But Not Mosquitoes

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The text message conversation on the left is between our daughter and me.

It is taking place during preparation for the annual Gilbert and Sullivan performance at my school.

At this time of year my “part time” job becomes “full time/over time.”  This is why I responded as I did.

That being said, Rachel brought home a fish.

His name is Jeffrey.  He is a beta fish and he is most likely a she. Because one is a lonely number, Rachel bought another fish.

This is Xibalba.  Being another beta fish, he lives in a separate tank.

Rachel is an animal science major and cares deeply for all things breathing.  Still concerned that her fish would be lonely,  she also bought them each their own water snail.

Jeffrey and Anteous the snail get along great.

Xibalba and Sombra, the other snail, do not.  In fact, Xibalba kept attacking Sombra and making him fall from the top of the tank. To protect Sombra, Rachel separated the two.

Bill is also an animal lover and Rachel offered to give Sombra to Bill as his pet snail.  Bill was thrilled and Sombra is much happier being with Bill.

On the way to school this week I noticed mosquito bites on Bill’s arm.  When I asked him about them he said there is a mosquito in his room.  He called it his pet mosquito.

I will accept the addition of fish and snails to Miller Farm but not mosquitoes!


Words for Writers – L’Engle


In Search of Texas Bluebonnets

Spring in Texas brings bluebonnets. People will travel miles to find the one perfect spot to snap a bluebonnet picture.

Some are professional photographers. Most are family members looking for a cluster of the state flower in which to pose their loved ones and pets.

Highways become a nightmare of start and stop traffic on April weekends. No trespassing signs wave in the breeze on barbed wired fences surrounding private property. Enthusiasts ignore the caution as they seek the best field of bluebonnets.

Too many picture takers also trample the blooms.

Saturday we braved the unusually cold, wet, and windy weather seeking a patch of bluebonnets for pictures. The stop and go traffic of the peak Easter weekend was gone and, sadly, so were the larger patches of flowers along US 290.

We ventured on to the annual Bluebonnet Festival in Chappell Hill hopeful that taking the less traveled back roads coming home would yield the perfect spot.

We parked on the backside of town and walked to where the vendors’ tents displayed their wares. Along the way, we passed a patch of bluebonnets in a yard. Fearful that it could be our only option for Finn’s first bluebonnet photo, we stopped to snap a picture.

As you can see, Finn was unimpressed and Buster didn’t care to join us.

After visiting the fair, we drove out the backway along the less traveled country roads. We did find a small patch of bluebonnets.

The storm clouds were breaking up and blue sky was peeking through but the wind came in fierce gusts.


We did manage to get a few great shots.

Next year I think we’ll join all the other bluebonnet picture seekers for the peak weekend.


Words for Writers – Lamott


Texas, My Texas

I recently changed my FB banner. I know, I know. FB is a touchy subject these days, but in order to connect with readers I keep an active FB presence. But I digress…

I chose a Texas bluebonnet picture. It’s the one you see on the left. When I think of Texas, I think of bluebonnets. I missed them when I lived away.

Famous Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) Wildflowers.

Texas is bluebonnets. People also associate the state with Lone Star beer, cowboys and rodeos, astronauts and space centers, cattle and the Texas Medical Center.

Texas is a very diverse place. Same thing’s true of a Texan and I’m not talking about the football team players.

We all have a picture in our heads when we think of a native Texan. Usually it’s someone with a cowboy hat and boots, but there’s more to a Texan and even Texans who never wear cowboy boots.

Hurricane Harvey gave images of real Texans and not many of them wore Stetsons. The folks in those pictures looked like anyone else helping their families and neighbors when hard times strike.

Texas has its own language, Texas-speak. A whole slew of vocabulary that can have folks scratching their heads. I just used a Texas-ism—slew, meaning a whole bunch.

We’re always y’all-ing and gonna and fixin’ when we talk. Non-Texans do sometimes need an interpreter.

When I’m lazy in my writing, Texas talk naturally flow into my first drafts even if my characters are not Texans. My critique partners and editors often catch phrases like:

come hell or high water – proceeding, regardless of the problems, obstacles, etc.

conniptions – get upset and raise a ruckus

hissy fit – kin to a conniption; a state of extreme agitation and not a pretty thing to see

hot as tin toilet seat – in Texas we know that’s HOT

screaming bloody murder or banshee scream – not a pleasant sound at all

bone tired – yep, been there

slow as molasses – visualize molasses syrup oozing out of the jar

keep your pants on – meaning not what you think, but to be patient!

If you’ve ever been to Texas, you know it’s a special place. You love it or hate it. Seems there’s no in between.

But there’s something in a natural born Texan’s blood that tends to bring them back to Texas no matter how far or how long they wander. My daddy always said I’d come home and I did.


Presents from the Dachshunds

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I have had to accept the fact that part of living on a farm is living with rodents. The rat population varies from season to season.  We do what we can to keep it under control.  We’ve put traps in the garage and poison in the shed.

The rats like to share the chicken feed and the hens and roosters tend to be pretty selfish.  We also don’t need to feed any free loading animals.

I have also had to accept the fact that dachshunds catch and kill small animals.  They are not particular as to which small animals making the chickens on the wrong side of the fence fair game.  This is unfortunate.

In the “fortunate” column is the tendency the dachshunds have to hunt and kill rats. Penelope and Bella are particularly good at this endeavor.  Yesterday I let the dogs out while I checked eggs and fed the chickens.  When I was ready to get the dogs back in the house I discovered a present.I’m not sure who brought it to me but I am always grateful for the help with rodent control.


Words for Writers – Wordsworth


A Weekend of Anomalies

An anomaly is a deviation from the common rule, type, arrangement, or form. In order words, something out of the ordinary. Three such unusual events happened last weekend.

  1. A Blue Paschal Full Moon occurred.

The orb we saw last weekend was officially a Blue Paschal Full Moon.

It was the second full moon of March and any time a two full Moon occur during month it’s called a Blue Moon.

Saturday’s moon was the first full moon after the spring equinox making it a Paschal Full Moon.

The date of the Paschal Full Moon is determined from historical tables that go back to the Council of Nicea in 325 AD when astronomers established an Ecclesiastical Full Moon table to determine Holy Days for Western Christianity.

According to that table, our weekend moon was an ecclesiastical full moon. That’s a full moon that occurs on the 14th day of the ecclesiastical lunar month.

A moon can be any one of these moon types, but a Blue Paschal (ecclesiastical) Full Moon doesn’t happen often. The last time we experienced the phenomena was in 1999. The next time we’ll see a Paschal Blue Moon will be in 2037.

Interesting side note, Paschal is a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic word Pascha meaning Passover. And, this weekend both Passover and Easter coincided.

  1. Good Friday and Passover fell on the same date.The exact date of Christ’s resurrection is unknown. Early Christians in determining a date to celebrated correlated their Resurrection feast (Easter) with the Jewish Passover, which is based upon a lunar calendar. As a result, our celebration of Easter is a rotating Holy Day.

Passover began on Friday night and will continue for eight. Easter and Passover are being celebrated at the same time. Another rare happening.

The unusual timing of the weekend caused another two events to occur on the same day this last weekend.

  1. Easter and April Fools’ Day happened on the same day.

The date of Easter is determined as the first Sunday after the “Paschal Full Moon” falling on or after the Spring Equinox (March 21). This year that Sunday was April 1.

The date for April Fools’ Day is fixed. The annual tradition of playing practical jokes on April Fools’ Day began in 1700.

The last time Easter Sunday fell on April 1 was in 1956.

It’s been much longer since a Blue Paschal Moon rose on March 31, followed the next day by Easter Sunday.

According to Space.com, we’d have to go back to the year 1646 to have a Blue Paschal Moon on Saturday, March 31 followed by Easter Sunday the very next day. There’s no prediction as to when such a unique event will happen again.

This was indeed a weekend filled with anomalies.


Chickens in the News

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

There have been a couple of articles about chickens in the newspaper lately.

One of them talked about free range chickens in Bastrop, Texas.  Apparently the free range chickens belong to a chicken sanctuary which has done such a good job protecting them, the population has exploded.  The city is working with a local zoo to provide a new home for the birds.

I’m just glad we don’t live closer.  Our home tends to collect roaming animals and we are about full.

Another article talked about the popularity of raising backyard chickens.  It is becoming a status symbol in California.

We have been keeping chickens for almost 10 years.  I guess Miller Farm is just ahead of its time.


Words about Wind – Lee