I remember when my parents got their first chickens. They had just moved away from the golf course and built a cabin on forty acres. The land was an old cattle farm with a hundred-year-old “breezy” barn, and their chicken venture—and experience—was starting from scratch.
Dad made a sort of chicken condo, the Mar-a-Lago of Coops, and collected all the necessary (and arguably many unnecessary) amenities for a dozen hens. In his defense, my father was just used to his girls, Mom and me. As he was busting his tailfeathers in preparation for Chicken Delivery Day, I browsed the surprisingly vast chicken-themed apparel available at our local farm store. My mother landed a fashionable chicken purse at an upscale Lexington boutique.
When the chickens matured and the eggs finally arrived, calculating the cost—time, energy, finances, and worry—could have been overwhelming. But maybe that’s why “farm fresh” tastes so good.
Our beekeeping has been a similar struggle. Although I have a family of beekeepers, it was a lost art that had to be relearned. As my fiancé left Kentucky for Spring Training over a decade ago, my mom and I took a break from wedding planning to attend the Bluegrass Beekeeping School. The years have buzzed by and too many dollars have flown out the window, but those first jars of honey…oh, liquid gold!
Now that honey season is over, it’s time to prep the bees for winter. We are making sure they have enough to eat, and should chilly temperatures actually come, they’ll be snug as bugs in a…well…a wooden box. We are cleaning and sanitizing equipment, and my new favorite: making beeswax candles. I purchased beautiful molds and all the (perhaps unnecessary?) equipment for the craft, and set to work at my kitchen counter. It’s another initial investment with a satisfying result.
There’s just something special about that golden beeswax, cooled and set by the autumn breeze through my window. Something about being handmade, homemade, or farm fresh makes it worth it.
Neena is a Kentucky wife, mother, daughter, and beekeeper who does life in Owensboro. Her first novel, The Bird and the Bees, is a Christian contemporary romance set to be released in April 2020. Visit her at wordslikehoney.com.