Every spring we try to get to the Chai Farm in Mevo Modi'im for some goat milking,goat herding, cheese making and fun.
This is the time of year to see kids (as in baby goats), adorable in their doe eyed cuteness, nursing from their mothers, learning to graze. My daughter will never forget getting to hold a baby goat in her arms, tiny and docile, snuggling up into her embrace. Last year there was a kid who had difficulty nursing from its mother, so the farmer helped the children milk the mother goat, and then my little girl got to hold it in her arms and feed it. It's a delight to come back a year later and see the kid all grown-up.
After a morning goat herding, milking and helping to feed the slightly older kids it was time to get out of the sun, relax in the air conditioning and get down to the business of cheese making. Visits to goat farms have created a (so far) great fondness for goat cheeses in our family. The younger generation are always excited to participate in making goat cheese and today the excitement wasn't just limited to the cheese, they enthusiastically and of their own volition chose to prepare cheeses with zaatar, rosemary, dill, nigella seeds and oregano, which they proudly announced they would be saving as a Shabbat treat for the family because of all the special ingredients.
Still, after all that hard work they were getting mighty hungry, and with perfect timing our hostess produced exquisite cheese platters with a selection that included labane with spring onions, Circassian style cheese, Tom hard cheese with bayleaves, smoked Provolone, salty Bulgarian style cheese and a selection of olives, crackers and veggies. Within minutes my children had demolished the substantial spread, clamouring for more and moving on to the untouched cheeses the children sitting next to them had left on their platter, wondering aloud why those little girls hadn't eaten their cheese, only the crackers and cucumbers. Then they begged me to buy more to take home for Shabbat, in addition to what they had made, and how could I say no? Dairy Shabbat it will be.
Despite the midday sun there was ample shade from the yard's olive, pomegranate, fig and lemon trees, extra lush and beautiful this time of year with the first mini-fruitlets that promise more delicious treats come late summer and autumn. Between the aviaries of tropical birds added colour and a soundtrack, while assorted chickens roamed freely, mother hens herding their wayward posses of impossibly cute chicks. The farm's pet tortoises, large and well fed, were happy for the children to offer them more juicy morsels of leaves or even prickly pear cactus.
It was hard to pry the human kids away, but Shabbat waits for no one and that tasty bag of cheeses needed to get to a fridge. Reluctantly they followed me out the ornate gate, wandered down the rustic country lane and back to the world of concrete and asphalt.