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Jackie Clay

The goat barn is painted (before winter!) and beauty is expecting

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

I finally finished painting the goat barn/chicken coop. And boy does it look nice! You’ve got to remember what it used to look like, with donkey-eaten holes in the old OSB and raggedy blue plastic tarp hanging from the ridge, where it used to cover the gable end. And now the old chicken coop is empty, because I built the new one, I have a remodeling project. I’m turning it into a milking parlor! How wonderful. Soon I won’t have to milk with sleet and blizzards blowing down my neck! Wow.

Oh, and I got my first egg from the new chickens yesterday. How do I know it was the new chickens? Because it was brown. The only brown egg layers I had before were two banty hens, that laid little banty eggs. This one was extra large. My other “old” hens are all aracaunas, and they lay green, blue and pink eggs. So it was definitely a new girl. And today I got another. My new nest box is working!

I forgot to tell you that Beauty, our jenny donkey, is expecting a foal. You remember when we had Moose castrated this spring? I guess it was a little too late. OOps. I didn’t even know IT happened. So, of course, I don’t have a foaling date. But Beauty is getting a round, round belly. On to plan B, making Ladyhawk’s old stall in the goat barn a foaling stall in case Beauty foals during the winter. I sure hope not. We are real excited to have a baby coming, though.

Readers’ Questions:

Canning vegetable oil

I would like to purchase a 35lb container of vegetable oil from Sam’s Club, and am wondering if I can divide it up into quart jars and can it. Do you know and if so how would I do it? Pressure canner?

Jane Simonson
Idaho Falls, Idaho

This is one thing I haven’t canned, nor can I find any information on it. Sorry. I’ve kept vegetable oil a long time in my pantry, but once opened, it will sooner or later, go rancid. It doesn’t “spoil,” but you can’t stand the taste/smell. — Jackie

Trading seeds for sauce

We would like to have some of your Hopi Pale Grey Seeds to try next summer in our garden. We have access to some free #10 dented cans of tomato products, mainly sauce. Would you be interested in some?

Pam Foster
Richfield, Minnesota

I’ll mail your seeds tomorrow, Pam. Yes. I certainly would be interested in some cans of tomato products! I’ll e-mail you. — Jackie

Homesteading in Alaska

I know from your articles that you did not recommend Alaska as a future homestead, but I don’t remember why. Could you enlighten me? We are desperate to get out of California and would appreciate any info you could pass along.

Kay Williams
Placerville, California

Kay should check out our properties here in Northern Nevada before going out into the frontier of Alaska. There are tons of remote properties, former ranches, etc. up here and they are a lot easier to get to than Alaska. AND the winters are no where as harsh. We found 32 acres and are anxiously awaiting the day we can build our homestead. — P

Blemished tomatoes

We had to bring in all our tomatoes before the first hard frost, and they were all still green. They’ve been spread out on blankets in the garage and have ripened nicely. My question is about canning them. My book says don’t use any with blemishes, but they mostly all have that. the skin isn’t the greatest looking. I was hoping to just use my Roma mill and make them into quarts of sauce base, but should I be concerned that they aren’t pristine?

Many have gone bad, and I’ve tossed them out. Really, I just want to store what I can, in whatever form I can, so the harvest isn’t wasted.

The types are mainly roma, some “big boy” that are small. I don’t think any are hybrids, but they all got mixed up. I have probably 70 lbs total, including still green ones.

Kevin Long
Elizabeth, Colorado

Those late tomatoes do often have “blemishes.” I just cut out the bad spots, PROVIDED that the “bad” spots haven’t rotted, which spreads into the interior of the tomato. When you don’t know the variety you are canning, be sure to add the vinegar or lemon juice advised in the canning manuals so that the acid level is sufficient for water bath processing. — Jackie

Are tough chickens worth butchering?

My question is about butchering “jungle fowl” chickens. My neighbor had ordered a bunch of exotic chickens which interbred. She moved and gave me 20 of them. They are so tough that my neighbor who taught me how to butcher them gave up. They have quit laying and I don’t want to winter them. They are small and the meat is tough. Is it worth the trouble or should I feed the coyotes?

Michael Fink
Cougar, Washington

Sure they’re worth it! I’d skin them when butchering, then cool the carcasses overnight. Quarter the birds, then simmer them in a big stockpot until the meat is falling off the bone. These tough guys, I usually can up with the broth. The canning helps tenderize the meat; I’ve never had tough chicken that way. (Sorry coyotes!) — Jackie

16 Responses to “The goat barn is painted (before winter!) and beauty is expecting”

  1. Shannan Sweeney Says:

    Jackie… THANK YOU!!! The Hopi Pale Grey seeds arrived today and they are beautiful. I would truly love to send you some postage or something from our area that you might want. Can I use the address on the envelope or should I do something different. Thank you again – we are so EXCITED!!

  2. jackie clay Says:


    I’m glad you got the seeds. You don’t have to do anything, but if you want to help with the postage or surprise me with something “Florida”, that’d be great. Yes, you can use the address on the envelope.


  3. Jonica Says:


    Are any more of those seeds left? The hopi gray? I would love some. And I can send you some of my seeds I collected this summer. Got some great sunflower seeds. Among others. Email me and let me know if you would like to do this. And I can give you my address then.


  4. Ellen Waters Says:

    Congratulations on your unexpected expecting :) I referred to the older listing you had for Seed Dreams as a provider of seeds for Hopi Pale Grey Squash, but I cannot find up-to-date conctact information for them. I was hoping to ask for a few seeds for my garden next spring, and would be happy to send you some home-grown Hungarian Purple Bread Seed Poppy seeds, Coriander, Bronze Fennel, Calendula and Arugula seeds that I’ve harvested here in my British Columbia garden to spread the wealth.

    Thanks again for all of your information!

    Ellen Waters

  5. jackie clay Says:

    Jonica and Ellen,

    I’d be happy to send you some Hopi Pale Grey squash seeds, but you’ll need to e-mail me again, including your e-mail address or physical address as the blog questions and comments go through BHM and I don’t get them.


  6. Mary t Says:

    Concerning the person who wanted to know about oil–
    I don’t can it but I do keep some in bulk. I usualy get a big jug of olive oil and keep it in the fridge, just pouring a little into a small bottle for the counter. The best keeping oil I know of is pretty commonly used here in the south– Peanut Oil.
    I get a 35# jug in a box from a warehouse store. The one I’m using now was opened in February–(I always date it when I open it so I can track how much of it I use in a year.)
    I used some of this oil last week and it was just fine. Lots of things go rancid here or sprout or whatever faster than in the north.
    I keep my onions, potatoes and apples in a fridge for that reason. Since I moved here I have noticed that anything that can go bad will do so faster here.

  7. marlana Says:


    Thanks so much for answering my question about sunflowers and pumpkins! I just finished “Starting Over”. It was great and I’m really looking forward to your release in 2009.

    I was writing to see if you might want some shellie seeds. My grandfather is legally blind but still grows three things every year: tomatoes, sweet banana peppers, and shellies. He shared some of his seeds with me and I have some Tender Pole Shellies and bunch shellies. I’m not sure of official names as this is what he has always called them. They are my favorite soup bean and I thought you may want to try them. I’m not sure what they might cross with though.

    If you’d like some, you can email me at and I’ll send some up your way.


  8. Lyn Says:

    I have to agree with Mary T. Keeping oil in the fridge is the way to go for long storage. I buy bulk oil in 35 and 50 pound cases for my soap making and it certainly lasts longer in cooler temps. You just have to remember to take the chill off before trying to pour as some oils gel and others get hard in the fridge.

    I have tried slow cooking my old chickens and have not been as happy with the texture as I have with pressure cooking. I am quickly becoming a pressure cooker convert- more tender meat and less time on the stove using that expensive propane! A win – win in my book! Michael from Washington might want to give the pressure cooker a whirl too!

    Happy unexpected expecting!!! Can’t wait to see photos of the baby! We have 7 mules so I have a very special place in my heart for donkeys!!! And your barn looks beautiful!

  9. Ellen Waters Says:

    Thank you in advance for the squash seeds! My address is:

    Ellen Waters
    8858 156 A St.
    Surrey, British Columbia
    V4N 2Y3

    I’ll use the return address to forward you some of my seeds – I’ve just pulled the last of my Cranberry Pole Beans too :)

  10. Jonica Says:


    My address is 3621 Courtleigh Drive, Randallstown, MD 21133.

    Thanks so much,


    Ps. Do you need any lettuce seeds have some from baby greens that did amazingly well this year in cool weather only. I am growing them inside in a window sill box.

  11. Jonica Says:


    What are shellie? That sounds different.


  12. john b. Says:

    I have to sa that you & BHM are great. one thing is to give Vaccum sealing a try with quart jars + the usual storage area, cool dark dry.

  13. marlana Says:


    Shellies are a type of soup bean. The hulls turn a pretty striped color and the beans also stripe when they are ripe. The are about twice the size of a pinto and three times as tasty. The ones I got from my grandfather one is purple striped and the other is brown striped. Shellies are the one thing that when he says he cooked a mess of I’m up there in a heartbeat to get some.

  14. jackie clay Says:

    John B,

    Glad you enjoy BHM. Yes, vacuum sealing is great for some foods, especially dry beans, rice, etc. But folks, be sure you don’t use it as a substitute for canning your food. It isn’t meant…or safe…for that.


  15. Jonica Says:


    Got the seeds this morning and some of the girls and I split them up and we are planning on growing them in the garden this year and spreading the seeds around to family and friends.



  16. Ellen Waters Says:

    I came home to find my squash seeds in the mailbox yesterday – international mail takes a bit longer, I suppose. Thank you so much – they look plump and full of promise for next year. My husband eyed me with an amused expression while I clutched the envelope to my chest :) I’ll be sending you a package in return!

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