You’ve created a new canning monster! But in the last two canning sessions, four jars have cracked in the pressure canner. What am I doing wrong? This is the first mishap since I started canning about four years ago.
Plymouth, New Hampshire
Sorry to hear the “canning monster” is having trouble. Cracking is almost always from a hot-touching-cold issue. These can be hot jars being placed in a cool canner, cool jars being placed in a hot canner, sometimes even a lukewarm jar being put into a cold canner. I always gently warm up my canner with water in the bottom before adding any jars that are either hot or even warm. When just warm I don’t pre-heat it as much, trying to kind of match temperatures of the jars with the canner. I haven’t had a jar break in years, doing it that way. Another thing that can cause cracking is tightening the rings too tightly. You are putting the bottom rack in the canner with the 2 inches of water, right? — Jackie
Stocking a pond
We have a pond in the back of our property that is about 7 feet deep with a dam the beavers built. We would like to stock it with fish. The size is approx. ¾ acre. Can you recommend the types of fish and amounts we should purchase to stock it? We are in southern Ohio with Zone 6 temperatures.
Wow, lucky you! I’d contact your local Department of Natural Resources as sometimes there are regulations regarding stocking, even on your own property. And they can direct you to cheaper sources of fingerlings for sale. Generally, there is a mixture of species recommended such as sunfish, largemouth bass, catfish, etc. The predator fish (bass) keep down the numbers of sunfish so they don’t over-produce and end up too small. Catfish are bottom feeders and help keep the pond clean. All are fun to catch and great on the table too. — Jackie
Animals on the homestead
My questions have to do with all your animals. How many of what species do you have? How are they all housed during your winter? Further, this may sound stupid, but how many animals are just enough or too much for a homesteading couple to handle? Finally, good luck to you during your upcoming surgery and recuperation. I will worry about you knowing you are likely to try to do too much, too soon.
Let’s see, we now have 13 cattle, (including last fall’s calves), nine goats, two horses, a mule, two donkeys, about 70 chickens, and seven turkeys. Right now, we have a small run-in shed for some of the cattle and a larger barn for them when a cold snap comes up. The small bottle calves are housed in a pen in our old goat shed, up by the house for the winter right now and the goats also have pens in it too. In the summer they go out to pasture, the goats in the goat pasture and calves in one of our cattle pastures. The horses have a 3-sided run-in shelter. The chickens and turkeys share a chicken coop. Hopefully, next winter we’ll have our new barn ready for animals.
As for how many is right for a homesteading couple, it depends on a lot: their experience, who does what chores, their strength and health, facilities, feed availability, and cost as well as your dreams. I always advise folks to go very slow when stocking their homestead, gaining experience and not getting overwhelmed both work-wise and financially. I advise starting with smaller livestock, such as chickens and goats and working up if that is your end plan. It goes much easier that way than getting a whole lot of animals at first and not having facilities and experience to do it the easy way. (There’s always a way to make your work load easier and you usually learn that by experience!) Don’t worry about me; I really do know my limits and follow the doctor’s orders … mostly. I want to heal quickly and that doesn’t happen by tearing around too soon. — Jackie