February 2012


Beginning today, our beekeeping life takes off without much of a pause until the fall.  There are colonies to shake, split, and sell; queens to graft, mate, and introduce; and our honey producing life waiting for us in Montana, a life that requires constant work and attention to detail.

So last week, we took advantage of the last little lull of waiting, and explored more of the northern California.  Honeydew and I took Maggie to see the mighty redwoods along California’s Lost Coast, and were taken aback by its unspoiled, uncrowded remoteness.  We saw Roosevelt elk, deserted beaches, and trees impossible to photograph in their immensity.

Later on in the week, we welcomed my mom, “Nan,” and her sister, “Sissy,” to Northern California, and we gals traveled down to Wine Country, sipping fizzing bubbles in the equally sparkly sunshine, sharing beautifully prepared meals, and catching up with each other and old friends who joined us along the way.

More on all of these journeys soon, but for now, a sneak peek at our adventures:

Maggie Rose enjoying the stunning gardens of the French Laundry in Yountville, California.

With dear friend Maie, enjoying the delights of Domaine Carneros.

Honeydew, Maggie, and approximately 1/3 of a Redwood!

Maggie Rose sees the Pacific Ocean for the first time.  I think she’s gonna be a beach gal like her mama!

On the way home from Wine Country, we met Honeydew in Williams, California, to tour the orchards and enjoy the almond bloom, hitting its peak over the weekend.  What timing!

Maggie and Nan in the blooms.

More to come later.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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The gals out in the orchards are pollinating, pollinating, pollinating!

Where our bees are located, the almond bloom is nearing its peak, and I’m looking forward to a photo session in the orchards later this week.  For now, the boys are checking through the bees, eyeing strong colonies for breeder queens and what I’ll call shake-ability, i.e. colonies strong enough to take some bees away from, to create new colonies.

Like all professions, beekeeping has its sweet spots and its stings, but as far as the almond pollination aspect is concerned, the aesthetics sure aren’t bad.  We miss Montana, but are really enjoying our time in beautiful Northern California.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Maggie Rose is nine months old!

And we’re all goin’ bananas.

Which Maggie has deemed her new favorite food, replacing avocados.

Mmmmmm.

You’ve been out of the womb almost as long as you were in it, baby girl. Happy nine months to you!

2012. Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

Each morning around 7, the soft sparrow trills and pterodactyl grunts that make up Maggie’s repertoire waft gently from the monitor, and I set aside my coffee, or peel the comforter back, and walk to her room. The moment I open her door is the best of the day, every day, the kind of moment that verifies all the gooey cliches about parenting.

I stand above Maggie Rose, lying flat in her crib, and soak up the beaming grin, the gurgles and coos that clearly state a love for me unlike any other I’ve ever received. I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced good love throughout my life, but I know the only comparison is the love my own parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents showered down on me as I lay on my back, in my own crib.

I think of the men and women in my life who long, or longed, for children of their own and my heart breaks a little, and I will the cracks to open so that I might receive even more love from Maggie, so that I am able to better share her love and soothe those hurts.

I know the moment cannot last, that it will dissolve as Maggie and I navigate the putting-on-shoes, eating-peas, and daycare-at-the-gym aspects of the day, that her joy will dim with the lengthening of the shadows, that my patience will wane.

And so I resolve to capture this moment with all the inadequate beauty of the English language, so that I may at least remember it long after the crib sheets are folded for the last time.

2012. Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

Brother Dear checks in with a report from near Babb:


I love professional football.  This post is not about professional football.

I will briefly point out that during the course of my beloved Redskins’ wretched 5-11 season, we beat the Super Bowl XLVI Champion New York Giants by double digits not once but TWICE.  We also beat the cellar-basement Seahawks, Cardinals, and Rams by a touchdown or less and lost to everyone else we encountered, did not make the playoffs, and obviously did not actually win the aforementioned Super Bowl.  So, I can’t really take enough pride in my team stomping the eventual champs to write a whole blog post about it, as that would be only slightly less pathetic than the Rex Grossman/John Beck QB duo I was forced to endure all season, plus I doubt GCHC blog readers would much care.  I digress.  This post is about a trip to Glacier, shortly before the Super Bowl.

It was a gorgeous day, of course.  When you live here you get your pick of the nice days, and this one was pretty tops.  I set off down the Going-to-the-Sun Road, hoping it might be open to Rising Sun.

No luck.  Closed a little ways down Upper St. Mary Lake.  It was already mid-afternoon so my plan of skiing up to the Wild Goose Island overlook wasn’t happening from this far away.  Looks like a nice, flat, pleasant ski- doesn’t it?

Temporarily stymied, I cruised back to the visitor’s center and sat in front of the webcam on the hood of the Suburban and ate lunch.  Apparently the rest of the family was otherwise engaged because no one got a screen shot!  Here’s what it looked like from my angle.

So I went up the Red Eagle Lake Trail, and hooked around the old Beaver Pond Trail to the 1912 Ranger Station.  Saw a bunch of tracks- deer, coyote, and even a moose that kept crossing the trail.  Lots of snowshoe hares around as well.

Pretty fresh!  That’s Curly Bear Mountain right in front of me.  I was hoping the nice warm day would soften the snow for me, but it was still fairly frozen and quite noisy on XC skies, so I never did actually find that moose.

This is the beaver pond itself, as you can see by the lodge in the foreground.  I kind of fell down a hill to get here, but that was the point of getting out on the skis.  I’m terrible at going downhill without edges and a locked heel so this was a nice bit of practice for me.  The mountain in the center of the photo is Red Eagle Mountain with Little Chief to its side.  Sorry for the blur…dumped the camera in the snow during my ill-fated descent.

Friends of the family will probably recognize Napi Point at the very far end of East Flattop Mountain here.

At the end of my lovely 3.1 mile loop I ended back up where I started- this is what the world looks like through my sunglasses.

I cruised around the valley and saw a herd of deer but not much else.  I’m pleased to report that Johnsons, Two Sisters, Park Cafe, the KOA, the Cattle Baron, and Thronsons are still standing!  Also, Kip’s is open AND has a giant snowcastle built along its wall.  Since this picture was taken it was beefed up with the wall next to the “turret” colored a bright purple

I was also thrilled to see a slightly-limp windsock on the Babb Airstip.  Poor thing needs a day off every once in a while, too.

Glacier County Honey World Headquarters is still standing, too!

The evening was sublime; warm with no wind.  Natalee (Pseudo Sista) and I built a fire, and sat outside by the firepit as the coals died with the sun.  We set up targets on the ice and blasted away with old and new .22 rifles.  We could tell our misses by the zinging shallow ricochets echoing across the ice and skipping to the far shore.  I forgot about football for a little while.  But eventually we lost the last sliver of reasonable light and went inside for a homebrew, some extremely good cookies (Natalee’s hobby is not as silly as once perceived), and the Super Bowl.

Congratulations to Eli Manning – Go Rebels.  See you next season.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All credits reserved to Sanford Stone.

Yesterday, we finally took Sick Baby to a clinic in Redding.

She still wasn’t running a high fever or exhibiting any of the classic we-need-to-go-to-the-doctor-NOW symptoms, but for Maggie, she was acting pretty darn unlike herself for the fourth day in a row. The Hoglette wouldn’t eat, for one thing. For days on end. And since she’s never been sick, Honeydew and I figured we didn’t really know what we were “observing” anyhow. So, off we went.

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During our visit to the clinic, we experienced Scary Crying for the first time. I would not wish Scary Crying on anyone, but if you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about, and if you’re not, be glad you don’t. Scary Crying resulted from the doc’s examination of Maggie Rose’s perfect, seashell-esque ears. Which are both mightily infected. She has croup, too, which produces a bronchitis-like coughing that wears you down and makes you miserable. Bless her heart.

But, twenty hours after the first dose of antibiotics, Maggie Rose has sucked down eight ounces of Similac’s finest and another five of apple juice — her first juice! — and is currently on the floor reuniting with all her toys, much neglected since Saturday. And so I would like to offer an ode to antibiotics:

Antibiotics, much abused and maligned,

You have become as underappreciated as watermelon rind.

But to Maggie Rose, you have been so kind.

Thank you so much for getting her ears out of this bind.

Love, The Beekeepers

2012. Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

Our baby is sick.

All things being relative, she is in no way clinging to that shimmery, blurred line between life and death, as she did the day after she was born.  She is not even running a high fever.  So far, her Montana pediatrician advises that we simply stay home, and hydrate, and rest.

And so we are.  Which is very unlike us.  I am not prone to sitting at home and resting.  Oh, I’m home plenty, because I work out of our home, but it is not often that I simply sit and observe Maggie, and hold her.

And hold her I did yesterday, for hours and hours.  The baby who usually plays by herself for an hour or so in the morning required a playmate on the floor, and I happily obliged, holding her in my lap and building block towers and reading about chameleons and singing songs about friendly black spiders.  Towards mid morning, the baby who usually requests a bottle and then settles in for a long nap had no interest in the bottle or her crib.  And so we sat on the couch, and I held her for hours while she slept.  I watched her lungs inflate and deflate and cursed the wheezing, coughing fits that drug her from under sleep’s comforter every so often.  I inspected her tiny hands, hands that have learned to grab Cheerios, books, and bears in the last nearly-nine months.  I marveled over her porcelain skin, so unlike my own, and the little marks that learning to cruise have inflicted upon it.  I dug my phone out of my pocket and tried to preserve the moment.

And then we repeated this routine in the afternoon.

I had not held Maggie Rose for such an extended length of time since she was in the NICU, and though I wished fervently that I could absorb her miserable-ness into my skin, I enjoyed the hours, even after my arms fell asleep from the strain of holding her.  I projected into the future and wondered  about the last time I will hold Maggie’s whole body in my arms, a moment I will not know until much later, if ever, and I wondered if she will be 5 or 10 or 12, if she will be hurt or come to me just because.  I wondered if I will be able to look back and pinpoint that moment, and I thought about how beautiful life’s uncertainties are, and how cruel.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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