Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stepping Away for a Bit

Taking a mini-vacation....unplugging. Time to focus on some things that need my full attention. See you on Monday.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What's Under the Kitchen Sink?

This past several days, as classwork is completed, we have been trying to focus our afternoons on yard and garden work. We have three different garden plots here on the farm: the greenhouse garden plot with raised beds, the front yard garden - kitchen garden style, and the pasture garden which is large rows of crops that need plenty of space. We were each working in different areas the other day when one of the girls decided to head to the house for a cool drink.

From my place in the pasture garden, I am the farthest from the view of the back door is obstructed by my vehicle. When I heard a ruckus from the house, I really thought nothing of it ---they're teens, they make a ruckus, however, when I noticed the other teens running from their work places.....radar went up...something was definitely not right!

Dropping my hoe, moving quickly, I just had to pray, "Lord, whatever it is, help...I'm tired, I'm not in the mood for a catastrophe, please..." Know what I mean? You've been there..right? Coming upon the door, all the kids were in the doorway...formulating a in a state of seems she had almost stepped on a copperhead that was slithering on the kitchen floor. When he noticed her, the copperhead went under the kitchen sink..there was an area in the baseboard that had crumbled away..he was there hiding.

Now, I am deathly afraid of any snake...venomous ones nearly paralyze me with fear. This is not funny.....what do you do? Called the husband who, bless his heart, is at work and said to simply barricade him in under the sink (what? are you kidding?). Called the local law enforcement who, goodness me, advised me to shoot it with a 22...really? In the house? Under the sink? They transferred me to sheriff and then animal control ..both of which were very sorry, but they do not deal with snakes.

In the was our farmboy who handled the situation with caution and determination. He used a pellet gun to fatally wound the snake...barricade it in (because it would not die instantly..thus still able to bite)...and after farmpapa arrived home, safely removed dead snake from under sink. Praise God for boys!

Dare I say, much prayer when up during this ordeal...I was terrified! I also feared for the kid - who often seems fearless. The girls were awesome helps in this ordeal...each standing a post, with hoe in hand, in case the farmboy needed assistance. God was watching over one bit, no one injured, and the kitchen sink is still intact. By the way, farmboy repaired the baseboard as well.

Please bare in mind, our weather is warming up - which means snakes are coming out of hibernation and searching for food. While this is a natural part of life, especially in the country, it is important to use safety and caution. This is not the first snake in our house incident - probably won't be the last. Just last night, one of the farmgirls ran over a snake while mowing garden paths.

Take a few moments and become familiar with the habitat and environment where these creatures may frequent...and be familiar with the venomous and nonvenomous snakes, and what to do if you are bit by one of them. Above all, pray...God made these creatures..they have a place in our ecosystem (however, I am not a snake advocate - when I encounter one, I do kill them, they eat my hens, eggs, and pose danger to my kids). The Lord was definitely keeping us safe on this day..thanks be to Him.


Sorry, no didn't really expect one, did you?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dealing with Naughty Habits

Doesn't she look so sweet and innocent? Well, she has you fooled..this naughty girl was not where she was suppose to be..not doing what she should be doing. Aren't we like that sometimes?
Goodness me, our goat kids have been developing some nasty little habits..such as squeezing through the hen house door to wreak havoc in the coop..naughty! We all know that once a habit is formed it is very difficult to break. For the life of me, breaking this habit is proving quite trying around here..
Even so, our children have also developed some naughty habits...but so have the adults. Let's be honest, when we see a naughty habit in our kids we can often find that habit - or one very close to it- in our own life. For example, if chores are being neglected, it may be that I too have become neglectful in my duties. And, as we say, once a habit is formed it is hard to break.
The first step we take in habit correcting is to recognize - admit - there is a problem...something needs to change. Once we reveal it..time to deal with it. In my experience, prayer is a necessity. Part of admitting the wrong habit is admitting it to God - He already knows, so just admit it..then..
Seek help with it...through prayer..through scripture..(I place cards with relevant verses around my house to encourage me).. and with an accountability partner. Be sure this is a trusted person .. some one respectful of your privacy, and loves you enough to be honest. For example, if my emotions are out of balance, I may ask my husband to gently remind me when I need a break to regroup and refocus.
Then have a plan and work the plan. An example: if eating habits are needing adjustments, don't expose yourself to areas of temptation until you are strong enough to face the temptation and succeed. When you are facing a week moment, your accountability person if you need to. Place those scripture verses right near the area of temptation (example..if phone or computer is taking over your a verse on the handset or screen) Habit changing takes is a process and it does not happen overnight.
And finally, when you mess up..when you face a setback..and you will, I do...admit it and move on. There is no need to keep beating yourself up about the situation, just determine to do better from here on out. Remember, God is our strength..He knows our weaknesses and His word is full of promises and wisdom to guide us. He will forgive your and give you the ability to forgive yourself.
In facing some challenges in our own lives...we often agree as a family to unplug. This means remove the entertainment aspect of our daily TV, music, phone and Internet use (basically job/school activity only). Use our time to repair damaged family attitudes and relationships..clean and declutter not only our living space, but our minds, souls and physical environment.
Here at home, we are working through some habit is a process, we are making progress - the goats are another story. Let's hope we succeed with both!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

District Roundup Update

Look at those awesome kids! This is our 4-H dance team that participated this morning in the District 9 Roundup competition "Share the Fun".

We saw so many wonderful kids today..talented...brave...who worked hard and showed good attitudes and good sportsmanship. I am proud of every competitor from today's meeting...well done kids! As roundup goes, the top two placings for each category advance to the state level (held in June) to compete again. The judges today had some very difficult decisions because these kids worked hard!

Our dance team placed second in their category and do advance to the state us, the work doesn't end...time to get to the nitty gritty and polish up the details. These kids really did work hard and learn some excellent skills...cooperation, coordination, patience, commitment, and to persevere even when you want to give up. All the parents gave time and tolerance as well...good job parents!

Congratulations to all the competitors, you were all amazing...I am proud of you!

simplychele and the 4-H Heavy Hitters dance team

Friday, April 23, 2010

Load up the Truck...We're Heading Out

Oh, busy day. We are loading up the truck..packing our coolers and heading out. Our county 4H has a dance team we participate in and we are heading early Saturday morning to District 9 Roundup for a Share the Fun competition. A lot of time and energy has gone into learning a choreographed routine, coordinating costumes, and scheduling practices around our busy lives. These teens have worked hard and are now heading out to show the district how to Share the Fun with a baseball themed routine set to the tune "Centerfield" by John Fogerty. We will be gone tomorrow..but I hope to share some cute pictures and the news of the contest with you soon...Good luck to all the kids around our district who have been working hard toward this day!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Simply Gardening

There are plenty of weeds to be pulled in the garden this week...and that is what we're doing today..pulling the pesky weeds, however...there are also plenty of good things growing. Here we have a beautiful rinnicula (not sure about the spelling here)blooming boldly beneath our satsuma tree. Ah, such beauty. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Beautiful Blossom

Today we are doing some cleaning...some repairing..some baking. The fair has passed, the projects and paperwork are tucked away..time to move on. Already we begin to look over patterns, recipes and projects for the next year...but for today, some cleanup and put up need to occur! But, stop and enjoy the roses with me....
This lovely yellow rose bloomed in the front rose garden..noticed by me..late yesterday as I cut some kale for dinner. Deep yellow petals, lightly edged in pink...rare beauty designed by God's loving hands. Several more buds are on the bush...and I noticed the other rose bushes -nearby this one- are budding as well.
The antique red ramblers near my barn are blooming deep and dark this year...and our antique pink-tea rose ramblers are dainty and precious along the well house.
A little white rose has bloomed in the bed near our gardenia bush...this is where simplynic parks her truck...she spotted this delicate beauty coming home the other day.
Sadly, our large pick rose bush had buds and was thriving nicely but seems to have turned brown and died. We have had this one for several years..enjoyed its blooms and cared for it, but it is now gone.
The rose of sharons are leafing well and soon should sport some buds of their own- they seem to like it hotter.
Well now, the to-do list calls...time to leave the beauty of the garden for the work of our hands. Schedules are hectic and the to-do lists are long in all our lives, but remember to stop..enjoy the beauty around you..gaze at the roses, for when you least expect, God may open the perfect blossom--just for you!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Leather Stock Whip

Our farmboy made a leather stock whip this year for the handicrafts division of our county fair. He received an Honorable Mention for this piece..which was then displayed during the remaining fair auctions. The stock whip is now home with us and lovingly hanging on the farmboy's bedpost. As all handwork, this is a part of him..a piece of his life...a learning and growing experience..a treasure for him and us..for we shared in the process with him.
I cannot truly say where the notion to make whips came from, but this was the second leather whip he has made. Leather work seems to fit well with boys...developing a patience and perserverance that only a handwork can do.
As a small boy, it was hard for me to encourage him in a handwork...he's a boy..I truly had no experience with boys. Teaching him little bits sparked a self-learning..he began with simple weaving, knot making, and progressed to braided designs in both leather and jute or hemp. We searched library books, purchased books, did online studies to encourage and grow these skills.
Last year he found a kit online for making a bull whip...purchased it as well as a book on different types of whip making designs and techniques. Before using the kit, he practiced on strips of denim, material, rope, cord, and scrap leather. The bull whip last year also received Honorable Mention..and our farmboy was rather relieved not to sell the whip..he had become rather attached to it.
This year he chose a different style whip to make, however, the company he ordered the kit from last year could not be found...he had to keep looking..all the while sharpening his tension and technique for the project.
He did find a kit to use and diligently worked through the process. Step by step he conditioned, and softened...stretched and worked the leather until it was pliable and yielding. The braid was time consuming and occasionally frustrating...trying to maintain tension and even gage..working in the fall and belly..the cracker...rolling the leather to set the weave...more conditioning and blocking. In the end ..... the most anticipated part is cracking it for the first time. You should see the look of accomplishment when that sound rings in!
He somewhat dreaded entering the work...he loved it. All throughout the waiting he mentioned not being sure he wanted to see it go. You know, God loves young boys...He knows their heart. I was surprised at the look of relief when I told him he was granted Honorable Mention...he did not want to part with his work...he just loved the process...the results...the accomplishment of it all.
He received some good comments from his judge ...some tips for the next time..and the joy of the process.
As I mentioned before, there are no's not about the awards, it's about the rewards. This project was harder, longer, and stretched his mind, his will, and his flexibility. The process is what mattered...the experience..the calluses are worth it..this piece is a part of him..of us..of this year in our lives. The leather stock whip is hung with honor on his bedpost..treasured by him, for what it taught him, where it took him, and where it may lead him next.
simplychele with the farmboy

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Fillet Primrose Table Runner

This is the needlecraft project simplyjen entered in this year's fair. A beautiful ecru colored, fillet crochet piece measuring six feet lengthwise and three feet across. A lot of time, patience and pieces of her went into this work of art. Handwork is a part of us, the one making it..the ones watching its progress...the ones encouraging along the becomes a precious piece of who we are..a part of our family..our is a beautiful process.
She began just after last year's fair..teaching herself fillet crochet.. in small parts. Starting with a simple design, she made crosses for bookmarks. After some time and study, she taught herself to map a pattern on graph paper...making original design fillet pieces with an alphabet or image..for example, she made a 8x8 inch lace square with the letter of a couple's last name as a wedding gift... she also made a 6x9 original design with a cross motif for her dad's birthday and later patterned entire names.
From here, she purchased second hand pattern books and began the process of testing patterns, threads, and blocking techniques. These patterns would be much harder...larger..and prove a test of the will.
In the summer, she had a pattern she loved the look of..the primrose...but starting the pattern in the recommended superfine thread was more aggravation than anyone just didn't work. So, this beautifully talented gal took the time to adjust the pattern use a standard weight thread...and slightly larger hook. This was not without its own frustrations..working fillet thread work is tedious and often downright tiresome. Her actual project began around late August, after our summer mission trip.
Perseverance and determination...and just plain old hard-headedness paid off. This gal finished this project with a few weeks to spare...never once getting the delicate thread dirty (a huge undertaking considering farm life and open windows)..blocked it...wrote a log sheet...and developed a photo journal of the process. Wow!
At the auction, I had a tinge of concern she may not be able to part with this well..after all, many hours, tears and trials were woven into this beautiful piece. It had become a part of us.. a part of her...a process in her life. God knows our hearts..He is always a step ahead. The buyer of this piece was a precious older woman, one of Jen's judges, who had a mist of tears in her eyes as she took the beautiful table runner from Jen's hands. This dear woman had set it in her heart to purchase this treasure...oh, Jen did not hesitate to hand it over with a tender hug. None of us would have it any other way...this part of our lives, this piece of our girl, is in the loving hands of a woman who truly appreciates it..values it as we would.. and will be remembered in our hearts forever.

You see, you never know where your experiences will lead you...where your choices may take you...whom you path is meant to cross..or touch..our be touched by. The importance of this project is not measurable...not defined by the amount of money it raised...the status it was labeled..or the applause of others. I believe God applauded this tender moment ..ordained it..and will ever use it to His glory. The value of this project....who can measure? Oh my, where will the next one take us?
simplychele with simplyjen

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Updates from the Fair

We had a really great fair this year. I saw some excellent showings from the area kids...some awesome sportsmanship...some beautiful encouragement....well done contestants! Our family is personally proud of the many talented...and brave kids.. who worked so hard ..who persevered..who made it through. Remember, it's not about the awards, it's about the rewards. Each one of us learned something new...gained new experiences...remained faithful and completed a project....well done!
As for our own family's standings:
Each farmkid entered a canned good- though none placed in action, we had very good comments...this was their first year to show in this area...Well done kiddos!
Each farmkid entered a meat pen (chickens) - two pens held there own through several sifts before being cut...this was their first year to show in this area...Well done kiddos!
The farmboy entered a handmade leather stockwhip - he received an Honorable Mention..his handwork was placed on was his second year in handcrafts...well done farmboy!
Simplyjen, our goatmama, entered a fillet crochet table runner in the needlecrafts division..she received Grand was her third year in this area..the auction has been held..she received a nice price to place in her college funds...well done goatmama!!
Overall, we met wonderful and knowledgeable people..both young and old; we gained experience and knowledge we did not already have; we encouraged others and cheered them along- and received encouragement and support ourselves. Well done Montgomery County!!!
Already we are looking toward next, animals, handwork, patterns and possibilities. God bless this desire to learn and grow and stretch in various areas - none of this is wasted..all is for His glory!

*We hope to post some pictures from the fair my computer is being fussy.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Final Preparations for the Fair

Today is the last day to prepare our fair entries. Canning jars are being labeled, handwork is neatly packed for travel, chickens are carefully selected for pens. Our day will start early tomorrow, so we try to have everything ready much as possible. While we have worked hard and hope to see good results for it..we also wish a hearty good luck to all who are every all counties. God bless..and maybe...we'll see you there.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Oh, I tell you, sometimes I think that boy is going to take ten years off my life (smile). Not only has he been jumping from the stall, but he scaled the coop door to get to the roof..scared me senseless...who does that?
Now, what do you do when the farmboy won't stop scaling the stall walls? You have him sweep the barn roof. Yes indeed, we put that energy and enthusiasm to good use!
Oddly enough, it did not deter his ambitiousness. He later used his unusual sense of creativity to make a zip line from a tree to the swing set. Again, nearly scared me senseless. I have not found a way to make that one useful (smile)...haven't given up yet either.
Well, there are worse things a boy his age could be least he is using his energy, his mind, things we have on hand, and not moaning about being bored. However, I'm not sure my nerves can take much more excitement! Ya gotta love 'em.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


The first eggs of spring! Our flock of beautiful..and diverse..hens have finally gotten the ball (or the egg) rolling. We have all been anxiously watching the nest boxes..waiting for the first beautiful eggs to be hidden in the just can't imagine the excitement we share as the first ones were found. There is nothing more exciting and tasty than fresh farms eggs... the rich, deep yellow yolks, the pretty color variations in the shells, the satisfaction of having raised them yourself...nothing like it! We hope to have enough to share with others once the hens really get moving. Imagine, scrambles, omelets, french toast, challah breads, so many delightful possibilities. So, way to go girls...keep up the good work.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Beautiful Surprise

What a beautiful surprise met our eyes as we were planting out the bell pepper plants last night.. the irises have started to bloom! Beautiful blooms of purple and yellow are dotting the circle garden near our drive.
This bed is special to me...I planted it when I was thirteen...when my family moved here. The bricks that circle the bed were once part of the outer wall of this house...the irises are bulbs given us by a neighbor. I spent a summer laying the bricks, working the soil, and planting the bulbs.
Even today, they still bloom!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Moments from the Clothesline....

The image of clothes drying in the fresh air on the clothesline...surprising the reactions this sparks in some people. I have encountered people who are certain that line dried clothes are dirty because they have been hanging outside....people who believe that clothes on the line in your yard is a sign of poverty..people with fond memories of a grandmother's line dried clothes..the list goes on. Your opinion is yours and you are entitled to it. As for me....

Clothes on the line is a connection to my past..memories of the farm..of home...of hard times...of who I have been and who I am today. A time to remember the ones who taught me..guided me..shared the work with me then and now.

When I am at my clothesline I may be alone....prayerful, reflective, sorting out the millions of things pulling for my attention. My most heartfelt intercessions are often made at my clothesline...some of my best decisions are made at the clothesline.

I may be with one of my children....quiet..together..sharing unspoken moments..or sharing: a fear, a struggle, a good story...each other...or with all the children...sharing the load..laughter..worries.......time.

Maybe my husband and I have slipped to the clothesline together...quietly being, exchanging loving glances..a private conversation, a heartfelt concern....each other's time.

These moments at the clothesline are so much more valuable to me than...the concern over pollution in the air...the stigma of poverty...the opinions of others.

Moments at the clothesline show my family I care ..with fresh, crisp clothes, with time together, with my prayers; my husband I respect him...with money saved on the electric bill, the training of our children, with little stolen moments alone to regroup.

It shows my God that I remember the people, places and situations He has used to shape me. Now, how long has it been since you had a moment from the clothesline?


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Have a Blessed Weekend

Beautiful weather, family and friends, church with dinner on the grounds...all the makings of a blessed weekend.
Enjoy the blessings of our Lord this weekend.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

(this is a picture of the last sunset of 2009)
Hey y'all! It's Good Friday, when we remember Jesus and His crucifixtion. Tonight we're going to a Good Friday sermon/celebration at a church by the one PapaScaife's a pastor at, and I hope we all have a great time enjoying each other's company and remembering what God did for us. For me, He died for my sins, gave me eternal life, and is with me wherever I go. I have problems, just like the rest of us, and He's always there for me no matter where I am or what I'm doing, even if I don't always remember that He is. I just want to thank Him always for all He does for me, and for you too. What has God done in your life? Has He helped you with huge decisions, as He has for me? I pray God will bless you and your families, as you celebrate Good Friday this year, and Easter (we call it Resurrection Sunday).

SimplyJen, your GoatMama

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Snowcones, coffee and tea...oh, my

Our girl has a job...she's a coffee girl! Not far from the college where she takes classes is a cute little coffee shop. She completed her training and is now making delicious coffees, teas and ....snow cones. Her siblings love her snow cones and I have personally sampled her coffees -I can definitely say, yum...she's got it!