One image a week on a Sunday

Do you remember how – years ago- we had a thing running where we all took a shot from our back door and shared it and linked it and other people joined in!

We had a lot of fun with that!

I think I took a shot from the same spot for a number of days too – or weeks – I can’t remember. I fell down a rabbit hole when I tried to look back over the years of blog posts to find that period – then I realized that this blog has been running since July 2011!!! so there is no chance of me ever finding those shots anyway – I cannot even remember what year that was – I am not one of those people who remembers numbers. However- it was a fun idea.

So, I thought I would post a shot every Sunday taken from my FRONT DOOR. Taken in the sunrise filled morning light across the pond to the maple tree. It might be fun to see the autumnal changes that are now in the wind.

And it is windy this morning.

Now that I think about it – I wonder if I should make a 20 second video then you could hear what I hear on a Sunday morning. And if you join me we could hear what you hear from your front door or front window on a Sunday morning. I am hoping for traffic and maybe people chatting in the background. Different countries with different accents and languages. The sky above the rooftops. Birds. Or your garden or a big tree. Some of you even have fields or beaches outside your front door. Is that too scary? Would you feel too exposed? Would you like to help me create this little micro-travel-doco with your Sunday morning view?

It would be a gift actually, to those of us who are not able to travel.

As lock downs still coming and going this might be a fun way to think OUTwards. And help those of us struggling with that trapped feeling. Intellectually we know we are not trapped but …

What do you think?

If you do – don’t forget to link thekitchensgarden so I can come and look, and also leave a note in the comments so The Fellowship can come and visit you and see your little Sunday morning video or picture and watch the progression of the Sunday Seasons for as long as you can be bothered.

Here is my first video. I need to make a little platform to eliminate that camera wobble.




PS – if you don’t have a blog of your own you can send me your picture or video and I will post it here next Sunday. Let me know in the comments and I will send you an email address.

One of those quiet days?

I am having one of those days when I feel almost horizontal with quiet. Or at least I begin by being quiet / but you know how that goes.

Do you remember these, Diane?

It is all about the chooks and their chicks and half grown chickens everywhere.

Eating very well from the restaurant bucket.

Even Tima On A Diet ( she was discovered ravaging the corn fields and got very fat – fatter – very fast and is now in Supervised Quarantine in the barn ) – even she has a tiny flock of her own.

She has settled to living in the diet barn on a diet of freshly baled hay, apples and vegetables. I simply cannot say often enough that unless you want to fatten pigs they are fine eating only vegetation. Especially kunekune.

Here is a video which, though poorly executed, shows the madness.

The fields are beautiful.

See how Mr Flowers tail is already growing back in? He is eating well too.

I had a lovely wee bread making class with two delightful bakers this morning and after the JM store is closed I am off to do my monthly grocery shopping before I settle in for the weekend.

That is all for this morning I think.

What’s on your list today?


PS remember – if you want to see what is happening on a more day to day basis – join me at cecilia_thekitchensgarden on Instagram.

Back on the Farm

Back on the prairies.

I find myself with NOT a lot to say today.

I am back from my working holiday in California which was grand. Though the ever present smell of burning trees was unsettling. Lucky we wear masks when we are out of the house because the air is thick with pollutants.

My son told me how they spray a fire retardant onto the trees ahead of the fire to try and mitigate the destruction and sometimes even wrap the larger trees in fire proof materials. The helicopters that go out are not all dumping water. All these chemicals and materials are going through extreme heat and releasing even more pollutants into the air. But the trees are such an important part of clean air – it is a conundrum- I am now even more resolved to plant more trees. Everywhere I pause. And I must increase my efforts to cut down on paper. Using paper towels while our trees burn around us is an uncomfortable juxtaposition.

Trees and green prairies. So important. Here is a shot of our lovely cover crop coming up!

Cow peas, daikon radishes and oats! I love cover crops and this one has to be my favorite.

The farm did not mind my absence.

More chicks hatched while I was away!

I am head down bum up working as many hours as possible to achieve my objectives at the mill. Everyone was happy to see more fresh bread on the lunch table!

And yes. Autumn is nudging in. My jaw aches at the thought of another cold Illinois winter.

And now to the weekend work. I love my work at the mill but when yesterday arrived I was glad to see it was a Friday. Arriving back late on a Sunday night meant I spent the whole week chasing my tail. My mental health ( and yes we all have mental health to protect and cherish) always performs best when in a state of preparedness. I much prefer to be ahead of the game.

And that is what weekends are for!!


Have a great weekend.


The Beach

For the last couple of days we have been at the beach in Cambria, California. We got a little motel room and in the morning while all the sleepy heads slumbered, I dressed and raced over the road to find the beach.

My heart was literally hammering in my chest. I just stopped when I saw the sea, I did not even sit, I just stood there and breathed slowly in and out. Letting every sense center in my brain slowly open right up to fill like a sponge and collect all the information. And store it. Because these precious oceans of ours are just so incredible.

And I grew up just steps from high tide on Westshore Beach in New Zealand. So being without the sea for so long has left me parched. I soaked it up.

After a while I returned to our room, woke up the sleepy-heads, did the food wrangling thing (why are modern kids so hard to feed) shoved them all into clothes and coats and out the bloody door. I am so sick of closing doors! We spent a blessedly overcast cool day on the beaches of the West-coast.

The cloud hugged the coastline like a great mist. There was no wind.

It was in the 60’sF with cool breathable air – literally 30 degrees cooler than Visalia in the Central Valley. Perfect beach weather. Yes! For people who grow up on the beach a cool overcast day is perfect beach walking weather!

This is a shot of a rock pool. I did fix it a little to bring up the detail but it looks so abstract. Abstract as life. Lots going on in this little pool.

I have no words for it really. But the sea filled us and wore us out, our deep unrecognized longing placated for a while. It was like home.

Now, we are back in the fire scented city of Visalia now. I have my morning coffee.

Then we are off to find a farmers market.

And tomorrow I fly back to Illinois.

My family is calling. More soon.

Miss C

Rescuing Wild Birds with Trees


Sometimes I can’t even think of a title so I write what I am thinking. Which in itself is probably the most backwards sentence I have ever written.

These are not wild birds!

We are down to two cats now. Two old cats. Lulu and one of the Vandals. The other three died naturally in the barn and John has a cat cemetery. The Vandals were Marmalade’s kittens if you can remember that far back. Only one left now. And Lulu was a kitten rescue – she was only a few days old- one of Nanny Boo’s first babies. Here she is having an old lady morning stretch.


But I am not getting any more cats after these ones have gone. The chickens do a good job of keeping the mice down (the cats have never been inside-cats so that is not an issue) but those cats were terribly hard on the native birds and my chook chicks and peachicks. We have piles of trees now – and the native birds are no longer as rare to see so I am happy to not replenish the cat population here. Someone else will have to rescue them. I am rescuing wild birds. I don’t want to see any more piles of brightly colored feathers on the lawn.

I am rescuing birds by planting trees. Our place is becoming a forest – a jungle just like I planned. I am very happy with that. Today I am going to mark a few mulberry trees to cut down for firewood. Every now and then they need culling out so my special trees can thrive. The mulberries are native too and great food for birds. But other trees need to grow in the jungle too. Did I tell you about the native magnolia my tree man gave me?

Here it is. He knows I love trees with big leaves. When I am dead this will be a beautiful canopy of trees all talking to each other. And the house will have slowly sunk back into the marshy ground.

This is the first year we have had apples in a long time. There are piles of them. Hopefully John will make lots of apple sauce for the winter. I will start some after work today.

Tima and Wai at the steps waiting for breakfast.
This is Felicity Broadbent AKA The Paper Bag Princess. A work in progress.

I hope you have a lovely day.

miss c

The Taste of Home

I was listening to the radio in the car the other day and at the end of the interview the interviewer posed a question.

“What is the taste of home for you?”

He said Hush Puppies were his taste of home. I thought hush puppies were shoes but it sounded interesting. Then the other presenters chimed in and they all had an answer. A passionate, ‘mamas cooking’ kind of answer. Anyway then I had to think what the taste of home was for me. I have been pondering this for days now.

I have gone through the foods from my childhood thinking it might be one of them. A roast of mutton with crunchy roast potatoes. Steak and cheese pie. Summer warm garden never-been-chilled tomato and fresh basil on Vogel’s toast. Maybe marmite on toast. Or fish and chips out of newspaper with old fashioned Watties tomato sauce that has no sugar added! Avocado from the trees on Charlie’s orchard!

Then I got hung up on the word ‘home’. I have felt at home in a number of different places. Many of them while traveling alone. So the tastes from all these homes might be The Taste. Edamame – hot with salt at Wagamama in a broken down shopping area in Angel, London. Paella in a tiny Spanish restaurant a little walk from Smithfield in London – (I was not alone that time!). Homemade Pesto and Pasta with piles of Parmesan cheese eaten at a marble table overlooking the Mediterranean on the Amalfi coast in Italy (alone). Potato Salad ( with everything in it) in Prague in a tiny underground bar (alone). Warm Pizza Bianca bought from a hole in the wall on the streets of Paris ( alone but not for long).

Water infused with cucumber at the Termemilano Baths in Milan – not alone that time either and it felt like home with family. That scented water.

Custard Squares and Sally Lunns from the bakery on Emerson Street in Napier, New Zealand. ( never alone).

Can each one of these be my home? That would suit me and my Gypsy Caravan tastes. ( I have always wanted to live in a gypsy caravan but one with walls that would lift out to let all the light in. I have never liked walls). Don’t let me get distracted.

What would your taste of home be?

What taste would I associate with my present home – fried eggs on toast? Eggs from our chickens and home made bread from wheat grown in my fields. Hash browns? Probably hash browns: homemade from newly dug potatoes. Like the ones I had on Friday evening – with a book and two dogs and the potato dug straight out of the ground.

It has been an interesting exercise trying to nail down the taste of home and it has underscored the essential feeling of homelessness that immigrants and motherless women often feel. Though I know many immigrants and emigrants who have found their homes in a new land. I find home in many places. But when I talk of going home- I mean New Zealand.

Have a lovely day – it is perfect weather here this morning. Sparkly. I am going outside to get you some photos.

Are you thinking now? About your taste of home? Would you like to tell us? The Fellowship of the Farmy? We would love to hear about your taste of home.

miss c

Little Hiccups along the Road

The family has been busy these last few weeks minding The Matriarch who had a fall. You know how these things are. But with a very determined and positive attitude she is well on the way to a complete recovery. But the first few weeks she needed tons of care so I was simply too busy to write of any farm news. Once again life intervenes. With all its twists and turns. To not expect these twists and turns would lead to madness but we are never as prepared for the unexpected as we would like.

The cows have been let into the vegetable garden and are munching on corn stalks and rows of corn-gone-hard next will be our amazing cover crop ( organic oats, wheat and soya beans) in there.

More chicks! Now the ducks are hatching out chicken eggs. Their duck eggs are all infertile which is a disappointment and a relief ( is there a word for that?) so a few of the ducks have taken over nests of chicken eggs.

Ducks raising chicks does not end well – the ducks try to teach the chicks to swim quite young and drown them, so these chicks are under a light. Plus chickens lead their chicks to food and scratch it up for their babies calling to the chicks the whole time – ducks do not scratch or call.

Every time we go through one of these extra humid spells we get chicks! The yard is swarming with them!

Tima and Wai are good! Eating well from the restaurant scraps.

The rescue rabbit sits on his house way up high watching the world go by. But he always bounds down to see me when I visit. If I thought Boo would leave her alone I would let her out but I am not sure about that!

Boo and Ton lie about in the shade pretending not to care.

The hay is in and I would not be surprised if John gets a fourth cut this year.

It has been very hot so the loaves are proofing extra fast.

I am off to open up the flour shop and make some bread.

Talk soon.

miss c

Change coming

‘Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of the old life and into the new!

Wind in the Willows.

I am sending this book out to my children. I need to read it again too.

Looks like we are going back to the masked days again. So disappointing, though personally I don’t care. I did not mind wearing a mask. It’s a matter of plodding through it. Though I seldom went anywhere but the mill; I had begun to grocery shop on the weekend again and up to Chicago selling flour. Being vaccinated gives one a certain amount of protection but I am incredibly worried about the other members of my American family who won’t even take this simple precaution. It is isolating to be the only one.

We all knew that the virus was here to stay. It’s just the level of infection and the severity of those infections we could have mitigated. Ah well. I just hope and pray they continue to keep it out of New Zealand.

The trees and gardens are growing wild. Which I kind of like.

This is the first year that our young apple trees are producing. The apples are small but ripening nicely. The tomatoes are ripening too and we have begun to make sauce. John grew a good crop of sweet corn. Today I will see if I have everything for corn relish.

Recipe for Corn Relish

Plus I am making loaves of bread with our Black Emmer flour. I will use This Recipe from my Bread Blog. Once I have baked with the Emmer a few more times I will have a recipe to share. It is pretty low in protein so in the end I will blend it I think.

And pasta with the new semolina. I will probably blend the semolina with the sifted Durum flour. I am having such fun watching the occasional Pasta Grannies on UTube. That is the best education! Thank you Char I always use the 100/1/1 specs – 100g flour, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon water. We have piles of eggs! (The water depends on the size of your eggs and whether you are using stone ground semolina. The stone ground seems to need a little more water and time).

Better get going then!!

Lots to do.

miss c


I understand the biology but really sleep is so odd. Dark comes – we get tired. We all sleep at the same time even the birds even the animals. Our dogs. We all crawl into our safe corners and sleep. Except the nocturnal ones I suppose- but what if people were nocturnal. How different would we be. Bigger eyes maybe. Would we even need lights to see by?! Maybe our houses would be designed to have windowless light free bedrooms for sleeping in the daylight.

Or if we never needed sleep at all and our lives only lasted 30 years. How different would we be. How much more precious would our lives be. And with no sleep at all. No bedrooms. No shutting of the eyes. I think we would have a lot of break out rooms full of quiet.

Early morning ducks just want to GET OUT!!

If only I had the camera aimed slightly higher this would have been the money shot. But capturing the image of the ducks flying out of their bedroom AND opening said bedroom door at the same time leaves a lot to luck.

Did you see the newly hatched chicks in the header? Here is a close up.

One day old. Yes! MORE chicks!!

In New Zealand we drink a lot of tea. If someone comes to your house you ask them if they would like a cup of tea or coffee. Anytime of the day not just in the morning. It would be dreadfully rude not to offer a cup of tea. When I lived in New Zealand people dropped in all the time for a cuppa. But now I live in Illinois. People do not just drop in here. Maybe it is because I am out in the country or maybe a cultural thing or maybe I have few friends but I miss people unexpectedly dropping in for a cup of tea and a natter.

Over the years I have stopped being prepared for people to drop in – now I wear horrible clothes and don’t do my hair for entire days on the weekend.

Anyway – back to tea. Not fancy tea. Just gumboot tea. Or builders tea.

When there is no one to share a pot of tea with. ( the last 15 years) I make my tea using a tea bag. When I use a tea pot I always put the milk in my cup first. But when I use a tea bag I put the milk in the cup last so the hot water hits the teabag first. And I am a very impatient person so while I wait for the kettle to boil I grab the mug and the teabag and the milk so everything is ready.

At this point my impatience goes one step further as I wait for the kettle to boil (too long). I watch myself put the teabag in the mug, then pour a little milk over the dry tea bag, (horrors) – return the milk to the fridge and return to watching water boil. I know that my gentle-self wants that perfect cup of tea (milk last) but my inner impatient self must go fast, must not waste movements, must have everything ( the milk) put back where it belongs ( in the fridge) so I can take my hot tea straight to the table and sit down sooner. I literally watch myself make an inferior cuppa so I can go faster to my chosen space to relax for a minute before leaping to the next task.

And I laugh at myself who I know so well!

I open Our Tiny Flour Shop at the mill at 9am on Saturday mornings. So I am at the mill baking bread in the toaster oven. Today’s loaf will be Red Fife, Black Emmer and our High Protein Bread Flour.

Have a lovely day!

So how do you like your tea!!

miss c

The Swamp

That is what they call our fields. The Swamp. When these acres performs the yields are magnificent but when the weather gets in the way this land ( rightly so) has a mind of its own. It is the lowest point for miles around so it prefers to be very wet.

And you know how wet it got a few weeks ago – flash back to HERE!

Well, the farmers took the insurance on this field: most of it drowned so the financial loss was mitigated, but the fecund growth that has followed the flood is amazing.

Next the farmer will turn all this delicious fertile biomass back into the soil to rest and rot and share all that goodness into the soil. Then later in the summer we hope to sow cowpeas, oats and Daikon radishes as a cover crop. I am almost more excited about the cover crop than the corn. You know what they say about making lemonade out of lemons.

Tima never sleeps with WaiWai now. We will see what happens when the winter comes. The porch will get pretty cold then. But there is no telling her – Tima is a pig.

Chooks and their chicks are all doing well.

This is the big puddle we keep filled for chooks and ducks and pigs to drink. The pigs lie in it too when it is hot. It was the original duck pond – do you remember?

I cannot get enough of this sturdy calf.

The weather is cooling off for a few days which will be nice for the cows.

Now it is time for me to get dressed then go down to the mill to open Our Tiny Flour Shop until noon.

Good morning!

Have a great day.

miss c