26 10, 2020

Carving Pumpkins on Halloween

By |2020-10-26T10:30:36-05:00October 26th, 2020|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

carving pumpkinThis time of year, pumpkins with carved faces appear on porches and steps.

Ever wonder why we carve pumpkins on Halloween?

The tradition originated from an Irish myth about an old drunk called “Stingy Jack.”

It’s easy to guess why he was called stingy. He never wanted to pay for his drinks and always tricked his drinking partner into paying. And that little habit got him into big trouble when Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink.

Here’s the story…

Pumpkins replaced turnip jack-o-lanterns when waves of Irish immigrants came to America in the 1800’s to escape the Potato Famine. They quickly discovered that pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out.

And, that folks is how the tradition of carving and lighting pumpkins for Halloween began.

~~~A longer version of this blog  appeared on View from the Front Porch on October 12, 2013
23 10, 2020

I Love My Chickens

By |2020-10-22T20:25:01-05:00October 23rd, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I love my chickens and my chickens love me – especially when I feed them.

I was checking for eggs in the nest boxes this morning when one of the black hens started moving hay from one next box to the other.

I guess she is the designated interior decorator.

Meanwhile, Essie follows me around the whole time I am in the chicken yard.

In fact, I have accidentally stepped on her before. That hasn’t stopped her. This morning, she hopped up on the door to the nest boxes and watched the redecorating process.

She is the only chicken we have who will let you pet her. I guess I now understand how people can have pet chickens. But she’s not coming inside.

I know that is shocking to you, but this made me think of a song.

I have a chicken my chicken loves me
I feed my chicken on tender leaf tea
My little chicken goes bak bak bak
My little rooster goes cockle doodle doodle
doodle doodle doodle do.

Anyone else remember that one? This short video of a teacher singing for her class will jog your memory.

~~~This Miller Farm blog first appeared on View From the Front Porch October 12, 2012

19 10, 2020

Digging Ditches and Writing Novels

By |2020-10-19T08:29:12-05:00October 19th, 2020|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life, Writing Craft|1 Comment

I’m working away — in fits and starts — on the next novella in my Fitzpatrick Family series. But something’s bothering me about the story. The words aren’t flowing.

I attributed my lack of word flow to pandemic brain fog and put the manuscript aside to watch the drainage ditch being dug in our front yard.

Distraction comes easy when you’re stuck.

The ditch work on the main road in our subdivision had finally been completed. We live on a side street and, after three years, it was our turn.

I stood watching like an awe-struck kindergartner listening to his teacher read Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel named Mary Ann. Written by Virginia Burton, it was my son’s favorite story book.

steam shovel, Judythe MorganThe shovel bucket started at the top of our rise then went down the slope adjusting the depth with each shovel load.

One scoop after the other. Not one scoop on our side of the street and another scoop across the street.

But one after the other down our side of the road. dump truck, judythe morganScoop – dump, scoop dump. Inching slowly  down the slope.

Scoop – dump, scoop dump. One after the other.

Kinda like a timeline when plotting a story.

As that thought flowed through my head, I realized what was wrong in my Fitzpatrick Family story. My timeline was out of kilter. I’d gone from one side of the street to the other.

Scenes were happening sequentially, but the reader would quickly figure out the passage of time I’d written didn’t allow enough time for what needed to happen.

Like the steam shovel ditch digging, I had to proceed one shovel width at a time to get a properly sloped ditch.ditch Or, in my case, a story timeline that didn’t confuse the reader.

16 10, 2020

They’re Back!

By |2020-10-14T21:08:34-05:00October 16th, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

When I pulled the garbage can back up to the house this week, I saw a small patch or morning glories.

They reminded me of a blog I wrote several years ago titled “Lessons from the Morning Glories.”


I think the lesson of spreading beauty and cheer wherever you go is even more appropriate in 2020.

So is taking naps.

12 10, 2020

4 Ideas for Celebrating Halloween during the Pandemic

By |2020-10-12T07:53:37-05:00October 12th, 2020|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Our morning walks are getting spooky as neighbors began to decorate for Halloween.

This yard decoration is not my favorite.

Not a fan of spiders period. Especially giant eyed spiders surrounded by ghosts and blinking jack-o-lanterns.

The yard pictured below with a recreation of Washington Irving’s 1820 “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is more what I think of when I think of spooky and scary.

I love how the short story about a headless horseman who terrorizes the real-life village of Sleepy Hollow resurfaces at Halloween every year. It’s America’s first ghost story—and one of its scariest.

This doozy 2020 is scary enough on its own. Not sure we even need a Halloween this year, and I know the CDC will not be encouraging us to knock on random doors and share treats with strangers.

We don’t celebrate Halloween at our house. With only Buster and Finn around, it’s like a repeat of all the fireworks on the Fourth of July, too much noise.

But for those of you who do celebrate and need some social distancing ideas for this year, let me suggest four.

  1. Spooky meals

Plan a spooky dinner with things like spaghetti eyeballs, Jack o’ lantern quesadillas, witch’s hair pasta, Dead Man’s Finger hot dogs. Or a breakfast of Vampire doughnuts. Have everyone—mom and dad included—dress in costume!

Find more great ideas here and here

  1. A Candy Search or Scavenger Hunt

Like Easter egg hunts, hide individual pieces of candy around the house or yard and let the kids fill bags or plastic pumpkins with the bounty they find.

Or provide hints to follow for a spooky scavenger hunt to search for a pre-filled plastic pumpkin for each kid. Mom or Dad can hide and jump-scare older kids along the route.

  1. Spend an evening watching spooky movies

Turn the lights out and have plenty of popcorn and candy treats available. Movie choices are almost endless from tame (It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!) to terrifying (Annabelle) and lots in between (Hocus Pocus).

Find movie suggestions at Rotten Tomatoes or Good Housekeeping.

  1. Take a ride around the neighborhood and enjoy the Halloween displays.

If you neighborhood is like ours, it’ll be a scary ride.

Halloween won’t be the same this year, it’s true. Not much has been since COVID-19 arrived. But we can enjoy the seasons by finding new ways to approach what we’ve had to put aside for now.

9 10, 2020

Through the Eyes of a Child

By |2020-10-08T08:43:52-05:00October 9th, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|2 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

This year has been hard. I could just stop there but let me be more specific.

As a music teacher, it has been hard to teach without singing, sharing instruments or playing any passing games. In fact, I wrote a poem telling about this. You can read it here.

To be honest, I have spent the first 6 weeks of school wondering why I keep going.  I could quit and be a grandma full time.  That sounds much more rewarding than struggling as a music teacher.

Things are getting better.  Last week a student gave me a picture they drew of me.  There were several details in that picture that made me smile.

Chicken Wrangler Sara, Judythe MorganThe first thing is the eyelashes.  When I started recording lessons last Spring for the students at home, I realized my eyes always looked half closed.  I decided to start wearing eye make up to help me look awake.  This student noticed!

Then there are the earrings.  I usually wear large, dangling earrings. I read somewhere that they make you look 10 pounds lighter.  That helps with the COVID 20 I have gained.

I am particularly happy that she drew the earrings as music notes.  Not all my earrings are music notes.

When the face mask mandate went into effect, I was frustrated that I could not smile at people.  Smiling is very important.  I borrowed a button maker and made a button:

Chicken Wrangler Sara, Judythe Morgan I wear my name badge in a pouch around my neck.  In the pouch I keep all my necessities – my office key, a tuning fork, an Allen wrench, the USB drive with all my music information and sometimes a peppermint.   The button is on the cord holding my name pouch.  This student included that detail.

Things have been hard.  They may never return to the way they were before.  However, when I look through the eyes of a child, especially this one, I know it will be OK.

5 10, 2020

Wistful Thinking

By |2020-10-03T09:18:55-05:00October 5th, 2020|Uncategorized|1 Comment

This is where we find our Buster most days. Sitting and staring out the back door.

Not wanting to go out. Just looking out all lost like.

That’s how I find myself some days in this pandemic world. Not motivated to do anything though there’s plenty to do.

I feel like I’m Alexander in Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Only this hasn’t been just one bad day. These Alexander days just keep on coming… piling on top of one another.

Like Alexander, I must decide what to do with these terrible, horrible, no good, very bad COVID-19 pandemic 2020 days.

I can grump and gripe and complain. Be immobilized like Buster in the kitchen door.

Science writer, Tara Haelle says my feelings are okay in a Medium article I read recently. 2020 has depleted our  surge capacity for handling disasters by piling on endless calamities with no breaks.

“We can kick and scream and be angry, or we can feel the other side of it, with no motivation, difficulty focusing, lethargy… or we can take the middle way and just have a couple days where you feel like doing nothing and you embrace the losses and sadness you’re feeling right now, and then the next day, do something that has an element of achievement to it.

Read all Halle’s suggestions for recharging our surge capacity in the Medium article here.

Another choice… Alexander fixes his bad day when he alters his attitude in the Viorst book. I can alter my attitude.

BTW, if you haven’t read Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,  you should. It’s available on Amazon or any online book store. It’s a delightful children’s book that will warm your adult heart during this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year we’re having.

Our Buster embraces both solutions. He sits for awhile then gives a celebratory woof or a take-that-world bark and settles next to the chair where I’m writing. His safe place.

2 10, 2020

Good Neighbors

By |2020-10-01T09:05:21-05:00October 2nd, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|2 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The house on one side of us is owned by a couple in the next town who purchased it as rental property when their daughter was here. She has since married and moved to Scotland. The house has had a variety of renters.  I always try to introduce myself and encourage them to let us know if the noise from Miller Farm is bothersome.

Chicken Wrangler Sara, Judythe MorganRight now, the couple who lives there have a dog.  I am extra sure to meet any dogs that move in nearby.

This is a Great Dane named Connor.  He is an older dog which is good because a younger Great Dane might come over the fence to play.

Max thinks that would be fun.  Since Max is afraid of the chickens when they are on the same side of the fence as he is, I am pretty sure he would run from Connor.

It is nice to have good neighbors. Especially when there is a fence between us.

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