My dad just received 250 lbs of free potatoes. We have given a lot of them to family and friends but still have way too many. Is there any way to freeze them or is canning better? And is it okay to can them outside using an outside burner, we are in Louisiana so its not too cold here?
New Llano, Louisiana
I’d recommend canning them. They must be pressure canned but they can up quickly and well. I always have a bunch on hand because they’re so easy to use when you’re in a hurry. Yes, you can process them outdoors but stay out of the wind as it can affect both the heat of your pressure canner and the jars when you take them out of the canner when you’re finished. A cool wind can cause jars to crack and break when they are hot out of the canner. Enjoy your bounty! What a wonderful gift! — Jackie
Problem with chickens
My friend recently saw me reading BHM and asked me why his chickens were dying. I’ve never had chickens but I’ve read a bit in my mags and a couple books. I can’t figure out what the problem could be. So, I told him I would shoot an email to BHM.
He said that he started with 50 chickens, mostly Rhode Island Reds and Red Stars with a few white meat hens. He is now down to 17 chickens. He said that once in a while he would find a dead chicken that looked perfectly healthy except for the feathers were plucked out of its butt. In a span of one week, he found 4 hens dead. Then a couple months later he’d find one more dead chicken.
I asked if they had sufficient space (4 square feet per hen) and he said he’s pretty sure that was covered. I could only think of cannibalism. The beaks are not clipped. I’m pretty well stumped on this one though. It just seems weird to me.
Ian M. Gochenour
The chickens weren’t cannabilized. When they are, they are really bloody and often partially eaten. I can’t determine long distance what your friend’s chicken problem is. It is possible that a weasel is getting into his coop. Often there is no outward sign of attack as weasels often only drink the blood and possibly eat a bit of meat. Are there woods around your friend’s house or nearby? I’d have him check for possible entry spots. A weasel can squeeze through a crack your thumb will fit through.
Other than that, I’d be sure they are getting adequate water and a good quality feed, that the coop is not damp or drafty, and that the birds are not suffering diarrhea or snuffy nostrils (signs of possible disease). He might take a recently dead bird to his vet for positive identification of the problem. — Jackie
Cheese from store-bought milk
Do you have any recipes for making cheese using milk from the grocery store.
South Bend, Indiana
Luckily, you can use store bought milk (as long as it isn’t Ultra Pasteurized) for most hard and soft cheese recipes. Two good books on making cheese are: Goats produce too by Mary Jane Toth and Ricki Carrroll’s Home Cheese making. You can use any kind of milk for all of these recipes; I’ve used Goats produce too to make many cheeses from our cow’s milk. Have fun! — Jackie