frame of honeybees // Wayward Spark

For the first time in Old Blue history, we will be selling honeybee colonies to the wider public this spring. If you’ve been considering getting one or more hives, now is the time to preorder your bees.

Here’s our schedule and offerings:

(April 1) 5-Frame Nuc with Anarchy Apiaries Queen or Overwintered Old Blue Queen
(April 15) 3-Pound Package with California-Mated Old Blue Queen
(April 29) 5-Frame Nuc with California-Mated Old Blue Queen
(May 13) 5-Frame Nuc with Oregon-Mated Old Blue Queen
(May 13 or May 27) 3-Pound Package with Oregon-Mated Old Blue Queen

Honeybees will only be available for pick up 8 am to 11 am on the assigned date at Old Blue Raw Honey headquarters at 23990 Gellatly Way just west of Philomath, OR. Colonies must be preordered online and paid for in full before the pick up date. If you order one of these nucs or packages, you are committing to picking it up on that day with no exceptions. Bees unclaimed after 11 am may be sold to customers on our waiting list. Customers who don’t pick up their bees will not receive any refunds.

We will also be doing honey tasting in our tasting room during bee pick up hours.

Nucleus hives are composed of a frame of honey, a frame of pollen, three frames of brood, five frames of bees, and a mated queen in a Jester EZ Nuc box. Packages are three pounds of honeybees and a mated Old Blue queen.

The selection process for Old Blue queens is complicated and subjective, but a few traits we specifically look for are varroa-sensitive hygienic behavior (for surviving unavoidable varroa mite parasitism), ability to fly in cool temperatures and adverse weather conditions (for bringing in nectar and pollen resources as a food source for the colony as well as surplus for human harvest), strong spring buildup of population, wing power (for foraging longer distances), and a resistance to brood diseases. You can learn more about how we raise our own queens here.

Although it is possible to maintain treatment-free bee colonies, and these honeybees have been bred for mite and disease resistance, hives will be more likely to survive with regular management and recommended mite treatments. Beekeeping is more complicated and more challenging every year, and even if you do your best with current information and recommendations, hives may still fail at fairly high rates.

We will do our best to provide customers with healthy, thriving bee colonies, but after they leave the premises of Old Blue, they are 100% your responsibility, and we assume no liability for any possible problems or failures. It is important to transport bees in a timely manner with plenty of airflow to their final location (preferably within an hour).

If you are seriously allergic to bee stings, you probably should not come to these events. You are unlikely to get stung while here, but for obvious reasons, there are more bees than average around the premises.

Old Blue is selling hives this year, but we are not offering any beekeeping classes or beekeeping consultation services at this time. Our supply is limited, so we recommend ordering early. If our website shows we are sold out of the type of nuc or package that you are interested in, email to be put on our waitlist.

For recommended reading and resources, see our Old Blue FAQ page (scroll down toward the bottom).


Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR

We have a rad new mural on the honey house at Old Blue Raw Honey painted by artist Manny Arechiga, and we could not be more pleased with how it turned out. Manny is a friend who has been helping us out with beekeeping and honey extraction since early June, but last week he used a different set of talents to transform our shop door into a work of art. Manny is a California native who’s worked for a few different beekeeping operations the last five years or so, but (obviously) his true calling is in painting and drawing.

Manny and I had a couple conversations and looked through some photos together before he began painting, but all the mural artwork was done free-hand without any prior sketches on paper or on the garage door. As someone entirely non-gifted in the visual arts, it was pretty awe-inspiring to watch the mural take shape from nothing over the course of about 15 hours across four days.

I’m going to go out on a limb and claim that we now have the best mural in Philomath. (Consider that more of a challenge than a brag, fellow Philomathians.) The mural is visible from Highway 34 just outside Philomath city limits, but we are also hosting a honey tasting and new mural celebration on Sunday, November 19 from noon to 4 if you want to see it up close. Manny will be on hand to talk about his art and his experience as a beekeeper. More details about the event here.

Mural season in Oregon is coming to a close with the turn in the weather, and Manny’s headed back to California in a couple weeks, but he is taking on future commissioned art projects here, in California, and elsewhere. We’re also hoping to get some of his original art on Old Blue Raw Honey T-shirts before Christmas. If you want to talk to Manny about his muraling and artist services, get in touch with him at and/or follow him on Instagram @goawayfatman (where he has a great time-lapse video of this whole project).

Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR

Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR

Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR

Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR

Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR

Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR

Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR

Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR

Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, ORHoneybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR

Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, ORHoneybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR

Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR

Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, ORHoneybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR

Honeybee Mural by artist Manny Arechiga at Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath, OR


Camille Storch

Hi. I’m Camille Storch, and I’m running for Position 3 on the Philomath School Board. If you live in the Philomath School District, I would appreciate your vote in the May 16th election.

I’m a lifelong Philomath resident and product of Philomath public schools (PHS class of 2001). I’m a parent of two children currently attending Blodgett Elementary, and my husband Henry and I own a business here (Old Blue Raw Honey). I’m certainly on the young end of the age spectrum of Philomath parents, but I am committed to being active in this district for the next decade no matter what. In the next four years (of a school board term), my children will be students in three of six district schools (Blodgett Elementary, Philomath Elementary, and Philomath Middle), and hopefully they will participate in a wide range of school and community activities (sports, band, theater, etc.). I will be right there with them.

I am running for school board to help bring the perspective of a current parent of young children to the conversation. I believe that all eleven candidates running for positions on the Philomath School Board have good intentions, and I value the wisdom and experience of the current board and older community members, but I also believe that it is important to have parent of students currently in district schools on the board. I think the perspective and stakes for parents of current students are different than those of parents of adult children. I understand the challenges young families in this community are facing in terms of job opportunities, real estate and housing availability, child care and preschool options, and being priced out of the quality of life that many families had in this area a generation ago.

Ideally I believe a school board that will set district policy for decades to come should be made up of mostly parents of current students, preferably with kids attending many or all of the district’s six schools and involved in a wide range of school and community activities. As a parent, I also understand that serving on the board is a huge time commitment that can be too much to ask of most young families. I am fortunate as a self employed person to have a flexible work schedule that will allow me to participate in necessary school board functions, so I want to take advantage of this opportunity to contribute back to the community.

I’m a good listener, a quick learner, and a curious person. As a school board director, I will maintain professional working relationships with other board members, staff, administrators, students, parents, and community members of all types.  I believe a good board should implement policies that provide all children with a safe, respectful, inclusive environment that fosters learning and personal growth. We all want Philomath students and graduates to represent our community well and to go on to become productive citizens here and elsewhere.

Community service has always been a big part of my life. For several years in high school, I volunteered weekly serving dinners at the soup kitchen at the Methodist church in Philomath, I was the president of the PHS Community Service Club, and I participated in Philomath outdoor school for two years in high school and three years in college. As an adult, I’ve been active in the leadership of the Marys River Grange for the past seven years, and I’ve been a classroom volunteer in Mrs. Priewe’s class at Blodgett since my son started kindergarten in 2013. Old Blue Raw Honey has been a member of the Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce for most of the last year, so I have been attending Chamber events regularly, and I recently joined the newly formed Philomath Streetscape Stakeholder Committee. You might also spot me in a reflective vest picking up trash along the Alsea Highway because that’s one of the most convenient ways to contribute to my community on my own schedule these days. (Seriously, it’s one of my favorite pastimes. You should come out on litter patrol with me.) **UPDATE I’m having a Community Litter Pickup campaign event the afternoon of Sunday, April 23. Everyone is welcome. Details here.

I am a college graduate (OSU class of 2005), but I’m also a strong advocate for career and technical training in addition to traditional academics during and after high school. I believe in the value of meaningful work.

My family lived in the Wren area (at the end of ~2 miles of gravel road) for ten years, so I am quite familiar with many of the joys and hardships of rural living. We’re a little closer in now, but many of my kids’ classmates at Blodgett Elementary come from the far reaches of the district, so I hope to be a voice for those who live well out of town.

I recognize that people want to know where I stand on the ongoing troubles at the high school. For better or for worse, I have no close personal ties to any current Philomath High School students or parents of current PHS students. I do know a few teachers at PHS both from my time as a student, and from meeting people in the community as an adult. I have attended five school board meetings this school year (November, January, February, March, and April), I have read all written public statements from the Philomath United group, and I have heard some of the facts and a whole lot of hearsay about the situation. Considering all that, I still do not believe I have enough information, nor will I (or most community members) ever have enough information to have an informed opinion on decisions made this year, and the last thing this town needs right now is one more uninformed person spouting off ill-considered observations and judgements. If you want to know what “side” I’m on, I will tell you that I am only on the side of civility and community mindedness.

I am running for school board on my own merits and would like to be judged as such, but if you live in this area, there’s a good chance you know some of my family members who have helped shape my worldview, parenting style, and sense of community mindedness. My mom, Nancy Muir, has been selling bread and vegetables at Corvallis area farmers’ markets since the year I was born. She was a classroom volunteer at Philomath Elementary School for close to two decades but finally moved on after Mrs. Burgess retired. Now she is a volunteer Dial-A-Bus driver for four hours every week, making sure elderly and disabled community members get to work, the grocery store, appointments, etc. My dad, Cameron Muir, has been an employee at Starker Forests, Inc. for going on 40 years. He’s an avid gardener and helped coach my AYSO soccer teams for many years as I was growing up. My husband, Henry Storch (CHS class of 2001, OSU class of 2004), has been a professional farrier in the area since 2003, and though he still shoes and trims some horses, now he mostly focuses on his migratory beekeeping operation and our company, Old Blue Raw Honey. Henry currently serves as a director on the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District board. My father in law and step mother in law, Bill and Joanne Storch, are professional woodworkers in Corvallis, and my mother in law, Sara Power, is a retired Methodist minister who is an active volunteer at the Philomath Food Bank, Room at the Inn (the Corvallis Women’s Cold-Weather Shelter at the First United Methodist Church), and Jamming for the Hungry.

Special thanks for inspiration and encouragement in this campaign go to my excellent high school civics teacher Mr. Crocker (who says I’m the first of his former students to run for local political office), my Oregon public school teacher brother and sister in law who have shared many stories of their own rewarding and challenging experiences in the classroom, my friend Adam Nilsson who’s the newest member of the Baker City city council, and lastly my mom and my husband for being incredibly supportive and offering to pick up the slack on the child care front so that I can have time to dedicate to school activities and school board commitments. Thank you!

If you want to know more about me, you’re welcome to scroll back through my blog posts here–this one might be particularly relevant–or you can look at/read/hear various things I’ve photographed/written/said or things that have been written about me in other places. (**These stories are somewhat more substantial, interesting, and/or revealing.)

**School Board Candidate Q-and-A: Position 3 in Philomath Express

**Farmers’ market provides downtown buzz in Corvallis Gazette-Times

Philomath School Board election attracts 11 candidates for 3 positions in Philomath Express

Is This Idea Even Better Than A Peg Board on The Kitchn 

**Oregon Instagrammer Camille Storch Gives A Glimpse Of Rural Life (audio here) on OPB’s Think Out Loud

Philomath woman finds growing audience on Instagram in Corvallis Gazette-Times

Episode 142: Quesadillas, The Silver Palate Cookbook, Camille Storch on Local Mouthful

Farm Visit: Old Blue Raw Honey on Dine X Design

**Simple Matters 03: Camille Storch on Reading My Tea Leaves

Sweet as Honey in Taproot Magazine (FOLK)

6 Fascinating Homesteaders Who are Living the Dream on Rodale’s Organic Life

Instagram Photographers to Follow in All 50 States in TIME

The Skinny on Soil Blockers on Floret

What’s Cooking This Weekend, Henry and Camille Storch? on The Kitchn

**Henry Storch 5-Part Grower Tour on The Kitchn

23 Country Instagrammers You Need in Your Feed on Country Living

Guest Post: Honey-Vanilla Bean Quince Preserves from Camille Storch on Food In Jars

 Modern Day Homesteading: A Story in Photos on Etsy

From Rural Oregon to Brooklyn for Community with @waywardspark on the Instagram blog

**Guest Post: Pickled Beets with Honey from Camille Storch on Food In Jars

**Artisan finds niche with cutting boards in Corvallis Gazette-Times

Featured Seller: Red Onion Woodworks on Etsy

If you have a question or comment, you can leave it below, and I will do my best to respond. You can also email me Please keep things civil. I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments. 


On Tuesday, I lost my bid for a seat on the Philomath School Board. (Congratulations go to Jim Kildea, Greg Gerding, and Shelley Niemann.) Here are some thoughts about my experience…

I presented myself as a legitimate candidate and ended up with 22% of the vote in a four-way race, which is nothing to scoff at. I feel like in the last two months, I have gained respect from many community members (some who eventually voted for me and some who probably chose not to), and in the end, I have no regrets. I have maintained good relations with all the current board members, future board members, and other candidates, so I am hopeful that I will be able to participate in district-level policy making in some way, and I will be heard by the board when I feel like I have something to say.

I’m particularly proud of my performance at the candidate forum last week. I was able to articulate specific, original answers to many questions in ways that resonated with the audience. I presented myself as a knowledgable, professional adult (though younger than most other candidates by several decades) with good communications skills, and I was sited multiple times by other candidates in the context of, “as Camille mentioned”, “like Camille, I believe”, “Camille brought up”, etc.

An important lesson I’ve been learning recently (and I credit Henry almost entirely for encouraging this in me) is that it’s way more effective to listen, learn, and try to empathize and understand first before insisting upon being heard and/or making demands when dealing with people and groups. There is a time and place for yelling and protesting (egregious violations of public trust, time-sensitive matters, etc.), but the time and place for civil discourse and honest, respectful conversations is all the time and everywhere. I feel like I got a lot farther and earned a lot more respect by asking questions like, “How can I/the school board better support you?” and “What do you want me to know about your situation?” instead of, “This is why you should vote for me.”

A few months ago, Andrea Silenzi (host of excellent podcast Why Oh Why), sent me a link to an episode of the Ezra Klein Show with guest Jennifer Lawless. The Cliffs Notes version of the show is that a) Running for public office can be incredibly personally rewarding, win or lose. b) More regular folks should run for local and regional political office because if we leave it up to those that are specifically inclined to the craziness of politics, the people elected will not be good representatives of the citizens in their districts. c) The two biggest reason that women, specifically, don’t run is that no one asks them to run, and they don’t feel qualified. (i.e. A woman has the exact qualifications as a man. He thinks he’s qualified enough, but she doesn’t.) I’m not a huge Ezra Klein fan, but I found this show to be highly inspirational, and I wholeheartedly agree that running in this election was a huge learning experience that made me a better person and better community member.

One thing that I want to expand upon beyond the Jennifer Lawless’s advice is that while it’s not okay to tell women that they are unqualified, any candidate really should do their homework and familiarize themselves with the office and the situation before deciding to run. I’ve been a parent in the Philomath School District for four years and a member of the Philomath community my whole life, but I only started attending school board meetings in November 2016. When I filed to run, I had been to three meetings, so having attended more obviously would have been better, but in just three board meetings, I was able to get a pretty good sense of the people involved and the issues and challenges at hand. After filing, I did a deep dive into many aspects of the school district by engaging in countless conversations, scheduled and not, with many parents, teachers, staff, administrators, and community members. I was able to learn so so much in a relatively short amount to time, and I would not have been happy with myself if I hadn’t tried so hard meet the people I needed to meet and understand the issues I needed to understand to be an effective school board member before the election. If you want to get involved in local politics, I highly recommend you spend at least a few months attending meetings, gathering information, and familiarizing yourself with the players and the issues before making proposals or inserting yourself into the fray.

During the course of the election, I had a long talk with a woman who’s a parent and district employee, and she admitted to me that she’s “afraid” of hummus. This is a preposterous concept to me. Hummus has been on the shelves of every grocery store in America for at least 10 years, and I assumed it was extremely mainstream and unoffensive at this point. You would think that I, a hummus lover, wouldn’t have anything in common with someone who is literally “afraid” of hummus, but the reality is that she and I see eye to eye on a lot of issues in schools and in life. That’s been an ongoing surprise to me, how people in my community can hold extremely different world views than I do, but how we can also find common ground on many things, too.

Lastly, running for school board has been my best coping mechanism for turning down the volume on national politics in my mind. Yes, I’m still keeping myself informed of the chaos, but having something tangible to focus my attention on, something that I have a degree of control over that will affect real people in my own community has helped me be more optimistic about everything. I’m not really an anxiety-prone person (So thankful for that!), but the national political situation is stressful. I highly recommend throwing yourself into local politics if you want to alleviate some of that stress.

If anyone has any questions about my (very small, personal) experience, I’m happy to answer. Thanks so much to all of you for the support and encouragement. It’s meant a lot to me.


Old Blue Raw Honey hives on meadowfoam

Update: Thanks for all your support! The sale was a huge success and has come to an end. Stay tuned for more updates about our new honey house.

Old Blue Raw Honey is a small beekeeping enterprise and varietal honey company owned and operated by my beekeeper husband Henry and me. Henry manages about 500 honey-producing hives by himself, moving each hive 6-8 times per year to take advantage of different nectar flows. We extract honey together in the summer, and I do all the non-beekeeping business tasks like bottling honey, handwriting labels, shipping, events, website management, customer service, etc. We do not currently have any employees nor do we have any plans to have employees in the near future.

Okay, folks, this is a call to action. We need your help.

As I’ve mentioned before, we bought a house and property last year, and in October, we finally made the big move. That transition has been fantastic, and we couldn’t be happier with our new living arrangements. One of the primary reasons for the move, however, was actually more business-oriented. We simply needed a permanent space for honey processing and storage for our business Old Blue Raw Honey.

We are now in the final stages of building a licensed and certified honey extraction facility (aka “honey house”) on our new property in Philomath, OR. Our building currently has four walls, a roof, and a concrete floor. We just got our small-batch extractor, and we’ve purchased a used stainless steel bottling tank and commercial sink. Our equipment is scaled exactly to our needs, and we’ve designed the space to be extremely energy efficient both in terms of human effort as well as electrical usage. When this building is complete, it will serve Old Blue Raw Honey and our customers for a very very long time with minimal upgrades and expenses.

The reality is that right now we are scraping the bottom of the barrel of our business and personal finances, and we’re due to be more or less out of money in just a few weeks.

We have the honey equivalent of all the funds we’ll need to finish this project, but we just need to sell it and send it out into the world. If you’ve ever considered buying honey from us, now would be a great time. Will you need a birthday/anniversary/Mothers’ Day/Fathers’ Day/graduation/teacher/thank you/housewarming/hostess gift in the near future? Do you want to invite your friends over for a varietal honey tasting flight? Have you considered joining our honey subscription program? Use the coupon code “HONEYHOUSE”  at checkout for 15% off your next purchase from our online store.

Old Blue Raw Honey honeybees

What we’re doing is different from other honey companies and different from other direct-market beekeepers.

•We only sell honey from our own hives.

•We offer a wide array of interesting, small-batch varietal honeys not readily available elsewhere like poison-oak, bigleaf maple, coriander, and clary sage.

•We give our customers a LOT of information about specific honey varietals as well as about our beekeeping practices more broadly. (Each bottle is labeled with the harvest date, apiary location, and primary nectar source(s). Beyond that, varietal honey listings contain extra information about apiary ecology and nectar source plant characteristics. Customers can also learn more by reading through our FAQ, checking out our blog, or following @oldbluerawhoney on Instagram. )

•We are actively preserving and improving Northwest-adapted honeybee genetics by raising and breeding our own queens and using isolated mating areas to propagate resilient, feral-based stock suitable for both migratory pollination and honey production in Oregon.

We’re not the only honey company doing some these things, but we don’t know of any beekeepers doing all of these things. (If you know someone who is, we’d love to connect with them!)

Old Blue Raw Honey hive inspection

To be clear, we are not asking for (nor accepting) donations. We are asking for your patronage. This is not a Kickstarter campaign. We already have bees and bee gear, and we’ve had a fairly large honey harvest (~10,000 lbs) for the last two years. To continue to produce great varietal honey, we need to get to the point where the income generated from honey sales can start paying off our considerable investment into this building sooner rather than later.

To establish a honey extraction facility and buy necessary equipment, we’ve spent income from Henry’s horseshoeing services, pollination contracts, sales of bees, logging on the homestead property, and personal savings. We’re also looking into our options for a loan from more traditional financial institutions, but we would really like to bridge this financial gap without going into debt.

We are committed to independently marketing and distributing our honey to customers and a few restaurants and businesses. We want the pipeline from hive to consumer to be as short and direct as possible so that we can continue to guarantee an interesting, quality product. While we are hoping to expand our wholesale honey options after the 2016 harvest this summer, our preference is to conduct most of our sales with individuals. If you value the idea of beekeeper-direct, diverse varietal honey, if you think we should have the infrastructure to keep doing this at a viable scale, please buy honey from us and/or encourage others to do so.

If you can’t buy honey now or if you’ve already made a purchase and want to go one step further, please consider telling your personal and/or professional network about our honey and bee breeding efforts. Tweet out a link to our Spring Honey Sampler. Encourage your friends to follow Old Blue Raw Honey on Facebook or Instagram. Bring some honey into the office, and leave it near the coffee station. Share a link to this blog post or one of our more educational blog post (i.e. queen grafting, freeze-brood hygienic testing, or a colony removal from a barn wall). Feel free to regram any photo from my Instagram feed (@waywardspark) or Henry’s (@oldbluerawhoney) as long as you include our IG handle(s), and if you decide to post your own photos, please tag them with #oldbluerawhoney so that we and others can find them. Or do things the old fashioned way, and tell folks about our honey in person. Bees make for a great conversation starter!

We do not aspire to be the biggest, most widely distributed, most influential, most sleekly marketed honey company in America. We DO aspire to live satisfying lives, provide for our children, be contributing members of our community (both locally and online), educate others through our day to day conversations, take care of our bees to the best of our ability, produce high-quality honey and wax for our customers, and continue to use this business as a chance to learn and grow as curious people.

There’s a lot of talk about “saving the bees” these days, but as beekeepers, we’re not at all confident that signatures on a petition or awareness-raising campaigns by major brands will do much good for the challenges all beekeepers are facing in the modern era. What really does make a difference for us and others is when folks choose to buy beekeeper-direct honey. In our case, your purchases support not just our family but also our bee breeding efforts that we believe are a small but significant step toward sustainable beekeeping in every sense of the word “sustainable” (environmental, economic, bee health, etc).

Thank you so much for your continued support. We really could not do this without you!

Camille and Henry Storch

Connect with us!

website: Use coupon code “HONEYHOUSE” at checkout for 15% off your next purchase.

Instagram: @waywardspark (me) @oldbluerawhoney (Henry) and #oldbluerawhoney


email: (Many common questions are answered on the FAQ page of our website, so we’d like to encourage you to check that out before emailing in your questions.)

Here’s a list of places you can buy our honey in Oregon.

Here’s our events schedule if you want to see us and sample honey in person.

Henry Storch of Old Blue Raw Honey in a blooming almond orchard

We’d also like to acknowledge the hardworking contractors and partners who have done a lot of the physical labor to make the honey house possible.

Jim Schrock did most of the dirt and rock work, putting in our new road and making the pad for the building.

John Moser delivered load after load of gravel to our place.

Pete Owens designed the pole building shell and gave us great suggestions about possible added features. His crew (Luis, Rosedel, Serafin, and Manuel) carried out Pete’s vision pretty flawlessly.

Chris Foos and his team did an expert job pouring the concrete slab and loading dock.

Valley Electric is working on wiring up the building.

Albin’s Plumbing is in line to finish up all the water and heating infrastructure.

Contractor Will Harris and Milo Roberson are working tirelessly on the interior buildout and siding.

Eugene and Chip Cooper milled the fir siding for the exterior of the building and some dimensional lumber (out of logs from our homestead property).

Our new custom-built honey extractor was made by Cowen Manufacturing.

Most of our building materials have come from Spaeth Lumber Co., our local, independently owned hardware store.

Many of the people on the list above have been friends and/or horseshoeing clients of Henry’s for ten years or more. They are all reputable, upstanding folks/businesses doing fine work. We can’t recommend them highly enough.

Old Blue Raw Honey honeybees


scones // Wayward Spark

There are a million scone recipes out there in the world. I can guarantee that you don’t need another one, but…I’m going to share this anyway. These are my mom’s, more bready than crumbly and barely sweet at all. They call for a good slathering of jam or honey for breakfast or dessert although you could probably omit the raisins and go all savory on them with an egg, a swipe of tomato jam, and a handful of arugula. The thing I like best about them, though, is that they’re hard to screw up because the dough’s not too delicate. I have never made a decent biscuit in my life (though lord knows I’ve tried), but somehow these scones rise in pseudo-laminated layers every time. I’ll confess that I even screwed up the batch in the photos by getting all the way to the shaping and cutting before I realized that I forgot to add the raisins. I smooshed up the triangles of dough and kneaded in the raisins, convinced that I’d end up with hockey pucks from overworking the dough, but low and behold, they still turned out great.

scones / Wayward Spark

I added a bunch of new podcasts to the list on the right for your (and my) listening pleasure. I want to specifically point out a new one, Local Mouthful, hosted by my friends Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars and Joy Manning, editor of Edible Philly. I really like these two women as people, but they’ve done a fantastic job right out of the gate delivering quality audio media. Give it a listen.

Also, the above photo shows an optimistic version of my kitchen table these days. I’ve jumped on the kombucha-brewing bandwagon, so my poor table is always a cluttered mess. We’re hoping to get moved to the new house in the next week or two where there is considerably more counter space. Hallelujah!

scones // Wayward Spark

Raisin Scones

The original recipe is from The Vegetarian Epicure, but this version has been tweaked significantly.
makes 8 medium-large scones

1/2 cup plain yogurt + 1/2 cup milk (or 1 cup buttermilk)
1 good egg
2 Tbs. sugar

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (optionally including up to 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour or other whole grain flour) + extra for dusting
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup cold salted butter

2/3 cup raisins (or dried cranberries)

In a measuring cup, thoroughly mix the yogurt, milk, egg, and sugar.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the biggest pieces are pea-size.

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon to stir together the ingredients at first, but once mixed, turn it out on a lightly floured surface, and gently knead the dough with your hands. Add flour as necessary and continue to knead gently until all the ingredients form a cohesive lump. Don’t knead more than necessary, but also don’t be afraid to handle the dough enough to fully blend it. After the dough comes together, knead in the raisins (or cranberries).

Cut the dough into two equal sections. Pat each section into a disk about an inch thick. Cut each disk into quarters. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment, leaving at least an inch between scones. Let the scones rest while the barbecue (or oven) warms up.

Heat the barbecue and heat-insulating apparatus on medium. You can see photos and a description of my standard insulating apparatus here, but if you come up with your own system that works as well or better, I’d love to hear about it. (Alternately, heat oven to 350°.)

When the barbecue is hot, place the baking sheet on the heat-insulating apparatus and close the lid. Check the scones after 15 minutes, rotating the scones if they appear to be baking unevenly. Bake another 10 minutes or so until some of the edges have turned golden brown, checking and rotating as necessary.

These scones are best served warm from the barbecue or reheated within 36 hours of baking. Serve with lots of butter, honey, and/or jam.

scones // Wayward Spark


We bought a house.

August 14, 2015 · 11 comments

hiking at Sweet Creek Falls // Wayward Spark

We bought a house. It’s (sort of) a REAL house with power and closets and counter space and indoor bathrooms and neighbors, and I am (mostly) thrilled. I’m assuming some of you are surprised by this development. Before all the recent radio silence, I used this blog often to brag/blather about this little cabin that’s been our home for a decade now, but as much as I do still love this place, circumstances have changed and even in our most optimistic periods, we never thought we’d stay here forever. Maybe you’re disappointed that we’re not better advocates for “tiny house” off-grid living, but I would like to think that I’ve always been honest about what lifestyles we are and aren’t endorsing.

In the beginning, Henry bought this place and built the original section of the cabin as something of a temporary bachelor shack. The two of us lived in under 200 square feet for two years before adding on shortly before our first kid was born. We made further improvements, but back then, we decided to plan on building our “real” house on the same property when Levi turned five and Henry turned 30. Those milestones came andwent in 2012, and over the course of several discussions, we decided that we were still genuinely happy in the cabin, and we weren’t ready to undertake a major construction project. Right around that time, too, Henry was shooting the breeze with one of our crotchety older neighbors who lived in a cute house on about 15 acres of well tended land, and the neighbor turned to Henry and said, “Someday, I should sell you the ranch!” Henry came home that night and relayed the not-particularly-serious proposition. My jaw literally dropped, and though we’d never ever talked about living anywhere aside from the property we already owned, I told Henry to say yes. “Call him right now, and tell him we say yes, and we’re super serious.”

It turned out the the neighbor was pretty content at home–he remains there still–and there’s probably no way we could ever wrangle the funds to pay fair market value for the property, but once that seed of an idea was planted, we basically quit thinking we’d stay here on the hill forever. After we opened up to the possibility of eventually living somewhere else, it seemed absurd to consider building our “real” house at the end of these awful, steep gravel roads, without electricity, and in one of the most fire-prone areas of Benton County, and so the hunt was on for a new place.

For a year or more, our search for a new home was casual. We were still very comfortable in the cabin and weren’t feeling any pressure to change our situation. Last July, we looked semi-seriously at the first piece of property (in Burnt Woods), and then around October, we started actively looking for a new home and new home for our business. We made a list of our most essential criteria for a new place: a small, livable house (1,200-1,800 square feet), at least half an acre of flattish, unforested land, on or near a paved road, and within a specific geographic area (Philomath area, “downtown” Wren, or Blodgett). While at first we didn’t think those criteria were particularly limiting, we soon realized that in an extremely low-inventory real estate market in a smallish geographic area, we were basically chasing a unicorn. In about seven months, we only looked +/- 15 places, not all of which actually fit our criteria.

The process of house hunting was frustrating and depressing on all levels, but now that we’ve found a place, I’m just really excited to be moving forward, making plans for landscaping and gardens and business space and bike storage and all the rest. We now have two acres of blank slate-ish land and lots of dreams to fulfill.

I have a million other things to say about the house and the state of things, but I’m just going to leave you with a few photos of a day trip to Sweet Creek Falls (west of Eugene) and the dunes in Florence that the kids and I took with my brother’s family and a couple friends.

Hope your summer has been grand!

hiking at Sweet Creek Falls // Wayward Sparkhiking at Sweet Creek Falls // Wayward Sparkhiking at Sweet Creek Falls // Wayward Sparkhiking at Sweet Creek Falls // Wayward Sparkbeach time // Wayward SparkFlorence dunes // Wayward Spark


Leek Scapes

April 30, 2015 · 9 comments

leek scapes // Wayward SparkMaybe you’ve heard of garlic scapes, those curlicue green things that show up at farmers’ markets around this time of year. They taste faintly of garlic and are often (for reasons I don’t totally understand) blended into an alternative pesto. But have you heard of leek scapes? Like garlic scapes, leek scapes are the shoots and flower buds of leek plants that emerge in the spring as the leeks attempt to go to seed.

About this time last year, I was walking by the far-past-prime overwintered leeks in my parents’ garden when I saw a few scapes waving in the wind. I honestly had never heard of people eating them at the time, but I thought I’d give it a go. After a million meals of eggs and kale raab during the springtime garden dearth, it seemed like a good idea. I chopped them into easy-to-manage lengths, tossed them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and threw them on a hot grill. I burned my fingers and my tongue grabbing hot spears off the barbecue and stuffing them into my mouth, but the flavor made it all worthwhile.

I took these photos yesterday and then promptly ate about 2/3 of that whole pan of grilled leek scapes. Juicy and mildly allium-y, grilled leek scapes are the best thing EVER (or at least this week). I’m sure you could do them up a million different ways, but I can’t seem to find the motivation to try anything more complicated than minimal seasoning and simple grilling. To fancy them up a bit, I just pulled a jar of homemade romesco out of the freezer to pair with my next batch of grilled scapes, inspired by news of this event.

I have found the easiest way to harvest leek scapes is to gently tug on the exposed shoot until it pops out of the layered casing. The scapes are often straight, but occasionally they go wonky or grow super tall. Unlike hardneck garlic that will continue to ripen a bulb even after the scapes are harvested, what’s left of these leeks are pretty much toast at this point.

Since my first experiments with leek scapes, I have actually seen them at farmers’ markets, but they’re not too common, and they don’t have a very long season. Most leek-growing farmers, my parents’ included, are anxious to tear out sad overwintered produce to make room for ground prep and early summer crops. If you grow your own leeks, you might want to let some go so that you’ll get of this sweet spring surprise.

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Robin and Laura Sage of Red Bird Acres // Wayward SparkLaura and Robin Sage, owners of Red Bird Acres, are nice people and good farmers working to provide high-quality meat and eggs to Corvallis-area customers without compromising on ethics or farming practices. They raise broiler chickens, laying hens, hogs, sheep, and a few dairy goats all on green green Willamette Valley pasture.

Recently I visited the Red Bird Acres farm and talked to Laura and Robin in depth about their farming methods and the ethics of raising animals for food. A few different parts of their program stood out to me as being somewhat exemplary even in this local-food-obsessed community.

The “red birds” at Red Bird Acres are ‘Freedom Rangers’, a French breed of chicken know for excellent foraging abilities and good meat flavor. They are much slower growing than the industry standard ‘Cornish Cross’ broiler chickens, but they thrive on pasture and experience fewer health problems than ‘Cornish Cross’. (I wrote a little more about this here.) Laura and Robin also raise ‘Idaho Pasture Pigs”, another breed that does well with the extra room to roam and grass of the Red Bird Acres farm.

All the animals at Red Bird Acres are fed non-soy, non-GMO feed custom milled by Union Point Custom Feeds in Brownsville, Oregon. They are NOT fattened up with GMO corn and soy-based feed shipped in from Iowa.

Laura and Robin do all of the animal butchering themselves without the help of volunteers or low-wage laborers. They personally ensure the quality of all their products and are with their animals all the way from field to market.

Laura and Robin are at the tail end of a Barnraiser campaign to raise funds for purchasing new chicken processing equipment. They’re not asking for a lot, but a small lump sum of donations would be invaluable for furthering sustainable meat production in this area. I would encourage you to learn more about their farm and then send a few dollars their way. They are so close to reaching their goal with just a few days left, and I know that I will be personally super bummed if they miss out on this opportunity because they came up just a little bit short. (If you’re like me, you may be kind of annoyed by so many Kickstarter-type campaigns, but this one is legit, especially at a time when  more traditional forms of capital are simply not available to farmers of this scale, and supporting small farmers has never been more important.)

You can also find Red Bird Acres at the Corvallis Saturday Farmers’ Market every week.

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Henry Storch beekeeper at Old Blue Raw Honey // Wayward Spark

I’m pleased and excited to announce an upcoming collaboration with Cocotte Restaurant, Seastar Bakery, Nectar Creek Mead, and Old Blue Raw Honey in the form of a honey-centric brunch on Sunday, April 19 in Portland, OR at Cocotte.

Here’s the menu:

1st course
Sweets: Honey drinking porridge, baked goodness, honey-roasted seasonal fruit

2nd course
Toast: Honey-baked beans on rosemary cornbread; a salad of spring herbs and vegetables on rye;
square slice (crispy pan-fried pizza) with pecorino, hot pepper, and honey

3rd course
Salad: Spicy farm greens with honey mustard vinaigrette, honey-plumped mustard seeds, grilled Halloumi cheese, honeycomb candy

4th course
BLT: Honey-cured and roasted bacon, fried egg, last summer’s tomato jam, roasted Padron peppers,
chili-infused honey drizzle on a Seastar bakery biscuit

Mead-infused brunch cocktails
Stumptown coffee

Tickets are $50/person, and they include food; one honey or mead cocktail or non-alcoholic beverage; presentations and discussions with the beekeeper, the bakers, and the mead maker; and gratuity. Tickets must be purchased ahead of time here. There will also be honey and mead tasting at the event with products available for purchase.

This is a really fun project for me personally because of the good folks involved. Annie Moss (whom I wrote about here), one of the co-owners of soon-to-be Seastar Bakery is someone I’ve know since elementary school; Mischa, the chef at Cocotte use to live across the street from me growing up (and I once, only kind of intentionally, gave her a bloody nose, much to my horror); Nick Lorenz, one of the co-owners of Nectar Creek lives up the road from my parents in a funky, off-grid cabin not dissimilar to ours; and Nick’s brother Phillip Lorenz, the other co-owner of Nectar Creek, used to work on the same farm that I did and is also a former beekeeper. I trust that these people are going to make this event extraordinarily delicious. I would love for you to come.

In other news…

I recently wrote and photographed a five-part series for the online food site The Kitchn all about Henry’s beekeeping practices and our honey. You can find it here. I’m quite proud of this bit of writing, and I’m pretty sure that if you read it, you’ll learn something. Doing this series forced me to distill the main plot points of our business into a short amount of space, so if you would rather an overview than a detailed description of how to graft honeybee queens, this series would be a good place to start.


wild honeybee hive in a barn wall // Wayward Spark

I have about a million photos to share from our recent trip to check on bees in the almond orchards of Northern California, but before I do that, I wanted to pop in quickly with a few shots from a recent honeybee colony removal that Henry did here locally. I’ve written about bee removals a bunch of times on the blog, and this one was pretty straightforward. Actually, it was even in the exact same barn as the one featured in this post.

The colony was settled in a section of barn wall right under the roof about 8 feet off the ground, so most of the removal activities were performed a few steps up a ladder. I was taking photos over Henry’s shoulder from the ground. Henry had already removed the siding in the area of the colony before I arrived on the scene, and you can see (above) the hive was pretty well established between studs. Henry thinks they probably swarmed in last summer.

honeybee removal // Wayward Spark

He started by smoking them a little and then pulling/cutting out chunks of empty comb and honeycomb.

wild honeycomb // Wayward Sparkhoneycomb // Wayward Spark honeybee removal // Wayward Spark honeybee removal // Wayward Spark

He quickly and carefully removed wax sheets that contained brood.

a frame of wild brood comb // Wayward Spark

He cut out sections of brood comb and used rubber bands to secure them in wooden fames. He placed the frames in an empty hive box.

honeybee removal // Wayward Spark honeybees on comb // Wayward Spark honey hand // Wayward Spark honeybee removal // Wayward Spark

He set honeycomb aside in a bucket, took empty comb home to melt down, and secured all the brood-filled comb in a hive box.

honeybee removal // Wayward Spark

He installed a stand as close as possible to the former colony location and placed the hive box filled with a feeder, frames of honey, and frames of brood on top of the stand.

honeybee removal // Wayward Spark

At this point, he started literally using his hand to scoop up clusters of bees and deposit them in the new box.

honeybee removal // Wayward Spark

He spotted the queen, and nabbed her in a queen catcher. The queen is often shuttled to the back of the hive during a disturbance, so in this instance, she was more or less where he expected her to be. He moved the queen into the new hive box.

smoking honeybees during a removal // Wayward Spark

Then he smoked the heck out of the whole area in order to drive bees from the old colony location into the air where they would reorient to the new hive box with its enticing brood and queen pheromone. Henry Storch of Old Blue Raw Honey // Wayward Spark

Henry got stung a few times, pooped on a few times (the orange bits by his temple and behind his ear), and generally had lots of bees crawling all over him.

Henry Storch of Old Blue Raw Honey // Wayward Spark

There’s the H. Storch Pollination ad photo right here.

wild honeycomb // Wayward Spark

He divvied up the bucket of honeycomb collected from he colony between the owners of the barn and some friends.

A couple days later, Henry picked up the box where the bees were happily established and relocated it to a better location.

If you would like to purchase Old Blue Raw Honey (from our hives not a funky barn wall), we have 10 different varietals available on our website.