keep it honest

OUR WEDDING: PT. 2 | DISPOSABLE FILM

 
eating cake
wedding toast
one of the boys
mimi and haze
running to gurney
dancing with gurney

Though the general ethic of our wedding celebration centered on sustainability—that is to say, non-disposability—there was one exception we were willing to make: disposable cameras. 

Film photography has played a special role in documenting our relationship & our lives, and we had hoped it could play into our wedding plans in some way or another. Due in part to our decision to change the date on very short notice, we ended up with what amounted to "crowdsourced" wedding photos. With a couple of very talented photographer friends leading the way, DSLRs in hand, our wedding guests captured the action themselves using cheap drug store cameras. 

Yesterday, when we went to pick up the film—with that bygone feeling of unknowing anticipation that comes with waiting to have your photos developed—we were overjoyed to discover rolls that had turned out even better than we had expected. In placing cameras in the hands of everyone rather than one, we are now able to (re)live so many beloved moments & faces that we may have missed the first time around. 


—M&S

THE MORNING AFTER | A DOWN HOME NEW YEAR

 
a messy table
mark and george

We set up an improv stage and improv-ed for hours. We made Top 10 Best & Worst lists for 2015. We articulated to one another how we feel the world perceives us. We consumed home brew and prosecco and more wine. We taught each other our best dance moves. We conducted blind taste tests with spices. We slow cooked pork shoulder and baked mini dark chocolate cakes with from-scratch whipped cream and goat milk caramel. We dunked homemade bread into honey, and in the morning we made two French presses. It was so full; so good.

We set the table in a way that would have looked great in photos. But it was 8 p.m. before supper was ready and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc was already empty. So we forgot about photos and soaked up every moment of this best friend reunion. It was the sort of unkempt party that travels into the wee hours of the morning. The sort that begs to be reminisced over while fully extended on the couch, coffee in hand.

As a couple, we have worked to create a 400 square foot space that is overflowing with music, plants, and quality food. Always good food. When we eventually washed the copious dishes and vacuumed the rugs, we found ourselves remarking on how little money we have, yet we feel totally rich in experience and in food. That's the gorgeous reality of working in agriculture + food, in knowing farmers, in investing what little money you do have in growing (and brewing) your own.

Welcome, 2016. 

coffee mug
table setting
marky
andrew in the morning
music and plants

—S

BITTERSWEET | AN UNEXPECTED HONEY HARVEST

 
honey-jars

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.

strainer-with-honey-dripping
cleaning-mason-jars
table-ready-for-honey
honey-from-tap
honey-in-progress

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."

holding-jar-of-honey

—M

KEEP IT HONEST: PART ONE | I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL . . .

 
beehive.jpg

You won't have to listen for very long before you hear Mark or I say, "I can't wait to not be a first-year beekeeper."

It is my sneaking suspicion that anytime we jump headstrong into something, usually without knowing exactly what we're doing, those kinds of sentiments are par for the course. There are unforeseen challenges, in which you are confronted with situations you did not even know existed; there are those moments, equal parts terrifying and humbling, whereby you consider the possibility that all of your efforts are for naught.

But it would be insufficient if I did not mention the glorious feeling of hard earned accomplishment that comes with new endeavors. There is nothing quite like it. It might seem that the honey harvest would be the crux of accomplishment for a beekeeper. Or for those who are a little more familiar with the world of apis mellifera, it might be assumed that catching your first swarm, or even having a colony healthy enough to swarm, would be pinnacle moments.

For us, and I suspect for many ecocentric beekeepers, accomplishment has always been about the health and comfort of the bees. Our relationship with the honeybees is important, and it is one that is constantly in flux. Hive inspections are predicated on the understanding that if the bees are too disrupted (for any number of reasons), or if we make a mistake and throw off the harmony of their colony, we will step away. We will go home, because let us not forget that the very hive we are sticking our clumsy fingers into is a honeybee's one and only home. They have fanned, chewed, regurgitated, and died to build their home. Who are we to exert dominion over that ecosystem?

To avoid these foes, the beekeeper influences the conditions under which a colony exists. Structure is important if you hope to have any real chance at a symbiotic honeybee / beekeeper relationship. Frames (the wooden structures that honeycomb is built into) make a world of difference. We know that because we left five inches of our top super (the box that frames rest in) frameless. On accident. We always meant to get around to installing the final two frames, but one week turned to three, and when we returned . . . This happened.

naturalcomb.jpg

With open space, but no frames, the bees set to building freeform comb, which they secured to the hive lid. In case you are not quite following, it means that as soon as we opened the lid, we ripped apart the top of new, highly delicate honeycomb, rendering their honey exposed and their hive mentality something to the effect of Very Mad.

I will spare the unfortunate details of all that followed. It was upsetting, very sticky, and not our best moment as a couple. We did what we could, and then we left: dejected, swollen from beestings, and wholeheartedly disappointed in our own negligence. 

But we went back two days later and gently harvested a bit of honey. Because that's what you do when you are passionate about your endeavor. You read up on it, you return to your project, and you remember that there will come a time when you are not a first-year beekeeper.

jarsofhoney

—S