harvest

ON VEGETABLE FARMERS + ABUNDANCE

 
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November, in its kindness — how we have waited. There's something about the calm and unassuming nature of November, or maybe it's the prelude to a season of grandiosity and sweet treats, but more likely it's the quietness of the vibrant leaves falling and the snow not quite arrived. Whatever the case, November is handedly our favorite month. Years ago our copy of A Sand County Almanac arrived in the mail with a bookmark depicting a red fox with the words "November is kind" beneath him, like some kind of epitaph. A curious little treasure; a most agreeable epitaph.

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This month has been particularly bountiful, food-wise. We intend and hope to always have bountiful and healthful food in our larder. Still, the future is unpredictable and we want to pause with gratitude for this year, should there come a time when food like this is sparse. Since returning to Ohio we've had the pleasure of lending our hands on an organic produce + flower farm. The commute is unreasonable at two hours, but the pleasure of working alongside Kristy + Aaron and their crew is wholly worth it; a kind of haven. It's a place that expects much and gives more in return. Days on their farm are suffused with joking and great conversation and reciprocal respect — qualities that seem surprisingly rare on farms (and workplaces in general)! Vegetable farming is back breaking work, and although we do not want to be vegetable farmers ourselves, we are hugely grateful for people like Kristy and Aaron who devote their lives to the pursuit of the Tender Carrot, of the Ripe Tomato, of paving a different (healthier, tastier) road for food consumption and land stewardship.

For the black beans, the garlic, the onions, the cabbage and the tomatoes; for this season of kindness and abundance; and for the farmers who work every day to put food on our tables: thank you! 
(And if you never have, you really must try a good carrot.)

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—M&S

BITTERSWEET | AN UNEXPECTED HONEY HARVEST

 
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Our honeybees swarmed. That is to say, they left. We knew what we were getting into when we became beekeepers—we have read all about Colony Collapse Disorder, and we have heard our beekeeping mentor talk about how he continues to lose half of his hives each year. But none of that prevented our chests from tightening the way they did when we walked up to a silent hive early last week. It didn't change the feeling of sorrow we felt upon realizing what had happened. It didn't silence the persistent thoughts that we had failed as beekeepers in our mission to help save the bees.

Needless to say, our catchphrase "I can't wait to not be a first-year beekeeper" still rings true.

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As it turns out, honey helps. It helps a lot. 

We had initially feared losing our bees after a long, cold Ohio winter—at which point, they could have already consumed most or all of the honey that they had stored from the previous season. However, since they chose to swarm during this unusually warm month of November, they left us with a bounty of liquid gold. How very bittersweet.

Harvesting raw honey is a very slow, very sticky processlike most things beekeeping. Our friends at The Wholesome Hive were kind enough to let me occupy their home for an entire morning & afternoon, uncapping honey comb & extracting honey using their hand-cranked centrifuge. After much straining & draining, I returned home with a very heavy bucketful of honey. 

After spending a small fortune on mason jars, the final, unexpected & bittersweet harvest of our first season as beekeepers is complete. We haven't finished weighing our product, but we estimate there is somewhere between 40 - 50 lbs of honey sitting on our kitchen table waiting to be gifted, bartered, and consumed. Thank you, honeybees, for your generosity. Though our hearts are broken, our coffers are full. And we know that we will be better beekeepers next year.

In the words of Jack Kerouac: "Praised be honey at the source."

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—M