What Day is It? – Miller Farm Friday

By Guest Blogger Chicken Wrangler Sara

We bought a new mattress last week. After 17 years we thought it was about time.  It was delivered on Saturday.

Perhaps that explains my confusion.

I slept fine on the new mattress until sometime after midnight when I awoke with a start and thought, “I didn’t put my swim bag out.”

Monday-Friday mornings I swim at 5:30 a.m. before my body can wake up and realize what is going on. I normally put my swimsuit and shoes in the bathroom and my swim bag in the living room the night before so I can leave without making any noise. This morning was going to be tricky.

When my alarm went off at 5 a.m., I quietly got my swim bag from the closet and then tried to locate my shoes in the dark.

I have two pair of Crocs – one red and one turquoise. I have been known to appear at the breakfast table wearing one of each.  Since I was not going to eat breakfast before I swam, I wanted to make sure my shoes matched each other.

crocsRemembering my probability and statistics course, I grabbed three crocs knowing that two would match.

I headed into the bathroom where I found a dress hanging in front of my swimsuit.  I moved it and began to put on my suit.

I thought, “What did I fix for Sunday lunch? I don’t remember Sunday lunch?”

Then it dawned on me it was Sunday – not Monday. That was why my swim bag was in the closet and my clothes were hanging in front of my suit.

The change of having a new mattress had messed up my internal calendar.

So I jumped into the shower and got dressed for church, leaving my shoes and my suit in the bathroom. When I went back into the bathroom that afternoon, my shoes were still there.

What amazed me was that neither my husband nor son said anything about the three shoes. I guess they have grown so accustomed to my idiosyncrasies that they hardly notice.

Beauty – One Word Wednesday

Edie Melson’s graphic of Thoreau’s quote about heaven under our feet fits perfectly with today’s word – Beauty.

Heaven quote

Recently my husband and I have been out and about traveling to farmer’s markets and orchards to buy fruits and vegetables to store for the coming winter. ???????????????????????????????

As we’ve wandered the back roads to organic farms, we have seen beauty everywhere — truly heaven beneath our feet.

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Wouldn’t you agree God’s handiwork testifies to what incredible sights we’ll find in heaven?



An Unexpected (and Uninvited) Summer Visitor

This summer has been a revolving door of visitors at our house and we’ve loved it!

We’ve seen folks we haven’t seen in thirty years and caught up. Plus we’ve gotten to spend time with family. 

There has been, however, a surprise and frequent visitor recently. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s that time of year in the forest. Black bears, who are actually brown or cinnamon colored, are feeding up for the long winter hibernation.  

A bear’s natural wariness to find food overrides his fear of humans and his nose is one hundred times more sensitive than ours.

Bird and hummingbird feeders provide as much as twelve hundred calories so the bears prowl around looking for easy food.  We do our part to keep the bears wild by bearproofing our house, which means we take our bird feeders in at night.  

Only, our visitor came mid-morning! 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn his first visit, Buddy Bear, as my sister named him, emptied our homemade feeder, and ignored the hummingbird feeder hanging ten feet above his head according to the bearproofing pamphlet instructions. It was too high for him to reach. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinished, Buddy sat a spell before he moseyed off. 

bear away2Buddy returned for a second sniff and, finding none, wandered off again.bear away

Next day he came again. This time sniffing no food, he sauntered up to the rock outcropping above our house. We watched him from the large dining room window.  He watched us. We wondered if he thought we were in a people zoo.

Eventually he traveled on. But Buddy returned a third day.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinding the feeder gone. He decided to take a rest up next to the house.

bear firecrackerThat was when my husband decided that Buddy was becoming too friendly and used one of our forest ranger provided firecrackers.

The loud bang sent Buddy scurrying away.

A fourth time, he ambled by, pausing mid-way up the hill and looking down, but kept going as if remembering the firecracker. (Bears are very smart and have great memories.) 

We’re hoping that the firecracker did its job. If you look closely, you’ll noticed that Buddy has tags on both his ears.

He’d been a very bad boy. A bear is tagged and relocated from an area where he’s done some damage or been a threat to humans.

Bears only get two chances. Third time the animal is destroyed.  

We don’t want that to happen. They lived in this place first and we’re willing to share unless the visitor is very, very bad.

Btw, we never use firecrackers on our human house guests — even if they are very, very bad.

Chick Update – Miller Farm Friday

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The chicks that hatched at the end of July are doing great. We started feeding them fermented chicken feed right from the beginning based on Rachel’s research, and we have had no illnesses or deaths. This is great news.

We have had a different issue.

When I was changing the paper under the brooder one day, I noticed the plastic tub we put their food in was upside down and it was moving. I thought perhaps some of the paper was stuck to it, but it moved even when the paper didn’t.

Upon closer examination, I discovered a chick under the tub. He didn’t seem nearly as disturbed by the incident as I did.  Several times after that there were chicks under the tub.  Sometimes there were other chicks standing on top of the tub.

I’m not sure whether it was a variation on hide and seek or king of the feed tub. In any case, no chicken was harmed in the playing of this game.

Now the chickens have gotten big enough that most of them don’t fit under the tub.

chicken update

Of course, we do have a few bantams that are smaller so I still check whenever the tub is upside down.

I hope that some of them will be big enough to move out into the chicken yard soon. I think Rachel is coming home from college next weekend, and she can help with the process. I’ll keep you updated.

Word-Magic – One Word Wednesday

Webster defines word-magic as magic involving the use of words in a manner determined by a belief that the very act of uttering a word summons or directly affects the person or thing that the word refers to.

According to Christopher Vogler (one of my very favorite writing teachers):Chris Vogler and me

“Many cultures believed the letters of their alphabets were far more than just symbols for communication, recording transactions, or recalling history. They believed letters were powerful magical symbols that could be used to cast spells and predict the future. The Norse runes and the Hebrew alphabet are simple letters for spelling words, but also deep symbols of cosmic significance.”

Chris goes further to say, “When you “spell” a word correctly, you are in effect casting a spell, charging these abstract, arbitrary symbols with meaning and power.”

My spelling is so bad I’m not sure I have to worry about any words I write casting spells. Half the time, spell checker can’t even come up with choices for what I’ve typed.

I do believe, however, that once the words form into sentences and sentences into paragraphs another magic occurs – story magic. Vogler calls it The Hero’s Journey, a mystical path that readers sense on some level.

Don’t you have a sense of magic when you read or hear some stories?

It’s the incredible ability of certain authors to cast a spell and transport readers into an imaginary world with their word pictures.

But there’s another aspect of word magic, too.

Consider the adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me.” As much as we might want, or wish, the saying to be correct, the truth is words have the power to hurt or heal us.

Whenever we speak, we should choose words carefully.

As writers and storytellers, like the shamans or medicine men and women of ancient cultures, we should recognize the incredible power we have with our words.


Pearl Strachan Hurd was a British politician in the 1930’s whose sole legacy is this quote, emphasizing the destructive power language can have.

Atom bombs conjure images of death, violence, and war. Not a pretty picture at all.

Ms. Hurd’s quote very dramatically reminds us of the need to be cautious with our words and the power of word-magic.

Harvest Moonlight and Spooning

Recently, I attended a stargazing gathering at the home of our local Night Sky expert, Darlene Danko, who writes a weekly column by that title for our local newspaper. It’s one of the first columns I read.

Last week, Ms. Danko set up her computerized telescope in her front yard and invited the neighbors to join her.

It was fascinating to see craters on the moon and rings on Saturn up close. We saw lots of other stars and galaxies, but the moon and Saturn were the best. 

For the next few nights, all of us will have the opportunity to see a full moon without such a fancy telescope.

The moon will be coming up at dusk or nightfall for several nights in succession, a progression of moonlit nights that characterizes the harvest moon.

The term harvest moon probably came from farmers who used the extra moonlight during fall harvest. Then in 1903, Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth popularized the name in the popular song Shine On Harvest Moon.  452px-Shine-On-Harvest-Moon-1908Here are the words:

Shine on, shine on harvest moon Up in the sky,

I ain’t had no lovin’

Since January, February, June or July

Snow time ain’t no time to stay Outdoors and spoon,

So shine on, shine on harvest moon, For me and my gal.

The old sheet music cover (and words) warm my romantic heart.

 And, this year the Harvest Moon is a bit bigger than usual … because it’s also a supermoon.

Astrologer Richard Nolle came up with the popular name supermoon to describe a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit. Technically the phenomenon is a perigee full moon, or a perigee new moon.

Whatever you call it – harvest moon or supermoon, I’m just going outside tonight and enjoy the bright, orange orb. Maybe do some spooning on the porch with my honey.

How about you?


Grumpy Hen – Miller Farm Friday

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The internet is a fascinating phenomenon.  It has made famous things that would have been ordinary at best.  For example, there is a whole website devoted to Grumpy Cat.

Now I confess I am not much of a cat person so I fail to see the fascination with this. However, it has made me think.

We have a hen that is particularly disagreeable.  She sits in the nest box all the time and when I go to collect eggs, she bites me.

When Rachel was home this summer, she would push the hen out of the nest box with a board and then get the eggs.

The hen started jumping out any time Rachel came near. I haven’t instituted that strategy yet.  She looks so peaceful when I walk up I hate to disturb her.

grumpy1Then when I go to reach for the eggs she turns into “Grumpy Hen.”


So I’m considering launching a “Grumpy Hen” website.

I could make T-shirts and calendars and stuffed hens and mugs and…

Or maybe not.

Grumpy Hen can be a special thing just for Miller Farm Friday blog readers.