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Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
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Archive for November 22nd, 2012

Jackie Clay

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our extended BHM family!

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

I hope the holiday brings joy and plenty of good homestead eats. Thanksgiving should also inspire us to count our many blessings. And even those of you who are having a difficult time right now always have plenty of things to be thankful for. I’ve found that simply starting to count them up when I’m struggling sure cheers me up!

I’m sure some of you were wondering what Will was doing while Bill, David, and I were cutting up Bill’s deer and canning it. He was putting up the windcharger that his son, Don, had found curbside in Alaska. Don worked it over, electrically, and found it did, indeed, charge. So Will built a pipe tower, and got a set of new blades and $160 worth of wire to wire it to our charge controller in the basement. David helped him get the mast up through the brackets Will had made and through the roof. On Sunday, with some help, Will went up on the roof of the storage barn (with a safety harness on!) and wired the charger and bolted it onto the mast. Then later, David helped him raise the mast so it was 40 feet above ground. We all waited for it to turn in the 15 mph breeze. No turning! Then the wind blew harder. No turning! Can you hear us sigh?

So yesterday, the mast was lowered and Will went up on the roof again, disconnected the charger, and lowered it by rope to the ground. Last night he took it apart and found that the bearings did go around but bound when shifted downward as would happen when the blades tried to turn.

Today, I was in Virginia and ordered the two necessary bearings from Motion Industries. They’ll be here Monday or Tuesday, so we’ll again give it a whirl. (No pun intended!)

You see, things don’t always go perfectly for us, just like it doesn’t for you. But we keep on trying and usually we can make things work. We ARE trying to get more “free juice” to our battery bank so we can run our generator less and we don’t have the cash to buy the best — or new. So we make do with what we can get hold of.

Enjoy your family on Thanksgiving and be thankful we all have each other!

Jackie Clay

Q and A: missing canner weight and removing stumps

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Missing canner weight

I recently found that in a move the 10# weight for my canner was lost. Since I had a canner dial I thought I would just keep pressure at 11 to 12# which I normally use to can meat. I did notice that the 15# weight I had to use didn’t jiggle but I did all else as normal, including venting for 10 minutes, bringing up to pressure and cooling. Do you feel that it would have any effect with the weight not jiggling on the canned pork or hot dogs? Everything sealed well and looks fine. (I figured it was just like using my old canner which had only a dial.)

M.S. Jacobs
Orangeburg, South Carolina

My canner has a three way weight as well as a dial. I can at 11 pounds pressure for my altitude. So what I do is use the 15# selection on the weight and adjust my heat to keep the dial at 11 pounds. I vent my canner with the weight off for ten minutes after steam blows out in a strong stream then put the weight in place. My 15 pound weight does not jiggle unless I let the heat get too high and the pressure rises near 15 pounds. Hope this helps you. — Jackie

Removing stumps

I have a suggestion regarding the removal of stumps. My husband witnessed this many years ago. After logging a large piece of property, a gentleman turned hogs onto the fenced property. He took the pointed end of a tamping bar and worked deep holes under the roots. He then poured feed of some kind in those holes. The hogs eventually uprooted the stumps to get every bit of the feed. This is not a quick fix, but it did work for this gentleman. He eventually sold his cleared property and it is now covered with homes.

Bernice Lax
Ethel, Washington

Thanks for the tip. Yes, this does definitely work. You can also use hogs to root up packed manure in barn pens, using the same method. Both have worked for us. With the stumps, it does take awhile but they’ll dig them up. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: sunflower seeds for chickens and storing canned items in a dirt-floor basement

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Sunflower seeds for chickens

I feed no chicken food to my hens. The only corn they get is people corn. They have never had any shots or medications. That said, can I feed Pennington’s Oiled Black Sunflower Seeds to them and still maintain my safe, high standard feedings?

Just so you know–they do get fruits in moderation, vegetables, raw greens, cooked chicken, people oatmeal, cooked brown rice, greens and they free range most days.

Practical Parsimony
Cullman, Alabama

I think I’d skip the sunflower seeds. Many commercially grown sunflower seeds are GMO today and sunflower fields are sprayed with herbicides and commercial fertilizers. That said, black oil sunflower seeds are expensive today as many are used for biodiesel, cooking oils, and margarine products. Glad to hear your chickens are being so well cared for. — Jackie

Storing canned items in a dirt-floor basement

I have a question regarding the new house we bought that I thought you might have some insight on. We have an 1880 dirt floor basement there (moving next week). I have 3 big boxes of home canned tomatoes, pickles, beans and whatnot and I am wondering if it’s OK to store canned food in a dirt floor basement. I know there is some moisture down there, no standing water on the floor, but the previous owner did install a sump pump which does have visible water in it. There are no windows, they sealed over them when the foundation was re done. Part of me wants to try it, because it is dark and cool, and I could build some wood shelves and make good use of the area…but then I think my lids are going to rust. We plan to lay 6 mil plastic over the dirt (suggested by the home inspector) to help with moisture evaporating through the floor. Eventually I would like to dig out 4 inches and pour cement. Not sure what to do until then. Would you store canning in a dirt basement?

Cathy Ostrowski
Amherst, New York

I sure would. And I’ve done just that in my first homestead. It had what was called a “Michigan basement,” which was half concrete with half of the basement having a dirt floor. If you seem to get condensation on jars, which causes lids to rust, you can install a dehumidifier to take care of it until you pour cement. Or you could open up the sealed ex-window areas in the new foundation so you can get more ventilation in the basement, which would decrease the humidity. (You can rent a cement saw if the openings have been sealed with cement blocks.) You may later want to pour cement only in part of the basement and leave part dirt (the portion with the sump) for a root cellar. Stored vegetables and fruits love a more humid storage area! Congratulations on your new homestead! — Jackie


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