Record heat. Thomas the turkey squats in the shade panting, his wings held away from his body and his feathers poofed forward to allow airflow. SushiMoo hides in the shade of Emma’s tent with the laying hens and guineas and the sheep and EmmaLou are nowhere to be found. They have likely found a suitable spot somewhere in the big pasture, where there is still cool water running thru the ditches and tall wet grass that will help to cool them.
The ‘polar bears’ come in the house where it’s cool. They work hard all night and deserve a comfortable place to sleep and regroup before heading out again tonight. I have to just assume the sheep will be safe from predators in this oppressive heat. Nothing seems to want to move much.
We use the hose to water down all the shady spots around the chicken pen so they can be a little bit cooler. The garden has been getting soaked heavily at night to try and cope with the high temperatures, but still wilts. It has an unquenchable thirst so I use what strength I have to fill a wheelbarrow with straw from Sushi's tent and carefully spread it as a mulch to keep the soil cooler and the moisture in. It’s gonna be rough week on everything. The snow on the Steens is almost gone and it’s barely July. It normally lasts all year. At least, along with the heat, come the blooms of summer. Sunflower, cosmos, petunia, marigold, hollyhock and zinnias. The roses are so heavy the canes bow nearly to the ground from the weight of them. A yellow trumpet vine scampers over the wall, it's blooms inviting the rare hummingbird to partake of its presence. Honeysuckle hugs the archway into the garden with gorgeous salmoney-red blooms beckoning to me. The weeds have been making a stand as well. They have been winning the battles this year, but I have yet to give up on the war.
It is nearly time to process the meatie chickens. They are getting heavy and won’t live much longer on their own. I worry about the heat affecting them, but so far they seem to be content under the raspberry bushes where it remains wet most of the day from the nighttime watering. They are still running around and happy though so I will give them a bit longer. The day will come when they aren’t so enthusiastic with life and then it will be time to process them.
We headed to town for my doctor visit and ran a couple errands. The last trip we dropped off "Upchuck" the steer at the butcher. While I am being treated, Randy drove to pick him up. It was 110 degrees! He purchased some dry ice and packed over 600 lb of frozen beef into the coolers. We got home at midnight and the Maremmas are so happy they can’t stand it. We were gone only 18 hours and they acted as if they were sure they’d never see us again. We do this every few months. It’s nice to be loved. I pack away the meat and hand off the dog bones to the boys, who run out back and happily gnaw away while babysitting the sheep.
A thunderstorm moves in late at night and there is a loud thump at the door. I sleepily get up to open it and Cletapotamus charges into the house. Thunder is not his thing. Neither are gunshots. Poor guy, there is a lot of both on this ranch. He settles in and we go back to sleep, regrouping for tomorrow. There is much to do. Boredom is not a word that is employed here. I have house cleaning, cooking, baking, soapmaking, sewing, gardening, and the animals to take care of. There is no time or space for boredom.
Today I picked two quarts each of strawberries and raspberries. Pavlova for dessert. Steaks on the grill, corn on the cob heating up. It’s a meal fit for a king and Upchuck clearly is serving his purpose well. It’s comforting to know our animals live happy lives and when the end comes, it is as quick, painless and humane as possible, instead of suffering lingering illness and agony, or worse, attack by predators. Living in chronic pain myself, I can appreciate both their end and their purpose. People often question how we can eat meat we raised ourselves. If they could see how their own food lived and died they’d understand. They wouldn’t support commercially raised meat or methods anymore. It's almost enough to make you lose your appetite.
I take a round out of the cheesecave. It is a very sharp cheddar. A bit on the dry side but I think it will be excellent melted in a dish such as homemade mac and cheese or a sauce. The flavor is good. Finally, the hard cheeses are starting to turn out well...just in time for the cow to go dry. At least next summer I can produce what we need again, God willing that I should still be functional.
Good days are hit and miss. There is much I want to do. I have lots of special visitors coming this summer and hope to make everything ready and welcome, easier said than done these days. With no milking to do, it leaves more time, but not more resources. Nonetheless, I trust it will get done in time, even if just. I raise a cup and toast my newest list. Accomplishment is sweet on the tongue. Grace and good days are ahead, may we all cherish them.