The ducks are now laying up to four eggs a day! This is fantastic news on Miller Farm.
I use duck eggs in cooking and mix them with chicken eggs to be scrambled. Ducks are very messy and sometimes I am not convinced the sheer entertainment value is worth the effort. Having duck eggs is a different story.
First there was a soft egg which frequently happens when a bird starts to lay.
Then we had two hard shell eggs in one day.
Last week I found a green egg which could not belong to Lucy. That means one of the gray ducks is laying.
This week I found a tiny egg – again usually indicating a first egg. I think Lucy is getting nervous about having competition.
She has laid two enormous eggs. When I cracked one open this morning it had two yolks!
Don’t worry, Lucy. You’re still my favorite. That is why you get all the roaches from the water jugs.
The chicks quickly outgrew the brooder. I didn’t fully understand the ramifications of this until they started dying.
Rachel took one look at them when she was visiting us and said, “they are too crowded.” The question became where to put them.
The chicks that were obviously roosters went into the rooster pen.
Rachel suggested putting the hens in with the ducks since that part of the pen was secured against escape. And there is a small coop in there to lock the chicks up at night. I was concerned that the ducks would bother the chicks. Rachel assured me the ducks would be afraid of the chicks.
Sure enough, Rachel was right.
The chicks stayed in their corner…
And the ducks stayed in theirs.
So far everyone is getting along. The coop has been repaired so when they start bothering each other, we can move the chicks out into the big yard and safely lock them up at night.
Part of my music education was ear training. This involved identifying different instruments, different parts of a music selection and even specific notes and rhythms in a song. These are very useful skills as a music teacher. I teach these skills to my students on a simpler level and the youngest classes get very excited about writing rhythms.
These astute listening skills can be a detriment, however. When a song we play on the praise team at church does not end the way my ear believes it should, I confess there are times when I quietly resolve the chord just for my own peace of mind.
I can also identify nonmusical sounds.
For example, a couple of weeks ago Beekeeper Brian and I were lying in bed, reading, and we heard an unusual noise. It sounded like the ceiling fan was blowing a piece of paper but that wasn’t the case.
We looked around for a minute then the sound stopped. When it started up again, my aural memory kicked in and I said “that’s a click beetle.”
For those who don’t know, it is a beetle that makes a clicking noise as it tries to get from its back to its stomach. I guess it is a step up from a roach that just stays on its back until it dies.
Here’s a picture of one in the kitchen.
Eric Carle has written a book about a click beetle. I read it to my students.
So we began a search of the floor and sure enough there was a click beetle under the bed. I think Beekeeper Brian was a little surprised.
I, on the other hand, was thankful the skills I learned earning my music degrees continue to be useful.
When I was grading science papers this Spring, I was reminded about life cycles. I saw many drawings of caterpillars to butterflies and tadpoles to frogs.
At Miller Farm I get to witness the life cycle of a chicken.
Of course, they start as eggs in the incubator. That part is pretty boring and lasts 21 days, usually. We always have at least one overachiever who makes their entrance early. Then they cheep loudly to encourage their friends to join them.
After they hatch and dry off they become “fuzzy butts.” These are quite cute and represent what most people think of when they picture chicks.
After a few weeks they enter the “ugly stage”. This happens as they lose their baby feathers and start to get their adult feathers. They are truly ugly.
Shortly after this stage they are in the “piglet” stage where they eat all the time. I guess that helps them grow to be full-sized chickens. Soon these guys will join the rest of the flock.
Hopefully we have enough hens to replace those who have died this summer and we won’t have to go through this life cycle again any time soon.
Right now I’m more interested in the life cycle of a grandson who will never have an ugly stage!
The East wall of our chicken coop fell down last week. It is not surprising. It has been slowly deteriorating over the past year. In fact, I was quite amazed when the recent hail storm did not knock it down.
In fact when it fell, there was no wind at all to blow it down. There was no chicken running into it to knock it over. It simply fell.
The chickens ran and squawked in fear. Rachel said they probably thought the sky was falling. She is so clever!
As I looked at the rotting wood on the ground I thought it to be symbolic of our society right now. We have weathered the storm of a pandemic, the darkness of isolation, the fear of uncertainty, the anger of civil unrest yet we remain standing – at least for now.
I believe there are some who are ready to just fall over at any moment. The sheer exhaustion of existing in such uncertainty has worn them down. They have withstood the storm and now they are tired and ready to rest.
So what does this mean to me? It means I must treat everyone very gently because I can’t tell by looking which person is done standing.
I should encourage everyone I see, offer help when I can, write notes and mail them, bake cookies and take them. Anything I can think of that might make people smile even if I can’t see it under their mask. Hopefully I can see it in their eyes.
We will rebuild the chicken coop. When the time is right, people will rebuild their lives, also. I will be standing by with a hammer and nails, and chocolate chip cookies.
I have a confession to make. Several weeks ago I wrote about being fearless. This is not entirely true.
I opened the door to the garage a couple of weeks ago and saw a snake slithering along a milk crate. This was not a small, cute rough earth snake.
This was a huge unidentifiable snake and I slammed the door and screamed. I did not stop to take a picture but here is one I found:
This is what I imagined: Here is Beekeeper Brian’s rendition of the story sent to our children:
“Ok, so….. I just got the beejeeebus scared out of me. Mom is screaming from the kitchen like something is killing her!
I drop everything, run in there with no shirt or shoes (I don’t know how I will ever get service here, but that is beside the point, I digress) and she is screaming there is a SNAKE in the garage!!!
Well, being the loving husband and desiring to protect, I go to investigate. Sure enough, there is a little snake tail in the milk crate by the water heater.
Resisting the urge to just grab it (since I couldn’t see enough to be sure), I take the milk crate to the patio and start removing things. Sure enough, just a little Texas rat snake. It starts to leave so I let it. All four feet of it. Off it goes into the yard next door.
Well, I might have a few more gray hairs now from the excitement.”
He’s not the only one with additional gray hairs. I’m just hoping the snake told all his friends to avoid the garage on Miller Farm.
This week I am writing not as Chicken Wrangler Sara but as my alter ego – Music Teacher Sara.
I was blessed to have been raised not only in church but in a musical family that actually sang at home. My mother would play the piano, and we sang hymns in harmony. The number of parts varied as each of the kids learned to read music and developed a favorite part.
As we have married and had our own children, the tradition continues when we gather at Nana and Pepa’s house.
Recently, churches have moved from singing hymns to singing praise songs. There are strong feelings about this. I happen to enjoy both.
My previous school sang hymns every morning in chapel. In the last years I was there, I started singing the hymns with my music class the day before we sang them in chapel. This gave the students a chance to at least hear them before the chapel service. Not all of them liked to sing.
One afternoon, just before my last class of the day, I received word that my son was in the hospital 4 hours away. I was devastated.
My husband got the call first and left immediately. He called from the car, and we agreed it was best for me to stay and take care of Miller Farm. I would not have been helpful at the hospital.
I was able to pull myself together before my high school class arrived. The hymn we sang that day was “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” These are the words.
1 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is your health and salvation!
Come, all who hear; now to his temple draw near,
join me in glad adoration.
2 Praise to the Lord, above all things so wondrously reigning;
sheltering you under his wings, and so gently sustaining!
Have you not seen all that is needful has been
sent by his gracious ordaining?
3 Praise to the Lord, who will prosper your work and defend you;
surely his goodness and mercy shall daily attend you.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
if with his love he befriends you.
4 Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him!
All that has life and breath, come now with praises before him.
Let the Amen sound from his people again;
gladly forever adore him.
As I sang Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore Him! I was forced to remember that God was still in control and still worthy of praise. Our son did come home and now works at a machine shop nearby.
This morning I was watching a performance of that hymn at Westminster Abbey.
There was an extra verse before verse 4. I tried to find the words in a hymnal but every hymnal I checked only had the four verses. I listened to it again and wrote down the words.
Praise to the Lord who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who when the elements madly around they are raging.
Biddeth them cease
Turneth their fury to peace
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.
This verse seems particularly appropriate as tempests of disease and civil unrest are waging their war. I am comforted once again by the thought that God is still in control.
God still uses music, both hymns and contemporary Christian songs, to bring me comfort. People can argue about what is best. To me all music is a gift from God.
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