The Good Life~

When I was a little girl, my Oma would gather us together at meal times and in a thick german accent, she would say, “come now children, let’s make a prayer.”  And although we only ever said grace at Oma’s house, I still knew exactly what to do. I would sit there with eyes shut tight and hands folded, listening to every word between her and God.  Oma is making a prayer, I would think…and I would picture her in my mind’s eye, with needle and thread, sewing a prayer for God. I would imagine her doing this the way she sewed us aprons and cotton nighties, her words the thread that held it all together.  I saw her stitching something so beautiful together that even God must have been awed.  I will never forget grace at Oma’s house, those words that she put together to “make a prayer.” Those sacred words that floated up above that big oval table, in that farm kitchen.  Those words that seemed to infuse every morsel of food on our plates.  Homemade food infused with homemade prayers…her prayers were real, the way that bread made in your own kitchen is real.  They were real, the way that carrots are real, when you pull them right out of the earth and eat them standing in the garden. This morning I spoke to Oma on the phone.  We talked about raising ducks and making sauerkraut, about gingerbread and happiness, about the blessings of this good life.
















So this fine morning on Honey Grove, as the December sun rises over the farm, I am feeling gratitude for all of the goodness that this plot of earth offers us.  I feel gratitude for the healthy bodies we have. For the strong muscle and bone required to do the work that is asking to be done.  I feel gratitude for our beautiful community of good-hearted friends and neighbors that offer their wisdom and support. I feel gratitude for the abundance that our garden has offered us this past year, and is still offering us!












These days on Honey Grove we are enjoying the fruits of our labours. We are dipping into pots of jams and honeys on rainy afternoons. We spoon the sweetness of summer onto Mark’s homemade bread and butter ( yes, he makes butter now too). We pour ourselves steaming cups of tea while the rains pour down and the sky turns dark by 4’o clock and we toast to work we have done.
















The flowers that we dried in summer hang from the ceiling and flop out of baskets in their jolly way, still offering a bit of July’s charm in December. I keep thinking to make them into arrangements, but I must admit they look so beautiful as they are it’s hard to do anything but admire them.












We are organizing our cupboards and lining our shelves with glass jars of bulk foods.








We are cracking into baskets of nuts brought to us by my uncle, from his beautiful and inspiring farm down island.












We are melting and straining beeswax on the woodstove in preparation for candle making.












We are going for long walks, and we spent November’s walks looking for wild mushrooms. We got rather inspired after taking a course down the road on harvesting edible mushrooms.












The woods here are full of delicious toadstools, if you know what you are looking for, and so we have begun to learn…luckily our good friend Neil has been kind enough to offer his wisdom and contagious enthusiasm in this department.  Thanks Neil!












Otherwise, when the darkness comes too early in the day, and we really long for spring, we can always go and visit the narcissus bulbs on the windowsill that should be blooming for Solstice.












And so, I dedicate this post to all the blessings and to my Oma Brown.
















In Gratitude,

Nao and Mark and Gus~

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November On Honey Grove

If Bob Dylan sang, “the rooster crows at the break of dawn, look out your window and I’ll be gone,” than The Honey Grove version goes like this: “the rooster crows at the break of dawn, look out your window, cause you’ll hear Ron….don’t think twice it’s alright.”  Yes, good ol’Ron continues to greet the new day with an enthusiastic cock-a-doodle-doo that wakes us from our dream-filled sleeps and makes us feel like real proper farmers. And so, the day begins with a sense of importance if nothing else, eh eh. This is followed by a search for the warmest and wooliest socks we own and a half-asleep walk down the stairs to get the home fires’ burning.












If all goes well, the fire is lit and the tea is brewing within 15 minutes. Soon there is oatmeal bubbling away on the stovetop and a plan for the unfolding day.  This week the winds stopped blowing and all was still. The ground was saturated  from all the rain we have had, and one look at the weather report had both of us thinking that it was time to burn that giant pile of sticks and stumps in the lower field (a job we’ve been dreading for a very long time). However, despite our lack of enthusiasm, we went ahead anyway ( as we sometimes do on the farm) and I have got to tell you, we were surprised at how much fun we had. Of course we couldn’t very well burn the damn thing without climbing it first!  And there was also a little posing on the top, after an inspired “modern-dance-on-the-burn-pile” that I did for the birds…and I think Mark and Gus may have witnessed it too, oops.
















As for Gus, he enjoyed this job thoroughly, no hesitation on his part, absolutely none!  It involved sticks after-all, lots and lots of sticks. Sticks that we needed to move from one place to another place in order to keep the burn under control.  This might have been his dog-dream-job.  And so, the three of us moved that big pile, stick by stick. I would even say that we fell into a lovely rhythm with it, and when the flames got really high, we took breaks to sip spearmint-nettle tea by the fireside, and to munch on cheese and rice crackers.












After three days, that ominous pile that once stood 10 feet tall, was completely gone, with the exception of the odd stump that was simply too wet to burn.  It was a most satisfying feeling and we high-five’d one another before we packed our tools away.












Over the winter we plan to mulch this area and add more compost so that we can plant a giant patch of strawberries here in the spring. But for now, there are other things to attend to, like gathering fallen leaves to make leaf mold potting mix. If you came by Honey Grove on a sunny day, you might find Gus and I pushing a wheel barrow up and down the driveway, gathering leaves from the forest floor to pile high back at the compost.












And on the days when the rains pour down, we turn our attention to indoor tasks.  Last week we made a nourishing salve from calendula petals steeped in olive oil, we added to this coconut oil and rose petals and lavender and honey and beeswax…and mmmhmmm












The smells coming from our kitchen were sweet and wonderful on that day. Since then we have been using our salves on all matter of things: chapped lips, cracked hands, dry dog paws…








Otherwise we are still making soup. This week it was leek and potato, Honey Grove grown of course.












And while I made the soup, Mark was busy making quince jelly from a bucket of quince fruit some lovely friends gave to us. We have been so blessed with abundant food this year, it still astonishes us. Not to mention that the garden is still producing! There are still salads being made, would you believe?












And turnips being roasted.












And carrots being picked.
















And beets being made into borscht and smoothies and all matter of goodness.













And I have to say that pulling food out of the garden in mid November is like opening a birthday present. It brings such happiness and surprising delight, there is a little bit of “yeeehaawww” in there too.












The chickens think so too. Beet tops are among their favorite snacks.













So that’s it folks, the Honey Grove update, over and out. May it find you in the midst of an exquisite day~

Wintry Blessings, from a roaring fire, on a stormy night~

Nao, Mark and Gus

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