A Bear and Miguel get the Last Laugh

September means different things to different creatures.

As mentioned previously, for Ben, Jim and Emily, September brings a return to school as teachers or teachers in training. Not so for Will who remains a student with no choice but to read what his teachers slap in front of him. He showed me his pile of books for English yesterday. It is an understatement to say this is about the most dire, depressing pile of English books ever assembled on the planet.

The stretch when he gets to read Waiting for Godot, The Stranger and Heart of Darkness should be particularly fun. Maybe it will be during mud season when we’ve had eight months of bad weather and it already takes true grit to get out of bed in the morning.

For our wonderful new son-in-law, Miguel, September means finishing his job with Americorps doing work to help victims of Hurricane Irene and joining the team at Green Hope Farm.

Today was Miguel’s first day at Green Hope Farm. It started at 4 am when a bear tried to destroy our four beehives.

Jim and I heard the bear ripping off the lid of a hive, leapt from our bed and yelled our heads off to try and scare the bear away. Apparently our imitation of Maori warriors worked because the bear ran off after knocking over only one hive.

By the time Miguel arrived a little after seven, we had put the hive back together, drunk a lot of coffee (Jim) and tea (me), and made a big batch of chills rellenos for Miguel to give him a taste of home on his first day in the saddle here.

The garden landscape was also meant to comfort Miguel as it is flooded with a marvelous Mexican Flower right now, Mexican Torchflowers and a zillion pepper, tomatillo and tomato plants that I planted in a section of the garden I have called Calle Miguel ( and not without controversy as my own children want to know why I never named a part of the garden after them- boo hoo.

In any case, it was wonderful to welcome Miguel aboard.
We also welcomed new staffer Alli Howe last week, so we now have three of our new people with us: Tom Cardew, Alli Howe and Miguel. They are doing a great job learning all the different jobs. I have finally written a training manual for new staff, and all of us are editing this document to try and improve it before next week when another new person, Lilly Callahan, arrives.

In the meantime, getting the hives through the night is the next goal.

In just a few hours we will know if it was just September 5th that was all about honey for the bear or if September is going to be a month of honey maneuvers.

Ironically, Miguel was very focused on bears when he moved here. Would he run into them in the woods or in any way be in danger from a bear? We laughed him off, explaining that he would be lucky if he EVER saw a bear around here. Since moving here last September, he has had a bear at his and Lizzy’s back door, a bear in his and Lizzy’s garbage and now today a bear almost greeting him on his first day of work here.

Who is getting the last laugh now?

This afternoon, Jim and I tied a string of bells in a ring around the hives and cinched three out of four hives together with canvas strapping. The bees in the fourth hive that got knocked apart are so mad they wouldn’t let Jim protect them with the strapping. He gave up after he had a couple dozen stings through his suit. The idea behind the strapping is that by tying the hive boxes and top and bottom together, the bears can knock the hives over but they won’t fall apart as the one did last night.

I really hope we don’t have to find out tonight how this protection method works. Like a fireman, Jim has taped the boots to his bee suit so he can don the garment extra fast, but I would be happy to have this suit molder on the vine and everyone get a good night’s sleep- except maybe Will who will be up reading one of his happy books.

Unexpected Garden Art

Yes this really is a shovel covered in Morning Glories! I left it there what seems like yesterday when I was digging carrots….. How on earth did this happen?

In the face of keeping up with the new indoor order flow we seem to have dropped the ball or make that dropped the shovel in the vegetable gardens!

When I noticed this silliness yesterday it cracked me up- I’ve seen faked up design elements like this in magazines, but believe me, this was pure serendipity in the face of basic vegetable garden neglect.

Fortunately, the field of Red Shiso that you can see a bit of in the background of this photograph is doing very well- We can’t neglect that blessed crop as it’s key to every bottle of Essence!

Love Live the Red Shiso and Bless the Elementals who know how to make a point with humor and beauty!

Various Sheehans Take Flight

As we welcome new staffer Tom Cardew and the return of Kelly O’Leary, we also bid ALOHA to various Sheehans who held the fort this busy, busy summer.

First I would like to thank Emily who has worked full time here for the last year. Emily has just started a graduate program to get certified to be an elementary school teacher. We will miss her in the office but know this was a heartfelt decision and one that takes her on a path of genuine passion and joy.

It was great to have Emily here this last year for many reasons. Emily knows an awful lot about Flowers and their Essences. Anyone of you who connected with her in the last year got her insight from a surprising number of years of work with Flower Essences. Basically she has been advising me about Flowers and their Essences since she was five!

Emily also brought great creativity to all the organizational tasks she took on here. She did an incredible job keeping up with the bottling during a year when bottling became a more and more consuming job. She also was the one responsible for all the Facebook postings this growing season. She would start her mornings with a cruise around the gardens to take photos then get them up on the Facebook page if and when our internet connection was cooperating. In everything Emily did, her humor and zest shone through. I think this photo she took last week reflects her creative fiery spirit. We will all miss her in the office but also celebrate the lucky first graders who are going to have Miss Sheehan as their student teacher this fall.


We also saw Ben depart back to the classroom, leaving me most bereft in the kitchen. He does all the website stuff and as mentioned in a previous blog, he made my summer by cooking dinner each night for the ever shifting group around the kitchen table. Ben’s meals were imaginative and delicious almost to the end. However at his last scratch pizza extravaganza, he established that he was still human and not yet a culinary god by serving us a very strange dessert made from agar agar.
These coffee/ coconut things tasted fine but had the consistency of tires. Ben, I am missing your brilliance as a chef so much, but this last dessert helped everyone else return to my more seat of the pants “what on earth can I drum up for supper tonight?” cooking. Thanks for all the fabulous feasts and this parting disaster.

Jim also has begun to spend his days back in his classroom, getting ready for the arrival of his students next week. This morning, however, he volunteered to stay home to help unload a truck of bottles. Thank you Jim for this and all the jobs you do for GHF!

Here Jim is in orange, handing off a box to Kelly. We always seem to be unloading something into our overstuffed barn! In a wonderful piece of Angel serendipity, the darling man delivering the bottles today, here in the blue t-shirt, is married to a Green Hope Farm friend who has been sharing our Essences with her clients for twenty years at her business Angel Star in Newport, New Hampshire. Linda, it was such a fun surprise to meet your husband in this Angel orchestrated way!

Will is the last Sheehan to take flight. Not yet able to choose teaching as a career like so much of the family, he returns to the classroom as the teachee. Now a senior in high school, his year has begun with his soccer team going to Maine for team prep camp. As his summer was rather uneventful, this adventure is well deserved. While Will did a little bit of everything inside the office as well as outside this summer, I am particularly grateful for his meticulous work making Flower Essence mixes for us. Each of the many combination mixes including all the Animal Wellness collection remedies have to be mixed from individual Flower Essence inventory and Will has proven himself very careful with this task. Thank you Will for setting us up with so much inventory to keep us going the fall.

Fortunately the cats and dogs can’t take teaching jobs! They are happy to stay here and hold down the office with Elizabeth, Sophie and me as we welcome aboard all the new staff!

Summer Vacation

If you’ve called the farm recently, you’ve heard the answering machine message about our order volume going through the roof this summer.

It was a sudden shift from one week to the next. For no apparent reason, one week our order volume was as it had been the last year or so and then suddenly on Monday alone we had as many orders as we usually had in a week with each day of the week much busier than ever before. And so it has continued all summer.

I have always felt the Angels and Elementals have a lot to do with the order flow here. As you may recall from previous blogs, I never imagined my life much beyond weeding a garden, smelling the Roses and keeping the home fires burning so much of this business, maybe all of it, has been a big surprise to me. The Angels and Elementals would probably describe me as the brakes in the operation and them as the gas, and this would be true. Each time they push us to some new level of activity, I go through a period in which I can’t believe we (or rather I) will be able to make the uptick. After each of these shifts, hindsight is 20-20 and I can see what a good plan the changes were. During the shifts, I take my Flow Free and talk smack to the Angels.

After a number of weeks at this new volume, my smack talk has died down. We have come into equilibrium with this growth spurt, and the new flow feels great. We are connecting with a lot of old friends and a lot of new ones too. During this uptick, it took some extra effort on the part of the two legged Sheehans as opposed to the Sheehans with four who refused to alter their summer vacation plans.




Even without the support of the feline and canine population (who remained adamant that the Dog Days of summer were for naps), we rode the wave until now when we begin to welcome new staff to help us keep the orders flowing. Each Monday for the next month a new person will be starting here and then two or three more are slotted to begin later in the fall. This week we welcomed long time Staff Goddess Sophie’s brother Tom. His first days were a whirlwind of packing orders but he hung in there wonderfully well. We are happy to have him aboard. Well, the people are happy. The cats remained focused on getting enough ZZZZZs.

Hedgerow Summer

The eastern hedgerow of our property was not strictly ours to clean up until Ben bought the farm on the other side of the divide.

Even after Ben bought the farm, it took awhile to tackle this problem area. First Ben needed to focus on getting his farmhouse ready to rent out. Then this summer, he needed to rid his ten acre hayfield of all the scrubby shrubs that sprang up when mowing the field got to be too much for the former owners. HOWEVER, when this job was done, Ben and Jim decided to tackle the hedgerow between the two properties.


At the beginning of the summer, this hedgerow was an impenetrable thicket of wild grapes, wild honeysuckle, wild roses, barb wire fencing and myriad scrub trees all creating a barrier between the properties about ten feet wide.

Ben and Jim went to work ridding the hedgerow of this tangle of vegetation and rusty wire thus opening up space for some of the nicer hardwoods in the hedgerow to prosper.

The barb wire was especially problematic. The lovely man we bought our farm from appears to have had an almost unhinged relationship with barb wire as if he thought the Soviets of the cold war era were living next door not some docile sheep.

It has been mind boggling to see how much barb wire Ben and Jim have pulled out of this hedgerow. We can only wonder what kind of livestock break out this mild mannered farmer was expecting when he felt compelled to put up five or six layers of fencing between his land and the neighboring farm.

What a relief to have this paranoid protective energy removed from the hedgerow. We can almost hear the remaining trees sigh with relief!

Today, Hedgerow Summer continues with the task of pulling up poison ivy at the top of the hedgerow where it mets True Road. Poison ivy has a vibration a lot like barb wire, so it comes as no surprise that in a hedgerow rife with barb wire, poison ivy moved into place in a big way.

Ben and Jim donned their version of hazmat suits early this morning and started pulling the vines.

First reports are that this work has made even the removal of all the barb wire fencing feel like a pleasure. Their constant companion, MayMay, abandoned ship when a yellow jacket nest added insult to injury. Now it is noon and about ninety outside so I am sure those suits feel really good.

I just hope Ben and Jim made a game plan for who is cutting them out of the suits and how. I am NOT planning to get involved! Already there has been way too much talk of accidentally having vines brush their faces and problems with safely eating snacks. I don’t want to join them in looking down the barrel of the new school year with a blistering case of poison ivy!

In fact, all of us are keeping our distance from our crazy menfolk today. As they soldier on, the rest of us are relieved to be VERY BUSY in the office, able only to shout encouraging words from a safe distance before retreating to our poison ivy free realm.


As a community of Flowers, Angels, Nature Spirits, Dogs, Cats and even some People, Green Hope Farm can be a funny place……and I love telling you all about it!