Dear darlings – it is Saturday. I have finished chores and am sat down here at my desk with you and a cup of coffee.
I feel I am beginning to get my rhythm back. Starting an (almost) full-time job plus maintaining my (full) full-time farming job has certainly created some challenges but in this last week or so I am feeling a bit calmer and more in control. I think the easing in the rain has helped too – many of us are sensing the light at the end of a particularly soggy tunnel.
Sadly the sheer amount of rain that was pounded into our gardens and fields (over 20 inches in May on my farm) has resulted in waterlogged and nutrient stripped soils, so we are going to have to be very careful how we manage our soils this year.
Below is the letter I sent last night to the people on my Mill List. I put a note in with every order asking permission to enter someone into the list. Then they physically email me and ask to be included. I HATE it when companies send me emails day in and day out and the (of course) the unsubscribe button never works for long! Email me if you would like to be on the list.
Even though it has created challenges (lack of sleep being the primary one) working at The Mill at Janie’s Farm has changed my life. It makes so much sense to grow grains down the road, mill them in our own mill then I get the happy job of taking the orders and packing them up and shipping them out. I love this job. Moving food from the garden and the farm to the table is my favorite thing.
Del is milking really well but I have noticed that she does not have a lot of cream in her milk – certainly enough to skim for butter but not as much as in the past. I think this is a combination of lack of condition due to her bout with pneumonia brought on by carrying a dead calf those few days and the diminished protein in the pasture. They are eating less mineral and salt now but still I feel the fields are woefully deficient.
My restaurant threw out two boxes of cabbages the other day and Del LOVES cabbage. So these have been her milking treat these last few days. And her cream levels popped back up. I can’t wait for pumpkin season – well I can as it is a long time away, but cows eating pumpkins make the best milk!
OH, Almost forgot. My co-worker (John does not want to be talked about in the blog) so we will talk about my co-worker, has finally, after a few nasty set backs, got his hay mower all in one functioning piece. So, he can now cut and bale hay at his own pace. And the rains pace of course but suffice to say we are in business. Getting hay into the barn will be fantastic! Fingers crossed.
Ok here are some excerpts from my mill letter.
Dear Bakers and Friends of Janie’s Mill,
When I was a child growing up on a beach in New Zealand (yes, I am a long way from home, grinding grains out here on the Prairies of the Midwest), we had two kinds of flours – brown and white. As a baracuda bread child I always assumed the brown bread was dyed. The barracuda loaf was white! Who knew. It’s the white flour that was (and still is) bleached! Now we have so many choices of delicious flours and breads – the mind quite boggles. For instance, different wheats will give the flours quite different ranges of taste. As you know most wheat is usually sown in the fall and harvested early in the following summer. So, how much rain, how much sun, how much snow, how long the ground was frozen and the myriad of delicious components that make up the healthy organic soil – all this contributes to the ranges of notes you will find in the taste of your bread not to mention the behavior of your dough.
This brings me to news of THE MILL:
(Oh Fellowship – We have been busy, busy this week milling. New summer workers have started and so training and laughter followed by intense concentration is the name of the game. Do you remember Anna? she is coming to work with me next month – wonderful!! Back to the Letter) .
This week we are switching to another lot of wheat grains. We have brought in a new batch of Organic Glenn. Like much of our wheats this batch was grown on Janie’s Farm. Jill the Mill Manager told me to tell you that this lot of Organic Glenn has 15% protein and 13% moisture after harvest (the moisture will probably drop a bit with milling). Which is a 3% point higher protein than the last batch. Good for bread!
We will begin the milling shortly and you can find this flour in bags of Calumet, Chicago, Wabash, Du Page, and the upcoming pizza flour.
At last the rain has abated and the sun has come out. There is a mild spring breeze and the tractors are rolling. So far our farmers Ross and his father Harold and their team have planted just over 500 acres of corn, both white and yellow corn. There is a couple of thousand acres to plant. Early next week they will be planting the Ruby Red popcorn.
(We are looking forward to that!!).
To combat weeds, prevent erosion, and fix nitrogen, Ross and Harold ensure that the ground is never left uncovered. So, in the fall they plant any ground not in winter wheat with cover crops. Last fall this was red clover and some left over wheat. Now, here’s the tricky bit, if that cover crop gets out of control due to let’s say: LOTS OF RAIN!, it might head up and seed and we do not want the cover crop to go to seed, so they are working as fast as possible to till the cover crops back into the ground in preparation for the spring crop.
There are no chemicals on these fields at all. They are strictly managed and certified organic. Harold and Ross manage about two thousand acres so this time of year the jigsaw of planting and weed management is just a little bit stressful.
Also NEWS – if you spend 100 dollars in the retail section of themillatjaniesfarm I will give you free shipping. Just enter the code FREEOVER100 – it would be my pleasure to pay for your shipping.
I hope you have a great weekend!
The Mill at Janie’s Farm
There is a chance of rain in the forecast for tonight (and about every day for the next ten) but I am sending the co-worker out to cut the light grass acres. We have missed all the forecast showers for a week now and everything is very dry and very stalky. I am ready to take the risk. We need to get this shot stuff off the fields.
Have you thought perhaps Del (who I feel a connection to being that she has my name) could possibly have less cream in her milk because she thinks you or whoever else drinks her milk wants to be on a diet? Lol! Proud of you for enjoying your new job so much! Good for you Celi! You work so hard and are so inspiring to your tribe!
Well there is that!!
I am giggling away about your co-worker, alias, Our John. He is wonderful! Am also keeping my fingers and toes crossed that you can begin getting in the much needed hay! Which makes me realize that we, also, must begin our search for untreated, unsprayed hay. Thank you for the reminder! Sending big hugs to all on the farmy! xoxoxo
He does not want to be in the blog at all but now that he is helping out on the farm it is a bit hard not to attribute to his what he has done. But there you are. Now he is the co-worker and I have lots of those over the summer!
Well you tell your ‘co-worker’ that we are his legion of admirers and wish him much satisfaction on his retirement and new venture!
I am on your mill list, as you know and I just read your latest missive with delight! It is so full of personality, just like your blog. And it makes me want to start baking bread. I’m glad you are enjoying the job so much.
Hi Charlotte! I love bread / I would say bread and butter are my downfall and now that we have home made butter – well it is all over for me!!
What I love is a good German hard roll, crusty crunchy on the outside, light and chewy on the inside liberally slabbed with organic butter from pastured cows. Now excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard.
Celi, with all the never-ending running about that you do, day in and day out, I really doubt you could have any trouble (particularly this time of year; )
My secret plan! Eat lots of bread – run fast. Is that a haiku?
Watching wholesome grains go from farm to table via a good mill must be very satisfying. Nothing more basic and vital than that.
I feel the same – it is almost Roman
Homage be to the goddess Ceres.
Surplus cabbage was why I made so much sauerkraut a few years ago. A neighboring restaurant got too much in a produce order, so discarded a quite a bit of it. There was not way to eat or freeze it all, and I do not like it canned. Instead, we made a huge batch of sauerkraut! It was not bad, but it was not good either. There was so much of it, that even if it had been good, I would have gotten tired of it anyway.
Pity you did not have a cow!
Oh no! I have plenty of work already!
You are the Queen of Letters and Cabbages!
Thank you!!! I think!
Tonytomeo – that’s where Kim Chi comes in when you have surplus cabbage. I just can’t get enough of that delightful dish! And Ceci – I’m so glad Anna is coming back to you! What a treasure! You, yourself, sound like you are in your element with the mill job and a smooth-running farmy! Hope it’s a wonderful summer for you after all you’ve been through this winter. Be happy! – Sunny
Yes.though Everything has its ups and downs of we would all be bored out of our minds!!
True! My GranMa used to say we wouldn’t appreciate “the good” half as much if there weren’t “the bad” to compare it with…
Bread and butter is my downfall too! When we were kids my cousins had a nanny who used to say, if you don’t eat your bread and butter you can’t have cake… Well, I dint much like her cake, so…🤣
Wow, 15 per cent protein is high, ours is usually 11.5! Great that your coworker has the hay mower going. Have never figured why he declines fellowship membership. Laura
Congrats on the cabbage haul! Cabbage is very healing. Might help Wai, too. I’ve been drinking fermented cabbage juice (basically liquified sauerkraut) for nearly 2 years now and it works wonders. My animals like it, too. Maybe someday you could grow cabbage? I’d like to try it here…maybe this fall?
Also, I’ve very excited about the red corn and will definitely buy when available!
Rain has subsided here in Kansas, too. Some wheat has been cut, looks like. And some corn fields managed to survive. But a lot of fields basically drowned from all the water. Today I saw several huge cottonwood trees that had come down because the ground was so loose and water-logged. A couple days ago one area here got 5 inches of rain in two hours!!! Unreal.
I managed to get some tomato plants in this week. Got to get the okra in and might try for some watermelon, too. It has been too rainy to do anything until now.
Only one duck is laying, but still nice to have that every day egg after months without any!
Much love…Dakotah 🙂
I was going to mention, the excess water might have washed out nutrients, but it also washed out herbicides and other chemicals, so that’s a good thing.
I’d be delighted to get a letter like that if I ordered flour 😁 I thought of you this week as I am just starting to use a shampoo soap bar…natural oils and scents, no unnecessary packaging. So far I don’t look like a scarecrow and maybe one day I’ll make my own instead of buying it!
I have been using a goat milk shampoo soap bar for quite some time and I really like it and what it does for my hair.
Flour bleaching is illegal in NZ (don’t know if that actually stops any companies doing it). There is an interesting article on NZ vs. American bread here: https://www.bakeinfo.co.nz/Facts/Nutrition/Nutritional-Properties-of-Bread/White-bread—its-a-good-food-too-
Thank you miss kitty- I’ll give that a read after chores- in My humble opinion nothing beats the nz Vogel’s. Extra thin. I miss it almost as much as I miss pies.
What a wonderful newsletter, your customers are fortunate to both be the recipient of it and the grains. Suddenly, Australia feels too far away. So I’m pleased you share snippets here. I have that in common with Del… I love cabbage and pumpkin! And life would be very sad without bread and butter… I once or twice followed no carb diets… the thing I missed was toast. Life is too short.
I wish we were near enough to buy the four. We’ve found a fantastic local draft eco beer, made with spelt from the Ebro Delta – the brewers are very proud of their take on a German Weiss beer and have been very helpful.
My children are already eager for Halloween and upset that it is so far away yet. It was funny timing to hear you waiting for pumpkins 🙂
You are amazing! My mind boggles thinking of all that you are managing to work so much at the mill AND the farm! I hope the rain ENDS for a bit and you can help the soil recover. I was intrigued to read that a few yummy cabbages would help Del that much (not surprising but still!). My son (13 and fascinated by pigs) really enjoyed the pics and video of the bigger piglets in their mud wallow!
you are a phenomenal woman!
What are all the different kinds of corn used for?
Grits and cornmeal- the red corn is really tasty