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Part of living a simple life is being prepared.  No matter how hard we try, we can never be completely, fully prepared for every job, problem or issue that comes our way.  When we first moved to the farm, we thought we had things pretty well covered, as the Country Boy had a selection of tools that would make most hardware stores drool.  Still, as we would attempt a job, we would find that there was still something else we needed.  Fence stretchers.  Bottles for abandoned calves.  Red heat lamps for chicks.  IV set ups for cows.  I even found myself purchasing a trochar – which is a Dr. Frankenstein-type tool to relieve bloating in cows.  Yuck.  After fourteen years here, there are still occasions when we find we don’t have what we need.  It can get exasperating, if not expensive.

Yesterday, I found that once again, I am not fully prepared.  James had been bushhogging down at the pond, and came across a nest of either bees or yellow jackets; he wasn’t real sure.  He wasn’t sticking around to find out, either, but he knew they were yellow and had wings.  As he thought about it, he wondered if it could be my bees that abandoned their hive due to wax moths.  My curiosity ran rampant.  Could it be my bees?  If so, I was sorely lacking in preparedness.  I have an extra hive body, but no bottom board, inner cover or telescoping top cover.

The three of us began talking, and our discussion followed over to the possibility of building something – even if it was just a temporary arrangement until I could order the proper equipment.  Dimensions were discussed.  Websites were pulled up for photos of what was needed.  Purchase costs vs building costs were calculated.  Did we have the proper tools to build them?  The more we talked, the more frustrated I became as I recognized how poorly prepared I am to capture swarms of bees.

The sad part about it is I still really don’t know how to do it, even if I had the proper equipment.  Johnny, Audi and Elaine taught me quite a bit about capturing them out of a water meter.  However, there is a big difference between gathering a ready-made hive, complete with comb out of an area as small as a water meter box, and a swarm in a tree.  From what I can tell, there is a totally different skill set as well as equipment is needed for just such a venture.

I didn’t give up, though.  We had a fairly decent plan in place.  If this was, in fact, a swarm of bees, the Country Boy and James could rig up some temporary boxes and lids.  I have a ready supply of Lemongrass Essential oil.  And I could get equipment shipped fast, with just a little extra money for shipping costs.  Yes, the frugal side of me had heart palpitations, but I was hoping that the added honey income down the road would more than off-set those non-budgeted emergency costs.

All of this was for naught.  As it turned out, it was a nest of yellow jackets.  It is a good thing we know, as we will have to deal with them to keep it from becoming a serious problem.  But it is disappointing to know that I won’t be stepping up my honey production with free bees – or at the very least, the recapture of my missing hive.  Still, it helps me to see the cracks in an otherwise solid foundation.

I may not have been prepared this time, but you can bet that I have set things in motion to be ready the next.  I found my Build Your Own Beekeeping Equipment book by Tony Pisano.  I am researching the how-to’s on the Internet and in the books in my library.  I will look back over the notes I have taken from Johnny’s lessons.  And the next time I am faced with this situation, I will be much better prepared.

Regardless of the situation or job at hand, it is comforting to know that you are prepared for any given problem.  I know that we don’t have the money or space to store tools for every single thing we do, but it is a good thing to know that you have at least the resources to create a temporary fix.  Take into consideration those things that you love to do, or projects that you want to start.  Make a list of the immediate tools and equipment you will need, and start your purchasing or building there.  Then think ahead.  Take into consideration worse-case scenarios, and make a list of things you would need for those.  Slowly but surely, build or purchase one thing at a time until you have everything you are going to need.  Before you know it, those cracks in the foundation will begin to close.

Still, you might want to keep the catalog handy, and a few websites bookmarked, just in case.  And it probably wouldn’t hurt to bake your UPS guy, Fed Ex driver and mail carrier cookies every now and then.  You would be amazed at how quickly they’ll get your emergency shipment delivered to your door with that kind of incentive.