Sometimes we all need to have a good think.

Yesterday I awoke to 22F, this morning it is 40F.  But summer  is over. That life’s force we call Mother Nature is more powerful that any goverment, any warlike clan.  Any law, any silly little wish. Any roof and any plan. When they say the Force of Nature they mean the ultimate force.  She is the unrelenting mother of us all.  When she calls Time, your plants die.  The summer garden and its abundance of  food is over.

Though the pigs will dance while digging into the frozen ground. That is how gorgeous it all is. The cool weather vegetables will be around for a while yet. 

But now we watch as Mother, that Nature, takes our playground from us and slowly freezes it into hibernation.   Time for a rest she says. Time for sleep. In life and in play. She will always win. 

Nature is our balance and our lesson. This is why we call her Mother. Listen to your mother. Nothing lasts.  Everything is eternal in our memories. Everything cycles back. All is good.  But it will always change.  Always.  Change is our constant. Our very smallness, our vulnerability to the elements, to life and death,  is our iron clad strength. This knowledge is the boat we sail in. The knowledge of our ability to work with Nature. Not against her. This is our safety. Our blessed union.

Reach up our parents tell us, reach for the sky, be the best, beat them all, we are the  cleverest.  We are better than anyone. You can be anything you want to be. Mother Nature laughs quietly. Be still she says, be the real power at work.  Be still.  Hush now. For there is your strength.  Your simple tasks are the most glorious. Your simple quiet unseen struggles are the ones she will applaud. The gentlest of strokes on another face, the sweet glory of a thank you,  that smile for your baby.  For your love. This is our Mother.  Our Nature. Stop the clammering and listen.  Hush now. Take stock.

So I am taking stock. We have been working all summer at squirreling as much food away as we can for the winter. As far as my dream of self sufficiency goes, I have succeeded with meat, honey, tomato sauces and pastes. I have enough of these for a year. But as far as vegetables and fruit in the cellar, potatoes and onions, cheeses, cabbages and pumpkins .. it is very meagre. Many of the crops did not yield nearly enough this year.  We did not achieve our goal of a years supply this season.

If I can keep Daisy milking for the winter, we will have milk, cream, butter, cheese and icecream.  So this has been a success. Though she did not give enough milk for me to make very many long term cheeses. And she is not bred. It is too late now, we cannot have her calving at the end of next summer. There is no fresh feed then. We are a field driven farm. So I am leaving her open until next April. Then we will breed her. So only after the following winter will we get a new calf and  fresh milk again. The bonus is  she will be into a cycle of calving in the  late winter, early spring which is perfect for the pasture.

But we need that milk. And we will be raising pigs again next spring. Our own piglets, hopefully from Charlotte. So it is possible -and here is some exciting news- that I will need to find another milking cow to provide the farm with milk this coming spring and summer.  I am thinking of a little Jersey. They have such pretty eyes. We will have an eclectic herd.  But I believe that the grass can take another small cow and her calf.  She calve in tandem with Daisy.

Though, once again, I can hear a whisper of a giggle through the dark window, from Mother Nature.  All your plans, she laughs kindly at me, as she whisks her chilly breeze by.

So, we have much to do before we become self sufficient and properly sustainable.

This was the temperature at 8am yesterday morning, then it climbed sixty.  I look forward to the arrival of our max and min thermometer. That will give you more of an idea of the extreme daily swings in temperature in this location.

Winterising has begun. The bee supers are wrapped and stored in the convertible where they will freeze in luxury for the winter.  I am working on the tractor shed today clearing out the accumulated clutter of the summer and stacking all the gardening bits and pieces away. Every corner will be dragged out of every shed and summer will be packed away and winter brought to the fore.  I need it all ready by late November.

The juice from the grapes has been tested and is at the lower end for acids and the mid range for sugars.  Good news so far. Now we are watching it begin to  ferment.

You all have a lovely day.  I will have a lovely day. I am a very lucky girl.


84 Comments on “Sometimes we all need to have a good think.

  1. Your images really do tell a story. It definitely looks like winter has arrived. The ground looks very cold. I think a jersey cow would be so adorable. They really are the most beautiful of all cows. I know you’re heading into winter but I look forward to seeing what gives birth in the Spring xx

    • At the moment it is a wee plan, but I think it would be a good idea to have two milking cows.. c

  2. That first photo had me wishing for wooly socks. I think with gardens it is a bit like with children. You are not always where you want to be (not potty trained? Still waking up x times a night? Always losing homework and anything else not chained down?) but as long as you are moving forward, it’s all good. I look at the list of things that you are able to provide your household by your own hard work and common sense and it is impressive indeed! And how exciting that there might be a new face on the Farmy. I have always dreamed of a sweet little Jersey cow.

    • They are terribly sweet little cows and what a lovely idea that gardens and children are so alike.. they most certainly are.. I never thought of it that way before! morning siobhan.. c

  3. Cecilia what a lovely post.. I do look forward to it everyday… when you look for another cow, think about a Swiss Brown… don’t know if you get them there.. I have never collected so much milk from one cow as I did from mine… high production and never a problem with calving… spat them out like a squeezed pimple.. how I miss “old swiss” she was also the easiest to milk…

    • Hmm, what an excellent idea, i shall investigate. I was thinking a jersey because Johns bother has quite a few and might be persuaded to part with one but I would actually rather have another heritage breed.. I shall do some research.. thank you.. c

      • Hey if you can get for free take it… but then, having been a dairy farmer, he’s likely to give you a poor producer…

        • esp to family!! (laughter!) we will see.. he is in missouri which is a bit of a trek from here too, so there are a number of hurdles! c

  4. I like and agree with your thoughts this morning on Mother Nature. A good send off for me to go to the office and sit in front of my computer and crunch numbers. Have a blessed day, Cecilia.

  5. Now if only those water barrels could fill themselves in winter – you too could rest up a little! We are 27deg C and overcast today, hoping for some summer rain. Celi, here is an scary article about a dilema the French are having with their bees, thought you might be interested.


  6. Celi, have you thought about goats for milking? And for selling the kids and for eating? They are so easy to keep and so friendly and wonderful. You can also keep milking them year around! xo

    • I can milk the cow year round too however the pump will not work in the deep deep cold, plus once she is pregnant i do like her to rest from milking and let the calf and her gain some weight.. So two cows would be the answer. I love goats cheese but not goats milk in my coffee!.. Do you like to drink it? and we need a huge volume of milk to raise milk fed pigs.. but john sometimes says he would like a goat. we will see.. c

      • I was just going to suggest the same thing about a goat. If you don’t keep a buck on the property (only as a visitor once a year) then your milk shouldn’t taste any different. You seem to like animals with personality that get into everything–I can’t think of a better way to describe a goat. Lol! Am new to your blog but have been enjoying your ruminations!

        • Hmm, I tasted goat meat – once – in Kenya, and became an instant Vegan whenever it was on the menu after that. 🙁 Laura

            • It’s true what Julie says, with no buck on the place and the milk strained and cooled right away the milk tastes the same as cows milk. And you can make any of the cheeses and yogurts and such with it too. And, they are absolutely adorable! No doubt they would be a part of the gang checking the fences with you morning and evening! 🙂

  7. I did not have my glasses on and I read your title as
    Sometimes we all need to have a good drink
    cheers 🙂
    I will toast your successes 🙂
    I think it’s been a bad year all round for some fruit and veg. Some of my harvests have been very meagre

  8. How wise you are, Celi. I have just been writing about my assets, which are not so meager, but feel meager on some days. I have food, however, and shelter. I do not have to grow all my own food (good thing, here in the fog zone, where I could grow potatoes and onions, but not much else). I have friends and love and resourcefulness of a certain stripe. 22 degrees is a cold dawn — colder than it ever gets where I live.

  9. I can’t imagine living in a place where the seasons don’t change, can you? The months of winter and hibernation do give us much needed time to reflect and rest and plan for the next round. And to do something different for awhile, leaving us fresh and ready to go at it again. I love that part. Accepting and taking the good with the bad is all part of the rhythm of farm life. You’ve done a wonderful job this year in your quest towards sustainability. You may not be “there” yet, but you set a powerful example of what it takes. It’s not easy!

  10. Lovely post, c. Sometimes we really do have to stop, take stock of all our blessings, and remind ourselves just how lucky we really are. It’s so easy to lose sight of that.

    Now I really must hustle my bustle; I have a train to catch for London. Kiss-kiss, darling.

  11. Brrr. That blue picture is a wonder, but a shivery wonder! Winter woollies out, summer stuff away. No wonder people get depressed at this time of year. But you’re right about nature doing its own thing. The caterpillars ate all my brassicas so I cut them back and now that it’s cold again the leaves are doing splendidly.

    Beautiful writing, as usual, Celie.

  12. I love Jerseys–yes, their eyes. My grandfather taught me to milk on his Jersey cows. By hand. I’d still be milking if he hadn’t intervened.

  13. Wonderful, thought-provoking post…I have this image of you, wandering from chore to chore all day long thinking of these things, and occasionally blurting out, “no, no…not THAT word…” and startling whatever creature is in the area…. 🙂
    A second cow? Good for you…but do consider what dianeandjack said about goats. Good meat, easy milkers, and they can thrive on less pasture.
    Besides, if you go first, I can learn, too!

    • I do talk to your guys in my head all day.. writing and rewriting.. now you are getting chickens in the spring aren’t you.. goats too!! i don’t mind if you go first! I have enough trouble with runaway pigs.. c

      • Probably not this coming spring, but someday. Debating whether to start with chicks, or take a few of the neighbor’s “spent” laying hens…I can’t even think about goats until I have a solution for dealing with the babies. Small slaughterhouses aren’t common around here anymore.

        • order little chickens to come in the late winter, you and angel can keep them under a light in the laundry for three or four weeks, she will hold them and pet them, they are hours of fun for a little one and then in spring they can go into their run.Eggs by late summer. Chickens are so easy and so child friendly. She would just love them and i do so agree about the goats.. Am i doing a good sales job!?c

  14. There is a gap in my life, between Mother Nature and I. Your posts encourage me, gently and supportively, to close that gap up, a little at a time. Thank you Miss C. Thank you for that.

    • Just a wee walk will close that gap nicely.. I hope you get time out in the air soon.. c

  15. did you hear about the french apiary that produced green and blue honey? the bees fed all summer on remnants of M&M’s from a local plant and produced colored honey. i can’t wait for new little piggies!

    • I read about that just this morning.. am so glad there is no candy factory close by to here!!

  16. We love our Jersey but I’ve been hearing some good things about Dexter cattle. You might want to check them out. When we moved from the other place the girls and I dug up two jalapeno pepper plants and a bell pepper. They are blooming and getting baby peppers! 🙂 We’ll see how they winter. We just moved them into the house but they’re almost three feet tall in their containers so they take up a lot of room. They sure are purdy though! Have a great day.

    • I heard they grow quite well inside, we keep meaning to do it every year.. I want a little cow like your honey! c

  17. Thank you for your visit. I admire your adventure into self sustainability. I have relatives in Upstate, NY who do some of that. Tough with the economy and only so much land they also have to have ‘outside’ jobs. I’m in the suburbs and close to a small city. But also close to Amish farms. I try to support the local farm markets. I hope to come back occasionally and visit. All the best to you and yours.

    • It is because of the tough economy and dubious food practices that I prefer to grow my own food.. it is honestly so much cheaper and healthier in the long run.. thank you for dropping in Jules and welcome.. c

  18. I love Mother Nature.. she does remind us that so much in life is not in our “control”.. and why would we want it to be? There’s nothing more beautiful than her surprises and I look for them daily. I hope you get another little cow! xx

  19. Celi, I don’t know that I have ever even felt 22 degrees. Seriously. That is such an odd thing for me to contemplate this morning. I easily acknowledge the forces and strength of Mother Nature and stand in awe of the cycles and seasons. The seasons are a driving metaphorical force in my own determination, but my daily workload isn’t much affected by the process of winterizing, or planning ahead in the way that you must for sustainable living. It’s very cloudy this morning and we may actually have a few drops of rain. I think it will be quite natural for me to have thoughts of you today. I hope it is a wonderful day for you and yours…including those precious life-giving animals! Debra

  20. For butter content (the cream) you can not go wrong with a Jersey or a Brown Swiss, both are great milkers and wonderful mothers…(you can breed to a meat bull (shorter legs and squatter bodies) for the calves —anyway that is what we would do. Unless you are wanting to keep the girls…then you must breed true to the dairy herds. Holsteins are wonderful producers, but more milk content than butter fat. But of course, you know all of this, I think I was just having a farmer chat with you.


    • And I do enjoy our farmer chats.. any heifer of daisys that is pure bred will be worth a bit of money so it is a catch 22 really as anything that is not a heifer is for the freezer. I looked up those Brown Swiss and they are magnificent cows.. c

  21. Such a beautiful post, Cecilia. You seem to know Mother Nature very well. We’re winterizing here too. We had our first frost yesterday. It was frosty again this morning. Everything that could and should be picked was taken care of over the weekend. The rest (broccoli, chard) will do okay in the cold for a while.

  22. There really is a cousin relationship going on here Celi. For years when I lived in the city – working in television – very much the career women – I dreamed of having a Jersey Cow. Her name would be Ludmilla and my Siamese cats would be part of her entourage, Their caramel coats and enormous eyes shared by cow and cat alike. I like it that now a few Jersey cows are my neighbors. T he dairy farmers keep them out of sentimentality. Their dairy herd are Holsteins but at one time (before cream became a naughty word) these same cow men raised the finest Jersey cows in the country. One might say I’m living my dream but not cleaning out the barn. I hope there is a Ludmilla in Farmy’s future. Virginia

    • I really do not like holsteins they are bossy bad tempered cows, even more bossy that Daisy.. i hope you are able to pop over with your pot and get a few pints of the good jersey milk.. that cream is what i love the most.. c

  23. Hi,so pleased to find your page. I have just. Bought an iPad. And am learning to. Use it ! I am a retired teacher living in the North West of UK I found your page looking for recipes using buckwheat. Today I. Tried a leek and cheese. Flan using. Half buckwheat and half plain flour.(too many full stops sorry ) It was. Ok, will use more cheese next time. I. Love the photographs. And the images of prairie life that you evoke. Dare I say it brings back memories of reading “Little house on the prairie” to my first primary class 35 years ago? Best wishes Gill

    Sent from my iPad

    • Good morning and welcome, welcome.. those ipads are such a trial but so convenient.. have a lovely day .. we are in an even littler house on the prairie!! c

  24. Oh and I thought we were getting chilly at 39F in the mornings! I’m not ready for the below freezing yet but yes it is coming. It just needs to hold off a bit so we can finish harvesting our garden.

    • absolutely agree, we might get a few more warmer days too by the look of it but that bad frost killed off an awful lot! welcome.. c

  25. Hard to believe but it won’t be long now when a high temperature of 22˚ will be the norm. As fast as Winter approaches, thank heavens Fall is here to gently prepare us for what lies ahead. Yesterday morning was but a rehearsal of things to come. I better get that snow blower out of storage.
    Hope you’re having a great day, Celi. I’m off to buy some canning jars. 😉

    • You and your snow blower, it might even get some work this year! c

  26. I love the way you write, I am interested about the milking cows, I am hand rearing nine calves with the view to one of them being a milking cow. I have two fresians, and six Devon/fesian x and lastly a “who knows what”. If I am to milk logically I would go for the Fresian but its the “who knows what” with the best personality…..not sure what to do, heaps of time yet, things might change.

    • I so look forward to seeing them,. i thought you were raising bobbies! A good personality is a wonderful thing in a milk cow. Pity Daisy does not have one.. but we manage.. c

  27. Sometimes, I watch my friends climbing the corporate ladder and buying new cars and going on holidays and think, “what does it all mean?”. We continue to potter in our own little way, eating what we grow, spending time together, rejoicing in the small pleasures. xx

  28. Celi:
    I have been lurking and enjoying myself hugely. My only access to you is through work, so I must be brief.
    The Provincial experimental farm kept a cow milking for 5 years without calving. Feed would not have been an issue for them, nor a cold milking parlor, but do give that a think. Also, I like the thought of you keeping a heifer of Daisy’s. I think both of you would really like that.


    • Morning leah and welcome.. wouldn’t a heifer be just grand and interesting that they milked for FIVE years.. do you know what breed of cow that was.. .. my biggest problem will be sub zero temps and freezing teats, but if we have a mild winter like last year i may just be able to make it.. c

  29. Brrrr! It looks like your hard work this summer will be well payed off as you will be eating well this winter. I would love to spend one day with you on your farm. What a gorgeous back to the good ole days clean living. Take care, BAM

  30. Mother Nature! Inevitability! Indeed! Not just down-to-earth wisdom, but reality grounding! Thank you . . . 🙂 !

  31. What a beautiful piece of writing. I resonate with it completely. So hope your new thermometer will show celsius.

  32. Utterly beautiful writing and thoughts Celi… The seasons are so precious.
    Three years in Malaya with no seasons brought that home to me – utterly boring – I think that’s why I love autumn and winter so much

  33. Hi miss c! Your post reminded me of one of La Fontaine’s Fables, the Ant and the Grasshopper:
    “Oh I owe the world a living….
    You ants were right the time you said
    You’ve got to work for all you get”

    Have a lovely day 🙂 !

  34. I’m south of the border at the moment doing my ‘Granny Skye’ thing so have been missing your blog – no wi-fi in our holiday accommodation! This is a brief visit to the farmy while staying at my mum-in-law’s. So glad that I have visited, your observations on Mother Nature are so true and I was nodding in agreement all through! Looking forward to being a regular visitor once more!

  35. How I like that “taking stock” – it’s so true for fall (Funny I almost mentioned on your Friday post that nature makes it chilly and drives us inside so we will be forced to think, evaluate and plan – and here, you’ve already said it!)
    This is a terrific phrase:”whisper of a giggle through the dark window, from Mother Nature.” Perfect image for this time of year.
    (Must read on now….)

  36. This is a very beautiful post, one to bookmark! And, through the microcosm of your world, it gives a real sense of the challenges that face us in the our efforts to be a sustainable planet. One little step at a time…

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