This year has been hard. I could just stop there but let me be more specific.
As a music teacher, it has been hard to teach without singing, sharing instruments or playing any passing games. In fact, I wrote a poem telling about this. You can read it here.
To be honest, I have spent the first 6 weeks of school wondering why I keep going. I could quit and be a grandma full time. That sounds much more rewarding than struggling as a music teacher.
Things are getting better. Last week a student gave me a picture they drew of me. There were several details in that picture that made me smile.
The first thing is the eyelashes. When I started recording lessons last Spring for the students at home, I realized my eyes always looked half closed. I decided to start wearing eye make up to help me look awake. This student noticed!
Then there are the earrings. I usually wear large, dangling earrings. I read somewhere that they make you look 10 pounds lighter. That helps with the COVID 20 I have gained.
I am particularly happy that she drew the earrings as music notes. Not all my earrings are music notes.
When the face mask mandate went into effect, I was frustrated that I could not smile at people. Smiling is very important. I borrowed a button maker and made a button:
I wear my name badge in a pouch around my neck. In the pouch I keep all my necessities – my office key, a tuning fork, an Allen wrench, the USB drive with all my music information and sometimes a peppermint. The button is on the cord holding my name pouch. This student included that detail.
Things have been hard. They may never return to the way they were before. However, when I look through the eyes of a child, especially this one, I know it will be OK.
The house on one side of us is owned by a couple in the next town who purchased it as rental property when their daughter was here. She has since married and moved to Scotland. The house has had a variety of renters. I always try to introduce myself and encourage them to let us know if the noise from Miller Farm is bothersome.
Right now, the couple who lives there have a dog. I am extra sure to meet any dogs that move in nearby.
This is a Great Dane named Connor. He is an older dog which is good because a younger Great Dane might come over the fence to play.
Max thinks that would be fun. Since Max is afraid of the chickens when they are on the same side of the fence as he is, I am pretty sure he would run from Connor.
It is nice to have good neighbors. Especially when there is a fence between us.
I looked out my kitchen window last week to find one of the chicks on top of the duck coop.
I took this to mean that the newest flock of chicks was ready to go in with the big girls.
So I waited for the duck yard to dry out a little bit. I knew I would be chasing chickens around in the dark and wanted to minimize the mess. I moved them into the big coop at night knowing that is usually the best plan.
The new chicks wake up thinking they had been in their new home forever. They do, after all, have bird brains.
Sure enough, they were not happy about being moved and they expressed their displeasure in a form of “chicken scratch” on both arms. I managed to catch all 13 birds, clip their wings and put them into the big coop without landing in the mud. I did have to take a shower to clean the mud off my arms – especially around the scratches.
They all survived the first night locked in the coop and I was curious what they would do the second night.
When I went to check, I did not see them in the big coop or in the chicken yard. They had put themselves up in the little coop in the middle of the yard that didn’t have a door.
I blocked the entrance with an old wire door and told them goodnight.
Now we just have to wait for them to start laying eggs.
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.