Plain Sailing

The wonderful thing about problems is that you get to solve them. Something goes wrong. You worry on it.  You find a pathway to the solution. You fix it or you live with it. But it becomes familiar. The next time it goes wrong, you panic less because you have already found the pathway to the solution. Each problem becomes a challenge. Less of a disaster. 

So when TonTon got skunked AGAIN at 4 am yesterday morning, I just put the pillow over my nose and thought. Fine. I know how to clean him now. No worries.  And from now on he is not allowed outside until it is light. 

Then when I got to the barn with my clean dog by 6am and the milking machine pump did not work again. I did not panic, I had encountered this one before too.  I practiced my hand milking then I put Daisy back out into the yards with some extra placatory hay,  reached for the phone and called the nice man with the blue pump,  then milked her fully when he came. Then I called John to bring home the stuff he needed to clean my pump out again.  And hoped that he would fix one of the trucks soon so that I could pick up the emergency pump myself next time. 

When the wind hit gale force and the temperatures were over the expected high of 103, I thought fine I have closed all the windows already, the fans are on, I have done the best I can.  The Old Codger and I ate a good brunch to fortify ourselves for the day, finishing with icecream. Then with him calling orders from his porch I found an old tin rubbish bin lid which we turned upside down under a tree and filled with water for  his ‘critters’. Should have done that weeks ago he said, then  back to his chair he went to watch the Olympics.

Back home I worked outside in small hits. Drunk lots of water. Wore my hat which Ton practiced retrieving when the wind blew it off my head. And slowly achieved what I could.

A bucket of freshly picked  tomatoes was peeled, chopped, cooked, blended with the stick blender that I love, then put into the crockpot to cook down. 

I did not get to the pickles but that was OK.  Then the Tall Teenager called,  he was staying over with his grandmother for the night so dinner could be simple. And the clean up fast. I hung the evenings load of washing on the line. Got the sprinkler in place for the early morning watering, spent an hour struggling with the internet then hit the sack with my book.

But I had forgotton something. I had forgotton to turn off the crock pot.  After a while, sometime in the night, it must have switched itself to the lowest setting and look!

Beautiful thick sauce. Almost a paste. Overnight it reduced by half in the crock pot with the lid off.  So you see? Even my mistakes were good ones yesterday.

Good morning. It is still dark so TonTon is sat on the floor next to me, clean, but with his legs crossed waiting patiently for the skunk visitors to be Far Away!  We have put water plates on the outskirts of the property and I have begun to slowly move the usual garden water containers into gardens further from the house. I will move them further away from the bedroom steps each day and retrain the skunks away from my windows. This is my naive plan anyway.

It is thundering outside and as the light rises, a dark cloudy sky is being revealed. So at the very least it will be a cooler day. With any luck and a strong string we may be able to pull a little rain over here!

Have a lovely day.


On this day a year ago.. I shared my bread non-recipe and was working on weaning lambs. I am enjoying these glimpses a year ago too.

71 Comments on “Plain Sailing

    • So do I. It seems Tonton and the skunk are enjoying their morning encounters just a little bit too much!! c

  1. I’ve been thinking about using the crock pot for just that…now that you’ve done the test run, there’s no reason not to!
    Wishing you good rain today – without the hail that goes with thunderstorms!

    • i am thrilled with the result. if we were to make tomat conserva like a few of us did last year, all i have to do is strain it first! not the same taste as roasted in the oven but pretty good.. c

    • It was a great string and we held it here for almost 10 minutes, not a bad little rain at all! Fresh from your mountains too!! c

  2. Oh I love it when a plan goes awry and there is a bonus waiting for you! Rich tomato sauce perfect. We ate the last bacth of tomato sauce from the freezer this week, and now I’m playing that waiting game for this years crop to ripen. Happy days !

    • It is so interesting to look and see what i was doing that day, a real visual diary.. tons of fun ronnie.. c

  3. Although you found plenty of silver linings, I hope today brings fewer problems. It’s true what you say, though- it made me think of how much less panicky I am around Kaya than I was with Baki.

    • Living and learning.. that is the trick.. and a calm day is unfolding, lets hope it stays that way…c

  4. Am counting the hours of sleep you get on my fingers, hmm, somehow don’t get to the toes 🙂 ! Are you absolutely certain that TonTon is not playing a game in tandem with said skunk(s) on you: he is getting an awful lot of attention out of turn as far as all the other ‘critters’ are concerned 🙂 !

    • I try to be in bed by 8pm though lately i have been failling miserably, Luckily i am a good sleeper. Oh the lengths a dog will go to to get attention!! morning eha, or should i say evening! c

      • Well, evening to you now ! Yes, well, different diurnal patterns: I rarely stop working ere midnight!! 🙂 ! Not tho’ tonight nor for the next fortnight: Opening Ceremony at 5.30 am local time and Cycling Road race starting about 7pm [till past midnight!] and I won’t be off the TV, if I can help it for the full fortnight ;D ! Methinks a lot of blog writers will be very happy not to get my long ‘ramblings’ 😉 !

  5. It’s great that you have such a good neighbor. I love the picture of your piggies in the sprinkler. What a life! And I don’t know about that dog. Maybe his sniffer is broken! I guess some dogs don’t learn. We’ve had some skunks around but thankfully none of our dogs have ever taken a full spray. I’m enjoying reading your posts from last year. Thanks for the inspiration to start my day. Hope yours is fantastic and that you get some rain.

    • I am very lucky with my long suffering neighbours. and I think you are right, some dogs learn and some don’t. Miserably Ton is a don’t. The Big Dog has not been skunked as long as I have been here.. so you have to ask yourself!! c

  6. What a beautiful philosophy in your opening paragraph Celi! I admire your fabulous positive attitude. Have a beautiful day and hope you get a lovely long soaking rain.
    🙂 Mandy

  7. To stay positive in light of all those adversities is admirable. Admirable indeed.

    Now, a thought. I saw that cooked down tomato sauce and thought, oh, a paste to spread on that skunked TonTon.

    I also thought, actually remembered, the time I left my dirty, water-filled crockpot open on the kitchen counter overnight. I was soaking off some burned on chicken. In the morning I found a, get this, dead mouse floating in the chicken broth. Be forewarned…

    • Oo a mouse how awful. When i cook with the lid off i cover it with one of those netting splatter lids, mainly for flies actually, but it should keep mice off too. Though it was cooking so if the mice got past the heat of the pot and in there he would be well cooked by morning! The dog cleaned up really well with the dawn and the biogreen clean. No need to waste my beautiful tomato paste on him! morning audrey!!c

  8. That is so true, most problems have solutions! No matter how frustrating, it’s all about finding them. Love that picture of the pigs too!

    • Those pigs are a laugh a minute! I need to have my breakfast and then go and let them out for a run. morning ksenia.. c

  9. Whoa there Cecilia, I can see you becoming a crock pot convert yet!

    • yes I am.. its all over now.. morning christine! hope you have lots of lovely guests at the B&B.. c

      • The pun was great–my comment to say, “I get it.” Take a bow. (Applause)

    • if you were to cast your eye over to the other side of the farmy you would indeed have seen pork basking in the sun.. big porkers!! c

  10. you may not like this remark because you are such a busy lady, but there are many times after i read your blogs, that i wish i was able to get outside and work and be so busy with my day that i collaspe into bed at night. i am limited on what i can do daily. it is according to how Al feels

    • I don’t mind what you write at all terry. I do understand that feeling from when i had little children and babies and was incredibly limited, I longed to just garden until i dropped.. it must be terribly frustrating for you.. hope Al is having a ‘good’ day today.. c

  11. I love your days. Even the hard ones! I’m glad the Old Codger seems to be feeling well.

    You would think the skunks would be afraid of TonTon but I guess his sweet personality precedes him! Ha!

    I love my crockpot and my mom bought me an emulsion blender (stick blender) last year for Christmas. How did I ever live without it? Have a great day ~ April

    • We are such a pair.. yesterday i started the tomatoes on the stove then transferred the sauce to the crock pot once it had been blended,, today i am doing both stages in the crockpot! slow learner!!! but you know – less dishes = happy celi!! c

  12. Celi, you are having such a positive affect on the world and the universe is sure to give back in kind! I am curious….what are you reading?

    • Good Morning Diane! There you are! i am reading The Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.. one of my favourtie novellas by an extraordinary story teller. I have read it many times AND because I usually have two books going at the same time my light reading is The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller and it is a great story, very well written. hope your day is rocking along! c

      • Thank you for recommendations. Request filed at local library. I too have 2-3 books going at one time! Peace for this day to you, d.

    • morning Linda, we are zone 5 but John did sow these bloody tomatoes at christmas time.. it has certainly paid off this year! Huge crop coming in, but just a bucket a day so I am not making sauce all day and all night!! well actually i am but in small quantities!! ha ha .. c

  13. Charlotte showering on tip toes is a blinding shot. I can’t believe the high winds to go with the soaring temperatures – just unimaginable to me who has never visited the prairies ( funny that “praire” is the word the local farmers use for a field here). The sauce looks perfect, better than any I’ve made mostly because there are no damn tomatoes owing to all the rain earlier this summer.

    • how absolutely boring not to have lots of summer tomatoes, though those white fleshed peaches in your window this morning look very tempting.. Charlotte loves the water in her face, Sheila not so much. She is always slightly behind Charlotte.. those little pigs are funny! c

  14. Those wonderful tomatoes!
    With the litte sun we had, ours are still small green marbles. I water them every day, but they need some sun too. Let’s see if this week (summer has finally arrived, although people are complaining again) will do the trick, but I’d guess one week is not enough.

  15. what a spendid way to make sauce. i have had a slow cooker for quite a while and until recently, i only used it once. i am using it more and more in this heat. i posted a batavian beef stew recipe today which i made in it the other day. though i am picking a couple dozen tomatoes each day, i am eating them so fast i don’t have enough for sauce. i will be trying this as soon as i can though.

  16. Skunk Training,my way is Canned Cat food. Place it where you want them. I love my critters but not in my house when I open my door… Love your attitude makes me smile. Hey from Alabama.

    • Mary what an excellent idea, i am glad you have led your skunks away from the doors, it give me hope! Hullo out there in alabama! c

  17. Oh how I envy you your tomatoes. It has been such a dismal rainy spring and summer here my tomato plant just sulk. Tomato sauce, such as yours, put away is like money in the bank. Just know you have it makes you feel incredibly wealthy – and not in a monetary way. I shall be happy to be able to pick my tomatoes, sprinkle them with a little Malden salt, and eat them over the kitchen sink. Come on Sun. Virgina

    • I agree virginia. Just a little salt and it is a taste sensation. Eating fresh, just picked tomatoes is glorious! i never tire of it. We don’t buy tomatoes all winter, we just wait for the good home grown ones! c

  18. How you manage to do everything yet still be so cool is beyond me! Any person that can handle a skunk time and time again is awesome 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  19. What a day! It’s time that Ton Ton learnt to roll in the mud with the pigs and then bath himself under the hose. It beats me how the Olympics can be on when the opening ceremony is tomorrow… however, they do seem to have started a few days ago. I’ve been in town to day and out east yesterday and today – London is very quiet – I have a feeling it might stay that way, it’s too hot for anything else 😉

  20. I hope that your skunks are better learners than our are. They don’t go for the water, but the compost pile. 103?! Oh my. Be safe, please!

  21. I’m holding on to the thought you’ve now planted…there is indeed something quite peaceable about just remembering that “we can do this” when something goes wrong, rather than waste energy going on about it! You have such a strong positive spirit and you share it liberally! 🙂 Debra

  22. Celi, I FINALLY got a hold of the strong string and managed to pull it over our farmy and hold it there for almost an hour of blessed rain. All plants, animals and human are dancing about now and breathing big sighs of relief! xo

  23. Oh, my! Poor you. And poor Ton Ton. Hopefully your moved-water plan will be successful in keeping those little stinkers away. My hubby walked in as I was reading and saw the tomatoes in the crock pot. He thought they looked scrumptious!

  24. One of the best pig pictures ever!
    Retraining the skunks is a good idea..they are smart little guys
    Poor TonTon! He probably is not too happy about it all either.
    You are sounding quite self reliant…..hope you get some rain – and a break in the heat!

  25. Hey, Celi! You sure do give new meaning to the phrase “rolling with the punches.” Zia and I read this post together and I showed her a few others of yours. Like your area, heavy storms rumbled through here last night. It’s really good to see; many fields really need it, much like back home..
    Your crockpot tomato conserva looks so good and so much more convenient than standing over a hot stove, stirring it constantly. Have a great night!

  26. Isn’t there an old fairy tale about weaving straw into gold? That’s what I see you doing. Tomato soup to tomato paste, mistakes that are ‘good ones’, being prepared for problems, and taking strength from solving them. Yes you are the good fairy who weaves straw into gold, no doubt about it. I take my (woolly winter) hat off to you Miss C.

  27. I always love your photos. That tomato sauce looks so yummy!

    FYI: I relocated my blog to so I no longer show up in the feeds here 😦

  28. Pingback: So cool | thekitchensgarden

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