There is a corner in my heart labeled “Gouda”.

Gouda has become a central part of my life over the years. I grew up nibbling wedges and when I was older, made it daily. We make a variety of flavors of Gouda. From traditional Mild to spicy Jalapeno, from the bold Black Pepper to subtle Sweet Red Pepper. Our wide variety of this creamy cheese makes it easy for us to find a good fit for almost anyone… after some sampling of course! This cheese has been in our family for years, and though we have a wide variety now, it had a much simpler beginning.

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My Pake’s absolute dream while growing up was to be a farmer. I doubt the thought of being a cheese maker even entered his mind! Born in 1927, Jack Appel was the eldest son of the local milk man. However, it was hard to pursue his farming dreams during the occupation of Holland in WWII.  Civilians were commonly drafted into forced labor so my Grandfather spent much of his teen years staying out of sight from any German soldiers. Hardly the time to find a farming job!

After the liberation of the Netherlands, Paka found a job with a local farmer where he worked and learned the basics of farming. A few years later, at age 19, he moved to France to assist another farmer. It was this farmer who also made cheese 6 days a week, so part of my Grandfather’s job was to assist with this process as well. It was here he first developed the cheese making skills he would carry with him for the rest of his life.

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Jack immigrated to America in 1950 where he knew he would have a better chance of being a farmer than in Holland. In 1958, after marrying his wife Audrey in 1957, the new couple made the big move to Washington State. Eventually he realized his dream by purchasing a farm here in Ferndale, in March of 1967. This is the same farm he and his wife raised their five children on, three of whom are still involved in the daily running of it!

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This is Jessie cutting the pressed Gouda curd into blocks which will in turn be pressed into wheels. Yes, Gouda rounds start out as squares!

Although farming had always been his dream job, Jack continued to make cheese as gifts for his friends and family. It wasn’t until he had sold the farm to his sons and was very much encouraged by those who had tried his cheese that he started to develop his hobby into a business. I suspect he had too much time on his hands… it’s hard to tell a farmer to stop working! Eventually his sons bought this part of the farm as well and have continued to build upon the foundation laid by their father.

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This is one of our brine tank racks full of yummy cheese ready to be submerged! At the end of the day, our Gouda goes directly from the presses to these racks and into the brine tank. After a few days, they are then transferred to the aging room.

If you ask me which Gouda’s are my favorite I would point out the Aged and the Cumin. Many of my cousins would probably say the same. Why? Because they are the ones that remind me the most of my Pake. The Aged is traditionally drier with a bite only known to lovers of aged cheeses. It’s also the only cheese we still seal with a traditional rind coating. The Cumin has a little more of a nutty flavor from the tiny seeds speckling the finish. These two are my favorites due to growing up on the excellent flavors, but also because they were first handcrafted by a man whom I will always remember with great love and respect.

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Someone asked me about a cheese with little “thingies” in it. Turns out they were referring to the Cumin Gouda!

8 Things I Learned from my Dad

My siblings and I have been blessed with the best Dad. Ever.
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Yes, we’re a little biased, but it’s hard to find another who is consistently showing us how to live life to the fullest. Here is a list of some of the many things our Dad exhibits on a daily basis!

  1. There is always room for grace. Always. If someone made a mistake, hurt you, or is just plain being a selfish, grace is always part of the solution, if not THE solution.
  2. Listen. Be it with a smile on your face or a concerned brow, listen to understand not just to fix it and move on to the next thing. Sleeping
  3. Be humble. When life is really amazing and everything you have worked hard for is finally happening, don’t brag about it.
  4. Stewardship. You have been blessed! Whether it be with little or much, care for what you have to the absolute best of your ability.

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    The little baby being introduced to the Holstein is my sister Katherine. We learned at an early age not to be afraid of the cows, even if they were so much bigger than us!
  5. Show some respect. Respect your elders, yourself, others, and respect the blessings you have been given and the God who gave them to you.
  6. Work for it. If something is important to you (even something small) and you want it to be successful, you’d better work. Hard.

    My Dad working in the milking parlor when he was younger.
    My Dad working in the milking parlor when he was younger.
  7. Lead by example. Your family and the people around you are watching. Through good times and especially the bad times, every one of us is an example whether we like it or not. Make the choice to be a positive one!

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    Exact same parlor, only this is my brother Chris helping out.
  8. Pray. Even if you think you are in control, the simple fact of the matter is you’re not. But you have the ear of Someone who is, a Savior who can help you get through whatever mess you have gotten yourself into.

Now, whether we can actually live up to our father’s legacy is to be seen!slide8 I believe one of the reasons this man is such an inspiration is because people see his heart on a daily basis. A heart that above all else strives to follow his Lord, the ultimate and perfect Father. As a family, we are very thankful to have been blessed with such a solid, encouraging, caring man of God!

Happy Fathers Day!!

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Our nightly walks were a tradition. The little blonde rocking her nightgown, white shoes, along with her barn coat is me…I don’t think I ever learned the difference between a farm girl and a princess!

A Father’s Legacy

My earliest memories of Pake include him teaching me how to perfectly peel an orange, the new pink (!) barn boots he would bring me when mine where about to give way, and the way he would sing, all day everyday. My Grandfather loved to farm, it was his lifelong dream and he achieved it!

As Dutch immigrants, my dad’s parents often had challenges to deal with, Pakabut you would never know from the way they would talk about their lives. The first thing they would tell you is how absolutely blessed they have been, and nothing happens without the will of God. Now I want you to imagine this. Walking out to the milking parlor as the early morning light washes over Mt. Baker. Pausing as you hear a baritone voice joyfully singing hymns to the Lord. This was not someone singing to themselves quietly, but a clear, booming voice you could hear from across the yard! Seriously! My Aunt Ruth will tell you she used to open her windows in the morning so she could listen! Can you tell this is someone who loves his life and his Lord with all his heart? To this day, Pake is remembered for his gentle, but strong, personality, ready smile, and his beautiful voice. However, if you ask someone who knew him, they will tell you about his incredible faith and the impact his wisdom had in their lives. A real legacy.

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I’ve always been a “daddy’s little girl”, but as I grew older, married, and moved out, I’ve started to recognize the similarities between my Dad and Uncle and their father. They love to farm! These brothers will happily talk about cows, land, and future projects for hours. They would love nothing better than to sit on a tractor all day. They both have beautiful voices and sing as often as they breathe! But more importantly is how seriously they take their relationships with the Lord. These are a couple farming brothers who are daily living examples of grace, humility, and honesty to those around them. To me, they have become invaluable sources of wisdom as I contemplate the future and the choices it holds.

These are the foundations we have built our farm, cheese plant, and now the store around. A legacy set in place before my generation was even born. We are truly stewards of everything God has given us! Everything from our families, to the land, and the cows, are blessings and we are going to take the best possible care of them we can. It’s our responsibility!

Katherine

8 Reasons Why Summer is Better on a Farm

Summer time is always better on a farm. Even a girly girl can go tromping through the woods sometimes!

  1. Bare feet! Shoes out, calluses in! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE shoes, but this is a freedom that can’t be beat. A regular washing of the feet was required before we were able to come back into the house, but it was worth it.
  2. “Down below”. This is how everyone refers to the area past the barns.
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    Fields, a forest, creeks, sand pit, the river- if any fun was to be had it was here. Running around building tree forts, swimming in the natural ponds along the creek, summertime was spent wild a free with out a worry in the world. This was also the best way to guarantee we wouldn’t wake my dad up from his afternoon nap. Four rowdy kids and their neighborhood friends do not mix well with a daily 3am wake up call.
  3. The “Boom”. With summer comes irrigation. With the irrigation comes a massive sprinkler we fondly called “The Boom”. Nothing beats a hot day better than running through a grass field getting soaked by a huge stream of water being shot over your head!
  4. A creek! Once in a while I would be really brave and join my brothers exploring. Something that was always sure to be a day of adventure was following the stream from the farm to the river. We would come home with scrapes from blackberry bushes, stinging nettle bumps, smelling of skunk cabbage, covered in muck, but with the biggest smiles on our faces and stories to tell. *Side note, shoes are typically not a good idea when attempting this. I can’t tell you how many shoes/boots were sucked off our feet never to be seen again!*
  5. A river bar. Now we weren’t allowed to go down here by ourselves until we were older, but the private “beach” next to a beautiful (icy cold) river quickly became the older kids hangout. HayI can’t tell you how many summer nights were spent gathered around a bonfire. Country life at it’s best.
  6. A haymow. Did you know you can make the absolute coolest forts ever in a haymow? Some of the bales were too big for us to maneuver, but the smaller, lighter, straw bales made great tunnels, rooms, and walls! I can’t tell you how many things I would smuggle up there to outfit my “house”.
  7. Other Farm Kids! We were blessed to grow up with multiple cousins around at all times. However, our family was much larger than biological. BoysOur farm in next door to the Smit Family farm, and like us, the family had moved into the area to farm and would pass their livelihood from one generation to the next. Therefore, not only did these kids have one farm to run around on, but two! Multiple generations of these families grew up (playing and working) together on the combined biggest playground ever! 
  8. These. icecreamsandwich-15 I’m going to cheat a little bit for this one! We didn’t have these growing up (with the exceptions of some church fundraisers), but we have them now!! Nothing says “summer on the farm” like one of these babies. And yes, I am addicted already.

If you asked my parents how it was raising kids on a farm they may tell you about the constant dirt and random animals we would bring into the house. But they would also tell you how it was the best possible thing for their kids to grow up in an area where their imaginations could run as wild as their feet. Some may think farmers don’t appreciate the land as much as they should, but I can tell you this. My family loves the land they have been entrusted with. Generations have grown up here learning respect for nature and the way it works. It was the best childhood you could ask for. Honestly, if we didn’t respect the land enough to take care of it in the best way possible, it would never last long enough for future generations to explore. We wholeheartedly believe God has blessed us beyond what we deserve, and because of that we have an even bigger responsibility to manage those blessings properly.

Relay for Life Fundraiser!

Come visit our booth and support a great cause next weekend! It’s no secret cheese and wine make a great pairing, so this event is bound to be a smashing success. Not to mention all the yummy appetizers to fill up on, check out the vendor list in the flyer! All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society! If you would like to visit the website to learn more about this awesome organization click here.

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I think we all know someone who has been touched by cancer. While it is indeed a horrible thing, I can honestly say it is amazing to see so many individuals, families, and businesses come together to raise funds and awareness through such a fun event! We live in a great community and Appel Farms Cheese is proud to participate!