Wednesday, July 29, 2015


One good thing about all this heat and drought we've been getting is this:


Last week, all five of us trudged out to one of our favorite blackberry picking spots, where you get a sweeping view of the valley as you stuff your face pick blackberries dripping with sweetness and juice.  One hour later, fingers, tongue and clothes stained, we had picked over a dozen pounds of berries. 

I made cobbler with whipping cream that night, and froze the rest.  They are great in smoothies all winter long.  We better pick some more...

We've been eating well around here.  The garden is my best friend come 4pm, when I realize dinner time is coming up soon, and no fairies have offered to cook it for me.  Usually, I wander out to the garden to see what looks good and then whip something up with it.

Potatoes, carrots, onions, cauliflower and a round of my Caraway Gouda get transformed into cauliflower cheese soup.

Zucchinis, tomatoes, basil and grated Gouda cheese turn into this:

Dessert? My own home made raw cacao truffles, super food extraordinaire.

All this food creates a lot of nonsense at the dinner table.  My handsome husband Steve and good looking son Luke really, really like what I cook.  You can tell from their faces.

It's not just the garden that produces lots of food.  The goats are cranking out milk by the gallons.  Poor things are looking skinny.  I feed them groovy, organic, non-gmo grain, alfalfa hay and grass hay, but they have decided they don't like the hay any more.  So I fenced an area full of thimbleberry and salmonberry bushes, which my four-legged friends devour happily.

I make lots of cheese and yogurt every week.  Yep, here I go again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A new addition to our family (No, I'm not pregnant!)

I bought a new goat. Her name is Dandelion, and she is black like a shiny piece of obsidian. I was worried about introducing her to Quasar, my other goat, and prepared myself for the usual headbutting, dominance-asserting, shove-in-the-wall dance they do. It didn't happen. Quasar sniffed Dandelion, Dandelion sniffed Quasar, and they both turned away from each other. The only time Quasar bonks the new goat's head is when she gets too close to the prized alfalfa hay. Who would've thunk it could be so easy?

I make sure they both get lots of attention.  My five-year-old fashion queen and helper in the barn assists me in that department.  Ever concerned about the right outfit and colors (where did she get that gene from?) she tried to dress up Dandelion with her Hello Kitty headband.  When Dandy didn't oblige her, she put it on Quasar.  Who knows, dressed in pretty accessories might help with milk production.

When we are not busy paying lavish attention to our goats, you find us in the garden.  Take my twelve-year old son Kai, for example.  He wanders out to the potato patch early in the morning to harvest taters for breakfast.  He does the harvesting and the cooking, because if that boy wants hashbrowns for breakfast, he better do it himself.  So he does.  Assisted, as always, by Eva (dressed in her Hello Kitty headband).

That garden sure feeds us well.  Many days, we eat homemade bread, fresh sauerkraut made with cabbage from the garden, carrots, pickled beets and cucs from last year, tomatoes from our prolific greenhouse, lettuce, and maybe a basil leaf or two tucked into the sandwich.  My goat cheese rounds it all out nicely.  I also made pesto with garlic scapes I cut off so the garlic can concentrate its growth into the roots. 

The brutal heat and drought persist.  Temperatures have been hovering in the 90's for weeks.  It's so very unusual for our place to get so parched.  People are worried about wild fires, plants are drooping, and we spend hours by the river.  Our bees are hating this weather, clustering on the outside of their hive, and I hope they are not getting it into their little heads to swarm...

Another great way to find relief from the heat is walking in the woods.  The towering cedars create nice shade, and nearby creeks, rivers and streams (albeit with much less water than usual) help with the cooling effect.

I will leave you with random pictures from this week:

Steve teaching a bow making class at our homestead,

my raw cacao truffles I make every single week (and eat them all myself),

and more beauty in the garden...

Where are you finding beauty these days?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The garden in July

Although the Pacific Northwest has suffered from record high temperatures and drought, my garden seems happy.  It's cranking out a lot of food - something for every meal of the day.  The still life below shows pesto-in-the-making with a hefty salad.

We grow a large garden, with almost every vegetable you can imagine, except okra and other Southern veggies.  Come to think of it, this hot year would have probably worked for stuff like that.

The main garden is relatively well maintained, although you can always find weeds.  But there is a corner of our land where we planted squash, beans and corn this year, a corner where the goats are fenced close by, but not not close enough to foster frequent weeding and watering efforts by us.

So imagine my surprise when I inspected said area today on my way to leading the goats to pasture.  Zucchinis as big as baseball bats hid in the foliage, and I didn't even know the zucchinis were growing yet!  As big as a baseball bat, I tell you!  It scared me.  Fortunately, the goats considered that thing a huge delicacy and polished it off in no time.

The bean plants, having been so cruelly forgotten by me, had found their way into the squashes, intertwining their tendrils with theirs.  I had to carefully untangle their passionate embraces and tie up the beans where they belong - on the bean pole tipis.

I hope they won't resent me.

Ahhhh, yes, I am grateful for all the lovely, fresh veggies in our garden.  The cabbages are big enough to make sauerkraut with.  The spring-planted garlic is putting out scapes, soon to be made into pesto.  Broccoli is coming out of our ears.  The kids keep pulling out carrots for a snack, which is fine with me.  The beets are large enough to be processed into honeyed pickled beets.  And the tomatoes!  The incredibly flavorful, ripe, red tomatoes!  We harvest a basket full every single day.  And the poppies are going nuts, but I don't use them for anything except beauty!

And of course blueberries... We have lots growing on our place, but we often go to the nearby organic blueberry farm to pick many pounds worth.  It helps to take the kids, since they are a real help, except when they are not (as is the case with Eva and her friend, who would rather stuff berries into their mouths instead of the picking basket).

This summer we are finding plenty of time to go to the river and pond.  There are birthday parties and playdates and blissful days spent eating melons by the water with friends.  I love summer!

And of course cheese making never stops.  Ohh, remember, there are only a few days left to register for my online cheese making workshop!

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