Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

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I Don't Actually KEEP Bees, Yet

On Saturday I was kind of on edge, as I had no idea what I was supposed to do that afternoon at the National Western Stock Show (okay... why is it National AND Western, or are only folks in the West stock keepers? That seems wrong...). I was signed up from 2-6pm to man the bee booth, but the main coordinator called to say that because of the snow, they hadn't been able to get the live colony out of it's hive, yet. They were going to try at noon (when it would be 24° F instead of 7°F) and they might not get to the show before the end of my shift. He advised that it would probably be slow without the bees.

So I packed up my knitting, thought about bringing my text book, but decided that would be silly, and then John drove the three of us, entirely uneventfully, to the Family Parking Lot (Lot F) for the stock show. They gave us free parking, and we took the bus into the show.

We spent about half an hour just wandering about and orienting. There's a bewildering amount of stuff at the huge show in multiple buildings and on multiple levels.

At 2, I went to the booth. The boys were happily clambering all over a semi-truck cab. So I went on my own, and put all my stuff on a chair in the back and then peered all over the booth for anything that might resemble "orienting materials" and found an old, beat-up, white plastic coated notebook. Inside were entries from 2003... and articles, lists of beekeepers' associations around the area, and lots of other stuff as well, including a very cute bee hand-puppet, which I put out for fun. There were a ton of pictures that were familiar from the class, and the most representative ones were up on the back board.

The first two hours were easy. The boys would wander by occasionally, and Jet would sit in my lap and we'd talk a bit until someone came to ask specific questions they had about bees. About half asked when the live bees were coming. I got to knit a bit.

Then, at 4, an older couple came up with a blanket wrapped slab. Ah. It was the bees! One of the class instructors came soon after, as he'd helped them go out into the field, grab the frame with the queen on it, and got another frame with warmed-up honey and workers on it, and they slung it all into a glass display case, which was the blanket-covered object.

The elder couple had kept bees for over 20 years, and the man was astonished that I was helping out with the booth and had never actually kept bees before. I helped him get the frame solidly secured in the swiveling display case and he told me some statistics like there were about 7000 bees in the case, and they'd been removed that morning and the queen had been painted white. He laughed and said he'd done a poor job of it as he'd gotten her wings white as well as her body. We got them up and out and we found the queen just as she disappeared under the tape at the bottom of the case. She kept switching sides, trying to stay in the dark, until she finally just gave up after a few switches of which side was covered up to keep them warm.

As soon as the bees arrived, things got busy. All kinds of kids and their parents showed up, most of the floor's volunteers came by to peer at one of their favorite displays. The experienced keeper listened in as I answered some questions, and he just nodded and he and his wife went to explore the show.

By 6 I'd lost my voice and my hips were telling me "Yes, your shift is done." I think my favorite one was where one lady had asked me about eight questions in a row about how bees make honey and wax and stuff, and then another lady asked me how long I'd been keeping bees. I answered, "I don't have any, yet, I just finished taking a class." And the first lady piped up, "Well, honey, you're ready."


When my shift was done, John led me to a booth outside that said, "Bubba's BAD Barbeque" which is just my kind of place to eat. Their drinks were literally freezing, big blocks of ice in the middle of the bottles. They only had an unheated tent to keep the wind off, but we found seats and I dug into a steaming pile of smoked spare ribs, and it was heaven. Jet proudly announced he'd already eaten his hot dog dinner, and was happy to just sit with us while we ate. It was cold out, but bearable, and it made me wonder about the cowboys who had been here before us, eating out on the freezing plain in the middle of winter with their herds...

At least three different families came to check out the tent and the mother of all the groups would say, "No. I'll freeze in there..." and they'd go on their way. The ribs were smoky, juicy, and the perfect specimen of a not-fall-off-the-bone overcooked rib. They weren't dry at all, but the collegen was broken down enough to make them very tasty. Mmmm...

We headed home before 7. Jet happily played while John went off to talk to half a dozen teenagers who were going to spend the night outside in tents to get a feeling for what being homeless is like out here. It was already in the teens here (-7 to -12° C). They had a rough night, and finally had to come into the church around 6am, just before dawn, as that was when it was coldest. They felt like they really learned something from the experience.

Watching the news we found out we'd been really lucky in our trips. Right after we'd gotten to the show, the wind had picked up and had created white out conditions on the ground. People hadn't been able to see where the road was, so had driven off the sides. Then, at night, soon after we'd gotten home, it had gotten so cold that all the melt during the day had frozen into solid slicks everywhere. Combined with wind-blown snow and just the wind, cars were sliding off the road in all directions. A friend of ours told me, today, he'd come across a tow truck stopped in the *middle* of a road trying to get three different vehicles out of a ditch, and the vehicles were front, rear, and all-wheel drive. His snow tires had worked on the ice, but it was all just one glassy-slick expanse of ice. So we'd missed it coming and going. And along I-25, the traffic was backed up going north when we were going south, and when we came home going north, it was backed up going south. I am thankful for our luck.

Sunday morning I had to make coffee, and John was coordinating everything for a soup lunch for everyone. So I ended up staying in the kitchen for the whole service, and got various things together. I ended up just knitting and enjoying some solitude. There were ten different kinds of soup all the way from plain chicken to green chile stew, very plain to very spicy and it was really great with some of the whole grain rolls from Great Harvest.

But it was a lot of social stuff for solitary me.

When we got home, the wind on Saturday had blown so much snow about that we had to reshovel the walks and driveway. So I did that... and I also took some to to refelt my mittens again. They'd actually felted more when I did the shoveling the other day. The wet and all the rubbing from handling the shovel had made very hard, solid saddles at the thumb join, so I knew that the mittens could be felted some more. So I stuffed them in the bucket with a bunch of grated Ivory soap and used my clean plunger to just agitate them. 200 splooshes and I pulled 'em out and rinsed 'em in hot water to see what size they were, and since they were still a little big, I did another 200 and then slosh rinsed them in the bucket. This time the smaller one came out nearly exactly my hand size! Woo. The bigger one still seemed a lot bigger.

They've been drying since then and even after a whole day's drying the inside of the mittens were still really wet. So I turned 'em inside out and it turns out that the *inside* of the bigger looking mitten is actually the same width as the littler one. The yarn I'd used for the bigger mitten was thicker than the yarn for the smaller one. So... they're likely the way they are simply 'cause of the yarn, and they may both fit nicely, now.

For the rest of the late afternoon and evening I ended up, with John's blessing, spending most of the afternoon and evening on Okami, my second time through. I finally decided I'd try to find all the Stray Beads, just because, and some of them are far harder to do than to just find... *grin*.

Jet invited Chris over to play, as they'd come back from their holiday trip. So they had a good time together and let John watch a lot of the Wildcard playoff games. So that was very cool.

It was an insane weekend, and my voice is still not all back, yet. But it was very good to do, and I feel pretty good for having done it. Yay! I'm also a bit more confident, how, that I can actually felt nearly anything down to the size needed by the lady that wants felted mittens, so that's a very cool thing. *grin*
Tags: bees, felting, gaming, knitting

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