My yearly pilgrimage around the world

But the plane will fly whether I am on it or not. I say.

I will plant two trees per trip. I say.

Planes are still flying so surely it is not a problem. I say.

I am not giving up seeing my kids. I say.

I made a spreadsheet! I say.

As a writer for environmental sustainability it is impossible to justify my yearly travels. The flights needed to spend time with each of my little families feel essential. But it is not. And is not sustainable in our present period of climate crisis. With a lifelong study of environmentally sustainable practices and organic management behind me and in front of me I cannot pretend that my need to travel has not been harmful to my environment.

But I cannot not visit with my families.

Its all bull. At some point we must admit to ourselves that over consumption and thoughtless travel and single use anything are going to have to be reckoned with. I think they will ban single use tiny water bottles first. What do you think they should ban first?

And this is exactly why I am developing the carbon co-pay document. (Still a spreadsheet – of course). Because we can’t keep saying Just This Once OR Everyone Else is Doing it. Or but they are still selling them.

Basically if I do something I know directly harms my environment I have to PAY. And I go to the spreadsheet.

I apply a lot of it in my day to day living. For example: If I fly: I plant trees, If I buy a plastic wrapped sandwich as I travel, I don’t blow dry my hair the next morning. If I must have a coffee using one of those pod things (because I am at my sons house in California) (and I must) I turn my sons air conditioning up a degree.

(I know I am preaching to the choir but bear with me a moment. Without the pleasure of your company yesterday I did a lot of thinking as I traveled).

Yesterday I worked on a list of what I can do without. PLUS. How will I adapt to not having those things.

For example: Could I survive not being able to travel as freely as I do now? How can I do that differently?

If our scientists are to be believed (and I do believe them) we are running into a spike in our climate crisis shortly. The chances are rising due to emissions from human activities (that is me on my plane) and a likely El Niño weather pattern later this year and for the next four years, that there will be more heat for some and maybe more wet for others – or both at the same time, sometime in the next few years. Not very specific but it is the climate we are talking about. A perfect storm of sorts is coming”.

This will be our first test. We either moan our arses off or we plan ahead.

So even though the scientists are stressing that this will be temporary – (and using words like ‘chances’ and ‘possible’ we are going to be given a dress rehearsal.

What can you do without?

moon reflecting the rising sun across an airport tarmac

The air in Bloomington, Illinois was hazy when I took off yesterday. And the moon was going down as the sun was coming up but nobody was watching but Mrs Moon. They were all staring at their screens – probably looking at photos on the insta feed of pictures of the orange moon. We all just trudge through our days as the world burns down.

I remember a Vietnam war photographer tell me that if he viewed the carnage of war through the lens of his camera, then it did not affect him. It got to the point when he could not just look with the naked eye. His camera became his shield. If something really awful happened close to him he brought his camera up in front of is face, saying to himself I need to get this on film, when really he knew he was using the lens to distance himself from what was happening around him. He never forgave himself for not throwing the camera and film back in his pack and helping the medics.

I wonder if we do this with our phones and camera. Seeing everything as an image to be captured for publication. We have become documenters of our lives. Distanced. Will I just keep showing you temperatures as a graphic in this blog so we can look back and compare this day to a day ten years ago and nod sagely and say oh look – there you go – temps are so much higher now. When the spike of climate change meets El Nino and they collide up there in our atmosphere it is projected that we will be in for some challenging weather. Maybe not this summer but it is coming

Have you got a plan in place for your place? When things hot up like that our food chain goes into free fall. You might need to all move out to the Farmy!

For example – the weather has been so cold this spring in Visalia that the cherries are THREE weeks behind SO FAR. Pickers move from farm to farm and region to region and are contracted, which gives the pickers year round work. So the California cherry pickers are waiting here to start work now. But soon they will have to move up to Washington state for their harvest essentially leaving the orchards here unpicked. When the weather becomes unreliable the jobs of ordinary working people become directly impacted.

hazy light across a rural flat rural landscape taken from a plane

Our most fragile network is food. And electricity. I think. Do you think?

So, whats the contingency plan? I am working as hard and as fast as I can to teach people how to live with the elements, within their means, how to safely adapt, reduce consumption and conserve resources. How to develop robust resilient lifestyles.

Begin the plan to grown food around your home or on your porch. Know your farmer. Don’t buy a house on a flood plain (like my brother). Think about water security.


This weekend here is California, we are going out to orchards to pick (PYO) blueberries and maybe apricots and cherries. And tomorrow to the Farmers Market to buy veg. Today I bake bread and brownies!


PSS Substack

This afternoon I will be reading some old posts as podcasts over at SubStack. I think we are already into September 2011 because I am only reading my favourites. Feel free to join me. Here is where you can sign up for this. It is reader supported and ALL of May is FREE. (The California suburbs will be interesting to record from but my son does have a really large quiet wardrobe! ).


Are your vegetables more expensive this year?

My son sent me this picture from New Zealand of a kumara (NZ sweet potato). Not strictly a vegetable but (you get the gist) they cost $14 NZ a kilo (a kilo = just over 2 pounds) so this kumara cost $6.12 NZ which is $3.80 US for one sweet potato. To be fair the kumara is a really amazing sweet potato but a tuber never the less.

mans hand holding a sweet potato

I think the children have been painting his nails again; I am not sure about that colour!. Another member of my NZ family said that in the supermarket $5 is the new $2. No family thrives on only one income so who has time for a vege garden? (Me – I have time) It is a conundrum.

So I was wondering – have your vegetables jumped in price in the last year or so and what does a sweet potato cost at your place? When I bought sweet potatoes last in Illinois (out of season) they were $1 US a pound.

Maybe we should use potatoes as a comparison. But you see where I am coming from?

Speaking of potatoes I jammed a sprouting potato in the glasshouse because I was in a hurry (and there was a gap) the other day and it is growing like mad in there! Wait – I will take a picture for you.

This is why it takes me three hours to make a blog post each day – I never stick to the subject!

There is so much arithmetic when i compare stuff from NZ to the US – different currency and different units of measurement. And as we all know a mathematician I am not!

calves eating in large old barn with doors open to over exposed vehicles

Do you see this big steer (below). He always lays right down on his side and terrifies me because he looks like he expired in the field but when he lays back against the gate I have got to hope that the chain will hold. He is not a small animal. And the clang as he fell backwards yesterday gave me such a fright.

cream cow lying on his side  beside gate in the light shade

We are having a run of chilly mornings. This May has been lovely so far! But unusually cool.

Weather in midwest May 17 2023

We have had a little rain so far. 48% humidity. So nice. Everything is growing.

The first cut of hay is imminent – we are just waiting for those few spots of flower and some heat behind the breeze. The ground is still a bit cold. But today we will rearrange some of last years hay so everything gets stacked in the right order.

Good morning!

I hope to post from the airport tomorrow at some point but you know how that goes! If my connections do not line up I will be either running through airports or sitting in planes with no wifi – they say they have wifi on the plane but literally half the time it is not working.

There is no such thing as sustainable travel (though I do try) so my forest is growing!

Have a lovely day.

PS Substack. My playground called SubStack.

Chapter Five: From Letters To My Mother. Pop over for a read. Remember that these stories/essays are FREE for all Forever. This one is called Write What You Know and stars Mrs Mooney.

Frequently Asked Questions

Good morning.

We have work to do today! On The Sustainable Home pages of the new TKG website there is a space for Frequently Asked Questions.

Do you ever read Frequently Asked Questions on a site? I do – actually I hunt them out because they are a great place to hear the real voice of a company.

We are at the stage of creating the FAQ. And I need your help. What questions do you have about The Sustainable Home?

Here is what I have so far:

old pot belly pig looking for more breakfast.


🐞: Question: Where should I begin my Sustainable Home journey.

🦋: Answer:The FIRST STEP is to sign up for The weekly Sustainable Home newsletter; it will take no longer than 3 minutes to read and will be laid out for skimming. (Yes, I skim too!). The newsletter is the conduit straight into the engine room of your journey – you will get all the info about whats going on, links to cool stuff plus the pop-up workshops plus quick hacks to level up your journey as you go.

🐞: Question: Why do you recommend the One on One Zoom call as the next step in The Sustainable Home Journey.

🦋: Answer: This is where you will meet your guide (usually Cecilia) in a one on one zoom setting. They will work with you to create a base line personalised plan for your home. They will take you through the four pillars for designing your own sustainable home and help you use those pillars to strengthen the components of your own plan.

🐞: Question: So, I can book a call with you anytime?

🦋: Answer: YES! Check The Sustainable Home calendar, book and pay for your call there. They are priced reasonably so you can book any number of calls if you prefer to work one on one. Cecilia or one of her team will send you a quick email to confirm and let you know what to bring and answer any questions.

🐞: Question: What if I can’t make our zoom call appointment.

🦋: Answer – No worries! Life happens sometimes. Get in touch with TSH via email or the CHAT feature 24 hours before your appointment and we can change your date.

🐞: Question : What if I have just a quick question after a workshop?

🦋: Answer: After you have completed your first workshop you will be invited into The Sustainable Home Slack Channel. This will be available to you 24/7. And because our community is world wide you will almost always find someone to engage with. Or use the CHAT feature to send a message and a team member will get back to you. Otherwise Book a One on One Call and bring your next list of questions. We love questions and we love a good problem to solve.

🐞: Question: If I find I am in the wrong place can I get my money back?

🦋: Answer: YES! Fifteen minutes into any call your TSH guide will ask if you want to proceed. This is the time to withdraw and we will send you a refund. No problems. The Sustainable Home Team also has the same right to call a halt to a meeting and issue a refund.

🐞: Question: Do The Fellowship of The Farmy get a DISCOUNT?

🦋: Answer: A Big Fat YES! Cecilia (who writes the daily TKG blog posts) will send out pop-up discount codes to the blog pages frequently. (Always in the PS) You don’t want to miss out on the Pop-Up Workshops.

🐞 Question – Do I have to join the The Kitchens Garden Blog as well as The Sustainable Home newsletter?

🦋! NOPE! You can join whatever and whenever you like. The (Daily) Kitchens Garden Blog is all about the organic sustainable farm and garden and has been running since 2011. The (Weekly) Sustainable Home Newsletter is all about the home and garden and has been running since 2023. They complement each other and also stand alone. Think of it as a street (without traffic) and we get to pop in and out of each others homes for a cup of tea and shortbread!

🐞 : Question: How do we know that the people who are in the community workshops are going to be positive and genuine. Thinking about safety.

🦋 : Answer: Safety for our team members and community members is taken very seriously. Cecilia is careful to ensure that the people who come into our community workshops are going to be generous, open minded and interested in making an environmentally sustainable difference in their environments and communities. All of these meetings are respectful collaborations and we need to be on the same page using open discussion techniques. If anyone is reported to be negative or unkind in the slack groups or workshops, or has joined to disrupt our meetings, then they will be gently and firmly removed.

To date: This has never happened because anyone who has applied and paid for a workshop is usually already determined to design a robust and resilient environmentally future. We all have the same goal. Live Lightly on this good earth.


Mature peacock with long tail perched on side of truck


Tima the kunekune and her cow

What do you think? Offer any questions or suggestions for questions in the Lounge of Comments. Offer any edits or critique on the existing Q and A. Go for it. I want to hear it all! And as usual if you cannot get into the comments email me at


The Monday Substack post will be coming out later today. Yesterday got so busy! Not to mention this morning – a blog post takes a god three hours a day to make. (I am always darting in and out – I do not sit down that long!). But I love it here! And I need my second coffee!!

PS – FYI Thursday Blog will be either late or missing or weird because that is a travel day. And as you know – anything can happen on a travel day.

Just pictures today.

Because I am out and about today.

And no Boo you are not coming too!

Corn mustache.

When the little pig gets to your fresh hay first.

And yes! It rained!

Take care

Talk soon


Check out the determination of this bumblebee.

Do you remember the small patch of wild flowers under the trees on the South side of the house. With the flowering weeds. Though weeds are only plants in the wrong place!

It is now heaving with bees and even the odd butterfly has arrived. The flowers are fading but the bees are getting as much as they can from them.

Check this bumblebee out. Turn the sound up if you can so you can hear them – there were more than one buzzing about.

He is so determined to stay afloat.

Unlike honey bees that were introduced into the Americas from Europe; the bumblebee is a native to the USA. There are 41 species of native bumblebee in the Americas. Some are endangered. All are pollinators. When I banned pesticides from the fields we began to see an uptick in native bees and butterflies. This is the most bumblebees I have seen though. There were five in this patch alone. The queen hibernates in solitary splendour underground for the winter. In the spring she emerges and finds a hole in the ground to produce baby bees and start her annual hive. Her hive is built underground – maybe in an abandoned mouse or rabbit hole (or maybe a mink burrow if life is fair). Their summer hives can get quite big in the right conditions. We have plenty of native bumblebees out this spring so I suspect there is a strong bumblebee hive somewhere or maybe more than one. Yet another reason to have wild spaces full of wild flowers.

5 cool facts about bumblebees.

After struggling to get honey bees established here on the farmy I soon realised that they do not belong here. Honey Bees are not natives and need to be husbanded through the inclement winters, so I have turned to creating spaces to encourage habitats for the 500 different species of native bee, including this humble bumbler and mason bees. (Bumble bees, carpenter bees, plasterer bees, cuckoo bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees, sweat bees and mining bees are all types of native bees in Illinois.)

It is super important to note that honey bees are not the only pollinators.

Bumblebees are great for helping tomatoes pollinate because they are so large they shake the plant. And tomatoes are pollinated via vibration.

As pollinators mason bees (also native to Illinois) are 120x more effective than honey bees.

Young paw Paw tree

Pawpaws are pollinated by flies which is why their flowers smell like rotten meat. Nice. Our pawpaws have begun to migrate. New trees are popping up in front of the old ones, chasing the sun, which is filling me with delight. More food for the birds when we are gone from this earth.

Mr Flowers

Talking of imported species: Mr Flowers is always grateful for calm days. On windy Midwest days he stays in his shed by his mirror. His tail is so long it makes it hard for him to walk on windy days. Hampered by his broken foot too.

Mr Flowers. Peacock.

Though he has been walking with his adapted peg leg for probably 4 or 5 years now.

In The Barn

The RugRats and the Big Pigs

And look who I found (below). One of the missing ducks. Sitting deep in her nest in the back of the barn. (I will not be bringing fertilised eggs in for her as John has stated emphatically that he will not support any more ducks. Which is probably why he is refusing to fill the pond. Real life is not instagram pretty).

I believe we have also lost the drake. There was only one – and I have not seen him for a few days.

Brown duck in barn on her nest inside a bin on its side.

Isn’t she beautiful.


Weather for central Illinois May 14 2023

We have had a couple of warm overcast days with showers. But now cool weather is approaching with the overnights going down into the low 40’s. All the tomatoes are out so let’s hope it does not drop further than that. I will wait on planting out the squash. They can grow in the glasshouse a bit longer.

Maybe I should let a bumblebee in to pollinate in the glasshouse! Once I get flowers on the zuchinnis I will lock the cats into the house and open the glasshouse doors. See who pops in.

I hope you have a great Sunday.

For those of you who are celebrating: Happy Mothers Day.


TKG logo

Here is the latest TKG podcast. I am working hard on this medium as I quite like it and I can only improve. Thank you for supporting me in this. This particular podcast turned out quite amusing because Boo decided to leap up and bark at the delivery man right in the middle of it. I left his addition in there. This is going to be a thoroughly modern podcast series after all. And I have not quite learned how to edit!!

How to start a new business at 63 years old.

When we think of the granny character we think of Security. Softness. Simplicity. Maybe quiet. Cardigans possibly. Granny knitting and cooking. Grandma with a kitchen bursting with good food and warm fragrant loaves. I can be those things.

Maybe we think of Nan and her recipes, and picnics in an old established garden and books at bed time. Walks on the beach. I can do all those things, too.

If the conventional Grandma is still working it might be in a secure position that she might have had for years. Working towards retirement with regular mammograms and pills for their blood pressure, nicely painted nails and regular appointments at the hairdressers. Yeah. I am not those things.

What we don’t think about is Grandma starting a new business “at her age” complete with trendy second hand clothing, research into eco friendly start ups, the latest apps, new website, brand new podcast, bright white long hair in messy buns, white T shirts and old jeans, red heels, too much eyeliner, feet up on the desk and an unapologetic writing style.

But this is the modern granny.

peacock and ducks under trees

We are no longer bound by those old norms and expectations.

Starting a new business at the creative, rich, fruitful age of 63 years old means I have all the experience and knowledge in my pocket to do the shit and the tools to cut through the shit.

I am a hawk in owls clothing.

And I am not afraid.

A mess of front yard trees.

There is a whole ageist movement out there – trying to sit the grey-hairs down and encourage them out of the job market and into their rocking chairs. Start ups are not for older folk, they say. New technology should be left to the young people, they say. I was literally told once by a boss that it was time to move aside and let the younger folk who know the right words to use take over. The right words? He meant keywords. I eat keywords for breakfast, I told him.

Trees, bushes and mown grass with rock pond

I know the right words, brother! Long Tailed Key Words are my magic tongue.

Dog under tree on mown lawn bordered by wheat fields

I am not going to take it easy. Though I still gather the eggs and feed the pigs, mind the babies and cook huge family dinners – I am going to be starting another new business on top of all that loveliness and because of it.

I see these advertisements for fit older women with short white hair on bicycles, smiling broadly with unnaturally white teeth. Riding into their retirement in exotic locations with handsome men and special panties. Screw that. I am SO not ready to settle down into retirement – I would starve to death first.

No. I am thrilled to be designing a new website and starting a new business at my very clever older age.

Because, like we were saying yesterday, we are all a collection of characters. We should not allow ourselves to be pigeon holed.

I was never going to be a classic well manicured Granny.

How to start a new business at 63 yrs old?

Starting a new business at 63 years of age is not for the faint of heart.

  • The trick is to just begin.
  • Find your passion.
  • Build a strong foundation.
  • Use your age. Embrace it.
  • Know what you want and push that through with a big stick.
  • Make fabulous lists. Publish those lists.
  • Write about your stuff everywhere.
  • Do not waver.
  • Don’t pretend to be young.
  • Pace yourself.
  • Be prepared for problems and welcome them.
  • Gather a team (you are my team by the way).
  • Be fine with working out the rest as you go along.
  • Use all the new technology. It is fun!
Weather May 13 2023 Central Illinois

The Sustainable Home (TSH) business:

We have just finished the booking page in the new website for workshops, one on one consultations, zoom the rooms, The Sustainable Home Newsletter and pop ups; all this to enable people bring environmentally sustainable practices into their own home.

The new website will also house The Kitchens Garden (TKG) so we are all under one roof and the kitchens garden farm blog continues unchanged, just faster and with a better commenting ability so our readers can be more engaged.

I am still looking for more partnerships for TSH. So stay on the look out for companies that produce truly old fashioned and authentic products in an eco friendly way using methods the environment can sustain. I am developing affiliates and partnerships with small local companies that you and I would like to buy from. I am avoiding running ads (not going there) but if the product is good and the company is as eco friendly as they say, let me know. I am gathering their names so I can let you all know about them through The Sustainable Home Newsletter.

If all goes well we will be doing a soft launch in a couple of weeks. (Then it will all get very real).

The Kitchen Garden Podcast

Now I have to go and make our TKG podcast again. I lost the internet just as I was loading yesterdays podcast! GRRR! After recording for 40 minutes! It was all lost. Sigh. I am going to teach myself a new way of recording today so that does not happen again.

So, I will have Fridays podcast here for you later on today! Sorry about that! I am living and learning fast as usual. Sign Up HERE if you would like the podcasts to be delivered straight to your inbox. And remember; May is FREE.

Love Celi

Are you the sum of your parts? Or a blossom of unpredictable wildness.

Do you have more than one iron in the fire. Or just a whole bunch of different parts spinning independently. Why do we always try to pigeon-hole people when the edges are so often blurred.

Why do we have to be one kind of person. Because I am passionate about sustainability an living lightly on this good earth. But I am more too.

How to explain this – sometimes it is hard to put a thought into words – you know what I mean?

Its all about branding really. The talk is that we should find a brand and stick with it. For me this would be environmentally sustainable practices – in that; I help humans design a lifestyle that enables and supports habits and systems that protect and nurture their own environment.

Charolais cross beef cow

So I bang on at my other platforms about plastic free and buy local and how to do without single use paper, etc. When in fact everyone comes at their contribution to a healthy planet from a different angle. Here are five suggestions for the different genres that all work together:

  • Clean-Up humans (e.g. work to keep the beaches clean)
  • Preventative personality (e.g. don’t buy stuff if it is in a ton of plastic packaging)
  • Frugal people (e.g. Not interested in wasteful luxury goods, prefer to live lightly)
  • Co-Pay individuals (e.g. Turn all the lights out today because they bought water in a plastic bottle yesterday or donate to a company that is doing the stuff).
  • Path of least resistance humans ( e.g. Will do the other stuff as often as I can but I am not giving up wine in single use bottles!).

Which of these sound like you? Can you think of any more?

And – to be fair – I am all of them. Sometimes all together or separately. I can sustain that. I can be any of these people at any given minute though I lean into prevention. I am so much more than a guide for sustainable homes. We all are more than our blogging brand. We all have a lot going on. Sometimes we feel strong enough to do all the stuff – other times we just want to go to bed with a book.

Mature Berkshire Hog in field. Wallow in the foreground.

And other times I just want to write my stories or play with pigs. Or cook. I feel like cooking today.

It is wonderful that we can all embrace our eclecticness. (is that a word?). Especially here in our safe space. Do you think we perpetuate anxiety when we do not embrace our diverse personalities and dare I say it – impulses? Or when we try to jam our selves into the box of societies divining, stick with our brand and stay there so that we are recognisable to a society trained to see in one social media dimension?.

Baby Robin in nest in tree. green fields behind.

Robins nest. One of these days I am going to look in there and they will be all gone. Baby birds grow so fast.

Field of forage for cows.

This is a shot of the field that the cows are in. This field is soft with all the long grass. No bare patches. This is a great field for water retention and soil health. The other fields are too short yet and not growing fast, (I hope we do get the rain today), so we are still feeding out hay. If this summer is as hot and dry as I hope it will NOT be, we will only get one good growing window. And that is now. So the cows are laying about in this side field eating really good alfalfa hay.

Chickens and a rooster  scratching in straw filled outdoor pen.

Speaking of hay – we will be cutting hay soon. It is May after all. That should bring the rain on.

The chickens are doing a little housekeeping in the old pig field. There is seed being thrown in there but I have to go shopping and buy the pumpkin seeds, once they are all sown, I will have to attempt to lock the chickens back out of this little space. But some seeds always survive.

Weather May 12 2023. Central Illinois

About the same weather today as yesterday but cloudy. We are planting more tomatoes today in anticipation of some rain. As you can see there is a 100% chance of rain. Our perfect weather.

I hope you have a great day!


PS Speaking of me breaking out off brand:

My TKG PODCAST today will be from August 2011. I wonder what happened during that month? OH! You know what I found? TWO excellent stories, as well as some recipes. I will read them for you! JOIN HERE the podcasts are FREE for the month of MAY. Then $5 dollars (minimum) a month for two podcasts a week. Not bad right? Some weekend podcasting for you. If you like them – share them. Love it!

No politics here. Just life. Just farming. Just me.

This is a politics free zone. Isn’t that a relief. The frenzy driven, spurious, destructive, puerile, gossipy politics that keeps bleeding into our lives makes me want to run and hide. I need to stand witness, but not here. Not on our farm blog. Even saying this is a politics free zone is a statement but I will only say it once.

I live in rural America which means I live in a very politically divided house. I am the cuckoo. I am not sure how other people deal with being in a political minority but I have learned the hard way to deal with it by saying nothing. There is no middle ground apparently.

(Also I am an immigrant with a green card – so I cannot vote here in the USA).

This means that I put all my energies into the farm and this blog and my writing and my new website for The Sustainable Home Consults and Workshops. Hard work is the only way to keep my metaphorical head above political waters. And the relief of travel. Just farming, writing, reading, travel.

That is what we will talk about here. Oh and the TKG PODCASTS – those are a delicious Work In Progress and nothing like any podcasts you have ever heard before. Unedited!

Robins Nest

Robins nest with four chicks.

Speaking of travel what is going on in the robins nest? Does it look like one of these fledgelings tried to spread her wings to travel a bit early then realised her mistake and has not quite learned how to fold those wings of hers.

The Old Barn

Dog sat in front of big old bar with the orange lights of the sunset shining through the windows.

The two big rescue pigs Jude and FreeBee are totally relaxed in their new bedroom in the old barn. When I go in to put the calves to bed they are already tucked in and sleeping like logs! (Did you see what I did there?). Pigs always top and tail like that. Which is cute in little pigs and very sensible in big hogs so they can fit more hog into less space.

Pigs and hogs will always be in bed before the cows and calves because they do not not see well in the dark.

When I enter the barn I coo and grunt like a sleeping hog so they know I am there but I do not have food so no need to get up. I have observed that hogs in the field grunt softly frequently. This is so they all know where the others are. So I do the same when I am just passing through. In the evening in the barn after they have put themselves to bed, they raise their ears and grunt back but unless I make a sudden sound they stay all sleepy and tucked in. Positioning themselves and laying those huge bodies down takes some manoeuvring so they don’t want to be disturbed now that they are comfortable. All I am doing is bringing in the calves and shutting their outside door – no need for the pigs to get up.

I will keep adding straw into this space as they flatten it down so we build up a nice mattress for their old bones.

Two mature hogs sleeping in straw in old barn
Interior of old barn at sunset, big door open to the yards.
Two beef cows standing by pig house under trees with sunset behind.

No more mink attacks so far.

Last night Boo was out running through the yards and then ran out barking twice in the night . Something was out there. Thank fully not a skunk. We have had no more mink attacks since the night of the Storm Attacks. Boo and I have found evidence of old kills though, so I will continue my vigilance.

Today we are going to sow the sweetcorn. Everybody here loves sweetcorn so we need a big crop. Not so long ago the farmers in the midwest would plant long rows of sweetcorn in the field closest to the farm houses to put up for the winter. I prefer to put our sweetcorn where I can let the cows and pigs do the clean up so as not to waste the stalks, and missed cobs, so we plant the sweetcorn into Johns field garden. We will sell some but mostly the families will eat the corn fresh from the field. It is always sown in successive plantings a couple of weeks apart so we get a good months worth of freshly picked sweetcorn for all the kitchens.

Time for me to start the waters.

Have a lovely day.


PS Substack. The Kitchen’s Garden Podcasts

The Kitchens Garden Podcast Episode Three.

The Kitchens Garden Podcasts have been very well received. Thank you so much – I am so grateful. These short ones were a bit experimental so I am excited that you are coming back with me to dig up some of these old posts and have a chat about them.

On reflection and after consultation with a number of you I am going to re-scale the timing. They will still be read freestyle and produced unedited but instead of TWO short ones a week I am going to produce ONE 40 minute TKG podcast a week.

You can listen as you work, or walk or cook, or clean or garden.

It will take a bit more work to produce a longer piece but I think it is important work. Looking back and thinking about how I did stuff is a great reminder of my roots. The early days. The mistakes and successes. Plus there are a pile of really cool recipes from back then. Episode Three talks about how to make cream cheese.

They say you should work in the media that you love to engage in and I always listen to podcasts when I am cleaning. So it stands to reason. Now I am listening to my own so I can improve. We can always improve.

Have a great day and watch out for tomorrows podcast; ready for your weekend. Join here.

FreeBee and Big Jude on The Move

Summer is on its way (so they say) and Big Jude and FreeBee the huge mature rescue hogs have been moved through the fields and into the cool airy barn with access to the pig yard for the summer season. The black metal stock trailer they just left is in a smaller pen with full summer sun which is great in the winter but too hot in the summer for these big pet hogs.

They need to move to the barn for the deep shade and access to their summer field that hopefully will be under construction soon.

Hogs are prey animals and very suspicious by nature so moving them is always an exercise in patience. I talk to them the whole time so they can hear me, know where I am and say I over and over again “It’s OK – we’ve got all day”.

Hogs are not herd animals they will spread out to explore each space in his own time.

Mature Hereford Hog on a concrete pad under trees in farmyard.

And their explorations are never in a straight line. Not hogs.

With animals this size, actually with any animals, I allow them to move in their own time. Both these animals will be over 400 pounds now so if they bolt there will be injuries. (Possibly mine). If I wait by the gate, that I want them to move through, calling out and singing to them, they will eventually follow my voice and come to me.

Mature Hereford Hog and mature Berkshire Hog walking through gate into field. Green fields in the background
Mature Berkshire in the foreground and mature Hereford hog in the background in pig yard.

Big Jude was hand raised from a day old so he is a very friendly fellow and feels the need to greet every animal and person he passes. He was out talking to cows way before Free Bee had gone through the first gate.

Once he had explored the new pad Big Jude sauntered back to FreeBee and they both came through the gates together. But thats OK. Hogs get anxious very quickly so the slow pace was much healthier. We had all day after all.

Now they are ensconced in their summer quarters; a palatial open plan home with vaulted ceilings, huge doors opening into their own garden, excellent ventilation, farmhouse features, wood paneling and antique floors. And a comfy bed.

FreeBee got straight to work on constructing the wallow and Jude went to check out the bed.

Tima and the cows were already bored with the carry on and had gone off for a wee lie down.

Black cow lies beside sleeping KuneKune pig

Tima does not look comfortable but the black cow says quite clearly – “Hush, don’t come any closer, the little pig is sleeping.” All that cow needs is a rocking chair and some knitting.

Woman with black shorts and yellow jumper, from behind walking through long green grass into sunset.

My friend and I picked the asparagus in the late evening, then walked down the ditch bank with Boo. Later she helped me herd the ducks into their safe night house and I said to her “Watch their heads – the moment they turn their heads in the direction you want them to go, take a step forward and slowly raise your arms”. Ducks are usually easy to herd but the flock is so much smaller now and they were unsettled.

Weather Central Illinois May 10, 2023

Today I will prepare the ground in the pen Jude and FreeBee just vacated. They have turned it over nicely and stomped in all the straw I spread in there. Today I will sow the pumpkins and watermelons and peas and beans and any other seeds lying about, spread a thin layer of old straw on top and shut it up again. Maybe we will get a crop of winter feed!

Have a lovely day.


Dawn and Dusk: We keep watch

Mink normally hunt in the predawn and dusk periods. Though this mink does not follow the rules.

Also mink should hunt close to their watery homes. In this case The Ditch that was a Creek. This mink has ranged right down to the house and into the barn.

We are missing ducks.

Three brown ducks eating on the grass.

The American mink is a crepuscular/nocturnal and semi-aquatic mustelid native to North America that generally concentrates activities at <100 m from the water. Thank you Aunty Google.

Crepuscular – cre·pus·cu·lar means animals that appear in the twilight (dawn and dusk)

Well, these mink went further than the allotted 100m (300ft) from water. Yesterday I found one duck dead in the garden and there are two more missing. Which means the mink had flushed a duck off her nest then killed it on the night of the storm. (The sitting ducks will not go into their night house with the others if they hiding on a nest so there is nothing I can do for these girls if I cannot find them). But they are – literally – Sitting Ducks.

I cannot say where the other ducks are. Maybe gone. Maybe on nests somewhere. But not with the flock which is now down to nine.

View through the kitchens garden under the trees and out to the wheat fields.

Boo and I roamed late last night and before dawn this morning. He picked up the mink scent by the chook house this morning but it was cold.

Today is full of sun so if my cloudy and rainy day theory is correct this means the mink might lay low for the day.

The creek itself is running very high and fast after the rain so it is also possible that the high waters will influence their hunting. They may drift with the current and float right away! We can only hope. It depends on whether the mink has set up her own nest or not.

Also historically we have trouble with minks in the Spring. So we just have to tough it out.To be fair the mink was here first – they are natives.

The good news is the 3 inches or more of rain in that storm has perked up the gardens no end. The glass house is still not too hot. (I wonder how hot is too hot with a fan and ventilation). The courgettes are beginning to send out buds.

The Fields

I was distracted all day yesterday. Shuffling between the key board and the fields. Still anxious about the loss of innocent, silly, sweet Nelson and the ducks and this continued threat.

The grass and forage in the fields is growing while I watch warm plus rain makes for lush fields.

Two cows laid down in the left hand corner of the field and a kunekune pig grazing screen right. Wheat fields in the background. Flat horizon.

I have been training with BooBoo to search from the verandah without me. I think he has a better chance of catching the predators if I am not with him.

The Weather

It dawned fine and clear this morning. No wind to speak of yet and a lovely temperature.

Weather central Illinois May 09 2023

I will sow more beets and some carrots today.


I have been called to California to help with family over there next week – just for a week – but I need to have everything locked down before I go so the farm minders and John don’t have any problems.

My NZ trip begins on the 26th of June. Mark your calendars!

Sheila cleaning
New Website –

The new website is coming along apace and I think we might meet our deadline of June. Hopefully.

Charlotte has created us a new Sheila logo. This is Sheila cleaning her Sustainable Home!

I love it!! More on that later.

PS SubStack: Letters To My Mother and The Early Days Podcasts

Cecilia at The Kitchens Garden Substack. Chapter four.

Below is the link to yesterdays story on SubStack. This is a really sweet story about the first time we really watched a television. And it was to see a man landing on the moon! At school. It was a pleasure to escape into the past after the events of Monday morning and the Bastard Mink.

I am writing these Letters To My Mother and developing my Early Days Podcast in an effort to make a little money so I can focus on writing.

Really focus on real writing.

Here is the link to The Man On The Moon.

And I am beyond grateful to those of you who are encouraging me to stretch my writing. You who are my cheerleaders and marketers and all of you who are sharing these story links with your own email lists. Word of Mouth (or in this case – Word of Keyboard) is simply the best. Thank you.

For the month of May the podcasts are FREE to all. My little Monday stories will always be FREE to all. The Early days on the Farm podcasts come out Wednesday and Friday. The Letters to My Mother Podcast comes out on Thursday. The Letters to My Mother is a paid subscription podcast. All are a Work in Progress and the work is growing fast.

I will continue to keep you in the loop.

Let me know your thoughts!