August 2012


Dear Howard,

Last week, my Darling-Brother-In-Law was up here at Glacier County Honey World Headquarters and as always, he brought his guitar and kept us thoroughly entertained.  You would love him, by the way — sometimes when he is changing brake pads or oil out in the storage bay, and covered in grease — like you were the summer you worked for Bill Marshall, changing tires on semis — I get confused for a second, and think he is you.

But at any rate, one night we were sitting around, drinking whiskey and singing Corb Lund songs, and he changed keys and sang a Willie Nelson song about rainbows that I’d forgotten about.  I focused on the winsome lyrics, and for a moment I was transported back to those first days without you, all those mornings I woke up in my tiny apartment in Grundy, Virginia, staggered into the kitchen, pressed “brew” on the coffee maker, reached for the half and half in the fridge and saw it: your obituary, taped to my freezer. Like a coal truck running over my heart, morning after morning, the news: you were dead, and in the peace that often came for me in the exhaustion of first-semester-in-law-school induced sleep, I had once again forgotten.

Mom and Dad couldn’t sleep in the months — years? — after you died, and sometimes I envied their wakefulness.  In my mind, at least they did not have to learn of your death again, and again, though we all probably sullied most dawns with our tears. I remember feeling as though my whole body, and not just my eyes, would glaze over, as I read and re-read your obituary, every morning before class: I knew it by heart, but the brief words encapsulating your not-quite-twenty years on this Earth fascinated me in their starkness.

How can these words be all that we remember you by? I would think to myself.  How will I explain to my children the quiet confidence in your Southern accent, your chivalrous nature, your goofy streak, the way your blonde hair would stand straight up from all the static you created bouncing yourself to sleep in the back of the old station wagon? And a darker, deeply selfish thought: what I will I do when they no longer talk about you?  What about me?  Will I forget all those things that made you you?

But I haven’t had to sit by myself with my thoughts of you.  New friends and old come to Montana every July to  help us celebrate you, and to help us celebrate that your death did not permanently sideline any of us.  Yes, we are forever changed by your loss, but more importantly, we were forever changed by your love long before your loss, and that has become the lesson I kept.

But lessons aside, we haven’t stopped talking about you.  Recently, because of the crystalline mind of one of your best friends, Jordan Gravely, we will for the first time have a tangible place to sit and think of you.  Yes, your ashes catch all the different lights that Gretchen’s Mirror reflects back to us, but now there will be a place on the Mirror to tell tales of your mischievous charm, and all that love that keeps coming back to us.

As a Masters of Architecture candidate, Jordan had the opportunity to build on a full scale, and she decided to create a meditative piece inspired by you and your affinity for Big Sky country.

photo credit to PD Rearick

Isn’t it beautiful? Jordan’s original plan to move this piece, that she calls Hillhouse, fell through, and she eventually created a Kickstarter campaign in order to move it from Michigan to the Big Field.  She met her goal in just a few short days, and every time I checked the link to see if she was getting closer, I was overwhelmed by the love that friends, neighbors, strangers, still have for you, and all that you meant to this beautiful world.

To everyone who helped Jordan, I offer a painfully inadequate thank you.  Such tiny words for such a huge feeling.

Howard, eight years after your death, Hillhouse will stand guard over your memory in the Big Field, reminding me in my daily travels that you are not forgotten at all, and that we now have a place to gather, and remember you better in each July, and on August 27, September 19, stormy Tuesdays, still Sundays, and beyond.

I was lucky beyond words to have you as my brother, and I am lucky, still, in your friends, some of whom I’ve yet to meet.

Oh, how I wish I could slip my hand into yours for one more dance across Charlie’s sticky floor.

GRD, baby bro.

Love, Court


2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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Working for Glacier County Honey Co. is not your average employment.  We’ve got no place to put you and we’re going to ask you to work insane hours, 6-7 days per week, in the height of honey season, i.e. right now.  We’ve got one employee — California boy Keith — shacked up in our camper in front of the Warehome, and another — Virginia gentleman Neil — crashed out on the spare bed in our office, when there are a few hours to devote to anything other than working and playing in the Montana sunshine.

Since we’re all piled in on top of each other, working together, eating together, folding laundry together, arguing about Deadliest Catch together, and scraping stingers out of each other’s scalps, Honeydew and I try to hold a few employee appreciation days every summer.  They’re good for everyone’s morale, including ours.

Yesterday was Darling Brother-in-Law’s (DBIL) last night with us — he’s been up here for about 10 days, helping us pull honey, change brake pads, chicken fry elk steaks, and in general, doing what needs to be done.  Honeydew and I are both lucky to have such helpful, wonderful families.  At any rate, we wanted to give DBIL a big send off, and that turned into an Employee Appreciation Day.  We decided to waterski the canal, and enjoy Twistas and steaks at Two Sisters, our go-to favorite near Babb.

Have you ever tried to waterski behind a pickup down a canal?
Because, you know, when living on the border of Glacier National Park in late August, what else does one do after work?

Well, Keith — below — picked it up with no problem, and enjoyed the views of Glacier, to boot!

Honeydew popped off a cheeky wave as he zipped past the cheering section:

DBIL completed the triumphant triumvirate of skiiers:

Pseudo Sista, Brother Dear, Neil, Maggie Rose and I could not be persuaded to try it, but there’s always next time.

Thanks to everyone pulling honey, extracting honey, keeping babies, cooking burgers, and in general make harvest happen for us with enough time for the occasional foray down the canal … we appreciate you!

Not pictured: our awesome parents – Charlie & Nancy Stone; Bob Fullerton; Sarah Evitts – who’ve kept Maggie Rose happy all summer long so that we can work.  THANK YOU!

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Oh, how I long for even more hours of daylight than there currently are in a day, for time to write, for myself, to others, even a well organized grocery list might be fun to pen.  But time for consistent blogging and correspondence will have to wait until fall, and we hope that y’all will wait with us.

For now, Glacier County Honey Co. is in the crush of the honey season – every day, Honeydew and the crew leave at 7am to inspect various bee yards and determine which supers to pull off the hives.  They return in the late afternoon sun with trucks loaded down with 10,000 lbs and more of the best honey you’ve never tasted, and unload it all into the Warm Room, where it waits in the 100F temperatures for Neil and I.

Every day, Neil warms up the extracting equipment just before 7am, and then sticks his head into the kitchen to remind me that the time for peeling peaches, shelling peas, and wiping summer’s excesses off the baby’s sweet face is finished, and that it is time to hand Maggie off to whichever kind soul is entertaining her on the day in question.  Into the extracting room I go, feeling how I imagine most happy, working parents feel: sad that I will miss the highlights of Maggie’s day – the discovery of the sprinkler in Nan’s garden, the first taste of a ripe huckleberry on the trail to Red Rock Falls, a new word tumbling from her rosy lips – but happy to go out into my own world, to use my biceps and my brain to extract the honey that will pay the bills that keep my family fed and the Warehome warm through the winter.  Happy, I will admit, to carry on adult conversation and to focus on one task, and only one task, at a time.

Neil and Keith in the extracting room during Fill Your Own Bucket Day – excuse the blurry pictures, apparently the camera had honey on the lens – imagine that!

At any rate, we are swamped with pulling honey, extracting honey, bottling honey, labeling honey, barreling honey, selling honey and shipping honey.  In the midst of all this stickiness, we hosted our 1st annual Fill Your Own Bucket Day, and it was a sweet success, indeed.

We had no idea how many people to expect, but we opened the Warehome to the public, set up an observation hive, and conducted tours of the honey extracting plant and of beeswax crafting and everyone seemed to have a blast.  Only Honeydew and I got stung.  We answered hundreds of questions and met hundreds of lovely Montanans and Albertans, most of whom had traveled many, many miles to visit us near Babb.  We sold every beeswax candle I had poured!

And of course, we sold an awful lot of honey, too – we hooked up a special pump to one of our 1,000 gallon tanks so that we could pump fresh honey into the bottling tank all day — without the pump, we would have run out of honey in the bottling tank by 9am, and that is why if you called us to ask if we could honor Fill Your Own Bucket Day prices in the days before and after The Day, we could not.  We could only pull the crew from the field, pause production, and hook up this pump for one day, and we hope y’all understand.

Pseudo Sista, selling candles, ornaments, and t-shirts!

We also hope you’ll mark your calendars for next year’s Fill Your Own Bucket Day: Saturday, August 10.  We’ll have more activities, and more help to make the bucket filling go as efficiently as possible, we promise – thanks to everyone who came up and made the day such fun!  We appreciate y’all more than you know.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Nan is our guest blogger today.

While you’re filling your bucket Saturday with the best honey you never tasted, be sure to try some of the free goodies featuring Glacier County Honey!

Nan has whipped up Sweet-‘n’-Salty Honey Cheese Spread using a recipe from a recent issue of Healthy Living Magazine. The creamy goat cheese log is rolled in sunflower seeds and then drizzled with our own delicious honey. We’ll be serving up samples on Maggie Rose’s favorite Ritz crackers.

Here are the ingredients:

Sweet-‘n’-Salty Honey Cheese Spread

1 (10.5-oz.) goat cheese log

1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds

1/3 cup honey (more is better)

1 pt fresh raspberries, blackberries or blueberries

Garnish: fresh mint leaves

Assorted crackers

Press or roll goat cheese log in sunflower seeds, thoroughly covering cheese, including ends. Arrange cheese on a serving platter with any remaining sunflower seeds. Drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with berries. Garnish, if desired. Serve immediately with assorted crackers.

Here is the finished product!

We’ll also have a delicious oatmeal-honey cookie, Everyday Honey Cookie Bars from cooks.com.

Ingredients for Everyday Honey Cookie Bars

Adding Glacier County Honey to the squares.

Mmmmmm, all done!

Sweet’n’Salty Honey Cheese Spread and Everyday Honey Cookie Bars are great ways to incorporate honey into your daily cooking.  But really, with honey this good, you’ll be tempted just to eat it from a spoon!

Looking forward to seeing y’all at Fill Your Own Bucket Day!

-Nan

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Photo and text credit to Nancy Stone.  All Rights Reserved.

I am proud to have paid Montana taxes the better part of 13 years, proud to be married to a Montanan, proud to be raising a 2nd generation Montanan.

But there’s no escaping the fact that I grew up in the South, and I’m proud of that, too.  The South taught me all about heat, and while the expat in me doesn’t miss the oppressive, 85-degrees-at-midnight temperatures the deep South endures in the summertime,  I surely try my best never to whine about any sort of “heat” event in Montana.

This week, Montana is shattering high temperature records left and right, and even I am almost ready to admit that it is almost “hot” in Montana.

Now, it is definitely hot in the Warehome, as we’ve got the heater blasting away to keep the Warm Room at a cozy 100F for the stacks of honey waiting to be extracted – that’s about the same temp the bees keep the hive, and when you’re selling raw honey, you’re always doing your best to keep the honey at about that temperature.  Seeing as how my bedroom is on the other wall from the Warm Room, I can report that the heater is good at its mimicry.

At any rate, it’s so-almost-hot that we decided to order Glacier County Honey Co. hats, to keep us a little bit cooler – they’re Dri Duck hats, with beautiful embroidery by Pony Expressions down in Valier.  Your choice of moose, elk, deer, pheasant, or loon, the resident mascot of Gretchen’s Mirror on our property.

$25 each.  Click here to order.

Stay cool out there, y’all!  The bees are loving this heat, and therefore, so are we.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

We try to take Sundays off this time of year, and when we do, Honeydew and I trade choices – this past Sunday, I decided that we should take Maggie Rose to Iceberg Lake, the easiest 10 miles in the park, and generally overrun with people for that reason.  In my pre-baby life, I would have avoided Iceberg Lake on August 5 like the plague, but I suppose this is the new norm.  Maggie loved gawking/waving at every person we passed, anyway, and I always love meeting ghosts of myself and my loved ones in the Many Glacier valley, particularly along the Iceberg Lake trail.

This is the trail to Iceberg Lake – Mt. Wilbur is the tallest mountain to the far left, and below it hangs a shelf keeping Shangri La secret from most of the world.  Behind the shelf, tucked between Mt. Wilbur and the beautiful castle-like wall, is Iceberg Lake.

Maggie Rose first went hiking in the Many Glacier valley when she was three weeks old, and her affection for it hasn’t changed.  Especially now that she’s discovered that hiking means eating snacks reserved only for hiking – like Lay’s potato chips.  Mmmm!

4.9 miles from the trailhead, we reached the lake, still nearly fully encased in ice.  I love this shot of Maggie Rose and Honeydew – back in Honeydew’s trail crew days, he spent a lovely afternoon widening the trail they’re standing on, and digging the water ditches you see on either side.  He says they used jackhammers, to the consternation of most who were there.

Requisite family shot.

Looking at the lake, you might think there’s just a thin layer of ice and snow covering it, but if you look at the middle of this picture, perhaps you can get a better perspective on just how thick the layer is – I was zoomed in 20x when I took this!

Maggie Rose is our water baby, and the temperatures of the liquid-snow-lake did not deter her.

Wearing my old sunbonnet, playing with a chunk of ice.

My favorite shot – 14 month old Maggie is so independent, so unafraid of the world.  As her parents, this is a little bit frightening — but then, we can relate to her perfectly.  Never be afraid of the world, baby girl – your curiosity will bring you so many choices, and so much joy.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

As “they” say, it’s amazing what you can learn to do, for love.  Especially since putting my lawyering hat on the shelf with my predictable paychecks, pressed suits and pumps, Glacier County Honey Co. has demanded my education in a number of realms.

When Honeydew and I decided to put on our 1st Annual Fill Your Own Bucket Day, we further decided there was no point in going to all the effort to hook the honey tanks up for a day of retail use unless we went full out and advertised it.  Not paying for advertising meant I had to learn to write a press release, which I did with the help of Western Montana’s Glacier Country’s Tia Troy.  Thanks, Tia!

Photo credit to Patrick Record, Daily Interlake.

That press release lead to another little story about Glacier County Honey, and all that we have learned to do with it and for it.  For love, of course.  Because despite the wake-up-gasping nightmares about honey extracting disasters, uncontrollable weather patterns, and unpredictable bee health, Honeydew and I have never been happier than at the helm of our little bee biz.  As always, thanks to our customers, Facebook friends, Tweeps, and blog readers, for all the support along the way.  Here’s the latest on what the press says about our love affair: Beekeepers Relish Remote Locale for Honey Business / Lynnette Hintze, Daily Interlake.

Photo credit to Patrick Record, Daily Interlake.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Photo credits to Patrick Record/Daily Interlake.  All Rights Reserved.

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