18 12, 2020

Best Laid Plans

By |2020-12-17T08:38:41-06:00December 18th, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Putting together music programs has always been somewhat of a challenge.  This year it is exponentially harder.

We cannot perform before live audiences so we must record all the students in advance. We did this for the Veteran’s Day program then had some technical issues at the last minute, so the classes were unable to see the performances.

The principal is determined to avoid this and asked me to plan the Christmas program before we left for Thanksgiving Break. I gave him an outline of what each class would do and spent the week of Thanksgiving filling in the details.

When we returned, he asked me to have all the recording done before testing started the following week.  It was a stretch but I put together a recording schedule and started working with the classes.

I decided to do bucket drumming with the 7th and 8th grade classes.  It would reinforce rhythmic concepts and they seem to enjoy hitting on things.

Not having the budget to purchase official buckets, I gathered cat litter buckets and the students spray painted them red and green.  This took multiple days, but the result was pretty good, and most of the paint landed on the buckets.

The students also wrapped the drumsticks with red and green electrical tape.

All was well until the school closed for two days.  That put the recording behind schedule.  There was no one to do the recording due to absences in the office staff.  I kept practicing with the classes and put recording on hold.

Then the principal decided to proceed with the recording even though testing was happening in my room. We recorded in the cafeteria.

All was well until the 7th and 8th graders had to switch to remote learning for two days.  I adjusted the recording schedule, again, and took the remaining buckets home to finish the painting. Then the decision was made to keep 7th and 8th grade off campus until after Christmas break.

So now we have red and green buckets all ready to go and no one to play them.

I guess we can use them for Cinco de Mayo.

The rest of the program was recorded and is ready to be shown on Friday.

At least that is the plan…


14 12, 2020

Christmas Traditions during a Pandemic – classic movies

By |2020-12-01T15:37:52-06:00December 14th, 2020|Holidays, one word Wednesday|3 Comments

Getting in the holiday spirit during this season is proving hard for many of us. Since we’re hanging close to home, we’re watching classic movies.

I suspect most of my readers weren’t around when White Christmas debuted in 1954. But, I’m guessing everyone has heard the song and many watched the classic.

White Christmas is right up there at the top of favorite Christmas movies with It’s A Wonderful Life.  Nothing sets the holiday mood better for me than a bag of popcorn in hand and watching the musical set in New England.

White Christmas has it all — romance, Rogers and Hammerstein songs, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney singing, Danny Kaye dancing.

Below is a clip of my favorite scene. I love the costumes, the dancing, and the singing.

Now don’t you feel more in the holiday spirit?

Ironic that hearing the classic song brings on images of Christmas past and the promise of Christmases future, especially since it was written tongue-in-cheek by Irving Berlin, a Jew who did not much care for the holiday.

Do you have a favorite classic holiday movie for getting in the holiday spirit?

11 12, 2020

Not too old

By |2020-12-09T06:47:30-06:00December 11th, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The new flock of chickens is old enough to fly up onto the fence. They are not smart enough to realize there are chicken eating dogs on the other side of the fence.

I have won several games of “Beat Bella to the Chicken.”

Last week I decided to clip the wings of the chicken I had rescued from Bella.  The chicken was not happy about this at all.

In fact I got one wing clipped and it jumped back out of my arms and right back into dog territory.

I got to play another round of “Beat Bella to the Chicken.”  I won both rounds.

I guess I’m not too old, yet.

7 12, 2020

Christmas Traditions during a Pandemic

By |2020-12-01T15:07:54-06:00December 7th, 2020|A Writer's Life, Holidays, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Christmas 2020 will be different. That shouldn’t stop us from all our traditions.

One of my familiar things to do is watch A Claymation Christmas Celebration. If you’ve never seen it, you’ve missed a real treat.

The program aired on CBS TV in 1987 and  won a 1988 Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program. We watched the show live and then for years afterward popped our video in the VCR to kick-start the holiday at our house. It’s available on YouTube nowadays.

The animation is something called stop motion clay animation that rivals some of today’s high tech productions.

So what’s the story about?

Two prehistoric dinosaurs one named Rex, an intellectual tyrannosaurus, and the other Herb, a dimwitted, bespectacled styracosaurus with a voracious appetite, are the main characters. The pair guides you along a typical small town’s Christmas choral celebration with various Christmas carols preformed. The California Raisins are special guest stars.

Throughout the story, Rex tries to explain the true pronunciation and meaning of the term wassail. Different groups sing their rendition, all of which are lyrically incorrect.

Finally, a large truck loaded with elfin, cider-swilling townsfolk arrives, singing the correct version. When one of the townies explains wassailing means going around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols and getting treats and cordials, Rex’s theories are validated, much to his delight.

My favorite carol from the show is “We Three Kings.”

The Walrus ice-skating to “Angels We Have Heard on High” is a very close second.


If you want, you can watch the full thirty-minute show on YouTube here.

For repeated viewing, you can purchase your own VHS video from Amazon or a DVD with Will Vinton’s Claymation productions for Easter and Halloween.

4 12, 2020

The Next Generation

By |2020-12-03T07:00:54-06:00December 4th, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|3 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

When our oldest daughter was decorating for her first Christmas away from home, she asked if she could have the fabric nativity set I had made when she was a baby. I have collected many more nativity sets and was happy to pass that one to her.

She has since gotten married and this year she and her husband are celebrating with their first child – our first grandchild.

I received this picture from her this week:

She wrote:  The nativity set is entrancing a new generation of children.

That thought, as well as the picture make me smile.

30 11, 2020

Observing Christmas with an Advent Wreath

By |2020-11-29T14:47:40-06:00November 30th, 2020|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade signals the beginning of Christmas preparations and traditions around our home. The Advent wreath also triggers the start of our Christmas celebrations too.

If you attend a traditional liturgical church, you lit the first candle of an Advent wreath yesterday. Or, under COVID-19 quarantine, watched the lighting via video like I did.

Unfamiliar with the tradition of Advent? Let me explain.

Advent comes from adventus meaning “coming” or “visit” and includes the four Sundays before Christmas ending on Christmas Eve. Advent also serves as the beginning of the liturgical year for churches.

Modern-day Advent services feature a garland wreath with four candles.

First candle, the “Prophet’s Candle,” symbolizes hope. The prophets of the Old Testament foretold the Messiah’s arrival. The purple color symbolizes royalty, repentance, and fasting.

Second, the “Bethlehem’s Candle,” represents faith. The prophet Micah foretold the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem. The second candle is also purple to symbolism preparation for the coming king.

Third, the “Shepherd’s Candle,” symbolizes joy. Angels announced the Christ child’s arrival to shepherds. The rose (pink) color rose signifies joy and rejoicing.

Fourth candle, the “Angel’s Candle,” signifies peace. The angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace. It’s also purple to represent the culmination of love through the Messiah.

The (optional) fifth candle, “Christ’s candle,” stands in the middle and represents light and purity of Christ. It is lit on Christmas Day.

You can read more about the symbolism of the advent wreath here.

Individuals sometimes incorporate advent activities into their home holiday traditions when their church does not formally recognize a season of Advent. You can purchase wreath rings and candles. Or, with our COVID-19 holiday restrictions, you might consider constructing your own Advent wreath. Here’s a how-to video.

Observing Advent with an advent wreath is a great way to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Advent Candle from Unitarian Universalist Association
25 11, 2020

Old Irish Blessing for Thanksgiving

By |2020-11-20T10:04:17-06:00November 25th, 2020|Holidays|0 Comments

At Thanksgiving we think about all the things we are thankful for. For Chicken Wrangler Sara and I that’s you, our readers.

It’s our tradition to offer this Old Irish Blessing rich in what we wish for you and yours.  And, perhaps this crazy, mixed-up, pandemic Thanksgiving Day we all need the thoughts and words more than ever.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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