{ Journals from our First Family Trip - Day One }

Here's an audio recording of this blog : ) 

   We just got back from a pretty amazing camping trip to the hot springs, and the first we've taken with the babes !! We'll be posting a journal for each day - this is the first ; )  There will be pics in the others, nothing to see here though ...

________________ Day One - Monday, Morning: ___________

Juwels: is still packing things up and finishing all the delectable entrees and side dishes that she's scratched into her informal menu for the week.

Me: making good on an 8am dental appointment that I'd scheduled the week before ..

The guy I go to is in Sedona (best views from the chair) and luckily I'd come to my senses the day before and decided Not to ride the motorbike 2000 feet down the switchbacks, through oak creek canyon and into red rock country just after 7am. It was a much better ride on the wide bench seat of the truck, heat blowing from the dash and Jack Johnson taking my mind off the impending chair.

Back up the hill - (didn't get any work done on that visit .. (just xrays). And juwels was still in the kitchen .. sampling her homemade bowl of caramel, and sweet jesus is was good. I would later tell her, licking the spoon, that I thought this caramel could be a good treatment for depression, or maybe given to people in place of morphine on the battlefield. 

Juwels assigned me jobs - chop the firewood, get the goat feed together, climb the cherry tree and pull the hammock chairs down, make sure all the house plants were watered and happy, turn the hot water heater down to "vacation mode", collect any last minute eggs from the coop (we'd need these), and a couple hours later, finished with the tasks I was suited for, I realized that it was going to be a late camp setup, so I fired up the motorbike after all and buzzed into town to fill up at the local grass fed burger joint.

Pulling back onto the ranch with a brown paper bag containing a half eaten burger and fries tucked under the belly of my leather jacket, I found juwels sweeping out the back of the truck. We piled everything in, around 5pm, and the goats had taken advantage of the swinging front gate and ambled off somewhere up the hill.

As I warmed up the truck, I noticed that we seemed to be missing something(s) in the extra cab. I pulled down to the fork in the road and saw the babes up the hill, nibbling fresh green grass, and looking down at us with their googly eyes.

Juwels popped the suicide doors open on her side of the truck, and called for them to hop in. But they just stood up there, chewing and wagging their tails. I tried to pull the, "Okay... we're leaving you" routine by slowly pulling away, but they weren't going for it. 

Shifting into reverse, doors still hanging open, I skidded up the hill beside them, "Get in, ya little stinkers."

But it took juwels crinkling the bag of Krispy Crunchies to get them to come tumbling into the truck (we'd folded the narrow seats up in the back cab, so they had plenty of room to sit or stand) and off we went.

I'd fueled up the truck earlier in Sedona, so there was nothing to slow our progression down the freeway and into the desert. Going 75 miles an hour, up and down pine covered hills, we talked about the bees, and not so much of keeping them, but fostering them and camping out beside the hives some nights, pressing an ear to the box and seeing the girls swarm the flower fields at dawn's early light.

Ezzie lied down, but chia stayed on all four dainty hooves, "surfing" around the turns, and in the small open space beside my elbow on the armrest, I could feel her little white-tipped skunk tail whisking back and forth every 30 seconds. She seriously wagged her tail for most of the ride ... even when she was getting in trouble for peeing in the truck (good thing we have rubber floors and not carpet. )

Speaking of the goat's bathroom cycle, pretty much we just had to pull off as much as made sense, and they always seemed to have more. About 15 miles down the 17, we pulled off at a lovely scenic viewpoint (overlooking Sedona and a great expanse of juniper covered valley) and urged the girls to "go potty" ... "gooooo pooooooty", and they did. Rewarded with treats, we were back in the truck and racing the sun to the horizon.

______________ Monday - Evening. _______________________ 

Pulling off at Camp Verde, we debated whether or not we should stop off at the gas station to pickup ice and an extra lighter. This would also give us an additional potty break for the girls, but I had ants in my pants, and kept my sights trained on the pull off to the dirt road .. they could make it !!

Passing cattle ranches and pecan fields, we buzzed passed town and into the stark desert hills. Chia's little tail was still wagging, and I could feel a small breeze on the back of my arm every time. It was the cutest damn thing, and we were all so happy to be heading off together.

I reached my left arm awkwardly behind me and got a hold of her little tail (which is the shape and size of a pointer finger under the fur) "gimmie this little waggin tail," I said.

I was talking about how stinking cute she was and juwels was saying, "does poppa got your tail, chia ??" when I heard a tinkling sound. It took the sound, tinkling, to register first in my brain, and then I also noticed that a few of my fingers had an odd warm sensation.

"She's peeing!!" I called to juwels, reeling my hand back and studying the seemingly paralyzed fingers.

"What ??"

"She just peed ... she peed on my hand," I said.

"I told you we should have stopped for ice," juwels said, pulling out a roll of paper towels (without offering me one) and flopped over the backrest of the tall bench seat with the spray bottle in the other hand.

"That's bad potty, chia," she said, "Baaaaaad potty !!"

Her tall boots were hovering about eye level beside me, legs in black tights, bent at awkward angles and kicking with the effort,  and she bobbed around, spraying and wiping. I was playing my favorite audio book, and tried to tune out the play-by-play commentary coming from under my seat, "Oh ... how can she pee this much?? She just went 20 minutes ago ... That's a bad potty, chia, okay - you have to wait till we stop. At least we have rubber floors. Maybe we should pull off and see if ezzie has to go??"

"We're almost there," I said, stepping on the gas.

Three minutes later, she was back up on the seat beside me, still describing every nook and cranny she'd cleaned in detail, and her cheeks were bright red from all the hanging upside down. She pulled a final paper towel off for me, but I declined, "It's already dry," I said.

We got to the pull off, and as I shifted the truck into park on the dirt road, we both jumped out and grabbed the girls (they tend to go potty as soon as the truck stops, so you have to hurry). With the four doors all hanging wide open and Edward Abby's 'Desert Solitaire'  playing on the speakers and describing almost the exact scene that we were standing on the edge of, vast hills, cactus, mesquite, grazing cattle and the songs of cactus wrens, we sang the song of good potty, and our prayers were quickly answered. The girls were all ready to set in on some prime wild flower graze, when we scooped them up, tossed them back in the truck and lumbered off.

About 5 miles down the dirt road, juwels thinks it's because of the bumpiness, chia peed on ezzie (ezzie was laying down like a good girl).

I was the one to notice it. "What smells like wet fur," I asked. Juwels looked perplexed. "It smells like a wet dog," I said. "Is somebody licking themselves back there?' I asked, immediately knowing that it made no sense, and that it would take a lot of moisture to throw that strong of a scent ..

Juwels looked back there, and said, "Chia ... that's Baaaaad potty!! You don't pee on your sister. That's Bad Potty, okay !! ??"

(By the way - they normally -never- do this ... ) 

She was in the process of climbing back over the seat again, but knowing that we'd soon be driving on cliff edges with no guard rails, and that a kick in my face could send us all rolling head over tin cups, I said, "Wait - I'll pull off."

We pulled off, and as I was doing My good potty, the girls walked up beside me and showed me that they could do theirs too ... chia only had a few drops, but seemed to want the positive affirmation, "Good potty, chia. Goooood potty, ezzie mez"

I smelled the wildflowers and mesquite in the air, and called back to juwels that we should keep our bees out here. She agreed, and called the three of us back up and out of the wash, saying that she wanted to get to camp before dark - this would not happen. 

About 5 more miles down the road, because of the bumps, juwels says, "it rattles it out of them" ezzie peed, and we ran out of paper towels. The sun was already behind the mountains, but the mountains were high on the horizon, so we'd still have at least 30 more minutes of gloaming light. We passed more cars heading out, stopped and snapped a few pics of a big black bull on the roadside, clicked on the high beams, drove over black shadowed potholes looking like like empty bathtubs in the truck's lights, and made it to camp without another accident.

_______________ Monday - Night _________________________

Juwels had a special camp in mind, one at the very end of the row, next to  the only spot where the river narrowed and the water made a constant rushing chorus. We'd been told about the spot from a local who said that he'd been coming there for 10 years and only found the spot open once. It was tucked way in, and the hope was that no newcomers would even know it was there. We pulled over a few humps and through a wash in low gear, and were delighted to find the spot all ours ; )

It was beyond black - the moon had not come up from behind the rim, and the goats followed us around not knowing what to think. I pulled off my shoes and dug my toes into the soft and silty brown sand, and something came alive inside me, like a switch had been thrown. The crickets were going full scale and the night air still had a touch of heat in it.

By the light of a lantern, we descended a narrow dirt staircase which I'd cut out with a shovel almost a year ago to the day. At the base, we found ourselves on the mossy edge of a small swirling cove. We normally do our dishes in this spot beside a turtle-backed boulder, but I occupied myself with splashing cold water on my face and the back of my neck, fully waking up for the second part of the day.

Behind the open truck bed, I setup a small metal bucket of goat feed (grain) and let the girls feast while we setup camp. A few minutes later, as were were re-bending the metal legs on the foldout picnic table, we heard the goats come running and crying from around the truck and to our sides. They did Not want to be separated from us in the dark new place, and in the coming days, we'd find that they didn't want us to be separated from each other, all four, at anytime day or night, they insisted that we stick together and complained loudly if anyone should break that bond. 

Flying bugs crowded around the lantern, thinking they'd finally reached the moon, and I apologized, sincerely, to the few who'd found their way beneath the glass. We pulled out wood for the fire and the cooler full of food, but skipped both in trade for star gazing in our reclined chairs (chia insisted on laying directly on top of my lap and chest in the chair, and ezzie curled up between us.)

** Oh, there was a 20 or 30 minute stretch while juwels was organizing other things in the camp, when I dug out my recorder, (taking notes) and went on a nonstop riff about the warm sweetness of the air and the cut shadows on the trees and the rumbling song of the river, but I haven't listened to any of it yet .. never do.

We watched satellites skating across the sky, and juwels wondered what isolated tribes must think of these things when they see them... flying gods?? We marveled at the idea that we exist at all, and then, while holding hands, and almost breaking each other's fingers with the squeeze of surprise and delight, we saw hands-down the most amazing shooting star ever.

It came screaming across the sky, with a tail twice as thick as normal, and threw a wake of sparks and fire, then, midway across the sky it exploded - literally exploded from a yellow/ white stream into an orange ball on the black sky - and then in its original color again, kept cutting across the heavens before vanishing. Juwels squealed when it exploded, and I held my breath and didn't dare blink.

After a second, she broke out into laughter and praise that surly could be heard at the far reaches of that camp, and I didn't want to talk about it, thinking it was the kind of thing that just needed to be felt, a magic stored away for later. Plus, I was still in a blank shock with no words.

She, the humming bird, was more of the feeling that it needed to be explored, chanted, celebrated and howled at. We finally blinked, unlatched our stuck hands and decided that it was a great time to setup our bags under the wild fruiting mulberry tree.

___________________Monday: Bed Time _______________

As soon as the bags and mats were setup, the goats immediately lied crosswise on both, cutting them off at half length. Hmmm ...

We hadn't brought their indoor bed, thinking it would get dirty beyond repair and that they might pee on it, but they were looking at us like, "okay .. this will do just fine, but where are you guys going to sleep ??"

We tried evicting them from the bags, but they wouldn't budge, and we had to walk off into the darkness, to get them to scamper off the bed to follow us. We had an extra blanket, and folded it up beside the bags, and with a little coaxing, they both nestled up beside my bag, and only got up a few times to pee and do their berries dangerously close to my head. The next day we'd build a little buffer with milk crates above our heads to keep them at a better distance when doing midnight potty times.

I woke up throughout the night when the girls would get up, holding them at arm's reach and covering their wet spots with a handful of sand. Ezzie woke me up a few more times, and I had to shake her out of bad dreams to get her to stop whining. I woke up on other occasions, too, somewhere between dream and reality, and saw the trees overhead in strange computerized filters through my sleepy eyes and liked it.

For deeply engrained reasons of her own, ezzie found it necessary to dig in the lose sand (dust, really) every time she came back to lay down, and I tucked my head in my borrowed mummy bag and made peace with the fact that she'd be covering me in dirt all night long throughout the week.

We'd mentioned hiking out to the hot springs at first light to avoid seeing anyone, but when I noticed a grey-blue shade to the morning sky and asked juwels if she was up to it, she just yawned, made a little humming noise and rolled over, so we left it at that.

   ******* I figure I'll just post different days on different blogs (while at the same time pasting them onto here to make a master) but this is the push off to the trip. The rest of the days aren't quite as linear, and roll through long spans of hanging in the hammock chairs beside the river, reading beekeeping books and listening to the waves, hiking out to the springs, avoiding dogs (packs of dogs), wielding a pistol in the night, hearing things, trying to identify large tracks with very long nails in the mud beside our camp, and witnessing the (sometimes dangerous) elements.

More to come, working on it now ; )

p&j .. and c&e 

  ... if you liked that, and would like to continue on, here's a { Link } to the second of three parts .. also on audio : ) 


{ Break-In @ The Hive }

alOha ; ) 

   I came across these pictures today, and thought we'd share a little tale on raising our kids ...  

   Now this happened a while ago, actually on the night that we were finishing our Bio Video and uploading it for that contest at the last possible second. And back then, we didn't have real internet here at the Hive, just a USB thing extended on a long cord, out the window and paper clipped to the eave of the roof, so we had to go over to my brother's place to get the right upload speeds for youtube. 

   And back then, we also had a problem with the back door not closing properly ... and this is how the burglars entered. I guess they were more vandals than burglars, since they didn't take anything away but rather consumed all they wanted right on the premises.  

   I was the first to walk in on the scene, luckily, because it gave me a chance to step out onto the deck and warn juwels (she's very particular about the cleanliness and organization of her space) "Okay ..." I said, "Ummm ... there's a mess in there. I just need you to prepare yourself before waking in." 

   She pushed passed me through the open door and gasped. 


Potting soil, strewn on the floors, and plants nibbled down to the narrow green stalks. 
It was a gruesome scene indeed.

   We found evidence of little hooves strolling across counter tops and goat lips grazing from the trash can. These little punks were partying, dancing on the ceiling. If we had a chandelier, no doubt they would have been swinging from it.

This orchid was sampled (from a standing position on the dining table) but lucky for her, she wasn't up to taste.. )

   We also have antique bottles on the sill full of spring water and fostering vine clippings. They were spilled and toppled, but somehow not broken. 

   The hanging plant on the left, which juwels prized and named Rapunzel, used to touch the ground ... no more. 

   Finished candles, wrapped and ready on the packing table, were sniffed and chewed and tossed aside.
   OooOoo .. Pappa was not happy to come home to this after working overtime on the shoot, video editing and interview. 

   And in the pouring room, we found a mess of candles with dents and cartoonish teeth marks. They must have slowed by this point, because most of the product was left untouched ... Or maybe it hit them how far afoul they'd gone ... Or maybe it was the fact that most of the house plants that they were eating were mildly toxic, and they had had enough .. we'll never know what compelled them to flee.  

   When we got back, they were just out in the yard, playing around like nothing was wrong, and after surveying the damage in the house, I called them over and gave them a good talking to. (This mostly consisted of parading them around the crime scene by the scruff of their necks and barking and growling and making all sorts of angry goat noises which I hoped they'd connect with their actions.)

   Pappa's N-o-T happy ... N-O-T Happy .. (we were laughing and reaching for the cameras though ... but they didn't need to know that.)

   They're goats .. I know. And they eat plants, sure. But they'd been warned, and trained, about these plants, and jumping on counters, and they knew just what they were doing. (smarter than dogs, they say ... More stubborn too. )

   After that, we never had a problem with the plants again. If we have them in to sit by the fire or to listen to one of juwels' piano recitals, all it takes is a sharp look or a billy-goat grunt, and they pull their little snoodles far away from our taunting green housemates ; )

   It was seriously a crime scene, and I wished so bad we had a security camera rolling when it happened. The door has since been fixed, and the plants are back to normal ; )

      p&j  ... and baaAad baaaAaad c&e


  .... oh, juwels just reminded me that there -was- one other occasion that they got in through that old trick door. This was a while after, and we were out of town in NY for 10 days, and our neighbor was watching the babes. And on one evening she came by after dark to lock the chickens up and check in on the girls, and they were nowhere to be found.

   She walked back and noticed the door hanging open, and knowing what had happened with the plants and candles in the past, thought, "Oh Sh*t" !!!

   It was dark, and she couldn't find the light switch from the doorway, so she flicked her flashlight on. Wincing at what she might find, she saw the goats in the spotlight, snuggled up on the futon and totally asleep.

   "I looked around, and they hadn't touched anything." she said, "And I felt so bad moving them out .. they didn't want to budge, and they were giving me a look like, 'Nooo ... this is where mommy and poppy live. Leave us here .. Pleeeeease !!"

    Too cute - and Gooooood girls  ; ) 


{Sweetness & Sorrow - The Plight of the Honey Bee}

So .......

   We've been looking around for a good honey connection, so we could start providing wholesome, honest honey to our friends and collectors (bee pollen too !!)

   And sadly, we haven't found what we're looking for, but we have found the motivation to finally make a direct change to a problem that's been on our minds for a long while.


    As many of you know, bees are not only a friend to mankind for their sweet and healthy honey, but more importantly, they play a huge part in the food chain by passing pollen and playing cupid between flowering plants. 

    The majority of the time, the bees are hired out and stuck in some city-sized span of a single crop - called a monoculture. In the States this is largely almonds or citrus, but over a third of our fruits and veggies rely on the bees pollination.

   Feeding bees only citrus flowers is the opposite of what we know to be a "well balanced" diet, like eating nothing but tomatoes or corn. And the product = sluggish bees, more prone to health problems and weak to fend off common internal invaders ; (

   Another problem, and one that is more direct to affect we humans, is that most of the food grown in the States is saturated with chemicals ... sprayed from the air, poured in the soil, and even genetically "programed" into the seed itself. (oh ... no, here's one of these hippie rants coming on .. ha ha ha, I'll spare you, but we'll leave it at this: the bees ingest the nectar (and the chemicals) with which they make your honey ... for your tea and biscuits.)

   This is worse for the simplistic bee than for you. We'll survive, probably, we'll just have to expand our livers, drink an extra cup of coffee to fend off our own sluggishness, and keep filtering this industrial age we're living in.

   Last thing - and then we'll get to the good news !!   

   In the wild, bees eat honey. They eat nectar and honey through the Spring and Summer, and they set aside a lot of honey for the winter months when there's not a flower to be found.

   In the Winter, there's no work to be done, and the bee girls just hang out in their ultra-organized fem community, rubbing wings with the queen and eating their nutrient rich honey till the next Spring. But .. to many beekeepers, these winter boxes are all loss (burning honey with no output) so .... 

   Now I'm going to throw this out there, and I don't want to shame anyone or make anyone feel bad ...  As someone who's been involved in small business for over a decade, and just having an idea of worldly biz, I understand how these things happen. The industry can be a tricky place when things become common practice and the big boys are telling everyone that something is safe (and affordable) .. and there's so much pressure to be competitive with pricing. So most people try to do as much biz a possible ..  But the way the game works right now is that all that Winter honey the bees have been setting aside during the season is normally robbed completely, and a bucket of chemically grown, gmo corn syrup is poured in for the winter feast.

   As I said, I think the corn syrup thing has been handed down as an industry standard, (I've seen beekeeping supply books advertising corn syrup by the semi-truck load..) and the boys upstairs said it was perfectly safe (don't they always say that) and if Joe down the way is pulling that extra honey and feeding syrup, that means he'll have more stock, and he can afford to sell his stuff cheaper, so what choice is there? And we ... the consumer, are bargain hunters, not rich, so the supply, price and standard change, and we're drinking from corn syrup sickened bees with an unbalanced diet and living around so many toxic chemicals ...

   And we wonder why they're dying ???


   And now - the good news !!!! By the way, I love the people that will sit still and read this much text on the internet. A rare breed indeed ; ) Hungry minds !!

   So .... since it has been proving hard to find sweet gold from bees who eat their own honey, year round, and steer clear of chemical crops ... we've decided to start beekeeping with the theme of loVe, respect, and nature as a guide, rewriting the current script of a bee's life. Free the bees !!

   Our bees will be happy bees ; ) And they will survive mainly off desert wildflowers, cactus blossoms and blooming trees in the wild. (the State offers many sites to leave bees for the season, and their work helps those beautiful spring flowers bloom in all those scenic towns (like Flagstaff and many other under pollinated places in nature ; )

   And the honey that we'll harvest, pure and honest honey from happy bees, will be the most Mmmm-azing stuff you've ever tasted ; ) Our honey will bee raw and unpasteurized! Most commercial honey is processed at high temperatures (to keep it runny) and unfortunately many of the amazing enzymes and health benefits are cooked off ; (

  We'll bee shipping worldwide! They say eating local honey is good for local allergies, and that can be true, but does it outweigh all the other commercial junk that you might be ingesting too? Our girls will be free and wild and happy and healthy ; ) And they'll live and thrive in a buzzing community, sustaining the way mother nature intended.

   I think we'll be starting a kickstarter campaign soon, to raise money for hives and happy bees, and we'll need a nice long trailer to haul our girls into the clean and wild desert. Or maybe we'll find an angel or grant to put wings on our dreams even sooner. We'll have thank you gifts for people who donate - sweet raw honey from our first harvest.

   If you'd be interested in helping out with a donation (and earning a credit for some raw honey at the same time) send us a message or comment below, and we'll make sure we reach out to you when the time comes ; )

   We're excited to make our dreams come true and finally learn the art of beekeeping !! So if any of our friends already have a passion and a gift for the craft, we'd love to hear from you too ; )

   We'll be starting small, but we hope to grow with the Spring flowers and possibly become a known source for the healthiest pure honey, and you can help us make it happen ... and maybe even start a movement among other small honey families. If the people ask for it, and are willing to pay an extra dollar or two for it, I think beekeepers around the globe would respond with a better product from a happier hive ; )

Long live the Queen,

.... let's make sure the honey bee doesn't become a thing of the past.