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Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post. Please note that Jackie does not respond to questions posted as Comments. Click Below to ask Jackie a question.

Click here to ask Jackie a question!
Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
on any aspect of low-tech, self-reliant living.

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Jackie Clay

De ja vu! We got hit again with a blizzard

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

We just got dug out of the last one with the bulldozer and plow truck (which ended up having to go to the Ford garage in town!!$$$), not to mention lots of mano a mano shovel work. Then we got the news; another two feet was headed our way, complete with 30 mph winds. Hey! This is APRIL…..

Oh well, nothing to do but to get ready for it. Thank God I always listen to the weather radio! So we hauled hay, chopped firewood, got extra gas, grain and a few groceries. We also drove the good old Taurus wagon out near the road and parked it. Just in case we really got snowed in and had to snowmobile the mile out, so we could get to town or wherever. The snow started in earnest last night, giving us about an inch an hour. With wind. There were already drifts forming.

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This morning, it was still snowing hard, with good old wind, and we had about two feet of new snow on the ground. Luckily a lot of the “old” snow had melted, leaving only about a foot to get stacked on top of. So David (who didn’t have school; guess why!) and I braved the blizzard to do chores. The animals were all glad to see us and greeted us warmly. Even our kind-of-wild tom turkey gobbled down at us from his roost up in the barn. (Or was he up there because he thought the snow might get that deep????)

Anyway, we got done then brought one of the triplet doelings in to disbud. I’m kind of late with that, but just didn’t get it done because of the storms. We did her this morning and will do the other two tomorrow morning. I prefer to do them at three days, not two weeks!!! You are much less apt to get scurs. I’ll watch them carefully and if I see any regrowth in spots, you can bet I’ll touch them up for a nice smooth head.

We listened to the radio and all the power outages from the wind and heavy wet snow. Trees were falling, breaking and smashing down power lines. We might be way back in the woods, but at least that’s one problem we DON’T have. We never know when the power is off. I just baked rolls and listened to the wind roar outside.

Oh, the garage called this afternoon and said our truck was finished. Luckily it wasn’t the transmission, like we’d thought. The bill will only be half what we thought it would be. But a thousand dollars is a WHOLE LOT of money! David got the truck home and is now plowing our driveway. Life in the big woods. But I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

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Readers’ questions:

Dividing rhubarb

I have a question about rhubarb. I only have one plant. It was doing really well this year, but I noticed today that there are six pod looking stalks coming on it. Is it going to seed? Should I cut them out? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I think the plant will be big enough to divide this year. When do I divide and what’s the best way to do it?

Thank you for all the wonderful advice. Every time I have a gardening question my husband always says ask Jackie. She’ll know. He’s right!!!

Donna Clements
Hoquiam, Washington

These are the flower stalks that will eventually become seeds. Cut them out as soon as you notice them growing upward. If you don’t the plant will stop producing stalks and those remaining will get tough because the plant thinks it’s job is done for the year. You can fool it into producing all spring and early summer by keeping those stalks cut out.

A plant can be divided anytime, provided that it’s large, vigorous and healthy. Usually you can simply look to where more than one plant is coming from the “bunch” (the leaves are often smaller on the offshoots), slip a spade between them and just cut the plant in two. Rhubarb is dead easy to divide and to grow. I love it! — Jackie

Canning beef tongue

I have canned for quite a few years, but had something come up I have never thought of canning. I have cooked and eaten beef tongue for years, but never had a quantity all at once. My youngest daughter was given 7 tongues and wanted me to can them for her. Do I have to skin them raw and process them like I do with my beef and venison with some salt, or do I cook them first and skin them and then process them? They are easier to skin when cooked first and I feel like I am wasting more by skinning them raw, then again I feel like I am going to end up with mush if I cook them first and then pressure can them.

Which do you recommend?

Steve Brush
Brookville, Pennsylvania

I would cook them just long enough that they skin easily. Because the skin is on the outside, that part cooks quickly; you don’t need to totally cook the tongues. Then slice them or pack them hot in hot jars with broth from cooking them to within 1/2″ of the top of the jars and process at 10 pounds for 75 minutes (pints) or 90 minutes (quarts). Use salt if you like. If you live at an altitude over 1,000 feet, be sure to consult your canning manual for directions on increasing your pressure to suit your altitude if necessary. — Jackie

Shelf life of home-canned foods

I’m a new subscriber and have never canned before in my life. I saw your recipes for home canned meals in the most recent issue and have a question: What is the shelf life of canned meals? In particular, I’m interested in doing beef stews and the like. How long will they remain good if kept in a sub-70 degree, dark area?

Mike Schwedhelm
Brentwood, California

Good news Mike! Your home canned foods remain good to eat and wholesome for years and years. I’ve eaten some of my “old” foods that were twenty years old and they were nearly as good as fresh.

That’s one of the big pluses of canning. Once you have your foodsin jars, they will keep; no power outage or freezer burn problems.Nor will your carrots and other crops go soft during storage, like they do late in the winter, in a root cellar. — Jackie

3 Responses to “De ja vu! We got hit again with a blizzard”

  1. RNMOM Says:

    Hey Jackie, I don’t have a question I just wanted to say I think you are awesome. It’s amazing what you do in a day and how hard you work. You are totally inspiring to me. I took my last BHM to work and was showing one of my friends your article on canning “convenience” foods. She was as excited as I was. We promptly ordered two of the Backwoods Home cookbooks and she copied your recipes. We’re both excited to can some baked beans and pork and beans.
    Again, thanks for sharing your life with us!

  2. Nancy Hanson Says:

    Hi Jackie
    Over here on the “south shore of Lake Superior” we got 18″ of the white stuff plus drifting from the 50 mile an hour winds. Yuck
    Anway, just wanted to know what type of batteries do you use for your power? I am in the process of adding battery back up with a generator for electric and solar for my hot water. Would love to be off the grid completely tho.
    Thanks, Nancy
    Washburn, WI

  3. jackie clay Says:

    Right now we have four golf cart batteries, charged by a generator. We run the genarator now about 3 hours per day and have very seldom run out of power, including use of power saws, the computer for a couple of hours, CF lights, etc. It’s a definite savings. but we still want to add our two solar panels, then couple several more with them, as we can afford it.

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