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Archive for the ‘Wyoming Pride’ Category

I never thought I’d be able to say such a thing but I have been to Bee College – Wyoming Bee College no less!

I would guess there were around 300 people attending and they had classes on commercial beekeeping, making salves and products from your honey and beeswax, selling strategies,  baking and cooking with honey and one very nice lady told us all about the bumble bee.  I spent last weekend meeting all kinds of nice people who love bees and I learned all kinds of wonderful things about them like:

1.  You should harvest your honey on Mothers Day – winter should be over by then and the nectar run should have started.  That means any honey in the hives should be extra.

2.  One skunk can destroy a hive in less than a week.  They scratch on the side of the hive and eat the bees when they come out to protect their hive.  Bad Skunk!

3. You can dehydrate honey to make powdered sugar.  Sweet!

4.  Beeswax lip balm is easy to make and works really well.

5.  Bumble bee queens can grow up to 3″ in length.

6.  A raindrop falling can kill a bee.

And the most frightening thing I learned:

7.  Snakes will sometimes move into a hive for the warmth and possibly to eat a mouse who has moved in.  Yikes!  Good thing I learned that because if I had lifted a hive and had a snake pop out I would have dropped the hive and wet my pants!  At least now it won’t be a total surprise.  Perhaps I need to add a hoe or a long handled shovel to my beekeeping kit.  I thought about a pistol but I would probably just shoot lots of holes into my hive and totally miss the snake!

I had tried to get a couple of friends to go with me to college but no one could make it so at 3:30 am I hit the road.  Actually, I think that early morning departure time might have had something to do with no one going with me.  Ha!

A storm had moved in Friday night and by the time I left a couple of inches of light, fluffy snow had piled up and it was still coming down but I took off anyway.  The roads weren’t bad and I was only slowed down because of the snowplows that were out.  Those guys take their jobs seriously.  The snow was so light that it was easy to push but following behind the plow there was no way to get close enough to pass because they stirred up such a cloud of snow you couldn’t see a thing.  So since I prefer to arrive at an event alive I just backed off and took my time.  You have to love Spring!  It snowed all day Saturday and then melted and totally disappeared on Sunday and the roads were great coming home.

It has definitely been a ‘bee week’ around here.  Monday night I gave a talk about beekeeping to our garden club in Custer.  This is what my pickup looked like.

Does anyone else ever think about what would happen to you if you rolled your vehicle when it’s loaded like this?  It wouldn’t be pretty.

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I’m not sure if my talk convinced anyone to become a beekeeper but we did have some laughs especially when it came to my crazy ranch wife ‘ bee suit’ which has gotten a couple of new accessories – and I didn’t even have to fight the dog for them.

Happy Spring!!!

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At the tail end of my last post I mentioned Don King Days which takes place every year just outside of Sheridan, WY.  To tell the truth I had never heard of Don King Days until our youngest son mentioned it.  He had gone a few years ago and said it was pretty darn interesting so since we were headed through Sheridan over Labor Day weekend we decided to stop and check it out ourselves and we were certainly glad we did.

Of course any trip to Sheridan wouldn’t be complete without a stop at King Ropes and Saddlery.  This is one of my all-time favorite stores in the world!!!  They have everything a true-blue cowgirl could ever want.  This store was started by a fellow named Don King (no – it’s not the same guy who promotes boxing and has the wild, straight-up hair do).  This Don King was a cowboy, rancher, roper, leather crafter and from the sounds of it a really nice guy.  He has passed away but his store and museum continues on.

The place is easy to find – just follow main street and you’ll come right to it.  Not only will you want to stop there to shop but you will definitely need to stop there for directions to the polo field (yep – polo with horses) where they hold the festivities.  And when the lady tells you the route will be well-marked – don’t believe her.  We stumbled around lost for almost an hour, went 8 miles out-of-the-way and finally chanced upon it when we thought we took a wrong turn.  But it was worth the hassle of finding it because this was a ‘rodeo’ the likes of which I had never seen before.

The first thing you will notice when you pull up is that there aren’t any fences – this is – after all, a polo field.  Everyone brings their lawn chairs and finds a spot.  They also back their pickups in and set up their tail-gate parties.  Believe me – these guys and gals know how to tail-gate!  Check it out…

This bunch had long stem glasses and champagne on ice.  And this bunch…  need I say more?

“Par-Tay at the Polo Club!”

I am sorry to say we totally missed the polo match that morning.  That was something I had been looking forward to seeing but we did get there in time to see the steer tripping which is pretty amazing in itself. 

 They turn a steer loose, the roper ropes it by a legal catch over both horns than flips the rope over the steers hips and ‘trips’ the critter.  He then has to get off his horse and run to tie up three legs of the steer before it gets back on its feet.  It was impressive to see the skill of these cowboys!

It was hard to get a picture because everything happened so fast. 

Steer Tripping was good but not quite as exciting as the Saddle Bronc riding.  They do it almost the same way it was done a hundred years ago.  They did run the horse into a small chute at first to hold him while they put on the halter and rope then they would hand the rope over to a guy on horseback and turn the horse out of the chute.  The cowboy would lead the horse (who was always bucking and kicking) right out in front of everyone where he held him as other cowboys on horseback would slowly move up beside the bronc – calming him with the presence of the other horses.  They would slowly ease the saddle onto the bronc and then the cowboy would climb up behind another cowboy then ease on over to the back of the bronc.  Once he was in place and set for the ride he would nod his head and everyone would scatter.  There was always one guy to flip an old slicker in the broncos face to really get things going.

These boys could ride.  And the best part was when the horse decided to buck toward the crowd – people grabbed their children, lawn chairs and drinks & scattered like cockroaches in the daylight.  It was great! 

I heard several stories about horses and riders bucking through the crowd and into the vehicles parked nearby.  And I guess they have even landed on top of several cars over the years.  Just try to explain that to your insurance agent.  I’m betting that cute little gecko wouldn’t even believe you.

 

The pick-up guys were always handy when it came time to get off.  They had to be – that ground was hard packed.  I would bet it was almost like landing on concrete. 

I think a person should try new things as often as they can and Don King Days definitely fits the bill.  In fact, we may have to go back next year and see what all we missed this time!

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Now that the forest fires have burned out and everyone seems to be on the mend (including the cat) things have quieted down quite a bit – Thank Goodness!!!

Finally, I have gotten back to working on my girls – Nadine and Ruby.  Ruby has only gotten a quick once over with soap and water but Nadine is the one who has made real progress. 

Yikes!  OK – she still needs some major work on the outside and definitely a new paint job but she’s almost livable on the inside.  And would you look at that – I never even noticed that the wheels were two different colors – don’t worry – I can fix that…  What do you think – chrome rims with spinners?  Oh, Baby!!!   Call in the Slurry Bombers – she’ll be smoking!!!

But back to my story…  Even though Nadine isn’t finished we have been on a couple of adventures this summer.  She followed me to the County Fair where we had a ball and several girl friends even stopped by to check out my little piece of  ‘Heaven on Wheels’!  You guessed it – they all want one too.

Then since Hubby was feeling left out because he couldn’t come to the fair we hitched her up and headed West to the Big Horn Mountains for the long Labor Day weekend.  We actually had running water on this trip even though the water heater wasn’t working yet and neither was the refrigerator, shower or furnace which turned out to be something we could have really used as the temperatures outside were very close to freezing at night.  I told Hubby it was just a good excuse to snuggle.

Vacation wasn’t the only excuse to get out of town.  We also had to make a small delivery.  Our first stop was Gillette, WY at my brother and sister-in-laws house.  Scott needed a welder so we hauled one of the big ones to his house.  Actually, I think the welder weights as much as his little loader – notice the back wheels off the ground?  And goodness gracious – his wheels are two different colors too.  It  must run in the family.

But Scott has nerves of steel and a steel roll cage so no one seemed to be too worried.  After we unloaded the welder we hitched Nadine back up and headed west and wouldn’t you know it – we ran into mountains. 

 Big mountains…

The Big Horns are beautiful!!!  And obviously, everyone else thought so too as there were people everywhere but luck was on our side and we missed all the really busy campgrounds and ended up driving completely across the Big Horns and down the other side.  We then had the option of either climbing back up the way we had come or to push onward and see new territory. 

Hubby and I talked it over – while eating lunch beside Dirty Annie’s Trading Post (Hey – you just can’t make this stuff up).  After studying the situation we came up with a new rule for traveling with Nadine – ‘Never go back’ (unless, of course, parts fall off and we have to go back and get them).  So… since nothing had fallen off the old girl we continued on into Greybull and then turned north to the town of Lovell.  It was a wonderful drive but we decided we should really head back to the mountains and find a campground before it got dark.  So we turned east toward the mountains and drove until we found this sign:

Looks like my kind of road.  I mean really, what good is having a pickup if you don’t take roads like this?  And Nadine is only 20 feet long so we had 10 feet to spare.  There was another small sign that promised the Five Springs Campground was at the end of this road so we headed up the side of the mountain.  I have to admit, the sign was right – the road was everything it had promised but when we reached the top there was the prettiest little campground you ever saw. 

Nadine fit right in.

We were parked right next to a beautiful (but icy cold) creek.

Nadine was a vision and totally at home in the great outdoors.

Of course, any time you travel with Nadine, adventure is not far behind…

I didn’t get any photos of the stuff that went on that night but I’m seriously thinking I need to invest in night vision goggles.  Sometime, in the middle of the night I began to hear weird noises.  At first I thought something was outside – maybe a bear!  I lifted the curtain to peek outside – nothing – but then I realized the noises were coming from inside Nadine’s cupboards!  Somewhere along the way my dear little camper had become the new playground for a rowdy pack of ferel campground mice!!!  Hubby swears they came in by crawling up the electrical plug-in cord.  He said he heard the little flap door bouncing as they snuck into our humble abode.  We heard a few squeaks then the pitter-patter of tiny furry feet.  This went on for some time – I would switch on my little reading light – the kind that hooks onto your book but as soon as the light came on all would be quiet.  Then, when the light went out – the party would start up again.  Nadine’s floor space isn’t that big but Boy Howdy did those mice enjoy it!  They ran, they squeaked, I swear they were doing gymnastic routines.  I took it for a while then crawled over the top of Hubby and got out the big guns – peanut butter and mouse traps.  I set the traps and crawled back in bed to wait.   It wasn’t long before we heard the deafening snap of a mouse trap followed by the scuffle of a struggling rodent.  It was over quickly but it didn’t seem to faze the rest of the pack.  At least 8 more furry little feet went running in wild abandon across the floor. 

It was all very exciting. 

We got one mouse the first night and another one the next.  Technically, the 2nd mouse probably doesn’t count as it barely caught him and I turned the little bugger loose outside – still very much alive.  The third mouse traveled home with us where it too met its demise in the wicked trap.  Sorry, little mice but I can’t run the risk of having you chew through all that new plumbing.

But back to the Big Horns – Sunday morning we hiked up behind the campground to the Five Springs Falls.

If you look real close you can see the top of the falls right above the trees in the center of the photo.  But the bottom of the waterfall looks like this.

And this:

 Stunning!!!

One of our camping neighbors, Bill from St. Paul, who had been coming to this same campground since the 70’s said he had actually showered in the waterfall a couple of times.  I tried to soak my feet in the stream but nearly lost toes to instantaneous frost bite.  I don’t think I’m as tough as Bill.

We spent two nights in our new favorite campground – sitting in the sun, snoozing in the lawn chairs and generally doing nothing at all.  It was great!!!

 There was beautiful views no matter which way you looked.  Check it out – just like home – black cows everywhere.

 When we left Monday morning I had Hubby pull off so I could get a picture of Nadine hanging onto the edge of the mountain.  The photos just don’t do it justice – it was damn steep!

We crept down the hillside then climbed back to the top on the main road, stopping long enough to hike out to the Medicine Wheel and then on into Sheridan, WY to something everyone should see at least once in their lives – Don King Days. 

No – not the guy with the hair!

But that’s another story…

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          Last night, after work, I had a couple of errands to run downtown.  Now, if you’ve never been to Newcastle, Wyoming I can tell you right now it is usually pretty darn quiet even on a Friday or Saturday night so you can usually expect to do your errands in the middle of the week without running into anything more exciting than getting stopped by the coal trains that cut through town.  So needless to say, I was surprised to be caught in the center of something that people will be talking about all week.

          It started innocently enough with a stop at the fabric store.  All I needed was a small piece of brown fabric to finish a baby quilt for a friend but since they didn’t really have what I was looking for I took my time checking out everything else.  As I left the store and crossed the street (making sure to look both ways before jay walking) I was surprised to hear the distinct jingle of spurs running up behind me. 

          Now I have spent my entire life around cowboys and I know from experience that if things are bad enough to make a cowboy run in spurs then it is bad enough to check out what is chasing him – even if you are in the center of town.

          Turning, I came face to face with a rather handsome fellow – tall, dark and slender in faded blue jeans, large black hat, shiny silver buckle, boots and spurs but there was nothing behind him, that I could see, that was worth running from.  For a split second the insane thought crossed my mind that he trying to catch me so I flashed him a dazzling smile which he totally ignored as he ran past me to the back of a ‘well-stocked’ ranch truck.  In a single graceful leap, worthy of an Olympic gymnist he landed with one foot on the top of the back tire and propelled himself into the bed of the pickup where he dug into the large stash of tools jammed in around the big red 4-wheeled ATV in the back. 

          I was confused (and still standing there with a stupid grin on my face) but soon turned to look back in the direction he had come from and realized one of the big old buildings on main street was spewing smoke out from around the base of it.

          By now the cowboy had resurfaced from the jumble of tools in the bed of his pickup (at least I hope it was his pickup) with a crowbar in his hands.  Jumping from the pickup he raced back to the smoking building.  Years as a Boy Scout leader had trained me for such an occasion.  Like a tightly wound spring I sprung into action.  I grabbed the fire extinguisher from under the seat of my own well-stocked ranch pickup and followed him back across the street where a small crowd had started to gather.  The ‘Crowbar Cowboy’ went to work prying off the wooden front of the building (under the very large glass display windows) exposing a lot of  hot, charred wood underneath.  Obviously things had been heating up for some time. 

          But he wasn’t alone.

          Two guys from the bar next door showed up to help.  The sober one of the two had grabbed the garden hose used to wash down the beer garden and quickly started spraying water into the smoking holes in the foundation while his buddy (who had obviously started celebrating earlier in the day) kept up a steady running commentary complete with several well-chosen 4-lettered ‘sentence enhancers’ for anyone who would listen.  The really nice man who owns the hardware store across the street showed up with two brand new fire extinguishers still in the boxes which he ripped opened and started using  on the charred wood.  A lady from the beauty shop on the other side of the burning building showed up with her hair wrapped up in a towel and a very large black dog on a leash which she quickly handed over to me before running into the smoking building to check on the poor woman inside who was trying to move the large and colorful display of ladies lingerie away from the smoke rising from the vents.

          Talk about excitement and it just kept getting better!

          People stepped out from the bar across the street (drinks in hand) to get a better look while vehicles stopped in the street – their owners joining the growing crowd.  I’m not sure if it was the smell of smoke or the squeal of sirens but small children and big men suddenly appeared as if summoned by magic while the city ambulance pulled up at the intersection with it’s lights flashing and blocked traffic from the east.  Of course – as luck would have it – a very long coal train was passing through town just to the west of  us and the sound of its air horns mixed with the clang of the crossing bells, nearly drowning out the scream of the sirens from the fire trucks  which ended up having to go around town on the overpass because of the train.

          It was great!!!

          Everyone was getting into it. 

          Smoke billowed around us as the crowbar wielding cowboy tore into the charred wood with grim determination and every man with a fire extinguisher or a hose cut loose as if the whole town depended on them. 

          And there I stood – in the middle of it all with a fire extinguisher in one hand and the leash of a very large, black dog (who didn’t know me from Adam) in the other.

          Man, am I glad I stopped for fabric!

          To bad I didn’t have my camera – Damn!

          By then the firemen showed up with lights and sirens blaring and like smoke in the wind the people started to disappear.  The cowboy with the crowbar headed back to his pickup and promptly left.  Just like the Lone Ranger, he didn’t stick around for a thank-you but quietly vanished in his large Dodge pickup.  Never to be seen again.

          “Who was that masked man?  I wanted to thank him.”

          Personally, I think he got the heck out-of-town before someone asked for his name and then sued him for ripping up a building on main street.  But that’s just my opinion and since I never saw him before no one can force me to turn him in. 

         Since the excitement was beginning to wane I followed him into the sunset.  (Actually it was the alley but ‘sunset’ just sounds better)

          I still had a couple of stops to make before I headed for home – anxious to tell Hubby and our neighbor, Paul all the exciting news.  I was ready when I stepped into the house and Hubby asked why I was so late getting home.

          “Well,”  I started calmly, ticking the reasons off one finger at a time.  “I had to stop and get some fabric for the baby quilt, fight a fire on main street, buy a new charger for my cell phone and fill up the pickup with diesel fuel.”

          It’s a sure sign we’ve been married too long when my Hubby looked at me with furrowed brow and deep concern in his eyes as he said the first thing that came to mind.

          “Why did you have to get a new charger for your phone?”

                                                          Men!

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