Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Look at Gauge and Clamshell

    I hope each of you had a wonderful weekend of blessings and gatherings, I know I did. Monday arrived all to quickly bringing with it a sink load of dishes and plenty of 'need my attention' items. With my final garden planting push complete and rain in the forecast, stitching is on the agenda. Join me today in the sewing room as we explore the gauge, marking and the clam shell design. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013


crucifixion of jesus christ photo: Jesus 2 passionchrist.jpg  
Blessings on you and your families this Resurrection Sunday.

Matthew 27

King James Version (KJV)
27 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.
Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.
12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.
16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,
34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
36 And sitting down they watched him there;
37 And set up over his head his accusation written, This Is Jesus The King Of The Jews.
38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.
48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children.
57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:
58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Friday, March 29, 2013

As I Ponder ...

Passion Jesus gets some help 

   Year after year our family has read and pondered the elements of Christ's passion..that final week before His crucifixion. Each time a different part stands out to me bringing me to a place of wonder. This year, for whatever reason, Simon of Cyrene keeps running through my mind. Such an obscure individual, yet so important he is mentioned by name in the Scriptures. 
   Very little is said of this man who carried the cross of Christ. Being that it was Passover, we often assume he was a Jew and there for observance, but we really do not know. I find this curious. Why? Why this man? Did he have a choice? Did he even know the significance of his actions? Was he a believer in this Savior? We just don't know.
    Another question that carries in my does this apply to me? I won't be heading to church and end up carrying Jesus' cross. Would I have? Such things make me dig deep within the dark somewhat ugliness of my own being and question what I find there. Sometimes these things make us truly see ourselves. It's a scary thing.
    My questions unanswered. The curious wonder continues. This man, this event, this unusual act. Who knows where such wonder will lead me.  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gardening with a Wild Side

   The rumors are true, I admit, when it comes to gardening I tend to lean toward strange extremes. When at my Master Gardener's classes, prayer and deep breathing help me reign it in and it is generally under control when I help with garden layout or design. Here on the homestead my weird and wild notions are left unchecked. My poor family...
   Today's peek at my 'gardening on the wild side' reveals intentional unruly patches of garden. Here in lies the areas where the natural bend of the soil and environment are left to themselves producing as they will. These 'wild wonders' reside along the fence nature several feet of room to roam. So, why on earth do I do this when other gardeners would absolutely faint over it?
   Reason number one: my critters. These patches of crazy growing goodness are treasured resources for my flocks and herds. Daily salads are gleaned from here to supplement their pastures, especially when they are heavily grazed. On occasion I have been know to tie out a young buck to mow down a patch or even set a kennel over an area for hens or does with kids. Over the many years of this madness, it has worked well for me, so I just keep doing it.
   Reason number two: wildlife. Let it be known Mrs. McGregor has nothing on me. My garden is for us not those pesky rabbits, yet, I am not without a heart. The outer borders of my garden often show signs of their nibbly visits. No, it doesn't exactly keep them out of the main garden, but it doesn't hurt either.
   Reason number three: Wild edibles. Okay,, we aren't starving. This year I have taken it upon myself to learn weed identification and learn what is edible, what isn't and why. The outer wild growth allows excellent reference and identification areas.
   There you have it. One of my dirty little secrets..I garden on the wild side (or with wild on the side..ha ha). So as you ponder your plot considering all the possibilities of your good earth, are you considering 'native growth' borders? Share your odd gardening habits..if you will.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Join Us As We Welcome....

    The newest member of the barn yard bunch arrived today quite unexpectedly. Though his mama, Naomi, didn't kid last season she brought a little buckling into the world. Healthy and strong, Joaz, spent his first day nursing, nudging, and exploring.
   Surprisingly, this first time mama is going at it like a pro: good nurturer, protective, allows us to interact with them. So far she is doing great and loving all the attention- which is rare, because Naomi is our least friendly goat.
   All in all it has been a great day getting to know this cute little guy..and the softer side of his mama. So, with great pleasure Simply Scaife Family Farm welcomes Naomi's precious little one..Joaz.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Family Activities for Resurrection

The Suffering Messiah by simplynik

  Over the years our Resurrection week (or Passion week or Holy week) activities have varied and changed according to the ages and understandings of our children. Early years brought crafts and simple lessons into our study of Christ's passion while later years involved readings and research into our studies. In the past few years we have studied the Jewish passover Seder elements and their symbolism- as well as viewing the movie The Passion.
   Ten things we have done to celebrate Resurrection:
1. Baked Resurrection Cookies (as found here
2. Interactively studied the Bible's account of the last week of Christ starting with Palm Sunday until Resurrection morning (i.e. making palm leaves, discovering unleaven bread, and making a cross in our yard)
3. Used Resurrection Eggs to share with other children ( found here
4. Baked Resurrection rolls (as found here
5. Watched The Passion together as a family one section at a time while studying the passion in the Bible.
6. Memorized Scriptures relating to the cross of Christ, written them on note cards, and placed them at the foot of the cross (a table size one) representing our love for Him.
7. Constructed a full size cross and placed it near our gate.
8. Served in various church based activities geared toward reaching the lost (or those who attend only on holidays).
9. Attended Resurrection services at our church.
10. Gathered with family and friends to celebrate the wonder of the Cross.

  As we draw near to Resurrection weekend, please consider prayerfully what God has planned for us; what message He may be trying to give.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Homeschooling: Finish Well

   The secret is out: another one of my teens graduates this year- from high school and from junior college. My lifeguard is stepping toward a new path of education, while my farm boy looks toward dual credit ambitions. In this journey of home schooling, it is so very important to finish well.
   When I started home education I desperately sought out seasoned home school families for advice and direction. Starting up was easy and every one was more than willing to share their experiences; high school, not so much. For whatever reason talking upper level education seems to hit a taboo. Well, not with me. Grab some coffee..we're talking teens.
    Facing the realization my children had college ambitions I saw a need to develop record keeping and self directed study skills. I was a kindergarten teacher..not a high school educator, but after prayer and some fitful nights a plan came into focus. Just as we eased kids into the learning process, we could ease them into the self learning process. Baby steps and a little nudge here and there..that's the plan.
    Once the kids started hitting the junior high level of learning I taught them to record daily grades. I managed their tests and the primary records, but they were starting their independence. Faithfulness and accountability was key. Once we mastered this we moved on to lessons.
    In college, you are given tools, a syllabus, and some basic dates of completion. No one stands over you to be sure you study, read, or plan for that paper or test. As my home schoolers moved into high school, our lesson layout moved into that very format. By sophomore year, they are independent in their job is laying out the deadlines and grading the papers. They assist in tracking their transcripts and GPA's.
    The junior year of high school, we encourage our teens to take the college entrance exams. This gives us a guideline for our progress and any areas that need attention. If they test well, we visit a dual credit adviser to determine if this is an option for them. Our daughters both did very well as dual credit students..taking classes at the college and here at home. Again, they kept up with their work, stayed accountable, and had great access to tutors both at home and on campus.
    Every family has to consider what is right for their home school journey; college may not be in the picture for every child. The point is to finish well, equipping our children to be productive and accountable citizens. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Working A Sampler

   Today we are in the sewing room with a new video to help anyone interested in making the quilt design sampler I have been using in the tutorials. Join us there as we discuss the process, measurements, and a place to share your inspiration.

This post was shared on Dolly's Designs.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


    The wicked will always come into power, therefore the question is not when will they have power, but how will we live under their command. Ester faced the devastation and annihilation of her people at the hands of a wicked man and his authority. What evil do we face today in our country? Ponder with me today the issues at hand..and how we will live under them..or will we?

Esther 3

King James Version (KJV)
After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.
And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence.
Then the king's servants, which were in the king's gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king's commandment?
Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew.
And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.
And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.
In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.
And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them.
If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries.
10 And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy.
11 And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.
12 Then were the king's scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring.
13 And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.
14 The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day.
15 The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Weekend Gardening: Green Beans

   Second only to tomatoes, green beans are the most common home garden crop. Many wonderful summer afternoons have been spent seated on a porch next to our loved ones snapping beans for an evening meal or a late day canning. Easy to grow and bountiful in their harvest, green snap beans are truly a home garden necessity.
    In my home garden green beans are seeded thickly in raised rows with successive rows planted every two weeks to ensure continuous harvest. Bush varieties, such as Contender and Blue Lake, are direct seeded in the large 'victory garden' near our greenhouse while runner beans, such as Scarlet and Kentucky, trail their vines along the corn stalks. Soaker hoses run along the planting rows while row covers keep moisture at hand and pests at bay.
    Our bush are planted first for early harvests due to their tender nature. Once our southern heat makes an appearance, these plants scorch and slow production while their climbing counterparts kick it in high gear for long summer bounty. Pests are kept a bay with gentle dusting of natural BT or Neem oil sprays..but only if hand picking the critters becomes too overwhelming.

The bare facts:

Bush beans are direct seeded in rows throughout the month of March; runners are direct seeded at the base of a trellis or near corn shoots when they are a foot high.
Common Southern Varieties:
Bush: Blue Lake
Gator Green
Runner: Scarlet runner
Kentucky wonder

     Bountiful harvests of beans can be pressure canned or blanched and frozen for later use. As a home gardener, it's quite satisfying to step into the pantry seeing all those wonderful jars of bright green beans lined up in a row. 
     Are you planting green beans this year? Or maybe wax beans? Share your garden plans with us...let's inspire each other to get out there and grow something wonderful!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Care for the Cull

   As fair time draws near, poultry project pens go through the cull. Several emails have crossed my inbox asking for information regarding the cull pen. Fair standards and country recommendations are all geared toward the care of show pens, leaving students to wonder where to go from here.
    Some families send or sell their cull birds, not wanting to further invest in their care and maintenance. On my homestead every animal counts; these birds are destined to grace my table, so they still hold a high priority in my pen. Whether broilers or turkeys, my cull pens are given shelter from the elements in the form of a covered coop. The only difference in their pen is the lack of lamps. Cull pen birds are exposed to natural light cycles and are allowed to roam an enclosed pasture during the afternoon. Their feed remains the same, but with exposure to the out doors, they will eat a bit less.
    Cull birds are processed as they reach desirable size..often right before or right after the fair. There in, coops and supplies are cleaned and stored for next season.
    When it comes to care of your cull pen, it really comes down to personal conviction. For me, the cull is extremely important since they supply a majority of the meat my family will eat through the year. As you separate your birds, consider the cost, time, and space you have available to work with and build your program from there. If raising the cull pen for meat isn't on your agenda there are always people willing to take them off you hands.
     If you raise broilers/turkeys for your local county fair what do you do with the cull pen? Share your experiences with us.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March's Garden

  The homestead garden comes alive during the month of March. Planting frenzy takes hold as we try to set our rows for summer harvest. An empty greenhouse is a testament to the hours of work already completed. Joy comes from ending every day with soil under my nails and the earthy scent of compost on my clothes.
   Tender spring greens are abundant for harvest: beet, kale, lettuce and spinach. Daily doses of vitamin packed leaves strengthen us for the work ahead. Broccoli and cabbage plants are thriving after some compost side dressings, while second plantings of greens peek through the soil nearby.

   Transplants have been hardened off and now make their place row by row in the garden: tomato, pepper, and herb. Each are now nestled deep and stretching their roots in soft nutritious soil. They stay under row covers in case of a hearty storm or a chill night. Even so, fresh growth comes quickly during the sunny days.
   Seeds are eager to get going in the warm earth; corn, squash, beans and melons...okra, too. As the month progresses succession planting of large crops hit the rows every two weeks. As the seeds go in, soaker hoses make their place under row covers keeping things comfy for sprouting. Every seed brings with it the hope of a harvest to come.
   Sore muscles remind us just how deep a commitment we have to this task. Growing isn't easy, but it is so very worth it. What a blessing to sip a glass of tea on a garden bench as the birds sing from the tree tops and the seeds sprout beneath the soil.
   What's your March garden hold?


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Animal Emergency

   Often in the course of farm life there comes events that throw you to the edge of your experience and test every ounce of knowledge you have attained. When animals find themselves in a state of emergency they depend on us to meet their needs and make things better..but, how do we do that? Time and experience help us to take matters at hand and discern the need.
   The first key in an animal emergency is: breathe. Stressed animals need calm caregivers. It isn't easy to find our hard working and dearly loved critter down and in distress, but stopping to take a breath will help prepare my mind for the next step.
   After a deep breath, it's time to assess the mess. Do you see breathing? Heart beating? Alert? These three things are vital in determining the course of action. Example, my doe was breathing rapidly, had a heart beat and was able to look at me and respond even though she was on her side in the pasture. These were good signs so it was time to move on to the next assessment.
   Bleed, break, bulge. If the animal is bleeding, how bad is it? Minor cuts and scrapes can wait while we complete the assessment, while a heavy bleed is a priority. Get it stopped and stitch if need be. Breaks often require vet assistance. If this is a large animal we need help and shouldn't move them, but a smaller one might be transported fairly well. Bulging wounds are seriously scary because we can't see what the cause is. There may only be swelling, but there could be a serious internal issue. The animal's actions will help determine the severity.
   Get to the gate or wait. If severe bleeding, a break or a nasty bulge are present it's time to call for help. Either getting a vet on the property or transporting to a vet office needs to happen quickly. Get to the gate..if I have help, then someone keeps the animal calm and assisted while we make the drive. As in the case of our doe, there was no bleeding, nor break, and no bulge.. some patches of hair were missing and there were signs she may have been bitten without a skin break. We decided since she was breathing and alert, we would wait.
    Questions asked often. One I get frequently: how to I move them? First, if the injury is bad..don't. Work right where you are, but be sure to move the rest of the herd/flock before you start. Otherwise, I either carry them gently or make a 'hammock' from a towel, tarp or sheet. A hammock/sling works really well for a goat..and I have used one to load a donkey onto a trailer when they were down.
    Another question. How do I know how far to go? Basically, the call to treat an injury or not treat is a personal decision that has to be made with the financial needs of the family and the productive value/recovery value of the animal. If my doe is seriously wounded..can I afford the care needed? Will she be productive again? How severe will the pain/suffering be for her? Only you as the owner can make such a call.
    Finally, bear in mind that in farm living these things will happen and being prepared for it is essential. We took vet science classes and are well acquainted with some wonderful vets that are more than happy to help over the phone while we determine the need. By the way, our doe in the example is recovering nicely and was not seriously injured. The other action to take after an animal emergency is figuring out how/if the situation can be prevented next time.
     Share your experiences with emergency care..let's learn together.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

A New Distraction

   I had been browsing..drooling, the notion of a newer sewing machine. Recent classes on machine quilting have put a serious strain on my current it may not recover from. While quilting small projects on my Singer was going fine, it seemed more dense or dramatic stitch work was causing some motor dysfunction..thus my browsing.
   Today upon a strange system of events a blessed bargain came across my just too amazing to pass on. At my husband's urging we became the proud owners of a second hand Janome Horizon complete with all kinds of extras.
   While excitement courses through my veins, it is mixed with intimidation. I completely dislike the unfamiliarness of a new takes me a while to find that comfortable place. Tonight it sits, tucked in a travel case under the sewing table, waiting for me to read the manual cover to cover a dozen times before plugging it in for a first time go.
   What about you? How do you familiarize yourself with a new machine? Share your experience!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stitching Designs: Cross-Hatch

   One of the first hand quilting designs I learned was the basic cross-hatch. My small quilt sandwich was placed in a hoop as I worked through across the lines developing consistency with every stitch.

Join me in the sewing room as we take a closer look at this design and its function.



For more creative inspiration, hop over to Dolly's Designs.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


    As women striving after the heart of our Lord, can we, as Ester did, seek the wisdom of our elders and wait patiently upon the Lord? Will we yield our wills to those in authority over us even when that authority seems wrong?

Ester 2
After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.
Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king:
And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them:
And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.
Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;
Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.
And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.
So it came to pass, when the king's commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.
And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king's house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women.
10 Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it.
11 And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.
12 Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)
13 Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king's house.
14 In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name.
15 Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.
16 So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
17 And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.
18 Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther's feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king.
19 And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate.
20 Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.
21 In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hands on the king Ahasuerus.
22 And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name.
23 And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.

Weekend Gardening: Tomatoes

   Nothing says summer like fresh off the vine tomatoes. Juicy and sweet, this summer vegetable holds the key to many a gardener's heart. Here in the south it is said to be a proper southern woman you have to grow good tomatoes. I have no idea if that is true, however, it is a proven fact my husband treasure the taste of farm fresh tomatoes.
   March 15 is the magical number for getting those wild vines in the ground growing. We set our seeds in the greenhouse early January keeping them warm and sheltered until daytime temps hit the 70's. Then the growing plants are given daytime exposure to sun and breeze to strengthen their stems and stretch their leaves.

The bare facts:

     Start seeds in the greenhouse the first of January
     Transplant hardened off plants March 1 through 31 (Temps ranging from 51 to 73)
     Succession planting is recommended- use trellis or cage support
     Common Southern Varieties:
     Large red:
     Early girl/Better boy - hybrid
     Arkansas traveler- heirloom
     Viva Italia- hybrid
     Small cherry:
     Sweet 100-hybrid
     Yellow pear

 My personal seed resource favorites are Producer's Co-op, and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


   We are headed out down the drive and through the gate for a little day trip. There will be antiques, coffee and some good eats. It's been a rough week of allergies and aggravations so we decided to just get two girls, because before you know it she will be away at college.
    See you tomorrow for another installment of weekend gardening!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Little Poultry Q&A

   No matter where you go, once people realize you have poultry questions come to mind they just have to have answered. Today, let's stroll over to the pen with a glass of mint iced tea for a little chat over the chicks. From flock care, to pasture practices and even how on earth to take care of the are a few I get most often.

1. How do you deal with slime in the water fountain?
    Slime happens.. a lot. Three simple things: vinegar, a toilet brush, and location. Daily we take a splash of vinegar and swish it around the fountain with a toilet brush. Once the fountain is refilled we aim to keep it away from the brooder lights in order to slow the growth as much as possible.

2. What is cage free, range, and pasture?
     Okay, cage free is a bird not living in cramped cage conditions. This does not actually define how the bird lived and ate. Range means free range; the birds were given space to walk around possibly with sunshine and maybe grass. Often range birds diets are primarily grains but supplemental greens may be added. Pasture raised birds have housing, but are out in the sunshine nibbling on their findings in the green pasture. Grains are minimal in their diet.

3. What about the smell?
     It's no secret; chicken poop smells. Keep them clean with a hearty layer of bedding (we use pine shavings or shredded pine straw)..deep and stirred daily. The other question that goes with this is what to do with the poop. Easy answer: compost.

4. How can you kill them?
     Frame of mind. Once you have an understanding of the purpose of the animal and the peace of mind they were raised well the task is much easier. I believe in a healthy live and a clean death. The other question that goes with this..what to do with the 'leftovers'. If you pluck, compost the feathers..other parts are burned. We don't bury unless a hearty dose of lime is added and I'd rather burn it is.

5. How do you store 100 chickens once their processed?
    I don't. Some of my birds go to family and friends. The other reality is I don't process them all as whole chickens. Part of my flock is put up as 'legs-n-thighs'; makes the processing faster and takes up less space.

6. Do you mix your flocks?
    No. Turkeys are raised and processed before my broilers come in and the laying hens are shut off the broiler pasture until the broilers are gone. Every pasture gets a rest and reseed before the next flock gains access.

    Hopefully this helps some of you still considering or working through the beginnings of meat bird raising. If you have questions or would like to share your experiences, please feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email at Time for me to go talk to the chicks!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Managing Meat Birds: Day 21

   This week our poultry meat pen hits the 21 day mark and the awkward phase. Fluffy little babies have morphed into half naked waddlers. As their fluffy down fades, their growth rate kicks into full gear causing them to easily overheat. In the crazy Texas temperatures, this can be a problem. Thus, the brooder frame is removed to allow the growing birds plenty of open space. Raising the side covers of the brood house creates airflow and circulation, especially during the peak heat of the day. As the month continues circulation fans will help cool them even further.
   Another 21 day task is culling. Birds that are plump and hearty are kept in small pen groups for the county show..they get priority at feed, water, and care. Due to schedule conflicts, none of our poultry are going to show this year, so our pens are simply divided for comfort and space. With their metabolism spurring a high growth rate, wet feed supplements their standard pellets. My wet feed consists of mixed grains (millet, oat, sunflower, flax and barley) lightly coated with fat (tallow from goat processing with a little goat buttermilk). This is given in small quantities once a day and gradually increased over the next few weeks.
   The pleasure of afternoon sun bathing is greatly enjoyed by the little ones as is their regular rolls in the dust bowl. A small pan of DE in the corner of their pen offers a great dewormer and bug control factor. To the disdain of some fellow poultry meat growers, my little flock gets daily walks in the pasture while their water, feed, and bedding are given a good cleaning.
   Though some losses have occurred, our drop rate is much lower than some years have seen and our system has become familiar and flowing. The stress and work of these weeks will be greatly rewarded as the freezer fills and the aroma of roasted chicken fills the farm kitchen. Nothing tastes better than food you grow yourself!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Looking Forward to,..

Braided Easter Egg Bread Recipe
photo from images file

   Coloring eggs has never been an "Easter" festivity for us, but simply a part of spring time. We love the challenge of mixing dye, creating resist in decorative motifs, and, of course, eating the eggs! Several years ago I stumbled across a recipe for delicious Challah- and someone had used the festive colored eggs to garnish this braid for a beautiful table centerpiece.
   Bear in mind, this bread can be made anytime of year -without the eggs added to it. Melt in your mouth delicious- here is our version of Challah.


2 Tbsp yeast
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups bread flour or 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 bread flour
2 whole eggs
1 egg (reserved for glaze)

**This recipe may also be used to make one large braid or two small braids. This dough can be made in a bread machine on the dough cycle and then shaped by hand, or in a Kitchen Aide style mixer.

Mix 3/4 cup warm water, 2 eggs and yeast in mixer bowl. Stir in 2 cups flour, beat well, and allow the mixture to bubble up for about 15 minutes or more. Meanwhile, heat milk, butter, honey, until the butter melts. Cool to lukewarm. Add these ingredients to the bubbly mixture, add the salt, and stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead until the dough is smooth, and elastic but not dry; about 7 -10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.

Place the dough ball into a greased bowl. Turn once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about one hour. After the rise, divide into thirds. Roll each third into an 18-inch strand. Line up the three stands on a large, greased baking sheet. Braid loosely, beginning in center and working toward ends. Pinch ends together and tuck under in a circular shape.

Cover lightly (I use a flour sack towel) and let rise until double, about 30 minutes. Brush with beaten egg yolk.. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven 35-45 minutes. In the last five minutes, gently tuck about five boiled, colored eggs. Cool on a wire rack.

   Slathered in butter, dotted with jam or..oh my goodness, lightly glazed with a sugary topping...I don't know about you, but this is a tasty treat to look forward to.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Let's Work A Stitch

   Of the many people who talk to me about hand quilting, the most commonly expressed concern is the method. It's too causes's tedious. That very well may be, and the reason that may be is just not being taught. Until someone sat down with me, hand quilting was a struggle that often found me holding my breath until the end of the row. It shouldn't be that way.
Find a comfortable set, grab your quilt sandwich and join me in the sewing room to work a stitch or two. 


Saturday, March 9, 2013


   In her day, Hadassah's faith was tested. She faced the tyranny of a wicked government and the loss of freedom. Let us ponder the example set before us and consider the times we are faced with.   

Esther 1

King James Version (KJV)
Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)
That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace,
In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him:
When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days.
And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace;
Where were white, green, and blue, hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble.
And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king.
And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure.
Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.
10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king,
11 To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.
12 But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.
13 Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment:
14 And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king's face, and which sat the first in the kingdom;)
15 What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains?
16 And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus.
17 For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not.
18 Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath.
19 If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she.
20 And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small.
21 And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan:
22 For he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that it should be published according to the language of every people.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Weekend Gardening: Get Out There

   This weekend it's time to get out there. Grab your paper and pen..cup of coffee (well, of course)..and set those plans in order. Stroll the garden sales touching and smelling..feel the inspiration flowing through your soul. Read the catalog, the garden books, and the friendly up your adventurous growing spirit.
    Today our family sets out for Spring Sale with the MG's..wrangling wagons and sharing sowing tid bits. We invite you all to stop by and stroll through the sale sight and the beautiful garden with the MG's and pose your pondering questions. Look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Join Me...

Spring plant sale - 2013 

Today the farm boy and I spend our day preparing for the Spring Plant Sale with the Montgomery County Master Gardeners. This year's sale is set to be a big one with thousands of native and heat steady plants ready to hit the soil and grow. Local friends, load up your wagon or borrow one of ours and join us for a day of learning, showing.
For a sale plant list please visit our web sight here

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Let's Talk About Cheater Cloth

   I'm in the sewing room today sharing my thoughts on cheater cloth. Have you ever been in the fabric store and seen beautiful printed panels that looked like a quilt top? Hop over and join the discussion on the possibilities and passionate opinions quilters share.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Something That Isn't ...

   We have been looking into the box I use to teach my let's look at somethings not found in my box: modern media. I am well aware of nursery and children's programs using power point, television, and other contemporary media to get the message across. Many curriculum packets have cutesy music or cartoon-like pictures to assist their planned lesson. When faced with these items I smile and walk away.

Join me in the classroom.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Days Filled With

Last years greens...
   The past several days found us bracing against strong winds that shifted from frigged to warm. Weather like this makes gardening or anything difficult. Instead of planting and seeding, I found myself watering and weeding in preparation for those calm days to come.
     Our crock has been bubbling with tasty tomato sauces. My oldest and I have been stocking the freezer with enchiladas and pasta sauce in preparation for those days when a speedy meal is needed.
       In the sewing room there is an absolute mess. Snips and clips keep the machine humming; a baby blanket in the works, a few little dolls and a quilt to be finished. I walk in that room and just don't know where to start. Of the three tables in the room every one of them is piled with activity. My guys say if I'm in there leave me be because I am busy and focused.
         Soap has been curing on the batch was disastrous. Sometimes experimentation does not yield happy accidents...let me just say, there are some plastic molds that will never be the same..oh, and one cake pan- ruined.
           Any extra time in my day is take up with poop. Chicken poop, goat poop, donkey poop..composted poop...yeah, I'm in the poop. Mucking it up, spreading it out, stirring it up and casting it along side..poop is a big part of my day.
            On the up side..with all that poop working I will have plenty of wonderful produce, right? Every wheel barrow has a bright side:)