Top Navigation  
U.S. Flag waving
Office Hours Momday - Friday  8 am - 5 pm Pacific 1-800-835-2418
Facebook   YouTube   Twitter
Backwoods Home Magazine, self-reliance, homesteading, off-grid

 Home Page
 Current Issue
 Article Index
 Author Index
 Previous Issues
 Print Display Ads
 Print Classifieds
 Free Stuff
 Home Energy

General Store
 Ordering Info
 Kindle Subscriptions
 Kindle Publications
 Back Issues
 Help Yourself
 All Specials
 Classified Ad

 Web Site Ads
 Magazine Ads

BHM Blogs
 Ask Jackie Clay
 Massad Ayoob
 Claire Wolfe
 James Kash
 Where We Live
 Behind The Scenes
 Dave on Twitter
Retired Blogs
 Oliver Del Signore
 David Lee
 Energy Questions

Quick Links
 Home Energy Info
 Jackie Clay
 Ask Jackie Online
 Dave Duffy
 Massad Ayoob
 John Silveira
 Claire Wolfe

Forum / Chat
 Forum/Chat Info
 Enter Forum
 Lost Password

More Features
 Contact Us/
 Change of Address
 Write For BHM
 Meet The Staff
 Meet The Authors
 Disclaimer and
 Privacy Policy

Retired Features
 Country Moments
 Radio Show

Link to BHM

Ask Jackie headline

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post. Please note that Jackie does not respond to questions posted as Comments. Click Below to ask Jackie a question.

Click here to ask Jackie a question!
Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
on any aspect of low-tech, self-reliant living.

Read the old Ask Jackie Online columns
Read Ask Jackie print columns

Click for print copy Click for Kindle copy Click to read the beginning

Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Jackie Clay

I saw our first robin today!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

First of all, I’m sure you’re wondering how I came out with my stress test. I passed. It seems like I got a case of walking pneumonia out of my last nasty cough-cold and that was what was causing my chest pains and shortness of breath. (The doctor looked at the first X-ray but didn’t see the light consolidation that was already fading, but the radiologist spotted it.) Anyway, I’m feeling better and so is Will. Come on, spring!

Every time Will has a hamburger, Spencer, Hondo, and Mittens crowd around for bits of the bun (and maybe a little meat). So I just had to post a picture of them. I think it’s so cute!

Today has been busy. I’m starting our first tomatoes, canning hamburger, and had to run to town this morning. But while I was in town, I saw a robin, our very first. I even backed up to make sure! Luckily, there was no traffic in town. Yesterday I saw three geese at home and Will also saw a pair of swans.

Will also split up a truckload of firewood from some logs that didn’t make the cut for lumber. Now all we have to do is to stack it inside the storage building. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Spring is so nice!

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

But yesterday, while I was cleaning on the back porch, I turned and saw bloody paw prints in the doorway…and across the dining room…and right up to Spencer! Real bloody! I picked up his hind paw and saw a big gash in between his toes. I took him immediately outside to stand in the snow as cold reduces bleeding. Then after calling Will over to watch him, I hurried inside to gather up first aid supplies. Drying his paw with an old washcloth, I packed his foot with soft sterile gauze pads, added another square and taped his paw and leg. All afternoon, we “made” Spencer lie down on his rug and not lick his bandaged foot.

The bleeding stopped and he was VERY good about the whole thing. This morning, I removed the nasty, bloody pack and took the tape off. It looked much better. I let him lick it a little, then re-bandaged it so when he goes outside to potty he doesn’t snag the wound on ice or something to re-open it. I’ll change the bandage again tomorrow and see if the cut is healed enough to keep the bandage off. Poor Spencer! We never did find out how he cut it.

This morning, I peeked at my petunias and guess what? They’re coming up nicely! Wow, after only five days, too. I set them on the table by my chair, in the window so they would get plenty of sun but wouldn’t cook. Some were still not up and as petunia seedlings are SO little and planted on the soil’s surface, I didn’t want them to dry out, either so they are still in their bags. The peppers will be next.

As our temps have been very mild, a whole lot of our snow has gone. I walked in the garden and orchards today and was real happy to report that there had been NO vole damage on anything I could see, even unprotected trees and shrubs like our wild pin cherries and some “wild” Nanking cherries. That was very exciting as I hate voles.

Will and I are both feeling better. He’s been working on our new tractor. It came with only one rear hydraulic outlet and he needs two to run our big round baler…which is why he bought the tractor in the first place. Instead of spending more than $300 on new parts, he remanufactured it himself (with quite a bit of trouble, I might add) and today it is working. He did have to raise the seat a bit as the seat had a rod that was resting on one of the new fittings. But that’s homesteading — you always have to think outside the box to get by! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

You wanted to see pictures of Red chasing Hondo?

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Well here are a few. Honestly, those two go at it for fifteen minutes at a time. Red, our Bourbon Red tom seems to be in earnest about the whole deal while Hondo thinks it’s great fun. He doesn’t seem to notice Red’s scowling face and determined look at all.

Our weather finally turned nice. Today it’s FIFTY degrees with the sun out brightly. Boy, is the snow melting! I’ve been having periods of shortness of breath and chest pains so I went to the doctor today to get that checked out. I spent five hours at the clinic being tested and they are making an appointment for a stress test for me in the near future. So far, nothing has showed up. I hope it’s just Cabin Fever! When I got back from town I sure noticed the snow pack on the driveway getting thawed. I sent up a rooster tail behind the Subaru all the way in. But I never felt like I was getting stuck so I just kept coming the whole mile and a third to the house.

Will’s been under the weather this last week, feeling tired and achy. He, too, went to the doctor last week. The Dr. put him on antibiotics with the idea that he (besides me and Spencer!) had a run-in with a deer tick last summer and picked up Lyme disease. He’s four days into the antibiotics and does feel better. When I came home from town he was outside, in a T-shirt, working on a tractor!

I’ve got all my peppers and petunias planted and in their little plastic greenhouse next to the woodstove in the living room. Wow, that was a lot of peppers, but this year we have a 32-foot hoop house to put them in.

I’m so happy about all the great reviews of my book, Summer of the Eagles, both on Amazon and this blog! It’s nice to know that both Western fans and folks who aren’t all love the book. That’s exciting to me. Thank you all! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

More snow and below-zero temps

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015


As we’re crawling towards spring, we’ve been stuck in a cold arctic spell. Last night it was -18 and today at noon, it warmed up to zero. With a wind. Plus we just got four inches of new snow. So Will and the “boys” set out to plow the driveway.

Hondo used to hate going in the truck. He got sick, drooled, and shook. But Will worked with him all winter, putting him in the truck and only driving around the circle in the yard, parking the truck with Hondo and Spencer in it. And it worked. Just lately, Hondo decided that he loves to ride! Now when Will says “load up boys,” Hondo is the first one to the truck door and the first inside. He sits right up and watches with interest as the snow flies, observing the birds, squirrels, and other wildlife he spots on the driveway. To Spencer, it’s old hat; he’s ridden shotgun in the pickup all his life and has always loved to go. It got so we even had to spell the word “go.” Then he learned to spell. Go figure…

While the boys were plowing, I started soaking my peat pellets so I can get my peppers and petunias planted. I’ve found that when I use hot water to soak them, they swell up faster and the warm, damp pellets encourage very fast germination of the seeds. I cram several pellets into a variety of trays I’ve saved for this purpose, plant two seeds per pellet, then slip the whole works into a plastic shopping bag. The containers then go on the shelves of my cheapo little plastic-covered greenhouse that I’ve got on the side of the wood stove. So they stay nice and warm, out of the way of Mittens; and seedlings pop up very fast.

They say it’s supposed to be 40° F or even higher, come Sunday. And let me say we’re REALLY looking forward to that! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

It’s pepper plantin’ time!

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Yesterday I went down to the basement to retrieve our pepper seeds from the big plastic tote that holds 1/3 of our seeds. (Do you see some obsessive behavior there?) We’ve got seeds in ice cream buckets, jars, and tins, too! But it’s sort of a security thing. As long as we have seeds, we’ll never go hungry.

When I came upstairs, I found Hondo sitting on Spencer. He’s the sittingest dog I’ve ever seen. He just plops his butt down on anything handy, especially if it’s Spencer. Nice and soft, I guess.

I dug through my peppers and, oh, how hard it is to decide on which ones we’ll grow this year. Each year we try a few different varieties to see if we can find some new “favorites” or ones that produce very well for us. And because the big hoop houses are all set to get their plastic cover, we’ll be able to get ‘em growing faster this year. I think we’ll be taking our one small hoop house out to the new garden plot on the new forty and perhaps grow some different muskmelons. We’re planting Prescott Fond Blanc in the garden hoop house and I want to try a new pretty muskmelon in the little hoop house. We’ll see what spring brings.

One thing we’ve learned is to be flexible. That way if the weather doesn’t cooperate we don’t feel all depressed and “shot down.”

Today the sun is shining brightly and our new batteries are charging well. It’s 25 degrees and it feels SO good! Spring is coming. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We delivered four quarters of beef

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Our beef is starting to sell well and we’ve been delivering, all the way down to Duluth with some 90 miles away! And in the morning we do it again with the second four quarters. Yep, back to Duluth, but also two deliveries closer to home.

People are really happy to get naturally-raised beef with no hormones or antibiotics and from animals that have lived on pasture and good care.

We got home to find our cat, Mittens, stretched out on the sofa, having a siesta in the sunshine. (It was 7 degrees out, so the sun felt good!) Mittens DOES live a rough life, doesn’t she?

I’m having fun signing copies of my newest book, Summer of the Eagles. Requests are coming in from all over the country and it’s neat that so many different people are reading it. Not just “Western” fans. But, hey, it has something for everyone … even romance. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

It “warmed” up so Will got the old tractor started

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

On Saturday we were hauling hay to the horses and cattle. On the very last big round bale, the Oliver ran out of fuel ten feet short of the gate into the training ring. Luckily, the cattle did have some hay left, they were just getting more. We had to wait until we went to town to get diesel fuel.

After getting fuel, Will filled up the tractor and primed the injectors. Then he gave it a shot of starting fluid and cranked it over. But because it was still below zero, no dice.

He waited instead of grinding the battery down since it was supposed to warm up. Once it warmed up a little he put the propane heater under the tractor for an hour or so, then repeated the sequence. It fired up and before I could get down the hill, Will had delivered the bale of hay and parked the tractor in its spot by the storage barn. Now when I say “warmed up,” that means that it was above zero today — ten degrees to be exact. But with a 30 mph wind, it was still COLD. Only the dogs like the weather.

We’ve got another weasel hanging around. Yesterday I saw his tracks coming from the orchard to the side of the chicken coop, around to the door where he stood with his feet up on the door sill. We’re hoping he’s thinking about MICE, as there is no better mouser in the world, not even Mittens. But after having my purebred rabbits and pheasants wiped out entirely by a weasel in one night years ago, it gives me the shivers. I’m glad we shut the birds in every night!

I’m waiting for my petunia seeds to come in the mail so I can get them started. They stay small so long and this year I want to get my hanging baskets planted with petunias early enough that when I set them out they’re flowering nicely.

Peppers go in tomorrow! Springtime when it’s 20 below! It’s a start, anyway. It’s sure nice that the days are getting so much longer. Darkness can get depressing. Even a couple more hours of daylight is SO welcome. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’ve found plenty to keep us busy this winter

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

With our new mini-business, Seed Treasures (, we keep hustling, sorting, and packaging seeds. Will does that while I package envelopes and fill the orders. We used to be kind of bored this time of the year, but not anymore.
It’s such fun, too, as we get letters from a lot of different people all over the country and they share bits of their lives and gardens with us. I can’t wait to hear how some of our crops perform for them.

I got back from Duluth and Federal Court jury selection late Tuesday and all day yesterday I played catch-up. I wasn’t too sad to find out that the case finally settled out of court, allowing us jurors to get back to our lives. My bed never felt better than it did last night!

Are any of you rabbit breeders? I’m working on a “secret” project and would like to hear from you. I especially need photos of your rabbits, hutches, etc. As we’re not raising rabbits now, I don’t have access to these and hardly anyone raises rabbits, other than a couple of pets, up in our area.

Thanks! — Jackie



Copyright © 1998 - Present by Backwoods Home Magazine. All Rights Reserved.