Category Archives: Gardening

Meddling with the Bees and other Summer Pursuits

So I tried to meddle. But I can explain.

I tried to split my hive into two hives to prevent swarming. Sounds clever right? Even straightforward?

Maybe I’m just out of practise. I haven’t split a hive in a while. So I had 4 boxes in the beehive. And I checked them and made sure the boxes had eggs in it so that they could raise their own queen. Then I literally took the top two boxes and moved them over to their own bottom board. And left the bottom two boxes where they sat. I covered the top boxes’ entrance with grass so the bees would re-orientate themselves and voila! Two hives!

But it was not so. No. The top boxes actually housed the queen. The bottom boxes, queenless, didn’t raise a new queen. Thus after waiting the 28 days to see eggs from a new Queen, I piled all the boxes back together, with newspaper in between. The newspaper in between the separated hives allows the bees time to chew through the newspaper and become reacquainted with each other’s smells again so there is not a big bee war.

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All that to say, now I have one massive hive. Which is doing really well, by the way. And it is sure to produce lots of honey. But again, I am outsmarted by the bees!


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After keeping bees now for 7 years, my confidence levels has grown in some aspects, but still, I don’t have all the answers. Perhaps farming of any kind is a humbling experience, because we can’t control the weather, the conditions or the creatures we are trying to manage. And what a blessing that is! If I had to find flowers for 70,000 bees, we would be in great peril!

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Marc took this fantastic picture of Ramona. We joked and said the next time she goes missing again, this can be on her “lost” poster. Oh Ramona.

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We’ve also been outside, gardening, bubbling, doning hippy wear, and doing what people do when living on the gulf islands. Ya know, the usual…

Happy June Everyone!

April in Summary


In my head, I have been blogging. Even my camera has been blogging as it snaps pictures of our daily lives. But I just wrote the final piece to my Childbirth Educator certification. I’m working at a midwife clinic doing their office admin. I have a full load of doula clients. I am beekeeping. And I’m raising my three year old. The blog got crammed in a back cobwebby corner (let’s not talk about the corners in my house right now!) and finally I’m giving it a brief dust off. So here goes the April dump!


Between babies, I did get an Easter Feast but I did not get to paint eggs with Gabrielle. Gramma is splendid and filled in for me. When I got home, these beauties were waiting for me at the kitchen table. Way to go G & G!



I got her a couple toys because I knew Gramma was doing a chocolate easter hunt. I hypothesized that the toys would be more long-lasting. But I was wrong. A couple of the chocolate eggs were eaten immediately, but the next few days consisted of Gabrielle re-hiding the eggs so that her dolls could find them. She even set up an Easter egg hunt for herself just because she loved the whole process so much. And the toys got a total of oh, maybe 15 minutes.


Then came the Laundry Soap project.

We have been making our own laundry soap now for a couple years. My recipe is very simple. 1 cup of borax, 1 cup of washing soda, 1 grated bar of Ivory soap, a few drops of lavender and repeat until the containers are full. Gabrielle’s job has progressed from peeling the paper off the bars of soap to grating the soap. She gets through maybe 1/3 of the bar before she’s kinda done for a bit. Then she comes back to it. Not to brag, but seriously, her work ethic and attention span astounds me. It’s all that Farmer Influence right?



Age Three has been mostly very delightful. Partly because I refuse to fight the small stuff. Like getting dressed before going to the beach. It hasn’t all been wonderful by any means, but as a whole, it’s much better than two.




Gabrielle got new purple butterfly wings. We found them at a consignment store in town. When she remembers them, she loves them. (I’m realizing as I write this that I should have gotten her the wings for Easter!) One night after having barbecue burgers on the deck, Gabrielle had her wings on and she was talking about how when there is a big wind, she will go outside and then she will fly for real! She immediately reasoned that she would have to have a helmet on, of course.


The evening ended predictably.

With her attempting to fly. For Real.



And me helping.

I mean, how do you tell your child that you cannot fly? With purple butterfly wings? And a helmet of course.

You don’t!

You just try to make that dream come true. And laugh while trying.


The garden is coming along. We transplanted our onions and leeks from the greenhouse to the soil now. They are spaced fairly close together but it worked well last year. We are still eating our onions we grew last year. They are in a well-ventilated cooler. They stored much better than our potatoes, which we packed in sawdust. The potatoes have sprouted and are pushing through their cardboard box, begging to be planted. Not yet, potatoes! Not yet!


Last year the garden felt like Marc’s job. He ripped out the blackberry bushes and roto-tilled the beds. I did some weeding but it felt like minimal work compared to the colossal job he undertook. This year it feels much more even. I’m turning over the beds when he works. And when I work, he is amending the soil too. Now the garden feels like a family project. Gabrielle helps me water (and drinks from the hose- hippy points.) and she cheers on the onions and peas and garlic. She knows where everything is and she’s very excited about the tomatoes. Speaking of which, our tomato plants, while safely in the greenhouse, are flowering! Yay tomatoes! (as I try to block the overflowing counter from last year.)


There is more I’m excited to share with you. Some knitted toys, and some beekeeping. I’ll squeeze out some more time soon. Spring, with all it’s abundance, is certainly keeping us running this time of year.

Happy April, Friends.

Her Work

**First Off: I want to say: Welcome Home to my friends who faced a great ordeal and now are safe and recovering. I’m so so happy that they are with friends and family. Many many other people have said it more eloquently than I could, so I’m happy to let them wax away on their behalf. But just because I do not say so much about the whole thing, my heart is nevertheless bursting for them.**

I feel like I have not spent much time on Pender lately. My course I’m finishing up to teach prenatal classes took me to Vancouver last week. I got to stay with beautiful friends and see bits of my family. But I am just not a big city girl and I was happy to return home, even if it was only briefly.

The time I have been home has seemed even sweeter. My daughter looks and smells sweeter to me. My husband, well, that is not for the blog’s ears nor eyes. The grass is vibrant green. So much so that it almost hurts to look at it because the neurons in my eyes are firing so hard…. or something. The trees are popping with blossoms and finally the garden is starting to look like a garden again instead of a giant mud hole.


Gabrielle took a watering can to water our currant bush with it’s fuchsia flowers and I couldn’t figure out why it was taking her so long to get there. Then I realized she was watering every single dandelion and daisy along the way. By the time she got to the currant bush, there was barely a drop of water left in her watering can.




Oh yeah, so Gabrielle’s work. She takes it very seriously. She puts the groceries away in the fridge because it is her “work.” She checks the traps in the garden for slugs every day, because it’s her “work.” Above is her filling her bucket with cedar sawdust for the garden paths because it’s her “work.”


This work of hers is serious business. Other three year olds may believe that they play all day, but not her. Most of her life, she tells me, is working. No wonder she is exhausted by 7pm. (Me too…)





We have this driveway near our house that is quite steep. The rain flows down it and forms puddles at the bottom. Often in the winter, the puddles are quite significant and they have become a landmark. Like, “Lets walk to the puddles and look for that frog.” The Puddles have been a landmark for Gabrielle since she was a year and a half. And among a couple of my mom friends too. We would often take our kids there when there was a lot of rain so they could splash in the puddles and we would stand on the road watching them and visiting. (The road is very quiet.)

Marc even informed me one day, that a 4 litre milk jug of water fills up a puddle if you needed to artificially make some fun.

The funny part about The Puddles, is that we have never seen a car go up the driveway. And we have played there almost daily for a year and a half. Then the house went up for sale. They re-did the driveway with these huge stones. For a while, the puddles were filled in.



The girls figured out how to dig out the puddles and they were taking the big rocks laid down for the driveway and rolling them in the mud to make “chocolate rocks.” Then a man came walking along the road and walked up the driveway!

He was probably wondering why these children were playing at his driveway. He asked us politely to put the “chocolate rocks” back when we were done.



We dutifully replaced all the rocks and we tried to repair the damage the girls had done to The Puddles driveway. We scuffled home and stuck them in the bath to wash off their mud and our embarrassment.

In the evenings, we’ve been going down to Welcome Bay. (Also a landmark, the beach near our house.)


We’ve brought dinner down there and made an evening picnic out of it. It’s terrific to spend time together as a family, because it has seemed so rare lately. And this weather has been phenomenal. It reminds me that it’s only a few months of terrible weather and the rest of the year really is quite spectacular.





I have a dozen pictures of her just like this, but she’s talking in them all so I had to decide which one was the talking expression I wanted. I’m sure her story was quite enlightening.


Alright, I’ll admit it. We’ve just been picnic-ing everywhere.

Baby plants, Baby Bees and just Babies


Obviously we start with the best first. Babies!

I would say casually that they are popping out. But I must give credit to these beautiful women and how hard they work to birth their babies. However it happens, however long it takes, I am always amazed at the strength it takes to have a baby.


And to think that the journey doesn’t end when the baby comes out, it is just the beginning. My daughter seems to know this well. Pip, her doll, got left outside overnight by the woodshed. Gabrielle is nursing Pip back to health after her cold and lonely night.








The sun is returning to Pender Island. Glorious Spring Sun! The seeds are bursting and uncurling tiny leaves. And we have sewn seeds and while we wait for them to sprout, we run off to the beach to find rocks to paint.






And my bees! Well they are doing really well, thanks for asking. They still have honey in the hive after minimal feeding. That means that their location is exactly right for them. If they have enough food to sustain them through the Winter, then they will burst this Summer. As soon as there are drones in the hive, I will look at splitting them.

Spring! Spring is by far better than Winter!

Life in December


December brings a time of hibernating. A time of avoiding the petrie-dish of Pender Island play groups as hand, foot and mouth were going around, then lice, and then chicken pox! So we diligently open our advent every day and try to occupy ourselves with home things. So here are some snap shots of our boring home life.


Marc went out to the farm and cut down a tree. I specifically asked for it to be a bit spindly. I wanted something a little sparse. This Christmas, I am really embracing my hippy-granola-lovin’ ways.


I wrapped my presents this year primarily in second-hand cloth from a thrift store. I received a Christmas present from a midwife, in which the highlight was home-made granola! Score!


I finally cut my hippy daughter’s raggedy ends of hair. She’s three years old, and this is her first hair cut. Her ends were sun-bleached from our month in Mexico last year and velcroed together so well that they were determined in forming dreadlocks. Another check mark for Hippy.



This year, to Marc’s Christmas party, we brought a parsnip dish. From our own garden. Score two for Hippy. And our daughter scrubbed them because she loves scrubbing that mucky dirt off veggies.


In the morning, after hot chocolate and opening advent, we play “Having a baby.” This game involves someone (Gabrielle, me or sometimes the unfortunate Odetta) pushing out a baby and then getting checked by the doctor kit. One of my most favourite things about this game is the fact that my daughter always says “I will catch the baby!” Instead of “deliver” the baby. Score three for Hippy.




Then it snowed a little. A very little bit. Pathetic actually.


Ok so, I got my hair cut in February in Mexico in the back of a restaurant by our waiter. The haircut was fine. I’m not picky. This picture is me getting my second hair cut of 2013. And they styled it! Like it was an actual real hair-cut! I’ve been blaming my awful frizzy hair on my postpartum hormones. But no, the truth is, it is sheer laziness (or a shift in priorities.) I could have amazing hair like they do on TV, but I don’t. Because I don’t care enough to do This.Every.Day. Score another point for Hippy. Sigh.


Instead of straightening and then curling my hair, I do this all day. I talk “the guys.” -while they push out babies, or have tea parties, or get stuck in trees, or hog all the snacks.


Amid the playing, real work gets done too. My child has an amazing attention span. And she is a hard worker. She is good at weeding, washing dirty vegetables, doing dishes, sweeping the floor, and she helped me unload this truck that was full of firewood and now she’s sweeping it out. A Farmer’s Work Ethic. That’s what she’s got here.


One of our favourite inside Winter activities is baking. Which means I have to go on lots of runs when Daddy gets home.

I hope you’re enjoying your December in whatever way you can. We are just waiting it out over here, until Spring.

“Let’s go plant some garden, Mommy!”

“Um, nope. Not for months Babe. Not for months….”