Bye Bye Tahlia

Tahlia (Aunty Del’s two month old heifer calf) has been sold and was picked up yesterday by her new owners.  She looked very small in the big trailer but is going to a good home. They will keep her name and their farm is not too far away so I hope to visit.  The same couple have also bought Naomi and will be back for her in a few weeks. This means that I will no longer be selling Aunty Del.  Tahlia

So my milking duo stays intact.  I have to say i am relieved as they are so beautifully trained and work together well.  But we still might have to sell more, so as not to be overstocked this winter. The winter feed situation is not good yet.

This morning we were awoken at 4AM to yet another torrential downpour with crashing thunder and lightening attending.  We have had wet summers before but this is a soaked summer. There are no light showers, each episode of rain is heavy, a deluge.  Surely this weather pattern will lift soon. I need to find out how much rain we have had this  summer but this morning alone we have already sustained almost an inch. And this has been again and again and again.  lurch

As you know this land was originally an ancient marshlands, called the Vermillion Swamp  by the early settlers. John’s great-grandfather drained it and turned it into farmland.  It was high reeds and hardy trees and swamp birds, (I wish we had pictures of it) so we get wet fast, boggy wet ad slow draining.  This means the soil itself is wonderful but in a wet season it can sustain no traffic at all. There is no hope of getting machines onto the hay fields in the near future and in fact much of the hay is actually under water and rotted.

I may need to be selling more cows. We will not have enough hay for the winter at this stage.  Today I will begin the search to buy some hay and straw with the money I raised from selling Talia.  I am looking seriously at electric fencing the hay field and putting the cows out on it in the winter though if we get as much snow this winter as we are getting rain this summer there will be no feed visible. Nothing would be visible!! steps

My back steps have not been dry in weeks and are rotting but look at this gorgeous image is of little plants actually growing in the steps.

Because of the mud – this weekend I am getting John to create a new gate in the fence so I can actually close off the gateway the cows usually use – it is now almost impassable for the cows or me to get through from the barn to the field. My boots are on their last legs (in more ways than one) and yesterday I was literally getting stuck in the mud up to my knees when Nick and I were fishing out bowls and cleaning out the water troughs for the pigs.

Difficult is slotted to be sold next and all the piglets but four. I need to get all the extra animals OFF the land. Here is a shot of two of Tahiti’s piglets, they are a quarrelsome bunch and so different from the brightly coloured piglets Molly produced. Tahiti's piglets

I am not complaining – just reporting. Remember that this blog is my journal of a farming journey by a girl who grew up on a beach in New Zealand and is now farming on the prairies of Illinois.  Through these pages I watch my own life unfold and you are along for the ride with me.

Farming the old fashioned way (though using modern appliances) makes me appreciate even more how easy it was for the early farmers  to fail. How poor they must have been and how hard their life.  The edge is very close. Without John subsidising my little farm financially this  venture would fail this year- even on a subsistence level. The crops are drowned, the garden is drowned, the pastures waterlogged, the hay rotting. The weather out here in Illinois (and in fact much of the world)  is  cruel and this rain falling into reclaimed swampland is making life difficult.  Farming is struggle – much of it brutal. I don’t mind struggle. And my struggle is nothing compared to much of the worlds women. But I think how those women from ages ago must have felt great satisfaction when they sold tomatoes or eggs or milk or piglets or a calf (like I do) and then still wearing their old shoes, and hand me down tops and patched skirts carefully channeled the cash  back into the most important purchases, saving just a little every time.

There is a break in the rain so I am going to get up early and feed the piglets. Lurch still cannot stand herself up – we are still working on getting her strong but I am not sure how this will play out. Having a pig inside is one thing, having a pig inside who cannot feed herself is another. I still have to hold her up at the bowl or she falls into it. However we will perservere.

MOlly's piglets

Molly’s piglets are a joy. The man said he would buy them all tomorrow if I wanted to sell them but I will feed them up a little longer, the milk and eggs are here and they are so much fun!

I hope you have a lovely day.

Off I go out into another wet one.

Love celi



61 Comments on “Bye Bye Tahlia

  1. If your welly boots have given up. I have a new pair of snow boots made in Finland,never worn. Size for uk 7 fpr normal size shoe 6..send me an email to and i will post them to you. Feeling so sorry for your pedicament…but who can fight against the weather?

  2. I’ve seen baby walkers with wheels, but there’s also a kind suspended from the ceiling by elastic. The baby sits in something like pants and can “walk” with support from the elastic. Perhaps a sling type thing to support Lurch’s stomach might help the walking. I know there are cats and dogs with roller skates or skateboards to make up for broken limbs, but that kind of thing might stop Lurch walking.

    • Yes, I am working on getting her strong. I wish you were close by and you could take her home and fashion these slings for her, this is beyond my ability and she takes up so much time already. It is possible that some of the problems these piglets had and have were congenital. They may have been born wrong already. Remember that they barely moved in utero? Just a thought i nee to do more research on this. c

      • That could be right – animals do kill and eat their young if they are not fit. No wonder Tahiti was so bad tempered. I wish I could take Lurch home. I’d be taking her out for walks to Victoria park in my bicycle pannier 🙂

        • I think you’re right, Mad Dog. Our cat of my childhood of whom I was talking in the post the other day was said to have eaten her own newborns because they would not have been able to live by themselves. The cat would have “known” that. So maybe nature does what has to be done. When I do remember well, she later gave birth to a healthy litter in another year. – Poor Tahiti though…

      • I have been wondering this very thing, hoping for a reason that a knowing Tahiti reacted the way she did to her newborn babies.

          • So what is going to happen to Tahiti? I’ve been waiting for news that she’ll be sold … or are you planning to butcher her yourselves?

              • We have someone – a licensed person – who comes to our farm to slaughter our steers and then takes them to the butcher. I hate kill day, but I do love the fact that our cattle are now born here and live out their lives, however short, in peace, and die here without stress or suffering. For next year we have two heifers, no steers … I’ll try to sell them to someone who wants to raise their own young ones, but if they have to die it will be right here at home. I’m finding it interesting to see how you handle this process, with different animals – not beef steers.

                • You are lucky having that service – we have a number of small owner operated slaughter houses – very small – and a separate one for the chickens – everything is properly inspected too which I like. Though to tell the truth they are not much good at cutting meat. I find there is a dirth of real butchers here.

                  • That’s disappointing! The quality of cutting makes a HUGE difference to the quality of the meat. The Hubbit butchered our first steer – it was injured and had to be put down and oh, the whole business was horrible – and then the meat was pretty useless for anything but the very very slow cooker. I need to find a local place to do chickens … I would love to raise my own meat chickens, but detest killing and cleaning them.

  3. Lovely little puddle of squirmy piglets 🙂
    I’m so glad that Tahlia and Naomi are going to a nearby and friendly home.

      • And I’m remembering the wonderful batch of Poppy’s piglets. Do you suppose Molly and Poppy can be buddies once Tahiti has left the Farmy? That would be an ideal situation. Such a shame about the rotting hay in the ground; I hadn’t considered that aspect. Yes, life of the early farmers was very uncertain and filled with poverty. But it was, for the most part, a healthy life and one that encouraged family togetherness. That’s an aspect missing modern life.
        Hope your day plods along on the brighter side. ~ Mame 🙂

  4. Like Henry D. Thoreau said, all misfortune is but a stepping stone to fortune. Keep on holding there Cecelia, tomorrow will be brighter (and dryer!).

    • I will take the dryer – but there is still rain in the forecast for the next few days – then I think we might begin to dry up.. fingers crossed we get a few weeks of dry.. c

  5. I was happy to see the Guinea fowl in that first photo. I love seeing all your animals, but am still partial to the Guineas.

  6. I do hope you get some dry weather soon. Here it is too dry and we desperately need some rain. Wish I could send you some of my hay bales.

  7. Has Boo learnt how to prop up the Lurch yet? Bye Sweet Tahlia but I am glad Aunty Del is staying. I am currently buying wonderful pastured hens eggs and today I gleefully snatched up a block of raw Ayrshire milk organic butter oh and a little handful of the sweetest peas I’ve had in a long time. I have managed to source organic, stone ground wheat flour for my home made bread …. I think this may just all be your fault Miss C 🙂 🙂 Laura

  8. Yes, it has been a wet weird summer here too! We are looking for hay, and I’ve found some, but it is sprayed with 2 herbicides, Grazon and Remedy. I’ve researched Grazon, and it has an active ingredient, picloram, that is super slow to decay. It is not harmful to animals, but doesn’t break down and remains active in the manure and urine. If this is composted and put in the garden, it negatively affects the growing of vegetables! Very scary! And it seems that most of the hay grown around here is sprayed with this herbicide! So, we are searching for hay not sprayed. So hoping we can find some! I often think, as we are working our super small farm, how incredibly difficult it must have been for farmers to survive and sustain themselves in the earlier days!.

    • Yes, this is why I grow my own, that and round up ready alfalfa! – Hopefully my fields will dry out soon, then we will cut and begin to resow. I SO wanted two more cuts but I don’t see it happening now.. c

  9. I am kind of partial to Aunty Del, so I am glad she will be staying with you! Your rains and our drought… it’s so frustrating when nature goes too far in either direction. Hay is difficult out here as well, and we don’t have fields to make our own. It’s definitely a struggle this year.

  10. We are having the same type of rain here. All three cuttings of hay have been spoiled…it’s terrible. The weather is much cooler than normal, although today we are a tad warmer. I’ll take the warmer…I much prefer summer.


  11. I believe the journal of the farmy that is now entitled TheKitchensGarden will one day serve as the stuff of bound memoir – displayed brilliantly in shop windows all across the world. The power of Woman is strong. YOU are strong. I believe the world deserves to read this story one day 🙂

    • I’ve already started saving passages for later printing out and stapling into packets by theme. They will make fine gifts. I’m especially thinking what an important part of my grandchildren’s education these readings will be. They are growing up in cities. They need teachers like Miss C.

  12. My brother makes hay in Germany , I wish he could give you some. It’s bone dry here in California. We drove through the gold country yesterday and I was thinking how difficult the life for the early settlers must have been.

  13. Your comments are just as interesting as your post. I will miss the piggy when they go. And yes, my hats off and my heart goes out to all farmers. ..appreciating the hard work and dedication that is not always a big financial pay off. Happy weekend!

  14. Here I sit in dry dry dry California, wondering where is the justice when you get too much moisture, and we get none. Seems like someone should be able to figure out a way we could share. 🙂 These extremes are hurting all of us. I told my High School Freshman, a budding engineer, that it is his generation’s work to get all this sorted. So he’s on it. We just have to wait a few years till he cracks it. Meanwhile, mud for you, wildfires for me.
    Cheers, Elizabeth

    • Cheering your Freshman along! This is Earth though – filled with variables and California has always been a dryer state that illinois, it is the geography of the thing – america is so vast.

  15. I hope that Tahiti’s temperament has evened out now that she is separated from her kids. Is she to be a pet, or is the new farm raising her for food? Or is it best not to ask these questions?

  16. Just a few miles can mean lots of, or little rain. We watch storm after storm roll a but north or a bit south if our little spot in SE Michigan. Hope you have some dry very soon. Aunty Del is my fav. Glad she is staying, at least for now.

  17. wow so much rain- wish you could send about half of yours to us! It’s wildfire season and we could use a good soaking! Love these piggy pics!

  18. Beautiful photo of Lille Tank and Not called Elfie to keep and not just in memory banks . . . an I’ll never complain about our weather again . . . glad you are finding loving homes for those you bred with such love and care . . . besides some money for necessities this must create a lot of satisfaction . . .

  19. What a wonderful idea Albert had. Maybe if you are a retired lady farmer one day you could edit together some of your favourite posts into a book. Meanwhile we follow with interest and send our affections and best wishes for drier times. xx

  20. This is why we need to make careful choices to buy our food in a way that benefits farmers not corporations as much as possible ♡

  21. What a lovely name for a swamp. Vermillion is one of my favorite colors – a very old oil paint glaze/stain that brings to mind stained glass. Your land sounds like what is we call “bottom land” along the creeks and rivers – lovely to grow and graze in normal seasons – but in rainy years, watery and all cattle have to be taken elsewhere.
    There is something of value from farm struggles – built hardy resiliant people – ones who saw the value of soft, faded, wel worn but servicable clothes. Priorities so different. Holding the land was everything
    More thunder and rain today

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