I love teaching people how to make cheese in my kitchen. Not only because it gives me an excuse to clean, but because I love watching people being so excited about learning how to make cheese.
On Sunday, one of the hottest days of the summer, ten people crowded around my stove, cutting curds, stirring whey, and eating their body weight in cheese. There were even two kids present who turned out to be pros at getting their hands in the whey.
My goats continue to crank out milk, even in this terrible, terrible heat. Mind you, they do sprawl out in the shade panting during the hottest part of the day, but in the evenings, they come back to life. I love to pull up a picnic chair and sit in the pasture with "the girls". Their backs make excellent foot rests, and they don't mind as long as I scratch their chins. Eva and her friends take them for walks to forage on fresh browse.
Another critter who doesn't like the heat is Pluto, my beloved 15 year old dog. I think the end of his life is near, with a growing tumor on his backside, weaker legs, and more sunken stature every passing day. But he is still happy to go along on walks, although he limps a lot at the end, and he still gets excited when I fill his food bowl, although he has been pooping it out on the living room floor every other morning. Yes, the end is near, but in the meantime, we are loving him up.
You know who IS loving this heat? The tomatoes, the figs, the laundry, and the calendula flowers, that's who. The tomatoes and figs are putting lots of treats on the table. There's lots of Greek salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, basil, Kalamata olives, and my own Feta cheese. It's all grown here on the farm, except the olives (I wish...).
Our fig tree is loaded with sweet morsels that look a lot like a bowl full of worms when you split them in half. No, they don't LOOK very appetizing, but they taste like heaven.
The laundry dries in about 20 seconds, flapping in this incredible heat and wind.
And the calendula flowers? They grow new blossoms as soon as I harvest them. I have picked many pounds of flowers this year, to be dried and then infused into oil for my goat milk soap. Instead of using the jar-in-the-sun-for-six-weeks infusion method, I experimented with infusing them in the crock pot. It worked great.
On the garden front, I had to put netting over the beans, because the *^&#-ing deer are nibbling on the plants and destroying them. I HAVE to grow beans to make my famous dilly bean pickles, you understand? So although it's not pretty, the netting will keep the bastards out. So there. (Visions of venison stew are floating in my head.)
My cucumbers are slow to emerge, but they are starting to yield.
Lettuce is being succession-cropped, standing in the shade of their old-growth relatives, who I am letting go to seed for the bees. They love the blossoms. When the lettuce is done blooming, the pigs will finish them off.
And talking of the garden, we started juicing again, now that produce is abundant a few feet away from our kitchen. Beets, carrots, collards, apple, zucchini make a drink that looks like wine, and in Eva's words, tastes like dirt. No, it doesn't, of course... it just tastes... healthy and earthy.
I will leave you with a few random images from the week.
... a walk in our neighborhood creek...
... a sunset in the Methow Valley, where we camped out for a night, only to flee back home to seek relief from the heat. Ha!
... a collage of handknits, knit by my mother's arthritic hands and sent to me in a big package, along with four pairs of handknit socks, reducing me to tears (of joy). Now you know where my knitting gene came from!
... a wheel of Gouda made by my cheese making students...