downed tree

It has been a hectic month; and an event crazier week. On the 27th of July, the area was hit with heavy rain. As the evening rolled in, I was cooking dinner (sweet potatoes with quinoa and various vegetables; I have embraced being a mostly-vegetarian). Melissa was standing in the back entryway with the door open; she was watching the heavy rain come down in sheets. The back sidewalk was submerged as the water rolled down from the driveway. I continued to cut and clean vegetables. At about 5:30 PM, something hit the window above the sink; then again, and again – then a lot all at once. It was hail. Melissa watched the yard become littered with nickel-sized hail balls (15 millimetres for you metric people). Lightning flashed and without delay a tremendous crack of thunder sounded. Melissa shut the door. The storm was directly over our little town. Without warning, the wind picked up. The hail slammed against the house; more thunder and lightning.

Melissa walked into the living room and looked out the front windows. She yelled into the kitchen, "Where is the front pine tree? There is a stump…oh crap! It is on Norm’s house!" (I left out the expletives; feel free to sprinkle them in – it sounds more colorful with them). Our large pine tree had been snapped off – four feet (a bit over a metre for our metric friends) from the ground. As it fell, it crushed our last lilac tree, smashed through the branches on our neighbor’s Norway pine, and hit the roof of his house. The trunk then snapped roughly five yards (metric friends: change yards to metres) from the top of the tree. A mass of mangled pine boughs lay in our yard and Norm’s yard. In addition to the tree being destroyed, the grapes, corn, oats, hops, peas and apples all sustained some damage from the hail.

Since then, Norm has been cleaning up his side of the mess, and in the evenings, I have been chainsawing the mess in our yard. The most surprising thing was the enormous ant nest in the middle of the tree trunk. Stretching from the roots up roughly two yards was an elaborate system of chambers and tunnels. The ants were about a half an inch (one centimetre) long with a black head and abdomen and a red thorax.

Travel Trailer

The fallen tree, the ants, the chainsawing, and all of that will have to wait, though. We head out on our cross country road trip vacation this evening. Where is our destination?
Boone, NC. The Eastern Apicultural Society is having their 2010 Conference in Boone, NC. I am excited (as excited as I get about things; which, I have been told, does not resemble tradition excitement of a human). I hope to take lots of photos, and possibly post blogs in the evenings (if I have Internet access).

We still have a little packing to do this evening, but the travel trailer is mostly set. We pick up the Xterra from the dealer (oil change, and warranty work) after work today. Melissa is excited – in the tradition human sense. This will be our first long trip and use of the new trailer. Tonight we stay in River Falls, WI; tomorrow we drive until we are tired and then find a place to park and get some sleep. We hope to be within eight to ten hours of Boone when we call it quits on Saturday.

On the bee front, my bees are doing well. The Carniolans have three honey supers (boxes) atop the hive. I plan to check the hives this evening and possibly put a fourth on if it looks like they have drawn out most of the comb on the existing frames. The Italians are doing much better than in June; the queen, installed in June, is busy doing her thing, with workers packing pollen and honey into the brood boxes, but are having little to do with the one honey super on the hive. I am hoping they have at least started to draw comb on in it…