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Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
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Jackie Clay

The tulips are up!

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

More signs of spring up north.  Yesterday I woke up to a musical sound.  Wolves?  Nooooo…  It sounds like geese.  It IS geese!  I threw open the window and the air was filled with the musical honking of Northbound Canadian geese flying low over the house, heading for the beaver pond.  Of course it is still frozen, but they landed, nevertheless.  I’m sure they’ll go on to one of the bigger rivers that is open now, but they’ll be back.  We have at least three pairs nesting on our creek and ponds.  What a wonderful sound!

And when I was walking out in the front yard to inspect the flower beds that have just cleared of snow, I spotted little red pointy noses poking up through the soil.  Tulips!!!  Unbelievable.  Three days ago, there was a foot of snow on that bed.  Spring happens pretty quick up here sometimes.
You really notice it on our mile long driveway.  The winter ice pack is melting and breaking up in huge chunks.  Dirt.  Puddle.  Eeek HOLE!  I think they call it "breakup" because you break up your vehicle on the rough roads.  But it makes you go so slow you notice the swelling buds on the popple and birch trees, the catkins on the alder.  Gee I’m already wondering when I’ll hear the first frog.  Now THAT’S a little premature….
The triplets are doing fine and are starting to bounce around.  I’ve got to disbud them tomorrow.  I don’t like doing it, but I’ve seen too many injured goats and people from leaving on the horns.  The smallest doeling has blue eyes!  I have never seen a goat with blue eyes before, and wonder if she’ll keep them.  (Now she would be the one to name "Blue Velvet"!)


Readers’ questions:

Moving canned goods to higher altitude

I have canned some strawberry jam where I live during the week, at sea level. I want to bring my jars of jam to my weekend cabin in the mountains at 7,000 ft. Is this ok or will the change in altitude
cause the jars to crack or break?

Sara Lauridsen
Big Bear City, California

I don’t think you’ll have any trouble.  When we moved from Minnesota to Montana, we moved from 900 feet to 7,200 feet and I took all my canned goods in a stock trailer.  I had no problem with jars, whatsoever.  The whole bunch, both jams and jellies to meats, sauces, tomatoes and vegetables made it just fine.  I wouldn’t worry. — Jackie

Ladyhawk, Moose, and Beauty

LadyHawk is gorgeous. And you’re looking pretty sharp yourself Jackie! What’s your beauty secret? I’m guessing – Lot’s of fresh air, hard work, healthy diet, and luuuuv.

What will be LadyHawk’s job responsibilities on your homestead?

What are the job responsibilities for Moose and Beauty, the donkey’s?

At one time I think you said that all your animals were pets but also served a farm-type purpose.

Joanna Wilcox
Boone, North Carolina

Gee, you’re making me blush!  Maybe it IS love.  Heck, I’m happy to be alive.
Ladyhawk, Moose and Beauty will be used, as well as enjoyed.  We’ll eventually be hauling wood from our woods with them and driving them on various farm implements and vehicles.  If the price of gas keeps going through the roof, we may be driving them to town, too!!!
Also, they are terrific manure makers.  We need lots of manure for not only the garden, but also the flower beds, pastures and orchard!  One can never have too much manure!!!
And, yes, our animals are all pets, too.  We work harder than they do, so no one could ever accuse us of animal abuse!  Ladyhawk is fitting in very well, and she’s a very personable little girl.  She loves hugs, petting and attention. — Jackie

Glasstop stove canning problem

Jackie, thanks for the milk re-processing times. I’d love to have your recipes on ice-cream; yogurt and cheeses. I’m game to try anything to save a buck. A lot a people scratch their heads at why I do it, but, living in hurricane country, my family doesn’t want to become a future "Katrina" statistic. We’d rather fend for ourselves. So, all recipes and tips are always welcome.

In regards to the lady in Maryland who can’t get pressure on her glasstop stove, I can constantly on my glasstop, and South Carolina and Maryland are pretty much the same altitudes. I’ve never had a problem, if anything, if I don’t watch the burner carefully, it’ll range up 12lbs of pressure really quick. Perhaps she purchased too big of a canner? My canner holds only 7-8 quarts and 12 pints. If she bought a double-size pressure canner, it could explain why she’s not getting anything out of it. Just thought I’d pass that possibility on.

Andrea Del Gardo
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

That is a possibility.  But one reason that canning on a glasstop isn’t recommended is that some canners have cracked the glass top on the stove, doing irreparable damage to it. — Jackie

Gasketless canner

Where can a steel on steel presure canner with no gasket be purpused? Have checked around and no one here has heard of one.

 Arthur Price
Jacksonville, Illinois

Actually, it’s "aluminum on aluminum", but you can buy several sizes at Lehman’s Hardware on line or through their catalog.  I’ve used one for over 30 years and have only had to buy a gauge when water got in mine when we moved and I left it sitting outside where it froze.  Not bad, considering the thousands and thousands of jars that I’ve processed through it! — Jackie

Chicks have curled toes

This is my first year as a chicken owner and 2 out of 15 Rhode Island Red chicks have curled toes. They are about 4 wks old. Have you had this problem in any of your chicks? Were you able to fix it or do you put them down? What breeds of chickens do you keep?

Stacie Lancaster
Manhattan, Kansas

Curled toes in chicks is generally thought to be a genetic problem.  Sometimes they grow out of it; sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes if they don’t it doesn’t seem to bother them; they adjust.  Other times it does and they are lame and don’t do well.  You can try taping the toes straight, if they will manually straighten out without undue stress.  Wrap adhesive tape relatively loosely around each toe to make a soft spling.  This often does the trick.
Right now my chickens are mostly Araucanas and banties with a Araucana/Cornish rock rooster.  I love the colored eggs and the way the chickens rustle for their own food like wild fowl.  We do raise Cornish rock broilers for butchering; you can’t beat them.  They’re huge! — Jackie

5 Responses to “The tulips are up!”

  1. Elly Phillips Says:

    Oooohhh, so *that’s* where our geese went! You’re right, there’s nothing like that call. Enjoy them and all your signs of spring! And don’t forget to tell us what you do decide to name your little does!

  2. David Penland Says:


    I hope you and your family are doing well.

    I have a question in regards your comment about raising Cornish rock broilers. Last night I was reading the new BHM book, Chickens a beginner’s handbook(which I think is excellent). The part about meat chickens got me to thinking. I’d like to try the big Cornish birds. The book talks about Cornish cross. Are they are significantly different from Cornish rocks? Forgive my ignorance, we had a few chickens growing up, but they were just chickens, the old man wasn’t too picky about breeds or proper names.

    Anyway, I want to raise my own birds and keep a self replenishing food supply going, rather than buying chicks from chicken farmers every few months. The book indicates that the Cornish cross birds will be butchering size in about three months and that you have to be careful so that they don’t get so big that their legs are injured by the weight. With that kind of problem, how do you keep breeding birds going?

    I look forward to reading your articles in the new special issue and I hope you and your family have a great Spring.

  3. C.E. Coffey Says:

    Mr.Penland Please excuse my presumption to adresss the question you asked Jackie but I have some experience with raising Cornish cross chickens and in my humble opinion they have more health issues than leg problems.They grow at such a rapid rate that their major organs cannot keep up.In thier droppings I noticed large amounts of undigested feed and at least the ones I had seemed incapable of foraging at all.I had several to die of heat/dehydration issues even though water was available just outside their shade shelter.Now I stick to more traditional breeds such as Rhode Island /New Hampshire Reds.They grow slower but do not have issues like the Cornish cross.Just my opinion.

  4. jackie clay Says:

    Cornish cross meat chickens are “crossed” or cross bred. One parent is a Cornish and the other a white rock. They are known as Cornish “crosses” or Cornish rocks. I haven’t had the problems C.E. had, but maybe it’s the breeding of his birds or his climate, regarding the heat problems. Mine foraged real well with our other chickens. Yes, the other traditional breeds make plenty good meat, but the Cornish crosses make a whole lot more in only a couple of months.

    Like everything else, it’s a personal choice as to what’s “best”. And that can be affected by climate, available feed and your own likes and dislikes.

    To keep the crossbreds going you can simply keep a cornish rooster and several white rock hens. The chicks might not be exactly the same as the commercial birds, but will turn out pretty fine. I have a rooster that came from an egg from one of my Cornish rock hens crossed with my old Aracauna rooster. He’s heavy breasted, white, but erect and more active than the Cornish crosses. I’m saving him for breeding because of his attributes. You can certainly breed your own chickens!

  5. C.E. Coffey Says:

    Hi Jackie I ordered my Cornish cross chicks from a hatchery so I cannot speak to thier bloodlines.I bought them to raise for meat only and they do grow amazingly fast.It could well be the climate as it does get well into the upper 90’s here in summer,sometimes even over 100.I raise mainly Old English Games with a scattering of New Hampshire/Rhode Island Reds.I prefer these breeds as they just seem to thrive better here and they can forage for part of thier living.I Raise them mainly for eggs and use the surplus rooster that are hatched for meat.As you say this is a personal preference and just what works best for me.As with most things other people’s results will vary.

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