Strangely, suddenly, it’s spring, even though it’s only March in northern Minnesota. I’m sure we’ll have more snow and blustery weather, but it’s in the high 40s, not 20s, and nearly all our snow and ice is gone. So while I’ve been in the house transplanting hundreds of little (and not so little!) tomatoes, peppers, and petunias, Will has been busy outside.
Today he uncovered our strawberry bed, taking the wet straw down to the garden’s edge, piling it near the plum and cherry trees. After we clean up the rocks, we’ll use the used mulch that kept the strawberries cozy all winter around the base of the trees to keep down weeds. Now he’s busy building a furrower out of a junk plow from a neighbor’s scrap pile, some steel, and rod. The furrower will go on our tractor’s 3-point hitch so we can quickly make furrows for our new 250 strawberry and 100 asparagus plants. That would be a lot of holes to dig by hand, and a furrow would make quick work of it. We’re excited over the prospect, and I’ll keep you posted.
I hope you are getting some much needed rest. Taking care of an ill loved one is challenging and exhausting. I am a nurse who worked in a nursing home and understand your concerns about placing your mom in a facility and not continuing to care for her at home. Life is a challenge and my heart goes out to you.
My question concerns deer fencing. I know you installed it at your homestead. We are moving to our 40 acres in Appalachia and I would like to put the fence up right the first time. Did you use wood posts or purchase metal posts? We are ordering the heavy duty deer fencing on the internet. Do you have a company you would recommend? Did you attach the fencing to the posts with the ties they recommend? Did you electrify it with a solar unit? Are your fences 8 ft. high? And did you put chicken wire underground to deter dirt-digging rodents? Finally, what did you use for a gate? Did you build one or buy one?
We used 8′ long steel T posts with 6′ 2″x4″ welded wire fastened to it. We figured that IF the deer jumped that, we’d wire poles to that, with chicken wire up another three feet. It has never been necessary, as we’ve not had one deer in the garden, even though we have tons of deer in the area. Oh, yes, I did; I left the gate open one afternoon, and in went a young doe! She went OUT much faster!
Our fence is not electrified. And we did not put wire underground. I deter rodents with our dog, Spencer, and a .22 rifle. Both work very well.
Right now, our “gates” consist of wire that we pull open and hook closed. We will be building pole and wire gates this year that are both easier to handle, and look much nicer.
I’ve found that deer really aren’t as bad as one hears, providing that the garden/orchard are fenced well with “real” fence, instead of “alternative methods” of deer control, such as sprays, short fences, electric wire, etc. I’ve used ’em all and still had deer in the garden. Once we fenced with 6′ high welded wire, that was that and life is SO much easier! — Jackie
Dehydrating cooked rice
I’m experimenting with dehydrating cooked rice. I’ve never heard of making your own “converted” rice, but it seems to be working. I cooked a batch of Jasmine rice, rinsed it well in cool water, drained it and put it on dehydrator sheets. Have you ever tried doing this or heard of a recipe?
Also, a question about canned salmon: do you have to boil it for 10 minutes (or more) when it’s prepared according to the recipe in “Self-Reliance,” page 80? I’ve wondered also about home canned meats that are baked, do they need boiling first before using in a recipe?
I’m considering trying to dry cheese, just to see how well it would work for something like a camping trip–I understand the fat would make it turn rancid over a long period.
Flora Marie Stone
Yes, you can dehydrate cooked rice, just like you are doing.
Home canned foods just need to be brought and held to “boiling temperature” for 10 minutes before eating. This can be boiling, steaming, roasting, or baking in a casserole, etc.
I’ve never talked to anyone who had luck dehydrating cheese at home; the fat beads the shreads and they get greasy, then go rancid. I’ve tried it myself, with yucky results. Sorry. I DO love my cheeses! — Jackie
Canning chicken noodle soup and milk
These two questions are about canning. I tried canning chicken noodle soup the other day and added a half a handful of noodles as it said in your book. But when they came out they were weird… the noodles were a semi-solid blob of mush at the bottom of the jar. The whole jars are cloudy and murky looking with mush at the bottom. What did I do wrong?
The other question is about canning milk. It’s been a year now since I first tried it, but it was a disaster, so I’ve not tried it again. I canned quart jars in a water bath canner. When they came out, all the lids appeared to be sealed, and I packed them away in the pantry. Within a month or so, I noticed them looking curdled, and had seen where you said canned milk would be thicker, so thought maybe they were ok and left them, but then they curdled all the way, and as they spoiled, the jars came unsealed! Ended up with a clear liquid on top with a mass of what looked like cottage cheese on the bottom. What went wrong here?
Some noodles do that. I’d advise using the thicker “homemade-type” ones, instead of regular store noodles. But even the “yucky” looking noodles, when stirred up gently, make a tasty soup.
Not having been with you when you canned your milk, I don’t know what went wrong, but a lot of people routinely can up milk and have it turn out fine. I’d just give it another try, following directions. Who knows, you may have mis-read them or something. That happens to all of us one time or another. — Jackie
Bulk canning lids
Do you know of a good source for buying bulk canning lids?
Unfortunately, no. I buy mine at our local dollar store for $1.00 a dozen (regular lids), and our local farm store on sale, for the wide mouth lids. I usually get the wide mouth lids for about $1.89 a dozen, which is cheaper than most other places. But I DO watch for the sale! Any readers have a better idea? — Jackie
Antibiotics for the first aid kit
…I was wondering about what we can use for antibiotics for our first aid kit that we have been making. If a situation happens, and one is unable to see a doctor, can one use animal antibiotics and if so how do you determine the dose?
I’ll probably get hate mail for this, but yes, in a dire emergency, one can use “animal” antibiotics, such as penicillin, for human use. Most “animal” antibiotics are simply “human” antibiotics with a veterinary label. As dosage for animal use varies by body weight, so you would choose your dose for human use, by body weight. Again, only use this in a dire emergency situation, where no doctor is available. It’s also a good idea to have a vial of injectable epinephrine available, in case of rare, but possibly fatal, shock. — Jackie
I have 12 pecan trees on my property and most years I get more pecans than I need. I crack and shell as much as I can and put them in the freezer where they will keep for a long time. But what about unshelled pecans? Can they be kept for a long time? I don’t want to put them in the freezer. Where should they be kept and how long will they keep?
Unshelled nuts will usually keep for several months in cool, dry storage. But they won’t keep a long time before the nut meat shrivels and gets hard. How about doing your big batch, then slowly pecking away at the leftovers and canning them up? My friend Junita Saunders, down in New Mexico, and I used to get together and shell and can pecans all winter. It was fun, we weren’t “under the gun” to get ’em done, and we got to visit a whole bunch. I’m still eating pecans from six years back! — Jackie
Canning pork and beans with franks
Can you, and if so, how do you can pork and beans with franks?
Also, I loved your book Starting Over, it gives me a boost whenever I start feeling like quitting my dream. Is there anywhere that a good overall supply list for equipment and supplies to help me start preparing a homestead of my own in South Georgia or North Florida?
It’s easy. Just make up a big batch of your favorite pork and beans, using chopped franks as the “pork.” Don’t bake it till done, just until thoroughly hot. Then pack it in pint jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Process at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes in a pressure canner. (If you live at an altitude over 1,000 feet, check your canning book for directions on increasing your pressure to suit your altitude, if necessary.)
Two handy, all around catalogs for equipment/supplies are Lehmans Hardware and Northern Tool. I also love Murray McMurray for poultry stuff and Hoeggers for goat supplies. — Jackie