Girls vs Boys

It’s girls vs boys in all three hives.

The girls (workers) are winning, of course, partly because they far outnumber the boys (drones).

Plus workers have stingers. Drones do not. 

I like to think it’s also partly payback for the drones enjoying a long hot summer of laziness while their sisters slaved.

Drones exist solely to mate with queens. Not all manage this feat which may or may not be a good thing since mating breaks a drone in half, bringing his life to a quick — but I’d like to think exciting — end. 

If the drone doesn’t find his queen, he spends his life begging food and toddling around the hive getting in the way of his sisters.

Those sisters, meanwhile, are in the process of working themselves to death. Not only do they look after their bumbling brothers, they clean the hive, feed and raise the young, make honey, feed and tend the queen, produce and shape wax into comb, guard the hive, and forage for food.

When workers can no longer work, they fly away — often with wings so tattered they barely function — to spare their sisters the labor of dragging out their dead body. 

That’s assuming they aren’t first eaten by a bird, killed by a yellow jacket or poisoned by pesticides.

Even the queen’s life is constant labor — laying up to 2,000 eggs a day leaves little time for rest.  

Still, the drones who didn’t mate get their comeuppance in the fall. 

They are superfluous to the needs of a hive, and as the hive prepares for winter, they’re banished. 

In this case, “banished” means being pulled from the hive and dropped on the ground outside, often with their wings chewed off to make sure they cannot return. Worker bees may even pull drone pupae from their cell and push it out the hive entrance. Occasionally, they fly away carrying a full grown drone.

This is an interesting sight since drones are so much bigger than workers. The first time I saw it, I thought, “Why is that bee flying so strangely?” They look as though they can barely maintain lift. 

The worker bee goes back in the hive to continue her work. 
The drone is expected to die.
And so he does. 

After all, he is incapable of work, therefore unable to feed himself. (Seems there’s a life lesson in there somewhere.)

There is no room for sentimentality in a beehive. If a hive is to survive, it must get through winter by living on honey made during the summer. Dead weight must go, and drones certainly fall into that category in the autumn.

Two of our hives had a lot of drones this year, and there’s a good reason they did. 

As usual, it was the fault of the beekeepers.

Remember that pretty comb the bees made earlier this year? The pieces we attached to the frames with rubber bands because we didn’t want to waste their hard work?

The two hives made those entire frames into drone comb. Since they had plenty of worker bees, we decided to leave it go and see what happened. (We’d also been treating for Varroa, so theoretically they shouldn’t have become a Varroa bomb even though Varroa love drone brood.)

What happened was an overabundance of drones resulting in a mass cleanout of them in the last week. 

I didn’t take a picture, but if you want to see what it looks like or read more about it, you can go here or here. Our hives didn’t have quite as many dead as the first link, but we did have larvae similar to the picture. They look kind of like mummified white bees on the ground.

Anyway, we won’t do that again. 

Still, that’s how you learn. In beekeeping, as in many things, the books and classes only take you so far. 

A Quick Overview of Our Beekeeping Adventures and Misadventures:  This year, we started with a nucleus hive with an overwintered Ohio queen, and a package of Saskatraz bees from California. Both did well and started making swarm cells, so we split them.

The split from the Ohio hive was put into a nuc box, and they successfully made a queen.

The split from the California hive was done by separating the two deep boxes, leaving the queen in one, and making sure the other had eggs. After more than a month, there were no signs of a queen.

We combined the two splits, putting a double-layer screen board between them. Ten days later, we removed the screen. The merging of the hives was successful, though there were some dead bees outside (fewer than 100) the morning after we removed the screen.

Today, when we checked, we could see that hive is now flourishing.

In the meantime, when we last looked at the Ohio hive (Buzzers Roost II), it was boiling over with bees and they’d started making swarm cells again.

OOOOOOOHHHH, NOOOOOOO! They can’t swarm now! A swarm this late in the year will never survive because they won’t have winter stores, and the hive they leave behind might also be weakened.

We closed the hive and thought about it, ultimately deciding to make it so they couldn’t swarm. A hive won’t swarm without a queen, so we destroyed the queen cells and put queen excluders both above and below the box with the queen. 

Was this the right thing to do? Will it succeed? Today we removed the second queen excluder, reasoning that it’s getting cold enough that they certainly won’t swarm now. 

Will they? Will they? All my fingers are crossed in the hope that they will not!

California Girls was also doing well when we last checked it (about ten days ago). I can really smell the honey when I walk behind it. 

Tomorrow, we will start Formic Pro treatment for Varroa once more — two strips in each hive for ten days per strip. By the time they come off, the Goldenrod and aster flow will be done, and we’ll begin a heavy feed on all three hives.

At least that’s the plan. 

To tide you over until next time, here’s some pix of our lovely ladies bringing in pollen.

Raccoons and Skunks and Cats, Oh My!

It’s undoubtedly fortunute one rarely has the opportunity to get close to a skunk. My past encounters have mostly been of the olfactory type, catching that distinct scent while driving past a flattened black and white grease smear on the road.

Then there was the time I opened the sliding door to our deck and stepped out to discover one under our bird feeders. One quick whiff and a view, and I was back inside before I knew what to think. 

So imagine my surprise when I looked up from my seat at the campfire to see what looked like moonlight moving in front of our tent and discovered it was, in fact, not moonlight, but a small skunk. 

I’m not sure which of us was more surprised. Aside from my gasp, our reactions were the same, a watchful stare as we slowly backed away from one another. 

It was quite a luxurious creature, with a wide white stripe from nose to tail, and as I said, it emitted no scent, though it did lift its tail at me when I later surprised it on my trek to the bathroom. 

I wondered if this lack of scent meant the animal hadn’t had recent cause to spray anything, but mainly I was just glad I hadn’t become a target. 

We had other visitors. An equally small raccoon whose inquisitiveness far outweighed its common sense dropped by each night.

Photo by anne sch on Pexels.com

Despite shouts and claps to see it off, the animal wandered around our site as though it lived there or something.

Oh, yeah. It probably does. 🙂 And so, apparently, did a feral cat who stalked through a few times.  (Note: The picture above is not actually the raccoon we saw, but you get the idea.)

We were camping at Mohican State Park (Ohio), and our site was right on the river, as you can see from these photos. 

It’s a beautiful area, with lots to do: hiking, biking, canoeing/rafting/kayaking, and more. We planned on canoeing, but the river was too high for the first two days (see pictures above). It dropped by the day we left, but the weather had cooled, so we decided to save that adventure for another time. 

Instead, we went cycling on the Richland B&O rail-trail. It’s a nice bike path, level and mostly flat as rail-trails tend to be. There’s also abundant shade with trees growing on both sides of the trail for most of the way. The route is about 18 miles long and bisects three small towns at almost exactly six mile intervals, which provides ample opportunity for food and drink stops. We’re not what one would call “serious cyclists,” so this suited us fine. 

We rode about eight miles, then turned back to the middle town and stopped for a snack and a cold drink at a local bar and grill, which had outside tables. 

Unfortunately, after exiting the patio, we soon discovered the tube in my rear tire had gone kaplooey, and there was lime-colored gunk all over it. This, we learned, was called a “slime” tube, and is meant to self-patch most holes. 

Obviously, it hadn’t worked, and The Engineer had to ride the remaining four miles back to our vehicle on his own while I went next door and had ice cream on their patio.

There’s a silver lining to every cloud, if you look hard enough, I’ve found. 

 

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

An equally silver lining was the fact that the next day we got the last tube of the correct size at a bike shop (Ashland Bike Company) in a neighboring town. I use “neighboring” in an extremely loose sense since the shop was a good 35 minutes from our camp. It was also another slime tube, alas.  

Still, I’d been trying to find a spare since I got this bike (about a month ago), but COVID has caused bike parts to be in short supply, and it was a pleasant surprise to find any kind of tube that would fit. 

Better yet, there was a brewpub with outdoor seating (Uniontown Brewing) across the street from the bike shop, and they had a “Two sliders with a side” for $10 lunch special. We got perch and fries — a slider each, with the fries to share — a perfect size lunch and perfectly delicious. 

Then, it was bike repair (thank you, dear Engineer), and back on the trail. 

I love homemade signs, don’t you? They add such character to a place. 

I also love Mail Pouch Tobacco barn paintings because they always make me think of my grandpa who chewed the stuff. It was gross, but I loved Grandpa, and seeing these barns reminds me of him. The guy who used to paint them (without a template), Harley Warrick is long dead, so sightings of his work have become fewer and fewer. 

The one I photographed looks like it’s in the country, but it’s actually right behind the trail parking lot, smack-dab in the middle of the small town of Butler, Ohio.

We didn’t eat all our meals out as I am still trying to expand my camp cooking repertoire. This meant the first night’s dinner was quesadillas made in the pie iron. They were delicious, filled with chorizo, onions, beans, peppers, tomatoes and cheese.

Breakfasts were an egg and home fries scramble or breakfast fajitas (basically egg and home fries scramble in a tortilla). 

We were also going to have a Chicken Tikka Masala type dinner made in the Dutch oven. This ended up as a rather charred Tandoori Chicken with the sauce burnt black on the oven because the fire was too hot. 

And yet, I shall persevere. Sorry, but I erased the picture of my failure after posting on Instagram, so you don’t get to see it here. 

I’ll share other photos. They’re prettier anyway.

Ohio Barn
Log Cabin at Campground
Panorama of Gorge near Mohican State Campground

Lastly, I feel compelled to mention an RV we saw because if you don’t live in the US, you may not believe the size of some of these trailers. This particular one had two side doors and a rear patio! 

It looked something like this. The model is called a “Road Warrior,” and it’s considered a “toy hauler,” because evidently the patio part is where you haul your “toys.” You can order a side patio too, on trailers ranging in size from 41′ 6″ to 44′ 4″. If you’re interested in buying one, go here, but have your checkbook handy. They cost from tens of thousands of dollars up to over a hundred thousand, and don’t forget you’ll need a vehicle capable of hauling the behemoth!

Ah, well, they probably think we’re crazy for camping in a tent. 

 

Making Memories

My mom turned 90 last week, adding celebrating a landmark birthday during a pandemic to an already lengthy list of life experiences. 

She’s been in lockdown at her nursing home since March, and back in May, we realized making her day special would require an extra dose of creativity. 

Darling Daughter mentioned she’d read about getting people  to send postcards for a special occasion and the “Postcard Project” was born.

Here’s what we did:

  • Listed everyone in Mom’s past and present who we might be able to enlist in sending her a postcard for her birthday. 
  • Reached out to friends and cousins to help locate even more people who would want to participate.
  • Sent postcards, address labels, stamps, and a note (see copy at bottom of this post) explaining what we were doing. In several cases, I sent multiples of all of the above, asking them to share with anyone they thought might like to join the fun. 
  • Mom’s address labels have my address on them because I act as her Power-of-Attorney, so all the cards came to me. Initially, we considered delivering them as they came, but in the end, we chose to be more dramatic, presenting them all on her birthday in a keepsake box my brother bought. 

Results:

  • So far, Mom received over 75 cards and postcards, and stragglers are still being delivered. Some people sent birthday cards instead, and others sent both.
  • Several took the time to share memories of times they’d spent with her, while many simply wished her a happy 90th birthday. 
  • Some were a mystery (at least to me), either because they were unsigned, or because I didn’t recognize the names. 
  • She received cards from nieces, nephews, her daughter-in-law, her one remaining sibling, my in-laws in England, her grandchildren and the grandchildren of a nurse at her facility who visited often in the past and now can’t. There were cards from our next-door neighbors when we were growing up, and members of the church we attended then, as well as my brother’s church, which she has occasionally attended.

Conclusion and advice:
This project was a success. Mom was clearly touched both by our efforts and the fact that so many people responded. She also likes having the box in which to keep the cards, and we expect she will read them from time to time in the future.  

One of the reasons I’m sharing this experience is because you may have relatives or friends with similar events approaching, and postcards proved to be a good way to include others when physically getting together is unwise.

If you decide on a similar project, I’d advise an early start. We began in July for an end of August birthday.

I’m embarassed to admit I already had all the postcards we needed in my card drawer, many of them in themed books of cards. If you need to purchase cards, you should probably start even earlier. 

It’s likely many people responded because we made it easy. They got the cards, stamps, and address labels. All they needed to do was write something and send it, although a few took the opportunity to send a card that meant something to them (and hopefully my mom). 

I read all the postcards, although I stopped short of steaming open the cards in envelopes. In doing so, I was reminded of something, which is the second reason I’m sharing this experience.  

The memories people shared were not huge events, but small moments. Making eclairs together. The bathing suit Mom used to wear, and my cousins’ summer visits with her and Dad before us kids came along. Going camping with our church campers’ club. 

What all these have in common is simply this, enjoying each others’ company by spending time together. 

Sometimes I think we get so enamored of our next big plan that we forget to enjoy the present. Or perhaps that’s just me. 

The Postcard Project was a reminder to stop, to take a breath, and to focus on what’s in front of me. 

The Letter

Dear family and friends of Helen,

It’s hard to believe Mom will be 90 next month! She’s as feisty and beloved as ever, and we’d hoped to celebrate this landmark birthday in a big way. 

Unfortunately, COVID-19 had other plans. When I wondered aloud what we could still do to make the day special, my daughter Sarah gave me a suggestion, which became the “Postcard Project.”

For Mom’s birthday, we would like people from all phases of her life to send her a birthday postcard. I hope you’ll join us.

Attached is one postcard (or more), address label(s) and stamp(s). All you need do is share a memory or birthday wishes, attach the stamp and label, and drop the card in a mailbox. 

I’ve tried to choose cards that seemed appropriate, but if you have one you’d rather send, please feel free to do so. 

Thanks for your help . With your assistance, we can make Mom’s day one to remember.

Kym and Sam 

Mom (around 1948)

Is a Car in a Parking Lot Worth More than One in a Bush?: Proof You’re Never Too Old to Do Something Stupid

I’ve been driving over forty years and have driven mainly manual transmission cars for at least the last thirty.

And I still managed to forget to set the parking brake.

Upsides:

  • I wasn’t in the car (could also be viewed as a downside because if I’d been in the vehicle, I would have hit the brake).
  • It was parked on a very slight incline – obvious downside being there was an incline at all.
  • We have insurance … which includes rental car coverage while my car is being repaired.
  • Nothing mechanical was affected (except a slight disaligning of the steering).
  • The damage to the body could have been much, much worse.
  • It’s always good to be reminded I’m not as smart as I think I am (though I could probably think of less expensive ways to be reminded).

Addendum: When I was writing this post, WordPress wouldn’t let me preview it, so I waited a day to do so before publishing. Sometime during that 24 hour period, they switched from “classic editor” (aka what we’re used to) to “block editor” to “improve user experience.” I’m rapidly coming to believe the phrase “improved user experience” is a catchphrase that really means a bunch of techies trying to show the rest of us how stupid we are. In this case, it’s a bit like when Microsoft “improved” Word to make it try to read our minds and format our writing how the program thinks we want it, the problem being that’s not necessarily how we wanted it.

My “improved user experience” added about thirty minutes to the time it’s taken to write and post this.

At least I got a bonus opportunity to reflect on my own fallibility … in case the car in the bushes wasn’t enough to remind me. <laughing>

Camping Without Air Conditioning and Appliances

This post has its roots in a review of a campground.

You see, I’m the cautious type and like to know something about where we are considering putting down (tent) stakes for a few nights, so I looked at reviews online before making reservations for our most recent expedition.

Most were positive, extolling the privacy of the sites, the beautiful setting, and the plentiful recreational opportunities in the area.

However, the most recent review, posted that very day, was negative to the extreme, which I found a bit worrying … until I read it.

One of the reviewer’s main complaints were the fact there were no full hookups for RVs. I’ve just checked on the reservation form, and yes, it does give “full hookup” as an option, but when you look at the specific site (which comes up when you pick a date and spot), the spots for “Sewer hookup” and “Water hookup” are blank, which I would take to mean these services are not on offer.

Even worse (in the reviewer’s opinion), the electric power was such that campers are unable to use any appliances while running the air conditioning.

There were also no dumpsters or trash bins near the campsites, something I would take as a positive rather than negative due to smells and yellow jackets.

And apparently there were (gasp!) bugs in the shower, both dead and alive.

I’ll admit sharing the shower with six-legged creatures is not my favorite part of camping, but it’s something I’ve come to accept as part of the back-to-nature experience.

The last complaint concerned the water — apparently smelly and disgusting.

When I was young, my family camped quite a bit, and I’ve experienced enough bad water to take this seriously enough to haul some from home in case the reviewer wasn’t exaggerating.

Readers, I am not above enjoying modern comforts, nor do I begrudge others doing the same. It was hot enough the first few days of our trip that I’d have gladly availed myself of A/C if we had it. Also, I can understand someone wanting to use a crockpot or other convenience to make cooking chores easier.

But, if that’s the type of camping you require, perhaps it would be wise to ascertain that it’s available before setting out.

Please don’t think I’m criticizing anyone for their choices. It’s okay if you want air conditioning and to use your appliances. Just don’t criticize campgrounds for not providing the power you need when they’ve clearly stated they don’t.

Or maybe just check into a hotel. That’s the choice I make (and The Engineer wisely follows) when I’m not up for insects in my shower and having to walk a quarter mile to use the toilet.

I think there are two things people call “camping.” One involves a tent or small camper; the other uses massive trailer that requires a truck to tow the behemoth and/or another vehicle being towed.

When I talk about “camping,” I mean the former, but here in the US, when most people discuss camping, they generally mean the latter, something I call RVing.

Both activities involve traveling and setting up “camp,” but diverge widely from there, so much so that I find myself asking, “At what point does it become less like camping, and more like taking your home with you?”

That’s what some people — mostly retirees — do. They sell their home, buy a gargantuan trailer, and travel the country.

To this, I say, “More power to you!” If you’ve reached the age of retirement, you certainly deserve a few comforts.

The people I’ve known who made this choice don’t call it “camping” either; they call it RVing.

Okay. I’m climbing down from my soapbox now because I want you to know we had a great time.

Yes, there were a few bugs in the shower — a couple of small Daddy Long Legs and a cricket.

No, the water didn’t stink.

Yes, we had electricity, but we didn’t use it.

And, yes, the garbage bins were in a central place, away from most the sites.

You know what? It was a beautiful campground, with large private spaces and clean restrooms.

IMG_3879
This is our new (to us) tent. It’s an 8-person Cabela’s Alaskan Guide and was a bit of an extravagance since we’d only replaced our old 4-person version with a new one a few years ago. I saw it on CraigsList, and the temptation of being able to stand inside our tent was just too great.

Plus, it was a deal and almost new.

We’re big fans of dome-style tents because we’ve had several, and they’ve held up in storms that took down most other nearby tents.

I was also eager to use our new (to us) Kelly Kettle  which I’d recently bought on eBay. Naturally, we’d experimented with it in the backyard, but now, we’d be using it for the purpose for which it had been purchased. After years of pumping our little single burner camp stove for what seemed like hours, we would finally have hot water for tea in five minutes.

IMG_3876

Kelly Kettles (and their competitors, Ghillie Kettles) are sometimes called “Volcano Kettles” because the devices “consist of a water jacket surrounding a fire chamber which creates an upward chimney draft ensuring efficient and rapid boiling even in windy or wet weather.”  (Description care of Wikipedia. Click through if you want more info.)

They’re more common in England, and I’m explaining them here because they are brilliant — a simple design that works. And you can fuel them with almost anything, although we cheated a little and brought sticks and leaves from home.

I also took a hint from a YouTube video and lit the sticks with cotton balls rubbed with Vaseline.

Yes, The Engineer and I actually spent an evening watching Kelly Kettle videos on YouTube.

I know. We’re weird.

The other important thing is to point the bottom hole into the wind. In fact, it seems like the windier it was, the better the flame.

IMG_3878I was so excited, I brought one of my teapots so we could have proper tea each morning.

As an added bonus, I soon realized the kettle is also great for heating water for dishes.

One of my best buys ever. Seriously.

And while I’m sounding like a camping nut and bit of a spendthrift, let me tell you about my recently acquired Lodge Camp Dutch Oven.

It’s the smallest one, just big enough for the two of us, and I’ve been experimenting with cooking a variety of dishes on the fire. (Go here for details on previous meals, though I managed to erase the pictures on that post. :-%)IMG_3877

On Tuesday, we had burgers and local corn. We were going to have green beans with garlic and onions (all from our CSA share), but left the pot on the fire for too long. The beans were charred twigs with small other small black bits that had been onion and garlic. I’m not exaggerating, and I’m sorry for not taking a picture so you could see.

Wednesday, I licked my wounds and returned to an old favorite we’ve made for years called “Sausages and Other Stuff.” The recipe is sausage (usually bratwurst, but could be Italian or any other kind), and the “other stuff” usually includes potatoes, onions, carrots, a bit of butter, and whatever other vegetables we have on hand. In this case, it was zucchini and garlic. We used to make these by wrapping it all up in multiple layers of heavy-duty foil, but this time we used the Dutch oven. It was delicious.

On Thursday, I attempted pizza. IMG_3859
I redeemed myself because it was perfect! I made the dough at home using author Barbara Kingsolver’s excellent “Friday Night Pizza” dough recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, topped with canned sauce, fresh basil, onions, green peppers, olives, pepperoni, and Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

Maybe I only remember to take pictures of my triumphs?

As I mentioned, it was hot and humid the first few days (upper 80s and felt like 100% humidity), so naturally that was when we decided to cycle. We never found the actual rail-trail we were looking for, riding instead on a connector trail but never connecting. Instead, we did a few miles and had a nice picnic instead.

Since we were using the bikes to get to and from the shower and took another short ride on our way home, we did manage to get in about 20 miles total.

The day we chose to kayak was cloudier and a little windy. IMG_3843IMG_3844
The park was a marsh with abundant plant life, which meant some shallow paddling in places, but it was beautiful and peaceful, with Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, some diving water birds, and many dragon flies. IMG_3851
The evening was lovely, cooler and breezy, a perfect night to sit outside, which is what we did, eating our pizza and chatting.

Some new “campers” had pulled in next door while we were gone, leaving their air conditioning running while they went somewhere because there were no people and no vehicle in sight. On their return, they apparently disappeared into the camper.

We never did see them, though they eventually turned off the A/C.

Sigh.

Yesterday, we packed up, returned to the marsh for our second little bike ride, stopped at another nature preserve for a picnic lunch, and met some more dragonflies. IMG_3865IMG_3864
On the way home, we stopped so I could get locally made ice cream.

It was delicious, a fitting way to end to a wonderful trip.

 

 

 

 

 

Honey and Queens: A Quick Bee Update

The Engineer and I did a quick hive check today of three hives, without going into MayBees at all. We hope they’re in the middle of queen rearing, which can be a fraught time for a hive.

They certainly act a bit fraught, still bearding (though not all the time now) and very active, so we’ll wait at least another week or two before we take a peek.

We did look at the supers and top box of California Girls. I’m a little concerned because there are an awful lot of drones in the hive. I think they hatched from the comb we attached to the frame with rubber bands, but we didn’t go deep enough to see if this is the case. It’s a little worrying, but there were plenty of workers too.

As I said, this was only a sneak peek, mainly to look at the supers because we were pretty sure they needed extracting.

We were right. One super was full of honey, most of it capped.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

They were just starting on the second super, but we still have the goldenrod/aster nectar flow in August/September, so I expect that will fill also. And, the last time we looked in the brood boxes (deeps), they had a fair amount of honey and pollen there.

We need to take a deeper look soon, just to stay on top of things. For today, however, we put an escape board between the full super and the just-getting-started super to get the bees out of the full one so we can extract its honey.

Buzzers’ Root also got a brief check of just the honey supers, and we were pleased to see both full of mostly capped honey. They got another honey super, topped by an escape board and the two full supers.

Here’s a picture of an escape board from BetterBee.eb1_nEscape boards work by making it easy for bees to move back down to the brood boxes, and difficult to return to the supers. (They like to return to the brood boxes during the night when it’s cooler.)

There are other methods you can use to remove bees from the supers, but the escape board has worked for us in the past. If you’re interested, you can click through to HoneyBeeSuite for information about the other means of clearing bees.

The important thing with an escape board is to remove it within 48 hours. If you don’t, the bees will figure out a way to get back to their hard-earned honey.

Our last task today was to have a look at NewBees (II). This is the first split we made this year, and it isn’t as active as California Girls, Buzzers’ Roost, or even MayBees.

My theory is that’s because it’s a split, so it’s a smaller hive. “But, Kym,” you say, “MayBees is a split also, and you say it’s crazy full.”

At least, that’s what you’re saying if you’ve been paying attention.

Hear me out. We’ve had two packages of Saskatraz, and from what I’ve observed, they  build their population quickly. Also, we split Buzzers’ into the NewBees hive several weeks sooner than we split California Girls.

Thus, California Girls was very crowded by the time we split it. Plus we split it into two deeps, rather than using a nuc box with three frames of bees and two of pollen and honey. So MayBees started out with more population.

At any rate, NewBees (II) seems fine. We saw eggs, larvae, capped brood and, once again, The Engineer spotted the queen.

Can you?QueenUnmarked

Did you find her? I’ve marked her on the picture below. QueenMarked

And here she is, unmarked, but all on her lonesome, which is unusual. Usually queens are surrounded by workers.IMG_3298Her laying pattern is a bit spotty, not as compact as we’d like to see, but she’s still young, and the hive’s two boxes are getting a little full (mostly of honey), so maybe she feels like she doesn’t have enough space to fill a frame with eggs.

We’ll be adding a third box to give them some room before the week is out to combat this.

In less welcome news, we also saw two hive beetles, our first (and second) this season. The Engineer killed one, and the other was already dead in the trap, so we put the trap back in to catch any of the beetle’s mates that might still be around. (All four hives have traps since we’ve had issues with these nasties before and prefer to avoid them if possible.)

Here’s some pictures of NewBees’ honey.

Sorry, I just looooove to take pictures of all that sweetness!

Tomorrow is extraction day, which will be a hot mess, but very rewarding, although more for us than the bees. 🙂

The plan after that? Give NewBees (II) a new box, do a thorough check of Buzzers’ and Cali Girls, and move Buzzers’ to a lower stand, which The Engineer will be engineering in the next few days or so.

Then, sometime toward the end of the month or the start of August, have a look at MayBees to see if they’ve managed to requeen.

After that, it will be time to treat the hives again, start prepping for winter, and hopefully have another extraction of goldenrod honey (if the bees don’t need it for winter food).

We love our bees, even when they sting. We’d love them even if we didn’t get any honey, but I must admit extracting and adding up how much we’ve got is always a thrill.

I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

Home Run by a Nasty Woman (Me)

I hit a home run the other day, but not on a baseball diamond.

Long story made short: There is a woman whom I believe lives in a nearby city. She shares my last name, not my first, just the last, which is a fairly common one. This woman must be a piece of work because this week, because three times in the last five or so  years, I’ve been contacted by collection agencies looking for her.

They have called Darling Daughter at college, which really made my blood boil.
They have contacted our former tenant who lived upstairs from us.
And they have called me. Multiple times.

The first time the issue came to light, they contacted my boss at work, which is illegal. I happened to answer the phone and attempted to set them straight.

After that first spate of incidents (contacting me at work and DD at school), I managed to trace them to an address and wrote a letter threatening legal action. The phone calls stopped.

The second time, I told them I’d been through this before, and would take legal action if they called again. The didn’t.

Like any sane person, I don’t answer my phone unless I recognize the number. But last week I got a voice mail concerning this woman, saying she was going to be investigated, and they would be coming to all “known addresses” for her, including mine.

Can I say again I have never met the woman and have no idea how my name got mixed up with hers?

So, I called and left a message to that effect. “This is not her phone number. This is not her address. I don’t know her.”

A few days later, they called again. Same message, with the addition that the “investigators” would be visiting this person’s place for work.

Given the fact that said woman is regularly in trouble with the law, I don’t think she has a place of work.

But I do, and it would be pretty easy to find out where it was, I’d think.

So, I called back. Although I was polite, it was clear from my voice that I was annoyed.

The man on the phone’s immediate response?
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, sweetheart.”

Excuse me?

Sweetheart? (Strike one.)

Steam coming from my ears, I tersely responded, “Don’t call me sweetheart.”

I think he said something like, “Calm down, Ma’am.”

I tried to explain the situation, that I was very angry for being harassed about a woman I never met.

He told me to “Watch my tone.” (Strike two.)

Sorry? Watch my tone? I’m the one whose house and place of work is being threatened!

This man, who never gave his name, said my phone was linked to ________ (The Engineer’s name).

I said, “That’s my husband.”

He said something about my husband being related to this woman and demanded I give the phone The Engineer.

Of course, I refused. The Engineer’s family all live in England, and besides, why did this man think he had the right to demand I do anything?

Even writing about it makes my heart beat faster in anger.

This man continued to insist we were somehow related to this woman, that I didn’t know everyone my husband knows (likely true, but I do know his family), and that we are listed as “known associates” of the woman.

I said something like, “Well, we aren’t, and I don’t want you calling me again.”

That’s when he said, “I don’t intend to call you because you seem like a very “nasty woman.”

Home run! Three sexist, condescending remarks from a complete stranger in almost as many sentences.

When I hung up, he was threatening these “investigators” would be coming to our house, and said I’d better “have my ID ready,” and telling me to “let my relatives know” they were looking for this person.

I was shaking when I put down the phone.

After I calmed down a little, I called the police to at least get this experience on record.

The officer was great. Took all the information, reassured me they weren’t coming to my house, and even called this man back.

She said if I told him I wasn’t related to this person, they had to note that on my file and not call again. And when she called him, he said he’d already done so.

Yeah. Right.

I bet he was a lot nicer to her than he was to me.

Later, I realized, of course they can’t come to our house unless they are accompanied by an officer of the law, which would mean they’d have to have a warrant.

Otherwise, it would be trespassing.

Still, it was a very unpleasant experience all around, not least the fact that a complete stranger felt he had the right to threaten, use an endearment, tone police, and insult me because he didn’t get what he wanted.

Nasty woman?

In this situation, I’ll take that as a compliment.

yellow black and white batman logo

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May-Bees or May-Bees Not

We’re up to four hives now, if all works out, which is kind of funny because our aim has always been two.

But, here’s the thing: Strong hives swarm. If a beekeeper wants to try to prevent that, we have to split them before they get too crowded.

Ergo, we have four hives.

You may recall a month ago, when we had a plan to split California Girls and ended up splitting Buzzers’ Roost instead because they were building queen cells.

Well, Cali Girls have only gotten more crowded, and Saturday was the day to split them. We had to wait a month because we treated both big hives with Formic Pro, which is effective, but has always resulted in bee loss for us. Last year, when we treated, we lost two queens during the course of the treatment.

Naturally, correlation does not equal causation, and there were a lot of queen problems last year, so the two facts may have been unrelated.

Still … this year, we chose to do the“one strip” treatment, putting in a single Formic Pro strip for ten days, and then replacing it with another for an additional ten days. (The other option is a single fourteen-day treatment with two strips.)

This meant we couldn’t do anything with the main hives for twenty days. And we didn’t want to mess with the split until they had a chance to requeen, though last week we did take peek, and saw no signs of eggs, larvae or a queen.

Meanwhile, California Girls were bearding like crazy, so we knew they were getting cramped. Bearding is something bees do on hot days, but Cali Girls were doing it all the time.

And I mean All. The. Time. Morning, day, and night. Before the recent hot weather even arrived.

They looked kind of like the picture below, which is actually from today (90s and quite humid).

Look at the hive next to them. No beard whatsoever. I’m beginning to think Saskatraz bees like to beard. I read one blog post that referred to them as “active,”, and they are definitely that. In both this Saskatraz colony and the one we had last year, there was a a lot of going in and out, even when the other hives showed little activity.

As for the continued bearding, we think this hive is still crowded, and will be adding more frames soon. Also, I’ve noticed when it cools down at night, the bearding diminishes substantially, something it wasn’t doing before Saturday’s split, so they’re better.

unnamed-2

Approaching Saturday’s inspection, we knew we had much to accomplish and had to plan accordingly to make sure we got everything done.

Here was our list:

  1. Look again in the split (NewBees II) from Buzzers’. If there was still no signs of life, we would need to combine the bees from that hive with one of our other hives. We planned to make that decision but not act on it. If they were doing well, quit feeding and add frames to the box we’d been using to feed from.
  2. Do a general check on Buzzers’ for queen activity, honey production, crowding, etc. If there were queen cells, we were going to clear the frame of bees and use those cells in the California split since Buzzers’ Roost (II) was an Ohio-raised nuc with a nice fat over-wintered Ohio queen who was a proven layer. If needed, we would add another honey super.
  3. Check and split California Girls. We decided to do this a little differently than in the past, by just removing one of the boxes after making sure both had eggs. If we found queen cells and/or the queen, we would make sure they went in different boxes, unless we had queen cells from Buzzers’, in which case, we’d scrape off the Cali queen cells and use the Buzzers’ cells instead.
  4. Feed the split.
  5. Add another deep to the orginal California Girls and an additional honey super if they were still crowded and their first super was full. The added deep would contain open frames, but also frames with honey and pollen from last year.
  6. Feed probiotics (Super DFM) to all hives.
  7. Check and replace beetle hives. The good news is we haven’t seen beetles this year, which we put down to using nematodes. Again, correlation is not causation, but we had real problems with these little nasties, and they disappeared as soon as we started with the nematodes.
  8. We discussed removing the first supers if they were full, but our schedules preclude  extracting in the next week, so it was better to just leave them on.

I think that was the list. We actually made a little flow chart to make sure we got it all.

It was a hot day, so hot, in fact, that we ended up taking a water/cool-off break between the Buzzers’ inspection and California Girls.

First up was NewBees (II).
They had built a little comb between the inner cover and top of the their frames, and filled it with honey. When we scraped it off, they all gather round for a slurp.unnamed-13

Then, we took a look inside. There were larvae! And … drum roll, please, The Engineer spotted the queen! She was big and beautiful, but moving too fast for me to get a picture.

They were bringing in pollen and nectar, so we took out the food, gave them DFM, added frames, closed the hive up, and left them to it.

Next, we turned to Buzzers’. They also had larvae. I’ve zoomed in and circled them in the picture on the right. Have a look, then enlarge the one on the left, and see if you can spot the larvae there.

There also still had plenty of bees in the hive despite being split a few weeks ago.unnamed-6
If you look on the bottom of this frame, you’ll see burr comb, which could be mistaken for queen cells if you’ve never seen a queen cell. (Or, like me, you could freak out the first time you see a drone cell.)

Queen cells are shaped more like a peanut. Below are some from last year. The frame on the left is being held sideways (cells would normally be pointed down). Once it gets to the point that they’ve built this many queen cells (and there were many more in that hive), the bees are going to swarm. Ours did despite us splitting them at this point. We were too late.

But, Buzzers’ had no queen cells to steal for for California Girls. In a way, this was good, although it means Cali Girls will have to use eggs to make an emergency queen cell. But the lack of more queen cells means we may have managed to avoid swarming this year.

I’m crossing my fingers because you can never be sure what those girls are going to do.

We also saw Buzzers’ queen, still going strong. Two for two, so far.

I got a nice picture of them festooning on the bottom of a frame, which I’m including simply because I love using the word “festoon.” unnamed-8
Sometimes, you take a frame out, and they do this between frames, like a bee bridge. Maybe I’ll get a photo of that next time, and I’ll be able to use my newly favorite word again. 🙂

Their honey super was full of beautiful honey, just being capped, so we added another super, and left them to it. We put an empty quilt box on to help ventilate the hive. A recent purchase, a quilt box is mostly used to absorb moisture in the winter, but can also be used now.

We took our drink break here. Feel free to do the same.

Finally, we turned our attention to the wild and crazy California Girls.

Looking inside this hive reminded me of inspecting our FreeBees hive (Summer 2018-March 2020, also Saskatraz), which at  I won at Queen Right Colonies‘ Open Day in 2018 .

Like then, there were so many bees they seemed to be boiling up from inside the hive. Not in a bad way — they weren’t aggressive. There were just so many bees.

We’d smoke them so we could pull a frame, they’d go down, and by the time we’d get the frame out, they’d look like this again.

unnamed-10They were also making lots of lovely honey. unnamed-9Clearly, they needed space, and we were there to give it to them.

To make it three for three, we also found this queen. And by “we,” I mean The Engineer spotted all of them. I was most impressed by his finding the NewBees (II) queen because she was both unmarked and fast!

We caught the queen, and put her in the top hive box, which we had moved to make one hive into two. Because there were still so many bees in the box we were leaving for the split, we shook two brood frames of bees from there in with the queen. (By choosing brood frames, a beekeeper ensures most of the bees we shake are nurse bees, rather than foragers who are oriented to the old hive. Nurse bees will be more likely to stay with the new hive and eventually orient to it.)

The super was full of lovely honey, also in the process of being capped, so we added another super, gave them a beetle trap, and fed them some DFM.

Thus, the original California Girls were now in a new place with a setup of two brood boxes and two supers.

The new split remained in place on the hive stand, with a brood box and another box on top to feed from. We ended up putting some frames in that box on either side of the syrup jars because they still had so many bees. We also fed them pollen patties and DFM. Next week, we’ll probably have to fill the second box with frames, or they’ll start building comb, and it will be a mess.

We can put another deep (brood) box on to use for feeding them, or even a super if they’re making a lot of honey, but won’t mess with them too much while they’re making a new queen. It’s a delicate process, plus it’s important not to give them too much to defend if they don’t have enough bees, probably not a problem with these girls.

They looked like this when we were done. Does that look like an underpopulated hive to you? I half think the quilt box should go on this hive!unnamed-5
We are calling them “MayBees” because Maybee they’ll make a queen.

unnamed-4Our new setup looks like this. Left to right: NewBees(II), MayBees, Buzzers’ Roost (II) (with its quilt box smiley face), and California Girls.

Using the picnic table as a stand for California Girls is temporary. It’s several feet high to inspect without a ladder. You probably don’t need to be told this, but it’s not a good idea to be lifting boxes of bees up and down a ladder (slight understatement).

Hive boxes get very heavy. A deep ten-frame brood box (the big boxes) full of honey can weigh eighty pounds, slightly less for brood, and a full ten-frame honey super (medium boxes on top) can weigh up to fifty, so even Buzzers’ is going to be challenging for us (and by “us,” I mean The Engineer) to lift.

Suffice to say, if I were beekeeping on my own, I’d either be using medium and small boxes or eight-frame boxes, probably a combination of both.

When The Engineer made the hive stand (which has proven perfect for our needs (once he shortened it), we thought we were being optimistic in planning that we might someday in the distant future have three hives. We certainly didn’t expect to have four.

Of course, with bees and Ohio weather and Varroa being what they are, that will probably change.

 

 

 

Standing on the Shoulders of Our Ancestors

I was raised to do two things: Work hard and get a good education, with the expectation that doing so would result in success.

alphabet blur books close up

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Because my childhood neighborhood in the smallish (now bigger) suburb/town was populated mainly by factory and steel mill workers, the value of an honest day’s work was instilled in most families.

At the same time, many who put food on the table through manual labor did so hoping their children wouldn’t have to work quite so hard to make a living.

This wasn’t the case for everyone, however. There were students at my high school who expected to get a job at the mill or Ford or Chevy like their fathers and uncles (somehow the mothers rarely figured into this) and make a “good living.”  They believed this despite being warned by teachers that those jobs weren’t going to be around.

Some parents probably encouraged this belief, not wanting their children to “get above themselves,” perhaps fearing those children might one day look down on them (as if children don’t do this anyway <grin>).  I’ve heard this is referred to in Australia as “Tall Poppy Syndrome.”

And the same attitude exists in England, where my husband was raised, as my mother-in-law once shared in recounting the following anecdote.

My then future husband was one of two boys in his village school class who were given the opportunity to attend a more scholastically rigorous middle school that would prepare them to attend University.

Naturally, my MIL chose to send him. But the mother of the other boy did not, explaining she didn’t want her son to get any ideas about being better than he was.

The (future) Engineer did attend that school, which resulted in much greater and more opportunities than he would ever have had if his mother had chosen to have the same attitude as her neighbor.

For me, a higher education was imperative because I was hopeless at anything requiring hand/eye coordination (coordination in any form, in fact), and at age eighteen, I was a woefully impractical dreamer with my head in a book. A college degree would help me find my way.

It did, though that path proved more meandering than anyone expected, moving from job to job in several fields, mostly restaurants, and sometimes doubling back to work at a previous job once more. I made a living working two jobs (sometimes three) or working full-time and going to school (plus side gigs) until after I was married and had our daughter.

Eventually I found my place at the local library, and worked my way up the ladder, which entailed getting a second degree. (Later, I chose to work my way back down, but that’s another story. :-))

For my field, education meant two college degrees, backed up with many years of customer service jobs. For someone else, education might be an apprenticeship, on-the-job training, a vocational school certificate, or a combination of all these.

Thus, I’ve come to define education as the means to develop a knowledge base that makes one employable, preferably with the possiblity of improving one’s life.

It means being given the opportunity and the encouragement to make the best of the talent and brains we are born with.

Many people get neither.
I was privileged to have had both.

Why?
Part of the answer lies in the color of my skin and where, when and how I was raised.

But with a family tree populated mostly by farmers and manual laborers, how is it that my particular branch tried to reach higher? Who of my ancestors decided their children should be encouraged to do more?

How did it happen?

I am not casting aspersions on the industriousness of farmers or manual laborers. Without farmers, we wouldn’t eat, and despite the advance of technology, many of what we consider life’s necessities wouldn’t exist without manual labor.

However, farming and manual labor are, and always have been, jobs where the pay rarely reflects the toil expended. To this list,  I would add most jobs in the service industry, which frequently require more skill than people realize, yet are still inadaquately compensated.

Most people don’t choose to work poorly paid jobs, even if they enjoy the work. They do it because they have no choice.

Who in my family began the process that gave me that choice? Who looked at her or his life and said, “This is okay, but I’d like my children to have other options,” and then, somehow managed to provide those options?

neon signage

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels.com

It wasn’t my father. Although his father was a laborer and farmer, Dad was pushed to go to college.

I don’t know if similar expectations were placed on his sister.

It was common knowledge that Dad skipped two grades, landing in high school at age twelve. Although this doesn’t jive with the year he graduated, his parents moved to Ohio around then, and he enlisted in the Navy at seventeen, so he probably lost a couple of years in the process.

ByrdMerlinE_Navybuddy WWII

Dad’s on the right.

After World War II, Dad went to Glenville State College in West Virginia on the GI bill, graduated in three years, and then returned to Ohio, where he eventually met and married my mother.

She was a high school graduate, but there was no expectation of any higher education for Mom, her two sisters or four brothers. In Mom’s family, the kids were encouraged to get out of the house as soon as possible. From the choices they made, the options on offer seemed to be finding a job, joining the service, and/or getting married.

Mom got a job, and then married my dad.

Back then, the working world was divided into “white collar” jobs and “blue collar” jobs, terms that I have only just now realized are incredibly sexist, as well as arbitrary.

Dad was neither, and both. He grew up poor, in the hills of West Virginia, yet had a college degree. As a warehouse foreman for Goodyear, he was considered management, and thus wore shirts and ties to work, but his work clothes reeked of Eau de Rubber.

auto black black and white car

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pexels.com

In fact, the clothes stunk so badly, he and Mom took out a loan to add on a second bathroom with a closet, so he could shower, change, and store his work clothes separately as soon as he got home.

Dad never called himself white or blue collar, but hillbilly or redneck instead. Repeat those words to Mom, and she’d laugh, saying he’d lived in Ohio longer than he’d ever lived in West Virginia and was a transplanted buckeye.

In truth, he was no longer a hillbilly or a redneck, but he also never went corporate, turning down promotions to avoid having to move, and occasionally siding with workers in labor disputes.

I find this dichotomy in myself, and I’m grateful for it because it reminds me not to take too much for granted.

My father thought deeply, and Mom thought quickly. At least that’s how I viewed them. And the encouragement to make the most of ourselves came from both.

Still, I think the expectation originated with my father’s family.

Specifically, it came through my grandmother, Leone Catherine Lang. The eldest of seven children of Thomas Jefferson Lang and Emma Virginia Weinrich, she finished high school and the one year of college needed to teach in a one-room schoolhouse in Alice, West Virginia.

Wikipedia’s entry for Alice says, “Alice is an unincorporated community in Gilmer
County
, West Virginia, United States. Its post office [2] is closed.”

End of entry.

Evidently, it’s not a big place and probably never was.LangLeoneMemorial1993

 

Grandma’s teaching career was brief, ending when she married my grandpa, Everett Ernest Byrd, at nineteen. As I write this, I think about how young she was and wonder if she was one of those teachers who had students who were bigger than her. I also wonder if the experience of controlling a building full of children of all ages, coupled with having been the oldest child in her family, made her the strong-willed woman I knew.

When she told me married women weren’t allowed to teach, I was outraged! She calmly explained that a man might need the job to support his family, and I was surprised she accepted the limitation so easily.

Despite her having spent the time and effort to qualify as a teacher, the expectation was that grandpa, with his eighth-grade education, would find a way to support them and their children.

And, so he did.

Initially, I thought this disparity in education was an anomaly in our family, that my grandmother continued with school because she hadn’t yet married.

When I looked deeper, however, I discovered this wasn’t the case.

Though her father and mother, Thomas Jefferson Lang and Emma Virginia Weinrich only went through eighth grade, at least five of their seven children surpassed that level, including all the girls.

Leone completed 1 year of college.
Harold Clare (Heavy) stopped attending school after eighth grade. He married Alma Gay Bird, who despite the different spelling of their last names, was my grandfather Everett’s sister.
Fay Dorrette was a student nurse in 1930 before dying of TB in 1933 at the age of 24.
Lacelle finished high school, worked briefly as a maid, and then moved to Ohio, living in the same town as Leone. She married at age 66, returning to West Virginia with her husband, before coming back to Ohio on his death. I inherited her amethyst ring (eventually). If you’d like to read about that, click on her name.
Thomas Jefferson (Jr.)’s life is shrouded in mystery, at least so far. Though he was living with Thomas and Emma  in 1930, I have found no further trace of him until he washes up in Florida many years later. My mom and dad said he was a hobo during the Depression, riding the rails, which is interesting if true. Sadly, life as a vagabond doesn’t lend itself to record keeping, so I know very little about him, though I remember meeting him as a child.
George W. had completed two years of college by 1940 but hadn’t attended any school during that year. He went on to be a three-term president of his local autoworkers union.
Darlette Kay finished high school, but shot herself in her father’s barn at age 36. Although her brother George lived in Ohio by this time, he was the one to find her body.

The records I’ve found lead me to believe this is the generation when our family developed a culture of encouraging further education, though of course, I can’t prove it conclusively. Until 1940, the census didn’t ask about levels of education, only if each person could read and write, and sometimes not even that.

Assuming I’m correct (always a dangerous thing to do), what caused this sudden emphasis on further education and/or training?

Here are my two hypotheses:

  • Sometime between 1900 and 1910, Thomas began working for the  Rural Free Delivery (RFD) mail service. The RFD began in several West Virginia towns in 1896, and quickly expanded to cover the state. Thomas delivered the mail at least through 1940, first as a contractor, and then as an employee of the USPS. In 1910, he and Emma were living in a rented house. By 1920, Thomas listed his occupation as farmer and RFD carrier, and he and Emma owned their home, though it was mortgaged. By 1930, they owned the home and farm, possibly able to afford it because of the extra income from his mail route. Did this income also make it possible for their children to pursue further training and/or education?
  • Or was it Emma who was responsible for encouraging this advancement? She was born in 1876, a year after her sister Helena, to a father and mother who were unusually old for first-time parents. Emma’s mother, Elizabeth Daugherty, was thirty-five when she married Karl (Charles) Weinrich, a German immigrant and Civil War veteran sixteen years her senior. This means Emma’s father was fifty-five and her mother thirty-nine when Emma was born. Could having older parents and/or an immigrant father somehow have affected Emma’s attitudes toward educating her children?

Clearly, I can never answer these questions, just as I can’t be 100% sure it was Emma and Thomas whose influence has carried into my own generation.

In all likelihood, the true reason for this change was the result of several factors, some of which I  probably cannot begin to guess. In the end, I can only take away this lesson: When someone talks about how slavery was so long ago, I can see how long ago it wasn’t. The Civil War that legally ended the abhorrent institution was fought by ancestors whose lives had direct impact on family members I knew as a child.

Because my great grandparents had the ability to freely establish families, work for pay, buy land, and send their children to school, their children had advantages which ultimately affected me.

The last American slave ship came to this country in 1858, just twenty years before Thomas Jefferson Lang was born. The cargo — calling the enslaved people “passengers” would whitewash the experience of their journey — may have had children the same age as Thomas or Emma.

Do you think the descendents of that human cargo would have had the same advantages enjoyed by Thomas and Emma’s descendents, e.g., me and my siblings?

Viewing family history from the perspective of a genealogist has also enabled me to see how a change of attitude or circumstance can affect a family for generations. In the case of my 2x great grandfather, Montcalm Armstrong, his Civil War service had a great affect on his children, which almost certainly filtered down to his grandchildren, perhaps even his great grandchildren.

Being a slave during the same time period could only have worse consequences.

We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. And those whose ancestors were forced to kneel in subjugation begin their climb from a much lower place.

 

This is Thomas Jefferson Lang’s fiddle, which I ended up with. I didn’t even know I had a musical ancestor until my stepmother gave it to me, having somehow gotten it from one of our relatives, probably Thomas Jefferson Jr. Initially she said it was my grandfather’s, which I knew wasn’t correct. But then she added that Uncle Jeff (Thomas Jr.) said he remembered his father playing it, I understood. She was thinking he was my uncle, rather thanmy father’s. Ergo, the fiddle belonged to Dad’s grandfather, the older Thomas Jefferson Lang, who I knew when I was very young. He died in 1966, at age 88, followed by Emma a year later at age 90.