The wheat has been harvested and my fields have lost their romance. The wheat has gone.

It was here – so beautiful and now harvested and collected and gone to be tested for all manner of things before the women at the Mill turn it into food.

Though the harvest itself holds a certain terminal beauty. Like a sandcastle – there and gone.

They are harvesting Frederick here. Frederick is just below a medium protein flour. It is a favorite cake flour amongst the bakers ( cake- sifted) and the whole wheat flour blended with the Glenn makes a nice loaf of bread. I think people like the Fred for its mild flavor. I am more of a Glenn girl.

Anyway the wheat is gone now. Today we will bale as much straw as we can.

Sheila is getting old. I say this without ceremony because I feel shipwrecked or more ship-lost-at-sea at the thought of losing Sheila my old dear pig. Pigs don’t stop growing – they slow down but she keeps on getting longer – and she is over 6 foot long now and up to my waist in height (and I am not a short person). But her back half is not keeping up with her front half as though they are being directed by two different brains. Rising out of a sitting position takes real determination. Walking, with her long back and bad hip, is more of a drunken sway. I am afraid that soon she will sit down and won’t be able to get back up.

But she still looks me straight in the eye and gently takes food from my hands when I feed her. She still fights Poppy if Poppy tries to steal her food. She still wallows in her enormous mud puddle and waits for me in the evening. She is quite deaf but if I wave her bucket of vegetables about and call with a very high voice she gets up after a struggle and still comes lumbering out into her garden for her evening vegetables.

But she is getting old. And you and I need to start preparing ourselves.

Soon she and Poppy will go into one of the bigger pig gardens. They are wonderfully shady now and Sheila will like that.

I am reading this book:

Writers and Lovers – a Novel

Though I have not finished it yet. I love to read – it helps me to not think. It is like traveling very safely.

I told my fourth son in New Zealand he might have to buy a bigger boat in case he has to come and get me.

I can hear the ducks outside the window. It seems to me there are less of them. There are a number sitting on eggs but no eggs are hatching. The ducks sit for over a month but eventually the nest is abandoned. One nest has two ducks in it. But no ducklings for us. John is digging a big pond, deeper than himself, where his swimming pool used to be, and lining it in with rocks at the moment. The rocks cover a big black liner. The ducks will be happy when that is finished. I told him I would start a budget for replacement fish. It will attract herons too which is pretty cool. ( more replacement fish). I told him to place the rocks in such a way that the fish can hide from the birds. I have no idea where one even buys fish in those numbers.

It is a beautiful day. I might garden later. First though: ‘the working woman’s Saturday morning jobs.’

Take care.


51 Comments on “Endings

  1. Good Morning Celi!!! I was so happy to see your note this morning!!! I miss you and all of the Animals ~ the cows, pigs, chickens, AND my Doggies ~ Boo and TonTon!!! How are they?? Oh dear ~ about Sheila ~ me sad to hear she’s getting a bit slow ~ like me!!! Arthritis can be so painful. Yes the wheat fields are so beautiful ~ especially when they are in full bloom and the wind is making the field just wave back and forth!!! Always such a beautiful sight!!! And when they come in with the combine and harvest ~ oh the aroma ~ ahhh!!! And now to bale the straw!! Of course the harvest would be much better with a John Deere combine!!!! None of that red stuff no good!! I was born Green!! Hope you are doing well ~ take a rest and sit down with my Doggies!!! Have a good day!!

  2. Changes never seemed quite so dramatic did they, but now with so much change swirling around us every day when the more common alterations of life occur it brings a deeper sadness. I feel as if we look at things with such an air of finality anymore, never able to convince ourselves that normal will return. I sense resignation and a deepening sadness as you write Miss C. I feel it around myself. Take care.

    • Hi Deb.
      Yes. Those ‘normal’ carefree days are gone for a while/ I think it is harder for Americans actually – the American culture is based around gatherings outside of the home – in restaurants and bars etc. we don’t have that in NZ because bars and restaurants are so very expensive. They are for special occasions. We tend to gather in our homes. I really miss that down here – the dinners with friends and family. I have hosted many – inviting city people down to the farm but literally never been invited to one dinner or lunch in another persons home here in America. Maybe this will be one change that creeps in – Friday dinners at friends houses or under a tree in the yard. Still, we can’t change a culture but I sure am saving as hard as I can now for a change as we move into the future.

  3. I feel such sadness and longing between the lines here. Life gives and then takes back…regularly. I had been wondering about Sheila and Poppy. You, of course as well. Short notes and some beautiful photos are a gift for us so we know you are still there. I’m hoping by the Autumn to feel some hope in the air again. Hang on.

    • I think we must build and depend on our own hopes. As a society we have lost so much and now we are drawn back to family. No more relying on the powers that be to babysit us – we look after each other now. It is good for us. We are free to make our own decisions and go with them. How is your writing going?

      • Like you, summer has me with more chores than ever and I’m the only one doing them so writing is always on the back burner with so many other things but playing outside helps so much. I’ll catch up when the big heat gets here and I have to stay in more. I’ve always believed that we have to rely on each other. The powers that be are always looking at their own interests, not ours. I tape the news, watch it fast forward with the sound off. I’m informed but not saturated with negatives. I watch it for the good news and there has been some lately. I see the consciousness of the country shifting a bit or is that just my hopefulness? Hugs and hang on.

  4. I remember seeing a documentary about starting a carp farm – all the fish arrived in a very ordinary looking large lorry, which was in fact a fish tank.

    Dear Sheila …and Poppy!

  5. I sense a real sadness coming from your blog and I think it’s been coming for awhile. I’m sorry about our Sheila. I think there was a genuine connection between the two of you.
    With things being the way they are today there’s not much I can say to alleviate your spirit except that I’m thinking of you and sending my love.
    Your neighbor in the north🇨🇦

    • Hullo neighbor!
      It is sad – I think the hardest part is not being able to get home to my children. Always I have had a ticket and a date – I would often buy ten months ahead and pay it off while I waited – now I just cannot see how to get home. And to save for the next period in my life I must work – and though I love my job – I am sad to lose the animals. These are my two sadnesses I think. And I must get over them – many many people deal with much worse.

  6. Long time reader her not often a comment.. Yes, I think we have all felt your sadness for sometime as your life has changed and turned from farming. Contemplating the loss of a beloved friend and companion and all that is happening in this world, it’s extra hard right now. Thank you for sharing your pictures and life with us, hope the day and week bring some moments of comfort, a flash or two of joy, and some food for your soul. Take care.

    • Thank you so much for a lovely comment. I think we need a new word too – fatigue mixed with great sadness – and I think this sadness will be generational as we see the shrinking of the world for our own children. I also long for like minded people. Living down here in the country with people who cannot think one step past complaining about how hard done they are wears a person down. Thank you so much for being a long time reader. I really do need to write more! Take care c

  7. Dear Miss C, how good to hear from you. The magnificent Miss Sheila is entering her third age, slower and more contemplative. She is like an aged Rolls Royce, slower and not always a good starter in the morning, but still glorious and magnificent in motion.
    There are days when I wonder if the post-Covid-19 world is one I want to inhabit. The air is somehow tinged with autumn, a sense of depression and sadness that we will never again be what we were, that we have done so much damage to the earth and to ourselves that full recovery is impossible. Other days I wake up to cool, misty winter mornings and on my new 3 or 4km hikes around the cane paddocks being harvested with the dog, I am moved again by our beautiful planet and a sense of hope. Time will tell.

    • I think the virus and environmental changes were inevitable- humans are good at pretending things will never change. I am actually really fascinated about what the new designs for buildings will be like. Will there be isolation suites with gardens,or exterior gates far from the front door like the Italian doors that open into a small piazza- with a family of homes gathered behind those walls. I wish I was hopelessly wealthy so I could design my own space blending all these and medieval ideas with our modern ones and create a safe town. Maybe a whole lot of ancient confessionals where people could meet and talk privately and safely. This would be a fascinating study I think.

      • I love your ideas! I’ve always liked the design of Moroccan houses, built around and opening on a tall central courtyard with a fountain, and living space on the roof, away from the street but free and in the open air.

  8. Anticipatory grief is difficult, and I think a good portion of humanity has had to face it daily since this pandemic began. But watching your sweet Sheila slow down is very sad, although another part of life. And I know that even though you love your work at the mill, your heart is still very much with the animals! 10 months on I am still grieving parting with my goats :*/

    • I still can’t imagine you without goats but we all live in cycles and you embraced the change. Did you keep one or two as pets?
      Even though this is my last year with raising pork the hardest bit will be losing the pets – maybe letting them die of old age is cruel. I don’t know – but I understand what you mean about anticipating grief. When it comes time to have that miserable discussion with the vet I won’t be able to speak. Remember when I had him put Mama the sheep down. That was so sad.

      • No, I didn’t keep any for pets. The hay situation around here is so expensive, it didn’t make sense. I can still visit a few of them, they aren’t too far away. And I found fantastic homes for all of them, so it all worked out. I am sure that Sheila will let you know when it’s time to make that call. I don’t think it’s cruel to keep an animal into old age unless they are in pain. You have the wisdom!

        • Good to hear. Her eyes are still bright and talkative so I think at the moment it is getting her long body up and moving that is the issue. I need to get her up more – I do every evening – I get her up for a walk but if it wasn’t for that wild Poppy!

  9. Hi C x
    I love reading your blog. I’m glad to hear you are safe where you are. Although like others I sense some sadness in your blog (I hope its a short season) Your girl sheila sounds lovely. You always knew how to care & love others xo

    I hope your Son buys a bigger boat 🙂

    Sending my love
    Your friend
    Oriwa x

  10. Hi there! It’s been weeks since my old computer got seriously hacked…..3 weeks of silence. Now I am back! Have a lovely day and give Sheila lots of ear scratches from me! Cheers! Lovely wheat photos! xoxoxo

  11. I read your post with such sorrow, not only for the loss of the wheat’s beauty, but for what is to come for you and Sheila. Sheila was special from the very start. I remember your saying about her “she has a canny eye.” That stuck with me these many years. You too have a canny eye; no doubt, this is why you and Sheila are soul mates.
    As RuitFarmNorth said–anticipatory grief is difficult. All the advice books say to try to live in the moment; it is all we really have. You are a person who has most certainly met life full steam ahead. You have not cowered in the corner. I hope this knowledge is of some comfort to you, despite what must be a sickness in the pit of your stomach. You are wise to try to read. It is an escape, if what you’re reading is alluring enough.

  12. My great uncle with fishing ponds had them periodically stocked from a crazy tanker truck – looked all the world like it was holding oil or milk. And it had a giant hose and they just snaked the hose into the pond and out came all the fish. I felt quite sorry for them in the truck but they had to feel good to get into the pond.

    We also caught fish from his creek and threw them into the pond. Then people paid him to fish from his pond. Crazy. But I guess it’s a thing.

    • I guess it IS a thing! Who knew! This pond is not too big though taking a long time to get dug. And lined in rocks. I am desperate to start buying the fish! I know our birds will eat them so I told John I will set up a replacement budget so he does not get angry about that. I wonder how few fish one can buy from a tanker. How do they even count them?!?

  13. I, too, am finding it a bit difficult to keep my spirits up with this new clamp down, but there is hope in the future! I’d sure like to know who said this virus couldn’t survive the heat! I do thank mu lucky stars that I was able to enjoy the rambunctious great times and to travel freely without fear in my younger years. At my age now, it’s just kinda nice to cozy up with my hubby and not have to go anywhere but the store and for haircuts, and an occasional pizza-to-go. We have our chicks, but like your Sheila, and me, they are getting up in years – a life well lived and happily! Chins up, Ladies!!

    • Hi Sunny. Hope hubby is doing ok. I really need a haircut! I don’t think my hair has been this long since I was in my thirties! And there are so many weird theories that get reported as news!! How does that work? And going into another surge is miserable but we need to stick to our guns and tough it out. It will be interesting to see how our new normal is. More tribal I think – family oriented.

      • Thank you, Celi ! Hub is doing OK, just moving a little slower, sleeping more, but we are still going for short auto trips and are planning to cruise to the tip of Mexico in November. Cruises are a great place for reading, as most Liners now have and nice-sized library, laptop set-ups, etc. It’s wonderful! If I don’t finish a book, I check it out at our local library. I agree – future living will probably be more tribal – we need that and for neighbors watching out for one another and their children. Yes, it will be interesting! This change needs to happen all over the world!

  14. I am afraid I am shedding a wee tear . . . it all looked so different when I first clicked on to see Charlotte and Sheila, babies still, following you down the farmy path . . .life . . . a lot has changed . . .but we have to look at that glass in front of us . . . it is half full, not the other way around . . . so difficult at times to go the proverbial two steps forward and only one back . . . . we’ll manage, Milady !!!

  15. What a beautiful place and a beautiful harvest. Illinois DNR can help you with fish stocking–bass, bluegill (I have such memories of bluegill sandwiches) and other fish…They should have a website with info.

  16. Beautiful photos. Beautiful harvest… so much better than the beans and corn. And from it will come beautiful flour. Through various difficult times in my life my Dad’s first check was to see if I had enough to read. Reading is time well spent. Aged, beloved animals are bittersweet. Take care ♡

    • Yes!! I am grateful for kindle now. I have not been to a store since March so browsing a book store – opening and shutting all those books is out of the question – online reading is a great option!

  17. Thank you for returning to your blog! I have dearly missed the daily news. Sad about Sheila–time goes on for all of us. 😥 And sad about Covid still keeping us locked down – well, some of us who are not blasé about it. I’m in Northern California and we were one of the first states to lock down, and yet we are one of the 3 top states with infections spiking. No. CA has been decent, except at the beaches, whereas So. CA has been steadily misbehaving. sigh. But, we still must remember our blessings. I live alone and haven’t been touched in 4 months. People who are quarantined with someone should recognize that blessing. But, I try to remember my other blessings, so that is keeping my roller-coaster spirits higher. Hope you are managing yours, Ceci! This too shall pass. (maybe like a kidney stone, but it will shall pass)

    • Hi Kerry, the lack of touching is what is the hardest for us as a species. We are innately gregarious. I am so lucky to have a job that is close by with a small team and I am able to stay in the coop. My husband refuses to concede that there even is a virus. And I take no risks. So I am lucky to have my own little wing in the house. I meet with my Mother in Law and We have a glass of wine on Sunday afternoons sat 10 feet apart on her outside porch and that is lovely. Always masked at work to protect each other but it is dismaying to see so many people down here unmasked. It is a watershed time for civilization- we cannot ignore it and we must adapt to it. You are a very strong woman to stay so steadfast. I applaud you – I really do. C

  18. Dale -you have made me smile ! Uhuh !! I was brought up the sameway ! Was an only child of middle-aged parents who did a remarkable job not having a bloody clue ! Dad was a military lawyer ottwriting his cases in the home library. I would sit on the rug in front of the fire and was allowed to help myself to any book which took my fancy. Well, we only went to school at 8 and I taught myself to read at five. Well, honest injun, I Picked ‘War and Peace’ off the shelf . . . I would not, could not let it go . . . was nearly eight when I managed the last [age . . . but both Dad and I were proud of that little accomplishment . . . . . . I can still quote Natasha Rostova. . . never been sorry

  19. Hi Celi! So good to hear from you! Yes, it seems that all our animals are getting older too. 😦 Jethro, our boar, has had back hip issues, it seems just like Shiela, for over a year now. He has such a hard time standing and moving around. We thought he was a goner last winter when it got cold and he couldn’t get up to move inside his shelter, but he managed. Both he and Ellie Mae, his longtime partner, are hanging in there, and seem happy. It’s hard to think of them, and our dogs, who are getting gray and also showing their age not being around anymore.
    What a change with your wheat being gone! I seem to always be surprised and saddened (which of course is ridiculous) when the asparagus stops producing, or any of the vegetables for that matter, as it is the end of the plant life cycle. I guess it’s letting go… That’s always seems difficult. But then nothing is permanent, in fact impermanence is a fact of life. I am sending you big virtual hugs and positive, uplifting energies. xoxoxo

  20. Just reading this. The soil and conservation dept sell fish each spring and fall. You fill out your order ..send in your money…pick up your fish on the designated day. We do it each year for our pond. Great prices too. Text me if you’re interested and I’ll let you know when I get my letter and order blank. Pick up is in the town where Acres Inn is located.

  21. It is so hard when our beloved pets get old- I always wanted to go see her in person but now with quarantine I am afraid that will never happen. Beautiful photo of the wheat field with the beautiful sky

  22. So happy to have a blog post and know that you are all basically OK. I miss your regular posts, but this is not pressure! You and everyone else have a lot going on and you seem SO busy at the Mill. It was good to see the pictures – beautiful. I was surprised the wheat is harvested so early. Will another crop go in this year? And sorry to hear about Sheila. I’m glad you have her still and she is OK as she ages. The pond news is interesting too – never a dull moment with you all. I wonder what is happening with the ducks? Looking forward to you keeping us in mind so we know you are OK.

  23. I just found your blog and I adore it. I always wanted to try making some wheat berries into flour so that I can store some wheat as I am kinda of like a prepper. Please check out my little blog at https://www.wisdomforpennies.com and share it pretty please as I will share yours here in North Florida where I live. We are more open in the co
    mmunity now but may go back to lockdown at it is spreading fast here. Love and Hugs from me to you!

  24. Poor Sheila. I’m dealing with similar issues with my Guinness dog. It’s hard watching them get so old. I didn’t realise pigs keep growing so that must be quite difficult for her. I hope she is ok.

  25. I thought I had heard that pigs never stop growing (probably learned that from you, Celi). How unfortunate. I treasure my “sheila shirt”, though I seem to be outgrowing things as well. Sigh.

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