Spring has Sprung!

It is official, spring has sprung on Honey Grove, and it happened, one day, about a week ago, when the crocuses came out.

And the nettles too.

Yep, just like that, the sun started shining, the flowers burst open and the bees started flying.

And, I have to say, that a blue sky filling with honey bees, is one of the happiest sights I know. On a bright warm afternoon, a few days ago, I managed to have a quick look inside our hives, and what I found, I can only describe as “A Beekeeper’s Spring Dream.” I found dry, sweet-smelling-hives, full of vibrant bees and lots of healthy brood. I found abundant honey stores and busy bees laden with pollen.

You can bet I did a dance of gratitude on that day. I sang my hearts-song to the bee gods.  If you would have come by Honey Grove that day, you would have found me on my knees giving thanks to all things big and small, seen and unseen. You would have seen me there, arms raised up to the graces that brought my bees through winter. There were thank you’s pouring out of me in infinite directions, spinning and twirling they were, riding on the wings of bees, sailing on the wind, flowing up through the pollen bearing branches- thank you, thank you, thank you. Later, when the rapture of gratitude was slightly subdued, I spent a peaceful time with my winged friends. I am hard-pressed to think of anything I like better than this.

The thing I have come to realize on the farm is that despite the fact that there is always something else I could be doing, making time to sit with the bees has become an enormous priority in my life.  And, I could go on and on about this, about my blissfulness with bees…but perhaps you are wondering, what else I’ve been up to aside from bee meditations and spontaneous spring songs in the bee-yard? oh heavens, where to begin…we have found ourselves in the midst of some all consuming spring busyness. We have been planting seedlings and transplanting seedlings. Our fingernails are filled with dirt again and no amount of scrubbing will change that.

There are seedlings on every window sill in our house and Mark has built me a special seedling shelf with an indoor growing light which is on 14 hours a day to encourage the seeds to grow.  And grow they do!

This year Mark is growing several exotic tomato varieties, some of the seeds have come all the way from Italy. (Yes, Italy seems like a very faraway and exotic place when you live in  Merville, at the end of a dirt road, on the edge of a wood! eh eh) You see he has plans for a true Italian tomato sauce that will cover his soon-to-be-brick-oven-pizzas, that is, just as soon as his brick oven is built.  But before we can build the brick oven, there are gardens to plant and more compost to dig in.

We have planted peas, chard, spinach and onions. Next week we will plant our potatoes, which are currently chitting on the window sill, in egg cartons, in the bakers nook. ( I just love that word “chitting,” a  good scrabble word don’t you think?)

Yes, speaking of egg cartons, they are not only filled with potatoes these days, but eggs too!

Yes, everybody is laying, the chickens and the ducks. Betty the Buff Orpington is even sitting on a dozen eggs (after having the first dozen stolen right from underneath her by two giant black ravens). Poor thing, she had only been sitting on her eggs for 24 hours before they were all stolen. I came home from town and caught the ravens in the act.  I looked up and saw one flying through the sky with a chicken egg in it’s mouth. Luckily, our dear Betty was unharmed and I had another dozen eggs to put under her straightaway, so hopefully, if all goes well, she might just hatch her babies yet. She has been sitting on these eggs for a week now.

Yesterday, we netted her outdoor pen so that she will not be disturbed by Raven’s again.

Oh, the dangers of Honey Grove, if it’s not ravens, it’s eagles, if not eagles, it’s dogs…and then, you must be wondering how Della Duck is doing?  Well, I am happy to report that Della is doing spectacularly well!  After 6 weeks in the house, complete with morning showers in our bathtub, she has moved back outside to live as a duck.

And despite how much joy she got from that morning shower in our house, it doesn’t quite compare to pond-side lounging in the good company of her duck friends.

I like to think that she misses us a little though. Whenever we call her name outside the fence she comes over and says hello, tail wagging and cooing sweetly, as if to say, thanks for the hospitality.

So there you have it, spring on Honey Grove!  It is a magical time indeed.

Here is wishing you a fertile and abundant spring, filled with the sparkling life-force of this season.


Nao, Mark and all at Honey Grove



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A New Smell












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

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