2 10, 2023

My Favorite Dog Breed

By |2023-09-29T15:42:34-05:00October 2nd, 2023|A Writer's Life|0 Comments

Old English Sheepdogs are not seen much in Texas, but they’re my favorite breed. The OES loves people and can be quite the clown. They are good-natured and sociable, enthusiastic and bumptious.

Our first OES, Obadiah came to live with us after our move from New England back to Texas and we’ve had one ever since.

Obie never quite understood he was a dog. Our daughter treated him like the little brother she never had. Such a kind gentle soul. He never once complained or growled.

The sad part of owning an OES is their short life span of ten to twelve years.

When we lost Obie, we found Micah at a breeder in Colorado. Our furry bundle of energy arrived for Christmas and filled our sad hearts with fun and laughter.

Micah took it in stride when our granddog Bernie came to live with us when our son went off to seminary. A short time later, a rescue OES, Rhinestone, joined us. They made quite the trio walking through our neighborhood. We lost Micah and Bernie (at age 17) close to the same time. Rhinestone, already skittish from her early life, became even more attached to me. When we had hardwood floors installed, she went to stay with my sister-in-law, who had recently lost her dog. Two lovely ladies found one another and became best buds. Rhinestone went to live with Keta.

I wrote about their story in The Dog Next Door.

After Rhinestone, we were dog-less for a time. we hated it and began yet another OES search.

Finally, we found a breeder in Florida with a litter ready to go to furever homes.

Tobias (Toby) arrived one hot summer day.  It was love at first sight.

A couple of years later Buster, a twelve-pound Maltese, came to live with us. And once again we were a big happy family. Buster loved to sit on my lap and help me write.

When Toby crossed the rainbow bridge, we thought Buster would be a fine only dog. But the three of us missed having a big guy around.

After another OES search, we found Micah’s breeder in Colorado had puppies ready. We picked up Finnegan MacCool on a crisp October day. Buster was delighted to share his bean bag again.

Sadly, we lost Buster in 2021 and now Finn is an only dog. It’s working fine. Finn misses Buster but Buster bossed him around and wouldn’t share my lap willingly. Now Finn has my lap all to himself. He’s a happy dog.

29 09, 2023

When the Teacher is Wrong

By |2023-09-28T06:55:17-05:00September 29th, 2023|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Although the majority of music class is making or listening to music, we do write music as well. I have a can of random pencils available along with various kinds of paper, i.e. notebook, blank, staff.

Most of my pencils are well-used so have no erasers. They still sharpen fine so I hate to throw them away. I just keep separate erasers for students who need them.

This is very disconcerting to the students and the first thing they say when I give them a pencil is “My pencil doesn’t have an eraser.”

I tell them they don’t need an eraser until they have actually written something and when they have something to erase, I will give them an eraser. They are still not happy but they use the pencils anyway.

Last week I decided to buy new pencils. I got a box of sharpened pencils with nice erasers. As I passed them out, I explained how they were brand new pencils so every one of them had a point and an eraser.

One student told me that his pencil didn’t have a point. I confess I was frustrated as I said, “Yes it does. They are new pencils and you are the first people to use them.”

Then he brought me his pencil.

Sure enough, the lead was put in the pencil off-center so it was not sharpened. I tried several times to sharpen it to no avail.

It is the first time I have ever seen a pencil like this.

I wish I could say it was the first time I was proven wrong. Or that it would be the last.

25 09, 2023

Farming and Farm Animal Myths

By |2023-09-22T12:19:46-05:00September 25th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|1 Comment

Recently we watched Clarkson’s Farm documentary. The series documents British personality Jeremy Clarkson’s attempts at running Diddly Squat Farm, a 1,000-acre farm in the Cotswold, England.

It was fascinating learning the details of running a large farm. Plus, the farm name intrigued me. If you’re not familiar with the word, it’s a slang term that means doing nothing.

I think Clarkson was making a play on words when he named the farm. He expected running it would be easy. In the end, he admitted farming was a lot more work than he thought.

The series, besides teaching me a lot about farming, debunked several farm animal myths.

  1. Cow tipping isn’t really a thing. Cow’s eyes are on the sides of their heads, they can see about three hundred degrees around them without moving which makes them very difficult to sneak up on. Plus, cows weigh 1,200 to 1,600 pounds. It would take a bunch of people to push one over, assuming they wouldn’t move out of your way in the first place.
  2. Brown cows do not make chocolate milk contrary to what my daddy told me when I was a kid. Interesting that seven percent of the American population believes the myth.
  3. Pigs are not dirty animals. They roll in the mud to cool off and protect themselves from the sun but actually prefer to be clean.
  4. Goats don’t eat tin cans. They may gnaw the tin can but they’re eating the label and glue, not the tin. Goats prefer what’s up high, like leaves and berries on trees, as well as grasses, weeds, and other things on the ground.
  5. Roosters only crow at sunrise. Wrong they crow all the time, not just at sunrise. Their “cock-a-doodle-doo” asserts dominance, warns of danger, and communicates with their flock.

We see lots of cows and horses in the pastures as we drive into town for shopping and activities. My respect and understanding of what the farmers and ranchers go through increased dramatically for them after watching the series. I am disappointed that brown cows don’t make chocolate milk, though.

I recommend Clarkson’s Farm series on Amazon. It’s entertaining, informative, and filled with some laugh-out-loud moments. Watching it might debunk some of your farming myths too.

22 09, 2023

Puppy Love

By |2023-09-20T16:14:47-05:00September 22nd, 2023|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

It has been 8 years since we had a puppy in the house and at that time, we had both Max and Penelope who would entertain each other.

Honor has no siblings in the house so when I get up with her in the morning, I become one big chew toy.

I have been trying to start my day with some stretching exercises and am usually successful until I get down on the floor on my mat. The extra weight on my back as I do planks is fine. But the mess she makes of my hair – not so fine.

I’ve thought about introducing a new hairstyle “Teased by Honor” but I’m not sure anyone else would like it. There is also the fact that she gets stuck in my hair and is no fun to extract.

This week her antics inspired a poem:

 Honor’s Toys

My hand’s not a chew toy

Nor is the chair.

Don’t chew on the rug

Or play in my hair.

So many things

Are not to be chewed.

Only your toys

And always your food.

Your bone, not the cords

Not the box but your keys

You have lots of options

Choose one of them, please!

Thank you!

Because she is so cute, I don’t stay frustrated for long!

18 09, 2023

Hummingbird Watch

By |2023-09-17T16:48:39-05:00September 18th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|1 Comment

SOURCE: David Dilbert @Pexels.com

Hummingbirds – those tiny, colorful, thin-beaked birds, called hummers from the noise that occurs when they flap their wings – are back at our feeders.

Fall migration is from mid-July through August or early September, so they’re migrating. That usually means we fill our feeders every day instead of once a week like we do for the little flock that winters over with us.

There are lots more hummingbirds than usual this year and we’re filling the feeders twice a day!

We watch their shenanigans at the feeders and have learned a lot about the fascinating tiny birds . . .

  • They cannot walk or hop on their tiny feet. They can scoot sideways while perched at feeders. Their small feet have evolved for more efficient flying.
  • Their long beak does not work like a straw but they have a fringed, forked tongue to lick nectar up into their throat.
  • A hummingbird egg is smaller than a jellybean.
  • The average lifespan is three to five years.
  • They have no sense of smell but very keen eyesight.

About their migration . . .

  1. The ruby-throated hummingbird flies five hundred miles nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico during migrations. They do not hitch rides on other birds.
  2. Their maximum forward flight speed is thirty miles per hour but can reach up to sixty miles per hour in a dive.
  3. Their wings beat between 50 and 200 flaps per second depending on the direction of flight, the purpose of their flight, and the surrounding air conditions.
  4. Their wings rotate 180 degrees, enabling backward flight and stationary hovering.

About their behavior . . .

  • They have superior memories and will return to the same feeders and gardens every year.
  • They’re not always docile creatures and will regularly attack jays, crows, and hawks that infringe on their territory.
  • They consume one-half of their weight in sugar daily and feed on average five to eight times per hour, which explains why we have to fill the feeders so often.
  • One hummingbird will guard all the feeders, chasing intruders away. Here’s our little guard hummer protecting one feeder.

The most important thing we’ve learned is hummingbirds prefer plain, clear homemade nectar to red dye which may be dangerous.  When we tested the claim, our hummers refused to drink the red stuff and disappeared until clear nectar reappeared.


My homemade nectar recipe: One cup of sugar dissolved in four cups of boiling water and then cooled before filling feeders. I store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Your hummers will love it too and you can enjoy a hummingbird show like we do.

15 09, 2023

Unwelcome Visitor

By |2023-09-14T20:43:23-05:00September 15th, 2023|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|2 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Our neighbors recently told us that something had gotten into their chickens and killed three of them and a rooster. Based on the damage (headless chickens) they believe it was a raccoon.

I have heard tales of raccoons and their persistence and tendency to destruction. I was not happy.

We discovered one of our chickens had been a victim and had not survived. A rooster escaped to a neighbor’s yard, and there were a few more ducks in our yard that I imagine fled the attack. One of them has an injured leg,

We have set live traps and so have our neighbors to try to catch and relocate the villain.

So far, we have had no success.

My neighbor sent me a picture the other morning. Their oldest daughter is home from college for a visit and fearlessly chased off the raccoon one night. It hasn’t been seen since.

I’ll crown her Raccoon Wrangler. I’m not interested in that title.

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