January 2012

No, it’s actually not our Maggie Rose, as adorable as she may be.

But this is what she wears when she hangs out with The Snow Belle.

THIS is the Snow Belle – an amazing little buggy-on-skis that we pull behind our snowmachines.  It’s perfect for Belles named Maggie Rose, Layla, and even Betsy, though she doesn’t exactly hail from Dixie.

We recently used it to haul a case of champagne to a backcountry cabin for a New Year’s Eve celebration, and I think that’s very Belle-ish.  As one of my favorite Belles, the former Miss Hester, always toasts, “May all your love be true love, and may all your pain be champagne.”

My stepfather-in-law, Walt, is one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, and I knew him long before I ever met Honeydew.  He’s really made me feel at home within “the family,” and he is the mastermind behind the Snow Belle, which he restored and named to remind me that while I may have been a Southern Belle, I’m going to have to become a Snow Belle if I want to make it in Babb!  Thanks, Walt.  She’s something special!  You are, too.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.


I’ve spent the better part of twelve years making my life on the edge of Glacier National Park, on both sides of the Divide, and in the process, I’ve developed an aversion to acting like a “touron,” as we refer to some — though certainly not all! — of the folks who visit our gorgeous backyard each summer.  Don’t get me wrong – I was once a touron, too, in the late 80s and probably throughout the 90s.  And Glacier County Honey Co. benefits greatly from the throngs of tourons who descend upon us, too.

But.  You won’t catch me jangling bear bells, participating in “interpretive walks,” driving under the speed limit on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, or ordering huckleberry anything, unless it has booze in it.

And so I’m amused to find myself acting the part of the Touron here in California.  This weekend, Honeydew, Maggie Rose, and I took an interpretive urban hike that was partly paved (!),

shopped the boutiques of downtown Redding, visited the Coleman National Fish Hatchery,

and toured the Shasta Dam.  Seriously.

Fun fact: Shasta Dam and the Hoover Dam were designed by the same guy, and at the time of their completion were the 2nd highest and highest dams in the U.S., respectively.  Today, Shasta Dam is the 9th tallest dam in the U.S.  It is a very strange feeling to stand at the near-bottom of it, as we are doing here, and think about the massive amount of water behind it.  Wow.

And yes, I felt like an idiot in my burly hiking boots on the urban hike and in my wrinkled khaki shorts on the dam tour, where temperatures hovered around 55 degrees and everyone kept asking me if I was cold.  I wasn’t but, all I say, sheepishly, was “Um, we’re from Montana?”.  Indeed, I felt like a Touron.

All of our Touron activities constituted a fun way to pass the time while we wait on the phone call from the orchard owners, asking us to move the bees into the almonds.  Another benefit – perhaps I will be kinder to those folks I see dressed inappropriately, taking interpretive walks, driving too slowly, ordering kitschy menu items, and in general dragging their too-young-to-appreciate-the-experience children all over Glacier National Park, this coming summer.

Or perhaps not.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.   All Rights Reserved.

When Brother Dear was here last week, we drove him an hour south to Chico, home of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., for a tour of the facilities — if you don’t know, Brother Dear is a Super Beer Geek and creates incredibly tasty brews in our pump house – Sierra Nevada is kind of where it all started for Beer Geeks.  Anyway, the roads from here to Chico are lined with almonds, walnuts, and olives, and pallets of bee hives everywhere.  Northern California is completely inundated with bees and beekeepers, and Brother Dear and I were amazed.

This week, Honeydew was constantly on the phone, discussing hive numbers, strength, location, and when the almond growers are likely to call for the bees to go into the orchards.  He and Keith – rehired for spring and summer! – spent a lot of time out in the holding yards, going through all of our hives to check on their readiness to go into the almonds.  You can’t just throw a hive of half dead bees into an orchard and expect it do much almond pollinating – and you can’t expect an almond grower to pay you for your lack of effort, either.  Bees are “graded” when they go into the almonds, a process I’ll go into another day, but suffice it to say, we’re inspecting the bees right now prior to their “grade.”

Honeydew has been in a mighty good mood all week – he can never be sure just what he’ll find when he goes out to work the bees for the first time since fall.  Sometimes the bees eat more honey than he anticipated, or sometimes they’re struck by disease, but the end result is that most beekeepers will find a few dead hives this time of year.  And so the topic of “loss” is a hot one in beekeeping households right now.

However, we don’t normally have loss due to fire like these hives below!

Yep, somehow the tenants near our “junkyard holding yard” set two of our hives on fire.  Not sure how they managed to do that, but awfully happy it was only two!  However, even with the fire, our loss rate is only at 3.3% – and that IS smokin’ hot!  We’re happy campers right now.

Not so much heat at the Warehome right now, though.  Brother Dear sent us this picture yesterday.

And suddenly, I’m not homesick at all …

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Some photo credits to Sanford Stone. All Rights Reserved.

California has startled me all week, delighting me with its produce and pockets of sixty-degrees-on-the-deck sunshine, frightening me with its aggressive traffic and lack of eye contact.  However, my good experiences are definitely outweighing the bad, and between our cozy house and kind beekeeper friends, California has quickly felt like home.  Or maybe I just missed closets, windows, and drawers – who knows?

Maggie Rose has been a trooper through the ups and downs and endless red lights.   She seems startled, too.  Who is this mother who doesn’t disappear for hours at a time to pour hot beeswax and honey?  Hmmm.  I wonder, too, Maggie, but I’m enjoying so much time with you.

Mmmmm, avocado!

Sushi with Uncle Brother Dear!  This place – Yama Sushi in Redding – is so fun – you can order whatever you like, but the chefs also send boats filled with tempting sushi choices and if you like what you see, you just grab the plate off the boat!  Maggie was beyond fascinated.  Me, too.

Shopping is fun! 

LET ME OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Out for a walk!  Maggie loves non-fifty-degrees-below-zero wind chill values.

And one we posted to our Facebook page earlier this week, in case you missed it – our Honey Bunny.

Happy Thursday!

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

We sent our lovely bee ladies down to California back in November, and we’ve missed them.

To answer a frequently asked question as to why we send them to California in late fall, no, it’s not that the bees can’t survive a Montana winter – to the contrary, before Honeydew started bringing them down to California for the almond pollination project (about ten years ago), his dad had always wintered them through Montana’s extreme winds and temperatures.  And that’s one of the reasons we run Carniolans – they’re better suited for arctic blasts.  Last year, we didn’t have enough room on the California trucks to send all of our hives, and we kept about ten in our home yard.  It was a winter of epic snowfall, and when spring came, I was amazed to snowshoe down to the home yard and find the hives looking like tree wells, producing enough heat to melt the snow immediately encasing them.

So, the bees would be fine in December, and in February, and in April, in Montana.  But the semi truck driver might have an awfully hard time driving into the holding yard to load the bees if we waited any longer than early November to send them South.  So off the go, where they are met by our dear friend and mentor, Steve Park, who supervises them for us until we arrive in January.  Thanks, Steve, Jim, and co.

As soon as we got here, Honeydew went out to check on the bees, leaving me in our new home to meet the propane man to hook up the gas, the Dish guy to hook up ESPN, and so on.  But he brought back good reports – it’s been very cool for California, so the bees are hanging out in big clusters at the bottom of the hives, but they’re healthy and more than ready to go do their thing with the almonds.

Won’t be much longer now and we’ll be moving ’em into the orchards!

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Maggie Rose is eight months old as of yesterday, when this picture was taken.  Honeydew and I are trying to get her to laugh in this picture, and I think we look pretty certifiable as a result.

Adorable outfit courtesy of Maggie’s Sissy.  Mini Frye boots courtesy of Catherine Harcus.  I can’t believe my eight month old owns the boots I’ve always coveted!  Ridiculous!

On a different note – any tips readers might have on convincing an eight month old that solid foods are fun is welcomed in the comments – somehow, the child of two parents who talk of nothing but their next meal is not interested in homemade baby food, purchased baby food, table scraps, or anything but Similac’s finest and Baby Mum Mums, essentially rice crackers.  Hmmm.  What do y’all think?

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

I wish we could get in, too, boys.

I guess I’m a farmer after all … in Babb it was too cold, in California it’s too wet …

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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