Yesterday, while pulling weeds from in between rows of garlic, I noticed that the smell in the air was different. I am quite certain that Gus noticed it too, as he began to bark a song for no apparent reason, and this smell that I speak of, it is just the sort of smell that might cause such a thing. If you were to ask me what this smell was, I would probably say that ” it contained the essence of spring, a certain sweetness that rises up from damp earth and climbs into the sky on bird song.” It was the sort of smell that can lift the heaviest of moods. I have seen it turn the corners of mouths upward and cause unexplained whistling, or in Gus’s case, barking. It can make dogs wag enthusiastic tails and cause cats to stretch their bums upward toward the sun. It can urge chickens to lay more eggs, and invite primroses to burst into flower. I think you know this smell I mean. It is the kind of smell that comes in on a “Mary Poppins Wind,” and you just know that everything is going to change. Here on Honey Grove, it has roused us from our sleepy wintery ways. We have put on our rubber boots and overalls to head outside with wheelbarrows full of tools. We have made several lists and tried in vain to number things in sensible priority, but this is a difficult thing to do, when inspiration is blurring one’s eyes with feverish enthusiasm and a thousand sparkling plans. Still though, it’s not a terrible problem to have. And then, what is it about that first day in the garden that puts the whole world right?
There is a certain quality of satisfaction that seeps into the the bones with every weed pulled and seed planted, with every brick laid and nail hammered. Speaking of hammering nails, we have been doing plenty of that too. This week has been dedicated to restoring an old chicken coop to accommodate our growing flock of feathered ones.
Last year, we lost 8 baby ducklings to a mink in this same coop, and so a good deal of time was taken to replace the floor. Mark did a fine job in the department of “chicken coop repair,” while I cheered him on, and took a photograph of him working.
Tell you the truth, I don’t know if I ever realized how much of our time on Honey Grove is spent “repairing” things. The percentage of time we spend on up-keep far outweighs that which we spend working on new projects, but I suppose this is the way it is on a farm. I am sure those who have been farming for decades know this very well. In my mind’s eye I can see them standing there now, wise and seasoned farmers, leaning on their pitchforks, shaking their heads at my “grasshopper” recognition of the obvious. Yes, repairs are what we do here, whether it is a fence or a building, a beehive or a roof, there is always something that needs our attention. Recently, it was our duck fence that needed repair. 10 days ago our neighbors dog came over, made her way into the duck pen, and took one of our beloved ducks. I happened to be outside at the time which is the only reason I was able to save our Della Duck. I found her in the woods near the pen, being eaten alive, it was an awful sight. However, it seems that I arrived on the scene in the nick of time, and although Della was severely wounded, I am happy to report that she is making an incredible recovery. A trip to the local farm vet revealed that nothing was broken, and that the main concern was infection. And so, diligent application of saline water and antibiotic ointment twice daily has her healing beautifully. Della lives in the house with us at the moment, on a bed of straw, in an child’s swimming pool.
She spends her days eating fresh worms that I dig out of the compost and munching on kale. Mark plays albums to her on his old turn table and we visit her throughout the day, she is becoming a rather sophisticated duck, listening to Miles Davis. As for the neighbors dog, her responsible owners have built her a fenced area, so that she may no longer visit our property. Della will not be ready to go back outside for another week yet, but I think she is rather enjoying her time in the house. Mark makes jokes about how it won’t be long before she starts dressing up in my hats and shawls. He is concerned that when she heads back outside to live as a duck, it might be difficult for her. Why he is not concerned that I might have a difficult time returning to the house each day after spending the afternoon with the ducks I am not so sure. I guess he thinks I have got what it takes to walk in both worlds. Well, it’s good to know I have married a man who believes in me. eh eh.
Otherwise, the bees are beginning to stir. On sunny days they come out of their hives a little bit. I spent yesterday afternoon in their sweet company, offering prayers for a healthy and abundant new year, pouring libations of honey-water and milk and rose petals on the ground of the bee-yard to consecrate the earth in honour of, and in reverence for, our blessed bees.
And so, there you have it. Honey Grove stepping into another season, ready to embrace the magic of this coming year.
In gratitude for your company and constant encouragement (which helps, it really does!)
Nao, Mark, Gus and All at Honey Grove