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Archive for November, 2016
Tuesday, November 29th, 2016
We had a full house for Thanksgiving. Bill and his family, David and girlfriend Ashley, and our other son, Javid, all came to help us eat turkey and tons of other goodies. What a pleasant day that was. We are truly thankful for all our blessings, especially including a wonderful family.
After dinner, Mason and Ava asked Uncle David to come out and help them make a snow fort because the snow was perfect for packing, and there was plenty of it. So creative David grabbed a plastic tote and headed for the side yard where there was plenty of undisturbed snow. He took the scoop shovel and tossed two shovels full of snow into the tote then Ava bounced up and down on it with her sitter-downer. Then David carried the tote to the fort area-to-be and carefully dumped it. Mason got to work and packed snow between the blocks. It wasn’t long until they had a great fort built, including turrets made by packing snow into a five gallon bucket.
Then Mason came in and informed me they needed a flag. I quickly taped an old flag onto a plant stake and they had a completed fort. Then the snowballing began. Will stood way out on the drive and bombarded Mason, in the fort, with snow. (Okay, they were more like snow puffs, not hard-packed snowballs. But Mason loved it anyway and they didn’t clobber him so hard.)
Ava dubbed the wire next to the garden gate as the jail so when someone got snowballed, they had to go to “jail.” What a fun afternoon!
Now the temperature has warmed up and it’s been raining for two days and staying above freezing all night. Much of our two feet of snow is gone, including, sadly, the snow fort. But the memories remain. — Jackie
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
I’ve been cooking and baking up a storm today in preparation of our family’s Thanksgiving feast. I managed to do two of Will’s very favorite “pumpkin” pie made with Hopi Pale Grey squash, an apple pie, cheesecake, and pecan tartlets. And the garlic mashed potatoes are in the oven now so I just have to reheat them tomorrow.
Amid all the tearing around and feasting, please take time to be truly thankful for all we have. We homesteaders are a blessed lot!
I just had to show you another Hondo picture. Last night he was again up on the “bad dog” couch but he’d fluffed the pillows just right and plopped down with both his hind end and head on his favorites — with a big smile on his face. I think he was dreaming of turkey leftovers!
Happy Thanksgiving all! — Jackie
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016
Monday, November 21st, 2016
Although we’ve had a fabulous fall, with hardly any snow and cold, Old Man Winter finally arrived all at once. We were expecting 8-12 inches which the weather radio updated Thursday evening to 12-18 inches. Well, it began snowing and blowing, then REALLY snowing. We ended up with more than 24 inches of heavy, wet snow. Then it got cold. Will had to wade out through knee-deep snow in the evening to sweep off our solar panels so the heavy snow didn’t break down the rack as the wind was also pretty stout. It was very nearly a blizzard but the 40 mph wind came in gusts not steady winds as in a true blizzard. At any rate, we couldn’t even see the storage building from the house which is only about 50 feet away!
Luckily, we’d spent two days picking up tools, hoses, firewood, etc. in preparation for the snow or we’d have been in a fix. Will also got our plow truck ready. He found out the smog pump was seized up, making the fan belt screech. He spent all day Thursday working on getting that fixed and didn’t have time to put on the plow.
Well, the storm finally blew out and do we have snow! It took Will an hour to hook up the snowplow, which was buried in snow, of course. Then he worked for nearly three hours to just clean out our yard and make a couple of passes up our mile and a half long driveway. (We had small trees down all along the drive, due to the heavy snow and wind.)
Meanwhile, I shoveled out a path to the goat barn and chicken coop. Luckily, I’d brought the goats up from their pasture on Thursday, before the storm — just in case. All of us, including Hondo, were pooped. Now we just have to continue cleaning out to get ready for the next snowfall on Wed. Hopefully it’s not so much. — Jackie
Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
We heard the dreaded four letter word: snow! And eight inches plus is forecast. In Northern Minnesota, that means it’ll probably stick all winter. This will most likely be our first permanent snowfall (which will not melt until spring), so we’ve been hurrying around all day getting chores done. We split up some more dry wood to add to the wood shed along with all the small wood Will has been cutting.
Then Will took the splitter off the tractor and attached the rototiller. He wants to get all of the gardens tilled before it snows so the sheet of manure he lays on it will more easily leach nutrients into the soil between now and spring. David’s girlfriend, Ashley, came out and Will says she’s now tilling the North garden! Wow, I’m impressed!
Meanwhile, I’ve been updating our Seed Treasures website as I know lots of folks are anxious to see what goodies we’re offering this year (and there are a lot). I have also been printing off hundreds of labels for all the different varieties. My printer is a dinosaur so every once in a while it has fits and won’t, but it is getting done. Now if that darned snow would just hold off … — Jackie
Tuesday, November 15th, 2016
We listened to the weather radio — which we just about live by — and they’re expecting rain and snow tomorrow and on through the week. And we still have a bunch to do. I just finished up the rest of our beautiful apples and now have dozens of quarts of apple slices and apple juice. (I put the peels and cores through the Mehu Liisa and turned out beautiful apple juice. Then the goats got the leftovers.)
I’ve still got a crate of carrots to do and some chili but that’s on hold right now as Will is sawing up lots of dry popple poles for our small wood. This stuff is great kindling and also works extremely well in our kitchen range. It’s pretty darned good when you can keep the house toasty and also be cooking and baking on the same stove at the same time. What a win-win situation!
My oldest son, Bill, got a nice fat five-point buck which is now in our freezer waiting to be cut up and canned. He’ll be up next weekend to help do that. We always have a great time visiting while we process venison. David saw a big eight-point buck but it ran straight away from him and he didn’t get a decent shot. So he’ll try again this week and see if he can also bring home the “bacon.” We really love making venison summer sausage with my electric meat grinder which has a sausage stuffing horn. It tastes SO good!
Well, I’m finally done processing all the seeds except some Hopi Pale Grey squash. All I have to do is update our website and I have to get at that pronto as we’re already getting seed orders coming in.
Gotta run so I can go help Will. Snow’s on the way… — Jackie
Thursday, November 10th, 2016
And with the warm weather, we’re getting a lot done. Yep, we should have had it done earlier, but it’s nasty to work in rainy, cold weather. So while the sun is out, we’re really hustling.
I’ve been cleaning the kitchen, which had turned into a pig sty while I canned and this afternoon I’m going to get the rest of the apples canned up.
Will has been busy hauling big round bales of hay home on our hay transport. Okay, most farmers use a REAL hay transport such as a Notch Wagon. But we can’t afford that. So Will traded some lumber sawing on our bandsaw mill for an old, stripped-down bus frame. It’s heavy, clunky, and doesn’t turn sharp like a Notch Wagon does. But it didn’t cost us anything except gas for the sawmill. And it lets Will haul home between five and six hay bales at a time so we get more home faster than two at a time on just the tractor. Plus it’s easier on the hydraulics than having a 1,400 pound bale bouncing up our bumpy driveway on the front forks of the tractor!
Will also got the tomato vines burned which he’d raked into a pile on the main garden. The livestock has been let into our North and Central gardens to glean the leftovers there and also to eat all the grass, clover and weeds which grew there due to our tremendously wet summer. They sure liked that. Now the gardens look nearly ready to plant, they’re so bare. We hope to be able to get the gardens tilled and spread with rotted manure before the ground freezes. We’ll see how that goes. You know you always have more plans than time allows!
Tuesday, November 8th, 2016
I had a great time at the Expo, meeting both old Backwoods Home family and new subscribers. And I got a chance to visit with Don and Nancy Childers (the wonderful BHM artist and his wife) as well as Ilene and Dave Duffy, and alternative energy guru, Jeff Yago.
We had a great Denver show! If you’d like to see some great photos, check out Dave Duffy’s Twitter page. Just click on “home page” to the left, then click on blogs and go down to Dave on Twitter and click. Lots of nice pictures of us all.
I will admit that when I flew over big metropolis areas such as Denver and Minneapolis/St.Paul I thought a lot about what would happen if some emergency struck and all those millions of homes were suddenly without power. Not a pretty thought, for sure. And it made me even more glad to get home to our own backwoods home, way in the woods!
While I was gone, Will and David’s girlfriend, Ashley, removed all the tomato cages and stakes. Then Will borrowed our friend’s tractor-mounted rock rake and raked all the tomato debris into a big pile in the garden to burn. It was a BIG pile this year due to our 107 tomato plants!
Now Will is busy hauling in big round bales of hay as the fields are finally drying out enough to drive on. And I’m playing catch-up. I’ve got a few apples and carrots to get canned up. Then I want to can up a huge batch of chili to use up some of our last-year’s beef. I opened two quarts of chili last night and boy did it ever taste great. Especially when I added some New Mexico red chile powder a friend, Mike, picked up for me while I was at the Expo. It’s addicting! Okay, so I can only use mild now because of hot setting off my diverticulitis. But even mild is simply wonderful!
Well, I voted this morning. Not because I was enthused about my choice but that it was the best I could do. Both candidates stink, I figure. Oh well, now we get to see how things play out. But at least all the political ads are done with. Thank God! — Jackie