Spring’s Tango


Sitting here this morning, yerba mate in hand, the sun already high in the sky, I have to work to stay sitting at this computer. This to me, being desk-bound that is, is much harder than picking stones or pulling weeds. I would rather sift through piles of rocky earth than unopened official looking letters. I would rather attend to cleaning chicken coops than paying bills. And despite my best intentions to get the paperwork done and neatly filed, it has suddenly occurred to me that I have not sat down to blog in ages. And well, such a lot has been unfolding here on Honey Grove, I think it is high time for an update. On this note, the paperwork has been relegated to the back of the desk for a cloudier less inspiring day, and as you can clearly see, a blog has begun! (So has spring by the way, and it has not only begun, but it is well and truly here, and steamrolling along I might add.)

Yes, my daffodil-pondering-days are over for the time being. The fullness of this season has swept us into the whirl of her dance routine. We are whirling along with not a moment to think or wonder or worry. We are simply dancing the dance of spring. The symphony of the season is playing an orchestral chorus that moves us onward. Honey Grove is our ballroom, the plants and animals our dance partners. Our feet are moving all on their own, our hands following their lead, pushing wheel barrows and turning compost. The steps are all there, as I imagine they have been for millennia, since people first began tilling soil and planting seeds. I believe, in my heart of hearts, that we know this dance, we all do. Perhaps it is a dance that is not so much learned, as it is remembered, it is there in our bones, a part of the fabric of who we are.  And as you well know, the only thing to do when you are dancing, is to surrender to the energy of that moment, to give yourself to whatever is unfolding. In our case, here at Honey Grove, we are giving ourselves fully to the madness and the marvel of Spring’s Tango. Because, let me tell ya, the tasks are non-stop. There is no end in sight, nope, not until next winter, eh eh, to complete one task is to begin another, and so, we just keep going, riding the energy of this magnicant season, pausing for tea and food and sleep.

If I were to describe this dance to you in more detail, I would describe planting rows and rows of flowers.

Over 800 square feet of cut flowers and bee food have been planted. Gus helped too, he is the official keeper of the flower seeds. It is an important job and he takes it very seriously. And while some flowers have been planted in straight lines, others have been scattered in a circular mandala. Our circle has been divided into 8 parts and seeded by colour. By July we will have a flowering mandala filled with bee friendly flowers. I can hardly think of a more beautiful sight!

Speaking of bees, they are also doing their version of the spring tango, and if we seem busy to you, you should see what they are up to!  The dandelions are blooming and the bees are buzzing.

Two days ago we split several colonies on the verge of swarming. Lucky for us, a friend from down the road stopped by just as we were on our way to the apiary. Before he knew what was happening, we had him suited-up and working with us in the beeyard.  You see, when it comes to finding Queens in order to split hives, 3 pairs of eyes are far better than two. Thanks for your help Adam, you are the best!

As you can see finding Queens on frames with this many bees can be a bit tricky. I must say that we have some amazing Queens in our hives at the moment. Below is a photograph of a beautiful frame of brood (the covered cells in the middle of the frame are all babies bees about to hatch).  This is an exceptional laying pattern, our Queen, bless her, did not miss a single cell, incredible.

So that is the bee news, good healthy happy bee news! You might be wondering what else is keeping us so busy…or should I say Mark so busy. Mark has been spending every moment he has on the construction of his outdoor wood-fire brick oven. He is very inspired and once he has completed it, he intends to write a whole blog post dedicated to it’s construction.  In the meantime I will give you a sneak preview. He began by digging a very wide and very square hole in the earth. Some of the stones were too big for him to move by hand and so our car was involved…I came up from the garden to find this going on.

But, the car alone was not quite enough, there was physical labour involved too!

Once all the stones were removed and the ground was smoothed over, the preparations for the concrete were made.

And after the concrete had dried some, it looked like this.

And once it had dried a little more, you could see Mark’s fancy work.

After a day or two, Mark started to build upon his foundation, and this last photo you see is how it currently appears.

There will be more on this project in our next blog. In the meantime, the garden is growing.

And so are the tomatoes. I swear I can seem them grow by the hour.

There are also trays of seedlings still waiting to be planted out, waiting for warmer nights, soon I tell them, soon.

Yes, everything is in a state of becoming, including the 10 eggs that Arabella duck is sitting on! We should have ducklings in a couple of weeks and the thought alone makes me giddy!

Whatelese, well the cottage has been full of lovely guests as of late. Guests who delight in bees and farm life as much as we do. On that note, our Honey Tastings have officially begun.

We are now offering our “Around the World Honey Tasting.”  This includes sampling honey from every continent, including the continent of Honey Grove, eh eh.

Beeyard tours are happening too!  To be honest, I think we love doing them as much as the guests.  Speaking of guests, Gus has recently fallen in Love with Victoria, our new four year-old friend from Vancouver.

Yes, love is in the air!  I think we are both feeling totally in Love with our blooming Honey Grove in this Magical Season.  Sometimes, after a long day, we still have the energy to dance around our beehives. This photo was taken, one hilarious evening last week, with old friends who came to stay. ha Ha!

The thing is, despite all the hard-work, there always time for a pint of Mark’s Aged Belgian Trippel, and if there isn’t time, we now know we have to make it.

So there you have it. Honey Grove in the full swing of the dance called Spring. Here I go, back to work.

Blessings and Gratitude,

Nao, Mark, Gus and All at Honey Grove~







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The Presence of Spring


Every year, when spring comes, the lens through which I view the world, becomes what was when I was a child. It is as though I simply take off my adult lens and retire it for a short while. I am hardly aware that I do this all, except  at the moment it transpires when I find myself seeing the world with a heightened sense of awareness, undistracted and available to whatever is unfolding.  As I step into the month of April, my bare and sock-less winter feet carefully exploring the pebbly ground, their tenderness urging me on and begging me to stop all at once, I feel like I am experiencing all things for the first time. Some days I am simply appreciating the greenness of green, as I watch the alders send their budding leaves high into the-up-above world. I am putting my nose in daffodils as far as I can, just because I can. I am holding their perfect trumpeted heads in my hands, and in my own secret and unexplainable way, I am celebrating yellowness.  From a stretched out place on the grass, between bent-over planting sessions in the garden, I am watching the clouds in the sky above, and I am aware that my breathing is different.

I have read, in wonderfully loved books with folded-down-corners, that Tibetan Buddhists believe that our fundamental state of mind is one of pure openness. The wise ones of this old tradition describe the natural human state as: one of basic freedom which exists without judgement, without the need to categorize or locate. And, for me, on certain spring days, when I drop my adult lens, and I rest my judging mind, because the yellow of a daffodil, against a backdrop of spring green, begs for nothing more and nothing less, well, something happens, and, I can only describe what occurs, as presence.

Now, before I go any further, I need to let you know, that I am not someone with much experience in this department, that is, moving through life presently, awake to the moment, free of the chatter of mind.  Nope, I am one who still has a great deal to learn, as I sit on my meditation cushion day after day, making grocery lists, while simultaneously counting how many eggs our chickens have laid over the past week, and when I should split my beehives. Despite my solid efforts and my keen interest in becoming a more conscious humanbeing, I have a long long way to go, and, I am okay with this. ( Now, I am laughing my head off, because all my blogs inevitably end up this way, I set out to report Honey Grove Happenings, and I end up sharing my human quest for the awakened mind, forgive me).

So, Spring, it’s here! And Honey Grove is aglow with this new season. My dear friend Jessie recently called Honey Grove an “Easter Postcard,” (a place where bunnies hop, and flowers bloom, and fat ducks chase one another around their little pond).  All of this, whilst I look adoringly at flowers and Gus lolls about in the sun next to Mark, who sips a craft brew after a long day… mmhmmm, it is indeed, an Easter postcard.

AND, since we are rolling with the theme of non-judgement, since we are sitting on the platform which the awakened ones call, the polarity of oneness, then, I must also tell you, that not every day is an “easter postcard among the daffodils.” We are also shoveling truck loads of composted steer manure.

And we are digging piles of compost into the veg plot, so we can plant our potatoes.

We are working long hours, with chapped hands and sore backs, but so far, it’s all worth it and we remain dedicated to our vision. We have also begun building our brick oven “together” (and, like all married people working together on a creative project, we are having some good and proper disagreements. Ours tend to stem from  my “take a guess style” of measurement which doesn’t really go with Mark’s more accurate way, but never mind about that).  It’s a good thing that there is always time for tea! I believe it was Mark’s good Mom, who first shared this brilliant wisdom with me.  Many years ago she said, “no matter what the circumstance Nao, happy or sad, just put the kettle on.” ( or something wonderfully British like that. Thank You Pam, love you).

When we are not working in the garden, we are scrubbing bathrooms in the cottage and airing linens and baking bread and preparing for the arrival of more guests. I like to call this, “a little bit of all of it. Speaking of guests. Wow, have we ever had the most wonderful guests this past while! We even had a guest staying with us on the Easter Weekend, who, would you believe, left the comfort of his reclining holiday chair, to come down to the lower field to help us work. I know, I am still in disbelief, and all the while he shoveled steer manure onto the base of our orchard trees, he thanked us for the opportunity, as he shares our dream of a sustainable life (Thank You Ryota, we are so grateful for your help).  Meanwhile, other lovely guests came down to the garden to visit us while we worked.

They walked with us around our property on a sunny afternoon, while we shared our vision. They said the kindest and most heartfelt things about all our hard-work and our plans, and those words, well, they got right inside us. There is something about having someone you do not even know believe in you, it has a profound effect. As for Gus, he is enjoying the company of the guests too. He now has a new title, given to him by a lovely pair of people visiting us from the Yukon, they have named him The Ambassador of Honey Grove, a title which he appears to be taking quite seriously. I believe he is becoming more distinguished by the day.

Otherwise, the bees have found the first dandelions!

And we are eating salads from the greenhouse!

Oh, The Presence of Spring, what a blessing,

May good things be growing in your lives and your gardens~

Thanks for being out there and believing in us, it helps, it really really does.

Blessings and  Gratitude,

Nao, Mark, Gus and All at Honey Grove


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