Origin Stories Are The Best: We Reveal Our Signature Beek Balm Beginning

Have you ever had a happy accident? You know the kind…you forget part of something, like an ingredient in a recipe, but it turns out great anyway?

That happened to us with one of our signature products: Hint-O-Mint Beek Balm. It is an odd name for a lip balm, but that is a story in itself. 

When we first started Five Feline Farm, we had two main ideas. Sell our excess produce and raise honeybees. The honeybees were for both pollination and honey production. During our first honey harvest, we discovered a great byproduct: beeswax. 

All-natural beeswax is a small farm entrepreneur’s dream. When you have a micro-operation, you need to squeeze maximum benefits from minimum input. Beeswax fits that description.

To harvest honey from the hive, each frame is “uncapped.” This is simply cutting off the top layer of wax to expose the honey. Frames are spun in a centrifuge to extract the honey. The wax cappings are collected in a tub.

There are a few steps to prepare the wax for use. Drain out the remaining honey drips, melt, and strain give us a pure wax ready to use. 

The first wax-based product we attempted was a lip balm. It didn’t take long to branch into skin balms, but those are a topic for another post.

The first step to creating our lip balm was to figure out the ingredients. We picked up a tube of a famous national brand (you know, the one that everyone uses the brand name to refer to all lip balms)—no ingredients on the label. 

Odd, we thought. 

Off to the internet for a search. After digging through many pages on the brand website, we understood why the label does not include the ingredients. There are too many to fit on a lip balm tube! Then very few ingredients in the list had easily pronounceable names. It sounded like an experiment in a top-secret science lab. 

Plus, the first ingredient is petroleum.

Petroleum comes from crude oil. For those living near an oil field, you are familiar with the odor. It smells, well, chemical and a bit gross. If you have never been near an oil field, imagine a thick sludge that smells like a blend of petroleum jelly, used motor oil, and gasoline. All I could imagine was smearing that voluntarily on my lips. 


Time for a different formula. An all-natural formula. One whose ingredients would fit on a tiny balm tube label. 

Eureka!, as they say. 

We had an abundance of beeswax. All we needed was sweet almond oil, vitamin E oil, and a food-safe flavoring. We source sweet almond oil and vitamin E oil from high-quality sources. We started with our original honey flavor sourced from our hives for flavoring. Then quickly developed three other flavors: Spearmint, Hint-o-mint, and Peppermint. 

About that happy accident.

We were whipping up a batch of Spearmint Beek Balm, and some distraction or another interrupted the flow. Whether it was a cat needing attention or a cool song on the radio, the measurement of pure Spearmint oil was affected. Only half the required amount went into the batch. 


After testing one of the tubes on ourselves, it wasn’t half bad. (Pun intended.) The name “Hint-O-Mint” was a perfect descriptor. It became a hit with only half the mint flavor of regular Spearmint. It is now second only to the original Honey flavor in sales. 

Are you still wondering about the Beek Balm name? 

We sought interesting and different names for our products early in the business. Something creative that would identify the product and become a signature name. 

The conversation turned to product names during an evening of great food and wine with close friends at our favorite restaurant. The four of us batted around names for our natural lip balm invention. The discarded choices are lost to history, but we settled on “Beek Balm.” Beek is a double entendre. It can be short for “beekeeper” and an obscure reference to a person’s lips. 

There you have it. 

The complete origin story of Beek Balm, available exclusively through Five Feline Farm. 


2021 in Review

Have you looked back at the last year and assessed your progress?

We have just closed the books for 2021 at the Farm Fresh Mercantile (also known as “The Merc”). In December 2016, we began to transform a storage shed into a small mercantile. It became real in 2017 with periodic openings while we still attended our local farmer’s market every Saturday.

Since that time, we have faced many challenges, especially the last two years. We learned that adversity will either break you or make you stronger.  All of you, our fans, followers, and customers helped raise us up in the tough seasons. 

2021 was our first season totally on the farm. We did not attend any farmer’s markets, festivals, or other outlets. It was a scary decision. Would anyone make the trip “off the beaten path” for our products?

You did. People came from far and wide to visit our Mercantile and attend our events. We hosted Karaoke, Doty and Dexter, and the Luna Halos for music in the crib. Produce sold out every week as did scones or English muffins. 

You made 2021 our best year by far. 

Thank you for believing in a couple of crazy gals and supporting Five Feline Farm.

We look forward to serving you in 2022! 

Folklore and Weather Forecasting

Do wooly worms, persimmon seeds, and black walnuts know the future?

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the U. S. Midwest, to be precise, we are entering the winter season. The topic on everyone’s mind seems to be what the winter weather will bring us.

Before potential winter storms are upon us, we look to the forecasters to get an idea about what is coming.

Will it be frigid?

Will there be deep snow or ice?

Could we get lucky and have a mild winter, cold enough to need a coat and kill the pesky insects, but not bitter?

We look to folklore for fun predictions about winter in my rural area. Every year, at Five Feline Farm, we use some of these traditions to predict the upcoming winter weather. Then we post about it on social media. This year, for some unexplained reason, the post went viral on Facebook. Shares and comments in the thousands.

People are interested in knowing what to expect, even if the source of information is unscientific weather predictions.

As winter approaches, there is always an air of excitement around the season’s first snowfall. This excitement seems to be present whether you like snow or hate it. Everyone makes a last-minute trip to the store to buy milk, bread, and toilet paper. Everyone but me, that is. I am always well-stocked on all three.

Back to the folklore.

Persimmon seeds

In the fall, the fruit of wild persimmons turns a gorgeous burnt orange color. Until after the first frost, they are too astringent to eat. But you can still gather a few for winter weather predicting. There are several seeds inside each fruit. Collect one from several different fruits for the most “scientific” results. We chose four persimmons this year, using one seed from each.

Squeeze or peel back the flesh and remove a seed. Clean it thoroughly. The sticky flesh clings to the seed, so it must be clean and dry; otherwise, it is too slippery to cut. To view the kernel, the seed must be cut in half lengthwise. This is not an easy task. The trick is to cut the seed without cutting off the tip of a finger. The seed is very narrow when held on the edge and very small in width. Plus, the seeds are hard.

My technique is to hold the seed with a pair of needle-nosed pliers and cut down through the seed with a very sharp razor blade. This usually results in a neat slice with the two halves showing the kernel inside.

Now that you have the seeds cut in half observe the kernel. You will find one of three distinctive shapes: a fork, a spoon, or a knife. This is where the prediction happens.

The spoon symbolizes a snow shovel and indicates a snowy winter. The knife forecasts bitter cold as in “cutting” like a knife. The fork is supposed to predict a milder winter; the lighter snows “fall” through the tines of the fork.

Not content with one folklore forecast, we look for more folklore to confirm our prediction.

Wooly worms

Wooly worms are the larval stage of the Isabella Tiger Moth. They may also be called “banded wooly bear” or “wooly bear.” We call them “wooly worms.”

Wooly worms are prevalent in the Midwestern United States during Fall. Folklore weather forecasters observe the color and markings of the exterior or coat of these worms for their forecast. Colors range from white or cream-colored to very dark brown. The darker the color, the colder the winter weather predicted. Light-colored worms indicate snow.

Wooly worms may also have bands of color. The position of the bands coupled with the color is used to forecast the progression of weather over the winter season.

For example, you may find a wooly worm with dark bands at the ends and lighter in the middle. This would forecast cold weather early in the winter, snow mid-season, and cold again near the end. Usually, several wooly worms are observed, and percentages are used rather than relying on one worm.

Wooly worms and persimmon seeds are not the only folklore indicators of winter weather.

Nut producing trees

Trees that produce nuts, like black walnuts, acorns, hickory nuts, etc., tend to vary in the number of nuts produced each year. Some years, for example, the black walnuts will be sparse on each tree with no more than two in a cluster. Other years, the nuts develop in groups of four or five, weighing down the branches.

According to folklore, a harsh winter season is coming when the nuts are plentiful. The logic behind this prediction is that nut-gathering animals, like squirrels, need a large food store to make it through the winter. They will be unable to forage any other provisions, so they must rely on their stockpile to survive.

So what does all this mean for the winter of 2021–2022?

Below is the forecast from Five Feline Farm, as predicted by persimmon seeds, wooly worms, and nut trees.

The persimmon seeds observed at Five Feline Farm are shown above. (Again, note the blue color was added to enhance the visibility of the kernel, persimmon seeds are naturally white or creamy inside.) Every single seed had spoon-shaped kernels this year. This is unusual. Typically there is a predominate utensil, but others are also present.

The wooly worms are all black and dark brown.

The black walnut trees are loaded with nuts. The squirrels are busy hiding away all the nuts they can carry from morning till night.

So the official winter weather prediction from Five Feline Farm after reviewing these “facts”: we will have winter.

Practicing Gratitude on the Farm Even When It’s Hard

Through the Door

There is more to running a successful small farm business than harvesting lettuce or baking scones. Success is also a state of mind.

One night over a meal of green beans and new potatoes we talked about how grateful we are for Five Feline Farm. The country home and business we have established here. Most of the food for that meal was grown steps from the back door. Planted, tended, harvested, and cooked within a 100-yard radius of the table. To have such a level of relationship with the food we eat is a gift. At the same time, we have the distinct impression we have been entrusted with something that not only nurtures us but also the people who visit. 

But sometimes it is hard to remember to be grateful.

Like when things go wrong.

Did you ever have one of those days that nothing quite works out the way you hoped? 

It’s the little things that drive me nuts. 

The toilet paper holder falls apart when I’m in a hurry to get somewhere.

The coffee grinder is not on the shelf where I swore I left it. 

It’s cold outside on the day I scheduled to work outside.

A planting of new seeds did not germinate as advertised. 

In those moments, I have to work harder to be grateful. Experience has taught me that if I adjust my attitude and look for things to be grateful for, the little aggravations are easier to manage. 

I remind myself to be grateful for my life and the things I have acquired to make my life easier. Or that make life better. 

I am grateful for the toilet paper that I can put on that holder that fell apart. I can savor the fresh ground coffee that fills my cup. Property that provides a place to exercise creativity. The abundance of seeds that did germinate and produce fresh, tasty produce. 

As I often do when thinking about a concept, I turn to the dictionary for a new perspective. What does the definition of gratitude teach me? What does it mean to be grateful, full of graciousness? 

Merriam Webster lists the essential meaning of “gratitude” as “a feeling of appreciation or thanks” with the full definition being “a state of being grateful: thankfulness”. 

According to the thesaurus, gratitude is the opposite of censure. “Censure” is condemnation, judgment, blameworthy. 

Gratitude is not just what you do, but a state of being. A chosen attitude to combat feelings of condemnation and judgment. 

I can offer gratitude to others. I can be grateful for things. I can practice appreciation for all that surrounds me. I can accept gratitude from others.

It is a state of being that I can choose each day.

For today, whether the biscotti works out or not, I choose to be grateful for the opportunity to bake. 

I choose gratitude for Five Feline Farm and the fullness it offers my life. Even when the days are long and the work is hard. Even on the days that things don’t quite work out as planned. 

What would happen if we all practiced a little more gratitude?