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a couple of bucks

May 28, 2012

Good morning.  My thoughts are with you, America, as you honour your war dead today.

As always, I’ll be toasting the memory of all my former comrades-in-arms with multiple

beers, because that’s how Marines mark just about everything.  And again, please hoist one

for my friend Eddie Weekfall, who was killed shortly before his tour in ‘nam was to end.


I’m relieved to report that we contacted Frank the beekeeper and he has removed all the

hives.  I have mixed feelings about that, because I loved having the little buzzers about,

especially when they got drunk on the sunflower pollen.  I also liked helping out a bit with

the troubling but underreported problem with Colony Collapse Disorder.


I asked Frank, who has been an apiarist on Quadra for 25 years, if the isolation of our farm

had been of any value as he faces huge losses from CCD.  He said that it was too small of a

sample to really say.  Only eight of the 20 hives here, however, were active — and two of

them weren’t healthy.


It took Frank three trips in his Nissan truck to clear everything out.  One of the last things

he took was this rack that the bear oddly had no interest in.

The original occupants, the honeybees, have gone.  Their orange-bummed cousins here are

bumblebee queens, according to Frank.  They’re chowing down on the honey because they

have to go out and establish their colonies.  There are also a few wasps in the mix.  Here they

are mooning you.


Frank pulled most of the hives Saturday, but there was plenty of honey-flavoured gear left

to warrant an all-night patrol for the bear.  Jude took the 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift while I slept.

She was sitting in the truck with the lights off when the bear showed up around midnight.

She cranked the engine, hit the lights and drove at it.  It ran away.


It came back ten minutes later and she did the same thing. She didn’t see it the rest of her time.

I ran the truck with the lights on from 2 to 5 a.m. I really didn’t want to use gas and foul the air,

but I knew that in the dark I’d never see it, or mistake every bear-shaped shrub for it.


I had a retro-rock/pop station on the radio to keep me awake.  As a precaution, though, I

would get out of the truck and stretch whenever it played a Brian Adams song, which was

far too often.  Once I went over to the nearby chicken coop and peed on one of the doors

to beef up the perimeter.


When I wasn’t  singing along to the occasional Beatles or Doobie Brothers song, I was stuck

with my thoughts, which can really wander on a guy sitting in a field waiting for a bear.  At

one point I wrestled with this metaphysical poser: if a faith healer cures a crippled person,

does that person have to return her/his handicapped parking plates?


About 3:30 a.m. there was some movement on the right.  I was parked right next to a path

we had cut through metre(yard)-high brush to get across the wetlands.  Two young mule

deer bucks ventured out into the open, right in front of the truck. As cautious as they usually

are, they didn’t bolt when I blinked the lights several times.  But a few minutes later, they

decided to go back into cover.


It began getting light about 4 a.m.  At 5 I turned off the truck.  As I struggled to stay awake

near the end of my shift, a large black mound of fur ventured out from the path the deer had

used.  It walked within three metres (10 feet) of the truck.  When I realized it was the bear,

I remembered that I had left the camera in the house.


The other mistake I made was scaring him off too soon.  I had meant to let him check the

remnants of the hives to see his honey supply was gone.  Then, had he turned toward the

chicken coop, I would have hit the engine and the horn.  Regrettably, I responded too



The bear ran to another pathway near Pond Far, about 50 metres(yards) away.  As soon as

it was in the brush, it turned and looked at me.  I charged it in the truck and it ran into the

forest.  I loaded Al the Mayor‘s shotgun and walked the brushline.  It was long gone.


Frank came by a few hours later and cleared out the rest of the hive equipment.  We made

sure that everything got packed up, even the little sticks used to hold the food jars up in the

hives.  Jude and I then went kayaking with her son Nathan and my grandson Sean (report

to be filed later).  Then she fixed us a super quiche.


She and I sat in the truck in the field in the dark from 10:30 p.m. to midnight.  No bear.

We came in because her birthday started.  We set the alarm for 5 a.m. and I looked out

our bedroom window for any activity.  The doors were still on the coop and I saw no

feathers flying about minus chickens.


At 9, Slinkee went with me to let the girls out.  We walked all around the hives and saw

nothing to indicate the bear had returned, not even scat.  Nor did Slink run off into the

brush barking.


So we’re hoping for the best.  Likely the bear will move on.  But just in case, at Gordon’s

suggestion, let’s name it for future reference.



P.S.  I had planned to debut the new chickens today, but there’s still some confusion as to

who’s who.  Also, I need to get started on a special birthday project for my sweetie.  See

you Wednesday, and please lift one for my buddy Eddie today.

  1. Anonymous permalink
    May 28, 2012 3:44 pm

    Bear’s name: Grendel

  2. Gordon permalink
    May 29, 2012 10:34 am

    Lifting two — one for Eddie and one to Jude. Happy Birrthday, Jude!

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