The Last of September – What I learnt from the Challenge.

For the last meal of the Home Grown September Challenge we had roast lamb slathered in a yogurt, lavender and garlic paste.  Roasted baby pumpkin, roasted beets, roasted shallots tossed in rosemary and hot butter and a huge green salad with an olive oil, cider vinegar and fresh rosemary dressing. All home grown.

Today the last of the lamb will be ground up and made into Lamb rissoles served with a green salad. So October 1st will be all home grown as well.

In fact I could go on eating straight from the farm and will.  If  I had to eat only what I can grow I would not be hungry.  But there were some things I missed.foggy-002

This is the sun rising over the corn this morning.  Into the fog.

I longed for nuts, seeds, oats, lemons, avocadoes, oranges, bought cheeses (though I made fresh cheese) , chick peas, deep red kidney beans, fish, cured meats (something we are going to learn this winter) , the store bought organic greek yoghurt with honey (my weakness) and store bought spaghetti (I can make  pasta for just about everything except spaghetti).


Tui flying out of the barn yesterday morning.

 And really that is about all. Oh and frozen peas. I love frozen peas.  So on my shopping list this week is nothing.  Because I have most of these things in my pantry and freezer anyway and piles of all the usual in the garden. We are having a lovely long summer – food is still growing. 

Mostly I have learnt how little we actually do need. Plus if I really have to try and use what we have on hand  and not waste any of it, I find I am a better cook.  Though my list of ingredients was shorter, my list of meals was much more diverse and interesting.  I did go through periods of frustration but by the end of the month I was just rocking along.  Of course I ate out with the family when they went out. And I would stare longingly at the frozen peas in the freezer wishing to cheat.  But all in all the month of eating only what I can grow was remarkably satisfying. Now if I had said I will only DRINK what I can grow there may have been trouble.


Daisy scratching an itch on her favourite scratching post.

The greatest lesson is to stop being fancy in the garden and to grow the staples. Lots of them.   Potatoes, garlic, cabbages and onions particularly. Just get down and do the work, early in the season.  Plant ’til it hurts.


And I know for sure now, that there is very little that I need from the supermarket. Though there are some things that I want.  But you can’t always get what you want!

Mouse told me yesterday that when she was small her Dad hung sacks out for the cows to wipe their faces through, dislodging flies. After all they cannot reach their faces with their tails.   She described this as like hanging washing on a line. Maybe I was going at it wrong, I thought and rehung my  burlap coffee sacks in the tree like tea towels, then dropped a little DE into the base.

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When I came back from the feed store  – look who I found enjoying the sacks.  And not a fly on her face. Just before this Daisy had been standing with her head on the sack just to the left of Queenie. Voila!

What an outstanding idea. Thank you Mouse. I will be doing this for years to come. Just as long as Sheila does not find them!

Good morning. I hope we get clear skies this October, I am looking forward to some star gazing shots and the Night Sky Challenge.  I hope you can take some too, or draw them, or make poems and stories about them or simply say “The stars were beautiful last night.”  We will all be looking at the same moon. What a lovely thought.  Our sky. No rules though. I had enough rules in September!

I hope you all have a lovely day.

Your friend on the farm, celi

90 Comments on “The Last of September – What I learnt from the Challenge.

  1. I have been a reader and observer of your blog for many months..this is my first time to comment. I just wanted to congratulate you on your successful completion on eating only what you grow during September….I love your photos and updates re your different animals…keep doing what you are doing…I look forward to future updates…

    • Thank you Janis and also thank you so much for reading. Welcome to the Lounge of Comments. Have a lovely, lovely day. c

  2. Congratulations of your ‘Eating off the Farmy’ month Celi!!! You did a fantastic job! And learned things about what to plant that we agree with and will also do next year! I just love the Tea Towel with DE idea! I told Jack about it and he repeated his desire to have a cow (so we could use the teas towel idea. I think our farm is too small to support one, but we shall see.

    • Your farm is bigger than ours, but yes a dairy cow eats a LOT! I got these big burlap bags from the local feed store, Would not work for goats though (laugh) just imagine!! c

    • Hate those flies! Hope it works for you! Such a simple idea.. Hope you are back on your feet?.. c

      • yes i am on my feet but i really have to be careful or i can do more damage Dr. said that the knee is super extended
        and that it can go backwards, he said that he is going to have to do reconstructive surgery.

  3. I shall have to try that for my cows. Does DE help with lice too?

    • When my pigs had lice, i sprinkled DE all over them and rubbed it in..especially behind the ears.. Lice GONE! Amazing stuff, I put it in everyone’s food, (not mine yet though!!) c

    • Not sure about lice (maybe) but it does work for fleas on dogs and cats too – just lightly dust on their coats and gently brush through. Laura

  4. Well done C and no less taking Septembers challenge into October with our dinns. Must say I would love to have shared in your roast from last night – scrumptious!
    Have a happy farmy day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  5. Well done my friend, you made it through September with flying colours!! You also taught me a think or two, I will also be re-thinking my planting for the spring, in view of running out of stuff (potatoes esp.) already. Also your recipes are very helpful as I am always looking for ‘simple’ things to cook using what I have. I hope you will continue to tell us what you are eating!
    I wonder if your sack solution would work for horses? My friends horses have lots of problems with the flies. They end up wearing these ‘masks’ which they hate!

    • I hope that it would work for horses, It is certainly worth a try, I hate how these flies go for an animals eyes.. take care Lyn.. c

    • The hanging sacks were used by the cutting horses, too. During the worst of the season the sacks were hung at different heights in parallel rows so an animal could walk through and clean off multiple surfaces at once. It was like a cow parade through a car “wash”. Funny they never crowded each other. It always seemed to be one way, too…never figured out how they established that.
      Glad it worked. Guess if I can make any living creature’s life a bit better, then my existence is justified.
      Thanks for the giggles and the mention.
      (and the pix with Tui in the fog is fabulous)

      • I got a head of myself! Posted below and I just caught this! Thanks! My neighbor has cutting horses and I will tell him about this! Maybe he already knows…but I will share anyway! 😀

  6. Lovely post, chock full of information in a “challenge highlights” kind of way! Since I’ve been following your blog for only a short time, this post informed me about all that was going on. I love your photos Cecilia! You have a real talent with the camera and a love of nature!

  7. Congratulations on a month well done. It’s surprising what one can do without if one has to. All it takes is a bit of imagination and initiative.

    Doesn’t stop us pining for our favourite foods though. I miss fresh goat cheese & the variety of fruit & veg I used to eat (when I was working and had a salary). I used to like having a variety of beautiful colours on my dinner plate and fresh, organic food that tasted like real food used to taste (when I was a child).

    • Oh yes goats cheese, the only reason i would have a goat is for that cheese! I hope you are having a good day.. c

  8. Felicitations on the happily fulfilled September challenge. Please, what is DE? Not that I have any cows to protect. In the days when we had horses, they used to stand with their heads plunged into elderberry bushes (flies don’t care for elderberry smell) grown specially for the purpose.

    Treat yourself to a dish of petits pois with jacket potatoes and grated Cheddar cheese as soon as you can get to the shops – you’ve earned a treat.

  9. I know that Tui has wings, she’s a bird and all that, but OH MY GOSH, she’s flying! Look at her; she’s flying! I’ve never seen a peacock (or peahen) fly.

    Good morning, c., and I’m glad that you’re happy with your September challenge. We’re doing our own challenge this week: creatively emptying the fridge and freezer before buying anything more at the shops.

    • That is where we are at now too, soon the meat will need to be stored in the freezers and it is time to get all the dog food out, They eat well at this time of year. c

    • You can see where she has tried, she is a leaner, she just leans until the fences FALL over! c

  10. Celi, that shot of Tui is amazing, and kind of reminds me of a Phoenix! I don’t get to comment every time I visit, but I do learn something from you each time. Thanks to Mouse for the suggestion of the bags and thank you for the picture that shows they do work. I am certain that they will come in handy down the road. 🙂

    • Yes, another little piece of info to squirrel away for when you move out to your farm.. I bet you get closer every day, it will be a busy winter for you.. c

  11. Great excitement here today, my great-nephew and I planted some butternut seeds together. I also showed him the ‘secret’ tomato bush with 4 tiny little tomatoes on a branch. We’re off at last, we will be trieing cucumber and peas next week. Well done on completing the September challenge and I will try and find the Southern Cross and make a wish on it for you. Laura

    • Butternuts are the best! Kids love sowing seeds. My skies are over cast now, so i have to wait!! c

  12. Fantastic job on your September Challenge! I’m already planning for next year’s garden. We have plenty of potatoes this year. That’s what did the best and we’re still digging at about 500# so far! BUT even though I planted about 200 onion sets they didn’t do real well and we’ve used most of them already and cabbages – forget it . They didn’t even grow although I planted about 20 plants and then something ate my fall seedlings. Next year I WILL grow cabbages! 🙂 We get a great view of the Milky Way up here on our hill and at 5:15 this morning the sliver of moon coming up was beautiful. I’m off to make more apple sauce today. Have a great day, Celi!

    • Ah yes, i need to make some apple sauce today too. And put more tomatoes jars. So it goes on! I collect any wire or plastic basket i can find and cover my brassicas in the spring. Even old dish washer baskets from the junk heap, old dish strainers. All of them are in a dreadfully untidy heap waiting for next spring. Rabbits were bad this year for some reason. yes, lots to do yet.. c

  13. Wonderful post and lovely photos, as always. One can see how the light is already arriving at a lower angle as the autumn sun rises (and here in southern California is has just popped up). I have just one question about the September Challenge, though. If Charlotte has ‘been gone for sometime now’ as you said the other day, why were you still eating so much lamb?

    • Morning Mary, (‘some time’ was probably a little over a week ago) Charlotte has been shared with a number of families with children, and a little has arrived in our freezers the other day. On Saturday I pick up the bacon. Everyone knew she was going so I did not make an announcement. I have had some trouble with a reader raging at me in her blog about me raising animals to eat. Deliberately misquoting me to score points and it makes me sad. So I have been a wee bit quiet on the locker front. This is silly of me I know. I am in a public domain. I need to be thicker skinned. Plus we have lots of lamb! In fact when i was a kid in NZ we were more likely to eat mutton than beef. beef was a treat. Good question.. thank you.. c

      • Hey no need to apologize! This is your blog and your farm, you do what you need to do and I for one think you are doing it great! If a certain person or persons don’t like it then they should bugger off to blogs that are best suited to them, or write their own! OK off my soap box now!!

  14. Good for you! This would be a challenge, but I can see how things would get easier as you got the hang of it. I wonder.. did you feel physically healthier this month? It might be subtle after only a month, but I can’t help thinking you would feel so much better with only homegrown food in your body. xx

    • Because I have been eating off the farm all summer I have not felt a change. What I did was take OUT the things that i added to my own food, like nuts and seeds and beans and store bought vegetables and fruit and so forth. No farmers market for me. So because my diet was so limited it is possible I am less healthy, though i don’t feel that either. Good question though.. c

  15. That shot of Queenie parked between the sacks is priceless. If you TRIED to get her posed it would be impossible, no? Such a fantastic idea and both cows caught on right away. Amazing. Not to mention that wild shot of Tui.

    • I am very lucky that the peahens honk warnings before they fly out of the barn, so I was able to turn and focus before she appeared in the air in front of me. c

  16. The month is over already.??? How time flies… talking of flies I think the sack hanging thing is brilliant, wish I’d known about that so many years ago… would have saved my cows suffering the grease and coopex mix being smeared all over their ears…

    • grease! I cannot even get near to Daisy’s face with a wet rag, I would have to tie her up. But you do what you have to, it is good to finally hit upon something that enables them to get more comfortable. Winter helps!! c

  17. I live in an area of Northern California where it’s not impossible to grow avocadoes. I planted a tree several years ago, and it has produced fruit, but what a mess! The avocadoes seem to grow at the top of the tree. The tree is 30 feet tall. It’s ready to pick in the winter, but usually I only notice it’s there when I’m standing under the tree in a windstorm and almost get bombed. I actually harvested 12 avocadoes one year, my best harvest. That year the same type were less than a dollar each in the store. I have kept the tree because it’s beautiful. It freezes once every 5 years to so, that keeps it from getting even taller, but it always comes back. Please don’t deny yourself avocadoes just because you can’t grow them yourself. I feel the same way about pineapple.

    • Morning Jan, we had a tree like that once but luckily it grew very close to the house and so we could pick from the second story windows, we used to lean out with sticks and puch the fruit off and the kids below would catch them. Hilarious really. That house was on a hill right by the sea, perfect growing. They are beautiful trees too. When I go out to california to see my son I will be stuffing myself with avocadoes and walnuts. Then bringing some back in my luggage, that and lemons. Oh I miss having a lemon tree. c

  18. Congratulations on completing that challenge! It certainly doesn’t seem to have caused any serious deprivation.

    • No. it was not a deprivation at all, we lived well.. if I had not had flour or milk we may have had some trouble though.. c

  19. Hi Celi. Surely you could eat peas that you have grown and frozen. I would think you could grow chickpeas, which are delicious when they are green. I have no idea how much work it is to grow oats for food — not that you need more work. What I have found is that whatever I dry or freeze for the winter is never enough: I always run out of dried tomatoes before fresh ones come in. This year I have a lot of apples and citrus peel, but not a lot else (and I’m still typing with one hand)

    • Goo morning, Your poor hand. It makes life so difficult. I tried to grow chickpeas one year and got about three cups full, I just don’t have enough land to do full sized crops like that or oats.. I wuld be growing oats for the cows and pigs too if I could. Peas, I ate them all fresh! Bad Mama! But they are so nice fresh. But we do what we can and that is the most important thing isn’t it. I envy you your citrus peel.. c

  20. Well done! Can’t believe the month went that quickly though. Do you grow peas? We grow a bunch then freeze them. They make a great snack in the hot summer and we use them in our risottos.

      • I love growing peas. Such a lovely flower. They give back nitrogen instead of taking it from the soil. And they freeze well. 🙂 A win-win all round!

  21. I was drooling while reading about your roast dinner. I love the photo of the sunrise. My house faces the wrong way to see it but I do manage to see the sun set from March to September. I always feel refreshed after my daily visit to the farmy!

  22. I’m with you on the staples, I’ve had my allotment for 5 ish years and this year I stopped the fancy schmancy because of time constraints and concentrated on what we love. Onions aren’t included cos of space restrictions etc. SO that means more peas 🙂

  23. Hooray you made it!! We’ve pared down what we grow as well – we now plant what we know works and grows abundantly, and eat it. The problem is that some things just won’t grow well here – we don’t have luck with potatoes, tomatoes (although that’s getting better) or onions (although we do always have leeks as a sub). Beans are a good item, as are curcubits. A question though – how would you do growing what you need in the colder months? Or would you need to depend on your stores in the cellar? And Celi, we’ve been making our own Greek yoghurt for years now, it’s really easy! Have you ever tried making your own? (I thought I’d seen it on your blog before, actually, but I could be wrong..) xx

  24. Bravo Cinders! If anyone is up to a challenge, it is you! Love your photos today, especially Sunrise and Tui..oh and that last one of adorable Queenie standing in her tent!
    PS. we love frozen peas too!!

  25. What a fine farewell meal to September! Do you have a pasta machine that cuts spaghetti? Minemakes really nice thin ones..but I do confess (sorry Chgo John) that I do enjoy durum wheat spaghetti too!

  26. Lovely post Celi and all the comments… like Viv I would love to know what DE is so I can pass this wonderful idea around people I know…just off to get some farm grown organic lamb after reading about your scrumptious dinner… I like the idea of “slathering” us !!!!

  27. Wow I am amazed by what I learn each day I am able to catch up on all my favorite bloggers you are all so amazing!

    Love the shots!

  28. By now I think you’ve enjoyed your October 1st meals, Celi, but I had to see how you wrapped up September, even if it was necessary for me to arrive a little late. 🙂 Your “last” meal sounds better than average by far! I think we could all learn from you that planning, in all directions, is really key if we want to live responsibly. Loved this!

  29. Well, you learned what you could manage and where you could improve in your Challenge and you taught us too! Want to try your lamb marinade: have not used lavender ~ that would give an extra piquancy to the dish! Love the Daisy photos: so comfortably scratching an itch and being a fast learner re those pesky flies!! And that beautfiul morning photo and trust you to catch Tui in flight . . . thank you as ever . . . [you being in the country am wondering what cured meats would be locally available . . .?]

    • only the bog standard hard salami or pepperoni, in the city there is a bigger selection of course. John wants to start with salt curing a ham.. It will be interesting! c

      • Good luck and lots of success with that! I love the Swiss/Italian kind of dry ones, but I guess you have to be high and dry in the mountains for the process to be possible?

  30. Hi Celi
    I thought of you today when I was grocery shopping and looking at all the myriad mounds of frozen dinners and piles of processed food….I headed straight to the produce aisle, and thankfully, my grocer does have a lot of home community grown produce! I am lucky in that. But I do want to share with you a very simple but truly delectable dish…..I lightly boiled some fresh tiny new potatoes, unpeeled, ….barely steamed some asparagus……then combined the potatoes, roughly chopped with the asparagus, some sea salt, ground pepper, a dot of butter , a drizzle of good EVOO and ………oh my, it was so good!! A perfect meal with some fresh ciabatta rolls, warm and slathered with butter, and fresh radishes, dipped in sea salt! I may become a vegetarian after such an enjoyment! LOL! 🙂

    • Oh that sounds like my kind of meal. fresh vegetables are good.. you must have a great green grocer.. have a gorgeous day.. c

  31. Wow…you have achieved the ultimate are self-sufficient!:-) Truly you deserve a pat on the back…

  32. I feel satisfied, and elated along with you. To know that it is possible, do-able, and there are benefits of creative and pared back but delicious meals. To undertake a actual project by living it rather than in theory, really demonstrates the proof of the pudding is in the eating… oh, I am still thinking of that wonderful yellow custard and apple pie 🙂

  33. Enjoy your rule-free October. It was such an interesting September challenge, and has highlighted the foods you miss. I’d be the same. In fact, you’ve reminded me how handy frozen peas are – not something I’ve bought for ages. I’m going out to get some!
    Maybe there should be an indulgence day once every 2 (?) weeks, as a reward for being self-sufficient on the rest of the days.

  34. The towels look to be appreciated. 🙂 I’m glad you learned much from your September challenge.

  35. I’m forwarding this blog to my daughter in the hope that the sacks might work on horses as well as cattle. Her two horses are always battling with flies. One of them now wears a complete mesh mask. By the way, I grew two tomato plants which have born fruit. This is the first food that I have ever grown….that’s a bit of a lie as the my farmer neighbour saw what I was doing with the plants, took them away to his potagere, nourished them, and now I’m saying that I grew them:)

    • I love your farmer neighbour, is he the same fellow with the cellar that you stumble home from every now and then? Tomatoes from your own plants are always tastier. i bet you grow your herbs though? c

  36. That is such an incredible shot of Tui in flight but Daisy & Queenie absolutely crack me up. I know I’ve come up with some unique ways of scratching an itch when my hands are full. I wonder what my neighbors would think when I go for a walk with a burlap bag during deer fly season.

      • I’m picturing maybe cutting out 2 eye holes & 1 for my nose then wearing the bag over my head. Thing is my neighbors wouldn’t even blink – just say “oh yeah, that’s just Diane under there”.

  37. Those hanging sacks are a great idea!!! I wonder if it would work with horses? Hmmmmm…….

    • Also….loved that fantastic shot of Tui flying out of the barn!!!!!

  38. I am very interested in how the hams turn out! Hope there will be photos!

  39. Oh dear Celi, this burlap is amazing solution and I haven’t known, how could I know, even you learned new, but this is amazing… I saw in your last post how slowly passing our lovely Daisy… 🙂 Your writing made me excited again 🙂 I really missed you. Thank you, love, nia

  40. I loved the whole post, but the ‘same moon’ comment was a special delight; it reminded me of when I was a youth and a number of our family had piled into someone’s van for a day trip to The Mountain (Rainier). Granny was stargazing from the front seat on our evening return home and blurted out, ‘Just think: that’s the same moon that shines on Harvey Peck!’ and we all fell about laughing, because we knew she was referring to *Gregory* Peck and, quite literally, mooning over him. Of course, it broke her starry-eyed reverie and she giggled helplessly too, but then we all *did* have to look at and admire the enormous full moon that was washing the whole scene in such splendor. Thanks for the memory!!!

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