In Northern Minnesota, right after Christmas, we generally have our really cold weather, which lasts for about three weeks. We expect, and usually receive, nighttime temperatures of from -25 to -40 degrees, with daytime highs of sub zero. Yeah, it’s cold. We burn lots of wood, feed extra hay and grain, and use more bedding for the animals (and US!). But it keeps out the riffraff! Remember our baby calves we bottle-raised this summer? Well they’re keeping the buck goats company in the goat pasture. They munch on all the hay they want from a big round bale in the pasture, then cuddle in the straw with the goats in the new goat cottage at night.
We feed them mixed grain twice a day and carry fresh water down to them in buckets. But they are rewarding us by growing and growing. Right now the biggest one is about 375 pounds! And the smaller ones are not far behind. We’re already looking forward to having real good beef next winter! And you can be sure we’ll be raising more calves next spring!
I hung blankets over the open doorways to the doe goats’ barn door and also the mule and donkey pen door. This cut down on the drafts in the barn and keeps everybody happily bedded down in straw inside on these cold, starry nights.
Luckily, it’s usually still and quiet when it’s so cold. The stars are huge, the moon clear, and you can hear wolves howl like they’re right in the yard. Spooky but oh-so-wonderful! We really love it here in the backwoods….even if it is -25.
Reusable canning lids
Have you ever tried tattler reusable canning lids? http://tattlerreusablecanningjarlids.com/
IF NOT, would you like to try them? I’d love for someone who knows what they’re doing to actually try them and write them up – good or bad. To give you an idea of how serious I am about this, I’ll purchase for you 3 dozen regular and 3 dozen wide mouth lids. (or 6 dozen of one size). I’m a city dweller at present and am not yet set up to can, I look at you as the Queen Bee of knowledge in this area.
J T Fowler
No, I have not even heard about Tattler reusable canning lids. I checked out the site you provided. Interesting! I then reviewed homesteaders’ comments who had used the product, all of them positive. If you’d like to send me some of the lids and rubbers, I will give them a try and let all of you know my humble opinion. I’m always on the lookout for things I can recycle at home. I’m definitely not a throw-away type of person! It even irks me to buy anything in a glass jar that I can’t reuse for SOMETHING at home! — Jackie
How many jars?
I received your gardening and canning cookbook for Christmas. It looks nice except none of the canning recipes have any info on how many jars of what size the recipe makes.
That’s pretty critical info to me. I need to know how many jars of what size to sterilize, how many flats to wash and warm up, how many canner loads it’s going to take, how much time, etc.
I didn’t include this information because the total yield can really vary a lot. It depends on the water content of the food, the total bulk, variety of vegetable or fruit, how much “juice” you include, etc. What I do is make a rough estimate on the generous side, and ready enough jars and lids for that. If I’m wrong, I just have a few clean jars and simmered lids, which I dry and later reuse. With a bit of experience, you’ll soon get pretty darned accurate. If the book goes to reprinting, I will try to include an estimate of the yield of each recipe to help. — Jackie
Goat losing its cud and growing potatoes
Two questions: what does it mean that a goat “loses its cud” and what do you do about it? Secondly, my potatoes have already sprouted in the basement-some with very long sprouts. So, having nothing to lose, I put one in a bucket of dirt and will see what it will do through the winter in the house. Are the long white sprouts the roots or the emerging leaves? In other words the sprouts were too long to just drop in the hole so I don’t know if I should let the ends stick out above the dirt or completely bury them.
A goat really doesn’t lose its cud. When they are ill or otherwise off feed, they don’t digest properly, and thus don’t burp up a cud to chew normally. When the goat is feeling better, the cud will return as digestion returns to normal.
I’d say your basement was cozy and warm, and probably has some light, too, all which encourage potatoes to sprout. (They think spring is here!) The sprouts are neither leaves or roots. The roots will develop from the base of the sprouts, and leaves from “sprouts” off of the sprouts you see. If you plant sprouted potatoes, it’s best to choose ones that you can completely cover with soil. I do doubt that your house potato will make potatoes for you, but you never know. Good luck and give it plenty of light. — Jackie
I have two wild hogs I got as babies and they are now about 150 pounds each. Male and female. I am guessing they are at least 6 – 9 months old. My questions are:
1. The female is getting pretty fat but how can I tell if she is pregnant and at what age do they start becoming able to have little ones? When she does do I have to separate her from the male?
2. I have been offered some small pigs from a friend who is having a litter. Can I take them and put them in with these ones I already have? Will the larger ones hurt them?
Your pigs are pretty young to be ready to have babies. Generally, you don’t breed a gilt until she is about 150-200 pounds, or about 10 months of age. You can begin using a boar at about 8 months of age. Their gestation period is about 113 days. Watch your gilt; if her udders begin filling up and the nipples start sticking out, I’d remove the boar to a pen nearby. Some boars are fine with babies and others will try to eat them.
I wouldn’t move new, baby pigs in with your present two until they are older. And even then, I’d move all of them to a new pen to avoid territorial disputes that could get nasty. With all animal introductions, remain with the pigs after you put them together so that you can separate any aggressive ones. — Jackie
Worming cats and dogs
Another question: How do you worm cats and dogs naturally?
There are several holistic wormers available for cats and dogs. The most simple is feeding a teaspoon full of diatomaceous earth (FOOD grade!) to your pet daily. Others include wormwood tincture, mixtures of different herbs, pumpkin seed extract, and garlic. While these may help, I’m afraid I’m a skeptic. I’ve heard a whole lot of folks say they worm their animals successfully with herbal remedies, yet not one has ever said they followed with a fecal exam by a vet to make sure the worms WERE gone. Many things reduce the worm population in animals (or people), which is good. But there are many very different species of intestinal parasites with different life cycles. Some require an intermediary host, such as a flea, to complete their cycle. One such is the tapeworm.
What I do is have a fecal examination done when I suspect an animal may have internal parasites. This involves taking a small, fresh sample of the animals stool in to a veterinarian. It is examined under a microscope for the presence of eggs or parasites. There may be several…or no parasites at all. When a parasite or egg is identified, I use the mildest, most effective wormer available for that parasite (or combinations of parasites) found. Often it is important to follow this treatment after a period of ten days or two weeks to kill any parasites that hatch from the eggs present, before they begin to reproduce.
It’s very important to try to help prevent internal parasites. Make sure that there is no chance of fecal contamination of food or water. Even changing a kitty litter box often and not letting your pooch “surf the box” helps a whole lot. Wash your dog’s bed cover in very hot water and detergent at least once a month, more often if it is soiled. Try not to let your dog exercise where other dogs have left their “business.” He could pick up worm eggs from their stools.
To be safest, it’s wise to have a fecal exam done on your dog and cat once a year; it’s not expensive and will do a lot to keep your pets happy and healthy. — Jackie