Summer is here!  We are in the mid-80's pretty consistently, the humidity is through the roof, it's summer for sure.  Most things around here are business as usual for summer on a farm - except for one big change.  Caleb has a new job!!  He finally took the plunge, and switched to a part-time job so he could be on the farm more.  Unfortunately, his job for the last 10 years would not agree to let him go part-time, so he switched to a company that runs several urgent care clinics in the valley.  He has 10-12 hour days, and an hour commute now - but it's only 2 days a week for almost the same income!  We are still getting used to him being around more - we keep saying/thinking that things need to be done this weekend, or it'll be next weekend before we get another chance - and then realize that's not true anymore!  I think we're all really going to appreciate the increased family and farm time, especially once school starts up again in the fall.  

We're still working on getting the last of the garden planted (darn turkeys ate the first, and second, corn planting) but we're harvesting beets, carrots, kale, broccoli, and late radishes.  We started pulling the garlic this week, and will finish in the next week or so.  Caleb and our current WWOOFer (here for 2 weeks, ending Wednesday) got the whole orchard scythed and trimmed, and mulched all the trees with wood chips.  The strawberries are finishing up, and the raspberries and blueberries are just hitting full-swing.  I had to make a goat cheese cheesecake, just to use all the fresh berries :)

Will the WWOOFer has woodworking experience, so he has completed the big solar dehydrator that Caleb started last summer - it holds 20 trays that are 26" by 28", so I should be able to really get some stuff dried!  He also repaired my second spinning wheel - yes, the one that had the broken flyer that I had rebuilt - and then I broke the replacement flyer.  Turns out, it's hard to move a spinning wheel in one hand while holding a baby in the other, and those darn flyers just snap in half when they hit the floor.  He was able to peg-and-glue it back together though, almost invisibly, so I have a usable wheel again.  

Speaking of spinning wheels, I've been immersed in fiber the last few weeks.  I finally just abdicated household chores as much as I can get away with - if I consistently do all those things that I "need" to, I will not ever get to the things I want to.  I will literally go months without touching my wheel, so I've just re-prioritized, and I've been spinning and knitting and carding and washing.  I finally washed all 4 Tunis sheep fleeces from last year, as well as Juniper's (the Friesian) from this year.  I'm halfway through carding hers, and will get some of the Tunis done before I switch to carding some alpaca.  I'm spinning some alpaca that I finally broke down and took to the local fiber mill in early April.  I now have ~10 pounds of roving for easy spinning, and I made a 900-yard 3-ply for a sweater for myself (someday!).  I'm currently working on some lace weight yarn, I've almost filled the second bobbin, so I should have it done in the next week or so.  I want to knit a lace shawl with my own alpaca lace yarn!  Stay tuned for that later this fall, probably...

I've settled in to milking the 2 goats and 2 sheep, getting about 6 cups of each type milk daily.  I make cheese about twice a week, one of each variety.  I'm mostly stocking up on sheep feta, since it needs to age in a brine and the fresh mozzarella and chèvre/"mouton" (my name for sheep "chèvre") only last a week or two.  I have put my first Camembert in the "cheese cave" (a hacked fridge in the basement) so I'm crossing my fingers we'll have Camembert in about 6 weeks!

Liam finally finished school on Memorial Day (don't tell him) after I finally informed him that all the other kids here had been out of school for 1-2 weeks.  That motivated him to finish up the last of 2nd Grade math, and now he's got lots of time for reading!  Malachi has been to a few speech therapy sessions (not really "needed" but certainly helpful - after the first one the therapist said "this isn't the same child I tested!") and now that he's making a conscious effort to speak clearly, and people understand him - he is no longer the silent one.  I kind of miss those days...  Ewan started crawling at 9 months 1 week, started pulling up about 2 weeks after that, transferred chair to chair the week after that, and cut his first tooth right at 10 months (2 weeks ago).  An odd mix of slow and fast progress markers, but he doesn't seem to care :)  His new thing is bear-walking, mostly for fun but especially at the farmer's market when he's on the sidewalk with those bare little knees.  

Lastly, we have 2 calves so far.  The next one we have a rough expected date for is July (basically a year after the last one), but there are 2 heifers that should calve for the first time this summer, so they could be any time.  We  may have as many as 9 this year, although something always goes wrong and we come up one less every year.  We'll see what this summer holds...


good to read all your news

Miss you all like crazy, can't wait to see you all again, and get acquainted with a chatty Malachi. love you all.

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