July 20th 2003 to present
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I awoke at six, and am mostly OK. I have a cold, but the worst has passed, and I am off to Sudbury this morning. I arrived after lunch and went to Mom's.
Today .. Sunny. Wind becoming south 20 km/h this morning. High 30. UV index 7 or high. / Tonight .. Clear. Wind north 20 km/h becoming light near midnight. Low 12./ Normals for the period .. Low 10. High 24.
Monday .. Sunny. High 26. / Tuesday... Sunny. High 33. Low 14. UV index 8 or high. / Wednesday .. Sunny. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h in the afternoon. High 29. / Normals for the period .. Low 10. High 24.
From Pine Hill Cottage, Port Carling, ON:
I've been pretty busy the last few days and I've been on the road, running back and forth, from here to Sudbury and back, and recovering from this cold. I'm almost 100% now.
After a few days in Sudbury early in the week, I returned to Port Carling Wednesday, but Lindsay had Friday off and suggested we go north for the day, so we drove up Friday morning.
I'm driving a Kia Rio I rented and am quite impressed. It has everything (good stereo, peppy performance, adjustable seat) except cruise and power seats. It's small outside, huge inside and gets 40MPG. I checked them out in the paper and a new one is only $12,350 (in Canadian minibucks). That includes a 5-year, 100,000 km warranty with roadside assistance! I love this little car. It's no Buick, but I'd buy one anytime as a runabout.
Lindsay stayed over and drove the Olds (that Mom sold me) down Saturday, I returned Friday evening and dropped in at Ron's to see Graham who had just returned from Ahmek. Ron and family head back to Vancouver again Saturday.
On my first trip to Sudbury, my plan was to visit my sister and family. We'll see them again later at Pine Hill, but I wanted to get up to Sudbury anyhow.
Although I did intend to go home to Alberta before returning East to drive down through New York to Rhode Island and on to Eastern Canada. As our plan changed, it started to make more sense to cancel my trip home, and arrange for Ellen to meet me here. So, that's what we'll do. I had some jobs to do at home, but Ellen can take care of what needs doing, and Dennis will be around to take care of things.
Although we have not been promoting sales, we sold another 500 supers Friday. That leaves only a few thousand to go, and there is no rush to sell them. Although the first flow is over, the main flow should be cutting in about now. In the next few weeks, if we have a long season, some beekeepers will be discovering they are very short of supers, so I imagine we'll be getting a few more calls. That's okay. We have people on the ground there who can handle any last-minute purchases. Our daughter and son-in-law will be around as long as people phone ahead.
There could be a lot of honey out there still. I recall one year when we pulled all our supers off 300 hives on July 25th and put on supers of Ross Rounds. These hives went on to produce 30,000 sections, in addition to the extracted crop they had already made.
Mom has been talking about buying a new car for some time now, and she has been talking about buying a Saturn. A friend has one, and Mom has driven it, and liked it. She also likes the idea of firm prices (no-haggling) that Saturn promotes.
Every time she brought up the subject of buying a car, everyone said, "Sure Mom, go buy one". I think she was looking for some resistance, but everyone just agreed and she would bring it up again later, so I decided to accompany her on the quest. (Not that she needs help or can be influenced. I went to keep her company and to have an excuse to test drive some new cars).
We went directly to the Saturn dealership and looked at Saturns, then, just for balance, we went down the street and test drove a Buick (my current favourite). On Wednesday, we went back to the Saturn dealership and she made a deposit on a car. She was promised delivery on Friday. They did not offer much for her trade, so I decided to buy it. Ellen & I are planning a trip east, and the cheapest car rental looks like about $1,200, and a rental would limit our options a bit, so I figured that I might as well put that rental money into buying a car. I need a car in Ontario anyhow, since I plan to spend more time here.
Since Lindsay and I were back in Sudbury on Friday, I was there when the dealer came to get Mom for her orientation session and when she drove her new car home. She said that when she arrived at the dealership her car was in the showroom with balloons attached, and a sign saying, "Congratulations, Jean". They really did things up big, and gave here a complete tutorial on the car and introduced her personally to the service people. Apparently this is something that Saturn does routinely for all customers, but maybe they went even a bit further than usual. I don't know how often they sell an sporty bright blue Ion3 to an enthusiastic and capable 85-year old woman.
Here in Muskoka, I have a good phone line, but at Mom's, in Sudbury, I had a terrible time staying connected, so we called the phone company. The phone guys came out, climbed a pole (and set off the burglar alarm) and reported that they found a squirrel's nest in a junction box and had fixed the problem. That may have eliminated the static and cross-talk, but I still have internet problems when I'm there. Seems to me that I made the same complaint last year and they found a squirrel in a box at that time too. Hmmm. You'd think they'd either come up with a squirrel-proof junction box, or a new excuse.
Anyhow, add to that the fact that this computer, a three-year-old Toshiba notebook, tends to crash if left unattended -- don't know why -- and, although I made several starts on these pages, and I lost my work a few times. I'm starting over now, writing this in plain text then pasting onto the web when able.
Some time back, I wrote an article exploring a different perspective on the US/Canada border closure to the import of bees. Usually the question is considered from a rather myopic viewpoint -- that of beekeepers alone, and not that of society as a whole. Since I'm no longer a commercial beekeeper, I find that, as I step back from the industry, it becomes more apparent how self-centred the debate -- if you can call it that -- has become. Beekeeper vs. beekeeper. What about everyone else?
I wrote the article as an exercise, and thought I'd run it past the CHC to see how they would respond to an analysis that was more based on the industry as it could be, than on the industry as it is. The response has been disappointing to say the least. Only one person has addressed replies to me personally, but I did receive copies of another email by several roundabout routes, so today, I phoned Heather to see if she is ignoring me, or simply on holidays -- like me. Seems she is in the Maritimes, attending meetings until the 31st, so I'll assume that no slight is intended.
Anyhow, I have been wondering how to handle the email I've gotten. I have posted one reply previously, and, although the writers did not send me the material below directly, it was circulated on the 'net, and I think I'll submit it here with my own comments interspersed; the original material will remain anonymous unless one of the writers is sufficiently proud to request attribution.
It rained pretty well all day today and, as you can see, I finally got down to doing some writing.
Today .. Sunny. Wind becoming south 20 km/h. High 26. UV index 6 or moderate. / Tonight .. Clear. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 11. / Normals for the period .. Low 10. High 24.
Today, in Muskoka, the forecast is for "Cloudy with a few showers ending this morning then clearing. High 24". That's good. Things are getting damp and I'm ready to spend more time outside. Mom is coming this morning and, tomorrow, we pick up Ellen at Pearson and return the Kia.
| Here's an interesting letter...
I hope to get around to it today.
> Thanks for your ramblings and documenting your last few years of beekeeping. I enjoyed the progress on losing weight (boy do we have a few things in common), the frustration of employees (when I was young I owned a janitorial company - talk about hard to find help!). I've made it through about 1/2 of the entries and some personal questions come up. Forgive me for asking them, if they are out of line just say so.
> First to introduce myself. I am a management consultant with a large consulting global consulting firm. I have spent the last 10 years living on airplanes, advising CEO's, COOs, CFOs and CIOs on matters that seemed of great importance at the time. I worked on the merger of several global leaders in their industries. At the peak of the great internet bubble my company billed me out at rates higher than investment bankers and senior NY Law partners. I can't complain on the compensation I received although I can tell you other people took 75% of what I billed and the government took 40% of what I ended up with. I'm still hanging on, rates have dropped but I'm still shagging around on airplanes and living Frank Zappas' 2000 motels, only over and over again. If you catch my tone this isn't exactly how I want to live the rest of my life. I'm not too impressed either - it's kinda empty if you know what I mean.
> Last year my wife and I bought a small acreage. She came from a rural area, I was raised in the city. After a first year of massive allergies, things have calmed down. I started a soil improvement program, acquired 3 Llamas (soon to be 4) because they were fun to look at and easy to take care of. Dug a pond (my wife calls it 'brent's folly') and started more projects than I could ever hope to finish. One of the projects was adding a beehive to draw local honey in hopes of clearing up the allergies.
> Pretty much been downhill ever since then. I've thoroughly enjoyed working with them and the hive has been very successful. Supering, splitting, trying a hand at raising queens. The honey flow has been decent in spite of a shortage of rain. I've become very sensitive to what is happening in the woods and what's blooming along the road, out in the fields, what weeds are popping up.
> I'm sure about 3/4 of beginners enjoy what they are doing and dream of turning it into a business. In spite of being a consultant (those who know do, those who don't know teach, those with no clue consult- that's the joke I tell my clients) I am not deluded about the hard work necessary to manage a small business. I owned two of them in the 70's between college and career and should have stayed with them. I was as capital constrained back then as the girls jeans were tight back then. Thought I could never expand but now see I really missed it. Anyway one of them was a janitorial company that really taught me lessons on managing people. Hard to get people to do low status jobs. I cleaned many an office building by myself when the crew didn't show up.
> Anyway, back to the reason for writing. You scaled way up on your beekeeping. I wasn't really clear when you did this - I missed where you got into the beekeeping as a business. Then you scaled down, if you can call it that, to 2000 hives, and I guess then way down. What were some of your reasons behind your decisions. I know from your journal that managing employees was a real headache. Have to believe when the price of honey was $1 Canadian that the rewards weren't all that good.
> Was it just time or did you have another direction? Is large scale beekeeping even a viable business? They say half the beekeepers have exited? your thoughts?
> Are the small operators (< 300-500 hives) just as profitable as someone with 3000 hives and ton's more capital and risk. Sure would appreciate your thoughts or if it's in the journal just tell me to keep on reading.
> I guess I am looking on whether I should invest much beyond the 20 or so hives I can put on my homestead or if this is something that could be a nice post consulting life business. While there may be no assurances raising bees and honey, you wouldn't believe how unsure the corporate world has become.
Today .. Sunny. High 30. UV index 7 or high. / Tonight .. Clear. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light near midnight. Low 14. / Normals for the period .. Low 10. High 24.
I drove to Toronto to return the car and pick up Ellen. Mom came along in her car to drive us back to Pine Hill.
Today .. Sunny. Wind north 20 km/h. High 27. UV index 7 or high. / Tonight .. Clear. Low 10. / Normals for the period .. Low 10. High 24.
Linda and Sid arrived around noon. We visited a bit and then Ellen and I headed for the Eastern seaboard. We drove the backroads across Ontario through Haliburton and on down to Belleville, where we spent the night.
We're off to Round Lake, NY, today.
Along the way, we stopped in Kingston to check out cell phone deals. I'd intended to switch my bag phone for a pocket phone and add a US plan, but by the time we figured out the cost and complications, we decided to do without. We wound up unplugging our phone when we crossed the border.
As before, the trip took longer than expected, but we wound up at Aaron's around eight. Betsy had bought ribs at a local barbeque and we had a feast.
Aaron and I decided to go tubing on the Sacandaga River, and drove up into the Adirondacks. Ellen went exploring in Round Lake. Round Lake is an old resort town near Saratoga. The houses were mainly built around the turn of the last century and are not altered much from their original design. El loves such things and had a great time.
We returned in late afternoon and went out to look at Aaron's hives. He's headed to EAS and was wondering if they needed work before going. They were mostly okay for space.
"If I make a
living off it, that's great -- but I come from a culture where you're valued
not so much by what you acquire but by what you give away,"
-- Larry Wall (the inventor of Perl)
|Please report any problems or errors to Allen Dick
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