Spring? We hope!

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Well at last, and only three days ago, she came. She arrived one sunny morning, just after the last drop of snow had melted.

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She arrived after several days of constant rains, when temperatures finally warmed enough for the snow to stop, for it snowed right through the first week of March. Yes, Spring, she is finally here! (Although I hesitate to shout it too loudly for fear that I might frighten her off. But surely crocus are sign of Spring?)

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And yesterday the bees were out collecting hazel and alder pollen.

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And crocus too.

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Gosh, it’s been so lovely these past few days, I even planted my peas, although I did think to cover them with a bit of fleece, just in case the weather turns cold again, for what a long long winter it has been.

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But while the snow fell down and piled up outside our door (for nearly 4 months) we were as busy as bees in our Honey Grove hive. And when we are not shovelling pathways and digging beehives out of snow drifts and pushing snow of barn rooftops (for fear that they might collapse under the weight of it all) we were planning the coming year with endless mugs of tea by the fireside.

And what a year it is going to be! Perhaps I should tell you the most exciting news of all (for this has always been my style, as I can hardly wait to share those things that are bursting forth from my inspired heart). So without further aideu, I must begin by telling you that Mark will be expanding his bakery, and that he is currently setting up a bakery in the nearby town of Courtenay! It seems that Mark has outgrown his humble basement bakery here on the farm, and that his little brick oven simply cannot hold the number of loaves he wishes to bake and sell.

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Our dear Mark works over 40 hours a week to make one hundred loaves of bread, all of which promptly sell-out at the Farmers Market in less than an hour.

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This being said, the only way for him to meet the demands of the community, and to earn a living-wage, is to move to a bigger space and to invest in some finer equipment. Currently he spends 90 percent of his time getting his oven up to temperature, and although it sounds poetic to bake bread in an outdoor wood-fire oven, it is not so very practical (especially, as we discovered this winter, wading through 3 foot snow drifts, during a power outage, baking bread with a head torch). Mark has come to realize that he would like to spend his time and energy baking bread and creating new inspired loaves as opposed to managing fires in all kinds of wild weather.

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And so, very soon, our baker-man Mark will be baking bread in his new space, in his brand new Italian oven, which is traveling to him now, coming on a boat, from far across the sea. If you would like to follow him along on Instagram, you can do so here. But for  now, I will leave you with a little shot of his new space, on it’s way to becoming the Honey Grove Bakery.

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Meanwhile back on the farm, plans have been made for a nut orchard to be planted. And our neighbour, has been by with his very large machine to clear a ragged patch of alders, so that we can start planting hazelnuts, which will be underplanted with another acre of nitrogen fixing bee forge.

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We are still aiming to be as sustainable as possible here on Honey Grove, and growing nut trees is an essential part of that plan. Nut trees, especially walnut and hazelnut, grow exceptionally well on Vancouver Island, and yield nuts within 5 to 10 years. We will share more about this over the coming months. For now, we have a patch of good earth that is ready for planting.

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And while I am clearing land with my trusty hound

 

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and doing the odd little dance here and there….

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Cohen is busy building a beautiful new maple-wood bar for the wood-fire brick oven.

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And look how beautiful it is already!

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Although Mark will no longer be baking his bread in the farm oven, we will continue using the brick oven for our own bread baking, pizza nights, herb drying and family dinners.

Katie is busy too, working on the farm, helping to get the gardens ready for spring planting. She is moving compost and digging steer manure into all the beds. She is repairing chainsaws and bucking up the fallen alders that came down after the heavy winter snow falls. And, she is also, still making her famous muffins and selling them alongside Marks bread every Saturday at the Farmers Market.

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As for Gus, he is still offering his secret of the universe and enjoying the warmth of the sun as much as we are.

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And now I must be off, for the sun is shining once again and I simply must get out in it!

With Gratitude for your company,

Nao, Mark, Gus, Cohen and Katie~

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February on Honey Grove ~

I am not sure that you will believe me when I tell you that Winter has not left us yet. (Well I should tell you that he did leave for 2 short weeks, but since then has returned, and as you can see, has wasted no time in settling right in).

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And icicles hanging off every eve.

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It is as though we have found ourselves in some kind of  classic fairytale, under a powerful spell cast by a mountain witch, who has made the winter last for years, instead of a season. You know, we are even developing new muscles from all the shovelling.

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And digging.

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And knocking snow from trees.

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And roof tops.

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And when that all gets to much, which it does, we sometimes abandon all grown-up responsibilities to have a good 0ld fashioned snowball fight.

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But for 10 short days, before winter’s return, all the snow on Honey Grove had melted, and for a little while, we thought winter had really left us. And so we got to the business of garden prep. If you were to come up the pathway to Honey Grove one week ago, you would have found Katie and I digging 4 yards of steer manure into the veg plot.

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For several sweet days it was a balmy 10 degrees and it was not long before our wool sweaters were hung on the nearby fence posts and we were working up a decent sweat.

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Yes, all that hard work had us feeling really quite chuffed with ourselves.

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We even had a spot of tea under the warming sun.

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Ohmy how sure we were that Winter had left us for another year. And Mark was cheerfully baking his beautiful bread without having to traverse the ice and snow. I even heard him  singing a joyful tune as he worked.

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For two Saturdays in a row Katie and I were easefuly getting those loaves to market and having a good deal of fun under the nearly spring sun.

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And then, one night 4 days ago all that changed, and Winter came knocking upon our door once again. And when we woke the world was white again, painted over with no sign of spring. And for a short while we all walked around feeling rather annoyed, until we recognized the futility of feeling irritated with a season, eh eh.

And so, we went back to embracing our old friend winter, whose snow drifts will be filling our water-tables this spring and keeping much needed moisture in the summer ground.  After that, we went back to walking in the woods, with the one member of Honey Grove who just can’t get enough of Winter’s beautiful company.

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Now, I must be off, for there are ducks and chickens that need to be fed and watered. And there is, I have heard, another snow storm coming.

With Great Gratitude for your Company,

Nao, Mark, Gus, Cohen and Katie and All at Honey Grove~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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