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Friday, June 7, 2024

On the Joy of Being a Beekeeper, a Chicken Mama, and a Grandmother

honeybees behind the insulation
 What a week! Joy and challenges galore. 

We've been dealing with a honeybee hive that set up home in the ceiling of our garage. We thought they left when we turned on the air conditioner, but they were coming and going again a day later. The air conditioner servicemen came to look at the unit, but wouldn't go near it with the bees flying around. (Can't say I blamed them.) One thought they were yellow jackets. Those yellow demons are among the nastiest hornets ,so his trepidation was reasonable, even though he was wrong and busy honeybees tend to ignore people. 

In the meantime, our daughter was scheduled to have her baby induced and the other four children (and four dogs) arrived to take up residence. And so began the swimming, biking, gaming days with lots of mealtime conversation and rosary decades for mom and baby. [See how long it takes you to figure out Max's riddle. "What is stronger than God, more evil than the demons, the poor have it, the rich need it, and you will die if you eat it?" I'm embarrassed to admit how long it took me to figure it out.]

Adding to the adventure, the air conditioner froze up, we had water all over the furnace room floor and had to turn the unit off and watch the indoor temperature creep up into the 80s. Nobody complained and it was a good excuse to go in the pool.

The dogs were especially challenging because they live to escape. We kept them penned up in the kitchen and crated them during especially busy times when people would be constantly opening doors to the outside. From Tuesday until Thursday night that was effective. I even thought I was making friends with the vicious little mini dachsund who dislikes almost everyone who doesn't live at his house. He warmed up to me on several walks and never refused to wag his tail and accept a treat. But, like a fair weather friend, he immediately returned to his default hostility as soon as he was off the leash or had finished the treat. I can't count the number of times he growled and barked at me like he was ready to go for the jugular.

Don't be fooled by that innocent look. 

Thursday night one of the children's friends came over and we were going to roast marshmallows over the fire table and make s'mores after dinner. Well...that plan failed when I opened the deck door and all four dogs escaped. (Lack of foresight; I should have crated them first.) To make matters worse, I had let the chickens out to free range which we usually do in the evening for an hour. Duchess went immediately into poultry pursuit of the chickens targeting poor Bonnie who ran around until she was able to get inside a bush. She would probably be there still if Larry hadn't seen her take refuge in it, so we knew where she was hiding.

The other dogs all took off down the road with the five kids running in hot pursuit. The Keystone Cops had nothing on them! I jumped in the car and followed. Fortunately, they ran down our neighbor's driveway and by the time I got there one dog was already caught and soon the other three were as well and the great doggie escape was foiled. 

When we got back, all the dogs went into well deserved time out in doggie jail. I rescued Bonnie from the bush and was grateful she hadn't died of fright but was happy to be picked up and petted and assured she was safe. One other chicken was missing and the kids were out looking for her until after dark when Max went and counted heads in the coop. She had returned unnoticed and all our girls were accounted for. Hopefully, the adventure won't affect egg laying.

Bonnie (on the left) is our Plymouth Blue and one of my favorite girls.
Don't tell the others!

Sad to say, we never got around to making s'mores. That will wait til another day. The evening ended quietly with a phone call to Mommy and Daddy, nighttime prayers and blessings, and a big sigh of relief. And this morning, we packed up and returned our visitors home where we all cuddled and oohed and ahed over the new baby. Is there anything more wonderful than a little one fresh from God? We all took turns holding and marveling. He is perfect!

When we bought Camp Kreitzer, we hoped to make many happy memories here for our grandchildren. Larry had the experience of growing up with two grandmothers whom he saw often. My mom's parents both died when I was an infant and we rarely saw my dad's parents. I hate to say it, but I was afraid of my grandmother, a stern Prussian. I made a vow early on that I wanted my grandchildren to beg their parents to bring them to Grandma's house. And so memory making with cooking and art projects, several summer grandma camps, outings to the potato chip factory and the park, holiday picnics, bonfires, and fun runs, and any other adventures we could think of have been staples at Camp Kreitzer. 

4th of July 2021

Most of these happy times have been less adventurous than this crazy week. 

This morning, after dropping off the children, Larry and I came home where I went out to the coop to capture our broody chicken, Buttercup. For her own sake, she needs to be broken since broody chickens spend all day on the nest, not eating and drinking. So I jailed her in the now vacant doggie crate which hopefully will cure her in a few days. Life at Camp Kreiter has returned to our relatively quiet norm which is also a gift from God. We will be back on the bench next to the coop this evening laughing over the chickens and praying our rosary.

And by the way, the bees which had vacated the garage and did not take up residence in the box, were sitting in a swarm in a nearby dogwood tree. With the help of another beekeeper, Alex, we captured the swarm, caged the queen, and locked them all up in a hive box with a ziploc bag of sugar syrup to give them some work to do and help them adapt to their new digs. Sometimes captured swarms leave for greener pastures, but they still appear to be here today so we are hopeful they'll stay.

And the most important and joyful news of the week for sure!

And now I think I'll take a nap.


  1. Congratulations on the new grandchild! And the answer to the riddle is "nothing".

  2. Congratulations! What a beautiful picture of your K-gang! I hope your summer is packed full of new memories.