Operettas and New Chicks

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The private school where I teach music does a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta each year and has for the past 37 years.  When I took the job I specified that I could not help with the operetta.  Our children were still in elementary school and I knew the time commitment of a performance would be beyond my ability.  This was fine as I was teaching only the elementary grades.

Our enrollment has declined over the past few years so I am now the only music teacher which means I am helping with the operetta.

This year the Gala performance was last Friday evening. We had rehearsals all day every day last week. My Tuesday/Thursday teaching job became a Monday through Friday job.  Brian asked me Wednesday evening if I would have time on Thursday to pick up 25 chicks he had ordered.

I took a deep breath and said “Sure, I can go during lunch.”

Now picking up chicks sounds pretty simple but, remember, they have bird brains.  Each chick must have their beak dipped in the water trough so they know where to get water.  Knowing the limited amount of time I had for lunch, I decided to enlist some help. I couldn’t afford to miss any rehearsal time.

One of the students in the operetta is an experienced chick handler so I took her with me. She knew exactly what to do.

I explained to the directors where I was going and what I was doing.  They had no idea how much was involved with picking up the chicks.  I felt more like an animal science teacher than a music director.

chicks in brooderNow we have chicks in the brooder in the garage once again.

We can hear them cheeping happily as we eat breakfast every morning.  I check them regularly to make sure they have food and water along with the quail, big chickens, bantam chickens, dogs and humans.

Helping with the operetta doesn’t seem like so much work any more.

4 Ways to Keep Your Productive Faucet Flowing

February is almost over. We’re moving at warp speed through 2015. So how are you doing on those plans and resolutions from New Year’s Day?

If you’re like me, that faucet of enthusiasm has slowed to a trickle or off entirely. Barely a drip.water1

It’s time to heed the words of a great writerly quote from Louis L’Amour, an American author of hundreds of authentic western novels:

“The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

The full quote, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” provides great advice for writers.

You see when life spins out of control writers, well at least to this writer, lets the distractions stop my writing. Instead of moving ahead, I tend to think, “I’ll just finish __________ then I’ll get back to writing.”

Fill in the blank with whatever distracts you from working toward your goal. You don’t have to be a writer to fall into the distraction trap.

What happens is each passing day we don’t work on our goal or resolution, it becomes easier not to do what we planned. Doesn’t take long before self-doubt makes us question if our project is even worth the time at all.

Here are four ways I plan to get myself back on track, and turn my faucet on again.water2

Establish a Schedule

A schedule doesn’t have to be set in stone or the same every single day or week. Make it adjustable. Most important, put the time slots on your calendar the way you would any other appointment or commitment.

Seize Small Chunks of Time

An hour may not seem like much, but you’d be surprised at what can be accomplished in a small, consistent, and repeated amount of time. Snatch those minutes wherever you can.

My goal for 2015 is two books published so I’m training myself to keep my iPad with me and write wherever I go like when I’m waiting at the doctor’s office or a passenger in the car. Since I live in the mountains and the nearest Wal-Mart, doctor, or grocery store is at least thirty minutes away. I’m amazed at how my word count builds.

Set your goal as your priority every day.

I work toward my goals BEFORE I do any other tasks for the day. I find if I do the laundry, clean the house or any of those other very necessary tasks first, I always run out of time. You will too.

Reward Small Successes

Be proud of small incremental steps. I remind myself almost on a daily basis that one word a day gives me 365 words of my novel by the end of the year. When I write an entire chapter, I celebrate with chocolate, usually M&Ms!

If you’re like me and your faucet isn’t flowing as it should, it’s not too late. Do not give up or abandon your goals and resolutions altogether.Rejuvenate that motivation you had six weeks ago. Turn your faucet on.

water3Hear that water rushing?  Now turn your faucet on and let it flow steadily.


Mythbusting on Miller Farm

By Chicken Wrangler Sara

There are many things I have been told throughout my life that I have come to realize are just not true.  For example, I’ve always thought that a bee can only sting someone once and then it dies.  I learned this weekend that is a myth.

We had an unusually warm day on Saturday so the bees thought it was Spring and  were out gathering pollen. One of the hives sits on the back porch right next to the path I take to the chicken coop.  During the real Spring, I alter my path so as not to disturb the bees. This being February, I didn’t think about walking around the busy bees.VarroaMiteOnAHoneybee

Halfway to the chicken yard I felt a sting on my back. I instinctively reached back to brush away the bee and quickly felt a sting on my finger.  Then there was buzzing in my hair.  I began to walk quickly around the yard saying “go away, go away.” This was one of the times I was grateful for the privacy fence.   Then the buzzing stopped.

I took care of the chickens then went back inside (via the alternate path) to have Brian check my back for a stinger.  There was none but I had definitely been stung.  Then the buzzing started again.  I headed for the door but Brian called me back so he could find the bee.  It took every bit of self- control I had to stand still while he searched my hair.  He knocked the bee to the ground and then used a napkin to pick it up.  It had lost its stinger but was still alive – until Brian squished it.  That reminds me of a song – I’m bringing home a baby bumblebee…..but I digress.

So the myth of bees only stinging once is busted.  Next, I’ll tackle the myth that only roosters crow.

A Love Affair

loveLove is in the air. It is, after all, February.

I must confess I’ve caught the love bug and I’m having an affair.

A love affair with words.

Long before I met my husband and shared my heart with him, words held me in their spell.

The affair goes way back to when I learned the alphabet and started to string letters into words. Then I learned to read words and instantly knew …

Words are powerful. Potent.

Words enchant. Entice.

Words stir emotions.

I listened to nursery rhymes, chants, and children’s poetry read from My Book House, a series of twelve volumes compiled and edited by Olive Beaupré Miller.

My book houseStories and poetry from My Book House opened worlds I’d never imagined. As I grew older and worked my way through the volumes, biographies of famous men and women down through history inspired me, folklore from around the world fascinated me, and poetry from Longfellow, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Song of Solomon inspired me.

Curled up reading through those volumes, my love for words grew stronger and blossomed into a love of books.?????????I doubt I’ll ever abandon my affair with words, but don’t worry my husband doesn’t mind. He loves books as much as I do. Thank heavens the supply of books is unending.

Chicken Cookies

By Chicken Wrangler Sara

Our school secretary/business administrator is a wonderful lady. I’ve always known that the school secretary is the one who runs the school, and that is never truer than in a small private school. When she was gone for a few days taking care of her husband it took 4 people to do her job.

She has two grandsons who were in my music classes when they were at the school.  They frequently visit so I keep an eye out at the food pantry for things they might enjoy.  Each week I stop by the school on my way home to deliver whatever prizes I have found.

Last Friday Mary had a prize for me.  She had been working at a garage sale and found a basket of cookie cutters.  Among them was this:cookie cutterShe immediately thought of me.

I was thrilled. I have quite a collection of cookie cutters – thanks to my mother – but a chicken was not among them.

Over the weekend, along with canning 6 pints of tomato sauce, 6 pints of spiced apples, 4 half pints of apple butter, and freezing 10 cups of mashed sweet potatoes, I made chicken cookies.


I took them to school and left them in the teacher workroom with a note explaining that they were chicken cookies – sugar cookies shaped like chickens, not cookies made from chicken.  At least one teacher was glad for the clarification.

Four Passionate Romantic Gestures

According to French writer François Rabelais, “Gestures, in love, are incomparably more attractive, effective, and valuable than words.”

With Valentine’s Day this weekend, I expect romantic gestures will abound. Every year at this time sales of red roses and chocolates will soar. Couples share candlelight dinners.  Expensive jewelry is exchanged. All very romantic things to do to express love for one’s sweetheart.

I’m wondering how whatever gestures of love are made this weekend can conpete with these:

Shah Jahan’s Taj MahalTaj Mahal

Around 1632 Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal—with its elaborate minarets, 250-foot-high domed mausoleum and 42-acre grounds—as a tomb for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to the couple’s 14th child. When he died in 1666, he was buried beside her.

Edward VIII’s Abdication of the Throne edward and wallie

King Edward the VIII became the most romantic English royal of all when he fell in love with American Wallis Simpson. Forced to choose between love and crown, Edward abdicated the throne in December 1936. Simpson quickly divorced her husband to marry Edward the following year. They spent the rest of their lives in retirement in France.

browningsElizabeth Barrett Browning’s Love Sonnets to Robert Browning

The love between poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning is one of literature’s greatest romances. In 1850 Elizabeth Barrett’s “Sonnets from the Portuguese,” a series of love poems composed when the pair first began their courtship was published. “Sonnets from the Portuguese” includes the immortal line, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

Joe DiMaggio’s Flowers for Marilyn Monroemarilyn monroe

Married to Marilyn Monroe for only 274 days in 1954, Joe DiMaggio remained infatuated with the legendary blonde bombshell for the rest of his life sending red roses to her grave in Los Angeles three times a week for the next twenty years.

Over the years, my very romantic husband has given me some incredible wonderful gifts of love.

He’s not built a Taj Mahal, but a lovely home in the forest I dearly love sharing with him.  He  hasn’t abdicated a throne, but if he were royalty, he tells me he would. He has written love poems, and given me Hallmark cards, that equal or surpass Mrs. Browning’s sonnets. And, though I won’t be around, I can see him leaving me flowers. He surprises me frequently with a lovely bouquet,

How about you have you received some awesome romantic gesture(s) of love you’d be willing to share?

Mutant Bee

by Guest Blogger Chicken Wrangler Sara

Last Wednesday was one of those days where there were more things on my to-do list than hours in the day.  I knew this as I was swimming at 5:30am and was already stressing about it. Not a good sign.

A trip to Wal-Mart was on my list which, in and of itself, is a stress inducer.  Since I was going anyway, I decided to take our recyclables.  This included plastic, paper and tin cans.  Our Wal-Mart has a drive through recycling center so I don’t even have to get out of the car.

As I pulled up, I saw a group of small children gathered around the plastic sorting bin.  Standing behind the bin was a bee.  Not just a regular bee but a human sized bee.  I took a picture.bee suit

The kids were from a local school and were on a fieldtrip learning about recycling.

I had to smile in spite of my stressed out self.  I figured the day was turning out to be ok after all.

Now if I can just get my hands on that bee suit… I’m sure I can think of a place to wear it.