This week I wanted to take a minute to give you a little glimpse behind the scenes, so to speak–to show you our homestead, our furry, feathered, buzzing & human family, and share a little bit of our lives with you. After all, one of the things that is most important to us is building connections and sharing stories through Handcrafted Honey Bee!
I couldn’t start off this post without talking about my #1 partner, best friend, husband, and co-owner Robert. You’ll get to know him a little better through his posts with Robert’s Recipes, but trust me when I tell you–he is the kind of guy that makes this world a better place. We’ve been married almost 8 years as of this post, and are dreaming of many, many more years having adventures together. Even though he currently holds a job as an engineer about an hour from home, we dream that someday he will work full time for Handcrafted Honey Bee.
You’ve seen a little bit of these munchkins on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and in this blog. Elijah (left) is 4 years old, and Isaac (right) is 2 1/2. In some ways, these two are the entire reason Handcrafted Honey Bee even exists! I started both Tehacha-Bee Farm and Handcrafted Honey Bee as a means to be able to work from home while spending my days helping them to grow and learn. Being a mother is my first and deepest calling…and I am grateful every day that I have been given the gift of these two goofballs.
We live on a 1 1/2 acre homestead in the rural mountain town of Tehachapi, California (about 2 1/2 hours north of Los Angeles). Both Robert and I grew up near major cities, so moving to the country was a big step for us! We’ve lived here for about five years now.
We share our homestead with plenty of furry, feathered, and buzzing friends. This is one of our dogs, Lucy–she is 11 months old and is the most patient, loving soul (especially with two rambunctious boys!).
This is our other dog, Sugar. Sugar is about 7 years old, and is one of the fastest dogs I’ve ever seen! She has taken it upon herself to be the guardian of the homestead…but also won’t hesitate to completely bathe you in dog kisses if you are in her good graces.
These are our cats, Midnight & Easter. They are the oldest “kids” on the property at 11 years old. They may not look like it, but they are actually brother & sister! I got them when I was still in grad school, and they have seen me through 4 different homes, marriage, children, surgeries, and much more. Easter (on the right) has seizures, so she needs meds twice a day–one of the many reasons it is a little more complicated to take time away from the homestead.
Outside, we actually have three different flocks of chickens (I’ll explain in a minute…it’s complicated). This is all that is left of our “big” flock–in the last year and a half, we’ve had 17 chickens in this flock that were able to free range across most of our backyard, but last year a bobcat broke in and killed 13 of them. Since then, we’ve had to keep them locked up tight in this smaller run. We’re hoping to get more chicks this spring (I’ll definitely post pictures if we do!).
This small flock of two is in a small area especially for our two chickens with some special needs. Limp Chickie (who you occasionally see me post about on Facebook) is in the front; she is a gentle and smart chicken with only one working leg (yep, she hops around 100% of the time). She is absolutely, positively my favorite chicken of the flock. Behind her is Popeye–a hen who was blinded in one eye about 2 years ago by a nasty rooster (who has since ended up in the stew pot). When she is with any “regular” chickens, they pick on her so badly that she ends up almost completely plucked. But she and Limp Chickie are BFFs–they don’t care that the other is different, and have a grand old time together. Because of their special needs, though, we need to keep them separated from the rest of our hens.
Finally, our third flock is our bantam flock. Bantams are a type of chicken that is about half the size of a regular chicken; these chickens are all fully grown! A couple of years ago we got some fertilized bantam eggs, borrowed an incubator, and watched these little ones hatch right in our kitchen! We have 2 bantam roosters and 3 bantam hens, and they have a small run where they can run around and partake in “bantics,” as we call it.
Behind the chicken runs, we have this beautiful hill full of oaks, rocks and wildlife. Although we don’t own any of it, we love the peaceful backdrop that it provides for our home. Sometimes, herds of cattle come grazing along the hill and pay us a visit!
On the side of the house are two very important things: our production studio and our tree swing. The production studio (left) is adjacent to our home and is where all of the production magic happens at Handcrafted Honey Bee. Stay tuned for a later blog post touring the studio, but for now, I’ll just describe that we use the entire 20′ x 12′ studio for production (complete with stainless steel tables, a white board, and lots and lots of raw materials). For any packaging materials & container storage, we have taken over about 2/3 of the garage (thank you honey!). It truly is a home-based business…and I’m running out of home to base it from!
We can see our hives from our kitchen window. Typically we have two hives in this location, but all of the beekeepers in our area have been struggling with their bees for the last few years because of the drought. Hopefully this wetter winter will help with more blossoms this spring! We intend on getting a couple more hives this spring–and when we have our “Hiving Day” I’ll be sure to post about it!
We live on a property with a lot of history–and one of the neat things is this little handcrafted playhouse that is at least 30 years old. It’s kind of neat to have things like this on our homestead!
Finally…one of my favorite things about living here are the scenes we get at sunrise and at dusk. Those quiet, sacred moments of transition help me to center myself and remind me why we moved here in the first place–to connect with each other, with our community, and with our earth. (It means so much to me that those same principles are now emerging as part of our core values in our business, as well.)
I hope you enjoyed that little peek into our lives! I feel so grateful every time a customer shares a picture, story, or experience with me about how much fun they had making their kits or sharing their products, and I wanted to share a little of our story with you as well. More to come in the coming weeks!
Speaking of stories…where are you all located? Do you live in a city or in a rural town? Do you homestead, have a window box with herbs, or subscribe to a CSA? I’d love to hear your stories, too.