Why We Have Chickens

by Guest Blogger Chicken Wrangler Sara

Most people assume we have chickens for the fresh eggs they provide. While this is certainly true, there is also the entertainment factor.

For example, I looked out my kitchen window last week and saw this:

chick1They are standing on Beekeeper Brian’s bee hives.

 Even if I wanted to pose them like this, I would not attempt it. I took several pictures through the window figuring that as soon as I opened the back door, they would all jump down.

Then I decided to risk it:chick2The white chicken saw me first – and jumped down.chick3The others soon followed.

I’m thinking of installing a chicken-cam to record all day. There’s no telling what I miss when I have to go to work. I’d much rather stay home and watch the chickens.

Of course, the children I teach can be equally entertaining at times.

Showing Up

A Guest Blog by Gail Kittleson

Someone decided to take an older relative to Europe to celebrate her retiring from work. When they broke the news, the woman said, “Oh . . . I’ve really been wanting to go to Florida.”

Another friend of a friend was discussing her plans to go to Oktoberfest. My friend asked, “Wonderful—have you been in Germany before?”

“Oh, we’re not going to Germany, we’re going to Oktoberfest at the Epcot Center.”

The two conversations stuck in my mind, since both reactions were unexpected.

These narratives fit my purposes right now because today I had an unexpected, pleasant surprise.

A friend of mine has found numerous ancient pottery shards in her Arizona yard. She’s also unearthed a Native American grinding stone, and when I recently met a man who worked on our house, he said the excavators discovered a large metate (most likely the mate of the grinding stone) on the property back in the eighties.

This was especially intriguing, since one of my historical novels takes place right here. My heroine looks out at the Mogollon Rim every morning, and in her forced isolation on a desolate ranch, that landmark steadies her, gives her hope. She yearns to meet some natives and learn their language.

Research tells me several tribes wandered this land, but the news about the grinding stone found right under our house . . . Wow!

Back to the shards.

I’ve looked and looked, but nary a shard peeped up at me from the rocky red soil, and I resigned myself to being shard challenged. But on this gorgeous March morning, TA DA  . . . drum roll, please,

I found one!shardsed

Yes, and it actually matches a larger piece my friend found last year. How cool is that?!

Yesterday I attended a contemplative prayer workshop facilitated by a well-known instructor. He shared how spiritual experiences come to us when we least expect them, and how our part is simply to show up.

We might be “doing everything right,” disciplined in our practice, and nothing seems to happen. Then one day, maybe we feel wretched and unfaithful and so ridiculously unworthy, we can hardly lift our heads. And that might be the time we experience our clearest connection.

Every other time I went out to search for shards, I hoped to find one. So why, when I’d pretty much given up on success, did I discover one today?

“Ours is not to reason why . . .”

Ours is just to show up with our whole hearts and open ourselves to the moment. Such a positive way to face life – our work, our hobbies, and our spirituality.

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 Meet Gail KittlesonGail-Jpeg

Sometimes we learn what we’ve done only after we do it. I wrote Catching Up With Daylight over a ten-year period, but learned the term “spirituality writing” only after the book was published. This is a life theme for me–figuring things out after the fact, but even though it may make things a little harder, I learn a lot in the process. I live with my very patient husband (35 years) in St. Ansgar, Iowa, teach a small creative writing class, and facilitate workshops on creativity/memoir writing/aging with grace. Vintage Rose Press offered me my first fiction contract in December, 2014, so I’m deep in edits and loving every minute of it.  Well, almost every minute…

Catching-Up-with-Daylight-copy-194x300 Catching Up with Daylight: A Journey to Wholeness is available from

Amazon Paperback or Kindle

              Barnes & Noble Paperback or Nook

Christian Books.com

Write a Book Review? Why?

I can see your cringe and your wrinkled brow on the other side of the computer screen when you read today’s blog title. I hear the muttered protest, “I’ll read, but please don’t ask me to write a book review.” I guessing you have one or more of the concerns I read in a recent post by Joan Reeves about why readers don’t write reviews. • Readers may not know exactly what to say or how to say it • Readers are wary of attacks from other readers with different opinions • Readers don’t want to hurt the author’s feelings or invoke the wrath of a popular author’s loyal readers • Readers are concerned that they don’t have the writing skills necessary to write a review. All are legitimate reasons, but also reasons easily overcome if you truly want to support your favorite authors. You can write a book review. Really. A book review is simply a conversation about a book you’ve read. A good book review talks about the story and tells others why you did or didn’t like the book. There are only two no-no’s when you write and post a review: • Never include “spoilers” (elements of the book that should surprise) • Don’t allow personal prejudices or attitudes about the author or anything not related to the writing to intrude into your review. Now, consider the benefits of writing a book review. • A good book review helps readers decide if a book is for them. • A good book review helps authors improve their writing. Authors recognize not all readers will love their “baby” as much as they do. Even bad reviews are valuable, if they are constructive. Most important, when you write (and post) a book review to sites like Amazon and GoodReads, you help increase an author’s visibility. The more reviews a book has, the more likely the author and their book will be noticed in the great sea of available books. readerNow, go finish reading your book and then write a review. You can do it. I know you can.

Repairing Chickens

By Guest Blogger Chicken Wrangler Sara

I recently gathered all my materials to teach the song “Chicken on a Fencepost” to my 3rd and 4th graders. (See previous post Chicken on Fencepost for a look at the music.)

This included two chicken puppets that make chicken noises when “played” just right. I made them several years ago and the sound was so authentic, the chickens in the backyard came running to meet their new friends.

The sound is made by running a damp sponge along a string running through the top of a cup which is decorated to look like a chicken. The students love it. (And so do I.)

As I demonstrated the proper technique, a tragedy occurred. The string broke.

repairing chickensThen the comb fell over. It was a sad sight.

Fortunately I had another, smaller, chicken puppet that worked for the moment. Of course, everyone wants to use the bigger chicken so I’ll have to fix it eventually.

I am probably the only person on earth who has a “to do” list which includes “repair chicken.”

SPRING BREAK, MUD, and AMAZING ADVENTURES

It’s Spring Break time and every other car in our little tourist town sports an out-of-state license plate.

Not complaining. It’s great for our local businesses.

At our house, grandkids from Texas, siblings, nieces, and friends are coming to enjoy skiing, snowmobiling, and hiking beneath the bright, blue Colorado sky.

Again, not complaining. It’s great to see them.

Spring Break time brings another phenomenon—MUD.

Squishy, slippery, mud puddles line the edges of the road, the yards, the trails. Ruts are carved into every unpaved road. Mud gathers on your shoes, in your car, in your house, on your dogs’ paws. It’s everywhere.

The Forest Service marks hiking, snowshoe, and snowmobile trails based upon safety issues. Many trails close because the roads are deemed unsafe, but you can still see some wonderful snow-covered mountainsides in the Rio Grande National Forest if you are careful.

We ventured out in our four-wheel vehicle with our granddaughter, Catherine, and her friend, Caleb, while they were here.

We did fine until we tried to show Catherine the trail where her father comes to fish every summer. The trail was not blocked nor was it snow covered.

But we did get stuck…in guess what—MUD.

stuck in mud-snowVery stuck. The car sat perpendicular to the roadbed on a very squishy, slippery, rutted road after a failed U-turn.

Catherine, Caleb, and I tried to push our Pilot SUV out of the ditch. No luck.

We slipped rocks under the tires to gain traction. No luck.

We used the dog’s car water dish as a shovel to try to dig out. No luck.

Night was falling fast. The temperatures were dropping. We called for help, but had to leave a message with a friend who has towing capability.

As we sat patiently waiting for a return call, Catherine, our very smart, very talented oboe-playing granddaughter, says, “Floor mats. I think I remember reading to use floor mats under the tires when you’re stuck in snow or mud.”Catherine and Caleb

Brilliant girl, our Catherine. Brilliant guy, Caleb.

Between the added traction from the heavy-duty place mats and the strength of the two college kids pushing from the front, the car, once again, headed back to paved road.

Mud covered us, our jeans, our boots, and our hands, and face, and caked in our hair. The outside of our car was now polka-dotted in mud, and the inside of the car oozed in mud.

While it wasn’t so amazing during the excitement, quite the opposite, I can look back now and say, what an amazing adventure!

And two amazing college kids have returned home with a long-to-be-talked-about Spring Break MUD adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hippo Hair

By Chicken Wrangler Sara

Every year at Christmas, I sing “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” It’s a real song I promise.

This year Rachel got me a hippopotamus – she made me a hippo hat.hippo hatI love it. Now I can sing “I Got a Hippopotamus for Christmas!” – which I do.

This week we had another cold spell so I wore my hippo hat to school. The kids (and teachers) all love It was so worth it.d it.

I wore it all day and as I walked into the teacher’s room at lunch, all the teachers were looking at me. I explained that I could not take my hat off because I now had “hippo hair.”hippo hairThey thought it was hysterical.

Of course they did, their hair looked wonderful. Mine, however, looked as though a hippopotamus had been sitting on it all day.

Wednesday is “hat day” at school. I may wear my hippo hat again – unless I decide to wear my magic hat. Decisions, decisions……

That’s No Chicken

by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I was working at my computer this week when I caught a glimpse of something out the front window.  At first glance it appeared that a chicken was in the road. (Was it trying to cross?  If so, why?)

I got up and started toward the door, wondering if it was one of ours chicks or another stray chicken (see You’re not My Chicken! You’re a Snort.)

About that time a car drove by and the bird took flight.

turkey vulture

It looked like a small plane – huge wingspan.  It was a turkey vulture.  It flew to the roof across the street then waited in the yard for a while.

turkey vulture2Eventually it flew away.

Yesterday the grandmother of a piano student was waiting in the driveway and said she saw some huge birds circling the back yard.  I sure hope it wasn’t the turkey vulture and his friends.  Chickens I will wrangle but I draw the line at turkey vultures.