Deck the Halls

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Several years ago, we downsized our Christmas tree. Space was an issue as well as ease of construction – we bought an artificial pre-lit tree.

This meant there was no longer room for all the ornaments, which was good news for our children.

Their handmade ornaments with pictures from elementary school that were always hung and, because I think they are precious ornaments, I placed them to the front. Howeverthe 17, 19, and 21 year olds are not so fond of them. So I put the treasures back in the ornament box to be saved for when they have all moved away.

This year our oldest Catherine helped me set up the tree. I unpacked the ornaments and she hung them on the tree.

Together we evaluated which ornaments would go on and which to save for another year. We had fun remembering the origin of the ornaments.

There was the cinnamon ornament in the shape of Texas that someone made us before we moved to Mexico.

Then there were the ones Beekeeper Brian and I got on our honeymoon and the hot air balloon I picked up in Albuquerque at the museum. Several are made by Beekeeper Brian’s grandmother out of duck eggs.

By far the most fun is the set we got the Christmas before Catherine was born. At the time we had no animals living at our house and no idea of what the future held.ornamentsIf only we had known how prophetic those chicken ornaments would be!

Everyone has those special decorations in their family.  Take time to pass on the stories that go with them.  It is what makes families unique.

Peaceful Drummer Boy?

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Putting up Christmas decorations requires Christmas music. At least at our house.Thus began my search for a CD we bought last year entitled Peace on Earth. cd22698_w185It was not at the house so I figured I must have taken it to school.

Today I was at school getting all my materials together for my classes this week.  I planned to read the book The Little Drummer Boy to my Pre-K class, but I couldn’t find it.  512DmFU85GL__AA160_After an unsuccessful search in the L section of my classroom library, I remembered I was going to check to see if our Peace on Earth CD was in my classroom.  It was not.

So I went back to looking for Little Drummer Boy, which I found wedged in my copy of Little Rabbit Foo Foo.

All of this goes to prove that you cannot have The Little Drummer Boy and Peace on Earth in the same room.

As the mother of a percussionist, I should have known this.

Dog Days at Miller Farm

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The best part about holidays is having everyone at home, all three children, and all six dogs.

jengo14Included in the six dogs are Miller and Jengo, the occasional houseguests. Miller is a dachshund and fits right in with our pack. Jengo, however, is a beagle mix and still acts like a puppy. This can be a good thing.

For instance, he likes to chase the ball I throw for Tucker. If he gets to it first, then Tucker chases him and they both run around the back yard for a bit. This buys me a few more minutes as I’m feeding chickens in the morning. Jengo tends to wake up with lots of energy so taking laps around the back yard is a necessary part of his routine.

Then he likes to come in and play with the other dogs that may or may not want to play. Sadie will play for a bit and then she gets grumpy. So Jengo moves on to Bella who is eager to play for a few minutes but not nearly long enough for Jengo. Coco tends to stay completely away from him and Tucker is the supervisor of the pack. He barks at them when it is time to stop. Jengo doesn’t listen very well.

We watched the movie “How to Train Your Dragon 2” the other night. The story revolves around an alpha dragon that controls all other dragons in his nest except the baby dragons who listen to no one.

I decided that Tucker is our “alpha dragon” and Jengo is a baby dragon. He doesn’t listen to anyone. It is a good thing he is a cute “baby dragon”.

Thankful for…

We recently attended a family wedding three states away in Wisconsin. We discussed whether to fly or drive.

Not for long though. You see our bucket lists contain a visit to all fifty states. Driving would help tick off two states … if we took a northern route back home to Colorado.

Family and friends cautioned about the possibility of adverse weather if we traveled by car in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana. We listened and then decided to take our chances.

With our two four-legged children loaded in the car, we headed north.

(Note: Their advice would have been so correct if we had made the trip last week during the deep freeze and snow of the early winter storm in those states. We didn’t. We were nestled all snug in our cabin in Colorado watching Casper, Wyoming with temperatures of -35 degrees on the evening news.)

As it worked out, we were so glad we drove.

Little Bighorn National Cemetery

Little Bighorn National Cemetery

Teddy Roosevelt National Park

Teddy Roosevelt National Park


The beauty of the landscape was breathtaking.


The people we met  friendly and interesting.

Lunch in Portage, WI

Lunch in Portage, WI Pub

The wedding inspiring.


Congratulations, Abram & Becca

This Thursday many of us will be gathering to eat turkey and all the trimmings with family and friends.

In 1621, the Plymouth the Pilgrims and Indians celebrated survival and the hopes of future good fortune on the first Thanksgiving.

Our trip of over 3,500 miles reminded me of the awesome things we have to celebrate this Thanksgiving Day.

Majestic mountains

Fields ripe with grain to harvest

Moonlight on lakes

Water rushing in streams and cascading down waterfalls

And, most of all the fellowship of family and friends

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Cold on Miller Farm

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

You would think that having lived in Texas most of my life I would expect the weather to be unpredictable. However, winter’s arrival caught me off guard.

Sure, the weatherman predicted a wintery blast, but I don’t always believe the weatherman. He said there was a cold front coming in on Tuesday.

When I got up to swim, it was 65 degrees. By lunch it was in the 40s. I realize that doesn’t sound cold to people who live north of here but for us Texans who put up with 95+ degrees all summer, 40 is COLD.

If you don’t believe me, ask the chickens.

When I went to close them up Wednesday night they had their heads tucked under their wings.

headless chickenIt was a disconcerting sight at first until I realized what I was seeing.

Of course, I didn’t have my phone with me the first night, but I remembered to take it Thursday when more artic air arrived.

It took several tries to get the picture and the poor chicken kept turning its head to see what was happening every time the camera clicked.

When I finally set the flash and got this picture, I decided not to press my luck. After all, I’ve had to deal with a grumpy hen in the past.

What I have to remember is, this is Texas. It is likely to be back up to 80 by the weekend.

Lessons I’ve Learned from my canine pals

Our  Old English sheepdog came to us nine years ago at age nine weeks. Our bond was instant. Toby_2Mo_060205He’s been my best friend and trusty companion ever since and is constantly by my side.

Now that he’s grown, picking him up is next to impossible, but that doesn’t stop him from sitting on my lap.toby on lap

When Toby was five, Buster joined our family. We inherited the little Maltese from my daughter and, since the dogs had spent time together at family gatherings, we didn’t have issues when Buster came to live with us permanently.???????????????????????????????Watching the two dogs together has taught me some important lessons about life.

Be Loyal (but not to a fault)

Loyalty can be a huge asset, but my canine boys have taught me blind loyalty is foolish. Walking is our ritual. Three times a day we hike around the area. I always do the early morning sunrise walk, but sometimes, I’m on deadline or absorbed in writing and those noontime and evening walks aren’t going to happen. They might prefer my company, but necessity often dictates they have to go with my husband. Loyalty is definitely an asset, but not to a fault. Sometimes, we have to do what it takes to get the job done.

Trust your instincts.

I see this principle often when I walk the dogs. Both will react if they deem someone or some animal we meet along our way as threatening. I trust their instincts. There might be a bear or coyote lurking that I can’t see. Sure, it’s important to take time to listen to others’ input. But in the end, we should heed our gut instincts.

Know what you want and be super persistent.

Dogs know persistence pays. Buster and Toby recline by my chair at mealtime like bookends. One on my left, one on my right. They don’t beg unless ice cream or pizza crust is involved. Then Toby sits in that perfect sit he never seemed to manage in dog obedience class and Buster, not to be ignored, jumps up on the edge of my chair.

Looking into those Bambi eyes staring up at me, I cave. The scenario reminds me how very, very important dogged persistence can be. We should never give up on our goals.

Poor Toby and Buster don’t always get to lick the ice cream bowl…especially if company’s here. Seeing a dog lick a bowl humans use tends to freak some people out. But hey, that’s what the sani-wash option on the dishwasher is for. Even if we fail, we can learn what to do better next time or what techniques or approaches work, and what doesn’t.

Last, and probably the most significant, thing Buster and Toby have taught me is …

Unplug. Go outside and play.

Writing is a solitary occupation. I tend to spend hour upon hour at my laptop. For Toby and Buster, it’s boring. With technology penetrating every portion of our lives and jobs, it’s easy to be online and working 24-7. We forget the importance of refreshing our mind and body.

Toby will nudge my elbow and Buster will whine – not pretty, but effective – until I give up and push away from the computer, iPad, or iPhone. I never regret spending the time with them.

I return to my laptop renewed and I’m not imagining the effect. Research suggests exercise can actually improve productivity.

What about you do you have a trusted canine companion? What lessons have you learned from your dog?

Sunrise on Miller Farm

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

One of my favorite things about visiting my parents in Colorado is the beautiful sunrises. Since I get up and walk the dogs with my mom, I get to enjoy it every morning that we are there. This was the last morning we were there this summer.


Since I get up to swim and let the chickens out, I get to enjoy the sunrise on Miller farm also.  This past week was particularly beautiful.  In fact, I would say it is as pretty as Colorado.  After all it is the same sun.


I was reminded of a journal entry from our time in Mexico City. It is dated 9-10-1997:

“Our bathroom has double doors with obscure glass windows. Catherine had her nose pressed against it the other night and was exclaiming ‘how pretty.’  As I looked at the black and green mosaic tile with bright blue and red paint, I could think of many other words to describe it.  Yet Catherine was right – the light reflecting through the kaleidoscope-type glass was pretty.  O Lord may I never fail to see the beauty in life.”

As we begin the Thanksgiving season, I plan to look for beauty all around me. I know it is there.