16 08, 2021

My Potting Bench Helper

By |2021-08-15T07:13:30-05:00August 16th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Recently someone offered to let me dig seedlings from their white althea or what my daddy called Rose of Sharon.

The one in my yard is purple .

A white flower would complement it and the pink Confederate roses nicely.



I gathered my bucket and shovel and off I went. When I got home, I immediately potted the seedlings.

This fellow appeared to help me.

He’d been hiding under the potting soil bag and hopped to the wall.

I wasn’t surprised. We have a pond and often see—and hear the croaking. They serenade us nightly. Loudly.

Only those on the back porch and around the flower beds are brown. We call them toads. This was the first bright green I’d seen.

So, was this fellow a young toad yet to turn brown or a green frog?

That question led to a Goggle rabbit hole that consumed an hour. I learned more stuff about toads vs frogs than I will ever need to know.

I’ll save you some time. Here’s a chart explaining the difference.

Upon close examination, I’ve decided my potting helper was a frog. Do you agree?

13 08, 2021

Good Start

By |2021-08-11T06:13:35-05:00August 13th, 2021|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara.

Teachers went back to work this week. We always have training before the students start. Most teachers resent having to spend their valuable time sitting through training when they would rather be setting up their classrooms.

As a music teacher, the trainings are often irrelevant, and I struggle to find a use for the information. This year the first day was a 6-hour workshop on classroom management – an area I can always improve. I was more excited than usual to start back to work.

Before the training, we were each handed a big tote bag full of stuff. I glanced through it and settled in at the computer for the training.

Partway through the morning, we were instructed to take out a small lunch bag from the larger tote. Within that lunch bag was a harmonica!

I was thrilled!

This particular classroom management strategy uses a harmonica to get students’ attention. The presenter gave all the scientific reasons behind the strategy, but I didn’t pay attention.

I was too distracted by the fact that every teacher was now going to have a harmonica. I was also busy playing the beginning of Piano Man – a song I have been working on with one of my piano students.

This is a very good start to 2021-22!

9 08, 2021

Changing our View

By |2021-08-08T07:42:29-05:00August 9th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Our back porch is a great place to sit and relax. You can watch the water tumble down the rock waterfall then gurgle along the little creek path to the pond.

COVID and its stay-at-home mandate had us using our porch more. We sit and sip tea or coffee in the mornings or have iced tea in the evenings.

Our view was always the same.

Beyond the creek/pond, we watched the birds feed at the birdfeeders in the middle of the yard, and Finn chase the squirrels. He never gives up.

At the back is a high hedge at the fence. Only the neighbor’s roof is visible. To the left, there’s the canna bed with a birdbath, and to the right a peach tree. No peaches, though. The squirrels and birds eat them before they can ever mature.

Recently, our porch furniture changed, and I discovered different views and things that had always been there but never really seen.

My sister gave us her big wicker porch rocker when she moved out of state to be near her granddaughters. It’s large and had to be angled to fit between the porch supports.

Sitting in it, I see the vintage screen door propped against the fence. I think of all the screen doors in houses where I lived and hear the slam. The new view also lets us watch the dogwood tree blossom.

She also gave us the matching wicker porch swing.

It now hangs at the other end of the porch directly in front of the waterfall. The water up close splatters as it tumbles over the stones.

We can read the garden plaques. One says, “Grow old with me the best is yet to be,” the Browning quote. The other is the Irish road blessing, “May the road rise to meet you…” You know the one.

Finn and I love that swing.

My sister’s gifts made me realize how a simple change of position lets us see things that have been there all along. We never take the time to look.

I think I’m going to change where I sit at meals and at church from now on. I’m sure I’ll notice things my eyes never focused on before.


6 08, 2021

Animal Phases

By |2021-08-04T17:25:36-05:00August 6th, 2021|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

When I was growing up, we had cats. There was Snowball who gave birth to Cinnamon who gave birth to Otnot. Otnot is Tonto spelled backward. She was also named because we “ought not” to have kept her.

I remember one of the cats having her kittens in the vacant lot next door. Then there were several nights of feeding kittens with an eyedropper so they would not succumb to distemper.

When I was in high school, my family moved to Texas, and we became exclusively dog people.

Fast forward many years to a new generation and my husband and I have had a veritable zoo at our house. We started with one dog as promised to our three children. That became two dogs when a puppy needed a home.

Then Rachel’s teacher gave her a guinea pig. That became a herd of guinea pigs that numbered close to thirty.

We then adopted my niece’s leopard gecko which quickly became a breeding colony complete with an incubator in the closet. During the reptile period, we also had a bearded dragon and several snakes. This required a steady supply of mice.

Somewhere in there, we started collecting dachshunds with six being the maximum.

After selling the leopard gecko setup, we began our current chicken phase which has included turkeys and ducks.

The next generation – our daughter and son-in-law, have two cats. When I stayed with them last week, Minnie adopted me.

She sat on my lap while I was working.

Then she climbed into the box I brought.

She might have thought I would bring her home.

However, the “cat phase” of my family ended many years ago. We’ve moved on to chickens, ducks, and dogs.

I don’t think a cat would fit.

2 08, 2021

Are you a Purple Cow?

By |2021-08-07T09:52:05-05:00August 2nd, 2021|Uncategorized|1 Comment

There’s a short little poem by Gelett Burgess titled “The Purple Cow” that I dearly love.

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one.

The full title is “The Purple Cow: Reflections on a Mythic Beast Who’s Quite Remarkable, at Least.” Most people leave off the second line of the title.

Pity too because that’s where the essence of Burgess’ poem lies. A purple cow stands out, a Mythic Beast Who’s Quite Remarkable. Most people don’t want to be Purple Cows. Conformity is comfortable.

The poem appeared in the first edition of his humorous little magazine The Lark in 1895. It’s fun. It’s silly and that was Burgess’ trademark.

I’ve quoted the words a gazillion times myself. As did United States President Harry S. Truman when asked if he’d ever seen a UFO. He substituted UFO for the purple cow.

But Burgess tired of the poem’s popularity and pinned this rebuttal, which he published in The Lark three years later.

Ah, yes, I wrote the “Purple Cow”—
I’m Sorry, now, I wrote it;
But I can tell you Anyhow
I’ll Kill you if you Quote it!

Maybe Burgess didn’t personally want to be considered remarkable. In reality, he was. Some say his works inspired Dr. Seuss.

The Gelett Burgess Center for creative expression, organized to honor his creativity, gives The Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Awards yearly. It’s not the Caldecott, but still a prestigious honor for a children’s book.

Burgess also coined the word blurb in 1907. He introduced the term on the cover copy of his book, Are You a Bromide? using a quote from Miss Belinda Blurb.

His definition is “a flamboyant advertisement; an inspired testimonial.” I’m not sure such a blurb on a book in our 21st century would be as well received.What do you think?

30 07, 2021

Through the Magic Gate

By |2021-07-29T09:36:57-05:00July 30th, 2021|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The morning glories are doing really well this year. In fact, they are once again taking over everything in their path.

I suppose I could try to contain them to the side fence, but I am inspired by their tenacity. Our back gate is covered.

Every time I walk to the back yard, I feel like I am going through a magic gate. It is much more fun to think of it that way than to think about the reason I am going – to mow the grass, check on the chickens, fill the duck pond, or any other number of farm chores.

I’ll trade my mundane tasks for an imaginary magic kingdom any day.

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