Notes Near and Far

by Patrick Stewart

MH Missouri

Greetings from Our Lady’s home in the Ozarks. By God’s grace, we are prospering the work of the Lord in our simple and quite ordinary Madonna House fashion.

We continue to receive a steady but not overwhelming stream of guests. A young woman visited us from Victoria, BC, (western Canada) for two weeks and then another woman for five days from Michigan. Tomorrow we are expecting a priest, who will be driving in from Ohio for a five-day visit. In March, we received our first overseas visitor—a woman from India.

Our parish Knights of Columbus have scheduled a day of recollection for us to give them toward the end of June.

“All creatures of our God and King,” as one of our hymns call them, keep us engaged and often delighted. Doreen Dykers has taken on guardianship of our four light brahma chickens. Before she arrived, they ran for cover whenever we got near them. Now they look and approach to see if we have any food to offer.

They are laying well, even in these winter days. I just checked the egg count. There are 32 of our eggs and another 20 from a parish donation. I’m the lunch and supper cook this week; I’d better do an egg dish soon, because they just keep coming.

With regrets, we bid farewell to our family of beavers. In their damming zeal, the water level of our lake was getting dangerously high, dangerous to the lake itself and to households in the valley below the lake. Through the Ministry of Forestry, we were able to contract a local trapper to remove them. I am now slowly lowering this lake to its designed level.

Last night, Doreen and I attended the monthly meeting of our local beekeepers’ club. Yes, we are considering establishing a couple of hives.

A few weeks ago, I attended a day-long introductory class to beekeeping, and now, armed with The Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping, I am getting better informed and sharing bits and pieces of information with Paul and Doreen.

The Mark Twain Beekeeper’s Club has a large membership including several families from our parish. Their monthly gatherings include classroom-style teaching sessions, as well as sessions at different property owners’ during the active bee season so that others can observe and get hands-on experience with the bees.

The “old-timers” also generously assist new hive owners on location. Three have already offered us help if we proceed.

The club also has a strong friendship component. It’s a joy to see and hear the members’ enthusiasm for their bees and for each other.

Continuing with the nature theme, we are enjoying the return of hawks, bald eagles, and other migratory birds to the area. In just the last few days, we’ve seen and/or heard peepers, a fox or coyote, black rat snake, bard owl, deer, chipmunks, rats, possum, and a bevy of our host smaller birds. But so far we haven’t seen any hummingbirds