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WILL & JACKIE’S AUGUST 2017 HOMESTEAD SEMINAR

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 5 Comments »



We’ll be having another homestead seminar, limited to 14 people, August 25th, 26th, and 27th. Subjects to be covered include: Canning meat & mixed recipes, homestead tools, raising heirloom vegetables, saving seeds and much, much more. Check it out on www.seedtreasures.com; click on seminars. Hope to see you then! It may well change your life! Secure your spot now. Email seedtreasures@yahoo.com for more details.

2016 – 2017 Listing of Heirloom Seeds on Jackie & Will’s website

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 by Jackie | 21 Comments »
JACKIE & WILL'S SEED TREASURES. We've updated the Seed Treasures website for 2016-2017 and you'll find a whole lot of new seeds we've trialed this summer.  We raise most of the heirloom and open pollinated seeds right on our Northern Minnesota homestead, harvesting the seeds by hand, the old-fashioned way.  Our seeds are from beautiful, very tasty, hardy varieties that will do well in almost every climate out there, as praised by our customers.  Some varieties are so rare they're teetering on the brink of extinction. If the crops are not productive, they are not offered by us!  After all, we're homesteaders first. You'll find our prices right, as is our shipping.  So please come take a look at  www.seedtreasures.com.  If you can't access our website, just e-mail us for the listing at seedtreasures[at]yahoo.com.

Spencer had surgery

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 2 Comments »

Our faithful “BIG DOG” Black Lab, has Spencer, had a tumor on his hind leg. Although it was relatively small and didn’t seem attached, we opted to just leave it alone. But over the years, it grew slowly and finally developed a cyst, which broke and drained. So we decided it was time to have it removed. While he was at the vet’s, he also had a small skin tag removed from his right upper eyelid. It was causing his eye to matter in the mornings but didn’t seem to be bothering him, but we decided to have it taken off before it caused trouble for our friend.

The surgery went well and Dr. Fisher, our vet, said it didn’t appear to be cancer. So we were happy and Spencer was too when I drove to McDonalds and bought him two cheeseburgers to celebrate. Now he has a cute “little piggy” Vet Wrap on to cover the stitches. But I have to change it soon as he and Ashley’s Golden Retriever snuck down to the spring basin for a swim while she was brushing the horses. Bad dog! Otherwise, he’s good about leaving wounds alone so thankfully he doesn’t have to wear an Elizabethan collar, which is clunky and dogs hate wearing. (The collar keeps dogs from licking and chewing at stitched wounds or other sores.)

The garden is mostly fantastic! We’ve got White Flag cauliflower, Magpie bush beans and Iroquois pole beans. The corn is covered with big ears and the silks on some are starting to dry down. Our first ripe tomatoes are on the vine and we’re anxiously waiting for a taste test. (The garden is late this year, probably due to all the early high heat.)

This weekend, Will and I will be at the Orr Homesteading and Self-Reliance Expo in Orr, MN. I’ll be speaking on seed saving, heirloom seeds, and canning. And we’ll be at a booth, promoting our Seed Treasures seed business as well. If any of you can come, we’d love to have you drop by for a visit! And next week is our homesteading seminar. We’re busy getting ready, deciding menus for our afternoon lunches and other getting-ducks-in-the-row stuff. We did have one cancellation due to a lady’s back going out on her so if anyone would like to fill her spot, let us know. (218) 780-4902.

Our Hansen’s Bush cherries are getting ripe and I’m looking forward to making jam. They are SO good! This year, I’m saving their seeds to add to our seed listing next year. They are very easy to start from seed. A bird dropped one in an empty pot on our deck and now we have a bush cherry started. (I also saved seeds from our huge rhubarb. Right now, the stalks are two inches in diameter and the leaves are thirty inches across!)

I’m really enjoying our flowers this year. So far, my favorite is a daylily called Seashells and Lace, a very ruffled pink with a yellow throat and lighter edge. Mine came from Dancing Daylily in Georgia.
Becky has WONDERFUL flowers at reasonable prices.

Gotta run. I’ve got some shelves to put together for our front closet. Right now our winter boots are piled and overflowing onto the floor! Hopefully tonight it will be much more organized. Well, maybe… — Jackie

Our 12-volt household water pump failed so we had a barbecue

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 11 Comments »

Our water pump which supplies water pressure to the house has been going for quite a while. The pressure switch is wearing out. And as my son Bill works for Oak Lake RV and Campground, servicing many RVs daily, he had a pile of “broken” 12-volt water pumps in his garage which he’d saved from the garbage Dumpster. All had problems but could be fixed. So I called him and he not only said to come get some pumps but come down for a barbecue and ride on their pontoon boat.

So we did both yesterday. How enjoyable to combine work with pleasure. I got to fly a kite with grandson, Mason, and watch grandaughter, Ava, learn to troll for Northern Pike. Will was the official “I’ve got weeds on my lure!” remover while Bill drove us around the lake. We were the only boat on the lake and we enjoyed the breeze and seeing loons and turtles sunning themselves on logs.

Today, it’s back at it. Will’s hauling big round bales home from the hayfields while Ashley and I work at weeding and mulching. The gardens are doing well. We’ve eaten our first ripe tomatoes and the beans and peas are ripe. What fun to graze through the garden! The onions are starting to have their tops fall over. Wow, that sounds like fall! The bulbs are big and solid. The potatoes on the north and central gardens aren’t doing so hot. I’m sure we’ll have potatoes but we let the weeds get thick on those rows. So we’ve got to get busy and cultivate and hand weed so they get hilled. But the tomatoes, pumpkins, corn, and squash out there look nice. I planted Good Mother Stallard pole beans among the Seneca Round Nose corn and both are doing well. As Seneca Round Nose is such a lusty corn, it should easily support the beans.

Our Bear Island Chippewa corn in the main garden is tall and tasseled out well so, God willing, we’ll have a great crop of this early flour corn.

I put up the last of the cherry jam and then did a batch of red raspberry jam. For the first time, I used the berry screen on my Victorio tomato strainer. I wanted to remove the seeds as both Will and I have trouble with those little hard buggers. Let me tell you, I’ll never do that again! While the strainer works GREAT for tomatoes, it does NOT for berries. What a bunch of hard work for not much. I ended up dumping the whole mess into my wire sieve and pressing the pulp through that.

As nectarines don’t grow here, I bought several pounds of out-of-state fruit from the market. This will give us a big batch of nectarine jam, which we all love. The Hansen’s Bush Cherries are ripening, as well as the black raspberries, so I see more jam in the future!

Now I’ve got to clean out the pantry. We carried out the last of last year’s potato crop and a few surviving shallots. Now I need to rearrange the floor storage and scrub the floor in preparation for the fall harvest.

Wow, there’s always something to do on a homestead, isn’t there? I laugh when I hear someone say “I’m so BORED…”! — Jackie

Our homestead has grown another 40 acres

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 10 Comments »

The forty acres adjacent to ours (down what we call the Wolf Road, an old lumbering trail off our driveway) was for sale by the Potlatch Timber Company. And, as David needed a place to build his own cabin and we knew more cattle pasture would help out our homestead, we decided to buy it. Luckily, the Credit Union helped us finance it! So now we have 160 acres of wild land, which we’ll share a corner of with David and the rest with wolves and other wildlife.

Our rainy weather stopped at least temporarily, so we’ve been making hay every day. One of the fields is the one Will had plowed up and planted in timothy and alsike clover. It did very well and we were able to get it cut and baled without any rain. Today, Will’s out round baling another field which isn’t as good, by far, but it is hay. (Please God, send those black clouds way south of that hay field.)

Yesterday, my oldest son Bill and his family drove up. We all went to the lake, five miles away, where there’s a nice, sandy beach. It was hot and all of us went swimming and it sure felt great! We had a barbecue and then came home and went up to the berry patch so Mason and Ava could pick blueberries the size of nickels and sweet red raspberries. (Of course, we all ate them too, but, hey, grandkids NEED to pick and eat berries!)

The gardens and flower beds are doing great. We pick peas every day and harvest broccoli to go with them. We’ve got a couple of tomatoes which are getting orange and will be red in about two days. Can’t wait! We’ve got to get the potatoes hilled up and run the tiller in the Hopi Pale Grey squash patch as the weeds are getting thick. Darned them, anyway! We’ve got peppers on the plants, some of which are getting ripe. I can’t wait to make salsa. For the first time in decades, I ran out of salsa. Wow, I won’t let that happen again. Our onions are terrific this year, as are the beans. I think it’s all this heat.

Will and I worked last night, getting the irrigation lines ready to water. We noticed the corn is saying it needs watering as the leaves are closing up during the day. Last year it was so wet we didn’t have to run the irrigation pump once. But we will tomorrow. If we let them dry too much, the stressed tomatoes will develop blossom end rot. And who wants a nice tomato with a black blossom end?

We’ve still got three places open for our fall homestead seminar. And this may be our last one as we really need to do a little “downsizing,” putting more efforts in getting things done around the homestead instead of doing self-reliance expos and us doing the seminars. — Jackie

Weeds, weeds, and more weeds

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 3 Comments »

Any of you who think we have a “perfect” bunch of huge gardens, let me correct your guess. Oh, sure, our main garden, which has been around for many years, is weed free and pretty. But the others? Hardly! The berry patch garden is okay in the vegetable patch (corn & beans), but the rest … and the Central garden, which used to be our pig pastures? Oh yeah, weeds there too! But despite that, the corn, potatoes, and beans there are doing pretty good despite it.

Will got the North garden all tilled, first using the tractor-mounted tiller, then the TroyBilt Horse and finally the Mantis for smaller spots. But we still have a lot of hoeing and hand weeding to do along with hilling up the potatoes. It does look pretty nice, though, despite weeds between the corn plants. (The corn is getting fairly tall and looks healthy.)

One thing we’ve learned is that new gardens very seldom produce well and are never weed free — or even weed-tolerable. This is one reason I always laugh when self-described “preppers” don’t have gardens, saying if TSHF they’ll simply till up their backyard and plant their survival seeds they hold in storage. Lotsa luck with that, guys! Sometimes it takes years to get a garden up and running. And that’s if you have gardening experience. For instance, our main garden is between thirteen and fourteen years old. Of course it’s great. But the berry patch? It’s only about eight years old, and when Will and I fell off the barn roof together a few years ago, the weeds had a heyday. The garden still hasn’t recovered. The Central and North gardens are only three years old and we feel they look pretty well, considering.

We bartered for a big side-delivery manure spreader and today Will finished doing some repair work on it. He took it out to the cow pasture and loaded it up. It worked nicely! Now he’s got lots of huge piles of rotted manure to spread on our small hayfields. He’s going to save the horse manure until fall when the gardens are done, spreading it there. (You can hardly have too much poop!)

Will’s hot Chinese pepper, he grew from seed he found in the Seed Saver’s Yearbook, over-wintered okay, despite an infestation of aphids. It’s in a five-gallon container and Will just moved it out to our pepper hoop house. It’s blooming its head off and we’re excited. This pepper has slender, long and very hot peppers. My adopted son, Javid, from India, loves hot peppers and when Will gave him a piece to try last fall, even he said it was HOT, but good!

Our peas are setting pods and we’re eating Mammoth Melting Sugar Peas every other night in salads and stir fries. We grew some Alderman, aka Tall Telephone peas this year. They’re six feet tall and setting plenty of nice, long pods. It’s been years since I grew this variety and will be adding it to our garden again next year, giving us both a bush-type (Green Arrow) and climbing pea. Yum! — Jackie

Hot, hot, and hotter

Monday, July 24th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 3 Comments »

Okay, I’ll admit it’s not really that hot, compared to the heat in the South. But for Northern Minnesota, it’s been hot and muggy at times. Luckily, the garden loves it and is doing very well. So are the weeds, which we are slowly getting a handle on. The blankety-blank ground squirrels ate nearly all the leaves off our melons in the second hoop house but Will thinks one plant is still alive. We’ve waged war on the squirrels with Mittens and the dogs killing seven in the last three days. Hopefully, one of the seven was our melon-eating culprit.

Friends of ours have a greenhouse/garden shop in Cook called The Watering Can. We sell them our pumpkins and fancy gourds and squash in the fall and they make us a great deal on their leftover peppers. Luckily, Diane and Gina grew several of the heirloom peppers we grow so we are planting the east hoop house in peppers as it’s too late to start melons again. You learn to roll with the punches when you homestead!

Will cut hay yesterday and hopes it doesn’t rain before he bales it tomorrow. Today is hot (85° F) with a small breeze so the hay should dry well.

We’re getting a nice batch of pie cherries from our Crimson Passion and Evans Bali trees (both Zone 2) For the first time in seven years, we are getting fruit from our Nanking bush cherries. We’re going to pick this evening as the darned Cedar Waxwings already cleaned out one Nanking bush of lots of ripe cherries.

Early this spring I was sorting out dried Hopi Pale Grey squash seeds to sell and shoved the nastiest-looking seed in a pot, just to see if it would sprout. Surprise! It did. And I didn’t have the heart to kill it so we let it grow. It now sits out in front of the house and has two decent-sized squash growing from the little vine. Those squash sure want to procreate and save the variety. — Jackie

We’re all growing webbed feet

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 10 Comments »

This year is kind of a repeat of last summer’s rainy weather, although not so much rain at one time. Two days ago, we put 175 square bales in the barn, working till nearly 9:30 PM. (Just in case…) Then Will cut a couple of small fields of clover/timothy that was very nice, which he intended to round bale in the three-day window of dry weather which was predicted. Well, it went fine until yesterday. He was round baling and it was supposed to begin raining around 5 PM. But it began to cloud up around 1:00 and Ashley came in saying she heard thunder. We drove over to the field where Will was working and arrived to see him down in front of the baler, pulling out hay. That meant it was plugged! And angry black clouds were rolling in. And he still had raked hay down on the field, although not much. We tried to help but were more in the way than helping. Finally, he got the plug out just about when the raindrops were starting to fall.

He jumped on the tractor and quickly baled part of a row to finish up the bale in the baler. By the time he was tying it and dumping it out, the rain was beginning to pour down. It only rained for about half an hour but the haying was sure finished. Later on, it cleared up and we were able to work around the homestead till nearly dark. Then more clouds, real nasty clouds, showed up. Some were revolving and the weather radio called in a tornado warning. You can bet we were all watching the sky. Luckily, nothing happened except for some rain, lightning, and thunder. Whew!

The main garden looks perfect with waist high corn. The central and north gardens have been getting too much water from above so are weedy and slow to get growing. But we’re hoping things will pick up soon. After all, everything is growing! We’ve got some tomatoes set on the vines and have been enjoying Mammoth Melting Sugar Peas on salads and in stir fries, along with broccoli and asparagus. Yum! Our berries are fantastic this year so I’d better get out and pick some red raspberries and currants. We’ve finally got a strain of blackberries which not only lives here but is producing tons of berries. Yep, it took ten years of trying, but that only shows you; if you don’t quit when things don’t work, you’ll succeed eventually!

I’ve been working on the fourth Jess Hazzard book, Spring of the Vultures, in the evenings. (It’s my “fun” time to reward me for a hard day’s work.) It’s getting done. I guess I’ll have to start another book to continue the saga as I thoroughly enjoy travelling the trail with Jess. Got a few ideas already. If you haven’t yet read any of the series, take a read on Kindle or pick up a copy. It’s a book all homesteaders will enjoy. That’s a promise. — Jackie

Trouble seems to come in threes

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 6 Comments »

First off, Will’s trying to get started haying and the last time he set out to cut hay, it poured rain even though the weather radio said “sunny and hot.” Ha! Then David’s rear end went out on his ’99 GMC pickup, which he uses at work.  And, of course, we were all pretty broke. Then, for the grand finale, the yearling calves got out and ended up in the main garden. Luckily, at 5 A.M., I heard a cow moo right below our bedroom window and I quickly got up and ran out to the garden. They only had time to munch a couple mouthfuls of corn leaves before I chased them out. (But on the way, I slipped in the wet grass and fell smack in a very fresh cow pie!)

Fast forward a couple of days — David found a used rear end in Grand Rapids, a city about 60 miles from us. But, when he and Will examined it, they decided the housing was too rusty. David had rebuilt the old one only two years ago, including new brakes & rotors.  So they spent a whole day taking the gears out of the new rear end to put in David’s old housing. Ashley and I played “go-fer,” driving for parts. While they were at it, they also welded a sturdy patch on David’s frame, which was very rusted.

Will and David spent two whole days rebuilding the rear end of David’s truck.

The mosquitoes were bad last night, but David and Will were able to get the rebuilt rear end back in the truck. They didn’t have time to get the tires mounted back on or give it a thorough once-over to make sure they didn’t miss anything.

Now Will has two fields of hay down. One is at home and the other about two miles away.  We were kind of nervous as they called for a 50% chance of rain yesterday. But we didn’t get any rain. Whew!

Today, hopefully, Will can get that hay baled. We need some extra as those bad yearlings are now shut in the training ring with a mama cow with a new calf.

The main garden looks great, despite a cow raid yesterday.

The tomatoes are getting huge and are starting to bloom.

The gardens look great. The main garden by the house is best as it has had many years of rotted manure and mulch to improve the soil.  But it all looks pretty good. (Please God, no hail … or cows!) — Jackie

I hope you have a great fourth of July!

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 7 Comments »

We did, although the days leading up to it were pretty busy. On Monday, Will and I traveled to Bagley, Minnesota, to visit Jim and Bernis at their farm, Honeyberry USA. They raise and sell many varieties of berries, chiefly many kinds of honeyberries along with hardy cherries and others, coupled with their U-Pick farm.

We really love honeyberries, which look like a large, elongated blueberry, growing on upright bushes about three feet tall. They excel in jam and we were out to restock our depleted honeyberry jam. (Of course, it wouldn’t have been depleted but for Will generously giving jars to many visitors…)

Will and I picked while we visited with Bernis as she escorted pickers to their own sections of the netted bushes. Like us, they have hungry cedar waxwings and have to net to get berries for themselves. Without nets, the birds get most of the berries. We also got to sample many different varieties and we chose our very favorites so next spring we could buy a few new bushes to add to our growing orchard. We ended up with almost 30 pounds of berries!

Guess who gets to make jam now? I did five batches yesterday, netting 22 half-pints. But today the temperatures shot up to the high 80s and I’m not doing jam until evening. The berries are in the fridges and seem to be holding well. But I have to keep at it so they don’t start to spoil.

We were impressed with Bernis and Jim’s berry cleaner. They have a cardboard trough on a slant with a heavy duty leaf blower facing it. As berries are poured slowly down the chute, the blower blows leaves and debris away leaving clean berries. Very nice and the berries keep much better than if they were rinsed in water. While we were there a friend of theirs was remaking the chute with plastic. The advantages are that it can be washed between cleanings and will last much longer. Very innovative! — Jackie

 
 
 


 
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