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Ask Jackie headline

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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning enchilada sauce, tornado clucker plucker, using a steam juicer, bringing plants inside for the winter

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Canning enchilada sauce

You mentioned canning enchilada sauce in your blog today. I searched the archives and found a recipe you posted in 2009. Could you post it again with any updates? I’ll be processing 60 one-gallon bags of frozen tomatoes and would love to make enchilada sauce (and the pizza sauce that you’ve already told us how to make).

Carol Elkins
Pueblo, Colorado

I think the recipe you refer to is this:

18 dried red chilies
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. boiling water
10½ cups chopped tomatoes
6 cups chopped onion
12 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tbsp. oil
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar

It’s processed at 10 pounds pressure for 20 minutes for pints or 25 minutes for quarts.

I make mine by mixing tomato puree (turkey roasting pan full) with ½ cup brown sugar, 1 cup chopped onions, 1 cup chopped sweet peppers, 2 Tbsp. oregano, 2 Tbsp. cilantro, 2 Tbsp. cumin, about 5 cloves mashed garlic, 1 Tbsp. salt, and 4 Tbsp. chile powder (hot or not, depending on your taste). This is pressure canned the same as above.

Most “traditional” enchilada sauce is made without tomatoes, using chiles, onions, chicken broth, and tomatillos so there’s a wide variety of enchilada sauces! — Jackie

Tornado clucker plucker

Will you be sharing instructions on how to make the ” tornado clucker plucker”? Sure would like to make one.

Dawn Fowler
Rosebud, Missouri

Sure, Dawn. I’m working on an article about this right now. — Jackie

Using a steam juicer

I recently purchased a strainer/juicer at a yard sale — it has three parts: one for water, one to hold the juice and the top one in which to put the grapes. I used it the other day to make grape juice. It seemed to take an inordinately long time before the grapes looked dry and I thought all the juice was extracted. It took approximately 8 hours to do a bushel of grapes. It seemed as though there was a burst of juice and then it just dripped before finally quitting. Is this normal? Or am I letting them cook too long? Also, can I make apple juice using this strainer/juicer?
Alice Clapper
New Castle, Pennsylvania

It does take a long time to extract most of the juice from fruit. But the good news is that you get a LOT of juice from the same amount of fruit that you used to get a modest amount from. Be sure to keep the bottom full of water. It will boil dry after several hours and that can ruin your juicer. I would be happy to do a bushel of grapes in 8 hours. You don’t mention a lid, which I’m thinking it has…and needs.

After your juicer pretty much quits, grab the handles with pot holders and gently tip the unit toward you. You’ll be amazed at how much extra juice will flow out. Do be careful of the steam, however.

You can make apple juice or just about any type of juice with it. Tomatoes will produce a “broth” or watery yellowish juice, not “normal” tomato juice which has much more puree. But after taking off two quarts of broth from a batch of whole tomatoes, you can run the shriveled tomatoes through a Victorio tomato strainer and harvest thicker tomato puree that requires very little cooking down. Same thing with apples. You can harvest apple juice then run the apples through a tomato strainer and harvest applesauce that is nice and thick. — Jackie

Bringing plants inside for the winter

I want to bring several garden plants inside for the winter but every time I have done that I end up with bugs, namely aphids that cover the plants. How can I eliminate the problem before bringing them inside?

Gail Erman
Palisade, Colorado

What I’d advise is to spray the plants well with a garden hose. Let them dry. Then spray thoroughly with a natural bug spray such as spinosad. Let dry and bring inside a couple of days later. Spray again and then watch plants very closely for a week or so. It’s very easy to bring in pesty bugs as there aren’t any natural predators in your home to keep them in check. I, too, have had trouble doing this. You’re not alone! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: meat bones, weed killer with soap, worming goats, and re-canning corn

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Meat bones and weed killer with soap

First. If you take deer bones after cutting deer up, cut up bones and boil you will be surprised how much more meat from the bones that can be used and such good broth to can.

Second. I have honey bees and all I read says soap of any kind will kill bees. The weed killer with soap may not be a good thing.
Macon, Georgia.

Thanks for the tips, PC. Some folks don’t like the broth made from deer bones but those who do can sure pack away a lot of tasty broth and use a lot more of the deer that way to stock their pantries! — Jackie

Worming goats

How do you give the Hoegger’s herbal worm remedy to your goats? Have read several comments that the goats don’t like it!

Mary Morgan
Semmes, Alabama

We feed a sweet feed with molasses. By mixing the worm remedy with it, the goats don’t even know they got it! If you only have a couple of goats, a dab of Vicks on their noses before feeding will quickly mask any taste but most goats don’t mind at all. — Jackie

Re-canning corn

Glad to hear you’re on the mend. Busy time to be having surgery. My question: I have several cases of corn bought from store. I noticed tops of a few cans pop when touched. Threw these out. Can I re-can other cans? Dates I know doesn’t mean a lot but these are only 2010-2011.

Robin Putman
Coolville, Ohio

Yes, you can re-can canned foods. But do remember to treat them as if they were fresh using the same times and pressure required for foods you just prepared from your garden.

It IS a busy time for having a surgery but I figured it’s preparedness as you never know when a gallbladder will blow up in the middle of a nasty storm, on Sunday night in the middle of nowhere. Better to do it when it’s calm and the weather’s fine. Done is done and I still will get a whole lot of garden canned up. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Yep, I’m still alive and kickin’

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

I am back at home after my gallbladder surgery last Thursday. Luckily it was the minimally invasive type and I only had three “holes” in my tummy. The pain wasn’t too bad but I couldn’t hack the pain meds as they made me sick to my stomach. No good! So I quit them after two doses. My only restrictions are to not lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for a month and “take it easy.” Hey, I’m trying!

But the garden is out there laughing at me. Everything is coming in heavily. Luckily, Will is helping me pick tomatoes and turn the Victorio tomato strainer. Boy, do we ever have a wonderful variety in the garden this year. Besides our favorites, like the Bill Bean tomatoes, we have some new “favorites” like Indigo Blue Beauty, which is kind of dark blue/purple on top and a brilliant orange below. Besides being gorgeous, it’s open pollinated so we can save seeds and is HUGELY productive with medium large tomatoes with wonderful flavor. And then there’s Indigo Kumquat, unfortunately a hybrid, but it is also gorgeous in salads and has great tomato flavor.

We have a few truly free-range chickens (escapees). Will’s favorite breed, Black Sex Links lay abundantly but are also escape artists. One hen (we call her Peg) got a feed sack string wrapped tightly around her leg and by the time we noticed, it had cut the circulation off in her lower leg. We caught her and cut the string off but she lost the lower portion of her leg. Being soft hearted, we did not butcher her. Fortunately, she healed up fine and is so handy on that leg that you hardly notice that she’s missing her foot. After she had healed, I put her into the chicken coop where I thought she’d have an easier time. Wrong! The other chickens nearly pecked her to death in one morning! So out of the coop she went. Well, she healed from that and is now a permanent free-range girl. And she free ranges right into the garden if we leave the gate open, helping herself to our tomatoes. Oh well, we sure have plenty!

We checked our Howden pumpkins in the pig pasture and I’ll bet we have a truckload! And they are HUGE. I couldn’t reach around some and they aren’t even orange yet. They sure like the manure!

The weather radio is calling for low temperatures Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights with a possibility of frost/freezing. Eeek! I hope not. Pray for a bit of warmth for us, okay? — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: keeping a refrigerator working in a cold environment, early Fall weather, and freezing eggplant

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Keeping a refrigerator working in a cold environment

I heard that they don’t make a refrigerator/freezer that can be used in a cabin that is allowed to get cooler than 55 degrees. We have been turning our thermostat down to 50 degrees when we leave so it might get that cool for a week or more. Sometimes the freezer section gets above freezing when we do that — the fridge part stays at 35 degrees okay, but it doesn’t run long enough to get the freezer cold (I guess this is a common problem). All kinds of people keep fridges in garages and on back porches — I don’t think most people know how to operate a fridge/freezer properly or safely. Most of the information I have found on the Internet on this subject has been very lame. What to do?

Gordon Hoffman
Lewiston, Idaho

You might try an older refrigerator. I know several people who have older fridges in their unheated garages/lightly heated cabins that work, both fridge and freezer. I’ve been told that modern refrigerators’ manufacturers figure that NO modern people would use a fridge in a lightly heated home; they are built for “normal” living conditions. — Jackie

Early Fall weather

I wanted to share with you how well the Bill Bean tomatoes have done this year. We actually got a 3 pound tomato too! We couldn’t believe it! It is a very meaty tomato, and has a great flavor. Have you ever heard of or grown an Italian heirloom (I believe) called Purple Plum? They are a smallish pear shaped tomato with a smoky flavor. If you are interested in trying them, I’ll be happy to send you some seeds. I am also wondering if you have noticed anything unusual with the weather this year. I live in So Indiana, and I feel we are having an early fall this year. And I mean REALLY early. A few of us noticed about 3 weeks ago, lots of leaves on the trees just turning yellow, or completely brown, and then falling off. Other trees are starting to change color. And even though I got a late start in my garden this spring, everything is coming to the end of its life cycle and begging to be harvested. It’s so weird. I’ve never seen such an early fall. All the leaves on my winter squash plants have completely withered away, and the same is happening with the Hopi squash. Should I harvest them now? We are still having 90 degree days here. I will say that it has been a mild summer for us, with a cooler spell mid summer for a couple weeks. But weatherwise, we didn’t seem to experience any stressors. It’s just got me perplexed. I thought you might have some insight.
Lisa Graves
Georgetown, Indiana

No, I haven’t grown Purple Plum tomatoes and would LOVE some seeds to give a try next year. I’m tickled that your Bill Beans are doing so well! I’m harvesting some right now. MMMMmmmmm! Yeah, this year is “different” alright! I know first we got 17 inches of rain, then heat and drought. The rivers are as low as I can remember right now and our leaves are falling, too. Are your Hopi Pale Grey squash bluish gray yet? If not, I think I’d leave them a bit and see if they get enough nutrients through the remaining vines to go ahead and mature. If not, harvest before it frosts hard. They’ll keep over a year even if immature and they still taste good although not as good as if they had matured. I think our weather is just in one of those weird cycles. — Jackie

Freezing eggplant

Is there any way to save/freeze/dry eggplant until the tomatoes are ripe to use in marinara? The tomatoes are just starting to ripen. Not sure how many will actually get to ripen before frost since I am seeing scattered gold on the locust and cottonwoods. A few willows look like they are changing too.

Thank you for all the info on canning & drying squash. I canned 30 quarts on Sunday and Tuesday last week in addition to giving away a lot. I am now resorting to drying. I did try drying broccoli for the first time and green beans. Really a huge space saver. Drying jalapenos, bell pepper and Fresno chilis now as well as 2 racks of squash. Obviously, I have been on “vacation!” I have several quarts of potatoes canned. Can they be sliced and dried or would it be better to wait on fresh potatoes although I am not even seeing blossoms yet. I have gotten finished canning my 1/4 beef and will be getting another 1/4.

Julia Crow
Gardnerville, Nevada

Yes, you can freeze your eggplant. Just pick and quickly bring inside, peel and slice about 1/2 inch thick. Blanch for about 4 minutes, then plunge into ice water to quickly cool. Drain very well, pack into freezer containers to exclude as much air as possible, then freeze.

We’re getting leaf color changes too and the birch are losing their leaves. It SO feels like FALL! It sounds like you’re plenty busy now. So are we! Wow, so much food — how great that is.

I’d wait and dehydrate fresh potatoes as your canned potatoes are already “put up.” Sometimes potatoes don’t bloom at all. We’ve had that happen in the past and still harvested great potatoes. You can peek under a hill with your fingers to see what’s going on. Will did that and pulled out a big fat potato.

Oh yes, beef! We’re thinking of that too, having four steers ready to go this fall. We’ll keep a half and sell the other three and a half sides/quarters. The steers look so nice and fat on good pasture. I can hardly wait! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

You never know when someone’s watching you

Monday, August 18th, 2014


Back here in the big woods, you’re never alone. If you stop and hold still, you’ll most always find one of the “neighbors” watching you. In this case, it was a barred owl. He was perched in a poplar tree on the edge of the woods. And he was checking me out to see what I was up to. He decided I was pretty boring and finally flew off to another tree deeper in the woods. He was waiting for dark, hoping to swoop down on some small rodent out in the open. He saw me instead and was pretty disgusted.

We’ve been haying like mad and are almost caught up now. I just spent six hours on the tractor, raking hay while Will baled another field. He finished before I did and started baling “my” field way behind me. He cut the field three days ago but we had a rain shower and had to let it dry out an extra day before raking it. It was nice and dry today. One more small field and we’re done with our first cutting. We should get a second cutting off of two small fields to finish up before fall. Whew!


Yesterday we moved the cattle from the big pasture to the east pasture that has been ungrazed since last fall. The grass and clover is better than belly high and the cattle were pretty thrilled to be “driven” through the gate to eat it. This morning they were all lying down chewing their cuds, just about hidden in the grass. Cow heaven! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: irrigating an orchard and wheat for chicken feed

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Irrigating an orchard

I’m trying to figure out an easier way to irrigate my little fruit orchard when enough rain doesn’t come along to do it. Until now, I’ve been either running hoses, using buckets, or a combination of both, but with 20 trees in 2 rows, this can get a bit time consuming. They’re a mixture of (eventually) full size and dwarf/semi-dwarf varieties. Unfortunately, I don’t have a pond or spring nearby to tap, just the water faucets from the house (100+ feet away) that are fed from the well. Water pressure is OK for household use, but not all that great.

Keeping in mind I need to not only mow grass inside the fence, and also compost and mulch each tree (creating small berms), what sort of system would you recommend? Trenched? Drip? Pop-ups? I don’t want to keep moving hoses or pipe to mow during the summer if I can avoid it.
Someone suggested putting a few of those big oscillating sprinklers on the corner posts of the fence, but at some point I would think the trees will grow too tall for that method to work, not to mention watering more than just the trees. Perhaps once everything gets well established it won’t be quite as necessary, but between now and then, there will be a LOT of water buckets in my future if I can’t figure something better out!

The easiest way is to install drip irrigation for your trees. We did that with Mom and Dad’s fruit and shelterbelt trees in New Mexico and it worked great. They actually used less water that way than when we used sprinklers and watered the trees much better. It’s best to bury the supply lines as you can mow over them. But we didn’t do that and it still worked great. It’s cheap and only took two days to hook up. And I’m no rocket scientist. It’s sort of like Tinker Toys. Do install a filter just past your faucet to catch any sediment as it will plug up the emitters that water each tree. I put two emitters on each mulched tree that only put out a fast drizzle each. That kept me and the trees real happy, only watering when the soil around the trees was dry down a few inches. You will have to check them every time you water to make sure they are still working. Dripworks has components although we got ours at a local big-box hardware. Hope this helps keep you and your trees happy. — Jackie

Wheat for chicken feed

I have never grown wheat before and wanted to try a small plot. I want to use it as chicken feed. I can’t figure out what to buy….I was going to buy on line but most of what comes up is red wheat which says it’s wheat grass? What type wheat seeds would you recommend?

Johanna Hill
Arcanum, Ohio

Any wheat will make chicken feed. They call it “wheat grass” but that’s just immature wheat plants. It’s too late this year to plant spring wheat though. So either plant a winter wheat or wait until spring to plant your feed patch. Any hard white or red wheat will do fine as chicken feed. You also might consider planting millet as you get a little higher yield per square foot with millet, such as White Proso millet, than you do wheat and chickens love it. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

It’s called homesteading

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

While I’m busy watering gardens, picking and canning beans, Will is out “making hay while the sun shines.” And boy-oh-boy have I been canning beans! Our Providers have sure outdone themselves providing food for us this year. I have to laugh. I only planted one double row that was 20 feet long as we already had a lot of beans left on the pantry shelves from last year and years before. (Now you see why we plant Providers!) But this year they surpassed even our wildest expectations. I’ve been canning beans every four days for weeks. Yesterday I decided to do something different and made Mustard Bean Pickles (see my book Growing and Canning Your Own Food). We really love them and were running out down in the pantry. Now we have six more pints. I think I’ll make another batch then switch to Dilly Beans for awhile as our dill crop is now over my head.


FINALLY our Glass Gem popcorn is starting to tassel, after wondering if it ever would! It’s now eight feet tall and very lusty. My friend, Carolyn, was over today and while we were picking a big batch of cucumbers for her to pickle I spotted the very first corn tassel. Hooray! Now if it hurries up and makes ears…

Will cut another hay field today and noticed a guard on the haybine was loose. He called me and asked me to bring wrenches so I met him on the road and he tightened the bolts on the guard. (If he left it loose it might catch on the sickle sections and break them.) The sun’s shining after nearly an inch of rain yesterday. We were sure glad to get the rain as the ground was SO dry.


Our Seneca Sunrise sweet corn that Will has bred back from a hybrid is now fully tasseled out and even though it’s pretty weedy, the corn looks sturdy and happy. So do the Howden pumpkins along one side of the old pig pasture. We’re hoping for a good seed crop and plenty of feed for the animals.

Another hen came out of her hiding place in the orchard with eight chicks yesterday. We didn’t even know she was setting! It’s been a good hatching year with two hens hatching chicks, the turkey hatching chicks, and another hatching her own poults. And we have another hen turkey setting right now. Our Cornish Rock meat birds are growing like weeds and between them and the extra home-grown roosters we’ll be canning lots of chicken. We also need to butcher a couple of our extra yearling tom turkeys as we have several and they fight in the spring. All that chicken and turkey will can up so nice. Mmmm, I can’t wait. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Our weather’s been perfect although dry

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014


It seems like our beavers’ forecast is coming true. We haven’t had a speck of rain for 10 days. But we’re not complaining. We’ve been getting a lot of hay up after such a slow, rainy start. And the warm sunny weather has made our garden boom. Our sweet corn has lots of ears set, the squash are loaded with baby squash (the Hopi Pale Grey squash vines are HUGE), the beans are begging to be picked, and, boy-oh-boy, are there ever tomatoes! Our favorite Bill Bean tomatoes are so loaded with one-pound-plus tomatoes that they look like green pumpkins under and on the vines. You’ll remember that last year we harvested one that weighed 3 pounds on a scale.


Will baled 130 more square bales yesterday. Our poor round baler blew a bearing (we thought). Will started taking things apart and found that not one bearing is shot but five! Parts ordered and should be here tomorrow. So we’ve got more square bales to put up in the storage barn.

Our favorite milk cow, Lace, was in heat Sunday so our friends, the Zups, came over Sunday night to A.I. her. Lace is SO hard to catch in heat but this time, it was a full-blown one where she was even trying to jump up on ME. I hope she took. We’ll know September 1st, when she has a blood test taken.

We had a mother turkey sneak off into the woods to lay eggs and she came off the nest with 8 babies! Then she tried to run away with them. As we have lots of foxes, coyotes, lynx, bobcats, fishers, and wolves, we herded her into the chicken run/orchard where they’d stay safer. Did you ever try to herd a mother turkey and babies? It’s like herding minnows! — Jackie



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