Believe it or not there are signs that the seasons are changing. Slowly – slowly. The icy muck tells us that the struggle between winter and summer has begun. 

In the course of a day I went from this to –




But I can feel a change afoot. A loosening in the soil. All the cows are up on their concrete pads now and all the pigs are locked off their pastures.



The three little pigs were shifted to the central pen.

Sheila and Molly followed me down the drive then we took an hard left around the barn and into the farrowing pen. This is an easy one for Molly to unload from – soon she will be off to the other barn and the boar.  I am not sure where Sheila goes when Poppy comes back but I can sort that in March.


For the meantime they are happy in the barn for a month or so.  Today I start cleaning up their winter area in preparation for sowing that field first.


Bed making was a serious business yesterday afternoon.



And so off to sleep they went.


Wai’s blue fishbowl bedroom was shifted to the corridor – we never shut the gate on him anyway. He did not mind giving his big central area to the three little pigs.

And so begins what for me is sometimes the hardest part of the winter.  The mud season. The time that I have to keep the animals OFF the fields. I hate keeping the animals off the fields but it is imperative that I do.  Pasture plants can begin their slow recovery towards spring growth. The plants and I take advantage of longer periods of growing weather.  But we cannot have the cows nibbling all this new growth right off.  Or pigs digging into the soil. Everything must be left to settle and the plants and seeds must be left to grow.  Pasture is paramount now.

So into the barn they have all come and manure shoveling season commences.

Our weather will still go up and down – by the end of March it will be a little warmer by May we are usually frost free. Though there is no guarantee of course. Real spring is still a long way off. And no I care not for the DATES of spring and summer. They are stupid dates. For me  the inclement early spring begins in March.

In a few weeks, the pig fields that have been stripped of feed and trampled on all winter will be resown and closed to animals for the next couple (or maybe three) months.   Today I will begin to order the seed for all the pig fields so we are ready to take advantage of any good sowing days. The spring is not the best time to get a tractor on the ground.  We need to be ready to take advantage of a break in the weather. I think we will get a lot of rain this late winter season. But the pasture seeds must get in early for many reasons. So we opportunist sow in stages.

Pasture is a very loose term for the plan I have this year. It is going to be an extended version of my flowering wild edible garden. For example,  brassicas –  chicory, rapeseed, kale,  collards.  Legumes – clovers, red white and yellow,  alfalfa, fieldpeas (probably winter peas).   Oats, barley and wheat. Some grasses. The list goes on – all that kind of deliciousness.

When real sppring arrives we will add corn and sunflowers and the summer seeds into the patches that have not germinated or were frosted off.  I have always planted a cocktail of seeds.  This year will be even better after my experimenting with the wild garden last year. We get them into the soil early so they can germinate as the ground warms up. The frosts will kill some but then we resow the next stage of plants into the patches.

But you see the problem – the pigs need to be kept off the little fields while their summer grounds are prepared.  Now they only have their small backyards for a while.

As I write I hear a spring bird calling from the trees.  Can that be a red winged blackbird already? Surely not. I have not even seen any robins yet – surely it is too early. We have very little to eat around here for winter birds yet, I know many robins don’t bother to migrate at all if there is food about, however I think it will be a few weeks before they come nosing about back round here.

I hope you have a lovely day.

Love celi

WEATHER: Rain and ice.

Thursday 02/22 90% / < 1 in
Cloudy with rain and freezing rain this morning. High near 40F. Winds ENE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precip 90%.

Thursday Night 02/22 70% / 0.13 in
Cloudy with periods of rain. Low 38F. Winds SE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 70%.

6:37 am 5:35 pm

Waxing Crescent, 41% visible 10:31 am







Thursday 02/22 90% / < 1 in
Cloudy with rain and freezing rain this morning. High near 40F. Winds ENE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precip 90%.


Thursday Night 02/22 70% / 0.13 in
Cloudy with periods of rain. Low 38F. Winds SE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 70%.

6:37 am 5:35 pm
Waxing Crescent, 41% visible 10:31 am Not Availabl




  1. From ice to muck to meadows. Inexorably. On and on. Courage dear friend. Mud requires courage! Despite all, the barn beds like toasty and sweet smelling. Perhaps that’s a trick of photography, but it looks lovely. It is gray and cold here and getting colder. Snow expected tomorrow. I long for the steaming hot tub outside at the Terme di Milano. x

  2. The robins arrived here about three weeks ago. I still hear a few if I’m out in brushy woods, but for the most part, they’re gone. The coots have begun flocking up, our early spring wildflowers are appearing, and various hoverflies and bees are out and about. With the broad belt of cold and ice between me and thee, I suspect it will slow down any forward movement, but spring surely is on the move.

  3. Ugh, I left a comment but it seems to have disappeared. Can I replicate it? Let’s see. “From ice to muck to meadow. Inexorable. On and on. Courage dear friend. Mud requires courage! And yet, the barn beds appear to be warm and sweet-smelling. A trick of photography perhaps, but they look lovely. Here it is cold and getting colder. Snow expected tomorrow. How I miss the steaming hot tubs outside the Terme di Milano. x

  4. You are right – there are tiny green plants shoving their way up between the frozen left overs. Saw a monarch butterfly spreading out his wings to dry. And the day starts earlier as the cat see light through the window.
    It’s coming – hang on
    (and the pasture mix sounds lovely – to see and munch)

      • Bird calls filling the air early – if not raining. The cute little tiny Cardinal couple are back and chirping. And there were 2 young male mockingbirds hustling to impress a coy little female in the crepe myrtle – she was evaluating their songs and little treasures they offered her with their beaks.
        Spring is coming (the warm gulf air has stopped and is now firmly pushing back to mid state the last “cold front” that brought snow to the Mts and high plains a couple of days ago. Switch must have flipped)

  5. That Sheila and Molly are just too cute making their bed up together! Will Sheila readily accept Poppy when she comes back over, or will they go through a ‘getting used to each other’ period? We are finally getting some wet weather down here, thankfully! It has been a super dry winter!

  6. I saw robins and red winged blackbirds both on a hike Tuesday in northeast Ohio. I hope they don’t freeze! But it was 70 degrees that day. And below 30 now. Spring is complicated!

  7. I appreciate your care for your pasture land!! I wish more ranchers here in New Mexico would treat their land with such care. They are slowly coming around to seeing that overgrazing is a big problem. We got 3 tenths of an inch of rain last week and a little more last night in Albuquerque. We wish you folks in the midwest could pipe all your excess water to the southwest!! Enjoy your day!!

  8. The climate in America is amazing. I drove from Atlanta to Florida once and went from winter to 21ºC in 14 hours.
    I was just thinking before you posted, did Sheila and Molly stay in the tin hut in spite of the cold? I’m assuming they could have moved to the rat house if they’d wished… Molly trying to squeeze in beside Sheila is hilarious!

  9. I can almost feel the farmy slowly gearing up gently for spring. Hope you have a short mud season but enough rain for pastures and vegetables. Laura

  10. you might see a change for the better in your weather but I think you have sent it to Bulgaria…its cold, very cold and snow lots of snow….but as you say Summer is not far away…..😃

    On 22 February 2018 at 15:24, thekitchensgarden wrote:

    > Cecilia Mary Gunther posted: “Believe it or not there are signs that > the seasons are changing. Slowly – slowly. The icy muck tells us that the > struggle between winter and summer has begun. In the course of a day I > went from this to – This. But I can feel a change afoot. A loos” >

  11. We are having near-summer temperatures. It’s not good. I am afraid all the fruit trees will set bud and get zapped in a frost. This is the time of year I hold my breath and just pray that we have a beautiful and fruitful spring, not one of browned dogwoods. But the rhododendrons bloomed a second time around back in December, so my hopes for a lovely spring aren’t high.

  12. Great post and loved reading about your plans for the pastures! Sounds amazing and right all in one.. it is hard to keep the critters in their pens and smaller holding area’s while the grass grows but its so important to make it happen none the less.

    Ah yes, the mud.. the little sign’s of spring, I am seeing them as well but not sure at all that I believe them.. not quite yet.. but today when I stepped out my nose told me that things are changing, do you smell the change in the air from winter to spring as well or is that just me?

    • I agree – there is a glimmer of something in the air – I just read your latest post and did not realise that you were zone 5 – same as here. We have a NE today – so there will be hats and jackets for a while yet..

      • We went from plus 6 yesterday to minus 14 with wind chill to minus 20 and clear and cold this morning, then snow, then freezing rain then they say rain.. Yes, we might in quite different area of the two countries but we are indeed in the same garden zone. I always watch to see what you are doing, and I start things early but a bit of a gamble.

  13. Oh… Red Winged Blackbirds… how I miss them. I only had them at the farm in Quebec. I’m sure there are some in the woods of Massachusetts… but I never heard any around my house. And what a total difference between the two photos… one with green boughs ripe with fruit… the other… cold and wet. ; o )

  14. Hi Ceclilia, Can you please take me off your email list. I attempted to “unsubscribe” but with no success. Your blog looks great, but I never signed up to follow, or receive emails. Thanks, and I wish you continued success. Kevin

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    • Hi Kevin. I have no control over who subscribes to my blog nor can I unsubscribe you. What a curioous problem. Everything is generated by wordpress so maybe get in touch with them. Have you been hacked? I don’t see how you could subscribe without your knowledge either. You have your email and an inactive blog entered in all the corret fields. All very weird. I could BLOCK you but I doont think that would be useful. Scroll to the bottom of your email from thekitchensgarden and click on UNSUBSCRIBE. This always works for me. c

  15. Your blog is so serene. I keep thinking of “Whittington” and my childhood memories when I visited my family’s friend’s house in the Minnesota country. Keep up the good work!

  16. Oh! The sloshy season we do not have hereabouts! Hated it as a pint-size in N Europe . . . .had to wear heavy knitted ‘pantyhose’ of course . . . . well to the tune of Mom’s well remembered complaints managed to slip, slide and fall over at least 1-2 a week! I screamed blue murder at the bloody knees and iodine applications, Mom rolled her eyes at another pair of unwearable leggings . . . Well, I did not have four legs like Wai and Sheila . . .

  17. I’m always thinking it’s too darned bad that we aren’t neighbors. I’d let you use all the room we have to cordon off room for whatever the critters needed. We had ice today too. Fortunately, by day’s end it had mostly melted!

  18. We had robins here in Kansas, but I think most of them skedaddled when the wintry mix hit! Been enjoying the cardinals and juncos which love the duck feed. Had fun watching a female cardinal sit on a mammoth sunflower head and bend over upside down to pick off seeds. It’s precisely why I left so many sunflowers standing.

    I’m hoping to get mint planted soon in the back alley which has been overtaken by awful stick tight weeds. Between the mint, morning glories and marigolds I’m hoping to snuff them out! Maybe something like that would work for your weed prone area…thistles was it?

    • mint is a wonderful idea – very invasive usually but not so much here i think it gets too cold. I will certainly see about throwing some seed in with the thistles though – you never know…

      • I have loads of morning glory and marigold seeds. I’m happy to share. Speak now otherwise the bulk of them are going over the fence and onto the sticker patch soon! Lol

  19. Lots of good thoughts here. Not so much an idea farm (i.e., intentional, planned out the way you do each late winter), though the harvest is rich. No, I see today’s writing more like your wildfire garden, and this year’s extension into the pig pasture– a multi-greens area to browse aroind in and grow as a result.

    Not that we are all pigs of course. On the other hand. . . I mean, I could definitely relate to the bed-making series of pictures especially. And they seem rather peaceful, even thoughtful creatures. So if your ideas are in any way inspired by theirs–their presence, that is; those mysterious beings, along with all the others there–that’s all the better.

    Here’s one of the thoughts I’m taking with me today as I consider the latewinter project of Lent (a kind of spiritual farm for some): “Everything must be left to settle and the plants and seeds must be left to grow.” There are so many other helpful bits in your post, but this one touched me and stayed. Thanks, C., for the time you take in the early mornings to talk with us. You may not know all the meanings we get from your words.

    • Morning Albert – you know, sometimes i look back on my early morning conversations and wonder if I wrote that at all. The words sometimes come before the thoughts.. Much love for your interpretation too.. c

  20. Love the photo of those two piggy matrons nose-to-tailing in their comfy bed. And your pasture mixture sounds delicious, even to me, so I can only imagine what pleasure it’s going to give the animals. I do feel for you with the shovelling, but as they say in England, “Muck is brass” and good manure is gold.

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