WE HAVE FLOUR

Saturday morning – I simply do not understand why there is a run on flour – it started way before the Shelter at Home order. Are all these people baking?

They must be I suppose.

But how does a big company like Bob’s Mill who say they mill local wheat – how do they run out of flour so fast and we have not. They are a huge conglomerate- with massive mills and I would imagine a huge supply of wheat. America grows lots of wheat. In fact America grows lots of food – the virus has not affected that – so what is going on.

At Janie’s Mill we turn out freshly milled flour every day. We have flour. There is a space for notes in your order form so do tell me it is you so I can expedite your order.

We are running out of everything but we are getting flour out. Tape. Boxes. Bags. All on back order but we stream along!

Anyway – as you can see my time is consumed by the mill. I have a huge retail order to bag and box and get out today then tomorrow I hope to have my first Sunday off in ages. I don’t even know how long it has been since I had a day off.

I will start late today so I hope to take some photos for you before I go in. Maybe I will get some dough started and bake tonight. Though the sooner I go in to work the sooner I will be back. One of my families is holed up at a beach in New Zealand

Sunday: Are you all safe in your houses? Tell me how you are doing – talk amongst yourselves until I am done. I want to know from as many countries as possible so we can all get a big view. Everyone on lock down dims the big picture.

This picture is from my son in Canada. He said since the ski fields are closed and the people were forced to stay away – the animals are out in droves. I feel awful that I cannot get to my children if I need to.

In NZ, anyone coming into the country must self isolate for 14 days, plus NZ is on full lock down now – the borders are closed. And the plane journey would be deadly. That knowledge is making me fractious and anxious. I can go home but I choose not to, in case I bring illness to my families.

Best to stay in my own mill to home to mill bubble. We really cannot be complacent.

Tuesday evening : Take care now – chin up – hold the line. This is new territory for us all.

We shipped 217 boxes today. A new record!

Wednesday morning already? I fell asleep last night with you on my hand.

Good morning!

Talk amongst yourselves- I will be back in a few hours I hope!

Lots of love

Cecilia

I am here

But totally worn out.

Sales of flour at the mill are skyrocketing- at least 15 times more than usual. For every one order two weeks ago I now have fifteen . And yes – we were in no way prepared for hundreds of orders a day. People are so afraid that their panic buying has extended to organic flours. Or maybe there is no flour in the supermarkets- I have not been near a store in weeks.

We have piles of wheat of course so there is no need to panic – I can send flour out endlessly for years – we grow it after all maybe people are afraid that deliveries will cease. I am working seven days a week twelve hours a day and still not keeping up. I have re- configured my systems and brought in two college girls to keep up with demand and I am not keeping up. But we are getting a lot of flour out onto the UPS truck every day.

I try to tell people that my supply chain is the field down the road / there is no need to panic about our flour. But every day more and more orders roll in.

So this is why I am so quiet on the airwaves – I am a bit worn out.

Today I came home early so I could sit on the couch and send you a letter.

It is now that I realize the great safety in growing our own food. We have meat from our fields, eggs from our chickens, we grow wheat in the fields and already John has greens in the glasshouse. I sell all the duck eggs cheap to a restaurant who is making take-out pasta.

The pig food vegetables have dried up. No restaurant veges anymore. But they have plenty of sprouts and I am not fattening any hogs at the moment. Just the five pets. Sheila and Poppy. Tima and Tane. And Wai Wai.

The cows are good. Mr Flowers is Ok. The chickens are not laying too many yet but John collects 33 duck eggs a day – lucky I found a market!

I am going to work another half day tomorrow and get everything ready for another week of orders. The irony is I have no time to bake!

Well, I hope you are doing ok. There is so much to unpack but we are all too weary. Stay home and stay safe. Things have changed now, there us no point in complaining about it. I cannot get to my children and that makes me feel very anxious. But I need to get strong about creating a new normal within the parameters of our health crisis. Soldier on.

Love to you all!!

Tell me how you are doing. We all want to know how you are doing in all this.

Love love

Celi

If we take every challenge one thing at a time it is better. As a whole this is very frightening. But one thing at a time we will get through it.

I NEED A DRINK

Well you know the rules! Once I have written the hearing I can’t change it.

Here is a not-clever chicken, stuck in the porch railings. The two dogs looked on in bemusement. Not sure whether to run for help or give it a good shove.

Yet we keep raising them!

Everyone was out in the sun today. It was even warm. I do not trust our inclement weather even a bit so I feel nervous when it gets warm.

But it is March – anything can happen. The glass house is full of greens and John is sat out at his workshop rendering down the maple syrup.

And the Warthog is greening but you can see the damage from the constant rain this winter – standing water for that long is disastrous to plants. I am honestly pushing for some rice trials.

Pigs, pigs, pigs. All pet pigs now. We get so many buckets of vegetables that these pigs eat great big salads day in and day out.

This is a much prettier shot of the wheat.

Mr Flowers hops on his one foot all the way from the barn to the side of the feed shed every morning for his breakfast and hangs out there for the day. He is wonky but seems quite healthy – his tail is getting longer which is a sign of good health but I fear he will never spread his plumage again. He would need good balance for that. But that’s ok, right? We don’t need to be perfect to be perfectly happy.

We are getting between 14 and 15 duck eggs a day so along with any chicken eggs they will start to sell next week. In the end the eggs make the best money for the farm. Especially ducks who graze all day!

I hope you have a great week!

Celi

NOT QUITE SPRING

But back in the fifties today!!

And look who turned up.

Went to buy bolts at the hardware store and came home with chicks!

Fourteen of them. Eight …. and six ….

They are merrily eating out-of-date corn grits from the mill and snuggling under their light.

The rest of us are in the muck. I work like crazy on Sunday mornings trying to get the Bloody Bollocksy Housework done so I can get outside but look at it. Muck.

The farm is going into a lull now. No more raising hogs for Chicago. I lost in John’s words a ‘shitload of money’ this financial year. And that’s no good.

So- now that Jake has his restaurant up and running I will pull everything back small – feed my own people. And help John use the farm to feed the farm – it is more work but saves a lot of money.

Life changes – that’s how life is. No need to worry. Sheila snd Poppy are not worried. And

Oh look!!

Chicks! 8 Olive Eggers and 6!Mystic Marans. I am cutting back!!

It is night time and I need to run out and check them before I make a cup of tea and go to bed.

I baked all day yesterday!

Good night!

Celi.

TWO ENTRIES

Friday Morning. I am sitting outside the Immigration Office this morning – at least a building called the Application Support Center where we are sent for the official beginning of the agreed Card process. There are quite a few of us foreigners sitting here, waiting in the freezing cold for the office to open.

I am to have my biometrics exam here. They take fingerprints and pictures and I have brought documents to prove I am who I say I am. All this stuff goes off to the FBI so they can check that I have not accrued some kind of criminal record since I last applied for a green card.

Phones must be powered off and inspected.

Later: Well, after a lovely 30 minutes with a really nice group of people, immigrants and staff I have a stamp on the back of my Green Card that is not really green, giving me a 12 month extension. The nice lady told me that if all goes well with their investigations into my behavior in America during the previous ten years, I should have my new ten year green card by next February.

My overriding feeling as I went through the process of mild questioning, fingerprinting and photo was a surge of joy for the little children running about the offices. No-one hushed them or shooed them back into line – they were safe. Safe and warm and happy.

After all they will have gone through I could not help but smile for them.

I read American Dirt while I was away. That book reverberated all through this day.

Sunday Morning. Today has dawned clear and sunny with a proposed temperature of 53f/11 – warm – we will hang the washing on the clothesline. It won’t last long enough to bother the trees but I am glad I don’t have bees because by next week we fall back into the 20’s.

All the animals are present and correct and will love this warm sunny day.

Now I am going to start two new loaves. We are rolling out a new rye. Bono. I baked a fast yeast loaf yesterday and it filled the house with the scent of honey. It is pretty low in protein and really light and fluffy to bag but has a delicate rye taste, with some really sweet notes hitting in with the rye. I really like it. I have a rye sourdough starter ready for this morning so we will see how it goes.

The glass house is waking up.

Plus as an experiment Jill the Miller ran a small batch of oats through the flour mill. Without a sifter. With the stones wide. We made a kind of rough oat flour – really rough. I am going to bake it into a loaf ( with raisins and walnuts and honey scented rye) and see what we think. The crushed oats are Not for Sale at this point but I think it has real potential.

So into the kitchens with me! Then out into the farm.

Take care! If I can I will collect more farm photos today and put them up tonight before the work week descends! Still working on a routine that suits my hours!

Cecilia

MR FLOWERS

Though today it has done nothing but rain, which is kind of nice when I am out of the rain working in the cold dry mill, though the rain was falling on snow and tonight the whole slushy mess will turn to ice and though yesterday was blowing snow with a little sun chiming in: Mr Flowers came right out into the yard, to sit.

He holds his bad leg up and uses it as a crutch when he walks. Poor old fellow. He is lucky he has the barn. He would not last long in the wild. Though he appears to have a cat friend.

His wing is still wonky but I think a lot of that has to do with balance, because it does not seem to impede his ability to fly. He flies down for breakfast in the morning and flies back up into the upper reaches of the barn to sleep at night. The ability of birds to overcome adversity never ceases to amaze me.

The guinea on the left of this picture has no feet at all!

Einkorn Pancakes. Einkorn is a beautiful ancient wheat. Actually Einkorn would make great pikelets.

Even spell check does not know what pikelets are! Though the recipes are not much different. Pikelets and pancakes are pretty similar except pikelets are smaller and eaten warm or cool with butter and jam.

It is evening now – the rainy day after the slushy day after the snowy day.

I got a lot of things started today but finished nary a one. Tomorrow will be a good day too I think, as I start to finish each of my new initiatives.

You have a lovely day too.

Celi

BACK IN THE …

USA.

Back in the USA. And guess what- they are still sniping and arguing with each other. Same words, same tone, different subject, same soundtrack. Radio – off.

And it snowed and the temperature plummeted just as I got off the plane.

All is well on the farm – even Mr Flowers who was not doing well after an altercation with Boo, just before I left, has improved out of sight. He is still hopping about on one foot but getting stronger and will now launch himself into the air and is back roosting in the barn alongside Mrs Pania Flowers.

Jill from the Mill looked after Godzilla my sourdough starter while I was away so I was able to bake two days after I landed. A really lovely loaf too.

BooBoo trying to speak.

While I have been away the winter weather has been unusually warm here in Illinois – staying above freezing most of the time. Kind of a NZ winter here. But today it is frozen and very cold. Back to the usual Illinois weather.

The chooks are laying more eggs and the ducks are starting up again as the days lengthen.

I added more straw already to the beds of wai and tane. Wai loves a mountain of straw so he can crawl into it. And they are both doing really well. Tane is a bit slow but now that I am back he will get hand fed again, so Tima does not steal his food. Tima is fat and happy!

The Farmer was out last night in sowing red clover into the wheat fields. Now that the wheat is established they lay in the cover crop seed so they all come up at the same time in the spring – crop and weed protection together.

The seed will lie dormant on the cold soil being moved down by the thaw and freeze and melting snow, until spring then the cover crop will germinate slightly behind the already established wheat enabling the wheat to rise up above the clover. That’s the plan anyway!

It is cold and blowing outside. I will do the rounds with extra straw. Time to get out there again.

Have a lovely day.

Celi

WELLINGTON

I have had these photos in the can for a few days now and what with one thing and another have not got this blog post out to you.

Wellington has so much water around it.

We have had an unusually calm few days with yesterday and today returning to the high Wellington winds. We went out foraging for blackberries the other day along the banks of this little stream.

We were very close to the site of an old mill that was milling flour up to the twenties a hundred years ago. I wonder where they got their wheat. Everything was organic so nothing was called organic and the majority of food was locally grown in those days. They would wonder what all the fuss was about as we try to claw our way out of the chemical food jungle the civilized world has trapped itself in and try to get back to clean fresh food. We are so dependent on each other’s choices. We are all connected.

Much to my surprise the quality of light here fluctuates, influenced by the smoky haze from the fires in Australia.

Australia’s bush fires have been fuelled by a combination of extreme heat, prolonged drought and strong winds. The Bush fires of the last four months have released nearly 900 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, equivalent to nearly double the country’s total yearly fossil fuel emissions, according to scientists. We are not complaining, I mean our country is not on fire, but the smoke from these terrible fires ( Canberra has most recently declared a stare of emergency as they battle new fires) travels in columns like swirling rivers across the sea and if the winds are right and there is no rain the smoke arrives like a yellow haze as far as New Zealand spiking air pollution readings. Connected.

I am very surprised the fall-out from these awful fires has got this far. Humans are naturally egocentric and we forget how connected we all are. That we are all stood on our own two legs on the same small planet.

If we get on a plane in one country with bacteria on our shoes or an infection in our lungs we will carry these things to the next country and release them. I wonder if in the not too distant future medical certificates will be requested before air travel. I wonder if we truly understand how the saying ‘no man is an island’.

Also may I say it is deeply refreshing to be out of the endless intense all encompassing political dark atmosphere of the USA. I am not looking forward to going back to that.

Anyway, time for me to get busy.

I hope you have a great day.

Celi

SUNDAY MORNING FISHING

I am now in Wellington, where I hope to get into the routine of working remotely for a few hours every morning, then in the afternoons gather my baking apprentices and get lots of baking and recipe making done.

Yesterday my son took me out in his boat to do some fishing! Now, you and I know that I ‘don’t do well’ on the water but he had been watching the weather and his special ‘wind app’ and was excited to have discovered what is almost impossible in Wellington – a calm day. Perfect for shipping.

And it was incredibly calm. We started out really early. Getting up at 4am to be at the ramp by 4.30 and we were on the water setting up lines at 5 am.

We caught a few small sharks and elephant fish and threw them all back then after a few spots and with me at the helm of our little boat we trawled a line through a school after school of Kahawai.

I discovered that if I am skipper I don’t get seasick!

No one argued with that – I grew up literally on a beach beside the sea so I know the sea but have no ‘sea legs’ – manning the bridge was perfect for me.

We stopped to fish in a few more of my son’s favourite spots but the fish were not biting. Later when we motored back to the marina we discovered that many of the other fisherman also had no luck. ( We all blamed it on the previous nights earthquake.) We did catch a few kahawai to smoke that evening – just enough for a perfect feed with a salad of garden vegetables.

My goal was to go fishing with my fourth son and that goal was achieved! Of course my Fourth Sons goal was a bit different. But never mind.

I just loved it out there!

Above is a small shag in the water. He spent a good deal of his time floating about by the boat diving every now and then to check our lines. I am fairly sure this is the little New Zealand shag. See what you think. Tig told me that when you throw a fish back into the water the shags will often collect them and swallow them whole.

We weren’t catching much so the shag soon got bored and flew off to check out some other fisher people.

It stayed beautifully, eerily calm until lunchtime and as the wind picked up so did my sea sickness.

So after packing up the boat and stowing everything away on our little tidy deck – we came about and raced for shore!

A perfect morning in Wellington Harbour.

And now to work!

Love love

Celi

LUMSDEN

A typical small town in New Zealand.

Absolutely all New Zealand towns, no matter how small, have a playground. Playgrounds are a global experience.

A line of shops down the main road with a chemist, a butcher, a cafe, the post office and a pub and a bakery. We bought pies: potato top mince and vegetable pies to be exact and ate them by the playground.

An artifact.

Outside of Lumsden I found my first field of golden wheat.

The next town had a little museum house.

There is usually some kind of recycling station somewhere close by.

More wheat because wheat on the cusp of harvest is so beautiful.

It is raining on this morning’s camp site so we are moving on.

Down the road.

Have a great day!

Celi