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Archive for July, 2016

Jackie Clay

We’ve finally got a few days without rain

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

But the bad news is the hayfields have standing water on them and we have two fields down and rained on. Sure, it wasn’t supposed to rain — so the weather radio said. But we got an inch. Will said it’s like haying in a rice paddy. Now we’ve got a few dry days and we HOPE we can get that rained-on hay raked and dried to bale on Saturday. We’ll see…


Our domestic high-bush blueberries are beginning to produce although they’re only about two feet tall. The deer nibbled the tops off two years in a row because someone left the gate open. Our Patriot blueberries are the size of the end of my thumb! I picked the ripe ones and added them to those given to me for my birthday by my friends Dara and Robin, and canned them all up yesterday. I ended up with eight pints of wonderful blueberries — translates to four big blueberry pies!


Just a note for you who haven’t yet read my Western novels, Summer of the Eagles, Autumn of the Loons and Winter of the Wolves; there’s a drawing for four copies of Summer of the Eagles, signed by me, on Goodreads. Here is a shortlink that will take people to the giveaway page: Here are a few customer comments from Amazon, where Eagles has a 5 star rating out of 91 reviews so far:

“I cannot recall the last book that I read that I just thoroughly ENJOYED anywhere near as much as this one. Great characters, quick pace, plenty of action, a good old fashioned western with a twist.
This is an authentic tale and just a ripping good story. A genuine “western” with good guys and bad guys and the good guys are actually admirable and worth cheering for.” wiseterrion July 14, 2016

“Absolutely wonderful — I read all three and hope there will be more coming … don’t want to give anything away but I love how Jackie views fathers and how important they are and Jess embodies the kind of father we all wish for.” Nancy

“I could not put it down! I was taken from my Iowa town and was riding along, on the horse. I just enjoyed reading the book, and ready to start the next one, as soon as I get the garden planted.” Flip Osan

Thank all of you who have purchased my Westerns and reviewed them on amazon. Those reviews do help! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Log homes are great but they do need care

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Our log home has been standing for eleven years now and it really needed some help. The stain on the east and west sides had faded and the logs had turned gray underneath. There were also bad checks (cracks), some of which faced upward, letting the rain enter the log. Not good! Last fall, we tried sanding the logs; that left ugly “spotted” logs and it was nearly impossible to get in around the corners of the log corners.


Luckily for us, David has been working for Voyageur Log Homes for over a year now and has become an expert at caring for log homes. When he got back from a big job in North Dakota, he wanted to get right at cleaning, re-staining, and caulking the logs on our house. So we lined up a pressure washer and sandblaster. (Lucky for us, we have good friends who had both!) My son, Bill, also came up for our weekend job to help. God gave us a perfect day for the work, too; plenty of sun and a nice breeze.


We first pressure-washed the east wall which had no checks and just some faded stain. It’s log siding so it doesn’t tend to check as bad as full logs do. I just need to re-stain it with two coats of stain and a sealing coat.


It took about an hour to cover the windows on the west side of the house with plastic and cardboard and mask the drip edge below the logs with duct tape. Then David hooked up the sandblaster and the work got under way. I’ll admit David looked like a creature from outer space with his hood, long sleeves and welding gloves!


The sandblaster was smaller than the one David used at work and the job went a lot slower than he would have liked. But by dark, using the headlights of the four wheeler, he and Will finished the wall up to the front corner when the bags of sand ran out. Hopefully, today we can finish that corner. We still have the job of digging out any old, failed caulking from the largest checks so they can be re-done. Then I can start staining the wall again. It’s amazing how new the wall now looks! Thank you David, Bill, and Will! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Just what we needed — another rainstorm

Monday, July 18th, 2016


We were hoping for some warm weather so we can get started making hay. You need at least three dry days in a row to do this. So far, the most we’ve had is one sunny day. All the farmers in our area are getting really nervous. We watched the storm front coming in from the west — a big white roll of cloud in front of blackness. And we prayed we’d get no hail out of that storm. Well, we didn’t get any hail, but boy, oh boy, did it ever pour rain. There was about an inch that fell in less than half an hour.


Luckily, the gardens are loving the rain and hot weather. Our first corn is shoulder-high and Will’s Seneca Sunrise sweet corn is nearly that tall. The pole beans have climbed up over head high and are wandering around looking for something higher to latch onto.


We’ve been trying to weed, although we still can’t walk in the north garden for the muck. But the squash, pumpkins, corn, and beans look pretty darned good despite all the weeds. And the third planting of sweet corn in the pig pasture garden is up and looking good. Yep, the ground squirrels took to the trade and are eating the piles of corn I put out instead of digging up the sprouted sweet corn seed. Hooray! (Mittens got two more ground squirrels and Hondo got another.)

On a sad note, one of our heifers turned up missing the other day so we spent the whole afternoon and evening searching the woods on the north forty for her. No cow. She was bred and we were worried she’d hidden to have a calf. Early the next morning, Will took out again and finally found her… dead. She’d been down calving and gotten her head under a fallen log and her hind legs under another. Both heifer and calf were dead. It took us several days to get over that loss; she was one of Will’s favorites. Homesteading is not all sundrops and roses. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

It’s been raining so much the frogs are complaining

Monday, July 11th, 2016

It seems that we haven’t had more than one sunny, dry day at a time for a month now! Our North garden is basically white clay and you can’t even walk in there without sinking to your shins in gumbo. And we’ve had enough heat that the weeds are having a field day … literally! Oh well, the garden plants do look good even if they are weedy.

Since Will can’t go haying yet because it’s so wet, he’s been doing odd jobs. One of them was driving down a well on the side of our spring basin. This was a homemade 6″ steel pipe with a welded, homemade point on the end, 10 feet long. First he dug a hole with our little backhoe and buried most of the first 10′ length. Then he welded another 10′ pipe onto that. He used our tractor-mounted post-pounder to drive it down. When finished, four feet was left, two feet of which will be buried. There’s water in the pipe but also silt from driving. So Will has to get our gasoline pump and pump out the silt. This well will supply our new barn, the buried line draining back into the well so it doesn’t freeze in the winter. (We’ll put a big round bale over the well head to make sure, just like we did for our house well.)


Another job was burying the plastic irrigation line which runs along our main garden, below the plum orchard. This was always a “nasty” area because I couldn’t mow it with the lawnmower because the pipe laid in there … somewhere. He built a trenching plow out of junk (of course!) and with it hooked to the three point on our Ford 660, he was able to run a trench quite easily. Now the pipe is buried and I will be able to mow there. Hooray! By the way, this pipe is only buried about a foot and half deep but we completely drain the irrigation line in the fall so there is no problem with freezing.


We had the Cook area garden club out last week and enjoyed about 30 people visiting and asking questions about our garden, orchards, and homestead in general. It was fun for all. (Of course, I wish my flower beds were better weeded…)


But our cat, Mittens, doesn’t mind a bit. It’s her private jungle. She especially likes stalking through my Oriental poppies and hostas. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

So far, everything’s coming along great

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Our health has been wonderful and so has the weather. Will’s been working at getting our gardens mulched and we’ve been weeding ahead of the mulching. But with four big gardens, it’s sometimes a challenge. We’ve got the main garden by the house, the berry patch, the old pig pasture, and the North garden so all in all, we’ve got about 3 acres of garden! Between the rain and heat, the weeds are thriving. Luckily, the crops are, too, for the most part.


The heavy rain drowned out our corn in the pig patch so I replanted it. Then the ground squirrels dug up the sprouted second crop and ate the seeds. So we put piles of grain on the side of the garden for the squirrels and last evening I planted it again, all 10 hundred-foot rows. It’s Will’s Seneca Sunrise sweet corn, which is a short season corn so we just hope it survives and we have a long enough summer without fall frost, so we can harvest it for eating and canning. No guarantees with this homesteading business!


I have to tell on myself. Earlier I planted pumpkins and squash in the North garden. Then I had to have Will come in with the tractor and tiller because the grass and weeds were coming in strong. I pointed out a spot for him to back in to till and he said he thought I’d told him I had planted it in pumpkins already. I couldn’t see any marks so I said “just till it!” He did, after shrugging his shoulders. Turns out he was right. Now we have bean rows with assorted pumpkin plants here and there. I told him I was just planting a three sisters garden (corn, beans, and pumpkins). Oops!

The red hawkweed is blooming and boy, do the butterflies love it! I enjoy watching the yellow swallowtails flit around them. It makes a pretty picture!


Haying starts soon. Will’s been readying our haying equipment and barring unforeseen problems (which there often are!), haying should go pretty fast this year. Mechanical breakdowns are a part of farming. But one can always hope … — Jackie


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