October At Honey Grove~

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October, the month when homesteaders everywhere take stock. Now is the time when you find yourself in your root cellar counting sacks of potatoes and jars of tomatoes. This is the moment when you open the freezer, just to see how many berries you actually managed to freeze, amongst all of that July eating you did.

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Now is the time when you look upon your woodpile, and wonder, can we really keep the home-fires burning all winter long? And before you admire your hard-work, before you appreciate your dedicated efforts and pat yourself on the back, the first question that arises is, did we do enough? Did we chop enough wood and grow enough potatoes?

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Enough garlic?

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Did we preserve enough pickles, make enough jam, dry enough herbs? And when no answer comes (because one never seems to) you simply have to be okay with what you did, and you have to say to yourself, we did what we could, and, it is enough.

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And later that evening, when you are sipping your tea and warming yourself by the wood-stove, you have to feel grateful that you live in a place where there are grocery stores just down the way that will have potatoes for you to buy, when your own supply runs out. And then you marvel at the incredible strength of those who do not have this option. Because there are still places in the world where ‘doing enough’ has a very different meaning. And suddenly you recognize what a privileged life you do live, and you find yourself on your knees with gratitude for all that you have, and there is nothing left to want or need, except the same for every soul living on this good earth, and then you utter a silent prayer: Let there be enough for everyone, everywhere, always.

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Yes, this good earth, she is still offering us so much bounty, even as the days shorten and the nights lengthen and there is a chill in the morning air, the garden is still growing. And every evening when I am down in the garden, collecting greens for our dinner, I find myself singing my gratitude to this land.

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Whispering my thank you’s to the nasturtium and the lettuce leaves.

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And celebrating their green goodness in my cupped hands.

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And while I am picking greens and giving thanks to the stemmed and petaled ones, Mark and Cohen are out in the forest collecting basketfuls of chanterelles.

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And when Mark is not wandering through the deep woods alongside Cohen, with a basket full of mushrooms and our trusty hound, he is baking bread.

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Lots and lots of bread.

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Bread that he is loading into the car and taking to the local markets, or selling directly from his oven on the farm on Friday afternoons, to the local people and their horses.

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And the people appear to be falling rather in love with his bread, for they are coming up to him in the most random of places (bank line ups and hiking trails) and saying things like, “Oh You’re That Amazing Bread Guy.” ( eh eh). And each time it happens, I blush and feel my heart swell with pride. My good man, “The Amazing Bread Guy.”

And while Mark and his bread are getting more amazing, Katie has been busy making Nocino. And for those of you who have been following us along here, you will remember that Nocino is an Italian aperitif made from green walnuts, which Katie and I have been steeping in the summer-sun since June.  And, now that the sun is retiring in the autumn sky, the steeping is complete and it is time to bottle. And so bottle we did!

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And for those of you who don’t know, Katie is a food and drink alchemist, and working under her tutelage is really quite an honour.

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One can just gaze upon these bottles and feel their magical properties. According to Katie they will be ready to drink by Christmas, but will only get better with age. Oh and speaking of magical elixirs, my dear friend Jessie and I spent a beautiful afternoon making Rosehip Honey Syrup~ which is equal parts Rosehips to Honey Grove Honey, distilled into a sweet and nourishing immune tonic for the winter months.

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And I must admit that even the process of making it was a nourishing experience, gathering plump rosehips, on a sunny morning by the sea side with our dog friends.

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For winter is coming, and nourishment will be essential in the cold months to come. Of course you would not know it (that winter is coming) for there are flowers still blooming.

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And bouquets being made and sold alongside Mark’s bread on Fridays.

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And while some plants continue to flower, others have turned back into seeds.

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Seeds, beautiful seeds.

IMG_20150930_160006Still though, not every flower is a seed just yet, and so long as there are still some flowers, our blessed bees are still flying.

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For like me, they are not sure when to stop either, or when it is enough? Of course, whenever I find myself in doubt (which is often) I just go and find my dearest Dog Friend, and he offers me his secret of the universe, which has something to do with “acceptance of all that is, and not to worry,” and well, once I hear it, I can rest, for the moment at least.

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And now, from the edge of this autumnal fir-wood, I bid you farewell, for there is a tree full of apples that is calling my name, and a local bear, who might have already got there before me.

Blessings From The Honey Grove Harvest,

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

 

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Autumn Days~

And so it is, that Autumn has once again found her way up the wooded path, to Honey Grove.

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And everything, since her arrival, appears to be more golden.

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More red.

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More yellow.

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And even on the greyest of days, there appears to be some sun shining, for there are sunflowers as tall as trees, with bright yellow suns at the end of every branch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Oh yellow, what is it about yellow? It is, I am sure, the colour of happiness.

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And if yellow is the colour of happiness, than I am surrounded here on Honey Grove. Gosh, I shall have to remember this the next time I am feeling blue. Thank goodness for gardens.

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Sometimes, I go through the garden gate just to stop and stare at the beauty there.

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Only later, I wonder why I did not bring a basket with me. Something big enough to hold the gathered greens.

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And cabbages.

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And turnips too.

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And winter carrots.

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But for now, we still have autumn fruiting raspberries.

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And pears and apples, harvested just days ago, by Cohen and Katie.

IMG_20150913_153615Yes, apples, such a lot of apples.

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Some are now becoming cider, while others are drying in the dehydrator; their perfume infusing the kitchen and the garden beyond. The rest of them, the very luckiest of apples, have been turned into Katie’s amazing apple pie, for Katie is a master pie maker like no other.

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Come to think of it, she is a master of many things. She is also pretty incredible with a chainsaw.

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Which is a darn good thing, for while she and Mark saw, Cohen chops and I stack, and together we are getting it done, getting ready for winter.

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For winter is coming, and even if we are not quite ready, at least the bees are.

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Their hives are full to the brim with summer’s honey. I suppose though, that we have done our version of this too, preserving summer’s abundance in the way of food and medicine. The cellar is full and there are herbs now hanging from every spare rafter in this little house. Cohen calls my hanging herbals “Taxidermy for Vegetarians ” (and everyone laughs heartily).

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And while the herbs are drying, and Katie is making pies, Mark, is still baking.

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This rural community of ours has been so supportive of his bread. People are coming all the way to Honey Grove, on Friday afternoons, to buy his bread, or to find him at our local markets, and we are overflowing with gratitude for their support. Thank You Everyone. Thank You. Thank You.

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Of course, there is nothing like homemade-woodfire-sourdough-bread to put the world right. And fresh bread, combined with Gus’s secret of the universe (which is, incase you have forgotten, not to worry) well, it just makes everything okay. I am convinced that the smell of fresh bread alone, has the power to change the world.  Just ask Gus.

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And now, I bid you farewell, for the bread is coming out of the oven this very minute, and it seems that my assistance is required.

May this find you in the midst of a beautiful day.

Until Soon,

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

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