18 10, 2013

Chicken Coop Limbo – Miller Farm Friday

By |2013-10-18T06:58:33-05:00October 18th, 2013|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I’m afraid we have a problem with inbreeding in our chicken flock.

This latest group of recently hatched chickens seems particularly dumb. They do not appear to know the function of the nest boxes.

I thought at first the “hen in a hive” was boycotting the nest boxes and laying her eggs in the abandoned beehive.

However, I am finding eggs in a variety of places. For example, on top of the nest boxes.

on top nest boxesNo problem.

Out in the yard. Again no problem.eggs in yard

However, when they lay their eggs under the quail cage in the quail coop there is a problem.

quail rail

Eggs on the wood rail require some major contortions in order to collect.

The wood rail going across the coop is where the chickens roost (and poop) at night.  I try very hard not to let any part of me or my clothing touch this rail.  (See previous post on “Fully dressed”)

I can reach over the rail, arching my back as high as possible and stand on my tiptoes and hope I don’t lose my balance.

Or I can crouch low and reach under the rail. The latter method reminds me of a dance – the Limbo.

Collecting eggs these days I’ve decided Miller Farm has its own dance –

the Chicken Coop Limbo.

16 10, 2013

Tips for Living With a Writer – One Word Wednesday

By |2013-10-16T06:24:30-05:00October 16th, 2013|one word Wednesday|1 Comment

Okay so that’s more than one word, but I saw this neat graphic on writerswriter.com and had to share.

Living with a writer is not easy. Or maybe I should say, living with writer me is not easy.

I spend most of my time sequestered away in an imaginary world. My mind is always plotting the next story. I talk about people I’ve created as though they existed.

It’s a different world. A solitary world. I think these tips are useful.  That’s why I’m sharing.

10 tips for living with a writer

My husband says, from his perspective, #5 is the most critical. In fact, his tip advice would be NEVER interrupt a writer at work…the results are not pleasant. (He’s learned from experience!)

I’ve heard Nora Roberts say she told her two children during the summer not to interrupt unless there was blood or fire and, when they got older, it had to be arterial blood and an active fire.

If you have young ones around, Geek Mom offers Ten Allowable Reasons for Interrupting Mom Check it out. You’ll enjoy the creativity.

YOUR TURN: Which of these tips would you say is most important? Or what tip would you add?

14 10, 2013

Columbus Day-More than you may want to know

By |2013-10-14T06:01:08-05:00October 14th, 2013|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

On this day in 1492, one of the sailors on the Pinta sighted land, an island in the Bahamas, after 10 weeks of sailing from Palos, Spain, with the Santa María, the Pinta, and the Niña.

The Italian explorer Christopher Columbus believed he’d reached East Asia. He sighted Cuba and thought it was China, and when the expedition landed on Hispaniola, he thought he’d found Japan.

Columbus Day has been celebrated since the 18th century, but only became a U.S. federal holiday in 1937. Interesting that Hawaii, Alaska, and South Dakota don’t recognize the holiday.

Many celebrate Italian-American heritage on Columbus Day.

statue of Christopher Columbus in Lavagna, Genova, Italy.

Statue of Christopher Columbus                           Lavagna, Genova, Italy

Columbus’s contribution to world history was introducing Europeans to the New World, which led to cultural exchange, commerce, and exploration, and eventually to the discovery of the real westward route to the Indies.

But Columbus Day and the man who inspired it have also generated controversy.

Many argue that Europeans got land, slaves, and gold, while the aboriginals were dispossessed, enslaved, and infected.

Protests of Columbus Day celebrations resulted in the creation of Indigenous People’s Day in the 1990s, which coincides with Columbus Day.

When I think of Columbus Day, I think of the jingle I learned in school to remember the man’s accomplishment.

Christopher Columbus sailed in the ocean blue in 1492.

Turns out that’s only the beginning line of a much longer poem by Winifred Sackville Stoner, Jr., who was known for poems, rhymes, and mnemonic jingles to aid in the recollection of information.

Curious, I looked up the complete poem published in the anthology Yankee Doodles: A Book of American Verse, edited by Ted Malone and published in 1943 by Whittlesey House (NY and London).

“The History of The U.S.” by Winifred Sackville Stoner

In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue
And found this land, land of the Free, Beloved by you, beloved by me.

And in the year sixteen and seven, Good Captain Smith thought he’d reach Heav’n,
And then he founded Jamestown City, Alas, ’tis gone, oh, what a pity.

’Twas in September sixteen nine, WIth ship, Half Moon, a read Dutch sign,
That Henry Hudson found the stream, The Hudson River of our dream.

In sixteen twenty, pilgrims saw Our land that had no unjust law.
Their children live here to this day, Proud citizens of U.S.A.

In sixteen hundred eighty-three, Good William Penn stood ’neath a tree
And swore that unto his life’s end He would be the Indian’s friend.

In seventeen hundred seventy-five, Good Paul Revere was then alive;
He rode like wild throughout the night, And called the Minute Men to fight.

Year seventeen hundred seventy-six, July the fourth, this date please fix
Within your minds, my children dear, For that was Independence Year.

In that same year on a bitter night At Trenton was an awful fight,
But by our brave George Washington The battle was at last well won.

Two other dates in your mind fix—Franklin born in seventeen six,
And Washington first said “Boo-Hoo” In seventeen hundred thirty-two.

In seventeen hundred seventy-nine, Paul Jones, who was a captain fine,
Gained our first naval victory Fighting on the big, wide sea.

And in the year eighteen and four, Lewis and Clark both went before,
And blazed for us the Oregon Trail Where men go now in ease by rail.

In eighteen hundred and thirteen, On great Lake Erie could be seen
Our Perry fight the Union Jack And drive it from our shores far back.

In eighteen hundred and sixty-one, An awful war was then begun
Between the brothers of our land, Who now together firmly stand.

In eighteen hundred sixty-three, Each slave was told that he was free
By Lincoln, with whom few compare In being kind and just and fair.

In eighteen hundred eighty-one, At Panama there was begun
By good De Lesseps, wise and great, The big canal, now our ship’s gate.

At San Juan, eighteen ninety-eight, Our brave Rough Riders lay in wait,
And on the land brought victory, While Dewey won it on the sea.

In nineteen hundred and fifteen, Was shown a panoramic screen
At San Francisco’s wondrous fair; All peoples were invited there.

But cruel war in that same year Kept strangers from our land o’ cheer,
And nineteen seventeen brought here The war that filled our hearts with fear.

Thank God in nineteen eighteen Peace on earth again was seen,
And we are praying that she’ll stay Forever in our U.S.A.

Are you celebrating Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day?

Me, I’m celebrating both and very thankful that my teachers never made me recite Stoner’s entire poem!

11 10, 2013

Chicken Coop or Aviary? – Miller Farm Friday

By |2013-10-11T06:06:01-05:00October 11th, 2013|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A guest blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

It rained off and on all Saturday night. I had to be at church early Sunday morning so I went to let the chickens out before the sun came up.

This is what I found:

bird in coop

A small bird had shared the coop with the chickens during the rain.  The chickens didn’t seem to mind.

It reminded me of a song – of course.

This song has no words. It is an orchestral piece entitled “Aviary” from Camille Saint Saens: Carnival of Animals.

Here’s Aviary for those who have never heard it.

I use the piece in my elementary music classes when I talk about music being high or low. And, every time I have to explain “aviary” is another name for a large birdhouse.

I didn’t realize it could also be a chicken coop.

9 10, 2013

CREATIVITY – One Word Wednesday

By |2017-04-08T18:36:39-05:00October 9th, 2013|one word Wednesday|3 Comments

creative_imagination_background-wideWhat is creativity?

Being creative or artistic doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to draw or play an instrument.

Creativity is a way of thinking, a way of viewing the world.

Creativity requires constant shifting, blender pulses of both divergent thinking and convergent thinking, to combine new information with old and forgotten ideas and produce something original. 


Dan Draper of the AMC television series Mad Men portrays a creative.

istock creative

Writers exist in a world of creativity.

Consider Steven Jobs-highly creative. He changed our world.steven jobs

David B. Goldstein, co-author of “Creative You: Using Your Personality Type to Thrive,” maintains every person is creative.

“Contrary to popular belief, no one is born without a creative bone in his or her body, and not all creative types are starving artists. In other words, we’ve all got it, but our personalities play a role in the kind of creative we are, and how we best feed into it.”

Creativity is a function of how your brain works. Creative types use the RIGHT side of their brains more than the LEFT.

Click HERE for fun tests to find out if your brain is wired for creativity. (Special thanks to Jack Milgram for the tip on this great infographic.)

One caution though, according to Barbara O’Neal, being a creative person is not easy. From her blog, The Creative Personality:

“The mental and personality traits that make it possible to be creative can also be annoying and irritating to the rest of society. Aside from the crime of introversion, creative people are often non-conforming, haughty, brilliant, intense, restless, prickly, with a sense of destiny (see the whole list here).”

If your test results show you do operate in the creative right brain…

or you exhibit any of The Traits of Highly Creative Adults, this quote from artist Henri Matisse is for you:

Creativity takes courage.

Now go be courageous and CREATE.

7 10, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Debunking Some MYTHS

By |2013-10-07T05:53:27-05:00October 7th, 2013|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Pink_ribbon_svgIf you’re like me, you have one or more friends or family members who have been affected by breast cancer.

Every October a nationwide campaign increases awareness of the disease, but myths persist.

Below are seven such myths and the facts to debunk.

MYTH: Finding a lump in your breast = breast cancer.

The Facts: Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer. However, if you discover a persistent lump in your breast or notice any changes in breast tissue, do NOT ignore. See a physician. He can assess the risk through breast imaging tests.

MYTH: Men cannot get breast cancer.

The Facts: Each year approximately 2,190 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 410 will die. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less, which causes a delay in seeking treatment.

MYTH: A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread.

The Facts: A mammogram is the current gold standard for the early detection of breast cancer. Breast compression during a mammogram cannot cause cancer to spread. According to the National Cancer Institute, “Mammograms require very small doses of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation exposure is extremely low.”

MYTH: A family history of breast cancer means you are likely to develop breast cancer.

The Facts: A family history of breast cancer places you in a higher risk group, but ten percent of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history.

The Risk Factor Correlations:

  • If you have a mother, daughter, or sister who developed breast cancer below the age of 50, you should consider some form of regular diagnostic breast imaging starting 10 years before the age of your relative’s diagnosis.
  • If you have had a grandmother or aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk increases slightly, but it is not in the same risk category as those who have a first degree relative with breast cancer.
  • If you have multiple generations diagnosed with breast cancer on the same side of the family, or if there are      several individuals who are first degree relatives to one another, or several family members diagnosed under age 50, the probability increases that there is a breast cancer gene contributing to the cause of this familial history.

MYTH: Breast cancer is contagious.

The Facts: Breast cancer is the result of uncontrolled cell growth of mutated cells that begin to spread into other tissues within the breast.

MYTH: The gene mutation BRCA1 or BRCA2 detected in your DNA means you will definitely develop breast cancer.

The Facts: According to the National Cancer Institute, “not every woman who has a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will develop breast and/or ovarian cancer. But, a woman who has inherited a harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 is about five times more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman who does not have such a mutation.”

MYTH: Antiperspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer.

The Facts: Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer.

Material in this blog from the National Cancer Institute and the National Breast Cancer Organization.


  • Take charge of your health. Perform routine breast self-exams, get an annual clinical breast exam, and schedule your routine screening mammograms.
  • Go Pink to show your support: Now through October 31, 2013, CafePress is donating 10% from the final purchase price of their breast cancer awareness products.
  • Give to Breast Cancer Research: Click this link to donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation
4 10, 2013

What’s In a Name? – Miller Farm Friday

By |2013-10-04T06:06:52-05:00October 4th, 2013|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A guest blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Ice cream was on sale at the store last week. I walked by the freezer without even slowing down.

I was so proud. Then I passed a second display – not fair.

The featured ice cream was “Texans Tackle Crackle.” The carton resembled a football and, although I am not a huge football fan, the name intrigued me.

I bought ice cream – and ice cream cones. It is very good ice cream. Vanilla with chocolate swirls and something crunchy – I’m guessing it is the “crackle.”

This got me thinking about names.

Not all of our chickens have names – which is good since we have thirty or so chickens. Only the ones with distinguishing characteristics have names. For example, Frizz.

FRIZZShe is a frizzle chicken who has quite an attitude. She needs to have a name – she has earned it by her tenacity among the bigger birds.

Then we have Crooked Neck so named for obvious reasons.CROOKED-2

We had one named Hurt Foot for equally obvious reasons but she died. We don’t believe the death was at all related to the hurt foot.

Samson is our rooster with very long feathers.samson

In case you aren’t familiar with the story, Samson was an Old Testament judge who never cut his hair as part of a vow to God. He was known for his strength among other less desirable traits.

Names can describe something as is the case with our chickens.

Names can also create a sense of curiosity like the Texans Tackle Crackle Ice Cream.

So what’s in a name? A lot more than you might think.

2 10, 2013

One Word Wednesday – Idioms

By |2013-10-02T06:17:56-05:00October 2nd, 2013|one word Wednesday|2 Comments

Recently I came across this fabulous chart of colorful idioms on Grammar.net Great site, btw,  if you’re grammatically challenged like me.


Technically, an idiom is a word or phrase that is not taken literally. Languages are loaded with idioms.

The expressions are global and the same idiom can have a very different meaning in a different country. In Finnish, “with long teeth” means you are doing something that you really don’t want to do. Same phrase in French, “to have long teeth” means you are ambitious.

Groups of people with shared/common interests have their own idioms. Think about these examples from music and drama:

  • “It’s not over ‘till the fat lady sings.”
  • “Break a leg”
  • “It takes two to tango”

When I taught English as a Second Language, idioms challenged my  students. Common idioms, like the examples below, were easy to teach.

  • A chip on your shoulder
  • High as a kite
  • Sick as a  dog
  • Rub someone the wrong way
  • Jump the gun
  • Pay the piper

When the students conversed with their fellow native speaking friends, other not so common expressions managed to stump them.

Signing idioms when I was interpreting for the deaf was a tough call, too. I had to know what the speaker meant. Sometimes I didn’t!

Usually it’s easy to pick up the meaning from the context of the conversation or non-verbal gestures. Sometimes it’s best to ask exactly what the speaker means.

If you’re not sure what the idiom examples I’ve used mean, here’s a site that defines common idioms: http://www.idiomsite.com/

Idioms can complicate speaking and writing. I advise using them sparingly…unless your meaning is clear!

30 09, 2013

3 C’s to Increase your Writing Productivity

By |2013-09-30T06:04:56-05:00September 30th, 2013|Make Me Think Monday|4 Comments

We moved to Colorado to escape the rush, rush of living in a large urban metropolis. We wanted quiet so I could write more. My husband wanted to be able work on his master’s degree.

We found that quiet in our little town of 377.


So why hasn’t my productivity increased?

Because urban living wasn’t what was eating my writing time.

In this fascinating article “A Call to Disarm Technology & Hype (And Boost Your Writing Productivity)”,  the blog writer, L.L. Barkat, suggests the internet and other technology keep us on an “insanely high alert” that ultimately kills our productivity.

Barkat believes “when you let yourself get carried away by the high-alert cycle and give in to its constant interruptions, you lose 10 IQ points in each interruption moment (“the equivalent of not sleeping for thirty-six hours—or double the impact of smoking marijuana”), and it takes you about twenty-five minutes to fully return to your original project.”

All I can say is he’s describing me.

Every notice of new posts from FB, Goodreads, or Twitter and computer alert to new email draws my attention. I end up attending to everything and accomplish nothing. I can’t seem to stop the innate sense that I must know what’s going on!

I’ve come up with three ways to “commit to stopping the hype” as Barkat  suggests:

Create Quiet

When I start to write, I turn off my cell phone, no email, no social media, no internet cruising. Cold turkey! Just my desktop that has no internet hook up and me alone in my office.

Peace and quiet and the words flow.

Curtail Social Media

I’m not saying I abandon social media. I’m saying I control social media. Social media is not controlling me.

Following Frances Caballo’s advice on how to eliminate the unintentional hours of wasted time on social media. I’ve set a timer, limiting my social media time. I now use Tweetdeck and HootSuite to schedule tweets and updates. I plan for specific times to socialize via social media like waiting at doctor’s offices, and I  routinely analyze how effective social media is for my platform building.

What’s not working, I eliminate. Take that social media!

Clock writing time

I’ve developed a spreadsheet to keep track of my writing hours. Now, just like a server at McDonald’s, I clock in and out.

First week was a real shocker. Too many days with no clock-ins. If I worked at Mickey D’s, I’d be fired.

Now it’s BICW…Butt In Chair Writing. Every day. No matter what. I clock a minimum of three hours per day.

Amazing how my productivity has improved.

You may or may not agree with Barkat’s premise, but I believe using my three C’s can increase your writing productivity.

YOUR TURN: Has technology adversely affected your writing productivity?

25 09, 2013

HARVEST MOON – One Word Wednesday

By |2013-09-25T06:21:37-05:00September 25th, 2013|one word Wednesday|0 Comments

SOURCE: http://www.space.com/22882-harvest-moon-photos-september-full-moon-2013.html

SOURCE: http://www.space.com/22882-harvest-moon-photos-september-full-moon-2013.html

Anthony Lynch snapped this photo of the 2013 Harvest Moon at Phoenix Park in Dublin, Ireland. Lovely isn’t it?

This year’s Harvest Moon arrived on my birthday September 18. The lunar orb lit the night and continued to be awesome for days, which led to some research on the moon.

Here’s what I learned:

  • The moon rises on average 50 minutes later everyday as the year moves on. The Harvest Moon rises only 30 minutes later. The earlier rise offers more light.
  • The full moon that rises closest to the autumnal equinox — this year’s official start of autumn was September 22 — is called the Harvest Moon.
  • The name Harvest probably sprang from  the lips of farmers because, in the days before tractor lights, the lamp of the Harvest Moon helped farmers to gather their crops, despite the diminishing daylight hours. As the sun’s light faded in the west, the moon would soon rise in the east to      illuminate the fields throughout the night.
  • Nora Bayes’ and Jack Norworth’s 1903 song titled Shine On Harvest Moon popularized the name. Here’s a great clip of Laurel and Hardy singing and dancing to the tune from their 1939 movie “Flying Deuces.”

A Harvest Moon is not truly bigger, brighter, or more pumpkin-colored than other full moons. It just appears to be.

NASA’s Dr. Tony Phillips explains why: “For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, a low-hanging Moon appears much wider than it really is. A Harvest Moon inflated by the moon illusion is simply gorgeous. The view improves as the night wears on.”

I captured the Harvest Moon with my camera. ???????????????????????????????

Not so great, but you can see some fabulous pictures here.

All these pictures make me think a Harvest Moon would be great setting for a romance scene.

What do you think?

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