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Archive for June, 2008
Friday, June 27th, 2008
Because of the escalating price of wheat, we desperately wanted to get in even a small patch this spring. But where??? Our garden was a whole lot bigger, but not ready to plant wheat, yet. Will was here, and had cleared out our orchard so beautifully. And when we were walking through it in the evening, we suddenly saw a wheat field among the fruit trees! WOW!
So we picked rocks, threw roots and whacked off small brush. Then Will found an ad for a small 6′ disc in the local shopper…cheap. We called and bought the disc that afternoon. Soon, we had a nicely worked-up orchard/wheat field-to-be. I filled my little plastic hand seeder and walked back and forth over the ground, spinning out wheat to beat the band.
Then Will jumped on the four wheeler and dragged our old ratty bed spring over the wheat to cover it lightly.
Now it’s UP! And it is beautiful, even and four inches tall already. Double WOW! Not only will the wheat be great for our bread and other baking, but it will help choke out weeds in the orchard and later the left-over straw will add organic material to the soil.
Already we’re talking about a spot to make a designated wheat patch next year. Our orchard wheat is only a start. But what a wonderful start it is!
Grinding nuts — peanut, cashew, walnut, etc. Can you suggest a hand grinder for this purpose?
I have read, but cannot recall where, that roasting nuts destroys much of their nutritional value, but improves the flavor- do you know anything about this?
Got any recipes for making home made nut butter? I would give up the roasting to keep more nutritional value.
You can make nut butter in most flour mills. Even the old Corona style mill makes great nut butter. Or you can use your blender. Just dump in 2 cups of any type of nuts you want and grind them till the puree is oily and as smooth as you want. If it is not “spreadable” like you’d like, simply add 1 or 2 Tbsp of sunflower or peanut oil. You may also add honey or sugar, and a bit of salt, if you wish. It is true that roasted nuts do make a tastier butter; I’m not sure I’d worry about the nutrition thing unless you are eating a LOT of nut butter. Chances are if you eat a relatively healthy diet, your nutrition is already fine. — Jackie
Canning potatoes with skins still on
I just subscribed to your magazine this morning when I came across your web site while searching for a recipe to can potatoes – every recipe I come across suggests peeling the potatoes – I have small fingerling s and just could not possibly peel them – is there a problem with canning un-peeled potatoes? I look forward to receiving my first magazine.
Heck no! I can a whole lot of new potatoes and fingerlings with the skins on. No problem at all. Just process as per peeled potatoes. If you’d like, when you open a jar to eat them, you can simply squeeze the potato and the skin slides right off. — Jackie
Frozen trout with guts still in them
Hi Jackie, me AGAIN. I just have lots of questions and you are the answer lady!! Friends brought me enough trout they had caught for me to can. However, they did not clean (gut) them before sticking them in the freezer. Are those fish still eatable if I thaw and clean them, then can? or are they cat food? Also, can you can spinach/chard?
Hi Gail! Ask away. Eeeeuuuu. Frozen trout with the guts still left in them. Sorry, but I’d have a real hard time eating them, let alone canning them. Yeah, in an emergency….maybe. Here kitty, kitty….
Yes, you can home can spinach and Swiss chard; I do it all the time. Just simmer to wilt or steam. Pack jars with hot wilted greens and cover with boiling water to within 1″ of the top. Process in a pressure canner for 70 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts. I also can lamb’s quarters and red rooted pig weed. — Jackie
Adding ash to compost
I love your “Ask Jackie” column, and I’m so happy you’re online with a blog! I’d like to ask you if it is okay to add the ash from my corn stove to the compost pile. I hate to see it go to waste if there’s a good use for it.
Yes, you can add a reasonable amount of your ash to your compost pile or sprinkle it right onto the garden, which is what I do with our wood ashes. Just don’t over-do it. — Jackie
Can you recommend any companies that have canners that are not too expensive? We are new to canning etc. I don’t want anything too complicated. Another note, you are an amazing woman. You do just about everything I can think of. My hat goes off to you!!!!
You can pick up a good quality new canner at many local hardwares and even WalMart and Kmart for a reasonable price. Most are “down to business” pieces of kitchen equipment; nothing fancy. Do yourself a great favor and get a reasonably large canner; don’t get a pressure cooker. They just don’t do the job you need them to. Welcome to the satisfying world of home canning! Enjoy the trip, and let me know if you have questions along the way. — Jackie
Using smaller canning jars
Probably a silly question, but a few years ago I canned some pickled red cabbage and some corn relish in 1/2 pint jars. Since I am the only one who likes these items, sometimes I would have to toss the remainder of the jar if I didn’t get it used up quickly enough. I have some smaller than 1/2 pint jars. Would there be any problem with using these smaller jars in the hot water bath?
Gold Beach, Oregon
Absolutely not. I do the same thing myself. I also can up these small jars full of chicken, pork, venison and beef pieces to add to casseroles etc. for flavoring. It sure makes a little canned meat go a long, long way! And with the future meat prices, hold on to your hat! — Jackie
Raising chickens and turkeys
For some reason my husband has recently become allergic to beef, pork, venison,lamb, etc…(pretty much any mammal meat),he is also allergic to baking yeast and milk. This has totally depleted my long-term storage. I had to get rid of everything that had these ingredients and things that used fat or lard. My husband can eat fowl and fish. We also have three gardens that we eat from, fresh and canned. Is it possible to can chicken and turkey? I have some things frozen but if something bad happens these foods will have to be eaten quickly and with his condition we can’t hunt to supplement his diet. How long would canned chicken and turkey last on the shelf?
We have ten acres with 1 dairy cow, two dairy goats, assorted chickens, and guineas. Would raising turkeys be a viable option for us? Do they need to be kept seperate from our chickens? (read something about “blackhead”) Which breed would be best, which breeds are hardy and can reproduce easily? Finally how many would I need to start out with, since they will be our primary source of protein? I’ve been looking through catalogs but different hatcheries disagree on characteristics, and I’m getting really confused! Thank you so much! Any info will be greatly appreciated.
Sorry to hear your problem. YES, you can certainly home can poultry of all types. Yes, you can certainly raise turkeys. I know the experts say not to raise turkeys with chickens, but I always have and have known a whole lot of other homesteaders who do, too. You will want a lighter breed of turkey. Most modern turkeys are Broad Breasted Whites or Bronzes. The toms get so heavy that they tear great gashes in the hens’ backs when they mount to breed. You will be better off with a lighter breed turkey. Bourbon Reds, Slates, Royal Palms and Nargansetts all mature at lighter weights than do the “giant” breeds, and because they do, the toms are able to breed the hens. I would also advise you to get some good dual purpose meat chickens, such as White Rocks. They don’t get as big as turkeys, but they do reproduce on a much larger scale, over a year, giving you more eggs to hatch. Turkeys only lay for a short period in the spring. — Jackie
Is it mold or not?
My Mom died and I am cleaning out her cupboards. She has some home canned salsa. It looks fine on the bottom, but the top looks greyish. Do I throw it out or is it OK. Why did it do that?
Stratford, South Dakota
Open a jar and take a good look. If the “greyish” is mold, toss it. If the top is just dried out from not being covered with liquid and the salsa smells fine (and the jar’s seal was still good; it was dented firmly down in the center, it is fine. If it is mold, either the jar was not sealed or the salsa wasn’t processed long enough to heat it high enough to kill the mold spores. — Jackie
First pressure canner
Today I got my very first pressure canner. I am very excited, and I can’t wait until my garden gives me something to put up… I am close to being ready for snap peas (which I’ll likely eat up too quick to can), turnips, and the dark leafy greens. Are the leafies ok for canning? Do you have any recipes for turnips? Also, I am nervous about the canner. My stove has cabinets right above it (that were poorly placed way back before we were existing). Would I be better off outside with a propane burner? Thanks
BTW: I love your blog… I am learning a lot from you and I am so grateful that you are out there in this crazy processed world to help educate us newbies!
Congratulations Maria! You have a right to be excited. You’re starting on a real fun adventure that will provide years and years of great eating and food security.
Have fun! — Jackie
Sunday, June 22nd, 2008
My friend, Jeri, brought be a big bag of fresh rhubarb yesterday, so I spent the entire afternoon cutting it up and canning it. Most of it, I made into rhubarb conserve, which is a spicy rhubarb/walnut/raisin spicy preserve. I use it on toast, cookies, in bars and cakes. Pretty darned good! But some I simply baked with sugar and canned in quart and pint jars. I can make pies, bars, cakes and other treats from this. My own rhubarb now numbers nine plants, with the oldest now two years old and ready for light pickings. I love my “pie plant”!
It earned that name because it was the first domestic fruit on pioneer homesteads; years ahead of apples or cherries. And those first pies were treasured, indeed.
Today, after I put away the jars of rhubarb into the pantry, I spread many wheelbarrow loads of rotted goat manure/oat hay along the two inch high sweet corn rows in the new patch on the north end of our garden. (That’s the place David cleared with the dozer and found the frost boil.) I love the new room, but the soil is VERY rocky and pretty infertile, being sand and gravel. (Never think that my new gardens are always in nice black loam! Ha ha ha!) Corn is a heavy feeder and that manure will do much to jump start those small plants. After the corn is up about six inches, we’ll clean out the goat barn and toss the manure inbetween the rows as mulch and additional fertilizer. Love that poop!!!
I also pulled the Wall’o Waters off my tomatoes, which were growing six inches out of the tops. Our last frost date should be past now, but we did have a light frost three days ago; my potato leaves have frost damage on them in places. The plants look great, though, so they’ll be fine. I’ve already hilled them twice now, they’re growing so quickly. I think we’re in for a great gardening year.
My Hopi Pale Grey squash plants, which I had to direct seed this year, emerged and were five inches across the first leaves! Now that’s HUGE.
When you come into our garden, you’ll immediately notice a very green, weedy area, right in the middle of the main part. No, I haven’t forgotten something. In fact, the area is “roped off” with my long garden hose so I don’t get too close by accident with the tiller. You see a pair of killdeer decided to nest in the garden. By the time I’d noticed her nest, there were already two speckeled eggs in it. Oh well, I could spare the room and she’s been fun to watch. When we’d get a little too close, she’d jump off the nest and fan her wing to look injured and “weakly” toll us off away from her nest.
Yesterday, she hatched three chicks and today there’s another one just out of the egg this evening. They are so CUTE. They look like bumblebees on toothpicks. I’m really glad I let a weedpatch stay in the garden. It was definitely worth it!
Mom’s doing great!
Don’t mean to be nosey, but how is your mom? I follow your blog religiously and have looked for an update on her condition.
Mom is doing great! She’s home from the hospital and enjoying the spring flowers and vegetable garden immensely! We are so grateful. — Jackie
You forgot one of the best reasons to use Christmas tins for food storage — MOUSE PROOF.
What do you use for mosquito repellant? We have a huge mosquito population this year and I get eaten up everytime I go outside. I’m allergic to scents so have a hard time using the commercial products. I’d really like to use my hands for working in the garden instead of swatting mosquitoes.
Larry & LeeAnn Wicker
I have had pretty good luck sprinkling brewers yeast on my breakfast granola; it seems to thin them down to tolerable. When they’re a real pain, I try to get out to the garden real early, then avoid it when they’re horrible….and back again in the evening…before mosquito time again. The body and head nets really work well, but I personally hate them because I am claustrophobic and can’t stand something over my face. I don’t even like wearing a bee vail! — Jackie
Getting corn from a feed store
I have read before that corn purchased for animal consumption should not be used for human consumption. Due to the recent floods in the Midwest I really expect corn prices to go up drastically. Several of the emergency preparedness places are out of corn that has been packed for long term storage. What are your thoughts on buying corn from a feed store, cleaning it and storing it? I feel that the cornmeal and grits that you buy from the local supermarkets probably has as many chemicals in them as any corn you buy.
In an emergency, I’d use elevator corn, but not until then…mostly because of rodent/bird dropping contamination. Consider using popcorn for your cornmeal. I just bought a 50 pound bag at the Duluth Sam’s Club for a kind of reasonable price. Not only do we love our popcorn, but I wanted enough to use to grind, if need be. I grind our left-over sweet corn, when we have a long enough season for me to get the second ears dry on the stalk. That makes great cornmeal. Sweet, too! — Jackie
Growing onions in Minnesota
I am having difficulty growing any kind of onions in Northern MN. Do you have any suggestions?
Wow, you’ve got me there. I’ve always had great onions. They love the cooler nights of summer. Be sure your soil has adequate drainage; onions do not like wet feet. If you have clay soil, try to get enough organic material worked in to loosen it up because they don’t like clay, either.
I’ve had good luck planting both sets and started onion plants. They should be set in the ground early; before your last spring frosts, as they are not damaged by light freezing and they do like the cool weather to get started. Also, don’t plant them too deeply.
I poke the sets into the tilled ground with my thumb and fingers; they only want to be about two inches down. Deeper and they often get spindly.
Better luck this year. Keep at it and you’ll soon figure out your problem. — Jackie
Homemade pet food
Hi Jackie,I wanted to know if it is ok to store flour, rice, pasta in their original packages in 5 gallon drywall buckets? And do you have any recipes for homemade cat and dog food in case i would not be able to buy it.
Yes it is okay for you to store your dry foods in drywall (I assume you mean sheetrock compound) buckets, provided that they were cleaned out well with hot soapy water and let air dry.
Type in “homemade dog and cat food recipes” into your browser and you’ll find a ton of great recipes. I’m afraid we would just make pet stew for our critters; they prefer to eat our food anyway. A boss of mine at a riding school always had a pot of dog stew simmering on the stove; his home left-over, boneless meats, a few eggs, potatoes, leftover vegetables from home, plus a handful of oatmeal and cornmeal. The dogs loved it and did very well on their varied and tasty diet.
Their food usually smelled better than my lunch did! — Jackie
Are they sweet peas or sugar peas?
PLEASE HELP!!! I goofed and planted sweet peas and sugar peas side by side, then I forgot to mark the rows. Now I have a row with pretty pinkish/purple and white flowers and a row with only white flowers. Do you have any clue which is which? Thank you soooo much. You are awesome.
I assume by “sweet peas” you mean regular garden peas, not the flower (which the seeds are poisonous). I think you’ll find that the white flowers are your garden peas and the pinkish ones are your sugar peas. You’ll be able to tell better when they get peas on the vines. With all this goofy weather, be glad you HAVE peas! Enjoy! — Jackie
Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
All last winter, David went out to a nearby clearcut and hauled wood home. It’s great wood; ash and birch, primarily. Nice hardwood! We had plenty for last winter, but we did have to carry and split quite a bit during the cold. So this year, we’re getting a jump on next winter. We’re getting our winter wood all split and hauled into shelter right now so it will be dry and convenient…with no winter splitting. Horray! David is on a mission.
My oldest son, Bill, had our little Ford 8N down at his place all fall and winter, giving it a good overhaul. He even painted it! And when it came home, it also had a beautiful three point hydraulic wood splitter on it. Bill had bought it real cheap, but it wouldn’t handle the long wood he burns in his outdoor wood stove. So he passed on the savings….and great little splitter….to us! We had a great pile of gnarly pieces of wood that didn’t like our splitting maul and axe. The splitter creaks a bit but splits them all easily. My back and David’s thank it profusely.
We will be building a wood shed/bulldozer/tractor storage shed, but for now, we are storing the wood by the truckload, under our porch. There is a huge space where our walkout basement will be, and tonight, there are five truckloads of split wood piled there; only a beginning. Good day’s work, I think.
First, let me say that I wish you were my neighbor! You seem to be a genuinely warm , caring person. Plus, it’d be great to have your knowledge and expertise a phone call away! Secondly, I want to thank you for answering my question about brown sugar and botulism. What a relief!
Here’s my question: In some of your pictures I’ve noticed you have quite a few tins (the kind that are usually sold around Christmas filled with goodies). I was curious as to what you use them for, and if its food storage, do you have to line them with anything first?
East Palatka, Florida
I love my tins! Every year I pick up a few at Christmas time, when they go on sale. Some were gifts from family and friends; some I got at the dump and others I picked up at the thrift store. I use them for all kinds of dry foods; beans, split peas, sugar, brown sugar,flours, pasta, cornmeal, and even dehydrated foods. No, I don’t line them with anything. I just wash them well with hot soapy water before I use them and each time I empty one. Foods keep nicely in them and they are a cheerful decoration in my kitchen, as well. — Jackie
Canning sun dried tomatoes
We want to can our own sun dried tomatoes in oil. We will do our own drying and packing them in olive oil with spices. How do we go about canning and what is the process?
There is a whole lot of conflict out there regarding canning sun dried tomatoes in olive oil. The problem is possible botualism. I’ve never found a dependable home canning recipe processing times for olive oil. There is more of a problem when garlic is added to the tomatoes as a flavoring, but still I feel it’s better to put your dried tomatoes in a jar of olive oil and set it in the fridge to store for a couple of weeks for use “fresh”. The tomatoes themselves store very well, dehydrated, so you’ll always have the ingredients right at hand. — Jackie
Would you clarify your blog about recanning mushrooms from a #10 can? When I froze them last time they became rubbery and distasteful. I would like to can them into smaller jars if possible. If possible, how many minutes do I can at 10 lbs. pressure. Really enjoy your blog and so happy for you and Will!
You will can half pints and pints for 45 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. I would heat them up and pack them hot into hot jars. You’ll find they work well, this way. Enjoy. — Jackie
I’ve had a really good trout season this year. My question is how do you can trout . Ive canned tuna before and it was great. Thanks. P.S. Am really enjoying your on line site also.
The easiest way to can trout is to cut it into jar-fitting pieces and soak one hour in a cold salt brine (1 c salt to 1 gallon ice water). Drain well. Pack trout into pint or half pint jars, skin side next to the glass, leaving 1″ of headroom. Process at 10 pounds pressure (unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, and must consult your canning manual for directions on increasing your pressure to suit your altitude if necessary) for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
You can also smoke the trout (my favorite!), then pack and process as above. Neither uses liquid. — Jackie
Ice cream using powdered milk
Asked last year, but did not get an answer: Don’t readily have half & half milk available. Need Recipe for Homemade ICE CREAM using Powdered Milk, Can Milk and/or Vit.D store bought milk. Thanks
Dunbar, West Virginia
Sorry your question didn’t get answered last year; sometimes one gets lost in the shuffle. Here’s one recipe for you; there are dozens available online; just type in homemade icecream made with dry milk.
3 c milk or liquified dry milk
8 egg yolks
3 c fruit
1 c sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Heat milk and sugar, but don’t boil. Whip egg yolks and add 1c of hot milk mix. Then pour this into the rest of the hot milk. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Cool, then add vanilla. Refrigerate till cold or overnight.
Prepare fruit like you would if you were going to eat it. Then pulse through a blender till it’s like you want it in your ice cream.
Mix in with your ice cream mixture and stir well. Process in an ice cream maker or freeze in a covered bowl in your freezer, whipping two or three times as it freezes. Enjoy! — Jackie
Canning and spices
A few quick questions about spices and pressure canning: Which spices don’t work well pressure canning (like sage turns bitter?) and should I back off on the hot spices when I can chili? Am I better to go “bland” and then spice it up when I’m heating up my meal from the jar?
South China, Maine
Most spices get a little stronger with canning. As far as my own experience goes, only sage seems to be a “problem” when canning. I use lots of other spices, but go a little light on them when canning. When I do chili, I really don’t though; I have not found that using your regular spice amounts in chili causes any problems. Can it when your taste buds say it’s perfect and you won’t be sorry. — Jackie
Banana pudding recipe
Do you have a recipe for banana pudding made from scratch?
My recipe for banana pudding is simple:
1 c sugar
2 Tbsp slour (heaping)
3 egg yolks
2 c milk
In a medium saucepan, add sugar and egg yolks. Mix well, then add milk slowly. Add vanilla. Heat on medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Mix in sliced bananas, then refrigerate in a covered bowl.
There are more recipes available online; just type in homemade banana pudding! The internet can be so much fun; when the &*(^&*%(%$ computer works! — Jackie
I have just found this site this year, your articles have been a great inspiration. I have gotten back to canning, looking for ways to have quick meals during the week (I always forget to defrost stuff). I forgot how much I actually love to can (It’s fun).
A number of years ago, after my grandmother gave up her vegtable garden, I asked if she had any canning equipment she was willing to part with. I was expecting some jars, lids and such, but instead came home a 21qt preasure canner (manual is dated 1957). This canner is large and works great.
I am starting to plan a garden for the first time. I have grown a few tomatos before, but not much else. I am in the process of clearing out weeds, grass and rocks from the area I will use (discovered my 8yr old son likes to garden and is more than happy to help me dig up the weeds). Hopefully I will be ready for the fall (cool weather) plants. Living in Southern CA irrigation is an absolute must. What would be the best type of sprinklers or such to use?
Buena Park, California
Drip irrigation is a great help in any dry or hot climate; I use it even here in northern Minnesota to conserve water. It puts the water on the plant roots, not into the air and between the rows and plants. A deep mulch, laid on top of the drip line, will also do a whole lot to keep your plants happy and the soil moist.
I’m so happy that you are getting into canning and gardening! My son, David, also loves to garden and we have had a lot of years of fun out there in the food! You’re not only raising food but building great memories. — Jackie
I read your articles all the time and have learned a lot. I didn’t know before, but now i’ve come to a block. I there a reciept for honeysuckle jelly or was someone just pulling my leg. Keep teaching jackie.
Yes, Marjorie, there IS a honeysuckle jelly! Just don’t use berries for Japanese honeysuckle, which is a non-native with BLACK berries. You use the native honeysuckle with red berries.
2 qts ripe red berries
1/2 c water
1 c sugar per cup of juice
3 oz pectin
Put water and berries in large saucepan and heat. Simmer 15 minutes then strain through a jelly bag. Measure juice and add sugar. Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute, stirring well. Add pectin and boil for 1 minute. Skim off foam if desired and pour hot into hot, sterile jars to within 1/4″ of top. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Enjoy! — Jackie
I live on a 1 acre lot in the middle of a pine forest in Zone 7. My problem is that I am only getting around 4 hours of full sun per day, and am a first time gardener. The trees block out most of the sun. This is in a neighborhood that has many restrictive environmental covenants, so cutting down trees is not an option.
Also the ground here is pure clay, so I had to construct a large 4′ x 8′ container, and also have a number of pots which I move around several times during the day to ‘follow the sun’.
I’m currently trying to grow a wide variety of heirloom vegetables including lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, onions, melons, bell peppers, and corn. I can’t afford to set up an indoor grow room, and can’t cut down any trees to maximize the sun.
I’m just wondering if you have any ideas about how this sun issue will impact my garden yields, and maybe get some suggestions from you on what kinds of vegetables would be ideal for these conditions.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
This is one of those try it and see how things work kind of situations. You may be pleasantly surprised. I’ve been told “you can’t” so many times in my life it’s become a joke! There is that “ideal” must have 6 hours of sunlight thing. But I know gardeners who are successful with much less than that, and that live in colder climates, as well. Let us know how things work for you and hang in there. I’m rooting for you! Of all garden crops, onions and greens are the least “sun loving” of all crops I’ve grown, followed by broccoli and cabbage. — Jackie
Processing wheat at home
If I grow enough wheat for personal use then how do I process it for use? I read something about it but can’t find it. You mentioned cutting it, a little green, and letting it dry before shelling it. Do wheat kernels have a husk on them like oats do? How much would be needed for two senior adults?
Can I buy some wheat from a farmer and do the same thing?
Wheat is easy to process at home. Yes, it does have a “husk”, kind of like oats do. But the wheat easily comes out of the chaff on thrashing, where the husk clings to the oat grains, making it hard to use. (Fortunately, for homesteaders, there is a naked oat variety that doesn’t have this problem!)
You would just thrash the dry wheat out onto a clean tarp, pour it into a bucket, then winnow it on a windy day. This means you would slowly pour the wheat from a bucket held high, into a tub below. The wind carries away all dust and chaff, leaving clean wheat “berries”. Yes, you can buy wheat from a farmer and do this. But I’d buy it right out of his combine unless you are sure of clean storage facilities. Rodents can be a problem in some bins and you wouldn’t want rodent droppings in your wheat.
How much wheat is enough? That depends on how much you will be using. When we lived very remote, my husband, young son and I went through 25 pounds a month. This made our breads, rolls, pies, cakes, cookies, noodles and more. I was surprised to use this much, but when you never go “out” you will use much more flour than you did before. — Jackie
Saturday, June 14th, 2008
Will’s brief, too short, way too short, visit ended this morning. Actually I had to say goodby twice. He was scheduled to fly out of Duluth for Washington yesterday late afternoon. I drove him the 80 miles to the airport, said a sad goodby, then drove home after he’d cleared security. But when I got 60 miles away, he called and said his flight had been cancelled due to FOG! He’d have to fly out in the morning. So back I went to the airport and home again. We got 5 hours restless sleep, then this morning back we went to the airport. Sigh.
Having him here was great. He was like a kid with a new toy; he’d missed homesteading life pretty darned bad and enjoyed every minute of being here. Well…maybe not when the tiller wouldn’t start and the rope broke.
Recipe for Snapper Turtle
Sorry that i was not specific, I like to have a recipe for Snapper Turtle and also if I could can the the Turtle Meat or Soup.
Cedarville, New Jersey
My favorite recipe for snapping turtle is to pre-boil the skinned, cleaned turtle, then cool and dice the meat and remove the bones. I add:
1 quart of home canned whole tomatoes, 3 diced medium potatoes, 1/2 c celery, 1 diced medium onion, 1 Tbsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste, then simmer the stew until done.
Yes, you can home can your snapper stew/soup. You must pressure can it at 10 pounds pressure (if you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, check your canning manual for directions on increasing your pressure to match your altitude, if necessary) for 90 minutes for quarts and 75 minutes for pints. — Jackie
Vacuum packed croutons
I am an avid reader of Backwoods Homes with lots of past issues. I look forward to your column more than any other articles. Only after your articles gave me the confidence, did I buy my first pressure canner. I have now enjoyed canning homemade vegetable soup, your meatball recipe, pinto beans and will continue to can much more of our own food.
I also have dehydrated foods for years and now have a question for you that I cannot find the answer to anywhere else. I buy feed bread from the discount bread store for animals, i.e. goats, chickens, horses, donkeys, dogs, and more. You should be able to dehydrate this bread into “croutons”. Could I then seal these croutons into vacuum sealed packages for long-term storage? I was hoping to be able to still use it for feed.
What do you think?
You can dry your own croutons and vacuum pack them in bags. But don’t expect them to stay great for human food. I have and they’ve always gone rancid. They would be okay for animal food, though, but it would probably be too labor intensive to be much use to you. Probably grains would store better, use less room/labor. I’ve used this day-old bread and if you can get it for a good price, it does help stretch the feed bill! — Jackie
Dealing with the high cost of feed
As you know the price of chicken and animal feed continues to rise. Now with all the rain, crops in some areas are done for. You and I know this will raise the feed costs. Is there something we can mix ourselves for feed especially for chickens? I have egg layers and soon will have meat birds. I really appreciate any suggestions you may have. I let my birds free range now but in the winter they live in the coop and need feed. Thanks so much! Cindy Hills from WI
Your pictures of the work accomplished on your land are wonderful and inspiring!!
Wild Rose, Wisconsin
We’re working on this one, ourselves! Every time I get feed, it’s gone up a dollar per hundred pounds! Wow! This is a big one! We are clearing some land we had planned on using for horse pasture, but will be planting small grains, instead. The land is pretty rough now, but in a year or two, we’ll be ready. You can cut your feed bills by growing extra squash and pumpkins. Sounds weird, but poultry really does love it and it’s good for them, too. In the winter, leafy alfalfa hay can be soaked to give “green” feed. Other garden crops, such as carrots, turnips, rutabagas, etc. are also relished by chickens. If they don’t eat them well raw, simply simmer up a pot when you cook supper. When it’s cooled down, mash the chicken “mess” and they not only love it but the warm feed will be appreciated. If you can, try to grow some of your own feed. A few long rows of field corn, a wide bed of wheat or millet can be easily added to most large gardens to be used as poultry feed. It’s going to be a tough one, but we inovatative homesteaders will come through with flying colors! — Jackie
You cannot can yogurt
Over the last few months I’ve been trying my hand at making yogurt. We don’t eat much of it at once, so I tried keeping a bit of the starter in the freezer for when I want a new batch. However, most of my yogurt comes out like a cross between yogurt and cottage cheese, and the most recent batch was more like cream cheese, nothing at all like yogurt! Is this happening because I froze the starter? And if it is, do you know another way to preserve starter? Could it be dried?
Also, can yogurt be canned? My parents sometimes get annoyed about me taking up their fridge space. Plus I’m trying to build a house in an area that doesn’t have electricity, and may need to go without refridgeration in the near future.
Thank you for all your advice over the years. Thanks to your inspiration I now have 5 acres and have been planting fruit trees, and I’m trying to build raised garden beds, although they’ll end up more like terraces because the hillside is so steep.
No, yogurt can’t be canned successfully. And the starter doesn’t really freeze too well, either. You’ll find you’ll eat more yogurt if you’ll mix it with fruit and/or freeze it slightly sweetened, then whipped up partly frozen. It comes out like soft serve ice cream/frozen yogurt and is really good! Instead of going without refrigeration, consider a propane or propane/electric fridge like is used in camping trailers. It uses little propane and does a great job. That’s what I use and I’ve had one for over 17 years. Yogurt starter can be dehydrated, but doing it at home is a little iffy. You CAN either buy a bag of powdered starter culture (Hoeggers Goat Supply) or simply pick up a small carton of live culture commercial yogurt to start your own when you want to make some. — Jackie
Preserving excess meat
I have regular amounts of left over smoked meats, Brisket, Chicken and Pork tenderloin. How can these be put up for future use besides freezing. Can they be pressure canned or dehyrated.
If you are not living off grid, I’d dice this meat up and freeze it in individual freezer bags as per variety, adding more as you get it. Then when you have enough to make canning worth your time, thaw it out, heat it gently to hot, then can it. I’d add broth to keep it tender and nice. All of these meats process at 10 pounds pressure (unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet and must check your canning manual for directions on increasing your pressure to match your altitude, if necessary) for 75 minutes for half pints and pints (very handy!) or 90 minutes for quarts. — Jackie
Growing at 10,000 feet
I am a longtime subscriber to and reader of BHM. It appears that next Spring I’ll at long last be able to build on the 40 acres of Colorado mountain land I’ve owned for 20 years. My goal is and always has been to make the place as self-sufficient as possible. The elevation of the property is 10,000 feet and obviously has a short growing season. My question is twofold. First, do you have any hints for extending the growing season? And second, can you tell me what vegetables and fruits (if any) might be suited to that altitude?
Castle Rock, Colorado
Congratulations, Chuck!!! Your adventure begins! We lived at 7,400 feet in Montana’s Elkhorn Mountains and loved it. Season extenders that work for us are a plastic or otherwise greenhouse, plastic tenting over sensitive crops, Wall’o Water plant protectors and small hoop houses. We grew just about everything; peas, onions, spinach, tomatoes, squash, potatoes, corn (chancy), green beans and more.
I started my tomatoes, squash, etc. inside, then moved them to a hotbed made of railroad ties and old windows later on when the weather warmed up. I had to shovel snow off the spot a week or so before planting to let the soil in the hotbed warm up as we had so much snow.
You’ll have to experiment with fruit. Talk to your extension office and see if they can give you a few pointers as to varieties. We couldn’t grow tree fruits; too deep snow and too many elk and moose. But I had rhubarb, bramble fruits, strawberries and wild chokecherries galore.
Have a great time!!! — Jackie
Thursday, June 12th, 2008
Having a bulldozer is great. We’ve got so much valuable work done, very quickly, with it. But yesterday, after Will had hosed it down following a two day session of cleaning small popple trees out of two horse pastures, he found the right track drive housing was coming apart. Several bolts were broken, a couple missing and the whole cast piece was starting to pull apart. Not a good thing!
So today, while I babysat our two donkeys and filly, Ladyhawk, in their half of the horse pasture, David and Will tore into the dozer and made repairs. Luckily, with lots of dirty, sweaty hard work, they got it back together, new bolts in and the whole works tightened down nicely. Whew! It looked pretty nasty last night.
We’ve got the cleaned orchard rock picked and hauled the rocks to mud holes on the driveway, then this afternoon, Will got on the Ford 8N tractor and hauled rotten manure from the donkey/horse corral onto the orchard, scattering it thickly around our young trees. Before this, you could smell apple blossoms from the two trees that are blooming heavily. Of course tonight, all you can smell is, well….you know what! But the trees will love it. We’re going to drag it and see if we can get it fenced. We picked up the fencing today and the posts are due in tomorrow. We have to go 8′ high to keep the deer out, so the posts were a special order. As soon as it’s fenced, we’re going to plant oats and clover in there for a cover crop and to add nitrogen to the soil. Wow! A real orchard!
I’m feeling kind of blue; Will only has two more days here and he has to go back to Spokane. I’ve gotten kind of used to having the guy around. It’s been great having my Sweetie here. But he’ll be back in September, then in January for keeps, so we’ll just have to deal with it till his obligations there are done with. Fortunately, we DO still have two days and we’ll sure make the best of them. The best of the best!
Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits …
My grandson loves to watch those cute little big eyed, big eared creatures hop around and nibble on the never ending supply of green grass and more vegetation than they could all possibly ever eat. But do they stop there? Heck no, they keep nibbling right up to my little garden of purple hull peas and kentucky wonder beans and eat the tops right off of almost everyone. They seem to be unafraid of my presence even when I run at them. Those cute little creatures are rabbits of Louisiana. “Big swamp rabbits” is what my husband calls them. They aren’t so cute anymore, I hate the sight of them and long to hear the coyotes nearby so they can yowl and holler and eat all the rabbits in this area.
Please help! I have tried what my father-in-law thinks is the best thing to keep away the varmints, seven dust. I hate using it and it don’t work so good. What can I do? Oh and armadillos to. The rabbits eat the tops, the armadillos root up the whole garden then my loose stupid rooster scratches up whats left.
This is my first official garden and there are more to come so I ain’t giving up. I will win this war against the varmints but sure need some of your weaponry to fight in the battle.
I planted my garden right next to my house. It is open with no fences and there are no houses for at least a mile from us. You can’t eat the rabbits this time of the year so killing them is a waste and besides there are a million more out there to take over the place of any you might kill. I have a clothesline right next to the garden and I have put up pinwheels and hung up my old dirty shirts so they might smell it and run away. Ha! Nothing is working. I get sick every morning when I check my garden and find the devistation.
The only thing that you can count on to keep rabbits and other varmints at bay is fence. If rabbits are your only big problem, you’re lucky. You can get by by fencing your garden with 2″ chicken wire that is 4′ high. I have deer and need to use more expensive 2″x4″ 6′ high wire. We just did our entire orchard today! I love to watch those big eyed critters, too, but OUTSIDE my garden fence. Believe me, I’ve tried everything else, including my own urine, wolf urine, animal repellants, pinwheels, balloons, plastic owls and snakes, cat litter and more. Only the fence works. — Jackie
I want to thank you for telling me about Carla Emery’s book, “The Encyclopedia of County Living”. I liked the book so well I bought two, one for me and one for a friend. I have a couple of questions or problems I would like your expertize on.
I live on heavy clay soil and I am trying to expand my vegetable garden. With all of this rain and more in the forecast, I don’t dare get into the spot I want to turn into a potato patch until the soil drys out some. The potatoes are cut and ready. What can I do to hold them until I can get them in the ground?
Also, when you are growing beans you want for dry beans, do you do a first pick like you do green beans to increase the yield?
Sorry you are raining out, too. My garden is at a halt because of cold temperatures and rain, rain, rain. Your potatoes will hold well if you just keep them in a dark cool spot. If they begin to sprout badly, they will still work for you. If I have a long enough growing season, I will pick the first beans for green beans, then let them go to dry. If not, I’ll just let ‘em rip. They’ll always make a good crop for you, either way. — Jackie
Saturday, June 7th, 2008
But boy oh boy have we gotten a lot done! You remember my pitiful orchard, carved out of a hill of old slash piles, boulders and stumps? Well, now it’s cleaned out and mulched with old oat hay. Will fired up the bulldozer two days ago and shoved all the rotten wood, rocks and stumps over the hill and buried it, then this morning before we went to visit Mom, who is recuperating in the hospital, we forked old oat hay around each tree for mulch.
It’s been raining off and on for three days, so while it was raining, we cleaned out the old manure and straw in Ladyhawk’s stall and Will wheelbarrowed it onto the new house garden strawberry bed-to-be in the rain. I’ll till it in and plant a cover crop of peas there so that the grass and weed seeds won’t germinate; strawberries do not compete with them at all. All the extra bed preparation will pay big dividends in the future.
Yesterday Will and I walked the property line and re-flagged the old survey flagging, which had degraded and come off, leaving a faint orange ring on some trees. Now it’s clearly marked. And he drove the bulldozer along the line, clearing it for a future horse pasture fence. It will make fencing a delight with no brush to contend with!
I’ve been planting garden big time, now, and about 2/3 of it is in the ground. We are a bit behind because we re-fenced the garden to include the house yard as well so Bambi won’t eat the flowers in the future. The move also expanded my garden, so I’ll be planting more squash than ever this year. And by grading the backyard to remove the stumps and logs, the whole yard looks so nice! I’ll plant wildflower seeds on the far yard and it’ll be gorgeous! I’ve been having fun….even though “The Man” is working my tail off. (And nobody has ever done that before!) How nice!
Canning summer aquash?
I have a bunch of scallop squash and was wondering if you knew a way to can or freeze this.. it is very watery. i have made squash relish and squash pickles. i get a 5 gallon bucket every 2 days. please help me.
Sorry, Laurie, but summer squash really isn’t great canned or frozen. You can home can it, but I’ve really had much better canned foods. I have had luck canning chunks in mixed stews and soups, so that might be an option for you. –Jackie
Goat milking tips
I can’t tell you how much I enjoy and appreciate your articles, blog, and Ask Jackie Column. And having topics easily accessible by searching the BHM site is awesome!
I was reviewing your reply to my Dec.07 questions about goat keeping and milking. I have finally been able to get into a groove of milking my does and am planning to make my first cheeses. In perusing the catalogs and reading cheesemaking/ goat handling books many offer special udder wipes, udder balm, special filters, etc. I have been straining my milk through a coffee filter into a clean mason jar then pasteurizing in the same jar. I have used a homemade udder wash with mild soap and tea tree oil and have at times used natural baby wipes. I can’t imagine that my great grandparents went through as much fuss as the “experts” do. I want to be clean and sanitary, but I don’t have aspirations of being a Grade A dairy. How do you maintain your goat’s udders? Do you use a special wash or just soap and water? Do you use a lotion after? Also, Is the coffee filter sufficient to clean strain the milk prior to pasteurizing? Any other tips are certainly appreciated!
I just keep my milkers clipped short, wash the udder with warm water with a bit of dish soap in it, then rinse with clear water and dry. Stay away from lotions, soaps or other things with any scent as it may transfer to the milk. You can use coffee filters, but you may like regular milk filters better, as the milk passes through faster. You can use the large filter papers and cut them into quarters to fit your small filter, if that will work for your own filter. If your doe has long “dingle dangle” teats, I would also use a teat dip after milking. This sanitizes the teats and also seals the orfice to prevent bacteria from getting in if she drags the ground while walking, getting up and down, etc. — Jackie
A waterbath canner
We are first time canners and we bought a water bath canner. Because thats what we saw our grandmothers use. Now we want to can green beans. I have searched the web for help and found you.I hope you can help us. I even subscribed to the magazine to get to you.
West Columbia, South Carolina
Sorry Alice, but you can not can green beans or any other vegetable or meat in a waterbath canner. These are low acid foods and have to be canned in a pressure canner in order to process them at a high enough temperature to kill botulism spores. While “grandma’s” method of waterbathing them “usually” was safe because they were processed for 3 hours, there was always a chance that a particular batch had picked up botulism bacteria somewhere so when you opened and heated a jar of beans, you were, in effect, feeding your family poison for dinner.
Your waterbath canner is great for tomatoes and tomato products, pickles, jams, jellies, preserves, fruits of all kinds and juice. If you want to expand in your canning, go ahead and pick up a good pressure canner. I promise you’ll love it! — Jackie
Raising chickens and ducks together
Is it OK to house chickens and ducks together? I have raised ducks successfully in the past and I am waiting for my first chicks to arrive in the mail soon. It occurred to me that it might be fun to have both at the same time if they could be kept in the same coop. My chicks will be Rhode Island Reds and the ducks I would like are Indian Runners and/or Khaki Campbells. What do you think?
You can raise chickens and ducks together, but you CAN’T feed them all chick starter because the antibiotics in it will kill the ducklings. Ducks are messy little critters, too, loving to puddle in their water. This has a bad effect on sanitation for your chicks. Dampness will kill chicks, so that’s something to watch for. My advice would be to raise them seperately until they are old enough to go outside and the chicks are off medicated feeds. Have fun. I have two ducks in my chicken coop, but they are adult. They are a lot of fun to watch. — Jackie
Wheat flour storage
Thank you for sharing your wisdom and guidance. Now I have a concern, as you are saying wheat flour goes rancid. I have put away some wheat flour in vacumm sealed bags and some I have put in 1/2 gallon canning jars and have vacumm sealed them. I also have wheat whole in vacumm sealed 1/2 gallon jars. My question is am I safe or do I need to start over?
Home ground whole wheat flour will get rancid after several months of storage. Store bought “whole wheat” flour will usually last longer without going rancid and would probably last even longer vacuum packed. White or unbleached white flour doesn’t have much of a problem with this as the wheat germ has been removed. Whole wheat “berries” stay great for years in sealed, dry storage. Try your flour and see what happens. If you are concerned, why not seal up some more wheat berries and unbeached white flour for long term storage. — Jackie
Recipe and canning Snapper?
I was wondering if you had a recipe for Snapper Soup and ,or how to can Snapper.
Cedarville, New Jersey
Are you talking about snapping turtle here or snapper, the fish? Let me know and I’ll give you a recipe. — Jackie
Thursday, June 5th, 2008
I have been given some Feuerbohnen beans that are from Germany. Do you have any info on how to pick, store and cook these beans? Any special instructions for growing these in the US?
Feuerbohnen beans, or Fire Beans are a rank, beautiful pole bean that has red and white flowers. While you can eat them young like string beans, many people let them dry on the vine and shell them to use as any other dry bean. You can use them in soups, stews, baked or simply boiled up tender with butter. Enjoy. — Jackie
Freeze dried strawberries?
Planting some strawberry towers and plan on having lots of strawberries. Will make some jam but want to dry some. what is the taste and texture difference between freeze dried strawberries and air dried strawberries? I like freeze dried and have never tasted air dried. Is there an easy way to freeze dry at home? Do you have a favorite?
Dallas City, Illinois
Freeze dried strawberries are more colorful and less leathery than air dried strawberries. No, there really isn’t a home method of freeze drying that I know of. I dry my strawberries and we enjoy them a lot. I whir some sliced ones briefly in the blender and use them on cereal! Really good, even if they aren’t as “beautiful”. — Jackie
I purchaced the industial sized cans of olives and mushrooms from the local bulk chain store. I would like to can these into smaller jars that are meal time size. is this possible and if so how do I do it. I’ve made jelly before but never used my preassure cooker for anything besides cooking.
Trenton, South Carolina
I wouldn’t advise recanning olives; they are low acid food and when re-canned for lengthy periods, which is necessary, they tend to mush. The mushrooms, however, do not readily adapt to re-canning. I would not use a pressure “cooker” for home canning. If you do not have a regular canner, why not invest in one now; they aren’t that expensive and will soon repay you in tons of great home canned food. — Jackie
Substituting suet for tallow
Tallow is very had to obtain in the city. I want to make some pemmican. Is there a suitable substitute for tallow?
Go to your local meat market and ask for suet. It isn’t exactly tallow, as tallow comes from around beef kidneys, but suet is pretty close. — Jackie
Using a metal dehydrator
My parents blessed me at christmas with a stainless steel electric dehydrator. I have never tried drying foods before and have been reading anything I come across on the subject. I guess my first question is about the metal racks in the machine. The squares are about 3/4 of an inch, can I put parchment paper or wax paper down on these shelves before I place my food on it so they don’t fall through the squares or will this restrict the air flow? Also was wondering because I read that the metal shelves may scorch the food. Any words of wisdom for this newbee?
St. Mary’s, Georgia
To keep foods from falling down the holes, cover the trays with screen or regular dehydrator plastic screen tray liners, if they will fit, or can be made to fit your trays. I wouldn’t advise using a solid liner because, as you guessed, it will restrict the air flow and may cause problems for you. I’ve never heard of a stainless steel dehydrator scorching foods, provided that the heat has been regulated properly. Great dehydrating! — Jackie
Just to let you and the readers know, canned bacon is now available at MREdepot.com.
Clay City Indiana
Thanks, Marcia. Several other readers, too, have discovered that the MREdepot has the bacon they want. — Jackie
Botulism from sugar?
Do you know if brown sugar can safely be presevered in sealed #10 tin cans without the danger of Botulism developing? My husband is Mormon and we have access the the Church’s cannery. We’ve already “put up” 6 cans of brown sugar, but now someone told us it was dangerous to do this. Also, we were told sealing corn meal or self rising flour could cause an explosion due to the leavening. Have you heard this and is it true? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
East Palatka, Florida
You won’t get botulism from sugar, canned or otherwise. Corn meal won’t explode, but I don’t know about self rising flour; I haven’t canned either because it stays perfectly fine in any airtight, dry container for years. This also applies to flour, except for whole wheat, which will get rancid because you haven’t removed the oily germ. Instead of storing whole wheat flour, I store clean wheat and grind it as I need it. — Jackie
Getting juice from pulp
You are such an inspiration to people like me who are just starting out the homesteading lifestyle. I can never wait patiently for your next installment. My question is this: could you, instead of cooking them with a little water until mushy, use an electric juicer to get all of the juice out of berries to make jellies? It’s really sad to have so much damp pulp left in the cheesecloth after a jelly-making session, and not be able to squeeze it without turning the jelly cloudy. Would a juicer make the resulting jelly cloudy?
Yes! You can use a steam juicer to remove the juice from fresh fruits. And yes, you do get more juice that way. I often cheat if I don’t have much of a kind of one fruit. I sometimes run apple juice through the pulp, heating it well again, then using mixed juice, which tastes and looks like, say, chokecherry. And I also have cheated by squeezing the bag. Yep, you do get cloudy jelly, but you know what? Nobody has ever complained! Of course it wouldn’t win a prize at the fair, but it sure tastes better than NO jelly! — Jackie
I’m looking for ice cream and yogurt recipes, as I have access to extra quantities of whole milk gallons. I don’t have an ice cream machine, and really can’t afford to buy one. But, I am willing to make yogurt and ice cream by hand if you can help out. Thanks, always enjoy your blog.
Andrea Del Gardo
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
There are tons and tons of both ice cream and yogurt recipes online and at your local library; I can’t really give you a bunch here, because of time/space restraints. I don’t have an ice cream maker, either, so I just mix up my recipe and put the bowl in the freezer. When it’s about half frozen I take it out and mix it very well. Back in the freezer until it’s almost hard, then it gets mixed again. We eat it like soft serve and it’s great. Have fun! — Jackie
Sunday, June 1st, 2008
My boyfriend, Will, flew in Thursday from Washington State and he hit the deck running.
Instead of jetlag, he woke me up at 6:30 A.M. Friday, jeans on and ready to work. Mom’s still in the hospital recovering nicely from her bowel resection 12 days ago and I promised her we’d work on the new house garden, which she can see from the porch. So Will
jumped on the bulldozer, leveled the spot well, then started measuring and cutting the leftover 5/4 decking we had left over from the old greenhouse at the mobile home and then reused again on the temporary greenhouse on the new log house. We hauled it all next to the house, and by nightfall, there were 2 4′x4′ raised beds and one 4′x6′ bed finished and in place. This incuded hauling black dirt into them, as well as rotted donkey and horse manure from the barn. WOW!
Then the next morning, he got me up at 5:30, ready to finish them! And we did. But then he went back on the bulldozer while David watched in awe (Will has had lots of bulldozer experience in the past, working as a logger, so David had lots to learn.) Working all afternoon, Will cleared out the brush and old logs between our big garden and the back yard. He kept David and me busy pulling rotten logs out of the “good” trees, which we left, and throwing them where he could reach them without damaging the trees. Now we have a park-like backyard, which is twice as large. Plenty of room for wildflowers now!
This morning was another 5:30 morning, and we went down to the horse pasture. It’s grown up with young popple trees, following a clearcut 10 years ago. We need more pasture and less trees, so Will started in cutting a swath. I hauled and bunched them, and later on, we chipped all the tops, saving the bottoms for firewood. All those chips made a great path in the new kitchen garden, between the raised beds!
I can hardly wait to see what we get done tomorrow. It’s great to have such an enthusiastic and fun guy around. I could get used to this…..
Readers’ questions: (Jackie is having computer trouble handling the most recent batch of questions sent her by readers. As soon as we get it figured out, we’ll post the questions and answers — Editor)