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Using Our July 4th Freedoms

Last weekend we celebrated the day Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence.

 

That document begins:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Because of that document, we can celebrate a lot of freedoms in America. Freedom of speech. Freedom to worship. Freedom to do what we believe leads to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We also enjoy certain rights. Rights guaranteed by our Constitution. Check here for the complete list.

Sometimes we tend to forget those freedoms and rights did not come by chance. Those freedoms came though the blood of soldiers.

Because we’re also human, we tend to be selfish with our freedoms and rights.

We speak words that tear others down.

We worship the false idols of fame and pleasure.

We pursue whatever makes us feel better–and mow down anyone or anything that gets in our way.

Are there better ways to use our freedoms and rights?

I believe so.

So does Holly Gerth, who suggests we begin with the highest freedom—LOVE. 4th

Chickens – The Next Generation

 A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

There has been a tremendous decline in egg production on Miller Farm.  Perhaps the chickens are just commiserating with those who have Avian Flu.  Perhaps the grumpy game bird hens are intimidating the others by staying in the nest boxes.  Perhaps it is a result of a decline in the chicken population – several have died over the past few weeks.  Whatever the cause, Assistant CW Rachel decided to address the issue by hatching eggs.

It actually started when she was asked to incubate peacock eggs.  As long as she was setting up the incubator, she might as well fill it.  As long as she was filling one incubator, she might as well fill another one.  After all if one is good, two is better – right?

The peacock eggs were not fertile.  It turns out the birds were too young.  That left us with 48 chicken eggs.  These were not all from our chickens since our chickens seem to be on strike.  Rachel gathered eggs from three different flocks.  She carefully marked each egg in order to determine which flock had the best hatch rate.

One of the incubators did not hold its temperature very well.  The other one was in her closet away from drafts or heat from the windows.  Rachel was afraid the variation in temperature would kill the developing chicks.  She bought a special light for “candling” eggs to see which were fertile and still alive.  She carefully marked the air sack on each egg.  That way if one pipped – poked the first hole – outside the air sack, she could help it along.  They were set to hatch on Friday, June 26.

Thursday morning we got up to swim and Rachel discovered a chick had already hatched – an overachiever.  As it called out other chicks began to hatch.  We cleared off the brooder in the garage and began the process of moving chicks outside as they hatched. transfer

Rachel has been helping a family with 7, soon to be 8, children so she was gone Friday.  I sent her updates as chicks hatched. egg hatching

We ended up with 32 chicks.

 

Hopefully most of them will be hens and we will be able to replace our older birds.

new chicksAnd the cycle of life continues…..

Lazy, crazy days of summer

summer-wooden-sign_23-2147511248

Crazy days – I agree. No schedule. Letting the time flow.

Lazy days – not so much. Well, not around our little neck of the woods, anyway.

Summer here in the Rio Grande National Forest can get busy…chaotic. That’s what’s happened so far this year and the reason the Voice from the Front Porch has been quiet. Lots to do, so little time to write!

It’s only the end of June and so far this summer…

summer flowersWe spent hours gardening. Installed a fire pit for cooking hot dogs and s’mores and summer evening sing-a-longs. Our new neighbor plays the harmonica. How cool is that! And, we added a basketball goal for more summer fun.basketballfirepit

We traveled to Texas for a graduation. Congratulations, Matthew on a job well done. Cum Laude over four years of high school is not an easy accomplishment. You did it!

girls2We entertained three very active visitors from Minnesota for a week. We dubbed them the Frolicking Princesses because every evening they climbed the mountain behind our house to watch the sunset. I kept up with them (barely), but once we dropped them at the airport, I came straight home for a long nap. Eagerly awaiting their next visit!

MikeWe spent a weekend with a very good friend and business associate of my husband’s. Spent hours on the front porch catching up and remembering good times. I think we have another South Fork fan. He’s ready to retire and leave hot, humid Houston for some cool mountain air. He took home our realtor’s card.

Busy times, crazy times and so much fun. How’s your summer been going?

In between all the fun and frolicking, I’ve actually found writing time. I’ll have a new release by end of summer titled When Love Returns, book two in the Fitzpatrick Family Series. Keep watching for the cover reveal!

I’m looking forward to July and August, how about you?

Annabel’s New Home

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Annabel, our foster dog, has found a forever home —-next door. The neighbors had planned to get a dog and their middle daughter fell in love with Annabel. I would frequently come home and find her at the gate talking to Annabel.

After several visits to see how Annabel would get along with the cat and the two younger children, the adoption was finalized. The children were all excited as was Annabel. Perhaps the children would be more cooperative than the chickens when they were “herded.” Bella was relieved. Annabel liked to lick and Bella was used to being the licker and not the lickee.

They renamed the dog Rosie to avoid confusion with their youngest daughter whose middle name is Arabella. The first few days were a little rough – for me. I kept wondering how she was doing. Our dachshunds were also confused. These are the neighbors with the privacy fence so the dogs could hear but not see each other.

bella fenceOur dogs spent time sniffing along the fence.

Rose/Annabel tried to get through.annabell

Anytime she got out, she came straight to our house. I took her straight back, explaining along the way that she had a new home.

It’s been about a month now and Rosie has adjusted nicely (and so have I). She goes to the kids’ soccer games and runs with the dad.

She came to see me yesterday for the first time in a couple of weeks. I walked her home glad to know she is loved. I’m pretty sure I could never foster children. I’ll stick to wrangling chickens and other random animals running down the street.

Wrangling A Persistent Robin

Springtime – fresh sprouts popping out of the ground. Birds singing and gathering at the feeders. It’s such a happy time.

Usually.

Living in a national forest, we have lots of different birds. Most fun to watch.

Some not so much.

waitingThe robin that came to occupy our backyard has not been fun.

Thump, thump, thump. He flies over and over into the large picture window in my kitchen.

I turned on the kitchen light hoping to diffuse the reflection from the trees on the mountain behind the house and a technique supposed to discourage him.

I figured by the time the dogs and I returned from our morning walk he’d be long gone. Wrong!

All through our breakfast, the determined little redbreast thumped against the window. Not hard like he’d miscalculated the needed thrust to flyover the house. Soft like he was trying to land on a branch he saw in the glass.

He never hit hard enough to fall only to flutter away and try again. Still I worried he’d knock himself senseless.

We had researched ways to deter birds from the plate glass after we first moved to the national forest and two birds died when they crashed into it. Short of shuttering the window, which would totally block the view (the reason we installed the large picture windows in the first place) nothing seem to stop this crazy robin.

Whenever robin perched on the crab apple tree, I’d fling open the kitchen door and frighten him away. This seemed to work so I spent the next four hours working in the backyard flowerbeds.

The robin stayed away…

Until I went inside to write and the thump, thump, thump began again. In desperation, I nailed a sheet over the kitchen picture window.kitchen

All was quiet again…

Until he started flying into the dining room window, which I note has a blind that is supposed to discourage window bashing.

Not for this robin.

Thump, thump, thump. I stomp out and Mr. Robin watches me hang a sheet over that window.

Undeterred, as soon as I’m inside, he starts bashing the small bathroom window. Thump, thump, thump.

Out I go again and Robin watches me covered the bathroom window.

By now it’s getting dark… very dark inside the house with the picture windows draped… and robin goes to wherever his nest is for the night.

No thumping the next morning. Thrilled that I’d won, the dogs and I left for our walk. Unleashing them when I returned, I heard the dreaded thump, thump, thump.

cornerThe dining room sheet had slipped to expose a tiny triangle of reflection. Mr. Robin was once again determined to come inside.

I trouped outside, adjusted the sheet, all the while shouting to the infuriating robin that I did not want to have to take drastic measures so he’d best move on.

I was not happy because with my lovely picture windows blocked I can’t see the other birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and deer in my backyard.

post watchingMr. Robin perched on the stair rail waiting for me to take down the sheets, I guess.

I saw him every time I passed the kitchen door, which also has a small window. (A window that said robin ignores.)

I opened the kitchen door and gave the ultimate threat: “I’m not living forever with my windows covered. Don’t make me get the pellet gun!”

Not sure who’s won — the robin or me.

For five days now, the picture windows have remained covered. So far, Mr. Robin is nowhere to be seen.

I’ll let you know what happens when we take the window coverings down.

Where There’s Smoke…

 

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I consider myself a fairly intelligent person. In fact, there are several pieces of paper on my wall that would confirm this fact. Every once in a while, however, I come across something that makes no sense to me.

This was the case a couple of weeks ago when I went to let the chickens out. There was smoke coming from the compost pile. smokeWe have had an inordinate amount of rain recently (see lasts Friday’s post on mud) and the compost was soaking wet so I could not figure out how it could be smoking.

On this Friday, I was traveling with grades 7 and 8 to the Austin to play ukuleles in the rotunda of the State Capital. (This is a story in and of itself and might serve to contradict my claim to intelligence.)

Anyway, since I would not be at home, I could not monitor the situation so I poured more water on the smoke and went on to school.

The bus driver happened to be very knowledgeable about gardening so I asked her about the smoking compost. She assured me this was a good thing and simply meant we needed to turn the compost. I was relieved.

Yesterday, Matt came to me somewhat concerned and asked “Is there a reason there is smoke coming from the green wire things with grass in them?”

I knew he was referring to the smoking compost and explained that it meant the compost was cooking and needed to be turned.

He said, “I guess you could say things are really ‘cooking’ at the Miller house this summer.”

Memorial Day 2015

Today is Memorial Day.

I find saying “Happy Memorial Day” hard because I don’t believe Memorial Day is a holiday about going to the beach or having a cookout.

I’m not saying those things are wrong. Not at all. I enjoy a hot dog or a hamburger with family and friends and celebrating what signals the start of summer same as anyone else.

I’m just sayin’, we should also remember why Memorial Day was originally established.

This day is for those gone, but never forgotten.

mem13

Today we should stop to wave the American flag and salute our fallen heroes.

Memorial-Day-Graphics-82

Wrangling A Persistent Robin

Springtime – fresh sprouts popping out of the ground. Birds singing and gathering at the feeders. It’s such a happy time.

Usually.

Living in a national forest, we have lots of different birds. Most fun to watch.

Some not so much.

waitingThe robin that came to occupy our backyard has not been fun.

Thump, thump, thump. He flies over and over into the large picture window in my kitchen.

I turned on the kitchen light hoping to diffuse the reflection from the trees on the mountain behind the house and a technique supposed to discourage him.

I figured by the time the dogs and I returned from our morning walk he’d be long gone. Wrong!

All through our breakfast, the determined little redbreast thumped against the window. Not hard like he’d miscalculated the needed thrust to flyover the house. Soft like he was trying to land on a branch he saw in the glass.

He never hit hard enough to fall only to flutter away and try again. Still I worried he’d knock himself senseless.

We had researched ways to deter birds from the plate glass after we first moved to the national forest and two birds died when they crashed into it. Short of shuttering the window, which would totally block the view (the reason we installed the large picture windows in the first place) nothing seem to stop this crazy robin.

Whenever robin perched on the crab apple tree, I’d fling open the kitchen door and frighten him away. This seemed to work so I spent the next four hours working in the backyard flowerbeds.

The robin stayed away…

Until I went inside to write and the thump, thump, thump began again. In desperation, I nailed a sheet over the kitchen picture window.kitchen

All was quiet again…

Until he started flying into the dining room window, which I note has a blind that is supposed to discourage window bashing.

Not for this robin.

Thump, thump, thump. I stomp out and Mr. Robin watches me hang a sheet over that window.

Undeterred, as soon as I’m inside, he starts bashing the small bathroom window. Thump, thump, thump.

Out I go again and Robin watches me covered the bathroom window.

By now it’s getting dark… very dark inside the house with the picture windows draped… and robin goes to wherever his nest is for the night.

No thumping the next morning. Thrilled that I’d won, the dogs and I left for our walk. Unleashing them when I returned, I heard the dreaded thump, thump, thump.

cornerThe dining room sheet had slipped to expose a tiny triangle of reflection. Mr. Robin was once again determined to come inside.

I trouped outside, adjusted the sheet, all the while shouting to the infuriating robin that I did not want to have to take drastic measures so he’d best move on.

I was not happy because with my lovely picture windows blocked I can’t see the other birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and deer in my backyard.

post watchingMr. Robin perched on the stair rail waiting for me to take down the sheets, I guess.

I saw him every time I passed the kitchen door, which also has a small window. (A window that said robin ignores.)

I opened the kitchen door and gave the ultimate threat: “I’m not living forever with my windows covered. Don’t make me get the pellet gun!”

Not sure who’s won — the robin or me.

For five days now, the picture windows have remained covered. So far, Mr. Robin is nowhere to be seen.

I’ll let you know what happens when we take the window coverings down.

Mud, mud, lots of mud

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

We have had an inordinate amount of rain recently. Considering we have been in a serious drought, I should not complain.

However, with lots of rain comes mud – lots of mud. This is especially the case in the chicken yard.

I am very grateful for my muck shoes, or sloggers as they are called.

sloggersI only wish they were boots. The mud is more like quicksand. I have to work to lift my feet at each step and usually I end up with mud on my calves.

Recently I was sitting on the front row at my piano recital ready to jump up and turn pages or whisper an encouraging word. I looked down at my leg and saw……mud.

My first thought was “At least it matches my brown dress and shoes.”

Yesterday morning I went out to feed the chickens and slipped and fell – in the mud. It was not a good start to the day.I came back in, took another shower, put on clean clothes and bandaged my hand where I scratched it on the metal fence post.

After work I went out to gather eggs and got mud on my pants. I came in and changed – again – before my first piano student arrived.

After dinner I went to close up the coop. I stepped right out of my slogger and into the mud with my bare foot. I came in, cleaned up and went to bed.

I really hope it doesn’t rain again any time soon.