Evening Light

Good morning everyone,

The weather is on the turn and it is getting cold in the nighttime now so I have insisted that WaiWai allow Tima to sleep with him. Without Gentle Tane as a referee this will be a noisy transition but Wai needs warmth and Tima has plenty to spare. So there is no choice and Wai will eventually have to agree to share.

Listening to him complain about the change he did not ask for is curiously amusing. The animals know nothing of the last few weeks and care even less. They just plod on with their lives. Moaning on about the weather then accepting the change. Precious Time, our constant companion, will sort things out for us.

The barn yard is all birds and a few pet pigs now. The dogs – the five cats and the Guineas and the peacocks are all present and accounted for but have become a large homogenous flock.

It is easy to stay safe here. I am up preparing for work at 4.30 every morning and home by about 6.30 every night. I pretty much go nowhere in between. We wear masks all day at work because of the flour and the virus so wearing a mask 12 hours a day is second nature. And the mill is not really work – more an extension of the farm.

Healing the land and husbanding our organic crops through to the mill and then the milling, and the bagging and selling of the flour is such a natural and linear old fashioned process that it feels like a worthy use of my time. Banishing chemicals from John’s family land and growing food on it has been a valuable endeavor.

Though many times lately I have wished my land and my job and my American people were in New Zealand.

And as this year drags it’s slow and sorry arse towards a close I miss my people more. I have been away from home for a long time and it wears on ones soul to always be the odd one out.

At work I am surrounded in women who were born here and live only a few miles from their birthplace. Their family and school friends are close by. They will meet someone new and the conversation will shuffle around until they find a person in common. Once that is established and they can track a persons lineage they all relax. This is a conversation as old as time. One I cannot join.

Well – this mornings letter went to places I did not expect.

It is very windy this morning – windy and cloudy and not terribly warm but not terribly cold either. I will work on Tima and Wai’s bed some more and plug the water dishes in outside for the big birds. All the cows are in their winter fields now and are firmly in John’s jurisdiction. So, nothing to do there.

I hope you have a lovely day!

Take good care.

Celi

Steak and Butternut Pie.

I love pies.

Not the American pies so much, though today I am making a lemon meringue pie like my Mum used to make, but just for the photo – my old comfort food from New Zealand is a good old steak pie which I made for dinner last night.

A beautiful Steak and Butternut pie.

Here is an old recipe from years ago in my daily blogging days. This one is Steak and Caramelised onion. I have learnt a bit more about flour since I made that crust and now I use a pastry blender – it is a hand tool. And this is my new favourite tool for pastry. And after a ton of experimentation I blend Janie’s Mill Pastry flour with the Janie’s Mill All Purpose flour for my perfect country pastry. Of course!

We shifted the cows yesterday. Now they are on the other side where the grass is long! We have five cows but with this mild weather we still have heaps of grass. We have never had this much feed in the fields and hay in the barns. John is doing a good job managing the farm.

Back to the pastry. Just the usual proportions 4/2/1 – for example – 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of good butter, 1/2 cup of water.

The sun is coming up into a warm overcast day.

I hope you all have a lovely day – wherever you are.

Take care.

Breathe now.

Celi

YELLOW

Good morning everybody!

It is not Sunday it is Saturday but I have been having day naming issues all week. And I started this post last Sunday so that is why this post begins with: it is Sunday again and cool and overcast and a little breezy. The leaves are beginning to turn. Slightly on the South Side.

Confused yet? Me too!!

More fully on the West Side.

Tima is already at the gate – she knows that on the weekend she gets the gate opened so she can wander out into the field. Even BooBoo seems to know what day it is. The sixth day is a half day and today is the seventh day – on this day we walk together so he is sticking close as a reminder.

It is back to leaving in the dark and returning in the dark.

But I am holding tight to my job at a time when many many people have no job at all

I just got distracted there for a while. I need to set up reminders of people’s birthdays on my phone. – I have a big family, and being so far away from them means I miss the natural dialogue around birthdays. Another downside of living away from family. And I have never been able to successfully load everyone’s birthdays into my phone so it sets up reminders! . My memory appears to be failing me lately. And posting presents from here is crazy because mail so incredibly expensive and really, really slow. And – anyway –

And there are more yellow leaves on the ground. Autumn this year is being nice and slow. Allowing the trees to turn in their own time. It is cold but not too cold yet.

And now it is the following weekend. And Saturday. I am off to work shortly. Time goes shooting past. And once again Tima is waiting at her gate ready to spend the weekend in the field. And Boo is at my feet.

I am determined to have a very well managed weekend. I will make a list. I will make a weeks worth of lunches. I might shop( online). I need to take my new phone in because the WiFi is being weird. I will wash all my masks and socks and work clothes and hang them out to dry. I will shift the pigs into their winter quarters. Vegetables – I need lots of vegetables. I will sauté a weeks worth of vegetables: zucchini and broccoli and any kind of pumpkin I can get my hands on, then fresh kale and greens cut like confetti. Then layer these into five jars and store them in the fridge. On a work-day morning I open a container, top the vegetables with a boiled egg or some goats cheese or left-overs from last night’s dinner and out the door lunch in hand. No more bread!

I am not baking bread for two weeks.

I am going to make a T-shirt that says:

Janie’s Mill – our Gluten is Maximus.

No-one but me thinks that is funny!! But I do need a break from bread.

Have a lovely day.

Celi.

We lit the fire.

I have bits of half eaten pizza all over the counter after the family took their bites and left but the bread dough is still proofing. I have this theory about extending the period between adding the levain ( or yeast) and adding the salt. The autolyse becomes a pre-ferment then becomes a dough. Two hours between each step. So dough laying about on the counter is a given on the weekend.

There is a wind flying about the house today! It is colder but not yet cold. John lit the fire and the house is full of the scents of fireplace and roasting pumpkin and garlic, with murmurings of rosemary, that will all become a soup later with Pizza Bianca on the side.

The chooks are laying less now with winter approaching. But the ducks are suddenly laying more – sometimes the barn yard makes no sense.

The pigs and chickens are all getting extra straw in their beds this weekend. I have been bringing home shredded paper from work for the chooks but the wind sucked it back out of their house yesterday and is still hurling it about. That wind. So I made a bit of a mess. Nothing I can do about that now, except wish paper did not have to be bleached quite this white. At least it is biodegradable. I hope.

WaiWai has incorporated his blankets INTO his bed. He is determined to show me that he does not need Tima to keep him warm.

The cows are loving their extended fields and laying in some winter fat on all the late clover.

They are a bunch of fatties – high on clover!

Take care now.

Celi

Wind

I don’t really know why I wrote Wind in the heading as there is none this morning. In fact, living in the depths of the Mill 12 hours a day I cannot even really comment on whether we have had a lot of wind lately. I no longer see the weather coming. I am not in it.

Did you know wind is more about sucking than blowing. The air is drawn down from high pressure to low pressure. I think I have that right. I read this somewhere years ago. In fact we may have talked about it years ago. I guess we see this principle in action when you open the front door and the change in pressure slams the back door.

Here is a nice piece of text from Wikipedia:

Wind is air in motion. It is produced by the uneven heating of the earth’s surface by the sun. Since the earth’s surface is made of various land and water formations, it absorbs the sun’s radiation unevenly. Two factors are necessary to specify wind: speed and direction.

I like that sentence – wind is air in motion.

I had to buy a new phone (an outrageous expense) – which meant downloading all my apps again: we were setting the new phone up in the shop and their systems all went down and the download went a bit wonky. Not that I care! Anyway starting again has been good I left behind the detritus. But the new app for WordPress looks different! I am slow to make my post this morning. But like they say – a change is as good as a holiday. And God knows we could all do with a holiday!

Every night after work I pick up the pig scraps from the restaurant we call Beans. I have the back seat of my car full of clean buckets and swap them out for the full ones. Yesterday there were trays and trays of strawberries. Old blind WaiWai has a nose for strawberries. He slowly and silently followed me between the car and the tree until I had the strawberries unloaded. By the time I had everything unloaded and sorted into his bowl it was quite dark. But he still waited for his strawberries which he ate with delicate little bites and snuffles before sloping like a ragged shadow back to the barn. He is quite silent, that pig – unless he gets a fright then he huffs.

Tima is allowed to run loose on the weekends when I am home. Not that she does any running. But she cannot come out of her large enclosure when I am not here. She is too naughty for John to manage.

This weekend I hope the men will run a long electric fence out into the wheat field. We have so much feed this winter – but I still want to take advantage of this big field of clover. It is really good for the recovery of a field to have animals on it. As they graze they pull at the roots of some plants creating air pockets and drainage and turn the grass into manure to enrich the souls as they pass. I honestly wish all this farm was grass and trees and I would let my herd graze large areas – migrating about at will. I love weeds and overgrown areas and jungles. But we are in the business of organic cropping now. I hope I live long enough to fund a little New Zealand farm for my children and create our own little wilderness there.

Are you baking? What are you making? Godzilla is out on the bench warming up for the weekend bread. I still want to make some bran muffins but I cannot find Mum’s recipe. I have collected bran from the pizza flour milling. It is half Turkey Red and half Glenn and has a lot of sifted flour in it. We don’t sell it but we should, because it is baking magic. I want to make the bran muffins with it.

Tima has come up to the porch for her morning nap. She takes over TonTon’s bed which upsets him greatly. But the pig is bigger than the dog so the pig wins.

Do you have a good simple bran muffin recipe? I want to put lots of dried fruit in them too. I am hungry for a muffin.

Time to get going.

Talk soon

Celi

Sitting in Bed

Writing to you.

I have reverted to an old habit of taking toast and coffee back to bed with me on a Saturday morning. I don’t go in to the mill ’til 10am on a Saturday morning so to just sit in my bed with a cup of coffee and my favourite toast gives me a few extra minutes of warm down-time. No people – no noise – sleeping dogs and the distant sound of the washing machine doing its thing.

Plus if I get crumbs in the bed it’s ok as Saturday is sheet changing day!

We are all getting very tired of the endless hits from the COVID 19 news and if you live in America as I do: the wretched endless political nastiness. I feel like each one of us worldwide is one of those huge rocks on the beach at Westshore where I grew up. Every high tide, which is twice in 24 hours, we get smashed by the waves breaking over us and pulling back out trying to unseat our feet, but we still stand and take it. We are rocks – we cannot even turn our heads. We just get hit. Sometimes the weather gets really bad and the waves are huge and smash up and over us and into the gravel behind, creating the shushing and pulling sound as the waves attack the whole rock. But still we stand, eyes slightly narrowed against the salt, our sharp edges still sharp, and we take the force of each wave. But then we become tired. But it does not stop the waves.

My friend Amanda said she was reading about Surge Response / Surge Fatigue or something like that. Where we rise up to battle each change, each new development in our fast changing world, using up all our mental adrenaline then our Selves get tired – just worn out by the whole thing. Fatigue. We are all feeling some of that I think. I feel I am not adjusting fast enough.

Surge Fatigue. For me I think I need to note that I am feeling this, acknowledge the problem, and deal with it somehow.

Because I grew up with a boat builder I think of fatigue in regards to machinery.

In materials science, fatigue is the weakening of a material caused by cyclic loading that results in progressive and localized structural damage and the growth of cracks.

Cracks – yes – cracks make sense to me. Because cracks can be fixed once you isolate and re-tool the cause.

So a few hours in bed with a book, or puddling about the farm, or any of a number of gentle occupations need to be actually chosen to help heal my mental cracks.

Here is a portion of an interesting article I was reading https://www.vumc.org/health-wellness/resource-articles/six-coping-strategies-combat-pandemic-fatigue

Self-care is not optional. Dr Edward Krall notes in his article “Ten Commandments for Physician Wellness” that we must take charge of our own well-being; we cannot expect even the most caring employer to be responsible to keep us comfortable. Part of our professional obligation is to strive for our own well-being (VUMC Credo).

  1. Setting attainable well-being goals and implementing that plan is critical. Those goals might include exercise, meditation, nutrition, yoga, mindfulness, prayer, gardening, connections with others, music, reading, or other forms of restoration. Find the right match for you and do it regularly.

  2. Plan and use your paid time off (PTO) to recharge. While in years past, we may have saved vacation days for travel or going to the beach, that may be less realistic for the foreseeable future. Enjoy experiences with your family, friends, and pets.

  3. Take a vacation from news and social media. The bombardment of negative and sensational headlines can be overwhelming. There is little need to know the daily tally of coronavirus infections and deaths, unless your job is dependent upon those figures. Political discord will continue whether we follow it daily or not.

  4. Seek diversions that are healing. Spend time intentionally and do things that give you meaning.

  5. Create some predictable routines. Focus on managing the things you have control over.

Be kind to yourself as you are trying to adjust to this ever-changing challenge.

……..

WaiWai knows – when he feels worn out he goes straight back to bed.

So.

What do you think? I can’t just hope things will get better. I need to put real changes in place to cope long term. For years I think. First I need to write my objective. Hmm.

“I need to stay mentally strong, turn my restless energy into productivity and work more efficiently so I can keep enriching the lives of and staying useful to my people. For myself: I need to work on my cheerfulness, independence, kindness, energy and health”.

Does that make sense? Sounds like a big ask right? Though I took almost an hour to write that paragraph. And it still needs work.

Now to make a plan to achieve those things.

Bread baking weather is here! I miss Sheila.

Take care

Cécilia

Summery Sunday

We had a sweet little Sunday morning, today.

The sun was in and out and the temperature was perfect.

We brought the cows back from across the way. The whole herd. Well – all five of them. John will work on the fences over there and in a few months they will go back there to camp for the winter.

This is not the best shot but I love this fat dove-gray chook. She lays green eggs. And is pretty sweet. John’s pond.

A little walk around the farmy on a Sunday.

I am making a steak and cheese, potato top pie with peas for dinner. Perfect!

Hope you are all well – plodding along in the new world.

Be kind.

Take care.

Celi

A rainy Sunday

When it rains I naturally turn towards the kitchen .

This are the chickens when I let them out yesterday – apparently the ducks pond has nicer water! Ooo.

Yesterday – I also shifted The Four from one field to another. Pigs shift very slowly – there is a lot to investigate on the way.

I take a bucket to sit on and a book to read when I shift pigs. I don’t mind if they mosy along.

Above is my pizza base. It is the sourdough one. Make it the night before – let it sit out 24 hours then divide and refrigerate until you need it.

I made a pear and sharp Canadian cheddar cheese pizza. Oh my!

Delicious.

These loaves are Spelt, Rye and the Janie’s Mill Sifted Artisan. I call the Sifted Artisan Bread Flour the Sifted Sister – I think I am the only one who laughs at that joke!

Very autumnal loaves – as is today. Not cold just wet and dark. I dread this winter.

I am putting my bread recipes in the #justjanies blog on the janiesmill website. They let me have a blog over there because I am not much good at writing recipes and they edit me in the recipe pages and I hate being edited. I am too much of a free spirit and I am not succinct enough. ‘Patting the dough on the head like a dog’ makes perfect sense to me and probably to you too! So I am happy to have my little blog corner.

Go to #Just Janie’s  and will find me waffling on in there. Not terribly often. It is a flour blog. But I do love sharing my discoveries! Today I hope to get the sourdough pizza base in there and this Spelt/Rye loaf.

So – I had better get busy!!

Take care. Talk soon, lovelies!

Cecilia

Stunning Day!

The pond is not quite finished but it has been filled and is circulating as a trial.

It really is awfully pretty.

My big black cow Tia has been sent to a bull to be bred – Aunty stayed home, much to her disappointment, but I am not breeding her again. As well as losing that calf last time, one of her quarters never really kicked in. So, she will probably always present with mastitis now and I don’t want to risk it again. She can be the companion cow.

I am a weekend farmer now, baking bread and writing to my kids on the weekends. Growing my vegetables and herbs on the porch. Puttering about making pig beds.

I am still putting in 12 hour days at the mill. They have moved me into sales at work which has left me floundering, actually. I have never worked in sales but it is the quiet period in the baking world – too hot to turn on the oven so the online sales are quiet. So I am out drumming up sales in stores. Where did that expression come from ‘drum up’ maybe it comes from the beaters who would scare the forest life into one space so the rich people could shoot them from their chairs without actually going hunting.

People will start to feel the pinch here soon. So, it is going to take some thinking outside the square to succeed in sales, in the middle of a pandemic.🦋 Selling without a handshake and a smile will take some doing. I go out armed with masks and sanitizer but it feels a bit stupid to be going in and out of stores at this time. I am meeting lots of people though.

I must think right outside the square to get our good food into grocery stores around the Midwest. I will focus on small/organic grocery stores – the big supermarket chains are a huge proposition that will take a big set up. Many establishments are not even accepting samples due to the pandemic. And it is hard to meet anyone face to face because faces spread the virus.

Sorry to go on – but you all have always been my springboard for ideas. Now that I am out of the tunnel and roaring along again – this change in job description feels a bit like being broad-sided. Then upended. Then pushed out the door!

If you owned a cool little boutique grocery store /organic store during this period how would you like to be approached? All I know for sure is that my personal approach will not be like the slicked back professional approach. I cannot be who I am not.

I need to look back and see if I have any decent photos for you.

The following week!

I am in the same spot, writing from the sunny coop, that used to be an Airbnb in the olden days. But a week later. I went out looking for photos and never came back!

It is another sunny Saturday. While California is being scorched, we are once again having a mild summer with just enough occasional rain to keep the fields green and verdant. John is bringing in so much hay he is selling it!

We are babysitting two cows and their calves now ( Tia is with their bull) because we have so much grass and our friends lost their rented land. When Tia comes back she will join the others Across the Way and the visiting cows are here by the house.

I am going to post this now before it becomes a novel of epic proportions. I still write to you every Saturday! Now it’s the lack of farm photos that hold me back.

I dream of Sheila often you know. They are not sad dreams but I wake up with such a sense of loss. I know that Sheila is a symbol of all we have all lost. Our careless care-free world is gone. I think we are all suffering from differing degrees of loss. This persistent anxiety that will pass into normalcy as time goes on. But the extra care we must all take to keep our families and friends healthy and safe has to become the norm.

I think we are all thinking outside the square.

How are things in your part of the world? In your corner of the Forest?

As pertains to the Virus and the Social Discourse.

Let’s have another go ’round. This is an incredible time in the history of the world – full of immense change. We need to talk about what we are seeing – not so much to comment but to document as objectively as possible. Though objective is almost impossible, we can try. And if you have a friend somewhere we don’t have a Member of the Fellowship invite him or her to write in.

I saw three little boys walking to school the other day- in Chicago – back packs and new shoes, jostling and fooling around – all wearing slightly different masks. I wonder if some masks are perceived as cooler or more fashionable than other masks!

I love you all! We are so important as a group – the Fellowship of the Farmy- I need to write more! Let’s hold onto each other.

I am going out to change WaiWai’s bedding then Tima’s bedding ( they still hate each other and refuse to sleep together, which is fine. – for the summer!

So, talk amongst yourselves – I will be back.

Cecilia

PS sent without editing!

In Bed

I have decided this morning to quite simply lie in bed and do this mornings work here.

It is a still and overcast morning after a night of gentle steady rain. Maybe it is going to be hot – I don’t know. After a year working in the depths of the mill I have lost track of weather. It is always cold in there – we have to refrigerate the flour. So I am refrigerated all day long.

The ducks are laying consistently – waiting for their pond with ill-grace. They spend a lot of time out in the shorn fields picking up dropped wheat.

The new chickens have started laying their little green eggs for my green eggs and ham!

BooBoo and TonTon sleep sprawled all over the floors and when they hear my car coming up the track after work, they erupt from the doors protesting that they ‘just now laid down after a big busy day at dog-work! Whadayamean I’m lookin’ dog-fat!!’

I still collect pig scraps from the local restaurant- on my way home from work- buckets and buckets of scooped watermelon and grapes and strawberries and greens – a salad bar in a bucket!

The dogs help me feed the plonkers.

WaiWai comes creeping out. Complaining softly. He is still covered in zinc, patches of bright pink skin showing through- he sleeps all day in the empty barn. Poppy is down the back in an enormous field of pig feed and Tima is in another diet field. She is happier now because that she is where she used to live with Tane.

But none of these pigs can sleep in the same place. If there is ever an escape the fights are awful, so winter will be interesting.

Cows in over-grown fields. Gardens high with flowering weeds amidst my jungles. I feel liberated by allowing myself to stop pulling weeds and letting the wild trees grow. Trees love tree friends. Weeds are ok. All my forests are growing – the Fellowship Forest down the back is shooting up. Poppy lies in the afternoon shade from those little trees. Her field is lush.

I will get up now I think. 7.30am! That was a pretty big lie-in.

Everything is pretty lazy.

Later now. After a day.

And now again to sleep. I like my sleep.

Celi