A Fat Farmy Day Drenched in Spray

Mary’s Cat is being followed and bombed by barn swallows wherever she goes. 

(Audrey close your eyes). Because these guys are about ready to take their first flights.

They are so patient these little birds. Out-growing their nest and watching the milking from above twice a day.  Did I tell you that their nest is directly above the light in the milking parlour. There is always a swallow on duty. 

In case of premature toppling.

Daisy has returned to her usual self.  Munching. 

These two are waiting for me to pay the grounds some attention.  Fat chance.

With it being so dry, they are not getting a lot of use.

I know I had decided not to show you photos of the big pigs anymore, with them getting so close to the end of their stay. But this made me laugh. Out Loud.  This photo is for you Mad. Over there at Mad Dog TV Dinners. 

This red pig was too fat to get up this tiny step, but he was just so hungry.  I should not laugh but really this is an amusing shot. Since then, I have made him a new step by piling three old barn doors one on top of each other so he can get into the trailer and eat standing up. Like a good pig.

Good morning.  TonTon is cleaned up. I think he must have only had a touch of the skunk, as dishwashing liquid did the trick this time.   I have filed all your good advice for next time.  Yesterday I took my trusty spade out into the field and grubbed thistles. Thistles in the field is the sign of a bad housekeeper. It is like a grubby front step.

But while I was out there, in the middle of the Dairy Mistress Field I watched with rising alarm as a monster of a tractor with a spray boom the size of a plane hanger roared into the fields around me and at top speed commenced to spray the soy beans across a hot wind.  I had no time to get my animals in, or the washing off the line. Or myself in for that matter. And worse still absolutely no time to find a way to protect my bees. For that I would have had to lock them in the night before. The farmer promised me that he does not use pesticide. And swore he would warn me if he was going to.  But this smelt very bad. All the other  surrounding fields are being sprayed a fungicide with a top dresser (plane) and I know that smell.  This spray was different.  And we have monoculture GM cropping all around us for hundreds and hundreds of miles. There is nowhere to hide. But he could have WARNED me that they were going to spray!

If you stood up on the moon and looked down you would see us. We are that little dot.  That little multi coloured dot. Desperately waving our miniscule sling shots. A tiny mote in the eye of manufactured green!  This goliath we battle will not go down with one well placed stone. He has an army of genetically modified armoured ants that creep through every crack.  It is like boxing shadows that have claws. He will just drench me in spray while roaring past in his air conditioned cab, staring  straight ahead, eyes fixed on my  beautiful horizon – which to him is shaped like a wallet.

My words were not printable as I put away my spade, hosed down my cows, paying extra attention to Daisy and her udder. I brought all the linen in off the clothesline for rewashing.  I emptied all the water troughs, overturning the full heavy tubs with the strength of fury and set them to refill. The bees looked ok last night.  But we all know that the bees out in the field yesterday will not have come home. I am not even going to discuss latent damage to an organism.  You know it all. I am at a loss.

My accent gets quite British when I am angry so the message on his answering machine is very clipped. For some unknown reason he has not called me back to tell me exactly what we have been sprayed with. Fancy!

But there you are. This is the world I live in. I am doing the best I can and that will have to do.  Heads up.  Big breath. No whining. Remember to breathe out.

We will have a lovely day. (She says through clenched teeth, pounding at the keys) You too!


On this day last year. Imagine this – it was  hot then too! This post has my ten tips on how to survive a heatwave without air conditioning.  This one is quite funny actually.  I remember it made me laugh to write.


99 Comments on “A Fat Farmy Day Drenched in Spray

  1. I reckon any cheese Celie makes today will curdle and swear and spit. Those blank blank farmers know not what they do, and no, I will not forgive them. Have the best day you can, and simmer down, as it’s not good for the blood pressure to be angry all day.
    xox, ViV

    • Morning Ronnie. Our fields are rented from Johns uncle and he rents the rest to a big corn and beans farmer. So we sit in the center of enormous corn or beans fields, GM is Genetically Modified plants. You say GE I think. So when he sprays around the outside of my little fields on a windy day, he sprays me and mine. c

  2. I once saw and smelled my neighbor Farmer Jared (who I thought raised organic beef) putting something I thought was horrid on one of his hayfiields. I was so sad at the thought of him cheating. Turned out it was a manuer (that he collects from another neighbor’s turkey farm) and compost tea that he creates himself.

  3. I think that you should name that farmer’s name right here on the internet, and put his name in your book for the world to see. I think that you should film him spraying next time and put it on YouTube so that it goes viral. He is just one of many, but he could be the Calendar Boy for the movement! And we should all send that farmer an angry email. I say this with full knowledge that he’s not going to change, and it is near impossible to change people’s mindsets, and that you get more flies with honey than vinegar, but I am angry and I want to hurt somebody when I read this. I also have seen proof that people’s mindsets do change and that it is possible to move things in a different direction. I have to believe that what we are doing is sloooooowly going to change the world. So don’t despair and don’t give up. You are a force to be reckoned with, Miss Celi. I know that farmer’s ears are burning. Maybe he would like a freshly baked cow pie in a lovely crust!

  4. Christ, C – I’m seething for you. Call him back. Pound on his front door. Send John and the Teenager over there…you deserve an answer.
    Love the pic of the Plonker…and Mary’s Cat’s expression is priceless!

    • Poor cats, they are followed all over the property at this time of year, pestered by these birds.. good job too!! c

      • In all my Righteous Indignation this morning, I forgot something…there’s a question for you in today’s post. Have a look, when you get a minute?

  5. I think that you should name that farmer’s name right here on the internet, and put his name in your book for the world to see. I think that you should film him spraying next time and put it on YouTube so that it goes viral. He is just one of many, but he could be the Calendar Boy for the movement! And we should all send that farmer an angry email. I say this with full knowledge that he’s not going to change, and it is near impossible to change people’s mindsets, and that you get more flies with honey than vinegar, but I am angry and I want to hurt somebody when I read this. I also have seen proof that people’s mindsets do change and that it is possible to move things in a different direction. I have to believe that what we are doing is sloooooowly going to change the world. So don’t despair and don’t give up. You are a force to be reckoned with, Miss Celi. I know that farmer’s ears are burning. Maybe he would like a freshly baked cow pie in a lovely crust!

    • he is spraying his own crop which is one thing. Spraying around me when it is windy is another. But the thing that made me cranky was that he did not tell me he was going to spray, so that i could at least attempt to get my lot out of his way! they all spray. That is what they do! And thank you maggie , your ire is wonderful.. c

  6. Hang in there, little multi-colored dot in a sea of green. It may feel like an uphill battle, or that you are very small, but you’re a giant to your faithful readers!

  7. oh no! tht is so awful. i don’t know what i would do or what you can do. it is so unfair. one of the reasons i like living in the city is that no one uses lawn care companies. most people don’t have enough yard and no one cares to have perfect green grass. so, there are no chemicals being sprayed around me. but you go to such lengths to do the right thing and then have this happen. it is just wrong!

  8. “beautiful horizon – which to him is shaped like a wallet” …. sums it all up beautifully, which is why we should retaliate by not opening ours for their produce! One little stone may go unnoticed but millions … I wonder if this man has the cheek to go home and insist his wife produce organic meals for his family?? Coward for not returning your call.

    Off topic … everytime my vet tries to persuade me to buy a science diet for my dog I ask her to eat a handful in front of me and everytime she refuses ‘because she doesn’t know whats in it’ I smile and leave.

    Last years post is a humourous survival tip for the farmy and should be included in the book! Celi maybe you should read it again and follow some of your advice for hot days 🙂 Love that picture of the Plonker, I was hoping we would get a last picture of them. Laura

    • That is brilliant! What a great way to put it. Yes they will eat Cheetos or something and they have no idea what is in them!! priceless.. c

  9. That’s such a shame they have no consideration for their neighbours. I love Mr Piggy though…..don’t eat him

  10. Our house is constructed of large stones piled one on top of another. The walls are 50cms thick. with no cement or mortar to bind them, just earth, and there are no foundations – just earth. The walls that get the prevailing SW Atlantic weather have a coating of lime and sand, but the North wall is bare stone. Birds nest in every gap between the stones and at the moment our tiny courtyard is an aviary. As the next door farmer has retired, all the wild cats have left his barns so the birds are safe. Very fucking noisy, but safe:)

    • that would be a fantastic opening scene for some art nouveau indie movie. panning across all the nests in the walls of your house! what a place.. c

  11. The conditions that prevail are those that exist. If you make no effort to change what exists, that’s what will prevail. Ply the bright spark spraying the fields with cheese or some ice cream, and then ask for a heads-up on his schedule when he’s nearing your house. Tell him, “Give me some warning, Bucko, and I’ll have some cheese for you,” or some other wily method.

    And good morning to all on the farmy.

    p.s., Viv is right; watch your blood pressure.

    p.p.s, Kiss, kiss, hug, hug, oink, oink, bah, bah, moo, moo…

  12. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been sprayed. The audacity and the recklessness and the selfishness of some people knows no bounds. That’s so awful about your poor bees. And over here if the farms aren’t turning GM they’re being mined. Unless we all start to become self-sufficient we soon starve. The politicians are as bad as your neighbour! xx

  13. Oh, I hope you took a good shower—those sprays can make you quite ill too.

  14. That’s really bad news, the poor bees; I hope all is well with the rest of your farmy.
    Apologies for the number of emails; the graphics have taken up too much space and I can only send one at a time…….I noticed one has disappeared into the ether when I tried to send two at a time!

  15. I love your idea of looking back at a year ago! It mad me go back and look at my posts from last July when I was doing ‘small stones’ – is that really a year ago?!
    Lovely piggy picture. I hope you get your answer soon from the farmer

    • The law means nothing to these people.. what is the point of a law that has a rider. “Oh you can’t plant that here, unless of course you want to!” What rubbish.. c

      • Agreed. But I believe we the people have to let our “public servants” know that we deserve better, that we deserve good, clean non-chemical food, so I keep trying. If enough people object it will change: several communities in India have been able to throw Monsanto out — we could learn a few things from them. Americans need to wake up.

  16. I assume you and John have had a “discussion” with this farmer-fellow about the spraying. Maybe it’s time to do it again. So sorry. I’m sure some days must feel like one step forward, two steps back, but there is that ONE STEP at a time, and what you’re doing is important. So hang in there! I admire your spunk. And I wish I could hear that message on his answering machine. : )

  17. maybe he could be a little more considerate and take the winds into consideration before spraying all God’s land and creatures

  18. Bloody farmer spraying in the wind and not telling you (clipped British accent a la Brief Encounter going on now)…poor show indeed. Can understand how you feel. Priceless expression on Mary´s Cat´s Face and as for that piggy, at least he´s enjoying his last days 🙂

  19. I can understand your horror at the spraying and poor you and your beasties powerless in the middle. Some years ago we travelled to Montana and witnessed crop-spraying by plane. Spraying with what I don’t know but the sheer scale of it made me gulp!
    The pig was GREAT! If you don’t mind, I might have a go at drawing him – in the winter of course!
    P.S. I’ve given you and Daisy a mention on my blog today, you may want to see it. It gives ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ a whole new meaning!

  20. Well, that sucked, making your day a complete do-over. Like you had nothing better to do in this heat. I hope the bees were “at home” because of the heat and weren’t too badly affected. That porker pic is too funny!
    Stay cool today, Celi.

  21. Celi, I live a few hours southeast of you, and am also surrounded by cropland. There are a couple of problems in our situations. #1, often it is not the farmer who does the spraying. He contracts with the company that does this (FS in our area), and they show up unannounced. You need to contact the spray company manager. I sent mind a lovely brochure I got from the local apiary about how spraying is killing the bees, and how if he will notify me, I can lock my bees in the hive the night before. he has been VERY cooperative. It took several years though of my “intervention” to get this. Now, he calls the farmers, who calls me the night before. Once this spring they called the morning of, asking if they could spray unexpectedly, and I said no….no call, no spray. They honored their word.

    The second, and worse IMHO problem, is not necessarily what the spraying. When crops are planted, farmers use “talc” to facilitate the easy glide of the seeds through the planting equipment. As they rub against the seeds, which are coated with herbicides (and sometimes pesticides), the chemicals adhere to the talc. The talc is then deposited in the soil, where it will remain for up to several years. Every time a tractor, etc navigates the field, and you see dust rising, the dust includes the talc, which your bees fly through. With the dry weather here this spring, there were times when huge clouds of dust were whipped up around here just by the wind. A very devastating sight reminiscent of the Dust Bowl days.

    I fight an ongoing battle with the farmer, who (un)fortunately happens to be my brother :-).
    I have been known to walk out and stand in front of the spraying machine and make them stop and tell me what they are spraying that day, and if it’s too windy, I’ll call them on it. They usually back down, because they can be liable for damage done by their actions. You have to take steps, and yes, you usually get better results being reasonable than antagonistic. I speak nicely then go back in the house and cut loose with how I *really* feel .

    I’m a third generation farmers daughter, but at age 61 what I’m seeing in my own neighborhood is troubling me greatly. I see both sides: the farmers are trying to earn a living. They are not large corporate farms, but also multi-generational farm families. But the direction they’ve taken is devastating the land, I think.
    Jan in mid-central Illinois

    • Goodness Jan this is a fantastic comment. I hope everyone reads it. You are right he was probably a contractor and i DO need to deal with them. What an excellent idea. And sadly we have heard of and read about the talc and John is convinced that that is what has been dissappearing our bees. It builds up and builds up and then poof.. overload.. It is devsstating and it is often family. Our land is owned by johns uncle and he has not visited it in twenty years.. does not care I guess.. how different we all are.. thank you so much for your comment jan, I would love to hear more from you.. you are one onto it lady!! c

  22. Good heavens. Obviously I was too wrought up to proofread my post. Apologies.

  23. Oh, how I understand. It makes me horribly upset. That is how I felt with the two fires we had…I gave up fighting the spray helicopter…I used to stand out on our canal bank and dare him to spray, one day he did and gave me the finger and the spray at the same time. Made me so made I called the Ditch Company and the spray company….I ran up against the ‘big boys’ (of course the next year they burned (this spring) they burned us down. Fire on the north side, the east side and a beautiful ancient old tree. I lost all the way around.

    Then we found out…..the river watchers (people who protect the rivers) filed a suit and WON against all the spray the Ditch Company was spraying on the canal banks.



  24. I can’t believe how quickly those pigs grew! I had no idea.

    I would be furious at that farmer too! How hard is it for him to make a simple call to you the day before he sprays? Not hard. It’s common courtesy and something SO many people seem to be without in this day and age.

    My sister in law married a wheat farmer and I remember visiting the farm and having his (my sister in law’s husband) mother tell me about sitting outside with her tea and lunch watching them spray the wheat fields. She said she was “oversprayed” numerous times throughout the years. They all kind of snickered about it as if it were kind of funny instead of a complete nightmare. She now has major health issues and the breast cancer rate in that tiny town has sky rocketed. Sad that people don’t take the time to think about what they’re doing.


  25. I was just thinking if you could trap that skunk and deliver him into his home.. that might give him an idea of how pervasive spraying is. Sadly, his spray is deadly while the skunk’s is not. What an.. well, I’m trying to swear less these days. Your little, um, big pig is hilarious. I’ve been eating so much lately that I feel an affinity for him. My head is resting on the kitchen counter as we speak.. lol! xoxo Good luck with your wee bees!! xoxo

  26. Thanks for the pig picture – he’s a beauty! Shame about the spraying – I suggest naming and shaming too, though you do have to live next door… Interestingly, when I swear at people I start to sound like I come from the Bronx (too much Scorsese I suppose). I hope your bees are OK.

  27. You are in the middle of battle field. Don’t give up! Try to call him again and explain why you were angry and ask him “again” to notify you when he does that. It’s amazing what you are doing there and it’s a good example to everyone how to fight system. Maybe one day your John’s uncle will rent his land to a farmers like you. That would be awesome. More and more people are trying to get out of the city. I am so glad we did it!

  28. I’m with Sharyn on this, Celi. At least here in California there are multiple forums for discussion and debate on the topic of genetically modified labeling…that’s a side issue to the larger concern about the GMOs in the first place, but it’s where I’m currently putting in some energy. I would be so upset (and I am) with your experience and the spraying. I’m concerned about your bees, too, but we remain hopeful and I add to my ever-expanding hope bucket the wish that the American public will wake up! The pig picture is a good laugh…and we can use a laugh today! 🙂 Debra

  29. Not very neighborly. Obviously he doesn’t care (and will get away with whatever he can) and disregards the usage instructions that say “do not use in windy conditions”
    But you do have a right to know what is being sprayed and being blown onto your property.
    Might check with county /legal aid to see if you can get an injunction of some sort – (disregard and endangering your quality of like as well as potential damage to your crops/livestock – possibly even health issues to your family). At least force him to tell you what was used ( and when the next dose is scheduled) He should supply you with the product sheet of ingredients, directions for use, and potential hazards – if you can get the name of the product that stuff is on-line. His garbage dump or local supply/feed store might be able to tell you what products have been used.
    Hard to pressure the land owner that leases the property…maybe ask something be included in the lease next time that covers this?
    I shall now gaze at the farmy pix and try to calm down.

    • Perhaps a certified letter politely asking for information about what was sprayed on the windy day of…Then a second certified letter after a response/short period of time asked to be informed of schedule to you could take appropriate measures?
      (Obviously this event is still bugging me. I lost a Bouvier to cancer we feel was caused by a neighbor spraying pesticides on windy days and onto/through our fence. It was a battle – and we finally got information and response, but the dog got sick and died… sorry if I’m rabid about this)

  30. Oh Cinders…all I can say is UGH!! I agree with the last few commentors…go to the top of the food chain on this one…find out what legal recourses you have and I’m sure there are plenty!! You could be the next Karen Silkwood or Erin Brockovich!! It starts with one voice or like a pebble thrown into a pond!!
    Loved the farmy photos and yes, they gave all of us something to calm ourselves with! 🙂

    • Life is funny. the farmer has not called me yet so i had better call him tonight just to say let me know next time.. c

  31. i reblogged your last year’s blog about keeping cool in the heat; back to your current post – i love how you name all the animals; i adore pigs heads in buckets, don’t stop taking pictures of anythng. enchanting; you are such a good writer and an incredible woman – best wishes

  32. Furious would be putting it mildly. I can appreciate the situation as our home is surrounded by food crops – peas, beans and potatoes. When they spray it is a rush to close the windows. This is not the way anyone should start their day. Virginia

  33. That would make me furious, Celi: all the work you are putting into a sustainable farmstead and someone comes by spraying! Hope you find the magic words to make sure it doesn’t happen again….
    Beautiful pictures. the pic made me laugh out loud too.

  34. A google search came up with a few links: http://spraydriftillinois.com/spray_drift_pamphlet.pdf; http://www.farmgateblog.com/article/living-with-your-organic-neighbor; http://knowledgeproblem.com/2011/08/05/coase-legal-liability-and-pesticide-drift/. Interesting reading and the first probably the most pertinent to you. Every one of the photos posted called to me. The swallows are gorgeous, & I love a flame. Mary’s Cat is priceless. Oh, and yes Ten Tips on surviving a Heatwave without Airconditioning is a must include in your book. So thanks, your post has as always been great entertainment for me. I hope you have a better day today 🙂

  35. Celi, I posted a few links re neighbour overspraying and it sent my comment to your spam I assume as the comment generated an ‘Your comment is awaiting moderation” message 🙂

  36. Go to justlabelit.org They make it incredibly easy for you to register your opinion about GM crops as well as signing petitions to control them. I hear your complaint. I never get a heads up when they spray adjacent to our back horse pasture.

  37. I’ve been reading your blog for a month or so now and never felt so compelled as today to comment. I am just so sorry for your being bombed by whatever was being sprayed at you. I truely respect what you are doing and the sheer amount of hard work that is needed to farm in the responsible way that you are doing it. Again, I’m so sorry this has happened to you.

    • well firstly thank you so much for reading, knowing you are out there reading about what we are doing makes the world of difference, it does feel like I was bombed but we just have to keep carrying on! thank you again.. celi

  38. Your post has made quite a few people angry and I am one of them. I am so sorry you feel you are fighting a battle that may never be won. I say keep doing what you are doing – and don’t cut that jerk any slack….it takes many of us little dots on a map to do what we know is right to finally make a difference. I hated the part about the bees out in the fields….that makes me so sad. 😦
    Hope tomorrow is better!

  39. Loving the tour of the Farmy – great photos:) The birds here have gone a little ga ga lately too – the other night 2 were locked together by their feet just making one heck of a racket.

  40. I am horrified at the spray story and devastated for you. It must be terrible trying to maintain your own healthy farm while that other kind of agriculture takes place all around you.
    Nature has the power to cleanse and renew, given time. And even people who use sprays can one day have their eyes opened to what they are doing. There are people in NZ who have gone organic after their health was affected by their own constant spraying.

    • It is a wonderful thought that nature can cleanse and renew.. thank you for your positive note .. c

  41. At the moment I’m in my other life in Oxfordshire and about to get on my soap box re sustainable gardening. Argg, that’s so maddening. We are trying to have a very small organic meadow here at West Cottage. Just a very, very small one, just for the bees and burnet moths, a family of swallows and our cat. It’s an uphill battle. Isn’t it? Yours in wholehearted support. 🙂

  42. We were sprayed a few years ago by planes, trying to kill some tiny little caterpillar…it felt like we were in a war zone…I would pack the children up and head out to Piha to spend the day with Mum…we didn’t eat out of the garden for about 18mnths and I would come home and hose down the decks and the slides etc…terrible business.. all the time they were trying to tell us the sprays were safe ha…what a joke!!!
    Take care Ce
    Still loving the blog

  43. Arrrrgh! I feel your pain. Two weeks ago I looked out our windows to our neighbors’ yard and there was a man spraying along my property line with this sprayer attached to a gas blower. He was a pesticide company and he was blowing that @#%^ all over my yard, and my organic compost pile under the deck! Not enough to spray, mind you, but to attach one of those motorized blowers to it so it can go everywhere!!! And was hired by my neighbors who have 2 young children, a baby and another one due any minute…and they play in that stuff! I ran out and gave him what for and told him it was MY property he was spraying, too, and even if somehow he missed my compost that stuff would runoff right into it and my garden, too. And my cats…I keep them in whenever these folks have the pest guy or the lawn spray guy…yep, they spray their lawn, too, so it will be green…can you say toxic? I just don’t get it. I’m sorry, but most people are idiots.

  44. Classic cat photo! How you get these shots!! And the pig!!
    As for the spray – UGH. Islanders LOVE Roundup to spray on the rampant roadside foliage. Not even a dust mask while spraying.
    Filipinos love it to spray around their garden perimeter to keep weeds from jumping in. If I ask at a farmers market if they use poison on the produce, they emphatically answer NO. Just Roundup around the perimeter (!!)
    It’s a shame we can’t get the whole world on board with organic gardening and farming. Really, it would set us free, in so many ways. Set THEM free, though they don’t know it yet.
    So sorry you’re having to deal with this.

  45. While I am not a farmer, I still have some understanding of your anger about the toxic chemical assault upon your farm, perpetrated by the mass marketers of poison and the merchants of greed. Though from a distance, I still share your outrage.

  46. Celi, this made me cry. I am so sorry you and the Farmy got sprayed. Do you know the owner or grower of the crop in that field? Can you go and talk to him, once you are feeling totally calm of course… And tell him what happened to you? You never know, he may be reasonable industrial fat head farmer. For you the Farmy and all of your critters I certainly hope so!

    I often get dreamy eyed over some of the smaller farms for sale around where we live, but then I look at our oak buffer zone and I am glad all over for our little hidden acre.
    xo, Lynda

  47. I’ve just read that since the arrival of GM in the UK, soya allergies are up 50%. Hmm. Thought of you and your silly farmer.

    (As you’ve asked for heads up about connected posts, I’ve just written a bit about nutrition too over at mine, some scary facts).


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