Morning Sabine Report

Spring at the Sabine Farm seems at last to be in full swing, though the nights are still very chilly indeed.

The Red Bellied Woodpecker is getting some high nutrition snacks from the suet cage.


This is not the only place where he dines, however.  I caught him later when I went to the mailbox.

Once again, Mr. Sayornis phoebe, has a nice juicy bug!

In a comment, below, I was corrected about this bird, which I originally thought was a Pewee.

The crab in the front is grand.  I don’t know trees very, so I can’t tell you its variety.

I do know what strawberry blossoms are, however.

Mr. (Mrs? Miss?) Honey Bee is helping out with the blueberry patch.

He is very busy, along with a zillion of his friends.  The patch, and all the trees, utter a low but very discernible mmmmmm these days.

I am very glad for the bees, which will help us have plenty of berries and fruits and vegetables.

I favor bees, who are featured in the Exsultet.  If only I could get them to make candles.

Strolling down toward Sabine Pond…. we find…

… The Mallards, Mister and Missus.

Ducklings are sure to follow.  This same pair comes back each year.

It just has to be said: ducks are hilarious.

A view of one of the Sabine houses, with The Mallards, Anas platyrhynchos, Mister and Missus, in the foreground.

The chapel apple is doing nicely.  It too utters a low mmmmmm from the bees.

The blossoms on the tree are fabulous.  I took some of the little out-of-place "suckers" on the trunk and branches and put them together with lilacs for the altar this morning.  Every year this tree produces some of the best apples I have ever tasted, very firm and tart, perfect also for baking.

In the greenhouse. 

The ground is still too cold to start much planting outside.  It wouldn’t be prudent.  But the herbs and some veg are doing well.  I will start some more things from seed later today if I have a chance before my workout. 

Here is the jasmine.  Later today I will cut some and put it in the chapel at Our Lady’s statue, as May draws to a close.

It should produce a fine fragrance in the evening, which I very much miss from Rome.

I am determined to eat spaghetti tonight, and perhaps drink a glass of cold white wine and reflect on the jasmine and my apartment.

I always enjoy seeing the rosemary bloom.  In these parts that is not often experienced.

Rosemary is a material proof that God loves us.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. The pictures are all beautiful. I love birds, flowers and butterflies. I thought of you, Fr. Z, when I saw this cute little character yesterday, or one just like him, on a parking lot. He was not afraid to land right by us and so I got a good look at him. He is a scissor tail flycatcher. When he was walking around on the ground his tail would spread out and close up, just like scissors. I have never seen one of these in Dallas before but in reading up on it, they come here after wintering in Central America.

  2. Will says:

    I don’t want to split hairs, but that’s Miss Honeybee.

  3. Derik Castillo says:

    Dear Fr. Z.

    Unless I am mistaken, I believe it should be Missus Honey Bee
    helping out with the Blueberry patch.

    Nice pictures, I enjoyed your report

  4. I stand corrected. Perhaps there are some apiarists who could fill me in on some details about knowing the critter’s sex.

  5. Lacrimarum Valle says:

    Father Z, I suspect you have actually died and gone to heaven but just haven’t realised it yet.

  6. Mark says:

    Dear Father, would you mind giving a lesson on coveting? I would like to know the distinctions between envy, jealousy, and coveting . As I look at the pictures here, I wonder whether I’m envious, jealous or God forbid covetous?

    What a beautiful abode you have, Father!

    I’ve never confessed the sin of coveting – because I’m not sure I have ever coveted anything or anyone. But perhaps after having a clear understanding of the sin of coveting, perhaps I will need to go to confession… :-)

    Any of the good readers/commentators here are welcome to chime in here as well.

  7. Trisha says:

    The pictures are gorgeous, and make me long for the bucolic life that should be doable in Illinois but yet seems so impossible. We used to have a strawberry patch in our backyard. It grew into a mess very quickly (those runners are impossible to keep back!), so we eventually gave up, but there were some mighty fine strawberries to be had. Mind you, Mr. & Mrs. Bunny Rabbit and their burgeoning family ate most of the strawberries before we could get to them. But they were so cute, we never minded.

    Jasmine is my favorite of all flowers. I laughed when I saw your comment about the rosemary- that’s my godmother’s name, and my godmommy is also my very bestest friend, so yes, Rosemary is indeed material proof that G-d loves us. Or at least me.

  8. Lacrimarum Valle says:

    Oh dear, I’m an ignoramus. I thought ALL honeybees were male.

    What gives them away? Is this one perhaps wearing stilettos and lipstick? If so, the female accoutrements are not visible to the naked eye, which is just a little devious in my opinion.

  9. David Andrew says:

    William Wallace – I believe the location of the Sabine Farm is on a “need to know basis” only! ;^)

    Seeing the bees (regardless of gender) reminds me of the use of the bee in Urban VIII’s coat of arms. There are bees in symbols, statues and fountains all around the area within and surrounding the Vatican.

  10. jarhead462 says:

    I believe all worker bees are female. Males, or “drones” tend to the queen, and fertilize her eggs.
    I too am envious of this beautiful place.
    Thank you for the pics, Father!

  11. Will says:

    I’m not an apiarist, but it’s fairly straightforward. Honeybees have three classes: worker, drone, and queen.
    Drones are males, their only purpose in life is to mate with a queen. After mating, they die.
    The queen, apart from when the hive splits and forms a swarm, stays in the hive laying eggs.
    The workers are unfertilized females, they do all the heavy lifting. They gather pollen and nectar, build the honey comb, tend the eggs and larvae, feed the queen, and defend the hive.
    So chances are high that any time you see a honeybee out and about, it’s a worker.

  12. This post is probably the greatest in the history of blogs. Another donation on the way!!!!

  13. paladin says:

    Hi, Father,

    What sort of camera do you have, anyway? Your photos are *gorgeous*, and my digital camera shots never come out that well…

    In Christ,
    Brian C.

  14. Jon says:


    Apologies, but a few corrections.

    It’s not rosemary…BEER is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy (as Dr. Franklin said);^)

    Also, I’m afraid Mr/Mrs/Miss Honeybee is none of the above. Your photo isn’t of a honeybee. It’s of Miss Bumblebee. Honeybees are smaller, remember, with more of an orange appearnce.

    All worker bees are female. And for a possibly theological reflection on the unpleasant fate of the males, there’s this:

    “Drone bees are the male bees of the colony. Since they do not have ovipositors, they also do not have stingers. Drone honeybees do not forage for nectar or pollen. In some species, drones are suspected of playing a contributing role in the temperature regulation of the hive. The primary purpose of a drone bee is to fertilize a new queen. Multiple drones will mate with any given queen in flight, and each drone will die immediately after mating; the process of insemination requires a lethally convulsive effort. Drone honey bees are haploid (having single, unpaired chromosomes) in their genetic structure and are descended only from their mother, the queen. They truly do not have a father. In essence, drones are the equivalent of flying gametes. In regions of temperate climate, the drones are generally expelled from the hive before winter and die of cold and starvation, since they are unable to forage or produce honey or take care of themselves.”


  15. Derik Castillo says:

    Very well done Will

    Just to clarify, workers are unfertilized females because they are
    incapable of reproduction. (an interesting fact is that
    they hatch from fertilized eggs, as opposed to drones).

  16. CK says:

    Excuse me, Father, but is that an “orb” over the Sabine pond????

    So THAT’S where all the bees have gone. You’ve had a lot of scientists worried.

    And who are the master gardeners who keep everything so ship shape on land?

  17. tara says:


  18. Jim Dorchak says:

    Fr Z

    I am a bee Keeper in Greer SC!

    Honey Bees are Latin Massers….

    Here are the facts on Honey Bees AKA

    “The Western honey bee or European honey bee (Apis mellifera) is a species of honey bee. The genus Apis is Latin for “bee”, and mellifera comes from the Latin meli- “honey” and ferre “to bear” — hence the scientific name means “honey-bearing bee”. The name was coined in 1758 by Carolus Linnaeus who, realizing that the bees do not bear honey, but nectar, tried later to correct it to Apis mellifica (“honey-making bee”) in a subsequent publication. However, according to the rules of synonymy in zoological nomenclature, the older name has precedence. Some people who are unaware of this still use the incorrect subsequent spelling. As of October 28, 2006, the Honey Bee Genome Sequencing Consortium fully sequenced and analyzed the genome of Apis mellifera.”

    The greatest bee keeper in history was (Maybe still is but he may have passed to the great Apiary) Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey England. He was also a Latin Masser. I know a good benidictine priest (Fr. Bart Leon) who knew him / met him This Catholic Brother Made Medle look like a moron.

    There is a wonderful video on him and his genetic studies just google him.

    Some Bee Facts:

    The worker bees are all sterile females.

    The drones are males and they have no stingers and are good for sitting around eating honey the women collect and mating (I am sure that they would watch tv if it was available)

    There is usually only one queen or fertile female. Queen are created by the amount of Royal Jelly that they are fed, which controls the “Epigenetics” of the developing larve.

    You should have bees. It is a great hobby. The genetics are most interesting and educational. My homeschooled children love bee keeping and sell our honey locally to a very devouted crowd. we also sell or give as gifts bees wax candles. Wax is a by product of the extracting process, and it smells like honey / flowers when the candles are lit. Not like those sort of candles you see in church.

    Most Abbes had apiaries since they needed wax and the honey was an excellent source of sugar that was very expensive in mans early history.

    The bees in your pictures are not honey bees. I do not know what type they are, but I do know that they are not honey bees.

    Fr Z (or anyone else) if you are interested please call / email me and I will tell you what you will need to start the hobby. I have been a bee keeper for 9 years. I AM EXTREMLY TERRIFIED OF BEES, but I love the hobby, and I face my fears. Since I have started the hobby I have only been stung 3 times.

    Bees are Gods Catholics of the insect world.

    Jim Dorchak
    Greer SC
    864 921-0009

  19. Memphis Aggie says:

    Spring flowers at the end of May and Crabapples mean it has to be a northern latitude, but the real give-away on this site is the MN hockey team radio show. Nearly all of our flowering trees are well past here in TN. Currently I have hydrangeas, day lillies, veronica and lavender in bloom.

    You certainly have a beautiful setting to work in Father.

  20. Paul says:


    One more correction: Mr. Pewee is actually an Eastern Phoebe rather than an
    Eastern Wood-Pewee. Both are flycatchers but pewees are canopy dwellers while
    phoebes hang around buildings and humans.

  21. Scott Smith says:

    On Bees, Emily Dickenson has some things to say, but so does Pope Pius XII

  22. Vincenzo says:

    Jim Dorchak wrote:

    “I am a bee Keeper in Greer SC!

    Honey Bees are Latin Massers…”

    Save The Liturgy Save The World

  23. Jim Dorchak says:

    “Jim Dorchak wrote:

    “I am a bee Keeper in Greer SC!

    Honey Bees are Latin Massers…”

    click here

    Comment by Vincenzo — 29 May 2008 @ 2:01 pm”

    This is great.


  24. Jim Dorchak says:

    I mean:

    Jim Dorchak wrote:

    “I am a bee Keeper in Greer SC!

    Honey Bees are Latin Massers…”

    click here

    Comment by Vincenzo — 29 May 2008 @ 2:01 pm

    Thanks this is great…


  25. the real give-away on this site is the MN hockey team radio show.

    At least, it may betoken the fact that Father Z is a University of Minnesota alum — if not saying anything about the location of the Sabine Farm — Who else could possibly care less about U of Minn hockey?

  26. Fr. Z is a hockey fan? COOL! So am I, only I am a Stars fan.

    From birds to bees to hockey. What a great thread.

  27. Jacques says:

    Dear Fr Zuhlsdorf,
    I much like the scent of Rosemary which here in Provence we call Romarin.
    But why do you say that “Rosemary is a material proof that God loves us”?

  28. Will says:

    Wax is a by product of the extracting process, and it smells like honey / flowers when the candles are lit. Not like those sort of candles you see in church.

    If I’m not mistaken (which is a pretty big if) the candles used at mass must be at least 51% beeswax. I’m not sure what the requirements are for the oil-filled pseudo-candles that are regularly found in churches nowadays.

  29. Caecilia says:

    This is the blog of St Francis!
    Laudato sii O mi Signore per Sorella Ape e Fratello Rosmarino!

  30. Coletta says:


    I am glad that you have taken some time to enjoy the beauty that God has given to you. What a lovely heart you have – that even in these moments you are sharing them with us. The pictures are wonderful as are your comments ‘mmm juicy bugs’– it makes me smile

    thank you.

  31. Jon: It’s not rosemary…BEER is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy

    Correction: I did not say the proof, but a proof.

    I think you can agree that rosemary is one of the many.

  32. Paul: Mr. Pewee is actually an Eastern Phoebe rather than an Eastern Wood-Pewee

    I respectfully think not. The bird I shot enthusiastically bobs his tail.

    The Pewee does bobs thusly but the Phoebe doesn’t, or so I am informed.

    But they sure look alike but for this difference.

  33. Frcd says:

    Father Z:

    Thanks so much for these pics and your stories. A few years ago at my ordination reception a Priest mentor/friend said something akin to: ‘instead of a gift outright, I want to know: what is your hobby? A priest without a hobby is not to be taken seriously. Tell me what your hobby is and I will gift you in support of it…’

    For me that hobby is a combination of history and astronomy. I remind myself in writing of that as I see your great bird and farm pics. Thanks!

    Also, please pray for and remember the associate pastors and newly ordained in dioceses and orders – those who come into and live out their ministry at parishes where there are powerful liturgy committees, pastors, liturgical directors, and/or parishioners who are in no way ‘amen-able’ to ‘doing the black & saying the red.”

    What to do when the “choir won’t be preached to”, both literally and figuratively!

    It is hard out there for a priest; I am not complaining – I love it!

    All that comes to me just from looking at a bird pic taken half the world away. Thanks again for the consolation!

    I will go stargazing tonight.

  34. Jon says:


    I need only one proof to know I’m loved. You take the rosemary. I’ll take the hops ;^)

  35. Jon: Hmmm… you must be a progressivist. You think in terms of either/or, while the traditionally minded think in terms of both/and. o{]:¬)

  36. mwa says:

    “As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship, whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language.”
    St. Thomas More

  37. Will says:

    I wonder if you could brew a beer with some rosemary in the bittering process. Then everybody wins!

    Fr. CD, a man after my own heart. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder’s craft.” I will remember you and your intention in my prayers tonight.

  38. Frcd says:

    Oops… “SAYing the black and DOing the Red…” Yikes! Sorry.

    …especially since I wouldn’t want to give the liturgy committee any ideas…

  39. Paul says:

    Father Z,

    luckily you’ve settled the question with the tail-bobbing observation.
    It is the Eastern Phoebe that bobs its tail; your source has misinformed you. The
    phoebe also lacks white bars on its wings and is a slightly darker bird than the
    pewee. It would be very unusual to find a pewee below 30 feet and outside of a
    deciduous forest. You may also hear the phoebe’s distinctive burry song that
    gives it its name.

    Either way, it looks like the Sabine farm is a very birdy place
    and I hope you keep the great pictures coming!

  40. Guy Power says:

    Honey ………hmmmmmmmmm…

    Say Father! Why don’t you make mead?

    Isn’t mead another proof that God loves us? And it is so much sweeter than beer.


  41. Limbo says:

    Yep, Mead is the go.

    How on earth do you keep that garden looking so lovely – those manicured lawns !

    If I lived there though I would not be eating spaghetti tonight, I would be having honey basted duck with rosemary !!!!!!!

  42. Paul: Thanks for that note about Phoebe and Pewee.

    I double-checking Eastern Phoebe, Sayornis phoebe.  I read that the Eastern Phoebe lacks white wing bars and it bobs its tail.   However, Pewee, Contopus virens, does have white wing bars.  I have not seen wing bars on this bird.  I read that the Pewee does not bob its tail.  this bird does bob its tail.

    Thus, you are clearly right!  What I have been calling Mr. Pewee, is Mr. Eastern Phoebe.

    Thanks!  I learned something today.

  43. Guy: Mead? As medieval as I am, and as appealing as mead may be, I really don’t need more things to do.

  44. Guy Power says:

    Father Z,

    “Bee healthy, drink mead.”


  45. Joy says:

    Hi Fr. Z,

    The mead is great, it takes a full year to be drinkable, so you should have plenty of time to fit it in. BTW a metheglin or spiced mead is incredible, you could use some of your herbs in it too.

    What’s wrong with the Middle Ages, anyway?

  46. Okay… I need recipes.

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