Chickens and Holiday sweaters: Miller Farm Blog

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Chicken Wrangler emails for today’s seasonal email titled

Don We Now our Gay Apparel

Exactly nineteen years ago, my parents gave me a Christmas sweater. It was something they knew I would never buy for myself but would love. They were absolutely right. I wore that sweater for many years. In fact, I wore it in our Christmas picture for our daughters first Christmas.

Christmas 1993

This very same daughter, nineteen years later, has borrowed this sweater not once but twice to enter in “tacky Christmas sweater” contests.

I would be offended except for two years running, it has won.This year, she wasn’t even the one wearing it.

I think I deserve at least some kind of prize for having held on to that sweater long enough for college kids to think it is tacky.

Today was the first really cold day of the season so I pulled out my Christmas sweatshirt. It is even older than my tacky sweater.

I got it from my music class after my first Christmas program (which was several years before our first daughter was born). It has the name of the Christmas musical – “The Town Hall Christmas Tree” – on the front and all the kids’ handprints in red and green on the back and down the arms.

front of sweatshit


Sara's sweatshirt

This morning my son looked at me as I was putting on my shoes over my Christmas socks so I could take him to school and said, “I’m glad you are not getting out of the car.” 

I almost got out and gave him a big hug just for spite.

Later I was at the doctor for my annual check -up and as I stepped on the scale (a frightful thing in and of itself) the nurse said, “What a cute sweatshirt. Are those the handprints of your grandkids.” 

I texted my son later and said “Maybe I should have stayed in the car.”

I laughed and laughed when I received this email from Chicken Wrangler Sara. What fun to remember all the times like she described when she or her teenaged siblings asked me to wait in the car or wouldn’t let me out of the house because what I had on didn’t suit them. We call her sister Stef the fashion police even today!

I love Christmas and have multiple Christmas sweaters. Depending on the occasion, I select which one to wear. And, like an actress take on different persona depending on which I’m wearing.

For fun, casual parties and gatherings, especially those with sweater contests I wear this one. btw, it was purchased at the same time we bought CW Sara’s in 1993.  


For more glitzy affairs when I need bling and swing, I choose this one:


And for conservative affairs, my Ralph Lauren angora. With a long skirt or jeans with high boots, I’m styling.


But the most fun comes from wearing the homemade variety. My girls will probably kill me for this one, but I loved the year I made us all red sweatsuits with appliqued Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. The suits are long gone, but oh what fun Christmas memories!


CW Sara has carried on the tradition of creating crafty Christmas garments.


We have wreaths with children’s finger and handprints, wall hangings of hand prints/foot prints, and one years she managed to collect ALL eleven grandkids for a handprint Christmas table cloth. Unfortunately, due to the tipping point decision, that tablecloth is packed in storage awaiting our move to Colorado so I can’t show a picture.

YOUR TURN: Do you have any special handcrafted Christmas items?


Easy, Easy Monday Motivation

Best way to kick start your writing this week. Simple. Easy Monday Motivation.

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Does quail chasing=chicken wrangling? – Miller Farm Friday

Bella was staring intently into the small chicken yard this afternoon. I figured she was just willing one of the smaller chickens to come out and “play.”


When I went out to check eggs, I saw what had her mesmerized.

A quail was eating from the chicken feeder. I thought to myself “That looks like one of our quail. What’s he doing in the chickenyard?”

So I turned to look at the long quail cage and discovered I had left the door open when I fed the quail earlier.

Now if I were in charge, I would fire me. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I could find a replacement. 

After a quick inventory of the quail still in the cage, I realized the one eating from the feeder was not the only escapee. There were five or six others missing.

I debated briefly about simply closing the cage and letting those outside retain their freedom.

Then I recalled we’d paid money for these quail so I probably should attempt to recapture our investment.

I set the egg basket down and began creeping up on the quail roaming the chickenyard. They weren’t that hard to catch as they did not have much flying experience.

I did learn that I can only hold one at a time as they are wriggly little critters.

I managed to catch all I could find on our side of the fence. One had escaped into the neighbor’s yard, but I chose not to go retrieve it.

Remember, the neighbors already think we are strange after seeing me in my bee bonnet. In their backyard, in my bee bonnet, rounding up quail might prove grounds for a call for the patty wagon!

I suppose “quail wrangler” can now be added to my “chicken wrangler” title making me Sara Chicken/Quail Wrangler Extraordinaire.

I wonder. CW Sara may have chased down some quail, but is that the same as daily wrangling chickens? Enough to earn her a new title?

What do  you think?


Tipping Point Phase 2 – Tossing and Turning Loose

I may have lied in my first phase Tipping Point blog. This is HARD!

If you read that blog, then you know we decided to simplify our lives, which meant tossing and turning loose of our stuff.

Since my last post, we’ve sorted. Tons and tons of emotions whirled as we weeded through treasures. 

We are not hoarders. Yet we found ourselves with so much.

Partly because as you age you simply accumulate stuff. That and we got lazy about cleaning out the stuff.

Mostly because we’ve lived here so long. Previously, we’d rarely stayed in a home more than five years. To be here in one place thirty years meant lots and lots of STUFF.

Fellow WANA Tribe blogger Sherry Isaac has also been in what I call the TP (tipping point) mode. In her blog Shedding & Shredding the Stuff, she shared a hilarious observational comedy video by George Carlin.

If you’re not familiar with Carlin (I wasn’t), think Seinfeld. Btw, the definition of observational comedy is humor based on commonplace aspects of everyday life. Carlin’s routine STUFF fits perfectly what happened to us.

For a full two weeks, we organized. We gave away. Passed to children and family. Shredded.

And, yes, we kept things. Some treasures we just couldn’t part with and some furniture we’ll use in our new place.

Finally, we held our garage sale. What fun talking with all the folks who stopped by.

We heard some great stories. (You’ll find parts of some of those stories in future Judythe Morgan manuscripts.) I loved the smiles on the faces of those who took away our treasures and made them theirs. Our stuff had found happy homes.

The house is mostly empty now. The rooms echo. The walls are bare.

The woodwork and floors clean and polished. I can’t praise Liquid Gold enough. Windows glisten thanks to Windex. Easy Off turned our originally installed ovens into shiny clean.

I am feeling like a heavy burden has been lifted, but the process involved lots of physical labor and emotional drain.

Onto the next phase now. The house is up for sale.


We’re waiting for the perfect person to buy the home we’ve loved and cherished.

Next time I’ll share how this new phase of our transition progresses.


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Rush, Stress, and Busyness – Blogs last month you might have missed

NaNoWriMo 2012 has ended. (btw, MAJOR congratulations to those who stayed the course and wrote 50,000 words. I’m so impressed.)

Today’s December 1st. The holiday season is upon us and closing in like a speeding bullet.

ticking clock

If you’re like me, you’re skimming and skipping on social media sites and blogs. 

Here are some blogs with writerly news or information I thought you’d want to know about:

Fictionwise is Now on Life Support – They’re Pulling the Plug in 3 Weeks’ Time

  •  Digital Reader advises now would be a good time to go download any ebooks you still can.  After December 21, 2012,  you will not be able to access any of the ebooks you bought from Fictionwise sites (including, and

Very latest on Fictionwise’s demise:

What People Talk About When They Talk About Bad Writing

  • Writer/agent Nathan Bransford’s take on a definition of bad writing.

Why is your second novel so important?

  • Agent Chip Macgregor discusses the biggest pitfalls in a second novel.

Sell More Fiction by Activating the Power of Book Clubs

  • How to employ bookclubs and discussion questions to increase your   book sales.

6 Common Myths About Book Reviews

  • Debunks common misconceptions about book reviews

How Twitter Hashtags Help Authors Find Readers

  • Loved this list of handy hashtags to connect with readers


  • Interesting discussion about trackers in eReaders: Your data profile shows when you read and when you don’t. Will it soon determine what you read? 

YOUR TURN to SHARE: If you’ve found a blog, you think I may have missed, tell me about it in your comment.


Missing Books and Memories: Miller Farm Friday

Before the school year started, I alphabetized my books in my classroom to make it easier to find what I wanted for each class. 

 Imagine my consternation when I went to pull “Six Little Ducks” and it was not nestled right next to “Silent Night” in the “s” section. I thought perhaps I had loaned it out and would need to track it down. 

I chose another duck book, “Little White Duck,” and went on with my teaching.

Well yesterday, I wanted to read “Ten Little Indians.” It was time to start my Thanksgiving songs. It was also missing! 

My first thought was “Now I’ve lost six little ducks and ten little Indians and the craziness of the holiday season has not even began. Not a good sign!”

I had to walk away from the bookshelf to collect myself. 

Upon returning and carefully searching through the entire alphabet of books, I discovered that “Ten Little Indians” was actually titled “One Little Indian.” 

 Silly me.

 Very relieved, I looked once again for “Six Little Ducks.” 

 I discovered the title of that book is actually “Five Little Ducks,” and it was right shelved right where it was supposed to be – after “Fire Truck.” 

I slept much better last night knowing that every book and everything was in their proper spot. 

Including the black hen in the chicken yard who apparently still has flashbacks to the possum episode and tries to sleep on top of the quail cage.

Have a great weekend.

Before anyone gets excited over CW (Chicken Wrangler) Sara using Ten Little Indians to kickstart Thanksgiving, I have to tell you that she grew up where Mama (me) made sure the “real” Thanksgiving celebration wasn’t forgotten.

(Image from:

The first Thanksgiving feast was to thank the Indians for their contribution to the Pilgrims’ survival.

To reinforce the concept, I wore an Indian squaw dress custom-made for me by an Apache seamstress on the White River Arizona Reservation.

I’m sure CW Sara told her young students all about a Mama’s custom.

I do wonder if she tells her classes about how I embellished the Five Little Duck story by having the Mama Duck (NOT the Daddy Duck) call the duckies back in the song’s punch line.

I’d tell her and her siblings that disobedience to Mama Duck meant the five little duckies might not have a happy ending.

On second thought, CW Sara probably doesn’t tell that story. That would be like the black hen’s flashbacks of the possum episode—recalling unpleasant memories.


Any Thanksgiving traditions?

Or unpleasant possum memories?