Ducks to Water???

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I’m not sure where the phrase “like a duck to water” comes from, but I do know that our ducks have never heard it.

They outgrew the pan of water that we put in their pen so Rachel and I bought a small wading pool.  Negotiating around the garden center with a pool in the buggy was quite a challenge.

We got it home and discovered there were directions for assembling the wading pool.It has been a long time since I bought a wading pool but I’m pretty sure they are not hard to set up.  The instructions included a lanyard to be worn by the adult responsible for watching the children in the pool.

Since ducks are naturally good swimmers, we threw the lanyard away.

At the suggestion of the person who gave us the ducks, we put down a layer of mulch under the pool to keep down the mud.  The chickens thought this was for their entertainment and promptly begin scratching all the mulch out from under the pool.

The ducks were less impressed with their new “pond.” Rachel threw them in and they immediately climbed out as though it were boiling water.

We moved to plan B. Put the pool on more level ground. Surely the ducks would like it then. Wrong.

Rachel suggested digging an indentation to make the pool more level with the ground.  Sounded like a good idea to me.

So on to plan C. After wearing a blister on my hand, I had a shallow hole in which to set the pool.  I filled it with water and went inside to bandage my wound.

While enjoying some nice cold water, I glanced out the window to see the ducks in the pool!!!!  I was so thrilled I jumped up to get a picture.  They immediately jumped out.

Since then they have been in the water many times and I have tried to photograph them. This is the best I could do.

Any time I get closer, they exit the pool.  I’ve considered installing a camera in one of the trees.

I guess they finally heard the phrase “Like a duck to water.”


Remember when Memorial Day was always May 30?

From 1868 to 1970 that date was the official day for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

Some of you may remember. I sure do.

As financially strapped students who couldn’t afford an extended time away from work, we chose May 30 for our wedding date.

That particular year Memorial Day was on a Thursday, which meant we only had to miss one day of work since the wedding was in the evening after our workday.

I even wore my mother’s twenty-five year old wedding dress to save more money. As they say, “Those were the days.”

Nowadays Memorial Day observances are on the fourth Monday of May.

We, of course, still use May 30 to observe our wedding anniversary.


Every year when I look at our wedding pictures, this quote comes to mind. It’s what I use as the theme in all my books.


What is Memorial Day?

A holiday not to be confused with Veterans Day or Armed Forces Day. That day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead.

Memorial Day is different. It is the day set aside to remember the men and women who gave their lives while serving this country.

Personally, I can’t forget Memorial Day. You see, my sweetie and I shared our wedding vows on May 30 — the original date designated as Memorial Day.

That date changed with the passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Now Memorial Day is the last Monday in May. We still celebrate our anniversary every May 30.

Sometimes I think the Memorial Day holiday is devoted more to shopping, family gatherings, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events instead of remembering those who have given their lives in military service.

May this video jog our memory.


Where’s Waldo – Duck Version

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The ducks are finally big enough to run with the chickens. They eat the same things as chickens so keeping their food separate is not necessary. The arrangement seems to be working out pretty well.

In fact, I’ve decided to make a children’s book.

I’ll title it Where Are Tipsy, Topsy and Turvy? or Find the Ducks.

What do you think?


Holley Gerth – Your Story

With special thanks to Holley Gerth for her gracious generosity in sharing her beautiful graphics.


Discouraging carpenter bees and evil spirits

carpenter bee

We noticed lots of bees when we bought our house in the spring last year. Having never seen them before, the large black bodies hovering near our faces was scary. Beekeeper Brian assured us male carpenter bees were not aggressive and did not have stingers, but females would protect their nests.

Reminded us of the bears in Colorado. We had the same situation when bears came to visit every spring and fall. Bears were looking for food after a long hibernation in spring and bulking up for winter in the fall. Bees come looking for mates and a home.

We kept food sources secured in the spring and summer and the bears would visit and move on. Discouraging carpenter bees is not so easy.

Before we moved in, we had the house professionally treated, which meant sealing all the bored holes in the porch ceiling, eaves, and siding. Unlike termites, the bees don’t eat the wood they bore tunnels. Those tunnels weaken eaves, window trim, fascia boards, siding, wooden shakes, decks, and outdoor furniture. Not something a homeowner wants to happen.

We also painted the ceiling of our wrap-around porch blue after sealing fresh bee holes last fall.

Why blue? Two reasons. (1) Carpenter bees don’t like painted surfaces and (2) a blue ceiling is a southern tradition.

We didn’t use just any shade of blue. You used a specific shade of Haint blue, a soft blue green to ward off evil spirits called “haints,” a specific type of ghost or evil spirit from the Carolina coast, but also found in tales from various regions of the south.

So not only are we discouraging bees, we’re keeping evil spirits away. Always a good thing.

Our bee population this spring decreased dramatically. But a few are persistent about returning to their previous abodes.

Beekeeper Brian made carpenter bee catchers for us. Those seem to be doing an excellent job.

The one over the garage door is catching the most bees. You can see we failed to paint the garage eaves.

In the fall, we’ll seal the new holes so the bees can’t winter over in them and paint the eaves blue to discourage the bees from returning next spring.

We’ll never be completely free of carpenter bees. They are great pollinators so we wouldn’t want to be, but we do want to discourage them from destroying our house.

They’re welcome to visit, not live here.


Changing Colors?

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I came home one day to find a lizard on the fence post. It caught my eye because it was bright green. A week later I saw a brown lizard on the bench.

I wondered if perhaps it was the same lizard. I know anoles change colors.

If so, why did it choose to stand out on the fence post and blend in on the bench?

Then I thought about human behavior.  Why do we sometimes choose to stand out and be different and other times we want to blend in?

I haven’t come up with an answer.  Any suggestions?


Holley Gerth on Our Story

With special thanks to Holley Gerth for her gracious generosity in sharing her beautiful graphics.


The Return of the Hummingbirds

One of the things we love about the house we bought on our return to Texas was the certification as a Wildlife Habitat House.

Maintaining that environment became our goal as we settled in. We had an unusually cold winter this year. Several days of temperatures below freezing are absolutely not a normal winter in Texas.

Neither are April days in the low 50 degree and high 40 degree range.

A few hardy birds and one or two hummingbirds stayed around, but most of our wildlife disappeared. It’s May and warmer temperatures have returned.

That means bullfrog serenades, cardinals and swallows swooping down and around in their mating dance, mosquitoes buzzing for prey. (Hate that part since I am major mosquito bait.)

Baby squirrels play chase one another and mama shimmies up the bird feeder pole to shake birdseed down to her babies.

Dogwoods, Japanese magnolias, peach trees are filled with blooms. Four o’clock plants are popping up and soon will be bursting with red flowers.

Our hummingbirds are back at the feeders in large numbers. We have five feeders around the yard. One or the other of them always needs refilling now.

Last year I worried that we’d lose our large population of hummingbirds when I started making their syrup instead of purchasing the commercial nectar as the previous owner did. This year it doesn’t seem to matter. I prepare hummingbird syrup at least twice a week.

Unfortunately, carpenter bees have also returned. More about these ugly critters next week.


Finishing Strong

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The school where I teach has a long tradition of celebrating May Day including a May Pole. The kids learn to skip around the pole holding streamers as music plays.  At the end, there is a pattern of colored streamers on the pole.

If done properly, it looks very neat. This year was a little rough. Practices were held as often as possible but some of the students still struggled.

After the festivities were over, one of the students asked the teacher in charge, “So how did we do?”

The teacher looked at the pole and said “The last 18 inches look great.  Let’s just leave it at that.”I think I will adopt that philosophy about the school year.  It was a rough start but I plan to make the last “eighteen inches” look pretty good.

So to all my fellow teachers and students out there – here’s to a strong finish.