The closing of the days

I milk at three in the afternoon. My cows are trained to milk once a day at three which is the warmest patrt of the day. And everyone is happy with this arrangement especially John who is doing very well learning to milk.

Milking is the pivot of a farm day and the sunsets come so much earlier now, the night closing in before I feel quite ready.  I like to have all the farm work done before dark. All animals like to be tucked up in their safe spaces before the dark. So I race through the afternoon to get it all done earlier.

This means that on a farm your work day really is much shorter in the winter.

The forecast for last night was for 22F/-5C (actually it is 21F/-6C) so I gave Sheila some new straw, I threw the bale the fence then went and filled the piglets bed with their new straw first (all these pigs are sleeping outside in tin huts) and when I returned Sheila was carrying her straw mouthful by mouthful into her bed making a mountain of straw right in the middle. She was having trouble getting it all inside her house before dark so I helped her out.  Shoving an 800 pound (360 Kilo) hog aside so you can crawl into her house might sound a bit dangerous but this is Sheila. Sheila and I are like THAT.

She atood outside and watched – literally nudging my ankle with her nose ” Get a move on then!”


Then she went to the corner of the house so she was out of the way. “I’ll just wait here out of your way shall I?” And stood aboout looking photogenic..


When I had finished fluffing it up so she could get in under it she saw me to the gate then returned to her new bed with a happy roll to her step. She has a very deep bed now in her cow free bedroom, a good dinner, a good friend and all was well with the world.


We eat greens from the garden every night. Above is a shot of a bowl of salad I picked for last nights dinner – though you have to look carefully for the bowl, sitting in the bed of greens.  I even picked some very Babyish baby carrots and beets.

I covered the garden last night too, with double plastic cloches, until the day warms up. Last night was cold and windy. Man I hate the wind.

It is not windy now though. But the clown suit comes out this morning.


The clown suit is a pair of insulated bib mans overalls. It is not because they are ugly that I don’t like them – though they are very ugly- it is because they are so bulky that they restrict my movements.  I cannot move as fast. And I like to move fast.

20F now – almost dawn. It is usually the darkest BEFORE the dawn  but it will be the coldest just AFTER dawn. Even though the sun is coming up the land is still losing heat faster than gaining it, the magnificent force of the sun does not immediately turn the tide of escaping heat.  Dawn is a stunning time to start my day.  It is 6.11am and we have First Light as I write, (This is when I begin my day) – first light – I post. Dawn will not be for 30 minutes or so. The sun takes her time.  By dawn I will be showered, dressed, coffee-ed and pulling on the clown suit!

So the temperature is still dropping further as I write. Sheila will be snuggling down even further into her bed of straw and it is time for me to get their breakfasts ready.

I hope you have a lovely day.

Love celi

33 Comments on “The closing of the days

  1. Gosh, I had no idea that it would get that cold in November. I expected that in January. Several months of having to wear the clown suit unfortunately. Keep warm and have a lovely day. Today I am cooking lamb. Lamb and cabbage bredie (à South African dish), a lamb and aubergine curry and making a marinade for lamb to do on the grill. We have a very unusual warm day at 14C.

  2. [J] Sheila, this is wonderful! You’re turning round my thoughts about blogging – encouraging me to get back to writing ‘in the moment’. I’ve been looking up Pontiac on Wikepedia and Google Earth to see the kind of place where your produce will be enjoyed. I’d love to be doing so myself. This is the internet and blogging at its most wonderful. All the best – J

  3. Reading this was a knowing… and understanding of how it is in winter (up north especially) and how we work our chores around the weather and sun and animals. I know it sounds strange, but I feel a real kinship with you in your clown suit. I have a hand-me-down, ragged old duck hunting jacket of FD’s that I wear outdoors. It’s very warm but looks terrible. I have insulated pants, and I wear an ear-flap cap in the coldest months. Not one piece matches the other. It’s a functional and practical ensemble that works well for what I do in the winter months.
    I love the relationship you have with Sheila. It’s special you know… not everyone walks and communicates with her animals, and rarely do they have an understanding with each other.

  4. Ah Sheila’s little snout, she’s really smiling! Big Man just got back from a couple of weeks in Spain and with just one hour’s time difference but being 2000km further south, it gets darker so much later there. He was shocked at how dark it is here by 4.30pm 😐

  5. I love this post! What an interesting life you have! I am a frustrated farmer, so I eat up stories like yours. Thank you for sharing it 😀

  6. Gorgeous photos! Sheila is looking very lovely as usual. I do not have a clown suit, but I do have to be one with the insulated underwear in the winter (we have some that are two layers: one is merino wool, and it is soft, warm and lovely). Have not needed it yet, however I do believe it could be coming this week.

  7. Brrrrrr. It’s 38F here in Texas this morning and I’m freezing. I can’t even remember what 21F feels like. But it sounds like you have staying warm down to a fine art–for you and the animals.

  8. We used to have a very large sow that when in heat, would grab big flakes of hay in her teeth and chase hubby around – as if to say ‘come on!! I’m in heeaaatttt – help me make a nest!!’ 😄 I recall when the sows were near due, they would spend long hours moving/scraping every bit of pen material into a huge heap and start heating it up. Amazing animals.

  9. Gorgeous pictures – thank you! Love them all.
    Wishing you some cosy moments with a cup of coffee from time to time… ❤

  10. Love the glow in your shots today. Although we both know what that kind of glow – and brown leaves – and extra straw all mean. Your winds have arrived here this morning along with the snow. Falling gently now but will start to really come down in another hour or so. Here we go! Good luck with your winter Celi!

  11. Yes, first flurries of the season have fallen here too although not quite as cold — seems to be holding right at the freezing point for the time being — and windy. We have had such a glorious autumn this year that it doesn’t seem right to be complaining but I do hate the cold. Your photos are wonderful, with the late-day light. Hope it warms up a little for you. Have a great day! ~ Mame 🙂

  12. Sheila is loved and loves you back. Great pictures and blog as always. Enjoy your day and keep warm in whatever ensemble you come up with. Anything that stops the wind and keeps you dry is worthy.

  13. You are Sheila’s decorator. She trusts your judgement with a flick of her nose on your heel. High praise. It was in the 30s here this morning, but warming up nicely. Stay warm and be well.

  14. Success..last two days my comments failed…Sheila really is the most delicious pig in the world. Such a character and the relationship between ypu both is fantastic. Keep warm in your clown suit love P

  15. There is nothing more satisfying that making a creature snug and cozy and comfortable. So very cherished. I’d be willing to bet there aren’t 5 pigs on the face of this earth who are as adored as Sheila.
    Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone loving and playing with his dog, cat, et al.

  16. what a splendid post- we all love Sheila- such a sweet smartie pig! And Boo is playing peek-a-boo!
    HAVE A LOVELY EVENING! It’s 12:30 here- so you ave just a half hour before milking. Cheers!

  17. There were still green leaves on the oak Thursday, today they’re all gone and the branches bare. The burnished golds and russets are all on the ground and only a very few yellow leaves cling yet to their branches but not for long.
    Sheila is quite the character watching you fix her nest and staying out of the way.
    Stay warm. My winter outdoors garments are ugly too, I don’t care, I’d rather be warm.

  18. Great photographs! And I like listening to you talk early in the marning about the animals and your work. Theirs too, if Sheila can be said to be “working” at her bed. What aninteresting and appealing animal she is!

    Also, it is so good to know about the weather at dawn, and to see colorful horizons no matter the time of day. I’m learning a lot about good food, too, and where it comes from. Quite a salad there, still in the ground!

  19. What an accommodating pig that Sheila is! I think one of the things I dislike most about winter is how cumbersome the necessary clothing is. It makes doing chores that much more difficult and everything takes so much longer to do. I can tell how cold it gets at night by how deep the sausage shape is in Percy’s straw pile!

  20. Good Morning Celi! Gorgeous lighting and Sheila is quite lovely in that first shot. It’s 5:57 and I am cold! Our heater is out and the repairman won’t show until tomorrow morning. I have a real appreciation for your hard work and sit here wishing I had a clown suit to wear!

  21. I love to move fast .. I loathe being restricted. 😃 Sheila sure does look photogenic. Beautiful images Celi .. We have been finally, having some gorgeous weather

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