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Jackie Clay

Got compost?

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

While most homesteaders have a compost pile, we have several. And some are pretty BIG! All winter we feed our horses and cattle big round bales of hay. For years we scattered the bales out here and there to avoid having big piles of manure. Then we got smart and began putting the bales in about the same area to SAVE the manure, mixed with rotted old hay. After all, we don’t use commercial fertilizer on our gardens and pastures so why waste all this wonderful rotted compost?

Now we let it rot all spring and part of the summer after Will gathers it into huge piles with our trusty dozer, Old Yeller. It cooks and composts, then he turns it again and hauls it to wherever we need it, whether it be the garden, backyard, pasture, or orchard. Now he’s hauling it onto our new pasture, way out back where he plans on plowing this fall to plant a new seeding. And the very best stuff is being thickly spread next to our pumpkin patch on the edge of the new pasture as our pumpkins didn’t get enough fertilizer and are pretty small. This fall, he’ll spread a few loads on that patch and next spring, we’ll fence the whole works. Good idea but poor soil!

Meanwhile, I’ve been picking pin cherries, which are abundant on our ridge. They’re small, tart cherries but make the very best jelly.


I’ve always done the “cooking-hanging in a jelly bag” thing to get my juice. But my friend, Jeri, has a Mehu Liisa, a stainless steel steam juicer and where I would get maybe three cups of juice out of a gallon of cherries, she would get half a gallon of juice using her Mehu Liisa.


During our seminar last spring, the wonderful folks who attended got together and ordered ME a Mehu Liisa. Talk about thrilling! Now I’ve got cherries and last night, I tried my own Mehu Liisa. Oh my God! I put in about 3/4 of an ice cream pail of cherries and turned on the stove. By bedtime, about 6 hours later, I had more than half a gallon of juice! Just think of all the juice I was wasting before and how much work I had to do to get my puny amount — all those cherries and berries I had to pick! Now I’m gung ho! Pick. Pick. Must pick more! I’ll be making jelly all afternoon then look out! — Jackie

9 Responses to “Got compost?”

  1. Rhona & Brad Barrie Says:

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying the juicer/steamer. One point we would like to make is that before you drain the juice into your canning jars (if you’re making juice to drink) we’ve found that turning off the heat under the juicer for a couple of minutes prevents the very hot juice from cracking your canning jars (that have been sterilized and heated). This is good way to use those 1/2 gallon canning jars “they” are telling you not to use for canning. We’ve had our unit for several years and it still looks brand new. Would suggest only buying the stainless steel unit from Finland and not the aluminum one.

  2. pat rizzi Says:

    Where does one buy a Mehu Liisa juicer?

  3. stef Says:

    My brother calls compost, “black gold”. (:

  4. jackie clay-atkinson Says:


    You can find them online at places like Amazon.

  5. jackie clay-atkinson Says:


    Yep. And it’s that, really. A friend who raises beef cattle sends his rotted manure in to have it analyzed and “priced”. It came back to be as valuable as commercial fertilizer, hundreds of dollars per ton. Plus it adds organic matter to the soil, which commercial fertilizer doesn’t!

  6. Lee Galloway Says:

    I have a steam-juicer, another brand but stainless steel, and I LOVE it. I just finished juicing 42 quarts of plum juice to be made into jelly this winter. I drain the juice into a large pot then bring it to a boil, ladel into quart jars, then seal and process in the water bath. I have read to do it this way and also read to drain the juice directly into jars, put on the seals and put on the shelf. That sounds too much like open kettle method to me. Maybe water bath the jars?
    Any way, congrats on the juicer!

  7. Maida Says:

    I have had my “juicer” for a few years now and love, love, love it!! When I do apple juice, I add the spices that make it a nice spiced apple juice. Then with the pulp that is left over, I run it through a food mill. Then can the pulp! Voila! Spiced apple sauce or you can make it into apple butter. The same with pears too! So, you are actually doing two things at once. What a time saver, just check the water level now and then.

  8. arm2008 Says:

    I love my Mehu Liisa. We picked it up at a Mennonite store in our region 15 years ago or more. I sometimes do tomatoes in it to thicken them up. I poke them with a knife, toss them in the top, and after they split and some of the clear juice comes off I let them cool a bit and pull the skins off, then can as usual.

  9. Lana in Phoenix Says:

    I don’t can any more, but had a juicer for several years. Loved it! A friend of mine takes her chicken carcasses, vegetables and seasonings, or beef bones, etc. and makes chicken broth or beef broth with her juicer. She then pressure cans it. It is unbelievably good.

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