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Thursday, December 5th, 2013 by Jackie Clay | 6 Comments »
They said it was going to snow pretty bad so we got ready, moving things we hadn’t gotten out of the way, putting the snowplow on the truck, making sure the animals had plenty of bedding and feed. Then it started snowing — inches per hour. And it snowed all day. Later in the afternoon, David plowed the driveway so he could get out to school (they still hadn’t cancelled it!) and Will started snowblowing the trails around the buildings.
If you’ve never had a snowblower and live in “winter country,” let me tell you how much work they save! Now we would never be without one.
Yeah, both Will and I have shoveled hundreds of feet of driveway and paths on the homestead. But Will’s grandfather also dropped dead shoveling snow, as do many people every single snow storm. Not only is the snowblower easier on you but it blows the snow in any direction you wish and leaves the edges of the clean areas smooth with no big berm that gets bigger as winter progresses…and also causes snow drifts to form.
We ended up with about two feet of new snow out of this storm and the temps are dropping to HIGHS of around zero all of this week. I guess it is lucky we got the snow first as it’ll help keep things such as septic tanks and water lines from freezing. But BRrrrrrrrrrrr! Hey Will, throw another log on the fire. — Jackie
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 by Jackie Clay | 5 Comments »
Although we have had a great fall with little snowfall until now and relatively decent temperatures for northern Minnesota, winter’s definitely here. I’m just recovering from a real nasty bug and poor Will’s been trying to get things done outside to get ready for the big snowfall that’s starting to hit us. We’re getting 2 inches today, another 2 inches tonight, 2-4 inches tomorrow …
Since Will has the roof done on the barn, he’s trying to get enough lumber cut on the sawmill to put up temporary walls to keep out the snow so he can work this winter on the hay loft floor. (And so we can kind of use parts of the barn.) And then there’s the unfinished front porch roof … We’d like to get it covered before too much snow hits us. So while I’m working on an article today, he’s cutting boards in the snow. Luckily, it’s not too cold but we’re heading for sub-zero HIGHS later in the week. Yuck! — Jackie
Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 by Jackie Clay | 13 Comments »
Our Thanksgiving will be small and quiet with only David, Will, and me around the table. Of course our house pets, Mittens, Spencer, and Hondo, will share our bounty with us and the livestock will get special treats to celebrate our bountiful year.
Hondo is getting huge for a “puppy” only three months old! And he’s so smart, already being potty trained, going to the door when he needs outside, sitting on command with military precision (if you don’t praise him right away he does a “double sit,” sitting on his tail with his legs sticking right out under him), and he already is bringing in firewood with Spencer! He also has learned that Will’s comfortable old chair is doggy friendly. Sometimes he shares it with Spencer and sometimes he gets it before Spencer does! When Will comes in, he has to evict the dogs to sit down. Hondo is the last one out, giving Will the “do you really, really mean “get down”? Or is it just a suggestion” look.
Such a fun addition to our homestead. He already “guards” the gate to the goat pasture while I go in to feed grain. But I don’t know what would happen if one of the goats challenged him. Right now, they just play the game and stay away from the gate.
Again, have a real Happy Thanksgiving and count your blessings! — Jackie
Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 by Jackie Clay | 10 Comments »
My oldest son, Bill, shot a nice seven-point buck the first weekend of season this year. And he called to ask if he could come and spend some “quality time” with me and, of course, cut up the meat. He learned to can with a pressure canner last year and came to our seminar this summer. His mother-in-law had bought a used canner at a yard sale and had never used it. It is a Presto, 1970′s vintage with weights and no gauge. So I showed him how to use it. Simple, huh Bill? We canned up all of the stew meat in short order. He cut steaks from the best parts and we tossed all of the other meat into a grind bowl as he wanted to try sausage this year. We had fun and made short work of that buck.
I’d never made sausage with a sausage stuffer and Bill brought up seasonings and casing. As Will had bought me an electric meat grinder with sausage stuffing attachments, I learned along with Bill. And guess what? We made great summer sausage! I fried up a patty with the leftover meat in the grinder’s auger and it was real tasty. I’m sure we’ll both be making more sausage in the future. — Jackie
Saturday, November 23rd, 2013 by Jackie Clay | 5 Comments »
Canning in a small space
I am now living in a fifth wheel and want to continue canning, both water bath and pressure, do you have any suggestions on how to keep the moisture from building up in my trailer from the steam?
Usually running the vent fan will do the trick. You’ll have more steam when water bathing than pressure canning so be sure to use a lid on your water bath canner. (It’ll come to a boil faster, too!) Additional tips may include opening a nearby window and using a small fan to exhaust the steam through it while the jars are in the canner. Do be sure to close the window and shut off the fan while jars are being taken out of the canner and while they are cooling to avoid jar breakage. — Jackie
Sometimes, I’m not sure how many jars I will be able to fill so I go ahead and put a few extra lids into the pot to heat on the stove. If I do not use all of them, are they safe to heat again and use during another canning session?
Simpsonville, South Carolina
You bet they are; I do it all the time. Just be sure the lids don’t boil dry, then wipe them off after your canning is done and put them away for next time so they don’t rust. — Jackie
Friday, November 22nd, 2013 by Jackie Clay | No Comments »
Canning little smokie sausages
Can I can little smokie sausages? If so how?
Yes you can. I would pack them in half-pint jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace with no water or broth. Then process them at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes. I’d do a small batch at first to see if you like the result. Some sausages swell during canning, especially hot dogs, leaving them not-so-appetizing-looking. I don’t think your little smokies will, however. — Jackie
Canning taco soup
I have a recipe for Taco Soup that uses already canned beans. I use browned turkey and add 5 different types canned beans and spices. I would like to can this. Could I just brown meat, mix with canned beans and instead of cooking together for four hours as recipe calls for, just mix it together and can pints for 75 min at 10 lb pressure?
Huntington, West Virginia
Yes, but I’d take the step to mix the ingredients, then bring to a boil before packing the jars to ensure that the soup/beans are heated thoroughly before putting in to can. (Always remember that if you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet you must consult your canning book for instructions in increasing your pressure to suit your altitude, if necessary.) — Jackie
Thursday, November 21st, 2013 by Jackie Clay | 6 Comments »
My daughter works in a restaurant that prepares rotisserie chicken every day. She asked them to save the bones for her, and brought a bunch home last night. We are going to make broth and pressure can it. My question for you is: how long can I keep the bones in the fridge before I have to deal with them? I won’t have time to do all that for three more days. Could I freeze the bones until I have time to prepare and can the broth? There is a fair amount of meat on them. Also, is there a formula for ratio of bones to water?
I would recommend freezing the bones to ensure great flavor in the broth. Holding them in the fridge would probably work if they were used within three or four days, but freezing would be safer. There is no formula for a ratio of bones to water. Just use your common sense. For more flavor, simmer the bones for at least an hour, adding salt, pepper, or other spices to taste. — Jackie
Last spring I had our garden soil tested and there was too much salt in both gardens. The only way that I can fertilize the soil is horse manure, which is the worst for salt. I can’t seem to find cow manure. That is all being used. First of all how do I get the salt out of my soil, and then how do I re-do the soil for nutrients? We are not sure if we want goats, etc.
In most cases of salt in soils in the west is a result of a flat garden having poor drainage. This allows the salt to sit in one spot until the moisture evaporates, leaving the salt behind. The best way to combat this is to grade your garden so the moisture (rain, watering) drains off reasonably quick. You can slowly do this by working in your rotted manure chiefly on one end or side of the garden, in effect, creating your own slope without using equipment to grade your ground. One thought; are you watering your garden from your house and do you have a water softener? This can quickly add salt to your soil you wouldn’t have otherwise. A quick fix is to plumb in an outside faucet between your well/city water line and the water softener so your outdoor water does not pass through the salts in the water softener. — Jackie
Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 by Jackie Clay | 4 Comments »
And Will got nearly all the big sheets of metal barn roofing on. We finished all but the very last big sheet last night. Luckily his cordless driver has a light! Today it’s in the forties with some sun so we’re running around playing catchup because it’s supposed to dive into the single digits pretty soon. Brrrr. I’m planting my daffodils in a few minutes. They should have gone in a few weeks ago, but better late than never! Oh well, there’s always something left undone … or pretty much done at the very last minute! Homesteading life.
Our tom turkeys are strutting in the orchard. Real pretty. No, we’re not going to eat them; they’re our breeders for next spring. I’m trying to get all of the orchard trees’ trunks wrapped with plastic spirals or window screen to protect them against vole damage during the winter. I’ve got ‘em all done but two plus our new cherry trees and honeyberry bushes. Hopefully I can get that done on Friday.
We’re hauling a load of cattle to the sale barn tomorrow so that day will be pretty much shot as it’s a hundred mile drive one way. Luckily David and the dogs will be around the homestead to keep an eye on everything! — Jackie