April 2013

A guest blog giving y’all a glimpse of Glacier National Park from Brother Dear:

It’s that time of year.


It’s muddy.  Sometimes it feels like spring, but that sensation is camouflaged by 70+ mph winds. snow flurries, and  days below freezing.


But things are coming back to life all the same.  Mom’s flowers are poking up wherever Bingo declined to bed down from the wind.  My hop plants are poking their first green tendrils through the snowdrift by the cabin.  The loons just arrived to retake control of Gretchen’s Mirror from their most hated enemies: every other living thing.  Seriously, they are are very serious about being the only birds on the water.  That’s okay because waking up to the unmistakably haunting and warbly cry of the loons is far superior to walking through clouds of goose poop.

Despite these telltale signs of the slowing evolving spring, there is something missing.  A right of passage every decent Babbylonian anticipates all winter long- an event pined for up till the moment of its inception.  I speak, of course, of the first annual trip to Many Glacier.


Unfortunately, the National Park Service has not yet opened the road.  It is one of my biggest pet peeves that they do not release any useful information regarding the status of opening the road.  It is my understanding that there are internal rules requiring the gates to remain closed until the third weekend of April in order to allow the elk unmolested access to the returning vegetation as they recover from a long winter.  That’s fine (although apparently the elk on Two Dog Flats don’t get such royal treatment).  I walked the road (what is left of the poor thing, anyways) yesterday with three stalwart friends and ran into a fellow who is working on the Many Glacier Hotel.  He informed us (from the warmth of his pickup truck) that the park service was delaying the opening of the road (to us tourons) due to “forecasts of snow” in the next week.  C’mon.  It snows every month of the year here.  Open the gates!  Or give us a date that you will!


Or at least give just me the code.  I won’t share.  Promise.

Update: The road to Many Glacier opened late yesterday afternoon, not long after Brother Dear emailed us this blog.  I thought it was too good not to share, regardless.  And yes, it snowed another 6″ last night near Babb.  See you on the Many Glacier Hotel porch for cocktails soon!

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All rights reserved to Sanford Stone.


The bees, we’re happy to report, are looking fantastic despite their likely displeasure at bidding adieu to California and hello to “spring” in Glacier County, Montana.

Did I mention it’s snowing again this morning, on and off?

We mixed up a little syrup last week in case the gals were getting hungry, waiting on the dandelion bloom.  Maggie Rose was ever helpful:


But this week we’ll leave the girls to their own devices, and not open up their houses while they’re trying to stay warm.  While they’re watching Beetime on their wax couches, we’re putting new frames and boxes together.  Today, Neil is painting some of those boxes:


Our singles are looking good, so we’ll need these new boxes and frames in a few weeks, as the singles become full size hives and need more room to grow and work.

We like to work, too.

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Move ’em on, head ’em up,

Head ’em up, move ’em out, 

Move ’em on, head ’em out Rawhide! 

Set ’em out, ride ’em in 

Ride ’em in, let ’em out, 

Cut ’em out, ride ’em in Rawhide. 

Rounding up bees to move from Northern California to Northern Montana isn’t quite like rounding up cows.  But we still like to sing Rawhide! when we’re doing it.

On Friday evening, Honeydew, Travis, and Neil went out to one of the holding yards to “round up” some of our hives, twirling their custom miniature ropes as they approached.

I kid.


It’s best to load bees in the darkness, after they’ve all come home for the day and are gathered around the Queen, answering her questions about the day’s activities.

How did the manzanita nectar taste today, Sally?  Did you pick up any blue pollen, Lita?  Is the peach bloom on track, Dolly?

Perhaps my imagination is too active at times.



At any rate, the crew used the forklift to place the first load of bees on the beds of the flatbed pickups, opened up a vein swiped the VISA for two last tanks of California diesel, and headed north and east at dawn.


They stopped for the night in Jackpot, Nevada, essentially the halfway point between Palo Cedro, California and Babb, Montana, and apparently had a fun evening.  I didn’t ask too many questions about that part of their journey — the name “Jackpot” should tell you all you need to know about this little Nevada border town.

Sunday, they crossed the Montana line with joy, but knew they were driving into a fairly significant spring blizzard.


I ran the winter storm intelligence operation from my laptop, scrutizining weather and road maps and asking our Facebook fans to weigh in on the road conditions the heavily loaded trucks and trailers would soon encounter.  Thank you to everyone who provided intelligence!


They arrived in Browning about 6:30pm, reunited Neil with Pseudo Sista, unloaded the hives onto a foot or so of fresh snow, and arrived near Babb as darkness fell.



I bet those hives are wondering what in the heck happened in the last 48 hours.  It was about 9F near Babb this morning.

Welcome home, girls!

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co..  All Rights Reserved.

As regular readers know, I occasionally use this blog in place of Maggie’s non-existent baby book.  Mother of the year, right here.  No baby book and exploiting my child on the internets, all in one fell swoop!  

Maggie Rose, you are 23 months old.  I cannot believe that you will be 2 next month, but since I am 8 months pregnant, I am thrilled by your upcoming birthday, as it gives me an excuse to bake you a cake!  Pregnant women need cake, Maggie Rose.  You’ll like it, too.

You are huge, over thirty pounds and off all the pediatrician’s charts.  Your size doesn’t always work to your advantage, as people often think you are a lot older than you actually are, and expect quite a bit from you.   You still have porcelain skin, blonde hair, and forget-me-not blue eyes that constantly remind me of your Chuck, and your great-grandmother Ivey.  Despite this obvious resemblance, at times Daddy and I are still mystified by your genetic expression.


It seems that you learn a new word or two every day, but mostly you repeat to me, from morning till night-night, the following:  “Woof -Woof? Daddy? Woof-Woof? Nan? Woof-Woof? Chuck? Woof-Woof? Nat Nat? Woof-Woof?”  You love your doggy, Maggie Rose, and there is no escaping those genetics.


You love your books, too, whether I am reading them to you or you are sitting quietly, thumbing through them.  It makes me happy to think that you might love reading as I do, the chance to escape daily to places you’ll never go and people you’ll never know.  I think reading is every bit as magical as any ole rabbit popping out of a hat.


This morning, I took you to preschool for the very first time.  You didn’t want me to leave, and you cried.  After dropping you off, I walked into my office, surveyed the piles of paperwork awaiting my attention, and cried, too.  I love to work, and my part of our honey company is something that defines me just as being your mother defines me, but despite my relief at the prospect of five hours of uninterrupted time to work, I was sad.  I know the time that I am the center of your universe is so very short.


But it’s out of love for you, too, baby girl.  I want you to be unafraid of a world without Mama, because I won’t be here forever, and if I continue to make the occasional dumb decision about rivers and mountains, forever might be awfully short, indeed.  I want you to make friends, too.  I am almost 33 and still find there is nothing quite as satisfying as making a new friend; even just the prospect of one cheers me considerably, and makes me feel like a vital part of the human race.  I don’t believe we are ever too old to make new friends or learn new things.  I do believe that making new friends and learning new things keeps us young even when we are very wrinkled and stooped.


So, I hope you learn to enjoy these spring mornings of new hands to hold, new brands of applesauce to taste, new art supplies to mangle.  They’ll pass quickly, and we’ll soon be back in Glacier County, with Daddy, and Brother or Sister, and the bees.

I love you, my little schmoo.



2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Brother Dear went for a walk in the Big Field last night and checked on our home bee yard, where we left a few hives for the winter. Those Carniolan queens and their daughters are tough gals. You’ve got to be a tough gal to winter near Babb!


As Brother Dear noted upon observation of the hive, “it’s aliiiiiiive!” And hopefully enjoying its view of mighty Chief Mountain while it waits for honey season.

Ah, spring. We’re so glad you’ve come again.

2013. Glacier County Honey Co. Photo and caption credit to Sanford Stone. All Rights Reserved.

There is an oft repeated story in my family about my great-grandmother Stone, who would bake ten cakes at Christmas, and then “go down for a month.”

Well deserved, great-grandmother. Especially in light of the fact that you likely did not possess a stand mixer.

After the Made in Montana Marketplace, I felt like I needed to go down for a month, too.


The Marketplace is fun, and it’s always wonderful to connect with our wholesale accounts and retail customers, old and new, but three days of hauling honey, wax, and a toddler was more than enough for pregnant me.


Thanks, Mom, for all your help.

Upon my return, Honeydew could hear the exhaustion in my voice, and he made arrangements for an unplanned trip home to take care of me, Maggie Rose, and Dos Ittles.  He leaves again for California tomorrow, but it has been a wonderful string of days, and I am renewed and mentally ready for this next, last little stretch of time without him.  When he returns, there will be no denying Spring’s arrival, and the weeks until the bees arrive in Montana, and Dos Ittles arrives in our family, will be in the single digits!

So, I haven’t put my blogging time in like I swore I would.  But that’s ok.  It’s not often in the winter/spring months I get to spend time with Honeydew and Maggie Rose.

While he’s been home, we’ve stocked most of our wholesale accounts and calendared when big summer orders need to be delivered. We’ve planted blueberry bushes and watched a spring blizzard kill our lettuce. We’ve made elk fajitas and ordered pizza, just because we could. And we celebrated Easter, and spring’s arrival, with bubbles and sunburns:

maggie easter


And a little ole bunny cake I made Maggie Rose for Easter.

Indeed, great-grandmother, you were a wise woman.

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.