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A picture I took along the way on my trip to Quesnel in October

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Tuesday 10 December 2002
Last year on this date        Year 2000 on this date 

I'm home and I'm really tired today.  I got into Calgary around midnight and got to bed around 2. 

Over the past few weeks, everything has fallen behind and there are a million little things needing attention.  I'm getting email I haven't time to deal with properly and these pages are woefully short of what I would like them to be.  I have a tonne of new material to write up, and I intend to catch them up in the next while, but somehow I am not getting much writing done. 

I had hoped to do some writing yesterday, but the time slid by; I found I did almost no writing over the past two weeks while on the road.  The dead battery in my notebook computer probably figured in that, but somehow, I have just not gotten down to writing.  I now have my ideas straightened out for the article (that is now almost a  month late) but am starting to wonder if I will ever get it done.

The phone rang at 7:30 this morning and things have been busy from there.  I paid bills and opened mail, then we had a visit with a beekeeper who is thinking of taking over 500 of our hives and a call from another who wants 1,000. 

Brian showed up from the west coast for a visit midway though all that business, then several customers came to buy honey at our door.  Ellen & Brain went for a walk around town while I had a nap.  Then Brian and I went to town for groceries and movies.  We returned home, had supper, watched a movie, and that was it.  Tuesday was gone.

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind west 20 km/h gusting to 40 km/h. High 10.
Tonight..Mainly clear. Wind west 20 diminishing. Low minus 7.
Normals for the period..Low minus 14. High minus 2.

Wednesday 11 December 2002
Last year on this date        Year 2000 on this date 

I'm still tired today and my digestion is not quite right, but I'm better than yesterday.  I did some tidying on the computer this morning and plan to get the books up to date this afternoon.  Still no time for serious writing.

I'm also weighing in at 240.  Traveling sometimes does that to me.  Too much good food and wine and too little exercise. Hopefully the extra weight is mostly water and, hopefully I'll drop a few pounds in the next few days. I notice my clothes seem loose, so maybe the scale is lying?

Frank and Mike are coming this afternoon to get some syrup and to get some tips on using their new web sites and emails.  Oene is coming for supper and we'll catch up on the progress in dealing with the granulation and the wax.  I've left the whole matter in Meijers' hands, and trusted that they will do at least as good a job -- probably better --  compared to what I would.  Our guys just go over there every day and work on getting the last bit finished.  Joe and Jake and Doreen have gone to The Netherlands for Christmas, so James and Oene are riding herd on my gang.  Frankly, I just don't have the energy to get involved right now and it is nice to have good friends. 

Frank and Mike came by at 3 and we visited, then loaded some syrup for their patty making project.  We should have loaded first, and visited second, since the sun went down before we finished.  They are still looking for customers and wanting to get the orders early so they can get the supplies and make the patties without a rush.  They have several large orders, including one from the southern US, but expect there are many who plan to buy the patties, but have not gotten around to it.  We'll be sending out letters and calling some of the larger users, but hopefully everyone will place an order soon and not wind up being late -- and disappointed.  The price list and contact info is at their web site.

Oene came for supper and left around 8:30.  I'm still tired and a bit foggy-headed.

Today..Becoming sunny this morning. Wind west 20 km/h. High 5.
Tonight..Partly cloudy. Wind light. Low minus 5.
Normals for the period..Low minus 14. High minus 2.

Thursday 12 December 2002
Last year on this date        Year 2000 on this date 

We're off to Meijers this morning to see what is up and figure out what we have left to do before Christmas.  We had planned to be done by now, but have left some decisions to our staff over the past few months, once the season was winding down, to see if they could come up with optimal plans, solve problems, and calculate workable logistics.

We estimated what the work was worth and figured how long it should take.  Then we left the small decisions to them to see how close they would come to our estimates.  Their performance during this period determines bonuses, raises, and future responsibility.  We're interested to see if, after the training and experience they have had, if they can operate without the constant micro-management that has been necessary during their learning years.  Ellen and I are really tired of having to be aware of every tiny detail and expect that if we plan to continue in the business to any large extent, that we need staff or partners that can make economic decisions and maximize return on resources.  This Fall has been a test.  At this point, there is still quite a bit to be done; cleanup remains at Meijers' and here, and bees need to be moved from a few summer locations to wintering yards.

At this point, Ellen and I are still planning to sell all our hives and retire, but we have to have a Plan B.  We are also always considering any options that come up.  For example, if we thought that our staff could take over and run the business, we'd plan to save some hives and machinery back for them and operate that way for a while.

Management ability is a scarce resource, and commercial beekeeping success is more about management than it is about understanding bees.  As some of us have said more than a few times, "Commercial beekeeping is necessarily good business, but often is bad beekeeping".  Anyone who lacks business sense will go broke quickly in bees, no matter how good he may be at working in the bee yards.

El & I went over to Meijers and visited James and the guys.  We took a look at how things are going, then had coffee with James before heading back.  I'm really impressed by how he's managing things. 

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind southwest 20 km/h. High 10.
Tonight..Mainly clear. Wind southwest 20. Low plus 1.
Normals for the period..Low minus 14. High minus 2.

Friday 13 December 2002
Last year on this date        Year 2000 on this date 

The day started with a visit from the Crop Insurance adjuster.  Although our honey crop turned out better than we first expected, we have a small claim due to the dry early season.  We had just finished all the paperwork and the adjuster was leaving when a small plane landed in the field east of us.  We had been talking to a potential buyer and he flew in to look over our hives.  We had coffee, then we flew around to look over the country and our locations.  He is thinking of buying some or all of our hives and wanted to see what and where things are.  The deal, if it comes through, will take a while.  In the meantime, we have sold about 600 hives and other enquiries have been coming in regularly.  I imagine that all our hives may well be spoken for by late January, if not sooner.  We have to think about this.  There might be a tax problem.

Then Frank and Mike showed up to get some more syrup. It took them an hour to load and they headed back to Airdrie.

Brian came over around five and he, Ellen & I went to the Mill for supper.  We came back at nine, watched a movie and called it a day.

The weather has been unseasonably mild. A few bees were flying around during the warmest part of the day.

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind light. High 8.
Tonight..Partly cloudy. Wind light. Low minus 4.
Normals for the period..Low minus 15. High minus 2.

Saturday 14 December 2002
Last year on this date        Year 2000 on this date 

Kevin came by this morning and bought 500 of our hives on location north of here.  We spent a pleasant morning working out the details and looking into a few nearby hives.  The bees look good, and the warm weather is making the winter easy on them.  He'll be taking over responsibility for the hives over as of now and making sure they are cared for. 

Letting go of these locations and these hives is bittersweet.  We have many, many memories of working in and near these sites over the last twenty years, at all times of day and all times of year, but time passes and times change, and it is time for someone else to have some fun.  We sold them as-is, where-is, got our asking price, and have the assurance that the hives will be well cared for, so we have no complaints.  Our goal -- set last February -- was to sell everything over three years and, so far, we are right on track.  We have now sold 40% of our hives, two forklifts, the Cowen line and miscellaneous odds and ends.  I guess it is time to sell some more trucks and to tidy up the yard.

Around noon, Ellen noticed bangs and bumps coming from our furnace room. We were expecting Dave to be in to work and figured he was taking out ashes.  After a while, she reported that it was the furnace transmission making the racket.  We have a coal stoker and have to rebuild it from time to time.  Matt was going to do it, but he got busy, and I guessed that it had finally packed it in.  I  tore the tranny down, and sure enough, the main drive gear shaft was half worn through.  I did a little manufacturing on the spot and slapped it back together.  It worked and did not leak.  Bonus!

We had a pleasant surprise today.  The florist called to say that there were flowers waiting for us in Three Hills.  We tried to guess who would have sent them, but when Ellen picked them up, we found they were from some beekeepers who bought 100 hives from us and had done well.  That was a treat.

Dave showed up after lunch and moved things around until dark.  One of his first jobs was to weigh some trucks in the yard that looked overloaded to me.  Sure enough, one was 15% overweight -- and that is calculating by the tire size!  19,500 lbs gross weight for a one ton truck?  Poor thing.  They are tough and they can take it, but we try to avoid that kind of abuse.

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind southeast 20 km/h. High 8.
Tonight..Partly cloudy. Wind southeast 20. Low 3.
Normals for the period..Low minus 15. High minus 3.

Sunday 15 December 2002
Last year on this date        Year 2000 on this date 

We went to Red Deer to meet Jean and Chris for lunch.  We did a little shopping and came home.

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind southwest 20 km/h. High 10.
Tonight..Mainly clear. Wind south 20. Low minus 1.
Normals for the period..Low minus 15. High minus 3

Monday 16 December 2002
Last year on this date        Year 2000 on this date Write me

The guys were here first thing this morning to pick up a truck and head to Meijers'.  They have a day's work, or maybe a bit more, to finish there.  After that, Paulo has some hives to move into wintering yards and we are done until after Christmas.

Today..A mix of sun and cloud. Wind southeast 20 km/h. High 7.
Tonight..Mainly clear. Wind southeast 20. Low minus 9.
Normals for the period..Low minus 15. High minus 3.

Tuesday 17 December 2002
Last year on this date        Year 2000 on this date Write me
El & I drove to Fairmont and spent a few days with Flo and Maurice. 

I'm going to take a rest from this diary for a month or so.  During that time, I may or may not update it, or I'll update sporadically. Maybe I'll add some articles from time to time.

Today..Mainly sunny. Wind northwest 20 km/h. High 4.  Tonight..Clear. Wind light. Low minus 8.

Wednesday: 18 December 2002
Last year on this date        Year 2000 on this date 
I drove to Kimberly ski resort, only to find that the hill was opening Thursday, and with only the T-bar and Main open.  They have almost no snow.
Wednesday..Sunny. Wind light. High plus 2.

Thursday 19 December 2002
Last year on this date        Year 2000 on this date 
On the way home , Ellen and I stopped at Panorama.  It is open and has some snow, but the top runs are still closed.
Thursday..Sunny. Low minus 5. High plus 1.

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