I've shared how miserable May was in Texas. I won't tell you I breezed through it with a smile on my face the whole time. Having said this, I usually try to find some good and some funny in bad times. My daughter tells me my life is animated. Like a cartoon. Maybe she's right. It can be easier to view things with a little animation. May was no exception. It came with some hilarious events as well. I mean, how can you live through all that mud and not have some funny stories to share at the end of it?
My little place in the world is home of the worst dirt in America. It is black clay. In a drought, it can get as hard as concrete. Heaven forbid you should need to dig a hole. It is a workout! In the rains, it gets slick and thick. It gunks up on the bottom of your shoes and won't let go. The longer you are in it, the heavier your feet get. Heaven forbid you should need to dig a hole. That stuff sticks to a shovel like nobody's business. It can also get a little slippery. It's miserable. Having said that, let me also give it some credit. As a gardener/farmer, I know from experience it can turn into something wonderful. It takes a mountain of composted material and a lot of back breaking work, but you can end up with a very beautiful, rich product in the end.
We weren't gardening in May.
I spent a lot of time with my truck in four-wheel drive. I spent a lot of time driving a nasty truck. I also spent a lot of time throwing mud up and down the roads once I hit pavement.
The Blue Dog Bee Lady lives north of me. She has the same lovely soil I have. She also happens to live at the bottom of a rolling prairie. When it rains, she gets some mud. I traveled up to help her inspect her hives one afternoon. We knew she had some wet places, but we thought we could manage the terrain. We loaded up her truck with all of the necessary supplies and started out. It didn't take long before our boots were weighing about 30 lbs. each. We expected this. Once we made it to the back of her property, we were able to get most of our inspections done without much trouble.
She has a history of some really aggressive hives.
One of her hives was going crazy. They had started their spring build-up earlier then everyone else, and there were a lot of bees in that box. We discussed our options and decided to split them. This is a pretty standard practice to prevent swarming, but she was grumbling a little.
She only wants six hives in her world.
Splitting hives means you are essentially increasing your apiary. Splitting an aggressive hive means they will essentially try to kill you in the process. Something about dividing their world puts them in a really bad mood. It also means you need to relocate the split. Sitting them right next to each other will not work. All your workers will just go back to their original hive, and you will have done everything for nothing.
We loaded the split up into the back of her truck. Grabbed the rest of our gear and were heading out of there. She had decided to relocate them to the front of her property temporarily. My boots were covered in mud at this point. So, not wanting to get her truck completely filthy, I hopped up on the tailgate and told her to drive us out of there. She jumped in and began navigating us through an area that was a little swampy. It took all of two seconds and I realized we weren't going to make it. In true fashion, in the deepest, slimiest part of this swamp, we came to a stop. Tires spinning. Mud flying. Mad bees in the bed of the truck next to me.
We were stuck.
Little known fact about transporting bees...if you have an emergency and you have a load of bees it greatly limits the people you can call for help.
I hopped off the tailgate to assess the situation. She climbed out of the cab to have a look as well. We were stuck alright. We had also made some really nice ruts in the field. In a situation like this you only have one choice.
You have to get out of it.
Waiting for her man to come home and then explaining what we were doing did not seem like a good option. Leaving the vehicle there was out of the question as well. We were sure we couldn't hide our poor decision making. Not to mention we had a box of really mad bees loaded in the back. What were we going to do...carry them?
I slopped around in the mud, and then closed the tailgate. I jumped behind the wheel to see if I could get us out of it, but no luck. I think we were just getting deeper. I jumped out and told her to get in. My plan was to push while she drove us out of the mud. I instructed her to get behind the wheel and punch it. She looked at me with great concern.
me: Just get in and punch it.
her: What are you going to do?
her: Why don't you drive and I'll push?
me: It's your truck. You drive.
her: I don't want to drive.
me: You have to. It's the law.
She slowly got behind the wheel. I positioned myself at the tailgate. I would like to remind you we had a box of very angry bees in the back of this truck. We had our suits on. Bee suits are white! I put my shoulder on the tailgate. I was ready to give it everything I had and pray. She got out of the truck.
her: When you say 'punch it' do you mean gas all the way to the floor?
her: I don't know about this.
me: Push the gas pedal all the way down. When you started moving, don't slow down until you get to the driveway. I'll catch up. Don't wait on me.
She was a little more than nervous. She may have even argued with me some more about letting her push while I drove. I tried to encourage her, and laughed at her because she had never gotten herself stuck and had to get herself out before.
me: Get in the truck!
She did. She punched it. I put my shoulder into the tailgate and started pushing. The mud wasn't giving me much traction either. Her tires started spinning. Mud was flying. Mud was flying high and far. The ruts were getting deeper, and for a moment I didn't think we were going to make it out of this situation alive. In the end, she got some traction. She kept the gas to the floor and fish-tailed her way to the drive. She did everything I said. Once on solid ground, she stopped and got out of the truck. I really wish I had a picture of what I looked like. My suit was no longer white. Her truck was no longer clean. Her field was no longer pretty.
She celebrated her success. She may have been on a little adrenaline rush at this point. She had never actually put the gas pedal all the way to the floor before. We dropped off our load of angry bees. Then we put the truck back in its regular parking spot. Once we had it unloaded, we took a look at the truck and the ruts we had left behind in the field. She just looked at me.
"He'll never notice."