Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Simply Homemade: Mozzarella

We have been greatly blessed with beautiful spring weather... and a fridge full of fresh milk! So, here in the farm kitchen we had a yummy good time today. Using our fresh milk, citric acid, rennet, a little know how, and a lot of silliness we make some delicious mozzarella cheese.
Having your own milk doe, creativity is often needed to use up the excess milk. We make several different cheese, yogurts, ice creams and even butters with our delicious milk. By far it seems the most fun dairy delight is mozzarella cheese.
After adding citric acid, the milk is warmed to 90 degrees. Rennet is added and the temperature is raised to 105 degrees. The milk is left to set for a few minutes to allow the curd to form. We heat the curd to 110 degrees and stir gently to stretch the curd. After about five minutes at this temperature, the whey is drained from the curd. We salt the curd while gently kneading them..this helps remove the remaining whey.
Now the fun begins! Grab that curd and start pulling and twisting it as you would taffy (by the way, yes, we make taffy every year). Yes, it's fun .. yes, teens love it....yes, the curds are HOT! That makes it all the more interesting/entertaining.
After the cheese takes on a glossy appearance and becomes some-what it in ice water to set the cheese. Now enjoy it! The cheese can be stored in the fridge for two weeks or even frozen for six months.
This cheese tastes just like the string cheese you purchase in the store... delicious on pizza, salads, sandwiches or just by itself as a snack. No, it does not last long....but it is a great way to use up an extra gallon of fresh milk.
Now the question is, how would you use up an extra gallon of fresh milk?

Simply Beautiful

Spring sunsets are simply beautiful..breath-taking. To sit in the hammock and gently sway while watching the changing colors of the evening sky...relaxing...the noise of teens...the rustling of barns animals as they settle in...the cluck of roosters calling the ladies in for the night. It is true, the heavens declare the glory of God....gloriously.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Celebrating Him

A birthday is a wonderful thing...we have share his together eighteen times! This year we celebrate his health, life, love, joy, struggles, sorrow, hope and happiness....our marriage.. our children....our God. What a blessing to share this day together!
This past year has been filled with its ups and downs and we gladly realize we came through it together. He is my friend, my love, my strength, my pastor... he shows me peace when I can't see any..he loves me despite myself... he supplies comic relief when needed. With work schedules and seminary it has been harder to spend time together...and we have had our run abouts, but thankfully we are still here. Though his actual birthday is not until Monday, we chose today to gather and enjoy. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cleaning the Brooders

Once again it seems the job of cleaning the brooders - miraculously- fell to me. Even though I remember telling someone it was their turn; but that was before she was called in to work - with her sister. Hmm. Seems I then remember telling someone they needed to assist me since we were the only ones here; but that was before I gave him permission to be somewhere else. Hmm. Funny how this worked out - isn't it?

Yet, it is not all lost. While up to my ankles in muck, feeling rather grumpy about my situation, a song came on the radio (yes, we keep a radio on in our barn- 24/7). Memories flooded my mind - sorrow and laughter surrounded me.

Remember when...this job was mine because: they were too small, too sick, had another broken bone, etc. Remember when...I kept telling myself when they were older this would be easier...they are, it isn't. Remember biggest problems for the day was sibling arguments and another spill in the living room. Remember when... tough questions were if Snow White was real and if God loved the chickens. Remember when.... "that look" stopped them in their tracks. Wow, that was a long time ago.

Well, one day I will look back and remember when....though they were gone during the day, I could look forward to having them home at night; though the challenges were bigger, they were here to be challenging; though I complained about how much they forget to do, more often than not they were here to do it. May I laugh at my ideals of how I thought it would be, and how is turned out.

Thank you, Lord, for reminding me a blessing despite my grumbling..loving me anyway.

For now, I will clean the coop because more and more my family is changing; more and more the chores will become mine; more and more I will reminisce about then and now. So tell me, do you remember when?


They're loving it...

....sunny weather (yesterday was drizzly). Every creature on the farm- big and small- are enjoying warm sunny weather. The dogs are having a blast running after every bird and squirrel (though they never catch any). The chickens are stretching their wings, scratching and crowing in the grazing pasture. Bunnies are munching sweet spring grass in their pens. The cats are sunning on the porch swing. The beloved goats are munching fresh undergrowth along the fence for us:
Today we are still studying our lessons, planting garden beds, making some fromage blanc (a type of cream cheese), and some peanut butter granola. There is bustling around the greenhouse preparing for tomorrow's special 4-H project: replanting the sensory trail for Leap of Faith (the equine assisted therapy center where simplyjen and simplynrae volunteer). Our farmboy is pounding out a special leather project- a belt- first one he has ever done!
While we enjoy the beautiful weather, it does bring with it plenty of work...but we don't seem to mind. We are thankful that God has given this day, this sunshine, this work, and the blessing of being able to do it together.
Enjoy your sunshine wherever your are!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Putting in the garden...

The greenhouse has been full of seedlings, clippings, and tiny plants for some time now. It seems our soil is beginning to warm and to dry up a bit. This means it is time to plant the fields!
Mornings are filled with barn chores- feeding, milking, replenish water and hay--- and lessons - books scatter around the table, maps are strewn about the floor, computers are in full swing. When this work is completed, we head out to the garden to see what we may accomplish for the day.
Weeding and tilling, planting and much is to be done. Yet, we look forward to sprouts and blooms, birds and bees, butterflies and harvest. Can't you just taste the first tomato from the vine? Cucumbers and snap beans?
It will all be worth it when we carry in a basket of produce for the evening meal...or a bucket full for storing away. Hopefully the canner will be put to good use and the freezer will be filled.

So with this anticipation in mind...we head out to the field to plant and pray for a good harvest!

By the way, this is a picture of bee balm - planted last year. It's seeds are now tiny sprouts for this years herb garden.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In the pastor's office...

.........................hangs the first painting in the Messiah series by simplynrae.

Many images of Christ have been painted over the years. Generally we see Him soft and fair-pail and frail. In our studies of Jesus, we read of Him as a carpenter, in the Middle East, outdoors, walking, making a whip, fishing with the disciples....the meek and mild image just isn't part of our families understanding of Jesus. So, our family artist saw a painting of the Messiah in a youth center...bold and strong...manly and rugged..then - she came home and made her own...for her father's office.
This painting already adorns the little pastor's office, and after the end of the month (her daddy's birthday) the second painting (Writing in the Sand) will hang beside it. Yet! We are not finished... watch for other paintings in the Messiah series..several more are on the way.
simplychele and simplynrae
note: prints are available at origionals available upon request by email:

Friday, March 19, 2010

New additions...

This week has been quite a jolt to our family - no doubt. Now we must move forward with God's grace and guidance. One way that God has moved us along is... new additions. Oh, goodness... 30 sweet little buff orphington chicks arrived at our farm this week. Tiny, peeping, helpless, little fluffy bundles. Their care and attention have been a gentle reminder of how our loving heavenly Father watches over.. care for.. tends to us --even when we do not realize we need tended to! Thank you, Lord, for new additions.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A little spring break....

Today our family took a little spring break and headed up to the state park. Farmdaddy lead us in trail hiking (making sure each of us can use the compass and trail maps correctly!). The birds were singing in the trees, the breeze was rustling leaves, and the trail was crunchy under our feet.
Farmboy guided us through some fishing being sure we are aware of the different uses of baits and casts! Sun glistened off the water, ducks flew overhead, and not once did we tangle our lines. Though no fish were caught, we enjoyed the pleasure of the activity. There is just something about fishing.
The oldest farmgirl guided our canoe as we paddled around the lake. Gentle breezes kissed our faces as the boat swayed along. Pictures were taken and sent to friends (wishing they could have been there). Tired rowing arms took us back to the dock as we realized how much fun this truly was! The beauty of the water is indescribable.
The little goatmama lead us in a volleyball game. Oh, how we laughed, jumped, ran, and slid. Winning or losing was not the point; we were having so much fun. You just can't play this game without skinning something...such as knees and elbows.
The farmmama planned a simple picnic with bread and jam, veggies and fruit with granola and beef jerky for snacks. We sat together in the sun to play some games and just chat.
All was quiet on the ride home.. we are contented and happy..and gently kissed by the sun!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Do you have them?

Poor Patch. Doesn't he just look sad? The kids took him for an afternoon walk but forgot to bring his treats. He knows treats come after a good walk! He decided to search everyone on the farm to find out who had the treats. Funny how he reasoned that out!
What is also funny -- Hadassah was concerned about the treats as well, but was anxiously sitting at the farmboy's feet - completely convinced he had them - waiting ever so carefully - because she wanted to be sure to get one first!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Everyone Needs A Purpose

Hey y'all!

Been a while since I was last on here, I've been so busy! With all the things that go on in life, like your family, friends, business, jobs, who knows, it gets hard to remember to put God in your life. I've had to do some adjusting of schedules, free time, and so on to be more diligent not only in life, but with God too. Each morning as I wake up, I slide into my clothes and hit the bathroom for my morning routine, all the way praying God will give me guidance through the day, and to let His will be done. I hit play on my CD Player that I keep in there, with my favorite iTunes Mix CD I made, letting the first song "My Jesus" by Todd Agnew fill the bathroom and get me on the right track. I begin brushing my teeth, hair, washing my face, while listening as the music rolls on to "More Beautiful You" by Jonny Diaz and some Elvis popped in there for spice. God's been guiding me through a lot of things, and I've been blessed lately, so completely that I'm just in awe so many times through the day.

The other day, God revealed to me my purpose in this world. I was walking back to the Master Gardener builing after our work day, and I was looking at the sky, thinking how beautiful it was, then at our gardens, and how, in a way, it was our job to keep beautiful and to care for what God has given us. It suddenly hit me, that that is my job, my purpose-to help keep this earth beautiful and to care for what He gives me, I'm a gardener. He also showed me that I can be a Physical Therapist, or a Physical Trainer. That came to me as I was helping SimpleN'rae stretch due to back pain, and it just felt so right, such a perfect fit, to know my purposes. One thing I also am is a dancer-I love to dance! Maybe in time I could be a Dance Instructor for ballroom and other dances, but for now, I'm content learning how. One day I might be called to ministry, it's unsure yet, but I know that right now, for now, my purpose is to care for God's World-His people and His nature.

It's a wonderful feeling knowing your purpose, have you found yours yet?

Luv all y'all,

SimplyJen, your Goat Mama

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Simply beautiful....

Some simply beautiful daffodils are blooming in the front garden bed! Sure signs that the warm weather and sunshine are here for a while. After classroom assignments are completed today, we intend to spend the afternoon soaking up the beauty of the season (and hopefully complete some more gardening!). Enjoy your beautiful day.

simplychele and the farmkids

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Time to adjust...

Many changes are occurring in our family's life that affects our daily routine. It is time to refocus our priorities..our schedule...our rhythm here at home. The children are now youth; their endeavors are taking them in new directions- they are stretching their wings... it is a good thing (I know this)..yet is is an adjustment.
These seasons occur off and on in a family. Many different situations may cause the need for refocusing and adjusting; illness, relocation, new job, a natural disaster, family strife...we have seen our share of each of these things. For now, our adjustment is simply caused by growing, changing, challenging, determining our priorities and our direction for the future. We must be aware of the changes and not allow them to splinter our family relationships - this can happen quickly! As each family member seeks direction individually, they must seek to have consideration for how this will effect the rest of the family. Balance is necessary.
As we adjust, our focus is not only on how these changes affect our life right now, but how these changes effect our future - what direction we are heading in. In this comes much prayer! Personally, I don't care for change - I don't like being apart - I love being at home, with my family, in my garden and barn. God had other plans - better plans; will I accept this - yes.. but it takes time. So, for now, we pray, seek, adjust, look up.. the goal is balance.
The beauty of spring is all around us reminding us that change is inevitable. The seasons change in nature just as they do in our lives. Today, I look to God, pray, ask for wisdom and peace in the changes that are being made. We pray for discernment in making our schedules work, in getting the work done, in preserving time together, in maintaining balance. God will answer and His way is perfect. It will be a blessing - I must embrace it; I will - in time. May you seek God's blessing in the changes happening in your lives as well.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What's on the easel?

A new painting by simplynrae!!
(her prints and origionals are for sale at
Here you see the sketch version, done in charcoal and pencil. She has enlarged this sketch on canvas and will be painting it with oil paint. This is the second in a series of "Messiah" paintings she has been working on.
This one, titled "Writing in the Sand", is her image of Christ when He was met with the woman caught in adultery. The accusers said she must be stoned according to Biblical law, however Christ aswered that whoever is without sin should cast the first stone...proceeding to write in the sand.. the accusers left... the woman received unmerrited grace. A beautiful story of mercy, grace, forgiving. I see here also a need to encourage a sinner in the right direction instead of casting harsh judgement... for we all sin...we are all guilty..just as she was.
Thank you, Lord for your unmerrited grace!
And thank you for this beautiful talented youth!
Leave us a comment ... we would love to know what you're working on this week.
simplychele and simplynrae

Monday, March 8, 2010

A new endeavor....

Recently our county extension office has added a new project for our 4-H-er''s... dance. So far, our family has enjoyed it immensely! Oh the joy of watching a group of youth gathered together, focusing their energy and attention on learning a new skill. They are supervised, they are in a group, they are enjoying the fellowship and activity.
Some may question the necessity of this particular skill...I say, physical activity is important to good health (as is being able to laugh at your progress or success!). This project is not for everyone. Some families have strong convictions regarding dancing or co-ed dancing or maybe some of the music that is involved. Our music is carefully screened by our 4-H leader to serve its purpose yet be clean.
Personally, we sometimes create object lessons that involve secular music, movies or books. For example, a song is chosen, lyrics are found (in written form), and we seek to determine the message being portrayed by that song. (works well with movies and books as well) Since God's Word tells us to be in the word but not of it, and to be wise as serpents, we seek to understand the world and how it relates to God. My personal motto is that all of the world has a message- it is either showing you a warning or the Way. If you're seeking God's wisdom, He will show it to you (and He is big enough to use any means). As strange as this may sound, one of my husband's seminary professors uses a simmilar tactic in the systemic theology class. At any rate, this is my family's conviction and it is one each family must seek for themselves and honor accordingly. No one should judge what God has layed on the hearts of His people, whether we share the conviction or not.
Personally, my husband and I see the dance project as a healthy, supervised activity, an opportunity to learn how to properly interact in a co-ed situation, and a pleasant break from the daily schedule. We attend the project with our teens and, on occasion, join in the fun! Is there an opportunity near you to explore a new endeavor? Are you willing to give it a try?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Help or hinderance?

Cleaning is a never ending process around the farm (and the house). With so many helping hands to pitch in, our tasks so seem lighter - however, I don't think this one intended to be helping. Our beautiful barn cat, Gumdrop, is always eager for attention - often to the point of being a nuisance. During one of our clean up sessions she decided to jump in the wheel barrow and cry until we stopped a moment for some nuzzling, cuddling and purring. While I prefer to get to the task and get it done, I must say she provided a nice break to refresh us.
So was she a help or a hindrance? Depends on how you look at it. I remember when my children were small and they wanted to "help" with grown up tasks...often it was hard to decide if it was a help or a hindrance. Yes, the task would take longer, a bigger mess would most likely be made, but....we would share time together, they would learn to do the task better eventually, and if we tried we could make it fun. Looking back now I realize they were helps...for me, for them. Now they have the skills, they can do most any task I can do (and have been able to for some time now). They have grown up being willing to help without hindering. Would this be so if I had not started when they were eager and willing?
When these tiny moments interrupt our days, whether it be a pet, a child, a neighbor, and elderly person...the initial thought may be --hindrance, but let us take a second look and see if it is really a help. God may be using this moment for both your benefits even if the blessing is not seen immediately. Have a blessed weekend from all of us at Simply Scaife.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Exploring Gifts....

Over the years, our families extra-curricular interests have grown, changed, adjusted to our ages, preferences, the flow of daily life. Some pursuits were short lived due to lack of interest, funds or the simple fact- it just didn't fit our lifestyle. Other pursuits have lasted well into our current daily routine. As the kids have grown, their personal interests have changed with their age. Homeschooling has yielded itself well - giving us the opportunity to dig down and explore different avenues of interest and ability.
Some of our adventures have taught us things about ourselves we would not have known otherwise. For example, if not for a deep love for horses (and the desire to be around them everyday) had not lead us to volunteer in the Leap of Faith facility, we might not have discovered one child's deep love and desire to work with disabled children. Several years of camping trips - and a few massive hurricanes - have shown us one child's gift for forestry and survival skills. Another needed a way to focus energy when recovering from physical therapy and discovered amazing needlework talents.
We have stretched our minds and bodies in various areas over the years...every adventure has been worth the time spent on it. Our participation in local 4-H opened several options to explore while keeping costs down. A local music center provided lessons for various instruments. We may have all started learning the piano or taking art lessons, but only a few of us have continued it - we do not all have the same gifts... and we shouldn't. How dull would our daily life be if that were so!
Personally, I have enjoyed watching each one of the kids develop their own love for the various areas of "gifts" we have explored; from gardening, handwork, agriculture, music and painting. All of us have the basic concept in the same areas, but some of us took the time to nurture the gift and let it grow.
Now that we have found "gifts" we can use .. what do we do with them? Use 'em, don't lose 'em is my motto. God placed our gifts, abilities, handiwork and desires in our hearts and He intends us to use them! If you seek, you will find the ways He intends for your personality and abilities to be used. We are a ministry family; we have an abundance of opportunity to use many of our gifts. Some are ministry related, some are for our own personal use, some are possibly for our future endeavors....but if we do not seek, we won't find.
Dear reader, what gifts have you explored? Are there some you want to explore but haven't tried yet? It's never to late to give it a go. Pray on it; ask for it. I generally ask the Lord to show me how to nurture and use it - or remove my desire for it (if it is not His desire for me). He has not failed me yet! Stretch your selves and explore gifts.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Little dose of bunny love and the start of gardening..

Don't those floppy ears make you want to just love him up? So soft and furry, warm and sweet - our bunnies are nourishment for the snugly side of life. This is lop eared rabbit is only one of four rabbits currently residing on the farm - a dutch, a Californian, and another lop. We do not use our rabbits for food, but they do provide good manure for the garden beds. To me, rabbits are just gently friends, kind of like cats (but cats are good mousers and snake wranglers!).
Being blessed with another beautiful weather day (and a few more on the way), we have been seeding out snap peas in some of the less-soggy beds. A few onion sets went in the ground late yesterday and we hope to set some more this afternoon. We are trying to find a garden area dry enough to add some lettuces and radishes... it's still just plain swampy around here.
We pulled some lettuces that had bolted .. using them with feed for our livestock.. you know, everyone loves a treat! Our meat pens are growing rapidly in the brooder...however, this current weather has made temperature moderation a mess (30's in the morning and 60's in the afternoon). Still, we are plodding along.
I hope this day finds you full of energy and activity... with warm sunshine on your face and birds chirping in your yard!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Around the homestead....

There is a flurry of activity....God has given us a beautiful sunny day; filling us with renewed energy to accomplish some much needed chores.

One task that needed our attention was the sauerkraut crock....delicious kraut ready to put up - eight pint jars...packed and set in the barn fridge to keep and use from. With that out of the way, the crock is now clean and sun-curing for next time.

Milk is pasteurizing for our next batch of home make cheese. This week it's mozzarella...mmm. I can hardly wait to get my hands in there and stretch some curds! This cheese will be used on homemade pizzas, tasty antipasto salads or nibbled on after a day in the barn.

Cream has been collected from the milk jars and is awaiting churning. Delicious butter tops our home made biscuits on Sunday afternoon.

Bedding has been hung in the sunshine to air and freshen up. Sheets are being laundered... there is nothing like fresh sun-dried bedding to curl up in.

Luffa sponges that have been cleaned, bleached and aired are now dry and have been put in the linen closet until they are needed. We use them for scrubbing and for giving as gifts with a bar of fresh made soap.

Seedlings have been moved to the greenhouse to harden off and prepare for outdoor planting. Broccoli, kale, cabbage, and cauliflower are almost ready for the garden beds we have been spreading compost and stall bedding over.

The greenhouse beds have been clean and composted in preparation for planting.

Today we are nurturing some tomato seedlings under lights in the house. They need the warmth of seed lights for a bit longer.

Baby chicks are in constant need of attention; checking their brooder temp, refilling feed, refreshing water. There have been a few casualties, but that is to be expected.

The hawks are hovering, so we make regular trips to the barn and pasture to check on the pullets. So far so good, but that can change at any moment. Oh, how I eagerly await the start of laying season! Fresh eggs are so satisfying to gather and use.

Hooves need trimmed, so this afternoon we plan to make it happen. Stalls were tended to yesterday, coops cleaned, rabbit stall refreshed... so today. grooming needs done.

So, like I said... a flurry of activity. Thank you, Lord, for the willing hands and the wonderful weather!


Monday, March 1, 2010

Dreamin' of spring....

This beautiful painting was done by simplynic - a gift for her cousin.
Makes me dream of spring.
On this rainy Monday I carefully maneuver around puddles in my path...oh..dreaming of spring. For in the spring....gardens will be planted, laundry will dry on the line, the sun will gently kiss our faces, hens will lay eggs, birds will sing....ah, spring! The county fair will take place, 4-H elections will be held, celebrations of our Savior's resurrection will be make...the refreshing joy of spring.
During our morning chores we noticed a pleasant surprise - the daffodils had bloomed! Just beautiful - a reminder that spring is on its way - the cold will not last forever - the rain will subside - the seasons will continue as God promised!
Today, as you go about your day, seek out the evidences of the coming of spring.