May 2013


This is normally what happens in Montana — or at least near Babb — over Memorial Day weekend:

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Columbia Falls, Montana: May 23, 2013

Happily, the snow blew itself out before the weekend began, and I snuck off to Babb for my last pre-Dos Ittles sojourn.  The weather was sublime.  I’ll try not to rub it in verbally, but I will share a few of my favorite shots of Maggie learning about summertime.

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Putting in our first garden at the Warehome.  

The topsoil looks promising, we’ll see what the weather holds for us … but it’s easy to be optimistic this time of year.

Like the farmers we are, Honeydew and I bubble over with enthusiasm about the potential of this year’s honey crop this time of year, every year.  THIS is the YEAR, we say to each other!

And it could be, y’all.  Collectively, our bees look better than they ever have, thanks to endless hours of painstakingly detailed work by Honeydew and the crew.  Moisture levels are good so far.  We’ve had some heat.  You never know.  As my Pa Pa would say, “there ain’t never been a normal year yet,” as far as farming goes.  This year could be off the charts in a good way.  I think that sort of optimism is pretty essential to life in agriculture.  By August, we’ll probably be singing a tale of averages, or woe, but for now optimism feels mighty fine.

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Hello, Many Glacier!

Glacier County’s nod to Ireland doesn’t last long, but its verdancy fills up all the green color receptors in my retinas in a most happy manner.

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Walking the swamp road to go check on her bees.

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Fearless.

Honeydew and I will not be able to give Maggie Rose everything, but space and freedom to run will not be a problem.  Sometimes I’m amazed by how far away from us she will go by herself.  And then I look in the mirror, and at Honeydew, and think, No, no, Miss Independence is no stranger to us.

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Checking on the Home Bee Yard.  

Despite the abundance of dandelions — a favorite snack for bees this time of year — the girls were feeling feisty on this gorgeous Sunday morning, so Maggie and I kept more of a distance than we normally do.  I have this thing about wearing sandals whenever the weather allows in Montana, so I was foolishly walking mostly barefoot through a field filled with dandelions, and bees working those dandelions, so of course I got stung right in the arch of my foot.  Dumb.  Don’t do as I do.

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Mighty Chief, keeping watch over Gretchen’s Mirror and its resident loons.

We heard the loons screaming at “every other living thing,” as Brother Dear puts it, many times over the course of the long weekend.  Honeydew sometimes call the loons bullies, but I love to hear their silvery call, the sound of the wilderness, which I’ve expounded on many times before.

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Walking, talking.

We’re about 95% certain we saw a juvenile red headed pileated woodpecker on our walk.  Very cool, as neither of us thought the species inhabited our part of the world.  Maggie Rose has sharp eyes, like her daddy and her Nan.

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There!

May you always be on the lookout for the new, Mags.

Hope y’all had a nice long weekend.  We worked during most of the weekend, and felt privileged to be able to do so.  Our hats, as always, are off to all those who’ve served and are serving, so that we may keep our bees and our baby on an international border in peace.  Thank you.

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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For Maggie’s 2nd birthday bash, I borrowed Nan’s juicer, liquefied a couple of half empty jugs of crystallized honey, and poof!  Honey lemonade.

The toddlers liked it.

The adults liked it.

The adults who mixed it with cheap Cook’s champagne REALLY liked it.

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Here’s the recipe:

4 cups of lemon juice — I squeezed my own because I wanted to make lemon infused vinegar with the peels, but I don’t think there’s any shame in using bottled lemon juice

2 cups of Glacier County Honey

6 cups water

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Heat the honey and the water in a pot so that the honey will fully emulsify.  If you spray your measuring cup with PAM or something similar, it will be much easier to measure the honey.  Once the honey-water is combined, add it to the lemon juice.  I used some old chunk honey that had crystallized, so it had quite a bit of wax in it.  As a result, I poured the honey-water combination through a strainer before marrying with the lemon juice in order to get the wax out.  I like the wax, but toddlers can be so picky …

Chill the lemonade or add ice cubes and then adjust the water ratio.  I probably added another 4 cups, but everyone’s got a different “lemonade tooth.”  And tasting is half the fun.

It ain’t rocket science, but it’s mighty tasty, and looks pretty with a few lemon slices floating in it.

Thanks to my sweet mother-in-law for the beautiful skep drink server!

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Our youngest worker bee (don’t tell OSHA) turns 2 today.  I’m in the hospital, of course, receiving my weekly IVIG treatment, but we threw Maggie Rose a little birthday party on Sunday, and today she’s partying with Nan and Chuck all day and all night.  If Maggie could speak in complete sentences, I think she’d tell y’all that it’s good to be two.

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Precious shirt courtesy of my cousin’s embroidery shop, Buggy Boo’s.

Or she would, if she could get her nose out of the honey lemonade I made for the party.  It was a hit with toddlers and adults alike, and I’ll post the recipe soon.  More than one adult was caught mixing it with the cheap champagne bar we set up as part of the celebration.  Because, y’all know, that’s how we roll near Babb: whether it’s a wedding reception or a 2 year old’s birthday party, any reason to eat prime rib and set up the bar is generally good enough for us!

Maggie’s Chuck built her a water table for her hose and all of her toys, and the weather warmed enough that she and her toddler companions were able to play with it.  Several hours later, the sun disappeared and Pseudo Sista decided that shivering Maggie Rose needed a hot shower and some warm clothes, but that didn’t keep Maggie from staying friendly with the mud puddles.  I think it was the best day of her life.

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Maggie Rose, on the off chance you go back and read this online diary I’ve kept about our family, I want you to know that one cliche about parenthood is true: although you’re “only” two years old today, it is already hard for me to remember my life before you — and I had a very full life before you arrived in it, as I hope you will whether or not you have children.  But now it seems like you have always been with me, and I can’t imagine life without you.  It’s not all sunshine and daisies – your tantrums are not sources of joy for your Daddy and I – and there are moments when I really wish I could accept that last minute dinner invitation, or run down to Missoula to the Farmer’s Market with my Hot Buns, or hop a last minute flight to the beach.  It would be lying to claim otherwise.

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I recommend a serve-yourself, decorate-it-yourself-cupcake-bar, if you’re a lazy Mom like me who doesn’t care much about a mess.  Or the fact that my 2 year old may or may not have eaten five cupcakes over the course of the afternoon.  The cupcake bar was Pseudo Sista’s project: well done!  Delicious fun — the kiddos loved it.

But dinner parties and childless flights aside, each morning I start my day with your sweet, sleepy smile, as I part the blinds and reveal the amazing bird’s nest that your hair nightly transforms itself into.  And there’s the delight in introducing you to the pleasures of fried shrimp, coconut anything, and honey straight out of the hive.  And the wonder in your eyes when you noticed the moon for the first time, low on the afternoon horizon as the sun blazed.  And the pride on your generally dirty face when you grasped the concept of puzzles, and spoons, and how to drive the Cozy Coupe that Big Mama rescued from the dump.

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A birthday wish from your Uncle How.  How I wish you could meet.

Maggie, until your birth, I spent so much of my life as a Big Picture person, which is not a bad thing.  I’m one who likes plans and goals and big decisions.  But these last two years of minutiae, examining lilac blossoms and honeybees and pebbles and tiny toes with you, has been a wildly beautiful time for me.  Thank you, Maggie Rose.

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.   Some photo credits to Nancy Stone and Dawn Rauscher.  All Rights Reserved.

Glacier County Honey Company invites you and yours to join us for our 2nd annual Fill Your Own Bucket Day, at World Headquarters near Babb, Montana, on Saturday, August 10, 2013, from 8am-5pm.  We’ll be giving tours of the honey extracting plant, the hives, the wax rendering process AND selling honey for the lowest price of the year!

Here are the details:

If you bring your own (clean) containers, we’ll fill them with honey for you at a wholesale rate – ONE DAY ONLY, NO EXCEPTIONS.  Please do not show up the day before or the day after (or a month later, as happened last year) and ask us to honor these prices.  We pull all of our employees out of the field and change the setup on our entire extracting process for this one day in order to offer these prices, and that is only feasible for ONE day each summer.  Thank you in advance for understanding.

The price?  We’ll set it around August 1st, when we see what the market price for water white, raw honey is — we’ll announce it here, on our Facebook page, and on Twitter, at that time.  Or you can always email sales@glaciercountyhoney.com, fax 888-451-8669, or call 406-544-2818.

Last year, folks paid $2.65 per pound for containers under 20 pounds, and $2.45 per pound for containers over 20 pounds.  Pricing should be similar for 2013, but again, we’ll announce it by August 1.  There is a 60 pound per person limit, period.  That’s about a 5 gallon bucket’s worth.  If you are a business who needs wholesale honey, please contact us beforehand to discuss pricing, etc.  Fill Your Own Bucket Day is meant for our retail customers, only.

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Capped Glacier County Honey in the frame, just waiting to bee extracted.

Frequently asked questions about the honey, answered: yes, the honey is 100% natural, pure, and raw.  Unfiltered, unheated.  The best sweetener for you on earth, and the best tasting to boot.  Our bees are tops, y’all, and our locations in pristine Glacier County can’t be beat.

Ok, those are the details.  Here is the fun: in addition to filling your own buckets, tubs, and jars — we had lots of customers getting ahead of their Christmas gifting with precious Mason jars to fill last year! — you’ll be able to tour the honey extracting plant, meet the bees if you’re interested, see how beeswax is filtered and transformed into candles, ornaments, and the like, and pepper #1 Beekeeper with all your most burning questions.

I’ve got a few for him, too.  Like, when are our kids going to be big enough to help with this event?  Hmmm.

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Extracting honey the year we were married, at #1 Beekeeper’s family’s original operation, Chief Mountain Honey Company.  Did you know Chief Mountain Honey’s #1 Beekeeper, Bob Fullerton, is retiring from retail sales, and that Glacier County Honey Company is now handling Chief Mountain Honey’s retail accounts?  Details soon to follow! 

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Extracting in the Warehome, which we built the year after we were married to house Glacier County Honey Company.  That’s Neil, one of our employees, above.

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Rendering beeswax.

One last thing: wholesale prices mean CASH OR CHECK ONLY.  Please come prepared.

We’ll have all of our retail stock — honey, beeswax, and gifts — available, too.  Credit/debit is fine for those purchases, as long as the internet connection holds.

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Directions are here.  Mapquest/Google are not reliable.  Print these before you leave home.  Without a booster, you won’t have cell service near World Headquarters.

Pick out your favorite hike on Glacier National Park’s stunning best/East side and save the date – we look forward to seeing y’all!  Saturday, August 10, 2013.

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

At long last, the road to Many Glacier is not only plowed but open!  As I mentioned in my latest post, last weekend I got the medical go ahead for four days near Babb, the longest I have been home since January.  To say I was thrilled is the understatement of the decade, and I was also protective of my time with Honeydew and Maggie Rose.  I didn’t even tell my best girlfriends in Glacier County that I was eastbound.  I know they understand.

Saturday morning brought sunshine and sparkle, so we headed for our favorite spot: Many Glacier.

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After our arrival, we wandered down to the water’s edge, and gazed at Mt. Gould and the Angel Wing.  You can’t see it from this picture, but I wonder about the snowpack in the Grinnell Glacier basin – the Salamander Glacier is already clearly defined, and I feel like it should still look like it’s merged with Grinnell.  Hmm.

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We continued our gawking, pausing to admire the Swiftcurrent complex and Mt. Wilbur/the Heavy Shield.  I love the Blackfeet name for Mt. Wilbur, and am bringing it back, people!

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The water is gushing out of Swiftcurrent, by the way.

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Of course, Maggie Rose wanted to climb all four flights of stairs at the hotel.  Celebrating my 33rd week of pregnancy, I passed on that particular adventure.

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“What do you want for Mother’s Day?” Honeydew asked me on the way home.  While I was laughing at this clear admission that he had no plan, I replied, “To see a moose, of course!”

And of course, not thirty seconds later, what did we see on the side of the road?

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Hi, buddy.  Those are some nice antlers you’re growing there.  Have a nice summer.  I’ll be back soon, with another baby who will love your backyard, too.

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

As many of you know, in order to keep Baby Beekeeper #2 safe in utero, I’ve spent the vast majority of the past five months over the on west side of the Divide.  I’m grateful for the opportunity for exceptional health care for myself and our baby, even if occasionally snowed under by “why me?” thoughts.

Happily, the “why me” blues have been few as of late, between the stroke of July-like weather we’ve experienced on both sides of the Divide in the last few weeks, and the fact that this past weekend, my doctors gave me the go ahead for a four day sojourn at the Warehome!  It was longest I’ve been home with Honeydew and Maggie Rose since early January.

And it’s true: there’s no place like home.

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I like to think that the first semi load of bees, who arrived home from California on Sunday evening, feel the same way.

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The truck arrived unscathed!  And for a few nights we’ll sleep deeply again, unplagued by thoughts of 10 car pileups and other hazards of interstate commerce.  Until the next load is on the road, of course.

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The nets come off the trucks …

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And with these unseasonably warm temperatures, the bees are hanging out at their entrances and ready to fly!

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Honeydew unloads the pallets of bees from the semi via forklift.

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The bees will sit in the mega holding yard for a day or two, waiting to be dispersed all over Glacier County, and the borders of Canada and Glacier National Park.

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These hives ended up in our home yard, in the Big Field, just east of the Warehome.

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Aren’t they gorgeous?

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We have another 2 loads of bees to unload later this week, so the truck got right back on the road to California.  Safe travels to Tom, our driver, and our girls.

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Some photo credits to Travis Looney.  All Rights Reserved.

I know what it means to my heart.  If you read this blog, I bet it means something to yours, too.

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Happy Monday.

2013. Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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