Updated on September 24, 2018
Texas is a seasonless place. Life here is lived in a constant tropical sun. It puts you in a constant state of seasonal disorientation.
I’m not complaining merely stating fact. I live here by choice.
The lack of the brilliant bursts of color on the trees to signal fall has arrived means using other clues for the shift from summer to fall.
The temperatures aren’t going to change until maybe December. It’s the excitement of back-to-school sales and the sound of the yellow school buses in the morning that mean the season is changing.
As a kid, I loved going back to school. Seeing friends, getting new school clothes and shoes. Fresh new notebooks with all those empty pages waiting to be filled and sparkly new pencils waiting to be sharpened. It was an exciting time for me.
Now, flipping the calendar to September still brings that anticipation of new adventures. It’s a turning point, not only signaling the arrival of fall but also new beginnings.
A New Year means making resolutions. September is a time to assess progress. Where are we? How much further do we want to go?
Summer with its freedom from routine and laziness is over. Fall is the time to harness the momentum of back-to-school excitement and make a positive push forward.
Do you get that “back-to-school” sensation in September?
Updated on September 21, 2018
A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara
When I open the back door each morning the chickens run to the fence and begin squawking “Feed me, feed me, I’m starving.”
This continues as I fill the feed bucket and wade carefully through the sea of birds to the food pans. More than once I have stepped on a chicken toe causing even louder squawking. As soon as I put the feed in the pans, all is quiet while they eat.
It reminds me of feeding our children when they were babies. They would scream as if they were dying until they found the food be it bottle or breast. Then there was blissful quiet.
Our church is filled with young families with babies. Wednesday evening I had the chance to hold one of our newest babies as he slept. I thought of our gown son who is struggling with anxiety over a new job right now.
How I wished I could hold and rock him and make it all better. But alas, he’s grown and would squish me.
Perhaps I will put some food out for him. It works with chickens.
Updated on September 5, 2018
About the same time Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, the fashion world declared the first Monday in September should also signal the end of wearing white garments.
Today’s fashion world is much more relaxed about what colors to wear and when to wear certain styles. You are free to wear white clothing year round, if you choose.
Still, in the coming days and weeks, if you do don a white garment, someone will remind you of the age-old fashion directive.
Caroline Clemmons, a Facebook friend and fellow author, posted this cartoon. It was too perfect for today’s blog not to share.
So where did this crazy mandate come from? Three things contributed to its origin.
Before the days of central air conditioning, about the only way to stay cool during the dog days of summer was to wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. It made sense to wear white between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
2. Classism and Snobbery
Historians suggest the rule rose from affluent New Englanders who leftthe soot-covered, industrial cities to head to the beaches or mountains for the summer months. Resorts of the 1920s and 30s overflowed with patrons in white linen suits and Panama hats.
White came to symbolize wealth, but after the Civil War, distinguishing between who came from old money and who came from new money became increasing difficult. Establishing fashion rules like no white after Labor Day offered a means to weed out those who didn’t belong.
A desire for upward mobility meant adhering to the no-whites dictum and perpetuated the silly rule. Even into the twentieth century, many wouldn’t risk challenging the tradition by wearing summer white in fall or winter.
3. Fashion Marketing
Early on fashion designers and manufacturers recognized a lucrative market for white garments during the summer months and switching to dark colors for fall. Popular magazines began promoting garment color according to the seasons.
Whatever the reasons for the original fashion rule, rest assured leading fashion designers have declared the end of the dictum. Here’s what Michael Kors said in a 2013 Tweet:So the answer to my question about wearing white after Labor Day is YES wear white year round. You want to be glamorous, don’t you?
Updated on September 3, 2018
A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara
The duck population on Miller Farm has increased to five. Filling their duck pool is the highlight of my week. They are so fun to watch as they take turns getting into the pool. Apparently sharing is a learned skill in ducks as well as in humans.
One duck hasn’t quite mastered the skill yet. The antics are fun to watch.
Of course this reminds me of a song. I actually have this song in a book all its own.
My copy is falling apart from so much use. Perhaps I should replace it before I introduce this song to my new group of classes. They have no idea what fun we will have! I do love sharing my life in songs.
Updated on August 1, 2018
Welcome guest blogger Brandon Butler. He’s is a dog lover and vet tech, who . He loves helping pet owners by sharing advice on Fur and Feathers.
Two Etiquette Tips to Help Your Dog Be A Better Neighbor
As a dog owner, you probably love everything about your pet. You accept your dog, muddy paws and all. You accept his faults because he loves you unconditionally. Sometimes, adoration for your dog means that you ignore some of his behavior that may be bothersome to others.
We’re a nation of dog lovers, but… it’s up to owners to teach their pets to be good neighbors. The good news is that you can address most problems yourself.
- Correct excessive barking
You may be numb to his barking, but your neighbor probably isn’t. If your dog is an excessive barker who howls at every pedestrian passing your home or just goes off on a yelping rant whenever home alone, there are steps you can take to stop or minimize the yapping.
The first rule is to resist the inclination to yell. Your dog doesn’t know what it means when you raise your voice to him, and if he’s barking, he’s just going to think you are joining in on the noise. Instead, speak to him in a confident, authoritative voice. Here are some tips to curb barking:
- Remove the barking stimuli. If your dog barks all day at people walking by the front of the house, make it so he cannot see out that window. Restrict access to rooms that face walkers and other activity.
- Desensitize your dog to things that would cause barking. For example, if your dog barks at other dogs, incorporate socialization with other dogs and reward him for not barking around those that he meets.
- Train your dog to be quiet when you command. Just like other problem behaviors, your dog is only barking because he hasn’t learned that it’s inappropriate. Again, you accomplish this training goal without yelling, but by rewarding your pup with training treats for stopping barking on command.
- Calm your dog through adequate exercise
Problem behaviors often arise in dogs who are bored from inactivity. A dog may jump on a visitor, chew on furniture, and even have accidents in the house because of pent-up energy and nervousness. If you provide frequent interaction and activity your dog will be less likely to engage in a destructive stress-relieving behavior. Try this out: double the frequency and duration of your current walking schedule. In most cases, you’ll be hearing more snoring than barking, and your well-exercised pup will be a lot less likely to engage in other inappropriate behavior.
Dog walking provides benefits for owners in addition to controlling bad canine behavior. The activity gives owners exercise and has been shown to reduce stress. It also is a wonderful way to connect with your dog. If your busy schedule limits your available time for walking, consider hiring a dog-walking/dog sitter service. These services can help make sure your dog gets frequent attention.
Today’s gig economy makes finding dog sitters and walkers easier than ever, but ask some essential questions before hiring a service. For instance, ask how they would handle an emergency situation. Insist that they provide a reference list of current and former clients, and make sure that you give the service clear instructions and have an open line of communication.
Through basic obedience training and frequent exercise, you will find that many of your dog’s problem behaviors disappear. You, your dog, and the entire neighborhood will appreciate it.
Updated on September 11, 2018
We’re floating in swimming pools, searching for spaces to park our car beneath shade trees when we have to go shopping. Mostly we’re hibernating inside our air-conditioned homes to escape the heat and stay cool. Our dogs lie at our feet panting even though they’re not running around.
But summer heat doesn’t really have anything to do with dogs.
The term dog days of summer comes from astronomy and is a reference to the Dog Star Sirius, which rises and sets with the Sun in the summertime.
Ancient Egyptians believed that the brightness of Dog Star Sirius added heat to the sun and produced a long stretch of sultry weather during the forty days beginning July 3 and ending August 11.
The accuracy of those ancient “dog day” dates doesn’t hold true today according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews. Dog day dates vary based on in the rotation of the Earth and whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere.
Anyone who’s lived in Texas knows that dog days in Texas can (and do) begin well before July 3 and extend long after August 11. Afternoon temperatures can soar to the nineties with heat indexes pushing well into the triple digits and heat wave warnings are sounded well into September.
We get to enjoy lazy days sitting under the porch fan sipping lemonade and reading. Flip flops and sandals. Ice cream cones and frozen slushies. Watermelon and fresh veggies. It’s a laid back time.
Soon, these dog days will become a memory until they return next year. Fall will bring cooler weather and colorful leaves, pumpkins, and holiday bazaars.
Updated on September 3, 2018
A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara
I recently started a new job teaching music at a charter school near my house. The private school where I taught for the past 10 years closed at the beginning of July. There was a period of time when I wasn’t teaching music anywhere.
This was very disconcerting. I realized that teaching music is not only what I do but it is a large part of who I am. My whole life is a series of songs to be shared with anyone who will listen – mostly children.
For example, we acquired 4 roosters who were somewhat smaller than our hens so we placed them in a vacant enclosure within the chicken yard. The next morning they were out with the hens.
I chased them back to what I considered safety but the next morning they were out again. I checked on them the following night and discovered they were all flying up into the tree above the enclosure and roosting for the night.
I spotted one in the tree and snapped a picture.
That reminded me of a song:
I realize they are not actually turkeys and there are only four but still, this is how my mind works. I suppose it will always work that way, whether or not I am officially a music teacher. Fortunately I am a music school teacher so I have an excuse to live my life in songs.