A New Year At Honey Grove~

Winter really came to Honey Grove this year.












For one full moon cycle we were under a blanket of whiteness here.












We eventually tired of it, the way one can with snow. Even the ducks began to look unimpressed after spending weeks sitting next to their frozen pond. They tried skating on it the first day it froze, but after realizing that skating is nothing like swimming, they chose to wait for the thaw, or at least that’s my sense.












Still though, for many weeks the snow was a sparkling novelty and a lovely backdrop for our guests. I swear that each time it turned a little more grey and a little less white, the faeries would come in the night to make it all pristine and sparkling again, so that upon waking, the world was made anew. Beneath the blankets of snow that covered the farm magical things were happening. Bees were buzzing snuggly in their hives, and below the frozen ground, you could be sure that seeds were incubating, dreaming of becoming abundant nectar-filled blooms.












As for Gus, he thought the snow was a gift just for him.












Something that we could conjure at will for his personal enjoyment, like his orange ball or raw bones. Every morning he would depart the porch in wild- rapture, barking thank you’s to us for creating such a snowy splendor.



















And I must confess that his delight in the whiteness, well, it was rather contagious, I almost wanted to take some of the credit for it.












Yes, Honey Grove was a soft white place for some time. When we were not preparing for guests we were shoveling walkways and rooftops. We were putting on winter boots and coats and heading out to shake trees and sweep off the poly-tunnel.  It has been a busy time. Many visitors came to the farm over the holiday season. They banged their snowy boots on the porch before coming in to warm themselves by the fire, with a cup of something sweet and warm.  I think sweet and warm is the way to get through winter actually.  And so, this is just what we have been doing as of late. Lucky for us, our dear friend Clare came by at Solstice and taught us how to make her famous raw chocolate.












Mark and I have become rather inspired by this new culinary adventure and raw chocolate has become an important and delicious part of our country life.












I am serious when I say important. It rekindles and restores and re-inspires in all the right ways.  We infused the first batch with cardamon and rose petals that we saved from summer. Later we began experimenting with ginger and orange, all sweetened with honey of course! The best and most wonderful sweetener in my humble opinion, but you’re not surprised.












Yes, these exotic flavours are a real marvel when you are snowed in at the end of a long country road. I don’t know how to explain it any better than that. It’s like sipping coffee when you are camping at the top of a faraway mountain.  Sometimes the best combinations of things are not always found in the same place, but their coming together is sheer alchemy.












And what are we doing when we are not eating chocolate?  Well, Mark has perfected his butter-making. And our friend Dan made him a mold with our very own Honey Grove logo. Homemade butter is a wonderful thing, it really is. I don’t think I ever knew that it could be so good. On Sunday mornings we enjoy a breakfast of farm fresh eggs and home-made bread and butter. We add to this roasted root vegetables from our summer garden, and oh how it satisfies. During the rest of the week we have hearty oatmeal breakfasts, which the chickens enjoy too. On cold wintry mornings the cluckies (as I now call our chicken flock) enjoy warm oatmeal mixed with fresh fruit and vegetables and marigold petals. They are happy hens indeed.












By now you must be wondering what-else we are doing aside from eating?  Lots I can assure you, but as I write this I am realizing that eating is such big part of our life here on the farm. Everything we do seems to revolve around it.  Every seed we plant and every weed we pull, every grain we sprinkle on the ground for our chickens to eat, and every  fence we put up to keep the rabbits out, is to support our consumption of homegrown food. Meal times have become rituals. They mark the day and the season. They represent the fruits of our labours and most of all they are infused with a kind of gratitude and thanksgiving that nourishes us as much as our food does.  Yesterday after my lunch, I sat with a cup of tea and flipped through a seed catalogue. As I digested my soup of winter-greens, I began planning this years garden. And so it never ends, the working and the eating and the gratitude that results.












Speaking of working, as soon as we waved goodbye to our last guests we turned our attention from bread-baking to fence fixing and 2013 on Honey Grove has officially begun. We have many fun projects ahead and we are both feeling ready for another wonderful year on this beautiful land. Most mornings, before we greet the day, we sit together looking out the living-room window, holding hot cups of tea, and we dream of all we want to create here. Our lists are long and inspired.
























But despite all the things to do, there is always time for walks on the beach, and if there isn’t time, we have grown wise enough to start making it.













And this morning, while I sipped my tea, the sun came out for the first time in a long while and I went out to see her.




























As her light crept in through the woods at the back of our property, I felt it enter my heart at the same time.  Standing there in my wooly shawl and my gumboots, I realized, that there is so much to be grateful for. I think our only hope is to allow our hearts to keep expanding, so that we can fully acknowledge the many blessings of this life.













Happy New Year To Each of You~ May this year come bearing the fruit of magic and possibility~

Nao, Mark, Gus and All at Honey Grove.

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On Reverence~

There was a time, in the not so distant past, that I believed I knew where my food came from. I  thought that because I grew up on a farm and that I witnessed the cycles of birth and death from a very young age, that I had some kind of privileged comprehension about what it means to “live on the land.”












Truth be told, I realize now how arrogant this assumption was. I thought that because I watched my father slaughter animals with his kind hands, in quick and reverent ways, that I must also inherently know something about what it means to take the life of another being to sustain one’s own. I thought that because I grew a garden, and that I went to the farmer’s market on Saturday’s to source local free-range organic meat, that I understood something about what it means to farm.












Over the past 48 hours, the only thing I know for sure with regard to this topic, is that the sacredness that is a result of taking the life of another being to sustain your own, cannot be put in the category of “thought.” For this experience belongs in the category of the profound. It belongs in a place of heartfelt reverence that surpasses any and all notions of “thinking.”

2 days ago, we took the lives of three of our precious male ducks and all that I “thought I knew” about “the cycles of life and death” dissolved. I held each one of our beautiful ducks through their passing.I wrapped each one tightly in a blanket and I whispered a prayer, while Mark and our dear friend James took their lives swiftly and lovingly. I can honestly say that it was a sacred act, and I believe with all of my being that such acts should be nothing less. I cannot imagine taking the life of a being in any other way.

I will also say that I cried hard, harder than I even knew I would, but it was the only way for me.  I had to let those tears come. I had to forget everything everybody else told me about “how I should be” in that moment, and I had to let myself feel.  All week I told myself I was going to be strong, but before I found myself in the actual moment, I thought that strong meant something else. It was not until I allowed those tears to come that I began to see that strong is not about holding it all together. Strong is not about being upright and without feeling. Strong, at least for me, in this moment, had to do with facing the honest truth of what was asking to be expressed, and allowing it. After my tears, I was able to hold each one my ducks with the calm and steady love required to honour their sacrifice.  And I did.  And they went.  And it was profound.  And the gratitude that I feel for their sacrifice cannot be properly articulated on this page.  And I do not know if I will grieve as much next time. The experienced farmers say, “it gets easier,” perhaps, but surely it will always be sacred, for this is the only way such a thing should be.

Before that day, before I found myself there holding my ducks in their death, I did not believe I could do it. For the past several months, I tried to convince Mark that we should keep all our ducks as pets…”and then what,” he said tenderly? “Do we buy our food from the farmer down the road?  What is the point of that,” he honestly asked me? “Is this not what we came here to do, to grow our own food and raise our own poultry and to give the animals on our land the best life possible?  And have our ducks not seemed happy bathing in their pond and digging for slugs? They have had a good life,” he whispered.













And as I stood in our kitchen, tears welling up in my eyes, I could feel the truth in Mark’s words, and I felt myself nodding in agreement that “yes, they have had a good life.” I recalled the summer afternoons I spent with them, feeding them kale and holding them in my arms.













And so, on the Winter Solstice (a sacred day for us here at Honey Grove) there will be a feast in honour of this good land. In honour of the ducks who gave their lives. In honour of our honest attempt at a homesteading life. In honour of our trials and tribulations, our joy and our pain. One of the ducks will be roasted and some lovely friends will be gathering to join us. We will raise our glasses to our ducks, to their good lives and to the lessons they have given us. Every part of their bodies will be used. The carcasses will be made into soup stock and Mark will render all that good fat for inspired french dishes.  I have kept the feathers for sacred art projects. The livers are being made into pate, and Gus has enjoyed a gizzard or two. Otherwise, it snowed at Honey Grove and it sparkles and crunches beneath our feet. It is a proper winter wonderland and we are all rather enchanted by it.  The cottage is full of guests, those who are  looking for a country Christmas. Yes, Honey Grove is alive with holiday charm.












There are gingerbread coming out of the oven.













And wreaths being made.













But mostly there is tremendous respect for cycles of life that bless this beautiful farm.  Which reminds me, on the day that I went to get the ducks for their departure, I found our first egg in the duck house.  The girls have been laying ever since. Such poetry as this, it leaves no room for anything but awe.













Holiday Blessings to All, and Thank You for being a part of our journey,

In Gratitude, Nao, Mark and All At Honey Grove~


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