22 03, 2021

Finding Hope

By |2021-03-21T09:33:09-05:00March 22nd, 2021|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|1 Comment

The way 2021 began almost made the horrors of 2020 seem like a piece of cake.

Almost.

Last year, about the this time, we were whammed from nowhere and slapped into lock down without much forewarning. The rest of the year focused on sanitizing and hibernating and avoiding people.

This year started much the same way, with the addition of a blizzard in Texas that sent most of the state into darkness for days. No electricity also meant no water. No water meant plants died.

The situation is enough to make me want to stay in bed with the covers over my head in fear of what’s coming next. There seems to be no hope that things are ever going to get better.

Then I forced myself up and out on this cool, crisp first day of Spring to talk to my plants caught between the cold snap and days without water. Last I checked, most were toast, but I keep hoping.

You know what I found…

The dead twigs of my azaleas are beginning to have sprouts.

And, the Jasmine is blooming!

All is not lost as I thought. There is still hope.

The plants have survived and so will we.

 

19 03, 2021

Dirty Eggs

By |2021-03-18T16:01:09-05:00March 19th, 2021|Friday Free Day, Miller Farm Friday, Monday Motivations|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara


I recently sold some eggs, both duck and chicken, to a teacher at my school.  Her teenage son found them and was disturbed by their appearance.  In fact he told her they scared him.

She explained that they were from a friend’s farm and assured him they are fine even if they are different colors.  He was not convinced and chose to eat oatmeal.

One thing that bothered him was the dirt on the eggs.  He asked her if I rolled them in the mud before putting them in the carton.

This is how I find the duck eggs:

There is no need for me to roll them in the mud – the ducks take care of that for me.

I sometimes forget that not everyone has chickens and ducks in their backyard.  As far as they know, eggs grow in cartons in the refrigerated aisle at the grocery store.

12 03, 2021

Just Visiting

By |2021-03-11T15:25:52-06:00March 12th, 2021|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|2 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara


When I got home from work one day this week, there were chickens in the duck pen.  When I went out to check on them, the door to the pen was securely closed.

Hmmmm How did they get in there?

They didn’t seem too disturbed and I had to zoom in with a piano student so I left everyone where they were.

When I finished teaching, I looked out and Lucy, one of the ducks, was out in the chicken pen.  Perhaps they were trading places?

But then a rooster started to harass Lucy, so I had to go wrangle her back into the safety of the duck pen.  I also convinced the chickens to go back to their spot,

Yesterday the chickens were back in the duck pen.  I gave up and stayed inside to get the kitchen cleaned up.  I looked out and one of the birds was flying over the duck fence back to the chicken yard.  At least I know how they are getting back and forth.

As long as none of the birds go visit the dogs, I guess all is well.

8 03, 2021

And Then There Was This Slow Blue Norther

By |2021-03-04T11:36:53-06:00March 8th, 2021|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

 

A Blue Norther is a fast-moving cold front that causes temperatures to drop dramatically 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit and quickly, like a few minutes. There are usually a dark blue-black sky and strong winds.

Checking the temperature by flashlight

The cold front aka norther that hit Texas recently was not technically a Blue Norther. It was neither fast nor unexpected. But it dropped temperatures to unheard of lows…for days.

The whole wide world knew colder temperatures than we’d seen in years were coming.

We all scurried around covering citrus trees and shrubs. We brought plants inside are covered. We stocked extra batteries and water in case ice caused us to lose power. We were ready.

Unfortunately, those in charge of our Texas power grid weren’t.

Our home was one of the four million households in Texas that lost power, water, and cell service when the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) made the deadly decision to cut power off to certain counties.

That meant no power during the longest stretch of freezing temperatures in thirty years: 44 consecutive hours from 6:53 p.m. Sunday to 1:53 p.m. Tuesday. You can find other staggering statistics here.

Our gas fireplace logs burned at full throttle and kept indoor temps around 38 degrees. We put on layers of clothes, wrapped ourselves in heavy blankets, and huddled in the living room.

We were fortunate we had warm clothes from living places where winter lasts six months of the year. Most native Texans don’t own super warm clothes. Why would you when normal is two to three days of cold per year?

Our power was out for fifty-eight hours. We were cold but we didn’t freeze. Sadly, others did.

Naturally, the prolonged cold inside the house caused pipes to freeze.When power came back and we turned on the well, a pipe in our kitchen burst. No water again. Nine days total without water!

But we were blessed. We only had one pipe burst and our neighbor has a plumbing company. Our repairs were done in five days. Too many are still dealing with fallout from multiple pipe breaks and major water damage in their homes.

Eating was a challenge too. Fast food places and restaurants couldn’t open. Texas can’t keep roads passable in a situation like this. A normal blue norther blows in and out quickly, roads are okay. But there’s very little winter weather equipment to handle prolonged icy roads. Roads closed completely.

Again, we were fortunate. Our home came with a gas stove, and we had a supply of matches. We had emergency provisions in our pantry. We could cook. I became the queen of one pan meals. We ate from paper plates and bowls because dipping water from our landscape pool then boiling to sterilize for cleanup was too tedious.

Moral to this tale of woe: Be prepared but don’t trust Mother Nature or the Texas power grid.

And, most important, don’t lose hope. Spring is coming. I’ve seen robins in the yard now that Texas temperatures are moving back to the normal winter sixty-degree ranges.

5 03, 2021

A Gift for Rosie

By |2021-03-05T08:18:48-06:00March 5th, 2021|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara


I think I have finally convinced the chickens to stop laying their eggs between the two fences.

However, one of them has found a new place – in the neighbor’s yard.

I texted my neighbor to tell her there was an egg behind their unused chicken coop.  I told her either she has ghost chickens that are laying eggs, or it was a thank you gift to Rosie (the neighbor’s dog) for not eating the chicken when she wandered next door.

In either case, it has only happened once.  The chickens are now laying their eggs in the coop – for now…

3 03, 2021

Finding the Right Words

By |2021-02-26T16:59:34-06:00March 3rd, 2021|Wednesday Words, Wednesday Words of Wisdom, Weekly Quote|1 Comment

I follow Holly Gerth’s blog because she always has fantastic, faith-based meme quotes and advice that uplifts and encourages. Her recent post contained this graphic.

These days with so many dealing with COVID and vaccination reactions, winter storms, and such, I often don’t know what to say when people share. Thanks to Holly, whatever the current situation, one of these phrases will work.

1 03, 2021

Should a Writer Blog?

By |2021-02-05T15:50:42-06:00March 1st, 2021|Writer's Corner, Writing Craft|3 Comments

First, let me say, writing a regular blog isn’t for everyone, whether you’re a career writer or not. It is a lot of work.

I’ve blogged for over nine years. I know firsthand how much.

Here are my takeaways for all the effort.

  • Improved Writing Skills

Writing, in my opinion, can be learned. Same as a knitter learns to knit. Yes, creativity and talent help. But practice makes perfect.

Weekly blogging means practice not only with writing, but also editing, another very important writer skill.

  • Opportunities to experiment

I get to change how I write and what I write. Some of my blog topics are informational, some are personal accounts, some are thought-provoking.

Blogging not only improves my skills. It keeps me learning.

  • Discipline, Motivation & Deadlines

Blogging provides lessons in all three. Readers look for that email in their inbox every week. Not living up to their expectation is super strong motivation.

In turn, motivation provokes discipline. I must get my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keys to meet the deadlines blogs demand, weekly and for the guest blogs I frequently do. That builds discipline.

  • Discoverability

The magic reward for all the effort is discoverability.

While my follower numbers aren’t huge by most scales, when I send a View from the Front Porch post out every Monday, Wednesday, Friday morning at 0600 Central Time precisely, I get 175 faithful readers clicking through.

If I did a book signing or book talk and that many people showed up, I’d be ecstatic. Blogging is my virtual book signing table that is open 24/7/365—internationally.

So, for this writer, the answer to the question is a resounding YES.

Blogging on a regular basis being the key. If you do that, blogging can be a powerful way to network with readers and have new readers find you.

26 02, 2021

Texas Weather

By |2021-02-25T12:38:12-06:00February 26th, 2021|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara


This week has been quite pleasant here in Texas.  Last week was not.  We had the second snow storm of the season followed by ice. An event that had not happened in many decades.

We were warned and people took great pains to protect their chickens.  I was not one of those people.

I do care about my chickens but wasn’t willing to enclose the coop, put a heater in it or bring the flock inside.  I told them it would be cold and encouraged them to huddle up when the coop had icicles.

During the coldest days, I went out several times to make sure they had food and water.  It was cold enough that their water froze solid so I would pour hot water over it to thaw enough for them to drink.  A few hours later, it would be frozen again.

I tried to cover some of the duck pen when it started sleeting.  I used a big blue tarp which apparently was terrifying to the ducks.  They would not go near that corner of the pen.  I finally went back out in the sleet and took it down.  The ducks were much happier.  As soon as the duck pond started to thaw, the got in and swam around the chunks of ice.  Silly ducks!

I learned that the hoe I use for weeding works great for removing ice when I cleared a path across the back porch.  I was determined not to fall on my multiple trips to the chicken yard.

I am happy to report that I did not fall a single time.

And we did not lose any chickens or ducks.

I’m hoping that means we passed the test and do not have to repeat that experience ever again.

I’ll take the Texas summers over these crazy winter storms any day.

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