Clouds can be so pretty and songful and worthy of guessing games – but not these clouds. These clouds are like a blanket of white grey from horizon to horizon- the colour of snow – a lid that is closed, ephemeral and full of gloom.
Interesting that this kind of rainy, snowy, inclement weather is called a depression and if the weather is like this for too long it makes us feel depressed. But they don’t call a wave of warm settled weather an up-ression ( although it does lift our spirits) they call it an anti-cyclone as opposed to a cyclone that can blow your house away and curls clockwise or counter clockwise depending on your hemisphere. So who claimed the word: depression, first. The studiers of the weather or the studiers of the mind? (As usual we will not consult Aunty Google. My questions are only ever for mulling over. I can google it too but sometimes it takes all the fun out of a conversation).
These clouds make me want to eat.
I would like to go to space simply to look down and study the weather and watch the sky from within it.
See that pile of branches – that is the edge of a huge pile of branches that the ice storm brought down. The first thing I see every morning now. Piled up in the front yard. So sad.
I am sure I have told you of my dream to have a huge world map on my wall, that is as big as the wall – it would be a massive screen showing the weather drifting or surging across the world with no borders, dotted with tiny unobtrusive notations on temperature and wind speed and precipitation. It would be topographical. Wherever my curser landed a little box of notes would report exactly what was going on. No entertaining speech, no histrionics, no predictions, no interpretation or experts or victims, just that moment. Soundless and true. All adjectives banished. All spoken words gone. Just the facts of that place and that moment in that tiny box and the swirl of the clouds and wind drifting around border less world. Imagine that. How inclusive it would feel. I could see at a glance the temperature and conditions at your place. The heat above cities and silent sandstorms in the desert and winds across the sea. And when I am not in the room the weather quietly moves about unwatched because the screen would never be off. I wish I were clever enough to create this wall of world weather. I think it would be a life’s work to create.
I do love my job at the mill – I think I have helped literally hundreds of people learn how to bake by now – but I miss the weather. I miss the sky. We have two tiny windows way up high in the warehouse that houses the mills and I must look up to them a thousand times a day. You can only see a patch of sky but it is enough.
I wish for you moments of joy today. Joy is so singular and not as rare as we think. But we have to be open to it. We have to feel it and note it. Otherwise our moments of joy rush past too fast and are easily forgotten under the ominous heavy lid of thickening cloud.
I hope you are all well today.
If I get back to the farm after a days work at the mill –
– in time to see the animals, my favorite part of the evening is tucking Wai and Tima into bed at night. It is always dark in the barn by then and I have to turn the light on but the only movements they make are to burrow deeper into the straw in anticipation and grunt softly in thanks as I cover them totally in about a foot of straw then lay the pig blankets on top. We have lots of pig blankets passed down from Sheila.
It was raining ice when I first awoke this morning so I thought I had better get some New Years wishes out to you in case the ice brings down the power lines.
The animals and birds won’t be coming too far out of the barns today – it is nasty out there.
The windows are covered in ice. It is dark and gloomy in the house. I can’t see out the windows which exacerbates the cocoon feeling we all learnt in 2020: hunkering down, waiting it out.
Do you remember that year when we had an ice storm and the ice built up so thickly on the wires that the weight pulled miles of power poles down. We lost power for 6 days. Another reason for me wanting to get my New Years wishes out to you early! Though I think it might warm up a touch later on today then the rain will just be rain.
Thankfully we are not milking and have no animals or birds that need warm lights so if the power goes out everyone will be ok.
If we have all been cocooned for so long what will we look like when we emerge – large dusty moths or vibrant little worker butterflies. I think I will emerge as a large angry shark. Especially if vaccines expire before even getting out of their boxes. I will be a large angry shark and just swim home. Have lunch with my daughter in Melbourne on the way past- she always has the best lunches.
There is no ice on the trees yet. But this is a dreadful day. Wind and ice. Blowing ice and 29F ( minus 2). At least it is not too cold.
I move around the mill a lot. Here is my kit. The lap top slides right in there – perfect.
Masks up people! Eat real food and drink lots of good water.
We still have a ways to go.
In case you are looking for one – here is an exceptional focaccia recipe.
It is in my bread blog over at Janie’s Mill. I am addicted! You can make it with any medium protein flour if you don’t have any Janies Mill flour in your fridge.
I am going to toast some focaccia right now to go with a fried egg for my breakfast this morning. The ducks are only laying one egg a day in the winter and the chooks about four – but that is fine because with all the restaurant scraps these eggs are exceptional!
As are you.
Happy New Year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!