of birds and bees



Looking for bees

Looking for bees

Looking for bees

Looking for bees

Looking for bees

Looking for bees

Looking for bees

Looking for bees

The past week has been a strange one.  It’s funny how a few seemingly minor events can throw everything out of wack.  It all began the day after we visited Big Meadow.  The following morning, Seth came inside from letting the chickens out into the yarn and asked, “Where’s the rooster?”  We looked and looked for him, but he was gone.  We had returned late the night before and didn’t do a proper head count before locking the chickens up for the night.  Something must have taken him while we were gone.  We have every kind of wild animal you can imagine here, even bald eagles.  There’s no telling what took him.  And while I never wanted a rooster as part of this flock, this guy was showing no signs of aggression and was developing into a really beautiful bird.  I enjoyed hearing a rooster crow throughout the day again, and was pleased with him in general.  I wandered the woods searching for signs of foul play while fighting tears.  Nothing.  He just vanished.  Our neighbor claimed that he heard him crowing that first morning around 4 a.m. in the woods.  That didn’t make any sense, but we looked anyway, trying to dismiss the fact that our neighbor is usually drunk and probably had his mornings mixed up.  At any rate, it’s over and done now, he’s definitely gone, and really I was the only one upset.  I have to confess that as sad as I was at first, I am much more relaxed with just the hens.  We’ve been keeping a close eye on them, and so far we haven’t seen any sign of what took our rooster.

Moving on to the bees.  The swarm left on Tuesday evening and we haven’t seen them since.  I know it’s silly, especially considering that we are surrounded by forest in all directions, but we’ve been looking for them.  Wednesday evening we took a long walk on the neighboring property looking and looking.  We asked our neighbor if he had seen our bees, explaining that they left in a swarm.  He assured us that they would be home by dark.  I am giggling at the memory.  Hopefully our bees found a nice place to live.  We will try not to think about the fact that it is probably too late in the season for them to store up the honey they would need to make it through the winter.

I spent some time chatting with a new friend on the phone this week and got lots of advice on how to move forward with our two hives (thank you Karen!) Jonny and I spent well over an hour moving things around in the hives, and added a fourth super to each.  While the eggs we saw a few days ago were probably laid by the old queen, we saw new eggs in Lark Rise on Wednesday, evidence that the new queen has already begun to lay.  Because we just installed our package bees this year, we are feeding them to make sure they have enough food stored to survive the winter.  Had we caught the swarm, that would have been one more colony to feed, and really it’s expensive, so probably for the best that we didn’t manage to catch them.  We’re sad anyway.  It feels like a loss.  We’ve learned so very much in this process though, and that part feels good.

In terms of our kids and their reaction to the disappearance of the rooster and the swarm of our bees:  they are far less emotionally attached than Jonny and I.  That much is clear.

Without the rooster’s influence, some of our hens are now trying to roost in the cedar tree next to their coop.  We came home from our bee hunt to find four of them high in its branches.  Silly birds.

chicken in a tree

chicken in a tree

chicken in a tree


  1. Just love those pictures of your kids in the half-light of the woods. Magical. Your photographs are always so inspiring.

  2. So sorry about the rooster. We just lost our first bird to a skunk last week and it was so sad. We felt so guilty for not protecting them better.

    Your hives are beautiful, if anything! Who knew you could lose a swarm? Not me. Beekeeping is pretty fascinating stuff, I think.

  3. The photo of all the kids looking up is so precious!

  4. I was hoping that your bees would come home. It’s fascinating to see your adventure with them. Ya’ll have been inspiring – my husband and I are convinced that we want to have some honeybees once we have our own place.

  5. Such beautiful light in all of these photos – thanks so much for sharing x

  6. I can’t remember the name of your adopted son but I just love, LOVE, that often when you do have photos of him on your blog he is carrying, reading to, spending time with Silas. I did read your post about how he wanted to make him a quilt (or was it blanket) and I just find that the bond they have makes me a little weepy every time I see photographic evidence – even if you don’t write about it.

  7. Hi Ginny. You just may be surprised by the rooster. In the same way the hens are in the trees, he may be doing that somewhere at night too so varmints can’t reach him. We had one disappear (did not remember to do the head count!) and I mourned him also especially since we had hatched him out with a broody hen. Lo and behold as I was feeding the sheep five nights later and the rest of the chickens had already put themselves to bed, here he came out of the woods and across the yard to me. You never know. Sometimes they will surprise you with their survival instincts. Keep good thoughts and an eye out!

  8. That’s hilarious that the hens are expanding more without their protective male. Sad to hear he’s gone though. 🙁

  9. Nature has its way of carrying on and leaving us standing and watching.

  10. Hopefully the rooster is just out exploring. I hate to think otherwise. I have been trying to protect a nest of robins from a huge hawk coming into our front yard. We live in town and this is the largest hawk we have seen! Then a strong wind storm blew the nest down. The babies were on the ground with nest over them. I used a cradle looking basket and attached two bent about coat hangers to hang it with the nest and babies back in. Last I looked the babies were there but I think I heard the hawk yesterday. I need to go check on them. As usual your pics are gorgeous.

  11. maybe it’s good that they aren’t having an emotional reaction. they’ll be more likely to carry on this kind of work and be better able to deal with the real tough side of homesteading and farming, unlike us grownups. 🙂

  12. Silly question…But have any of you been bitten by the bees?

    • not silly! Jonny and I both were stung the day we installed the bees last spring. Since then, the only real stings around here have been yellow jacket and wasp stings. The honeybees are pretty agreeable, and we do wear protective clothing when we open up the hives.

  13. It sounds like you’ve been having yourselves quite the adventure! I love the last photos of the hens in the tree… too funny!

  14. more of life’s mysteries…..

    happier days ahead!!!

  15. Yarn- hee hee; now we know what’s really on your mind! Feed your loss with knitting- always works for me!

    It’s funny how quickly things can change when you look away for even a moment. I have been obsessively checking my garden every day for ripened tomatoes. I am being patient- they are taking longer than they should. My children, however, are not so patient. Needless to say, we had fried green tomatoes for dinner last night.

    Gotta love them. (The tomatoes and the kids.)

  16. i’m so sorry about the bird and the bees. so weird that the rooster was taken and not the hens.

  17. Sad about your bees–I was hoping they would come home for you, but, as you say, perhaps it’s for the best. I *wish* our last rooster would have just gone missing! He was so mean! Although, apparently he’s doing much better now at the farm where we re-homed him.

  18. Hopefully, your neighbors do not read your posts.

  19. Great photos! So sorry about the bees and rooster. I would be heartbroken as well. Glad to hear the children will move on.

  20. So sorry about your rooster and bees, homesteading is tough sometimes. This is our first summer with chickens and I fear losing our first one. Beautiful pictures.

  21. That first picture is precious. Sorry about the rooster and bees. We lost a couple chickens in our URBAN backyard, through a CAGE.

  22. Often we find ourselves looking for our baby chickens who are small enough to escape if chased enough by the old hens…we find them everywhere…neighbor’s yards (good thing they like eggs) in trees, on top of the shed…I’m thinking a fishing net is in our future. Sorry about the rooster, they can be so sweet but so noisy.

  23. This homesteading thing is quite an experience, isn’t it? I’m sorry for the loss of your rooster and bees. I hope you can convince the hens that the coop is much better for roosting than high in the trees. 🙂

  24. in the tree’s…. that is funny!

  25. Naww, poor rooster. I’d be like you simultaneously fighting back tears and liking the idea of not having a rooster!

  26. angela (your sister) says:

    LOL>>>>>>He let the chickens out into the YARN. :)I love you.Sounds like something I would say half asleep because I hadn’t had coffee yet.

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