Substitute Chickens

A guest blogger by Chicken Wrangler Sara

 I spent one week in south Texas away from home, without my chickens.

After only a couple of days, I spent another week away from home.

This time heading north to Colorado to help my parents make a permanent move there. With snow still on the ground, I didn’t expect to see any chickens.

However, the wild turkeys paid a visit.

turkeys and deer

Turkeys aren’t the same as chickens, but they are fowl and, in a pinch, provided my chicken fix.

The mule deer looking for food also provided a delightful diversion. We threw bird seed to supplement the slim pickings on the frozen landscape. The turkeys didn’t seem to mind sharing.

But I think I’ve solved my problem of missing my chickens when I’m away from home.

At school this week, the younger classes celebrated Easter. Of course, no elementary school party is complete without decorated cupcakes. A top each cupcake was a different Easter trinket.

I chose one with a chicken ring.

chicken ring cropped

Now I can have a chicken with me wherever I go. Fortunately, I don’t plan to go anywhere for a while.

Back to adventures on the Miller Farm next week.

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One Word Wednesday – WRITE

write

WRITE is more than a word for One Word Wednesday.

WRITE is meant to motivate.

WRITE is a challenge.

WRITE.

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I’m drowning in email. Are you?

For two weeks we’ve packed, hauled away unwanted stuff, shared last-time-living-in-the-same-city meals with family and friends, packed our household, loaded a trailer and a U-Haul, and drove one thousand miles to our new home.

There was no time to spend on the computer checking email. Conversations were via text or cell phone.

I did skim email for personal correspondence, but didn’t stop to read or delete all the other email that came in. Every day I watched the total grow.

You've got mailNewsletters, blogs, group digests, notifications from social media… an email tsunami.

When I checked today, I have over 900 emails in my inbox.

I can’t believe it. I’m drowning in email.

The whole situation makes me realize I’m handling over one hundred emails per day. That much email reading has to be cutting into my writing time and productivity.

I think it’s time to analyze my email. Something I’ve never done.

Do I need to be receiving that many newsletters, blogs, group digests, and notifications?

I’m not sure.

I am sure that culling through all the emails I’ve accumulated will take time even if it’s time pressing the delete key.

Time I don’t have with all those boxes to unpack and a deadline looming.

Email has got to be tamed.

What about you? Does your email cut into your productivity?

Next Monday, I’ll be sharing some tips on how I plan to wrestle my email situation into submission.

Be sure to stop by and, in the meantime, if you have any tips, please share.

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Chickens, Chickens Everywhere!

A Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I recently spent a week in South Texas with Go Mission leaving my beloved chickens in the capable hands of vet-in-training Rachel.

The first morning of the trip I was walking the fence line of the property where we were working and surprise–I ran across…chickens!

I guess my Chicken Wrangler reputation has spread further than I knew.

There were two pens, one with a hen and rooster and one with a hen and chicks.

I will say they were not as pretty as our chickens, but then I’m sure they never got the royal treatment we give our hens.

south tx chicks2south tx chickens

Each day after that, I made sure to check on the chickens – just like at home. The only thing was I could not feed them but I could talk to them.

Later in the week, I was walking through a neighborhood with a group of youth inviting children to our Bible Club. One man had chickens roaming around his yard.

I talked to him about them (in Spanish), but was unable to come up with a translation for “chicken wrangler.”  I didn’t get pictures of these birds as they spent most of their time under the brush out of the sun.

Getting away from the day-to-day chores of life is refreshing, and I loved working with Habitat and Bible clubs.

But, I must say, I was very glad to be able to get my “chicken fix” while far from our birds. It kept me from missing my chickens so much.

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Taking a Break

I am taking a break from blog writing today.

Well, I’m not taking a real break. I’m actually in the proces of loading a moving truck for the final leg of our tipping point adventure. [More on the adventure later.]

So I’m offering this adorable video instead of my usual lengthy blog to motivate or make you think.

Why don’t you take a break, too, and watch?

As you watch, note how many children’s storybook characters you recognize and can name.

Did you spot a favorite?

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Chicken Math

A Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Last week, Whitey – the hen who had the hurt leg and we nursed back to health – was once again walking funny.

We knew it couldn’t be a result of roosters jumping on her because the roosters were all at freezer camp. Chicken doctor Rachel diagnosed her as egg bound.

Egg bound means there was an egg that for some reason was stuck. The remedy was to put the hen in warm water for 30 minutes every two hours until the egg is laid.

We figured the best place for a warm water bath was an ice chest.

Whitney

We let her soak in her “hot tub” for thirty minutes and then brought her inside to dry off.

When this didn’t seem to make much difference, Rachel discovered that Whitey did not have an egg, but a tumor, which would not come out regardless of how many times we let her soak.

I did wonder at one point as I watched her hang on to life, if there was a “chicken hospice” organization. I’m sure someone could start one, but not sure, if others would pay for their services.

The sad fact was our Whitney was destined to die. A very sad fact, but nonetheless a fact. We all shed a few tears when Whitey did die.

Rachel went to the feed store later that week and bought nine baby chicks.

new chicks

Whitey was, indeed, a very special chicken if it took nine chicks to replace her.

We also have 24 eggs in the incubator due to hatch next week, but Rachel went to the feed store again and came home with two more chicks.

(She did ask me first. I figured what’s two more in our ever-growing flock.)

So now, we have potentially thirty-five new birds after losing one.

Rachel calls it Chicken Math.

I find it at least as confusing as regular math.

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One Word Wednesday – EMOTION

The chief goal of a writer is to engage the reader. How do we do that?

EMOTION

We dig deep within ourselves and find what motivated us and inject that emotion into our characters.

I like the way Hemingway said it here:

SOURCE: tumblr_md88wbST7l1rnvzfwo1_500
SOURCE: tumblr_md88wbST7l1rnvzfwo1_500

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It isn’t!

If you’re having a hard time getting EMOTION on the page, check out these resources:

1. Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias
This book should be on every writer’s resource shelf. The pages of Iglesias’ book are loaded with tips and techniques.

2. The Emotional Thesaurus
Another “bible” for writers. These authors have compiled a fabulous resource with specific examples for adding gestures to convey emotion.

3. The Bookshelf Muse
A must read blog with great tips for adding emotion to the page.

Now go do what Hemingway says, “Find what gave you emotion,” then give that emotion to your character so your reader feels what you felt.

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Been Hacked? Here’s what to do

Recognize that you are not alone! From the Spamlaws.com site:

Spam accounts for 14.5 billion messages globally per day.”

spam1-204x300

A major portion of spam is generated by hacked email accounts. Being aware of such statistics, we must be diligent.

But that’s not always easy.

Crafty spammers lure victims into opening the email by using  intriguing subject lines or a scary warning message or raise curiosity by using an enticing subject.

Most of us have received an email at one point or another with the subject need help and something about being stuck in some foreign place and needing money.

Likely as not, the email is not from a friend. The logical thing to do is simply delete, but, if you have world traveling friends, you hesitate.

When my email account was hacked and starting sending out the I’m stranded emails, relatives and friends who knew we did a lot of travel oversea actually called to verify the email was not from me.

But it’s not just those I’m stranded emails that suck us into responding.

Official looking mails with subjects like “Yahoo or PayPal or your Bank or Credit Card Company is verifying your account information” are a favorite ploy of hackers.

No matter how legitimate those emails appear, NEVER respond or click on any links. Credible sources will NOT ask for your password.

All that’s good to know information, you say, but it comes too late.

What should I do now that my email acount’s been hacked?

Here are my suggestions:

· Check your computer’s security.

This is the very first step. Until you do this, any other steps are useless.

Make sure, no matter which operating system you use, your anti-virus and anti-malware programs are up-to-date. With most programs, you can set the software program to automatically update when new security fixes are available.

If you cannot afford security software, you can find quality free security software. Simply search ’best free security software reviews’ in your preferred search engine. 

· Change your password and make it stronger.

For tips and suggestions on how to do this, read the first part of this series here.

Next, and equally important, develop the habit of changing your passwords often.

· Send an email to all your contacts saying you were hacked.

Be sure to include notifying any site boards or loops to which you belong.

No reason to be embarrassed. Remember the statistics. Being hacked will happen to all of us at some point.

· Smarten up about spam, phishing, and scams.

If the little voice in your head says an email looks suspicious, it probably is!

Do NOT click on any links unless you are sure of the source. If you’re unsure, you should copy and paste the link into your browser.

· Validate any program, game, app, video, or song before downloading.

Statistics show that one out of every fourteen downloads contains malware, and planting malware on your computer is how hackers hijacked your email in the first place. Hackers crack anti-malware and anti-virus software almost as fast as it is developed.

Know the source you are downloading from!

And always be on guard.

YOUR TURN:  What measures do you take to protect your email accounts?

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Greener Grass

A Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

This morning, as I was filling the chicken waterer, I looked up and saw one of our black chickens in the neighbor’s yard.

hen over fence

I must confess I can’t blame her. The grass was definitely greener on the other side of the fence.

Unfortunately, her desire to be with her flock won over her desire for greener grass. She paced back and forth trying to figure out how to get back over the fence.

Since catching chickens is a frequent event at Miller Farm, my husband devised a “chicken getter” stick. It is a wire hanger with a hook at one end with which you can grab the chickens feet and lift them off the ground.

Chickens become quite calm when hanging upside down so you are then able to hold the chicken and take it wherever you need it to go.

If “chicken getting” were an Olympic event, our Rachel would be a gold medalist. The day before, she had grabbed three bantams from the yard to sell to another chicken lover.

I figured I could just reach over the fence with the “chicken grabber” and get the chicken back where she belonged. I wouldn’t have to walk all the way around and into the neighbor’s back yard.

I soon discovered I am not as adept at grabbing chickens as Rachel. I blame my inability to catch the hen on having to reach over the fence. After several attempts, I gave up and headed next door.

I may not be able to use a “chicken getter,” but my own two hands work quite well. I soon had an armful of chicken, which I promptly dumped back over the fence.

Everyone was where he or she belonged, and we all went on with our day.

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One Word Wednesday – HOPE

HOPE

 With special thanks to Edie Melson for creating this lovely photo to share.

photo-27

May HOPE sing in your heart the rest of this week.

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