Homestead Hobbying

This is an RPG post.  I promise.

For the last few years the family has slow-walked a low-key advance on the homestead front. This past month we added another notch on the victory post by throwing what probably should have been an investment in the hobby wargame channel into a bit of food independence.

We’re weaning ourselves off the corporate honey teat, baby!

I just like bees, okay? I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of putting out a magic box that they call home and if you do right by them, once in a while you get sweet treats. I wanna make a nice home for a few, take a cut in return by tapping a little of that sweet liquid gold, and spread a little cheer by giving friends and family a free bottle of one of those increasing numbers of regular everyday products that has become a luxury item.

Early days of this new adventure means we’re at least a year out from the first harvest – which is good because we’ll need that time to bone up on how to process food-grade honey.  The most mysterious part of the process has been procuring the queen and her swarm themselves.  On the mainland you can rely on shipping sacks of live bees and queens in a little low-tech companion cube.  Out in the islands things get a little more complicated.  You see, if the state allows unfettered bee immigration there is a good chance the new arrivals will bring all sorts of nasty diseases and maybe even push out the locals, and you wouldn’t want that.

For the bees, you see.

Since you can’t import bees, you gotta go local.  That means two options: you know a guy who knows a guy or you bait your hive yourself.  We have to go with the latter because the guys who know aren’t about to give up their source.

This past weekend the wife and I cruised down to the local farmer’s market and we need to take a little digression.  What started as an effort to get fresh produce straight from the farm to consumers has morphed over the years into something far different.  Ten years ago the farmer’s market was six or seven local farm stalls with three or four valued added stalls like bakers or orchid sellers or cut flower merchants.  These days the “farmer’s markets” are mostly food-truck grade restaurants charging four diamond prices for “ethnic food” you get to eat standing up in a dirty parking lot.

Lately, one of the hot commodities has become honey, which brings us back to the conundrum of the backyard beekeeper.  The little market a couple towns over has six stands selling honey.  All of them are run by soul-brahs with either a manbun or quirk chungus hat.  Why is every hobby venture overrun with guys like this? They posture as laid-back outdoorsy and folksy get-along types who just aren’t cut out for office life maaaaan, like, you know?  They talk a big game about caring for the bees because earth needs us to do better and clean living for sustainable futures and yes their honey costs more than twice what you pay for the same product at Whole Foods, but we gotta take care of each other, right?

And then you ask where to get a queen for your little backyard hive, and boy howdy does their demeanor change to hard-set jaw and flinty eyes.  Then it’s all business and they don’t know anything about that.  Clearly, they are trying to protect their investment and limit competition.  That’s understandable.  It’s the raw dishonesty of the marketing that rankles men of good will.  Fricking posers, man.

But it’s a good reminder that TTRPGs are not unique.  I had to laugh at the sudden change in the behavior of the get-along gang types who are “all in it together” when you ask for a little boost. The honey-brahs act exactly like the OSR’s PDF merchants and Big Name Bloggers.  They are all about that community only so long as that community means buying their overpriced wares.  Threaten to undercut them by giving out the good stuff gratis and all the long knives come out.  Suddenly you’re the bad guy for suggesting that everyone practice what the smart bois preach, and evil incarnate if you show people that they don’t need the smart bois at all.

People are the same all over.  Only the hobbies change.