November Days~

November has come to Honey Grove.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd the long awaited rains have begun to come down,

to mist down,

and to pour down.


And there is great relief upon their arrival. Relief that is palpable, like a deep breath, like a sigh, like being held and rocked and soothed. One can lean into this season and rest. Yes, at last there is rest, and the sweet nourishment of stillness.


The quality of stillness that comes after movement, after the flurry of doing and making and building and planning. After the planting and digging and watering and weeding. After the pickling and freezing and jamming and preserving.


And each year, stillness comes to Honey Grove hand in hand with the rain. Coupled, they arrive at our doorstep, offering us the most exquisite pause. And if I were to reach deep down into my pocket of metaphors, I would say that this pause is like a kind of ceremonial blanket, marking the transition between seasons, and designed to cover the whole of Honey Grove. Beneath it, Honey Grove can rest. The bees tuck in, the gardens let down, the land turns in.


And on our wiser days, we accept this gift and we allow ourselves to be wrapped in the soft woolly warmth of this seasonal pause. Until, in our humanness, we get distracted by a fancy idea, and for a time, go running off here and there, seduced by another wild tangent of doing, convinced that busyness is better.

Gus on the other hand, can always accept the gift of stillness. According to him, “stillness is actually the greatest truth, and all of this hurrying about is not getting anybody anywhere.” This is usually followed by something about,  “there not being anywhere to go anyway.” And once his wisdom has been offered (in the form of unconditional canine companionship) he takes a long nap in the brassica patch, and leaves me fairly certain, that he is indeed, on to something.









And speaking of brassica’s, did we ever grow a lot of cabbage this year. Oh goodness me, never have I had so many cabbages in all my life, basketfuls came out of the garden, and we have made almost 20 litres of sauerkraut and kimchi combined (which is a staple part of every lunch here on Honey Grove). We are, as you might have guessed by now, great fans of fermentation.


According to Mark, the best thing about fermentation is that you only do a little bit and then the rest is bacterial alchemy, which requires little to no effort on the part of the human.


Yes, my good man, he appreciates those things in life that have some degree of effortlessness, and between him and Gus, I might just learn something yet, eh eh.  Of course, one can hardly say his bread is effortless, for this is one aspect of Honey Grove that is not on pause at all.


The fact is, Mark’s bakery has never been busier, he is now baking 96 loaves a week, which are sold on our farm here on Wednesday evenings between 4 and 6 pm, and in town, at the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market, on Saturdays between 9 am and 12:00 noon. So, if Wood-fire Sourdough Bread is what you are after, do come find us! If you come out to Honey Grove on Wednesdays, you can experience Mark’s delicious loaves coming straight out of the oven (which we have recently lit up with faerie lights, since the seasonal wheel has turned the late afternoon into darkness). Katie laughs heartily whenever she goes past the oven in the evenings, she says it looks like Mexico, with my bright selection of table clothes and the shimmering holiday lighting. ( I think she might be right).




Speaking of the beautiful Katie, she has also been busy, making incredible edibles as usual.


This weekend, she was at our local farmers market selling, Ciaccino Ripeno: A Sienese street food, like a stuffed focaccia, which traditionally contains prosciutto and mozzarella, but she made one with kale, garlic, cheese, olive oil and sea salt to celebrate the Honey Grove kale patch. She sold every last one of them too, for who can resist?


And when she is not making Italian street food, she is busy making cakes for eager
customers and cottage guests. I mean just look at this beautiful Russian honey cake for example, with chantilly cream and peach layers, and a salted caramel buttercream.


Oh! I mustn’t forget to tell you about Katie’s Boozy Irish Fruit Cake, which is made in our wood-fire oven. They go in, when Mark’s bread comes out and all that incredible woodfire heat bakes something else. Katie is taking orders for Christmas now, and so, if you are a fan or fruit cakes, I urge you, do not waste another second and order one now, you will not be disappointed. For more about Katie’s Cakes go here .

IMG_20151014_095744And whilst Katie makes cakes, and Mark bakes bread, and Gus and I pause in the brassica patch, Cohen is in the kitchen too. Last week, he was busy making an enormous batch of Membrillo: A Spanish quince paste served with cheese and his cured meat products.

IMG_20151012_171503Yes, November has come to Honey Grove and we are, each of us, finding our way into a winter rhythm, staying warm by the wood stove as the rains come down, and considering the possibility, of stillness.

With Overflowing Gratitude from the Honey Grove Hearth~ The smell of alder smoke permeating the wintry air and a slumbering hound by the fireside.

Thank you for your company,

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


Posted in Autumn, General, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

October At Honey Grove~



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.

2015-06-17 02.51.19

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?
















Enough garlic?

garlic dirty

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.


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.



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.


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


And celebrating their green goodness in my cupped hands.


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.


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.


Lots and lots of bread.


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.



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!


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.









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.




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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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~


Posted in Autumn, Day by Day, General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments