plates add a moment of peace to a busy scene. The straight man to the funny man. 

Little pools of life. 

Some of the bowls and buckets are deep, some are shallow plates and platters.  Sugar bowls and cups in the trees. Every day when I water the pots and plants, I refill these little oasis with fresh water. 

Now I know that every  image  so far is lovely and calm and beautiful but I had to show you this.. 

Everyone loves water! Yesterday was a hot day and the pigs have lost their swimming pool privileges because they were using the paddling pool as a toilet. The smell was horrific, not to mention the stink on the pigs who were wading in it. So no more pool.  They have two outside pens that are open to them all day, one is always in the shade,  that will have to suffice. And I hose them down a couple of times a day as I top up the water in the barrels.

Good morning. Yesterday was a beautiful hot sunny day.

Now I need to say something Important. Something that I have been avoiding writing about.  Something that I hope will not scare you all away.

I was speaking to a young man a few days ago and he said What do you raise the sheep for? Well, I said gently, all the ewes I will breed from and the wethers (castrated rams) will end up in the freezer. I have a few little families that I feed. He looked at me askance.  How can you do that? He said.  Do you eat meat? I asked him. He said, Hell yes. Well, I said You do realise that meat comes from an animal that used to be alive. Oh, I guess, he said. But I try not to think about it.

Well…. I searched for the right words because this is an important discussion.

Well, I do think about it.  I said. And it is hard but good in a way. I think it is honest and right to know where your meat comes from. Wouldn’t it be better if the meat you are eating has had a good life. Where he has been respected. Just because I am raising an animal for the table,  does not mean that he cannot have a good  life. To degrade a beast by raising him in a feed lot or crammed with others into the dark corner of a barn with harshness and cruelty, then transforming him into little cellophane wrapped sanitised packages in a supermarket,  should not make it any easier to have steak on the table. We need to remember, and be thankful.

My animals roam the fields, they chase each other through the barn. They play, and eat and drink freshly grown food and lie in the shade of a tree in the afternoon. They have a good life. In the end I take them to a small abbatoir, run by compassionate professional men who take the animals to the next step swiftly without stress. There are no mean men with tractors shoving them to the next stage or days of waiting in a pen listening or any of that. It is all done as it should be.  Quietly,  immediately and with respect.

I told this young man that it is good to think about that. It is good to know.  It is hard but honest.

I do not name the animals that are destined for the families tables. So if one of my animals has a name then you know that he or she has reached character status and you can emotionally invest in the animal. But this is a small self sufficient farm, run sustainably, gently and carefully.  The farm must feed the farm and the families.  My reason for the Kitchens Garden Farm is to grow food in a good honest old fashioned hands-on  way.

My young friend understood my little lecture I think. And maybe next time he has his favourite lamb dish he will remember and be grateful to the animal that feeds him.

Is this too hard? I don’t mean to scare you away. I just want to be transparent and honest.

All animals deserve respect. And this is why I have water everywhere. All my animals have fresh clean drinking water all the time. Even the snakes and the field mice can have a lick of clean water as they sneak past.  Or skunks or pheasants. Or squirrels, gophers or badgers.   Cats and dogs. Chickens and Cows. Maybe even deer and coyotes drink from the barrels down the back, who knows.  All we can do is our best to look after the animals who share our life.

Good morning.  Time for me to start the day! It will be another lovely day on the farmy.  I hope you all have a good day.


74 Comments on “Water in the garden and an important discussion.

  1. You’ve got poppies! Lovely. You haven’t scared me but that well thought out answer certainly made me feel better about the red pig.

  2. Water……the life of the earth. Good for you for thinking of ALL creatures big and small. Have a lovely day!

  3. Excellent post, C. I had a similar conversation with a young woman at the grocery store last week, about goat milk…
    We talk about goats a lot around here – Hubby loves goat milk more than anything. A pair of does would provide all the milk, butter, yogurt and cheese our little family needs. But, what to do with the kids? Our options are limited. Goat meat isn’t popular in our region, and 4-H youngsters are few and far between (and mostly Horse Girls). I can’t commit to an animal without having a plan for the entire life-cycle…
    The young mother at the store had (of course) never thought about the fact that, in order to get milk, there must be a baby. Every year. And, there must be a plan for What Happens Next…I hope she’ll take our conversation with her into other parts of her life as well.

    • Now this is an extension of the issue that I had not thought to bring up. It is very true. And i am shocked at how many people think the milk just comes and keeps on flowing. I met some children (teenagers) who did not know that a cow cannot give milk unless she has had a calf, every year! And she needs a rest in between. They just thought dairy cows grew up and starting producing milk at a certain age.. YES, we need to have considered the entire cycle.. well said Marie.. c

      • Consider me previously ignorant (despite growing up in a dairy region) and now duly educated. Where does this myth come from?! 😉

  4. We go one step more and butcher our own. It can be hard and I always feel a little sad when we take the life of an animal to feed our family but I take comfort in knowing how our animals are raised and that they’ve had a good life while here and are serving the purpose for which they were intended. I think your answer to your young friend was well thought out and spot on.

  5. Well said. The problem is that I keep turning into that young man (OK cut out the young) and then I have to remind myself that the prosciutto that I’m eating is not just thin pink stuff that tastes good, but thin pink stuff from a living animal that was killed so that I and others could eat it. This realistic answer still makes me a bit unhappy, but realism has never been my strong suit.

    • I think that feeling a bit unhappy about it is actually the right way to feel. If that makes any sense. looking your food in the face is pretty tough but it is honest.. I hope you are getting some sun today.. c

  6. Hear hear and amen. I admire your philosophy and adhere to as much of it as is feasible with only an ordinary-sized garden. Your little lecture would be a good one to share with everyone.

    PS I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve pinched that wonderful poppy with bee pic for my desktop.

    • I love the idea of that bee being on your desktop! Thank you. It is a vibrant shot isn’t it. Morning ViV! c

  7. Celi, anybody that has read your blog from the start knows that all the aminals have had the best possible life any animal can have. We have lived, laughed, cried, worried and played right through most of the cycle with you all. I for one would rather the food on my plate had had this kind of life rather than fed antibiotics, growth hormones and chemicals and then stressed in the most horrible way even in the last minutes of its life. Humans are not the most humane species. Your farmy is redeeming us all, I think. Snakes …. what do you do when you come across one? I am dead scared of them! Laura

    • I was not brought up with snakes so, though i seldom see them.. I sream like a girl and run away!! What a baby!! But they eat mice so it is good to see them! c

  8. Of course your post did not scare me away! I respect what you do and admire the love you put into your farm and toward your animals whether their destination is your dinner table or not.

    Amazes me that parents don’t talk to their children about where their food comes from and how it is processed. We would have such higher standards about the quality of our food in America if everyone was informed and involved.

    Love your water philosophy as well. I do the same thing in my yard! AND……I eat meat and I know EXACTLY where it comes from and what it has been fed. 😉

    Have a wonderful day, Cecila, we’re looking at a few rainy days ahead so I guess that means I need to work on going through things and getting rid of unnecessary items for the big move. Hope you have another hot and beautiful day!


    • Thank you for your words April and that is a great rainy day job. I always feel so much lighter when i have gotton rid of the scummy junk build up in the dark cupboards!! c

  9. most people that eat meat don’t want to think about where it comes from. raising your animals as compationately as you do is so superior to the way most animals live. i have water everywhere too.

  10. Here here – I think one of the big problems these days is due to the fact that people don’t know where their food comes from and that they have no connection with the land. I’m quite sure (from your writing) that all your animals are loved and well cared for, including the ones destined for the table.
    … and what naughty pigs!

  11. I think that the actual death is what I worry about — we all know that you treat all of your animals well and that they are luckier than animals in feed lots and factory farms. Realistically, you can’t keep every animal or the little farmy would soon outgrow its bounds and lamb and ham are tasty, good-quality protein.

    • I do agree Sharyn. Animals need humane treatment at the point of death. This is why we researched the little abbatoirs until we found a guy who actually talked to and calmed the animal at the time. John watched him do it and was very impressed with his approach.. c

  12. I can’t have animals on my little farm just yet as I am away from it 2-3 days a week. BUT…we do get our meats and eggs from the locals who have raised their amimals just as you have. It’s the next best thing.
    And I will keep learning from them and from you so that I will be ready when the time comes to welcome the life givers to my farm.

    • Yes it is a 24 hour job, and you will love it when you have the time. Lovely that you have locals who will sell a little here and there.. this is definitely the way it should be! c

  13. Well said, Cecilia. The circle of life includes death but many would prefer to deny the death part. It is a real problem how our culture has lost touch with how our food is produced. Native Americans would thank the spirit of the animal as they were about to take its life for their survival. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on this one, but I do eat meat and prefer to know where it came from and how it was raised. You do a great service by being honest and true to your ideals.

    • I sometimes think that people eat MORE meat, because they do not want to think about its origins and buy it cheaply on a supermarket shelf. And surely this must contribute to some health risks. c

  14. I love your explanation Celi. Every animal does deserve respect and I have no doubts yours are all well cared for from beginning to end. Lovely flowers too. I love poppies. I was at my grandma/grandpa’s yesterday for the last time (they have both passed and the house will now be sold) and I went around back and sat staring at the poppies and peonies for a while. 🙂 Wonderful memories.

    • Those peonies are such an historical flower too. I love the old gardens. Can you take a wee piece back for your own garden?. c

  15. I don’t eat sheep, they don’t eat me. This is as close to environmental symbiosis I can come, living in my little condominium as I do. However, I think it’s important for people to make rational choices about their food. Until the day science discovers how to breed animal flesh from stem cells, without the cumbersome burden of the animal, we need to all understand that being part of our food supply doesn’t need to define their existence. They are animals, and while alive, deserve the right to live.

    • Always excellent to hear your thoughts Bill! I agree that people need to make informed choices. c

  16. I wish more animals were raised and slaughtered in the manner you use. Just because an animal is destined for the dinner plate doesn’t mean it can’t live a happy healthy life on the way. I try to buy our meat from ranchers who have their cattle out roaming pasture and are humanely butchered. Kudos to you. I knew there was a reason I like you!

    • Morning Annette and well said. Those ranchers will also appreciate your custom. So they can continue doing it the right way.. They need support from people like you.. c

  17. I have only been following a short time though enjoy your writing. This story did bring to memory a similar experience when my sister-in-law’s boyfriend discovered that dinner was a calf we had played with just a few weeks prior.

    I would add to the comments that many people today don’t take time to think. We seem to choose to be entertained. Food, animals and the cycle of life are not discussed in terms of reality. It is usually a fantasy of indulgence, comfort or humor.

    All life is connected, regardless of belief, in the life to death process. A process which our affluence has removed from our hands which were once food processors and preparers of our departed. Science has enabled us to assume much knowledge, yet incomplete and sterile, of the line between life and death.

    I am grateful for a belief system which provides for gratitude to a Benefactor for sustenance, life and death. I thank you for your sharing with this young person and with us.

    • The old ways were good ways.. so simple isn’t it, like you i do not begrudge science its pursuits but i do wonder whether they ARE advancements.. saying thank you for our dinner is such a simple thing.. growing our food gently and carefully is a wonderful thing c

  18. Good lecture Cecelia! We’ve had the very same dicussion with some of our guests AND my dad who would rather buy cheap, intensively reared chicken from the supermarket than eat one of ours, which has been free to range the surrounding fields for six months. All because he’s too sentimental about killing birds which he’s seen around the place!

    • Your Dad. What is he like!.. Ah well. are you warming up? i hope you are warming up over there, i don’t like to think of you still being cold.. c

  19. Lovely, lovely post, C! bravo, well said. it does bother me that our food is so sanitised, and the lives the creatures have lived is reflected in the quality of the meat sold. My family will personally not touch any fast foods, esp the ‘mac’, and I make a point of buying only free range wherever possible. My father and mother always butchered their own meat on the farm in Zimbabwe where I grew up, and I know first hand from seeing my father shoot the animal to seeing it skinned and then spending a day cutting, packing, mincing and making boerewors with the meat, where our meat comes from. Yes, those creatures that give their lives for us to eat deserve to being treated well. God gave man permission to eat the other creatures, but he also commanded that they be well cared for every step of the way. The Old Testament is full of those commands. Thank you for sharing that conversation of yours.

    • That must have been an incredible experience processing a whole cow as a family. We did sheep, but nothing like what you described. Did you know that in the US, MacDonalds is the single biggest purchaser of beef. Basically they determine the market! scary.. c

  20. Well said, Celi. I grew up knowing where our meat came from and often helped in its dressing. Still, I remain a bit uncomfortable when it comes to slaughtering the animals. When I’ve a large Thanksgiving dinner, I buy my turkey at a nearby poultry shop where you pick your bird and they insist you watch as it’s weighed and slaughtered. Depending upon your beliefs, they will say a prayer of thanks over the animal before it is killed. Although I don’t particularly relish the experience, it’s the only place I buy my turkey simply because I feel I should never forget what happens before meat appears wrapped in cellophane at the grocery.

    Enjoy your Sunday, Celi!

    • One day this winter, (in the months that i am not milking) i am going to come up to chicago and you can take me shopping or give me a list. Some of the places you go sound fascinating! C

      • Great! We’ll hit the markets and I’ll take you to lunch about a half-mile from here, in “Little India”, so you can get a proper curry. 🙂

  21. i don’t know how i ended up here as it is my first visit…but this post set me on fire! i immediately feel connected to people who understand, innately, that we are but a specie on a planet of many! water is the essence of life…and anyone who knows this, and then provides it for all of life – instantly has my attention! there is nothing that i respect more than a person who raises their own meat in a loving and wonderful way – i call those people “proper stewards” of the land…for they appear to cherish their “dominion”.

    needless to say – i leave bowls and cups and buckets of water all over our little homestead. you never know who will stop in and need a drink! if this post is indicative of your normal posts, i am going to thoroughly enjoy reading all of the previous posts. thank you for such a thoughtfull and well-thought out answer to a young’un.

    you can find me at framboisemanor.blogspot.com

    • I shall drop over and meet you at your place straight away.. and thank you so much for this comment.. there are many readers and bloggers who visit here who feel as we do.. wonderful to meet you and welcome! c

      • ceciliag – i have signed up as a follower and have also listed you in our blogroll after reading through a bunch of your previous posts…you are seriously good people…i really like that!

        and you are so right – there are so many of us out there who feel the same way…it is sooo wonderful to be able to meet up!

        your friend,

  22. No, not scared at all. If anything, I’m touched by your thoughtfulness for all the animals, leaving them a cool drink here and there. People here tend not to think much about respecting the animals that feed us, and the way they were transported could bring a tear to any eye. Fortunately, the government came out and did something about that, laying down regulations. It wasn’t much, but it’s a start.

    • I hope it works, some people work very hard for their dinner but still it is important to say a thank you and be gentle.. c

  23. keep talking, keep writing Celi. I remember a conversation years ago with a colleague who was sending his kids back to Nigeria becasue he wanted them to understand where food and water came from. We have a disconnect with food, something I’ve meant to write about myself, but somehow get caught up with other stuff.

    • I am coming over to your site right now Claire, you promised us a tour of the allotment! I hope it worked out and is not raining or something.. c

      • oops – still sorting out the photos, I managed to take the wrong lens and then it started to rain ….. life and the best laid plans……. but I do have a post about the most fantastic curry that is ready to go.

  24. It is so good for our kids to know the stories behind their food – I’m so glad we live in a rural setting. I’m not sure I’d do well raising animals to eat. I just get too emotionally involved. We were amazed how hard it was to give away the two kittens a couple weeks ago – we were so attached to them already.

  25. You are right my friend – although the Animals are bred for this purpose, you cannot treat as if it doesn’t matter 😦
    Who could? Actually I don’t want to know!
    On a better note though your water reflection of your garden is beautiful 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  26. I think most people hope that their food is treated as properly and kindly as you treat your animals that are marked for later consumption. That’s why a lot of people buy organic and cruelty-free.

  27. Very well written post, Celi. Lovely photos of the poppies. What is the tree or bush with the red blossoms above them?

  28. Reblogged this on now & gwen and commented:
    I’ve been following this blog, The Kitchens Garden, for a while now, and Cecelia is such a wonderful writer.

    I wanted to share this post with you, as her thoughts on raising animals for food really hits home for me. I would rather the animals I eat have a wonderful life where they can be happy, and killed quickly, than a horrible existence of being force fed, crammed into small cages, and terrorized before they die.

    What are your thoughts on eating meat?

  29. Every one should know where all their food comes from, and if we all cared enough sustainable farming methods would become the norm 🙂

  30. I’m glad you were able to explain what you do for that young man. Certainly it will give him something to think about. I applaud your hard work in taking care of any and all animals who live and visit on the farmy. I know how much work it is to lug the hose to the bird baths and plants in our little yard!

  31. Great post, as usual. We have multiple water containers in our garden up north, and also leave out bird seed. We tested one location with bird seed one day, water the next and the overwhelming favourite of the birds was the water, so unless they pester us for food, we leave the water. On the second part, I’ve noticed a few of the farmers markets incorporating petting zoos for the kids (& adults) to promote that early correlation between both ends of the “product”. I came from a farm, so it was right there eg, cranky rooster in the morning; dinner that night. I’m still a meat eater but I value it & don’t take it as my right. I love the way you explained it.

  32. I’m in complete agreement with you, Celi. The fact that we are so removed from the sources of our food is one of the major reasons we are so wasteful (and so fat!) I also learned a new word from this post–abbatoir–which is always good, and I love the phrase “character status”!

  33. Some really beautiful photos here Celi, lovely! And I am totally with you on the animals/meat. We know that we can give our animlas they best possible life and it is our duty to ensure that the despatching is done as calmy and humanely as possible, then give thanks for what they give us. We only have our chickens, you have so many more but I think we´re going about it in the best way possible and don´t take them for granted for a moment.

  34. I appreciate the farming process and how it puts food on the table, I’d rather not dwell on the details because I’m a highly sensitive (squeamish just sounds too much like a wuss). I’ve just witnessed such a conversation between parents and a young child, the child knew where the meat had come from and what had happened but was learning respect. It’s better than this myth-ignorance that most modern meat eaters seem to prefer, cosy but dangerous for both man and the animals. Your garden is beautiful too. 🙂

    • I truly think that if we all thought about where meat comes from, we would eat less of it and things would even put a bit more in many diets.. c

  35. Poppies! Lovely post, and speaking of lovely…I have nominated you for the “One Lovely Blog award” Head on over to my site to check it out. (No pressure, please just enjoy)

  36. Very well said and if only all our animals that are in our trust were as well cared for as yours…this truly would be a better world! Just as an animal deserves a humane life, they more than deserve a humane end of life…especially if they are feeding us!! I thank and admire you so much for making a difference on your little farm, as it will ripple outwards, as it probably did for the young man, you educated!!
    You are a lovely person! 🙂

    • Thank you Christina, that is a lovely thing to say. It just makes sense to me really. Being able to run a tiny farm means that I really do get in touch with the repercussions of what I am doing! welcome.. c

  37. 🙂 I have been following your blog for a time now but have not commented but this post struck a chord as I am passionate about the humane treatment of farm animals….actually, all animals for that matter and I believe it’s really important to praise wonderful, compassionate, farmers like you!! And especially ones who are willing to teach others the importance of what really matters! Thank-you again!!

  38. Beautifully, thoughtfully and lovingly said. So right you are. Respect is what we owe *all* of the living things around us, whether we like or love them individually or not, and if we are responsible for their well-being, all the more reason to be careful to show that respect. Thank you for this!

  39. I’m a new reader (over from thecrazysheeplady). Your story reminded me of when my youngest (now 22) was in kindergarten. I had taken in a wire dog crate with 2 of my hens one evening, for the kids to learn about the next day. They were amazed that there was an egg in the crate the next morning, and we got to discuss that eggs do not come from egg cartons. “How did it get out of her?” was a very popular question.

    I too believe that I owe my animals a decent life before I freezer train. I am with them when the mobile slaughter truck comes, and I always thank them for feeding me and mine. It is the least I can do. Thanks for your well-reasoned response to the young man.

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