January 2011

Earlier this week, Honeydew and I trekked to Missoula to present “our story” to a University of Montana Law School class that will be using Glacier County Honey Company as their real-world hypothetical in the land of business transactions.  I believe the general idea of this partnership is to help the law students see that the study of business transactions will be of assistance to both those lawyers who will advise mega-corporations like Coca-Cola, and to those lawyers who will hold the hands and wipe the brows of teeny tiny corporations like the Glacier County Honey Co.  So, pretty much, all lawyers.  I wish the business transactions course I took in law school had included such a hypothetical.  Perhaps then I wouldn’t have needed so much hand holding when Honeydew and I set up our own business!

On the other side of the partnership, Honeydew and I will gain the benefit of our company’s strengths and weaknesses being assessed by about 80 law students possessing the distance from Glacier County Honey Company, and beekeeping/small business in general, necessary to making reasonable assessments about our business.  We’ll probably pick up some new blog readers and honey devotees along the way, and we’ll certainly get a sense of satisfaction in contributing to our state’s lone legal studies program, though perhaps that satisfaction will run deeper for me than for Honeydew.

As I stood at the bottom of the stadium-style lecture hall, shifting my growing weight from one monogrammed cowboy boot to the other, I considered for a moment all that had brought me to this very odd moment – attempting to engage a lecture hall of students enrolled in the very same class that brought me my lowest grade in law school, not because it was so difficult, but because I found it so incredibly dull.  And so I took a deep breath and resolved to inject some enthusiasm into whatever it was I was about to say about our company.

And as I began to speak, ever so ineloquently, I’m sure, I remembered that it’s never hard to speak with conviction about what you love, what you believe in, and what fascinates you, even though you may not be sure of all the answers.

I’ve thanked Honeydew before for introducing me to the beekeeping biz – I hope he also knows how much I appreciate his unflagging encouragement of my fascination with his winged ladies.  Not every husband would be willing to let his wife lead a presentation on which he is the acknowledged expert.  I suppose it goes without saying, but I will anyway, because he reads my blog religiously when he is in California, that I am very lucky that he treats me like the Queen Bee.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

After my post celebrating a year of fairly consistent blogging, I am thwarted.  Stumped.  Bamboozled.  Stymied.

For once in my life, I have nothing to say.

And so I leave you with a glance into my oldest love, my backyard, Glacier National Park:

May you be more inspired than I currently am.

2011.  Photo credit to Brother Dear.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

One year ago today, I challenged myself to get this blog going – and to keep it going.  I wrote that I hoped this blog would make me into a writer.

One year later, I wouldn’t say that the blog has turned me into a writer – some days are more writer-ly than others – but it has been an amazing exercise in discipline and an excellent near-daily reminder of my commitment to all things related to the Glacier County Honey Company.

A lot has happened.  I survived my first winter near Babb, all by myself, without Honeydew.  I did not end up in Betty Ford.  I did not put my car into the ditch in a manner in which it could not be extricated in one piece.  I did not know how self-reliant that experience would make me feel.  And I am glad to now know about February’s pink beauty, March’s hopeful sunshine, and April’s doldrums.  That I will be too pregnant to fly and escape near Babb in April is my only regret about It’ll’s expected arrival!

Summer came, and with it, more change than I could have ever dreamed.  Brother Dear graduated from law school and moved back to Montana.  My parents sold the farm I grew up on and moved to Montana.  Honeydew and I naively set about building the Warehome, expecting to receive our financing and break ground on June 1, wrap the project in August, and move in together by Labor Day.   That didn’t happen.

But we still climbed mountains, and celebrated Hillstock, and sank our teeth into fruit procured from the farmer’s market.

Fall came.  We kept building the Warehome.  We extracted the best honey you’ve never tasted.  I threw up a lot.  Not from the honey, from It’ll.

Winter came.  We finally moved into the Warehome and celebrated our first Christmas, under the world’s largest indoor tree.  We stood out in the frigid, platinum moonlight, and welcomed the New Year, with old friends and new by our sides.

I can’t wait to see what all the coming year holds, and if I’ll be able to capture it in this blog.

As always, thank you for reading.

And, in case you missed them, here are the 10 most read posts for the past year – I need to thank our wonderful guest bloggers, too, especially in light of the fact that they have captured so many of the top 10 votes!

Letter to C. Street (Layla Jane)

Six Years

On Grief

Who You’d Be Today (Mom)

Beer Olympics (Pseudo Sista)

I’m Rocking My Baby, and Babies Don’t Keep

On Love, Money, and Shipping Bees


The Many Faces of Honeydew

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning, A Very Good Place to Start

2011. Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

Here’s what you did in the last year, in case you’re getting foggy in your old age:

Spent three days in the negative 20 temps chopping enough wood to get me through the winter, while you’re down in California.  Thank you.

Put together It’ll’s crib.

Brushed up on your skeet shooting skills.  And later in the year, won the standing portion of the Babb Turkey Shoot!

Skillfully tended to our honeybees, producing the best honey you’ve never tasted in the tanks, and beer and milk in the refrigerator.

Took a day off to go hiking with me.  We’re on top of Otokomi, here.

Shot the middle fork of the Flathead in an inflatable kayak.  Better you than me!

Filled the freezer while out gallivanting with your best friend, Dustin.

Taught me how to run cows with a 4wheeler.  Now, that is fun!

Taught Roy how to ride … doggyback?

Spoiled Roy.

Oh yeah, and built that ginormous warehome I’m typing this from.  Good work, honey.

I’m so glad you were born.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Sanford’s day:

Once you spend some time wintering in Montana, you learn how important it can be to abandon plans.  Out here (up here?) our plans revolve, generally to a significant degree, around the weather…and for a little while now the weather has stunk.  Or maybe NOAA has stunk at predicting it.  Either way, it’s been cloudy and snowing and cold and then cloudy and less cold and raining.  RAINING.  Rain is the opposite of oysters, you never see it in months with an R (okay except April, but I really don’t want to think about April).  Rain and clouds and seasonal-affective disorder are for the west side, for the Whitefishians and their ski hills and single girls and shopping centers and other assorted examples of nonsense.  Babb is supposed to be sunny and clear.  Yes, the wind will be blowing 20-120mph but that doesn’t totally eliminate the most awe inspiring part of living in the mountains:  being able to see them.

Today was different.  NOAA predicted more snow and clouds and misery…but they were wrong!  In a good way, for once!  It was gorgeous all day, and then the wind even dialed itself down to zero for the afternoon.  I had plans for the day.  I abandoned them.

I set off for St. Mary, where I worked for the Johnson family for six years as a prep cook, cook, and maintenance man (www.johnsonsofstmary.com).  I drove by “The Lodge” in St. Mary, but didn’t stop for drinks as it seemed rather inaccessible.

I drove across the flats toward the besieged and boarded-up visitor’s center.

I made it to the end of the line to discover that nobody had been back that way in a while.

I head back towards St. Mary and noted some fabulous signs.

(Drifting snow may close road at any time)

Not low?  Really?

I drove through the bustling burg of St. Mary and stopped to look back down Main Street.

I headed down the snow covered “back road” and soaked in the view from the KOA bridge.

The day was still young, the skies still blue, and the sun as warm and comforting as it can be at 22 degrees.  I headed for Many Glacier, herding some deer along the way.

I reached yet another “end of the road” and trekked up towards Sherburne Dam.

The one set of tracks besides my own stopped here, but I clambered over the drifts to the park entrance.

I found more amusing signs.  The upper left indicates that you can’t discharge a firearm.  The bottom right is blacked out, but once declared the illegality of firearms in general, back before the wild Credit Card + Guns in Parks bill.  Now it seems that you can possess a gun, just not fire it?  That’s fine, grizzlies are terrified of the mere sight of a pea shooter.

I paused and watched the snow drift about the frozen surface of Sherburne Reservoir.  The mountains looked…well here, this is what they looked like.

I saw the same herd of deer on the way out.

After spending my afternoon rambling about a couple of the most gorgeous spots on earth, I decided to head back to THE most gorgeous spot on earth.

You can’t beat that.

Yesterday, I gave you a peek at what Brother Dear was up to under that blazing Glacier County sun.  I tend to leave the plowing and shuffling of cars to him.  This is by mutual agreement – were I to help, he would simply spend his days digging me out of whatever ditch I’d gotten myself into.

So I went for an inspection of the back 40 yesterday.  I drank in the silence and cornflower blue skies and sparkle of the fluffy snow.  I listened to my heart beating loudly in my ears, and tried to remind myself that it’s pumping for two these days, that I am not suddenly terribly out of shape and unable to survey my own backyard.  I sucked in deep breaths as I struggled through the hip deep snow, and heard ice crystals hit my bronchial tubes.  And I rejoiced that It’ll will grow up under this impossibly huge sky, even though s/he will more than likely take said sky completely for granted.

But oh, how I hope not:

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

The sun is shining over Glacier County.  Brother Dear and I have been very productive, as a result.

Brother Dear cranked up the trusty John Deere and plowed the warehouse road out – again – for me.  We got another 6″ of snow here Monday night.

Then he decided that today was The Day to finally get the beloved convertible out of the garage/woodworking shop and into the storage bay of Warehouse #2, AKA the Warehome.

The convertible started right up and had no problems handling our snow covered roads.  Brother Dear decided it would be most appropriate to put the top down and soak in the sunshine on the drive from Hillhouse to the Warehome, which gave Harvey, our darling UPS driver, quite a pause when he passed Brother Dear out on West Shore Road.

What do we do near Babb, you ask?

Well, we stay easily amused, that’s for sure!

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

A surprise in the mail, one that should have smelled of salty, sunkissed shoulders, Schlitz beer, and tailgates, but was instead encased in the modern way, on a flash drive containing dozens of photos of my parents and, for simplicity’s sake, my godparents, in the years before we children were thought of.

Chas, my brother in all ways but blood, sent us the flash drive, a couple of Virginia lottery tickets, and a Hokies onesie for It’ll.  The flash drive contains enough priceless material to fill this blog for months to come, but I’ll start with this one:

My dad and his Very Best Friend, at Myrtle Beach, sometime in the late 70’s/early 80’s.

Nice legs, boys!

Chasbo, you’re the best.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Tomorrow, Honeydew leaves for California.

Although we talk a lot about the best honey you’ve never tasted, pollination services are an equally large part of the business of the Glacier County Honey Co.  We contract with almond growers in California to pollinate their crops – almonds are California’s #1 cash crop, and almonds are self-incompatible and need cross pollination with other almond varieties to be a financially viable agricultural product.  Honeybees are the preferred pollinators of almonds because they are … I can’t think of the word, but it essentially means that honeybees are single minded, focused pollinators.

When a bee leaves the hive and sees an almond bloom ready for pollination, then she will only pollinate that blossom and other almond blossoms during her foraging trip – she will not be distracted by dandelions or peaches or what-have-you.  Very Type A of honeybees, I think.  And very favorable for the almond grower, who is, after all, paying the beekeeper for almond pollination services, and doesn’t give a whit about the dandelions.

Of course, my three sentence explanation of honeybee pollination of almonds just touches the surface of this humongous industry – I’ve learned at beekeeping conventions that over a million hives of honeybees are required to pollinate California almonds each year, the largest pollination project in the world.  Hence, Honeydew’s annual sojourn to Northern Cali – there simply aren’t enough bees in California to meet that demand.

So, tomorrow Honeydew will get in the 1 ton and make the trip to California.  He’ll be back briefly next week to pick up the 2 ton, and drive it down there, too.  Our bees were shipped down to California last fall, and he’ll spend the rest of this month, and some of next, working through our hives and making sure each is healthy and able to keep up with the demands of the almond pollination season.

Then, he’ll start moving hives into the almonds in preparation for their bloom, a gorgeous pink and white time that lasts only a few weeks.

Afterwards, he’ll remove the bees from the almonds and start requeening each colony, and perhaps selling some extra bees along the way.  In mid-to-late April, Honeydew will get back in the 1 ton and drive back to Montana.  A week later, he’ll fly back to California and repeat the process with the 2 ton.  Hopefully, It’ll will not beat him home.

There aren’t words to describe how my heart will break tomorrow, and especially next week, when my husband turns the key in the truck’s ignition.  I will remind myself how lucky I am that he is not shipping off to Afghanistan, that he is able and willing to make us a good living, and that I won’t have to pick up his socks from next to the hamper each morning.  But the truth is, of course, that I don’t really mind picking up his socks, or grilling him boring quesadillas without any fun accoutrements for lunch, or turning a blind eye to the piles of debris he creates in every room of the warehome.

Safe travels, my love.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

People keep asking me what weird food cravings and aversions I’m experiencing as a result of It’ll, and I disappoint them when I say, “nothing odd, really.”  Of course, my non-pregnant palate doesn’t have a “weird” rating on it, so that should be taken into consideration.  I could eat raw oysters all day every day, I’ve never met a piece of sushi I didn’t like it, I frequently add Doritos to my hiking sandwiches in the summertime for that perfect salty crunch, and on the day after Thanksgiving, I would cry if I didn’t get to layer sweet potatoes, green beans, dressing, turkey, giblet gravy, and canned and fresh cranberry sauces in a bowl, nuke on high for 3 minutes, and dive in with a spoon.  Clearly, I don’t have issues with food “touching” on a plate, nor am I picky in the least.

Anyway, Honeydew and I discovered the candy shops of Galveston on our last morning there.  Oh-em-gee, you talk about happy as a fat kid in a candy shop?  Substitute pregnant woman for fat kid and up the bliss factor x 10 – I was in heaven.  Which is a bit weird, because although we’ve established that I like just about everything, candy shops do not normally hold much allure for me.  For that many calories, hand me a slab of caramel cake, rum cake, or coconut cake.  Or maybe some of mama’s boozy chocolate chip cookies, or a fresh blackberry pie.  Homemade peach ice cream?  Topped with real whupping cream?  Please and thank you.  I generally choose real desserts, not candies.

But there was something about this candy store.  The primary candy colors and sugar granules sparkled under the bright lights, and I found myself salivating.  And then the chocolate cases caught my eye.

And then I noticed that this lovely candy shop featured decidedly Southern delicacies.  And as my quest to educate Honeydew about my childhood, and all that makes me who I am – the smell of a freshly turned cotton field in the Georgia sunshine, the amethyst gleam of blackberries in the briars lining a red clay Virginia creek bed, the saltiness of cornbread cracklins left behind in Grandma Betty’s cast iron – is never done, I felt justified in purchasing some Southern candies.  Honeydew, who never met anything sweet he didn’t like it, did not deter me from learnin’ him.

And so we let divinity melt on our tongues.

And we bit into the earthy goodness of pecans and caramel, properly pronounced PEE-cans and CARE-A-MELL in the world of my youth.   I would like to point out that there are, after all, two “a”s in “caramel.”  Where all this “KAR-mel” pronunciation springs from, I do not know, but I think it hurts the second A’s feelings and should be stopped.

Dark chocolate covered Lay’s potato chips.  I don’t know that these are traditionally Southern, but such a union smacks of Dixie to me.  We are, after all, the chubbiest part of this great nation.

And chocolate dipped Twinkies.  I actually resisted these, because I don’t think any form of Twinkie could be more sublime than that of the deep fried variety, but they did look intriguing.

And y’all.  I was a happy, happy woman.

And having stepped on the scale this morning in my very own bathroom, I am just as happy to be back in Babb, hundreds of miles from any candy store, where no one’s ever heard of the divine-ness of divinity.  Which, I keep telling It’ll, is a good thing.  Really.  I don’t miss it at all.

Ok.  Who’s got a recipe?

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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