My pheasants

IMG_1147I am raising some pheasants to be released into the wild for the first time this year.  I decided that since I live in a place where I can do this, that I would give it a try.

I actually started with 16.  I ordered 15, but as is sometimes the case I got an extra – I think this might be just a way to give the weaker ones a chance or a sense of fairness since they know you will probably lose some.

Anyway, one of them died within the first week, and another one died at 4 weeks old. Largely due to my error I believe.  I brought it inside as they were picking on it, and it died a couple hours later because it stood in the water dish and got too cold.  It felt the need to hide behind something and the waterer was the tallest thing in the box.  Birds of all kinds have pretty small brains and they are pretty dumb.  I was pretty dumb also as I knew that the bird was standing in corners in the pen and made the mistake of thinking that if the other birds weren’t around it wouldn’t feel the need to hide.  It’s face wasn’t even wet, so I know it didn’t drown…just stood there stupidly until it died of cold.  Though it was in the house and in a warm spot…it should have been fine.

So after that I moved the rest to their out door pen where they have a lot of room.  The pen is covered to protect from hawks, and is electrified on the outside to keep out anything else that might wish to eat them.  I live in an area with foxes, coyotes, hawks, owls, raccoons, etc.  Plenty of predators to choose from.  For the first two nights after moving them out there I would trot out there at midnight with a flash light to make sure nothing had managed to get around my defense system.  The birds continued to thrive.

Normally, in the wild,  pheasant chicks will stay with their Mother and siblings for 10 weeks after their birth, but they are ready to be on the move with her right away.  So my original intention is to keep them until 10 weeks of age then release them.  However, I read more about them and found out the pros and cons of releasing them then, and keeping them until the following Spring.  So I have decided to try something with them…at about 5 weeks of age I started opening the pen gate during the day and letting them out to wander around the horse pasture (I built the pen in a corner of the pasture that the horses don’t seem to like to eat in much but it has tall grass.)

My thought is that if I wait until they are 10 weeks old and just randomly let them go that they will mostly be killed off right away by predators because they won’t know anything about the available hiding places in the area.  So I let them out.  Funny thing happened, they put themselves all back in about 2 hours later for their afternoon nap. (After all, they are still babies!)  All I had to do was think “That was easy!” and close the gate back up and turn the electric back on.

If I had waited until they were 10 weeks old to start this letting them wander they probably wouldn’t have felt bound to their flock and would not have returned.  This time when they are still wanting to stay together with their siblings makes it easier to get them back in.  I can literally open the gate and walk along behind them until they see it and they will go on in on their own. (Totally different from my experience with hogs which never want to go back in at all!)

Well, this went well for about 4 days, then disaster struck.  I went out there in the evening to put them in, and there was no one in the pen, and no birds to be seen.  I thought, “oh no” and got that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that you get with you just know that you are not going to like the answer that you find.  I started looking around and then heard one of them…turns out there were 3 of them over in my old neighbor’s vacant house’s backyard…the dumb birds didn’t seem to realize that all they had to do was fly over the fence and could get back “home” to their pen.  They were standing in a corner and crying mournfully about their situation.  Then I went into the yard and heard another one which had wandered into the neighbor’s old chicken pen and was stuck in the weeds…it couldn’t find a way out.  I had to wade through the weeds and rescue it.  The others I chased around for about 15 minutes trying to get hold of them, but they were too fast for me, each one finally remembered that it could fly and flew out over the fence.

After that they all grouped up pretty quickly as a flock in my back yard near their pen, but they weren’t heading to their pen.  I managed to persuade them by urging them along to go on in, and had them all locked up in a few minutes…but the head count told me that 4 of them were still missing.  It was almost dark at this point.  I went looking and calling for them and listening….at the other end of the pasture I found the body of one of the chicks and 2 piles of feathers.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what would attack in broad day light (which it was at the time of the attack) and take more than one chick.  Usually it would be a hawk, and from the appearance of the dead one, that seemed to be the case.

I had started praying as soon as I knew the birds were all missing from the pen, and after I found 4 missing I was really praying hard.  It was very depressing to see that one was dead.  I couldn’t find the other 3 that were missing.  Well, I prayed continuously about it, but was feeling pretty depressed at my failure to protect them.

My husband reminded me that I knew that some of them would not make it, that this would probably happen when they were released and at least they knew about Hawks now.  I told him, that I knew this, but it still hurt.

Well, God is good, the next morning when I went to do my chores there were two chicks standing around outside the pen waiting to rejoin the rest of the flock, and that afternoon the other one showed up.  I figure those 3 will be the ones who have the best chance of surviving as they hid the longest after the hawk attack.  I have to say, that once again, God did not let me down.

I had decided to keep them in for a few days until the hawk moved on, but when I went out this morning there were 7 of them that had already managed to fly out the small opening (too small for the hawks and owls to want to fly into) in the top covers…these birds have already had a taste of the freedom of the open spaces, so they know how to get there and won’t stay in anymore.  So I am back to the 10 weeks of age release….I think they will all be ready by then.  It is tough to mother another species so that they are ready to survive.  It is also very interesting to try it!  I am curious to see how many of them I will see around the area next Spring, if any..though they may make it and still be invisible.  Pheasants are very well camo’d by God’s design!  You can practically step on one before you see it!


God keeps the little birds

IMG_1344Today, I was out at the burn pile, and saw a mother bird fly away, but didn’t see a nest.  My husband came out and lit the pile up. I was pretty depressed about this, and told him I thought that a bird was nesting in there.  He said that he had not seen any bird when he went to light it or heard anything.

So I decided to hope and pray that the bird was just going after insects or something in the pile to make a nest.

Unfortunately, I heard a bunch of tweeting and saw a baby bird a while later walking around near the pile.  I thought, “Oh no! That means there was a nest!”  Then picked up the baby and took it over and set it away from the fire by one of our peach trees so his Mom could find him and take care of him.  Birds are really good about taking care of their babies where ever they are located. This baby bird was very near to fledging so I felt that it should be okay.  I put a few drops of water on its back to cool it off, and offered it some meal worms that I had for my pheasant babies.  It was not interested in the food (probably had just been fed before the fire).  I checked on it about an hour later and it was walking around in that area. So I went back to the work of cleaning stalls!

Well about an hour and a half later I was done with my work and decided to check on the bird again.  I walked by the burn pile, and heard chirping again.  I started looking around to see if I could find the source, figuring that it was a sibling to the other one.  Next thing I know I see a baby bird hopping around in the ashes (hot foot!).  I reached down and grabbed it out and cooled it off with some water, and put it over with it’s sibling.  This bird was a bit smaller than the other baby.  When I had picked up this bird its Mother was screaming at me from the yard…so she saw where I put it.

I walked back over to check and see if there were any other babies.  Then I glimpsed a half burned nest lying on it’s side at the edge in a branch that wasn’t burned.  It was an amazing sight because that burn pile really went up and was hot.

God heard my prayer that no baby birds would be hurt while burning our burn pile!  God is so gracious and caring…even for the little birds!  He protected them from harm!


God is good!

9237ee7562c7e111bb59d173ca3a64f2This is a place of testimonials so I am sharing someone else’s story this time.  One of my friends has been looking for her adult daughter for 4 years.  She once had a police officer tell her that he had seen her daughter, not too long after she disappeared, but there was no contact info.

My friend’s daughter had an abusive boyfriend at the time of her disappearance and left her pets also.  It was very traumatic for my friend.  I am sure there have been many tears shed over this period of time.  Even though the Bible tells us not to worry, it seems that sometimes this is an impossible task.

However, my friend is a person of very strong faith.  In fact, she has always been a great mentor to me in my faith.

My friend is someone who is best described by this Bible verse  Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

She has had many challenges in her life, yet she keeps going and ministering to others continually and spreading the gospel and comfort of God to others.

I am happy to report that God has done as Isaiah 40:31 states and renewed her faith once again.  She received a phone call from her missing daughter the other night, and now has contact information to reach her.  That is all I know, but I am so happy for her.  She now knows that her daughter is alive and is again able to contact her.

God is so good that he got my friend through this terrible time…this “Job” experience.

Oh my God! It’s an Emu!

Foxy and I at a “Cowboy Challenge” obstacle course…I was proud that she did the course with me.

I have a buggy.  Not a baby buggy, but a horse buggy.  It is in terrible shape now, as I had no where to store it that was out of the elements.  That is rather depressing, but it is also hard to get out of my driveway with it unless someone is standing right there  and looking for traffic.  After all, the horse is in front of you, unlike a car where you can just pull up to the edge of the drive and look.  So it is a bit more dicey getting out into the road.

Well, one day a number of years back I decided to take the horse down a road that we had not been down before.  Fun! Fun!  My little girl was in the back…she was probably about 8 or 9 years old then.  Anyway, with a horse you just never know what will cause them to freak out…so it pays to be on alert.  I mean if you are riding down the trail and there is a drainage culvert on the side of the trail…the horse may see it as a “horse eating culvert!”  Horses are prey animals by nature, and so are always looking out for things that may want to eat them.  One of my friends once had a horse that refused to step on a drain grate in the trail.  We have a pony who will jump over a puddle like a high jumper to avoid stepping in it.  Over all, though our horses are pretty good out on the road and trails.  However, as I said, it pays to be alert because animals have fears too.  Some drivers, who would be very cautious about running into a deer, don’t seem to understand this and will zip by a horse and rider at about 70 mph without a thought.  They make the assumption that the rider has the animal (which weighs in the neighborhood of 1200 pounds) completely under their command.  This may or may not be true at that moment, but moment by moment as any experienced horse person will tell you, this can change.

It is all about relationship…how much does your horse trust you?!!  My horse trusts me very much, but we had a rocky start when she was young, so it took a long time for me to convince her that I was in charge and trustworthy.  The reason for our rocky start was that although I was a good rider, I was not good at ground work, and my horse was a baby so that was all we could do.  As I said, it took a long time to overcome both of our fears and work out our relationship.  I am a much more able horse person now than I was when I got her.  Trial by fire and all.  God really looked out for me while I was learning.  He also looked out for my horse.  Foxy has always been a bit spooky about new things and being aware of this, I am on alert.  She has calmed way down as she has gained age and experience.  I mean when she was a filly a milk jug scared her so badly that if you just showed one to her she was off and running.  As she reached riding age it was the sound of the ice in a water bottle hitting the side of the bottle….you better toss that bottle and hang on for dear life.  However, by the time she was five we could at least show her a milk jug, and could ride her with a bottle of ice water and wear a rain poncho on her.  She had come a long way, and had a lot of trail miles under her girth (so to speak as a girth is the closest thing to a belt that a horse wears).

Anyway, so my horse has become a really good trail horse, but at this point in her life she still had a bit of the spook in her.  (Though it is still a mystery how her mind works, as she walked right by a huge, huge, and did I mention how  huge the combine and tractor were that she walked by with the buggy on the road?  I was naturally praying non-stop as soon as I saw we were going to have to walk past that thing!)

So we were going down this road we had not been on before in the buggy and the kid was in the back.  Suddenly this horse was saying with all her body language, “Oh Oh Oh No!  I have never seen a bird that big in my entire life!  I am having none of this!  I am positive it is going to eat me!  I am going to turn this buggy around on a dime and run for the hills!”

She had actually started to turn the buggy because this Emu just came running out of a little shed and flapping around its pen like it was a crazy bird.  As soon as I saw that I knew what the problem was.  Now my buggy is an Amish buggy (No, I am not Amish before you ask) and to get in and  out of the buggy you have to go past the wheels and I mean you are right next to the front wheels.  They are not designed to turn on a dime, being rather tall and all.  So I knew that I better start praying that God would make this all right, and I did repeatedly, while also telling my horse, Foxy, words like, “Woah, easy, pretty girl, it’s okay, easy, eaaaassssyyyyy” in a very calm and soothing voice.  I managed to convince her to stop and not turn around.  I told my daughter to sit tight and not move.  I was able to get out of the buggy while maintaining pressure on the reins and continuing to speak slowly and calmly to the horse.

My heart was not calm it was beating with a huge rush of adrenaline..but you have to pretend that everything is wonderful and nothing is bothering you to the horse…if they get the scent of your fear it is all over.  Horses rely on their rider or driver as the leader of their herd.  It is all about attitude.  If you act like you are a bigger horse than they are, then they see you as a bigger horse…in a manner of speaking.  You have to win your leadership position from your horse.  As one of my friends once explained to me…..”You took your horse from her herd, now she sees you as her new herd, and she doesn’t care what position she is in the herd, 1st or 21st, but she needs to know her position.  Right now she is trying to be first since she doesn’t know her position.  If you let her know that you are first, then you won’t have anymore problems with her.  She will be content to be 2nd.”  This is pretty much how horses are.  So it is all about maintaining an attitude of confidence so that the horse remains secure in your leadership.

Prayer frequently helps in dicey situations because God can help me to maintain a picture of calm confidence when I am literally scared to death.  In this situation where the horse could turn around quickly and flip the buggy I was very frightened.  God helped me to calm my horse so that I could get out of the buggy and quietly turn her.  It took a good bit of physical strength as I was literally leaning on the horse’s neck and body as I turned her slowly around away from the thing that she feared…..that dreaded horse eating oversized giant bird.  I could almost hear my horse screaming in her brain, “Mom! Did you see that!  That is just plain wrong!  What is that thing?!  It has wings like a bird, but I have never seen a bird that big!  I am sure it is some bird that has morphed into some giant thing like that by eating horses!  We have to get out of here now….do you hear me….We need to leave now!  It’s going to get us!”

Thankfully, as soon as she was no longer faced with the possibility of having to walk toward that dreaded Emu, I was able to get her calmed down and relaxed enough that I could get back into the buggy and drive her back the way we had come.  My daughter was a champ through it all, and just sat quietly and waited for me to solve it all.

I was completely counting on God the whole time, as the whole thing was completely out of my control.  At any moment my horse’s fear could have overcome her trust in me and we would have been on our way to disaster.  God calmed me and helped me to calm the horse.  He also allowed my little girl to put her trust in my ability and remain calm also.  I surely felt God’s care and love in that situation.

Foxy at the county fair waiting to be in a parade past the grandstand.


Traveling Mercies-“You mean the Wheel can fall off?”

My horse Foxy on one of our camping trips!

Driving down the high way (once upon a time, but a true story), I was on my way home from a trip that was several hundred miles away from home.  I was towing my 4 year old horse, in a very old, but refurbished (to the best of my ability) bumper pull horse trailer. In the Jeep with me was my Aunt who was about 60 yrs old and my kids one of which was about 4 and the older one was 9.  We had been camping with my friend, her nephew and daughter, but I had not wanted to be away from my husband as long as she wanted to camp, so I made it a shorter trip for us.

Before leaving to go home, I decided to leave her some blankets as her dogs had peed on hers and she didn’t have more, and also the rest of my horse feed and hay except for what was in the hay bag.  After all, I wouldn’t need it, I was going to be home that night….or so I thought.

Well everything was going very well, I was finally in dry clothes with dry feet and on my way home.  I can tell you that while the Smokey Mountains are very beautiful, they are also very wet.  At least at the time of year I was there.  If my oldest daughter hadn’t brought along some flip flops I would not have had anything for my feet after the first two days.  It rained at least twice a day for the entire time that I was there.  I would get soaked, then lay my clothes out on the car to dry and as soon as they reached the stage of being just damp…it would rain again and soak them down.  Well, mercifully, our tent was new…both my husband and I came home with a new tent that we found on sale the same day…they were different sizes so we kept them both.  That was pretty wonderful, especially since he wasn’t even going on the trip with us.

Anyway, so we had a really good time, but we were wet for at least 50 percent of the time. However, back to my story of the trip home.  I was driving along, and had reached the State of Kentucky so I was within just a few hours of home at the time.  Suddenly, I have this maniac pull up next to me and start honking their horn and pointing madly to my rear.  My heart went into overdrive, they scared me very badly.  All sorts of visions went through my head…things like, “What?  Is my horse hanging out the back of the trailer or something?”  “Did the back of the trailer somehow have the ramp fall down?” (Now the horse couldn’t possibly have fallen out the back, because that ramp had the hardest most humungous springs on it, to even get it closed, much less open on its own)  Or “What are these people wanting from us is this some new trick?”  As I kept looking I saw in my side mirror that there was smoke billowing out of the wheel on the driver’s side of the horse trailer.  That did nothing to help me to feel better.

Naturally, I started praying fervently in a complete mental stress and worry about what I was going to do.  I pulled over to the  side of the road and the other folks (notice they are folks now instead of crazy people) pulled over with me.  They knew what was going on, and so they told me as they walked up, “it looks like your wheel bearing is going out on that trailer!”  “I said, “Oh, is that what it is, it looks like the wheel is on fire!”  (It wasn’t but for someone who had very little real experience with trailers, except for the ripping out of a floor and putting a new one in it and making new pads for the horse and painting it, it sure looked like something was burning!)

So these very sweet and kind folks seeing that I had a couple kids and an older lady in the car and no “men folk” said they would follow me to the next exit.  They did this, and I really appreciate their kindness. I appreciated them stopping me and telling me even more about 15 minutes later when the trailer was jacked up and the wheel literally fell off.  However, I am getting ahead of myself here.

I forgot to tell you that this was happening on a Sunday and it was about 8pm in the middle of no where in Kentucky.  As I was pulling off at the exit, I see this big sign that says, “No truck repair available at truck stop!”  As you can see there were no apparent resources available to me for repair….instead of being home in a few hours, I was now having visions of putting the kids and my Aunt up in a hotel room and myself spending the night in the car in the parking lot guarding my horse.

Now, if you knew me, then you would know that I am not much of a panicking type of person.  I can be frustrated and some words of the sailor’s variety do come forth on occasion (that is a sin I am still working on and repenting for!) but I am a thinker, so when things go awry I tend to look for solutions instead of falling apart.  Not to say that I don’t feel panicky, I do, and in this situation I was not feeling really confident or competent.

A big part of my solution to panic is to immediately when I start feeling panic call upon God to, “Please Lord, help me, make this be okay, please make it okay!”

Well, I was mentally repeating this prayer unceasingly from the moment those folks started honking at me!  Coming off that ramp and seeing the “no truck service” sign I reiterated the prayer again…now this is the amazing way that God handled this problem for me.  I do mean, that God did it, and he took care of the problem so well that I really had no time to panic!  From the moment those folks pulled me over, God was already taking care of things.  This was one of those moments where like it says in Psalm 91 the angels bear you up so that you don’t dash your foot against a stone.

The sequence of events is as follows…I drove off the ramp and into a quickie mart type of gas station, got out of the car and went in and explained my problem to the people working there and asked if they knew any hotels around and anyplace where I could get the trailer fixed the next day.  They not only helped me find a hotel for the night for (I kid you not) $43, a young man who worked there said, “I don’t know horses, but I know cows, so I can look at your trailer for you!”  He did and said that he could jack up the trailer and remove the tire off of the offending axle.  He informed me that since it was a dual wheeled trailer and I only had one horse it in that I could drive with only three wheels okay, until I could get it fixed.  Now this was amazing news to me!  So he had me pull over and unload my horse so that he could jack it up take the wheel off.

As I said earlier, the wheel literally fell off as soon as the trailer was jacked up.  I was really shocked.  I didn’t know that a bad bearing could allow a wheel to fall off.  (My husband and I had quite a conversation about this and how it is different on cars after I got home! I also became a bit manic about needing to know when the wheel bearings need to be attended to on the trailers.)

Funny thing happened, that before the young man could jack up the trailer, I had to unload Foxy, and God had arranged it that this particular gas station had a large grassy area on the other side of a fence on a hill right by the area where I was parked.  So my horse could be tied to the fence and allowed to eat some grass in safety while we worked on the wheel situation.

Suddenly, a very large gooseneck horse trailer and truck pulled into the station.  A couple jumped out and said, “Are you having a problem, because we were on our way home from riding in the state park and saw your horse was unloaded, and we never unload when we are traveling unless it is an emergency! So we thought you might be having a problem!”  I explained the problem to them.  They asked me if my horse’d had a Coggins test.  For those of you who are not familiar with horses this is a test for Horse Infectious Anemia which can kill a barn full of horses in a matter of days if one animal comes in that is a carrier.  I told him that, “no, but I have had her all of her life.”  He looked her over, and said well, we can load her into our trailer we have an empty spot at the back and you can follow us to our place and your horse can spend the night in the round pen there.  We can also show you in the morning where to go to get your trailer fixed.

I was at this point absolutely in awe of God’s work here, on my problems!  The mental prayerful thank you’s that were going up from me to him were endless.  Inside of 20 minutes God had solved everything about that situation from the hotel, to the repair place for the wheel, to a place other than the trailer and a parking lot for me and the horse to spend the night…it was awesome how he arranged all of this in such a short time for me..but he is an awesome God, and in actuality…he had already set all of this in motion long before I got into the car that day to go home.  I mean, for everyone who helped me to be in just the right place to be in a position and to have just the right knowledge that I needed to help me took a lot of foresight and arranging.  God used all of these willing people to help me, and he wasn’t even done yet.

The next day, we got to the shop and they were busy to the max, backed up, but when they found out we were traveling they looked over their customers for the day, and decided to rearrange things, and told us to come back at 4pm. So my Aunt, and kids and I went to a movie, and had lunch, and when we got back to the place around 4pm, the trailer was ready to be hooked up and driven away.  The fellow who fixed it said that he literally redid the threads on the bearing, and that if I ever went long distances again I should probably replace it as he couldn’t get the parts today, but it should get me home.  I tell you that he did a magnificent job with that bearing.  My husband, (who can fix everything) checked it when we got home and said that it looked great, couldn’t tell it had ever been fixed or needed it.  The cost of the repair was $90.

We drove back to pick up my horse, and I tried to give the nice folks who housed her some money for feeding and housing her for the night, but they just wouldn’t hear of it.  I thanked them so profusely, I cannot tell you how grateful I felt to them for their kindness.  All told, it cost me less than $150 for this problem and God had it all fixed so fast through all of these kind hearted people that I didn’t even really have time to panic at all!

I know this story was a bit long, but I cannot stress how joyful I was about this example in my life of God’s loving care, and I didn’t want to leave anything out in retelling it!

Fellowship in an unusual place


I have read many articles on the troubles people have breast feeding in public places.  I am sure it is more difficult for some than for others.  In my case, it was not that I was worried about offending the public…after all it is a natural function…the thing that breasts were designed for in the first place….no, I was more worried about having a part of my body exposed to the world that was very private to me.  This could certainly happen when the baby latched on, or let go.  So I typically would look for somewhere more private to feed my daughter if at all possible.

This was back when ladies rooms in the major department stores in the Mall all still had sofa’s or chairs in them for ladies to rest on.  Those were the days for sure!  Recognition from the world that sometimes women needed to have a rest for whatever reason during their shopping expeditions.  I don’t know if the men’s rooms had anything like this, but I am guessing not.

On this particular occasion I needed a place to feed my daughter and had just settled down on the beautifully provided vinyl sofa in Sears Department Store and gotten down to business.  I had left my husband walking around the store…he was familiar with how long this took so was not concerned.

Anyway, my daughter and I  were both really starting to relax and enjoy the moment.  I can’t even tell you what I was thinking about at that time, when suddenly the most amazing thing happened.  This woman, a perfect stranger to me, came and plopped down on the sofa next to me and my baby.  She started talking to me and suddenly she mentioned God and we got to talking about our faith.  We must have sat like that and fellowshipped with each other for about 20 minutes or so.  She seemed to have all the time in the world to accompany me, just as if she was an old friend who had come out for the day to go shopping with me.  When I was finished, we both got up and went our separate ways never to meet again.

The lady totally distracted me from any worry about anything that I might have had with the other women coming and going with their packages and kids while I was doing the nourishing of my child.  I have to share that although this happened many years ago, it really stuck in my mind as a perfect gift from God to put that lady in that bathroom on that day at that particular time and give her the nudge to talk to me about her faith.  I have had other occasions of strangers stepping up to share a fellowship moment with me over the years, but this one really stuck with me.  When I left that restroom I was completely and totally refreshed from having shared that time of faithful fellowship with that woman.

The thing was that this was before I really started studying God’s word avidly so it was all the more wonderful to me that I had anything at all to share with her.  I mean, I was faithful to my beliefs, but really had a rather young faith…it had really just started to grow.  Her taking the time to sit and share with me boosted my faith in ways that I cannot express in words.  She truly shared the love of Christ with me that day just by being a companion to a young mother.


The Queen Bee Problem

The Bee in the center there is the Queen, she is longer and larger than any bee in the hive, and also is the only hairless bee.  All the other bees in the hive are fuzzy.

Today my friend and I went out to work in my bee hives.  I really enjoy them very much, but last month I did a split off of one of my hives and the bees being ever unpredictable when it comes to splitting or swarming or even their housekeeping…though their proclivity for stinging you if pinched is constant….decided on the split to just clean up the capped queen cell instead of letting her hatch and become their queen.  I thought, well, that is just wonderful, now I need to come up with a queen.  Then the rains set in on every day that I could conceivably have time to go and work my bees….so waiting it was.

So on Friday I get an email from a lady who happened to be not to far from my home stating that she had some bees in a tree.  I called her number and talk to her for a minute and recognized right where she was.  She said that the bees were 15 feet off the ground hanging in a tree.  I told her that sounded doable to take them.  I called  a friend of mine and asked for help as I don’t like to be on a ladder taking a swarm of bees without someone to hold the ladder.  He agreed to come and help.

About now, you all are probably wondering about what a swarm is if you are not beekeepers or friends of beekeepers and how a beekeeper would go and get them.  Thus the picture is worth a thousand words.


Anyway, the swarm in question turned out to be in a tree that was directly over an endless thickness of bushes, and was more like 30 feet in the air from the side we could work from, the 15 foot side had a pool and a fence there.  So there was no place for a ladder.

The ideal swarm is about 5-6 feet off the ground and you can walk up to it dressed in your bee gear, and hold a 5 gallon bucket under it and shake the branch vigorously a few times and they fall like a basket ball into the bucket, then you cover the bees up with a screen or towel, put them in the car and go home after assuring the home owner than any honey bees which did not go with you would be moving away on their own in a day or so.

It is probably stating the obvious at this point that those bees that were 30 feet in the air were not an ideal swarm.  In fact, if my friend and I had not been so stubborn we could have just told the home owner that they would leave in a day or two on their own for their new home and went on home ourselves.   However, we were there already…so we got this really hair-brained idea that we would go ahead and try to get them.  My friend, Dave happened to have brought along his long poled branch loppers and we decided at first to try and shake those babies out of the tree and maybe they would cooperate and land lower so we could get them.  Of course, it did not go so well.  He ended up cutting the branch and those stubborn girls just landed on the next lower one, still 20 ft up.  So for about two hours we worked at it, and I kept gathering bees a few hundred at a time.  Finally, they were gathering in a bush that I could reach.  I thought I had the queen.  Now, I actually wonder if they were queenless all along, on rare occasions this can happen to a swarm that the queen gets hurt or dies and they are just bunched up and don’t know what to do with themselves because the pheromones are still around so they don’t realize she is gone.  Dave and I did discuss this possibility.  To shorten this story I thought I had finally managed to get the queen, as I had most of the bees.  I then took them home and hived them.

The next day I went out to my bait hive and there was another swarm in it…it wasn’t in there when I hived that swarm the night before.  Funny thing is that I had lost a swarm 2 days before that, they were too high and I couldn’t get them.  I heard from Dave that it probably was hit by the school bus…about half a mile or so from my house.

Well, to get on with it I checked those two swarms over twice and ended up that after about 5 days there was no sign of queen or egg or brood of any kind in either of them.  This made me wonder if the swarm that got hit had the survivors come back and move into the bait hive after all…there is no telling of course…but it was odd to have two swarms with no queens.

So you can now see that as a beekeeper I have three hives of bees without a queen between them.  In the normal scheme of things what happens is when you need a queen for a queenless hive, you never ever have one available…you scramble around calling fellow beekeepers and bee suppliers trying to buy one.  If you are really blessed you can get hold of one, but finding 3 doesn’t usually go well.

The other option is if you have other hives to try and steal some eggs by giving a frame with eggs on it to the queenless hives and letting them make their own queens.  So this is what I set out to do today.  I had bees in boxes with different sized frames so I had to go to a couple different hives to borrow from them.  Well, I managed to get the deep frames into the two swarm hives, and I was feeling pretty good about that.  Kellie, who was helping me today, was too.

Then we opened up the hive to look for a shallow frame with eggs to give to the hive split.  This is when God greatly blessed me….lo and behold…this hive was in a swarming mood.  They had so many capped queen cells on different frames, and they were newly capped that I was able to take a capped queen cell and put it in all 3 of the queenless hives along with the brood, and still leave a couple for the hive that I was taking them from, just in case they needed them.

This was such a huge bit of convenience that we could hardly believe it!  Now, if those 3 hives will just keep those queen cells warm then in a few days they will each have a newly hatched queen ready for a mating flight!

I truly feel that this was a gift from God!  (Now, I know you are wondering how many stings we got while we were playing in the bees…the answer is neither in the swarm taking, nor in the work today did any of us get stung…not to say that we don’t, but we didn’t today, and for the most part we don’t.  I average about 1-2 stings a year.  Last year was an exception, but they got me badly then. Most of the time honey bees, where I live, are very gentle and tolerant of being messed with.)


By the way there is a story in the Bible with honey bees in it…Judges chapter 14…Samson is the main character.

This is a queen cell which is newly capped.  It will hatch sometime within 8 days.  By the time it hatches the comb will be a cinnamon brown color instead of this light off white color. The bees walking around in this picture are all females called workers they don’t lay eggs unless they don’t have a queen then they may start laying unfertilized eggs which make drones…they can never be a queen…however all eggs laid by the queen are usually female and can become queens if treated differently by the bees at the egg or very young larval stage. There is only one queen per hive and she is the mother of all future generations of bees in that hive. The “king bees” or drones all die either when they mate with the queen or they are kicked out in winter. The average honey bee hive as 50,000 bees or more in it.

The impact of a neighbor girl


Lester Robinson (Grandpa) and me Charlene Robinson age 2
My grandfather and I

When I was about 4 years old or so back when people told their kids to watch for cars, and come home when the street lights came on.  When Mom’s didn’t feel the least bit self-conscious or worried about swatting the kid on the rear in public if they were lippy with them, or if they didn’t follow the house rules.  If you weren’t home, they stuck their heads out the door and yelled your name down the street at the top of their lungs.  Frequently, in my case my Mom would start off with the names of one of my brother’s and finally hit the name she wanted.  If you are a parent you know how that is…Any way, there was a neighbor girl who I am thinking was probably about 8 or 9 years old.  She was older than all of us by a number of years, and since she could read well I would put her at that age. I cannot remember her name, but the impact on my life I will never forget, though at the time I didn’t realize it.

This girl invited all of us neighbor kids probably about 6 or so of us up to her room in her house and she had a tract in her hand from some church which told how to take Jesus into your heart. She simply told us about what she knew about Jesus, and then she asked us if we wanted to take Jesus into our hearts too.

I remember thinking, “Well, that sounds like a good idea.”  So I agreed.  She read to us and had us all repeat after her this prayer written on the paper in her hand asking Jesus to forgive us and come into our hearts to live in us.  We all followed along.  There weren’t any of us who said, “no, I don’t want that.”

I would like to tell you that I understood exactly what I was doing, but I am sure to tell you that I only remember thinking that it sounded like a good idea.  You know as a 4 year old you have a very simple understanding of God.  He is someone who is “magical” “powerful” “invisible” can be “angry” is “loving” and he is “safe”.  God is someone you definitely want to see when you die, as opposed to seeing that other guy, The Devil!  God’s house is way more fun sounding, it has angels that fly and harps too.  No one fights or hits or hates there.  You can’t even bang your foot there.  How can that not sound great to anyone? Even a 4 yr old can see it!

Now, that was really the beginning of my journey with God.  I did my prayers before that, but I don’t really remember anything except the dreaded “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take” prayer! I say dreaded  because I really hated that “if I should die before I wake” line in that prayer, I mean, really…who teaches little kids these realities?  I used to lay awake at night as long as I could because I was worried about it.

Anyhow, the first time I really remember dealing with the issue of salvation is with the neighbor girl.  So when I am asked about my conversion experience, there it is.  I would like to say that everything was rosy and great after that, but it wasn’t.  Life rarely is, and when you take Jesus into your heart it is like putting a bell on a cat to Satan.  He is on high alert, and wants to do everything he can to wreck your faith and destroy your belief in God.  As it says in the Bible, he comes to steal, kill and destroy.  (John 10:10) He is the great deceiver.  Many things happened to me in my childhood after that which were not pleasant to say the least.  I won’t go into details except to say that miraculously my faith remained.

I can’t say it really grew at all.  It remained very child like.  I read the children’s Bible and my Mom told me Bible stories, but we really didn’t go to church.  Mom took us once or twice, but it was hard to get all of us together and over there early in the morning.  A minister once offended my Mom so badly that she never went back to that church.  As an adult, I am sure that what she thinks he said to her, was not meant the way he said it or particularly aimed at her.  However, the damage was done.  I went to church a couple times with friends, and mostly when I was a bit older I went with my Great Aunt.  I really enjoyed it when I got to go, but then we started moving around a lot and that was the end of it until I was out of High School and a working adult.

Well, I have to say, that I will never disregard the possibility of a child having genuine faith even while they don’t understand fully what faith is, or sin is, or who Jesus is.  I think this is what Jesus meant in the Bible when he said, “Let the children come to me, don’t hinder them, for to such as these belong the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14)

Children simply trust what is said to them.  I trusted what the neighbor girl said to me, and it changed my life.  God has upheld my faith for my entire life even when I didn’t really understand anything at all with any depth.  I intend to maintain my “childlike” trust in God for the remainder of my life…the trust that says that God says what he means and means what he says..God is trustworthy.

So this is my first testimonial.  I hope that you enjoy reading about it, and will share some of your own with me.