The heat wave is still here. It's 9:15 in the morning and it's already 85 degrees with 66% humidity, so I'm planning to be inside as much as I can today. Although it's not supposed to get as high as the 98 degree weather we had earlier this week, the humidity is apparently going to make it feel even hotter. It's weather like this that makes winter seem like a good time!
Hay making is still ongoing. I will be forever grateful to my husband and my brother-in-law for taking over that hard work. I just don't handle the heat too well, so I get the equally important job of rounding up ice cold drinks and making food for a good meal afterward. The large field that we've been working on is so thick and beautiful it will nearly take care of our hay needs for the year. There is another main field to cut, but it has gotten rather weedy over the past few years and we may just make the nicest hay from it and mulch the rest. Or the second cutting from this field later in the summer should be more than enough to fill our barn. Either way, we look to have plenty of hay for all the animals we overwinter. This year the number of horses will be the same, the sheep and pigs roughly the same number as well, with probably an additional cow or two than we overwintered last year but significantly less goats. So, we have a pretty good idea of what we will need, and although a full season of winter seems so far away right now, this is when the planning and work happens that enables us to get through it.
The garden is growing fantastically! I swear, if you look closely, you can see plants like corn, melons and sunflowers grow throughout the day. They love the heat! I've already been out there this morning. Although some things could use some irrigation, we only use underground drip line during the day. The sprinklers will be moved around later in the day so as to lose as little water as possible to evaporation before the plants have a chance to make use of it. But this morning, my main task was to thin the cucumbers and zucchini. Both are best if picked small to medium sized, so we need to thin them out every few days to avoid the baseball-bat sized ones on market day!
My favorite fresh vegetable is the cucumber. I love the crisp, fresh taste. The soggy, waxy ones you find in the store can't hold a candle to the goodness from a local garden. So I was thrilled to finally see lots poking out from under the leaves last night when I went out to round up whatever I could find for a nice dinner salad. This morning, I returned to the house with half a bushel, so one of my projects for today will be making pickles. It's just in time too, because we had just opened the last jar from the pantry, and who doesn't go through more pickles during summer grilling season? Not only will I be restocking my pantry, but I'll be having some for sale at the stand too! We'll also have fresh cucumber for sale beginning this week, so you can make all your favorite dishes! I have a recipe for a great summer pasta salad using them. If you get out newsletter, you already have the recipe to try out, but if not you can get it here: http://pleasantvalleyfarm.weebly.com/newsletter.html