With winter right around the corner….or a couple of corners, I hope…..I decided our hens would like a warmer coop. They survived the last couple of winters, but just the same, an uninsulated coop here in norther Minnesota is still cold when it’s -35! I don’t knit or I would have knitted them little jackets!
So in lieu of that, I decided to take the scraps of insulation board laying around the yard from our house, the old pieces of paneling Tom had given me from his mobile home storage building and scraps of miscellaneous lumber and put it all together to make a warmer hen house out of our old thrown together one.
Last week I used the short scraps of tongue and groove 2″x6″ lumber to side the coop. Yep! That would definitely make it warmer because our chief wind comes from the west. But I still had all this insulation and paneling to get rid of. And what better use for it than to insulate the inside of the coop to make it even cozier. So starting with the ceiling, I cut pieces of insulation board to fit right over the rafters, leaving an air space above. This will cut down condensation that can sometimes be a problem with a chicken house.
First I tacked the insulation board to the rafters, making kind of a patchwork quilt ceiling. By measuring, I was able to cut pieces to fit, utilizing the leftovers I had. It was easily cut with a carperpenter’s hand saw. Before I saw Tom cut it this way, I’d always used a knife to score the board. The saw is definitely faster and easier! It’s like cutting butter. Well firm butter anyway.
Then I sorted out the old paneling and began cutting that to fit as well, trying to make as nice a job as I could out of it. I don’t suppose the hens will care, but I have to look at every day too! If you don’t cover insulation, the chickens will actually eat it. They seem to enjoy it too, but I don’t suppose it’s good for them. And it soon makes big holes in their nice warm walls.
Now I only have one more end to go, and the weather looks good for tomorrow. I even took a break this afternoon and made a window box for the coop! I had this neat worm hole piece of 2″x6″ I had to get rid of, you see…. It turned out nice and is now on the west window of the coop, all set for spring flowers. They can’t reach it, to eat the flowers either.
If I can only have enough warm weather left to slap a coat of stain and sealer on it on the outside and finish up the insulation on the inside. It’s like that here on the homestead….always a project to get finished and not enough time, money or good weather to get it done. But we live with dreams; it’s what life’s made of.
I’ve printed readers’ questions with my answers below:
Bread will not last that long
I recently purchased some German made bread at Aldi’s, it contains no preservatives, however, it indicates the expiration date as a year from now, is that possible, my daughter seems to think it
was a mis printed expiration date. The ingredients are simple, whole kernel rye, water, wholemeal rye flour, salt, oat fiber, and yeast.
West Winfield, New York
Sorry. It’s a typo. No bread will last that long and remain good, not even in the freezer! Boy I wish it would. Most homemade bread starts to go moldy after several days….if it’s around that long, that is! — Jackie
Should I prune my grape vine?
My grape vine has been in the ground for three years and low and behold a bunch of grapes and not just one bunch but 6 bunches. Small in size but yeah, grapes at last, so now what should I do. A friend of mine(79 years old) got so frustrated with a 30 year old vine last year he cut it down to the ground and then I think he mowed it with some sort of machine and then with a sadistic grin said “so take that, HA HA!!!” Well as you guessed it came back this year, and last night he asked me how many bushels of grapes I wanted, and being a fledgling wine maker, I said “as many as you can spare,” and he laughed. Well I don’t feel confortable chopping my vine down due to it’s age, so what do I do now. We have our first frost maybe a month a way and I don’t want to miss my window to prune.
No, I don’t think you should cut down your vine!!! But why don’t you prune it? Actually your neighbor did some SEVERE pruning. Could have killed the vine, but obviously it had other plans! Check out the grape article in the current issue of BHM for pruning instructions. It works for all grapes. — Jackie
“High and dry” tomatoes
No matter how much I try I still get space with no liquid at the top of my tomatoes can you store upside down? or reseal if so how do you reseal or can I just leave as is?
Niagara Falls, New York
No you don’t store the tomato jars upside down. Just leave them alone and they’ll be fine. This problem is seen most often when we raw pack our tomatoes. I do this a lot, but as a result, the tomatoes float to the top and some are left “high and dry”, out of the juice. Just doesn’t look nice; doesn’t affect the flavor or safe keeping. — Jackie
DO NOT water bath bean soup
I used to can 30 years ago & like you said I gave it up as my kids grew up. So today I was making a big pot of 11 bean soup & thought it would be great to can some to give away as gifts. But I don’t remenber how. Do I need to do a hot water bath after I put the soup in hot jars? If so for how long?
EEEKkkkk!!! DO NOT water bath bean soup. That would be a happy haven for botulism! Beans, bean soup and anything with beans in it have to be canned in a pressure canner. Pints are processed at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutesand quarts at the same pressure for 90 minutes. Check out a canning manual for instructions. — Jackie
Adopted handicapped children
Hi! We are your old neighbors from Craig, Montana. We really love your excellent writing and we miss your wonderful family. We saw Javid today in Helena, and know he would love to hear from
you and David. You did an excellent job adopting and raising this fine Christian fellow and you should be proud of your accomplishments as a mother. Good job! I would love to hear any stories about your adoptions and I am sure there are many out there that would.
Nancy & Randy Reishus & Clan
Hi neighbors! Thank you for the kind words. Javid is a terrific young man. But then I’m kind of prejudiced here! He makes you look way past the wheelchair he’s bound in, to the kind and funny soul that smiles out at you.
He was our second adoption. The first was his (adopted) sister, Munni, also from India. When I first learned about her, she was in prison in Calcutta. A twelve year old, beautiful girl, in prison. It seems that they picked up any lost or abandoned children on the streets or public transportation and put them in prison to keep them “safe”. If she’d have been there for another six months, she would have been “too old” to be considered adoptable and would have spent her life in jail.
She now lives in Rhode Island with her husband and two children and is very happy.
After we adopted Javid, a priest in Korea wrote, asking if we’d consider adopting three more handicapped children. He knew of 2 twin boys, 7, and their 12 year old sister whose mother was dying of cancer. She wanted them to go to American for the benefits they would have there. All three were deaf.
So we did. Unfortunately there were problems. Not with the handicap. With their special education teachers. It seems that they figured we’d adopted them for “free work” and that somehow we were being paid to keep them (?????). We had a farm and everyone had chores. That’s the way it is on a homestead. But the teachers kept treating the kids as “special” and telling them they didn’t have to work; they shouldn’t work and that if they were unhappy they would find them a “good” family to take them in. This kept on. I was divorced and pretty darned broke. So I couldn’t afford a lot of expensive school sports; we lived 30 miles from their school, so football in the 7th grade was impossible for the boys. I couldn’t afford the gas to pick them up after games and practice. So they were told I didn’t love them. You get the picture.
Finally, they said they were being abused and neglected; another family was dangling “toys” to them. To make a long story short, they left after a sad court proceedure where I wasn’t even asked a question by the judge, allowed to provide witnesses. So much for the legal system!!! Javid elected to stay with us and now shrugs to think of what happened there.
We also sponsored a family of 9 Vietnamese boat people; husband, wife and 7 children. We had an extra house on the land across from our homestead and the need was definitely there. So the Nguyen family flew to Minnesota. And they quickly became part of our family. A more wonderful family I’ve never known. They are now in the LA area, with their own nice home in the suburbs and are doing very well.
Of course, there were also my two step daughters that I raised. We showed horses together for years and had many happy memories on the old homestead. Randie is on Cape Cod and Tricia lives down in Wisconsin.
It’s been fun, heartbreaking and definitely worth every minute of it! Once I had to laugh. Here we were in our little white neighborhood church, Oak Lake Lutheran: 9 former Buddists, 1 former Hindi, 1 former Moslem, 3 kind of Catholics (non practicing for years) and me, all singing old time hymns. God didn’t care what we were, just that we were all there together. — Jackie
The medical insurance problem
We absolutely love the new blog you have and so enjoy keeping up with your everyday. It keeps us going and going and going. My question is different in that it’s not related to food items. I’m looking at the time coming up when I will stop working outside the home. My husband is retired so keeps things going at home (5 acres 600 ft above sea level in the Mat-Su Valley of Alaska). Particularily, insurance. Do you have insurance? How do you get along with or without it? It’s scarey to know the time is coming.
Luckily, we kind of fell into insurance, after being without it for years and years. Unfortunately, we got it after my husband, Bob, died suddenly. He had just (finally) been awarded 100% service connected disability from the VA due to long term problems resulting from Agent Orange and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from 2 tours in Vietnam.
He never lived to enjoy the benefits of his award; three weeks after being notified, he passed away due to a massive brain hemorrage. Fortunately, as survivors, David and myself are eligible for Champ VA health coverage. It doesn’t cover everything, but it sure helps, as it did with my bout with cancer 2 1/2 years ago and David’s recent episode of flesh eating bacteria and the resultant surgery. We still have lots of bills, but manage to pay a little here and there to keep them going down.
Before this, we were lucky, I guess, and didn’t have any health issues. Bob received free health care through the VA, but the family was on its own. We were too broke to afford insurance and it always kind of worried us, but there was nothing we could do about it at the time. It remains one of the major concerns of thousands upon thousands of Americans today and I wish I had an answer! — Jackie
A column by David?
Jackie, has your son David ever thought of writing his column about his views of living on the Homestead. I feel this would help others, that are his age, to show them what they are missing out
Well, we’ve tossed the idea around; if there’s interest, maybe we’ll have to talk to Dave Duffy and see what his thoughts are on it. — Jackie
I am picking up a dehydrator tonight and I am so excited! I have to ask you for recipes though. Beef jerky, venison jerky, anything else you dry besides the normal fruit and tomatoes?
Congratulations! You’ll love dehydrating food. It’s so fun and easy. And the results are awesome, too. I don’t have room here on the blog to give recipes, but check out the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, found at almost all larger stores this time of year. It has recipes, instructions and lots of good ideas on dehydrating, as well as canning.
For the jerky, you can substitute venision for the beef and the results are super good. In fact, David says he wants me to make jerky out of his whole deer this year! Yeah, right! That would take a lot of fussing around. But I WILL make a good large batch and can some up for him to enjoy this winter.
I dehydrate nearly all garden vegetables; corn, carrots, onions, garlic, herbs, squash, parsnips, rutabaga, asparagus, green beans, peppers, peas, tomatoes, a well as mushrooms, fruits of all types, leathers, and a whole lot more. Enjoy your new dehydrator!!! — Jackie
Peach preserves recipe
Am looking for an easy Peach Preserves recipe. Not too thick, sweet and jam-y, that can be
a nice winter surprise. My 89-year-old neighbor has 32 peach trees! All falling to the ground.
Susan C. Luber
Boy! Lucky you! I’m jealous. Peach preserves are about as quick and easy as it gets. And oh so good! Here’s how.
8 c sliced pitted, peeled peaches
1 package powdered pectin
2 Tbsp lemon juice
7 c sugar
Combine peaches, powdered pectin and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved and return to a boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly to event scorching. Remove from heat and ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headroom. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
If you wish to not use pectin, simply boil the preserves longer, until they are thick enough to suit you. You will have a smaller batch but it won’t cost you as much. Do watch for scorching as the longer you are boiling your recipe, the more chance for it to scorch!
Don’t double the recipe because it will be even more prone to scorching or with the pectin, end up runny. Just make several batches.
Don’t forget you can home can all the peaches you end up with! They are oh so much better than store bought ones. I can’t even eat the ones from the store. Nasty, slimy things. — Jackie
Barbecue sauce recipes for canning
Would you please share a couple of your favorite barbeque sauce recipes for canning? I only have a water bath canner. Is there a simple formula as to what must be canned in pressure canner versus
water bath canner?
Sure, but you’ve got to understand that I make most of my own recipes as I go, by experience and taste. I usually make my barbecue sauces up after making a batch of tomato sauce, then add the ingredients to make barbecue sauce; brown sugar, spices, pureed green and (possibly) other peppers, etc.
Here’s a basic barbecue sauce recipe that you can follow:
1 gallon chopped, peeled, cored tomatoes
2 c chopped celery
2 c chopped onions
1 1/2 c chopped sweet green or red bell peppers
1 c brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp salt
1 c vinegar
Combine tomatoes and other vegetables in a large saucepan and cook until vegetables are soft. Puree using a food processor or food mill. Simmer puree until thick. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headroom. Process pints and half pints for 20 minutes in a boiling wr bath canner.
To vary this to taste, you may also place 2 or more chipotle peppers in a spice bag and simmer with the puree while thickening or add honey and a couple drops of liquid smoke for a hickory/honey barbecue or hot pepper sauce for a firey barbecue; it’s up to you. The processing is the same for all flavors.
All pickles, jams, jellies, preserves, fruits and most tomato products are fine canned in a water bath canner. They are high acid foods and safe canned a boiling temperatures, unlike low acid foods (vegetables, meat, poultry and fish, including combinations thereof) that must be pressure canned to raise the temperature of the food high enough to kill botulism spores. — Jackie