Fowl Moving Day

Monday’s Labor Day holiday signaled the end of summer. For a large percentage of the population this week also signaled the start of school which in turn meant moving kids out of the house and back to classrooms.

With all that moving and changing and settling into routines going on, I thought Sara’s email about moving chickens was a perfect fit today. See if you don’t agree…

Fowl Moving Day

There comes a day in the life of every child where they get too big for wherever they are and they have to move. It starts with the move from bassinet to crib, then crib to “big bed” and eventually they leave the house altogether.

The same type of process happens with chickens.

They start in an incubator (which is currently in our living room),  

 

 

then move to a brooder (in our garage).

From there, they move into a small chicken yard in our back yard where the Bantams (a smaller breed of chickens) live all the time. As they get bigger than the Bantams, they move into the big chicken yard.

A similar, but simpler, process happens with the quail. They simply go from incubator to brooder to one of the quail cages in the back yard. On this particular Saturday, we had both quail and chickens to move.

A multi-step process involving cinder blocks, extra cages and much squawking.

We started by consolidating our three quail cages into one. The cage in the chicken coop only had one quail in it. I believe this quail was somewhat lonely as he spent his days walking in circles in the cage. (Of course, this could also be a result of the bird brain mentality.)

His cage is up high in the chicken coop where neither my daughter nor I can comfortably reach. Hence, the cinder block.

There are two openings in this cage and the quail would run back and forth requiring two people to be ready to catch him. That would be me and my daughter.

So we put the cinder block in the middle and each of us put one foot on it and the other on the side of the coop. Before long, we had trapped the quail and moved him in with his new cage mates.

This left his cage empty for the new quail that were outgrowing the brooder. At first, the move stressed the transferred quail. After all, they’d only seen the inside of our garage, but they have adjusted quite nicely.

Step two of moving day involved putting the young roosters into a separate cage to be fattened up before going to freezer camp and eaten later. Before you cry “animal cruelty,” I can assure you, their life has been much better than that of the chickens you buy at the grocery store.

I must confess, though, I did think of Hansel and Gretel as we were putting food into the cage. 

In case you don’t remember, the witch locked up Hansel and had him stick out his finger occasionally to see if he was fat enough to eat.

Anyway, the roosters had no idea what was happening though I was a little concerned about their transition. But since none of them were named, I wasn’t that attached and stopped worrying.

Sadly enough, when we returned from church Sunday morning, my daughter discovered all but one of the roosters had died. Apparently, they don’t like change (or they got wind of their fate and decided to commit mass suicide).

There was one lone survivor and my daughter, having learned well from her mom’s previous rooster rescue of Einstein, brought him inside.

Mr. Rooster spent the night in our living room and seemed to be better the next day. I named him Einstein II and now he’s living out his natural life with the chickens.

Our final step on this moving day was the easiest – moving chicks out to the small chicken yard.

Teaching them to go into the coop at night is not so easy. For now, I reach under the coop each night to get them and tuck them in with the Bantams. Hopefully they will get the idea soon.

P.S. Besides this being the week I start my piano students, this week happens to be the week that the eggs in the incubator are going to hatch. The cycle is continuous.

I started three new piano students to the sounds of a lone chick calling for the others to come out and play  🙂 No one seemed to mind. You never know what you will learn at the Millers.

Yesterday one of my piano students danced around the living room during her brother’s lessons. She said, “You know how they do a rain dance to make it rain. Well I am doing the chicken dance to make the chicks hatch.”

Unfortunately it didn’t work until after she left. 🙂

I love my job.

My favorite part of this email was Sara’s opening paragraph:

There comes a day in the life of every child where they get too big for where ever they are and they have to move. It starts with the move from bassinet to crib, then crib to “big bed” and eventually they leave the house altogether.

I remember those stages with my three children. I really looked forward to the progress each stage represented and now looking back, I wish they hadn’t come so fast.

YOUR TURN: So how’d your week go? Any chicken dancing going on? Kids moving out or in? Kiddos climbing those giant steps onto the yellow school bus?

Share

Labor Day from a writer’s perspective

Today is Labor Day. We pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. To celebrate the writers in the workplace, I’m sharing a blog and a video about the writing process.

Nathan Bransford’s blog, “The Publishing Process in Gif Form,” made the rounds on Twitter, FB and many boards and loops. It’s worthy of another view.

For those who haven’t read the blog and don’t know him, Nathan Bransford is a children’s author, a former literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. and is now the social media manager at CNET. Bransford knows the emotional process of writing from all angles and his blog illustrates a writer’s rollercoaster ride perfectly and his blog is hilarious.

Another blog I read, especially for humor, is The Steve Laube Agency. I met Steve, president and founder of the agency, at an ACFW Conference many years ago. Wise man.

He’s a 30 year veteran of the bookselling industry. His career began in the bookselling arena with a store in Phoenix. He worked with Bethany House Publishers. In 2004 he formed The Steve Laube Agency and represents everything from the sweet romance to the systematic theology.

Fridays on his blog are FUN day. Recently he shared this great video by James Andrew Wilson titled The Five Emotional Stages of Writing a Novel. Make sure to watch through the credits.

Wherever you are in your writing process, I hope I made you laugh today.

Happy Labor Day and labor on! Our readers are waiting.

Share

What Unending Devotion Means to Me and a great book release

Happy Release Day to  Jody Hedlund for Unending Devotion!

If you like historicals, you’ll love this one!

High-Stakes Drama Meets High-Tension Romance

In 1883 Michigan, Lily Young is on a mission to save her lost sister, or die trying. Heedless of the danger, her searches of logging camps lead her to Harrison and into the sights of Connell McCormick, a man doing his best to add to the hard-earned fortunes of his lumber baron father.

Posing during the day as a photographer’s assistant, Lily can’t understand why any God-fearing citizen would allow evil to persist and why men like Connell McCormick turn a blind eye to the crime rampant in the town. But Connell is boss-man of three of his father’s lumber camps in the area, and like most of the other men, he’s interested in clearing the pine and earning a profit. He figures as long as he’s living an upright life, that’s what matters.

Lily challenges everything he thought he knew, and together they work not only to save her sister but to put an end to the corruption that’s dominated Harrison for so long.

Author Bio:
Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling books, The Preacher’s Bride and The Doctor’s Lady. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children.

To celebrate the release of Jody’s book I’m paying tribute to my dogs who have given me their unending devotion in exchange for so little—food in their bowl and a pet on the head or rub on the belly every now and then.

My love affair with Old English Sheepdogs began with Obadiah  who never quite understood he was a dog.

My daughter treated him like the little brother she never had.

Next came Micah.

A furry bundle of energy for Christmas.

He joined my granddog Bernie, a terrier mix, who came to live with us when our son went off to seminary. Rhinestone was our rescue OES.The three of us made quite a spectacle walking in the neighborhood.

Micah, Bernie and Rhinestone

As happens with large dogs, Micah’s hips played out. We lost him and Bernie (at age 17) about the same time. Rhinestone became even more attached to me. When we emptied our house to have hardwood floors installed, I worried the stress would be too much for her.

She went to live with my sister-in-law who had never married.

Two lovely ladies who found one another.

 The two became best buds. I wrote about their story in The Dog Next Door.

For the first time ever we were dog-less.

I hated it.

It was love at first sight.

 So we found Tobias (Toby).

Helping me write.

A couple of years later Buster, a twelve pound Maltese, came to live with us.

And once again we’ve become a big happy family.

You can read all about a sister’s uneding devotion in Jody’s book. Available on Amazon.

What about about you? Do you give or receive unending devotion for someone or pet?

Share

Miller Farm Friday

Last Friday I posed the chicken lips question. Sorry to report, I haven’t come up with a definitive answer. But so far, my research has turned up some most interesting responses:

  • Chicken Lips’ — a World Humor Comedy Theater which presents customized music and comedy performances for businesses, associations, and private events.
  • a Stafford, England dance band named Chicken Lips
  • Urban Dictionary declares the question a nonsense retort to a stupid or rhetorical question
  • WordReference.com has an entire thread on the question… (Caution some of the language is a bit over the top and may be inappropriate to you.)

Nothing about the anatomy of a chicken. Never fear, the chicken wrangler and I will continue our search and report.

“Hey, Hen. Do you have lips?”

Meanwhile, I’ll share another series of emails from the Miller Farm. These are all about feeding the chickens.

From Sara – the Miller Farm chicken wrangler:

I was checking on the chicken yesterday after a couple of days of bad weather. I decided to give them some grass. This means clipping grass from the backyard with hand clippers (an action which the neighbors find a bit strange) and tossing the clippings over the fence to the chickens.  

Since they have eaten the chicken yard grass down to the dirt, they are most appreciative of any clippings they can get.   

So I’m kneeling on the ground, clipping grass and I looked up to see three of our five dogs eating grass. 

This made me wonder – is being a chicken contagious? Or does grass really taste that good?

What happens with these email conversations is that the whole family chimes in. Each tries to outdo the other.

Here’s how her sister responsed – who happens to be my cover designer extraordinaire (if you don’t believe me check out my books page)

Silly dogs!! Grass is for chickens!!!  Finding your children or spouse eating grass now THAT would be problematic to be sure…

A reasonable response. I waited to see what email came in next. Then the chicken wrangler’s father responded:

“Be careful with dogs and chickens and grass. You could end up with pooched eggs!”

Couldn’t top that. I didn’t try. Next day Sara’s email continued the tale of chickens and grass…

So I went out to check on the chickens and cut some grass for them this morning. I noticed their feeder was almost empty – again. I told them they were eating like pigs.  

That made me wonder – do we need to consider the chicken we eat as pork?

That would give a whole new meaning to the phrase “the other white meat.” 

No responses. Perhaps, like our meal conversations, everyone was laughing too hard. Or thinking too hard!

It’s Labor Day weekend. Last holiday of Summer 2012. A time when we celebrate with parties, parades and athletic events. A time for cookouts and lazin’ around and grillin’ whichever “white” meat you prefer. Be safe and enjoy.

Thanks for dropping by the porch today, folks. I hope we started your holiday with a grin or two.

Share

LIFE ON THE MILLER FARM: Not a Chicken Story

Today’s email from the Miller Farm…

I went to Target last night in search of, among other things, a biscuit cutter. The handle has come off mine making it a little bit of a challenge to use.

I try to minimize challenges in the mornings and replacing the broken biscuit cutter would definitely reduce my morning stress.

Alas, I found a cupcake corer , cookie cutters and muffin pans in every imaginable shape but no biscuit cutters. I didn’t know cupcakes had cores, did you? See picture below.

I woke this morning up singing:

O where, o where have the biscuit cutters gone?
O where, o where can they be?
Is there no one left who makes biscuits from scratch
Except for crazy ole me?

When you teach music – all of life is a song.

(NOTE: Besides being a chicken wrangler extraordinaire, Sara is also an amazing pianist who has her own music studio in addition to teaching music at a private school. Music abounds on the Miller Farm.)

But the email wasn’t our only communication on the broken biscuit cutter.

Sara called. Naturally I asked about the tune to her song whereupon she sang to the words to the nursery rhyme tune of “Where O Where Has My Little Dog Gone?“.

Then she asked if I had an extra biscuit cutter she could have. I quickly searched my gadget drawer and found four antique biscuit cutters, two plastic flute-edged cutters, one petit four cutter and a fancy Pamper Chef cut-and-seal cutter.

Before you wonder why I have so many biscuit cutters…I must declare I’m not a hoarder.

Not at all, I’m a wannabe Martha Stewart who loves cooking gadgets. I have all manner of gizmos and gadgets in my kitchen. One of my favorites is Piercey the hard-boiled egg piercer.

No master kitchen should be without this clever little tool shaped like a chicken that pokes a hole in the broad end of a raw egg. When the egg is hard boiled, the shell peels off with ease.

Want one? Check out this site.

FYI: I get no kickback from the site, but you’ll find peeling eggs much simplier. Like Sara, I’m all about simplifying stressful tasks and not just in the mornings. Using Piercey the egg piercer makes life simple.

Which brings us back to chickens. Next week we’ll discuss another of Sara’s emails from the farm. This one on chicken food and chicken lips.

Do chickens have lips!?

Share

How do you write?

It’s Monday again time to begin our writing week. I thought it would be fun to consider how other writers write (wrote).

So what method will you be using to write this week?

Where will you be writing?

How much do you play to write?

I’m inspired. My goal this week is to complete revisions on the first five chapters of my current WIP.

How about you?

Share

Friday on the MILLER FARM – A Day in the life of a Chicken Wrangler

Gathered in the shade to stay cool.

Yesterday morning when I (Sara the Chicken Wrangler extraordinaire) went to let the chickens out and give them food and water I discovered that one of the quail had gotten itself stuck in the space where the eggs roll out of the cage. This is not the first time this has happened so I was not at all surprised. After all quail, do have bird brains.

As I was getting it unstuck, I saw that the cage looked like something out of a quail horror movie. There were blood splatters all over the feeder. The stuck quail didn’t appear to be wounded enough to produce that much blood so I looked at the other quail.

One had what I guess would be the equivalent of a bloody lip — if quail had lips. Its mouth was bleeding and so every time it shook its head, blood went everywhere.

Not being as attached to the quail as I was dear Einstein (the rescued rooster from last week), I decided that what happened in the quail cage, stays in the quail cage and returned to the house.

Later that afternoon I went to retrieve eggs and check on the birds. One of the quail had in fact died. Since there was nothing I could do for it (I only revive roosters.), I went to play another round of “Get the egg from the small coop,” a game in which the challenge is to get the egg from the back of the cage (which is slanted away from the door) to the door and get it out before it rolls back down.

To make the task easier, I have found the perfect branch with a hook in it to scoot the egg forward. So far, my record is three tries before the egg goes into my basket.

Then I checked the other coop, which had a stunning lack of eggs. I thought perhaps the dirty condition of the nest boxes prevented the chickens from laying. After all, I would not even consider laying an egg in that filth even if I were prone to laying eggs – which I am not.

So I headed back up to the house for a shovel to clean out the nest boxes. I filled water jugs and headed back to the chicken yard with the shovel balanced on top of the chicken waterer. [In case you don’t know what a chicken waterer is check out this site.]

As I approached the coop, I saw something I never hope to see again. Bella (one of the four daschunds) had one of the chickens by the neck. I assumed she pulled it under the wire covering in the gate.

Anyway, I dropped everything to the ground and ran towards them yelling at Bella to stop.

Bella was distracted long enough for the chicken to head under the shed. Little did the chicken know that dachshunds are bred to go into small spaces after animals.

Bella headed under the shed. I, being much larger than the chicken and Bella combined, decided to approach the shed from the side in the chicken yard. I pulled the hen out from under the shed into the safety of the chicken yard.

Chicken wrangler – 1, Bella – 0

But Bella is watching, waiting…

Share

Wit and Wisdom from Writers to Jump Start your week

This month’s guest speaker at my local RWA chapter was Adrienne deWolfe.

Being in on vacation, I wasn’t able to hear her program, but I did check out her website and found a wealth of helpful resources. You might want to do some checking yourself.

I also discovered this delightful video Ms deWolfe created which inspired me to get my butt in the chair and WRITE. I’m sharing so you can start your week with Wit and Wisdom from writers, too.

Okay, so did the authors inspired to write?

Share

Friday on THE MILLER FARM: Episode #1: ROOSTER RESCUERS

The Millers are Sara, my daughter, and her husband, Brian, who have a mini-farm at their home in Aggieland. For my non-Texan readers, that’s Bryan/College Station, Texas. That’s right, in their backyard, a chicken coop with nine “Easter Eggers,” a few Barred Rocks, a couple of Black Copper Marens, a few black and few gold sex links, some Bantams and  twenty-five American Game Birds. The rest are Barnyard Mutts. All give eggs that are truly delicious!

Part of their backyard also houses beehives. More about dealing with bees and fresh honey in future posts.

You’ll also find four miniature daschunds – Tucker, Bella, Sadie and Coco, one mixed breed dog name Marvin, and three teenager children—two girls and a boy, who wish to remain anonymous, on the Miller farm.

Sara, the chicken wrangler, writes such entertaining emails about life on the Miller Farm she should start her own blog. She won’t. That’s why – with her permission, I’ll be sharing the humor and fun of being a city farmer from her emails on Fridays.Today: ROOSTER RESCUERS  (my comments and additions in blue)

Yesterday afternoon I (aka Sara, chicken wrangler extraordinaire) went out to check on the chickens and gather eggs (what few eggs are being laid in this heat). (Texas, like a good part of the country, is experiencing unending days of triple digit tempearatures.)

One of our roosters was laying under the coop looking not so good. I tried to entice him out with bread but alas, he didn’t move. I grabbed him by the legs, an action which usually results in much fussing and flapping. However, he came out with nary a sound. I laid him by the water, hoping that he would perk up. After I checked all the other birds, he was still lying there and the other birds were starting to pick on him.

Being the rooster lover that I am, I could not tolerate that and gently carried him to the garage where I summoned Dr. Brian (her husband, who, btw, is NOT a veterinarian but a school psychologist). Drawing from all his vast avian veterinary experience, he proclaimed that the bird had heat exhaustion.

I carried him (the bird, not Dr. Brian) to the living room where he laid in front of the fan which I have been told is the best remedy for heat exhaustion in humans so it has to work for birds – right?

Throughout the evening Mr. Rooster laid still raising his head just often enough to let us know he was not quite dead yet. When it was time for the humans to retire, we decided he needed to be contained in case he had a miraculous recovery overnight.

I put him in a cage and went to bed feeling quite comforted by the fact that we were just like all our neighbors who had roosters sleeping in their living rooms.

The next morning Mr. Rooster was much more alert and holding his head up. I put some water in his cage which he promptly spilled all over. At this point, he was making such a mess I moved his cage to the front yard.

After caring for all the other chickens, I moved him back with his flock where he stepped out of the cage on his own. He hung out by the water for a while and when I last checked, Mr. Rooster was walking around pecking the ground as chickens are prone to do.

I would say we have successfully snatched a rooster from the jaws of death earning the title Rooster Rescuers.

Sara might be okay with a rooster in her house. I’m not sure I’d be willing to set up a rooster infirmary in my living room. Would you?

Share

One Lovely Blog – Never too late to say Thanks

My often neglected blog has been honored with a nomination for the One Lovely Blogger Award by my very good friend Forest and his human, Elaine Smothers (blogger and fellow WANAite). I’m awed to be considered lovely by anybody.

I did  a Google search for information on this award and found nothing of its origins. I did find lots of links to other bloggers who have earned the award and  choices for award badges here. The rules for accepting the award were easily located and involved nominations, thanks, and sharing.

  • Post the award badge. (not included with all explanations)
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post (an obvious requirement)
  • Nominate 15 other blogs for this honor (the number varied)
  • Share seven little known facts about yourself. (the part we all like best)

So I begin my acceptance with a big thank you to Forest and Elaine for the OLB nomination.  Everyone should check out their blog at Wonder in the Wild. It’s one of my favorite blogs.

Here’s the badge I selected.

The hardest part of accepting any blogger award is choosing blogger nominees. OLB is no exception. There are so many worthy blogs and bloggers.

The fifteen bloggers I’m nominating have interesting, informative and fun blogs. Stop by their sites and meet them. I know you’ll enjoy exploring and learning about them.

  1. Alina at Illuminations
  2. Ben at Not One Sparrow
  3. Bethany at Write by Bethany
  4. Ciara at Finding Treasures in Dreams
  5. Ellen at To Beyond and Back
  6. Ginger at I am Blogger Hear Me Tweet
  7. J. D. at Living with the Muse
  8. Jane at Janie Carver 2011
  9. Jennifer  at MuseTracks
  10. Kat at Kat Jorgensen
  11. Linda at Soldier, Storyteller
  12. Megan at Sortacrunchy
  13. Melissa at Melissa Ohnoutka
  14. Patricia at Masks the Book
  15. SJ at Come Sit By My Fire

Now, the fun part: seven little known facts about me.

  1.  I decided I only like wildlife from afar after this fellow came to lunch last week and refused to leave until the Area Wildlife Manager Thorpe came to shoo him away. Mr. Bear was only two feet from my dining room window.
  2. I love my early morning water aerobics workouts.
  3. I won’t eat avocados  or guacamole.
  4. I love all Harry Chapin’s songs. Especially Flowers Are Red and Cat’s in the Cradle  If you’ve never heard the songs you can listen on Youtube: Flowers are Red and Cat’s in the Cradle 
  5. I finally read a Nicholas Sparks novel, Dear John. Loved it!
  6. I’ve lived in AL, CO, CT, MS, NC, NM, TN, TX, VA, and WV. Only six of the nifty fifty are on my bucket list of places to see. I’ll let you guess which six. Hint: all but one are close to Canada.

Not one to follow always follow the rules, I’m going to leave #7, the last final fact, for you to ask what would you like to know about me. One caveat: I won’t tell you my weight, my age, or my address!

So, dear blog reader, it’s your turn. What would you like to know? Or, which six states do you think I’ve never been to?

Share