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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Jackie Clay

Hey, it’s not all work and no play

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Yesterday, we drove down to Bill and Kelly’s for our granddaughter Ava’s fourth birthday party. We had been a little nervous as they were calling for a quarter of an inch of ice from freezing rain. Not good for a 110-mile drive! But the storm flew through faster and we didn’t get it. And Saturday the temperature was 36 degrees ABOVE zero! Sunday it got to 40. The roads were dry and we sailed down with no trouble at all.


The highlight of Ava’s party was playing a game called Pie Face where you have a spring-loaded hand filled with whipped cream, put your face into an oval, and spin a spinner to see how many times you have to turn the crank. The pie-throwing arm could go off at any time. It’s sort of like Russian Roulette, only tastier. Of course everyone had to get a turn at getting “creamed,” even Will. But darn, he escaped unscathed!



Today we’re making our final decision about what varieties of vegetables we’re going to plant in the big gardens. When you save so many seeds, it’s a bit complicated. To make things easier, Will has hauled one of the our old two-point corn planters up to the storage building. He’s going to make a three-point corn planter from a pull type so we can more easily get to the fences and turn in the gardens. This will also plant our beans so, hopefully, we won’t have to do it all by hand this spring.

Poor Hondo! He misses Buddy, who went home to his family yesterday. They wrestled and chewed on each other for the entire three weeks Buddy was here. Bill couldn’t come get him as his father-in-law, Donny, was in the hospital and he had to help out there, plus working too. Spencer isn’t so much fun as he’s older and doesn’t like to wrestle. (But he still plays with his “babies”, the box full of stuffed animals we have for the dogs.) — Jackie

Jackie Clay

More snow!

Thursday, January 28th, 2016


The dogs love it. They get to ride in the snowplow truck with Will. They can’t wait. Spencer got disgusted because Bill’s dog, Buddy, who we are dogsitting, got to ride, taking up all of his seat. So he turned around and came back into the house and got up in Will’s chair. Humph! You could just see him grouch. (I’m sure we’ll have more snow so he WILL get his turn in the truck.) Luckily, we haven’t had bad snow storms (yet) like you guys on the East Coast. I hope you’re all warm, prepared and safe.


I’m starting to sort out my seed-starting trays and peat pellets as well as bags of Pro-Mix seed-starting medium. It won’t be long before I start petunias. (Sure, I’m getting the itch!) We’ve received several varieties of folks’ heirloom seeds in the mail and sure do get excited about trying all of them. (We’re especially interested in Native American heirlooms so if any of you have one or two, we’d really like to try them. Just click on the Seed Treasures website and you’ll find our address. Thanks in advance!)

We’ve been enjoying feeding the birds this winter as always, although we’ve only seen woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches so far. We do all we can to encourage birds and insect pollinators by planting for them. We can’t raise bees because Will is allergic to bee stings so we try to get all the wild pollinators we can by planting clovers in the nearby pastures, nectar-producing flowers in the flower beds, and even some flowers that bees love in the garden. For the birds, we feed year-around, keep water available in the yard in a birdbath and our little fish pond, provide birdhouses and nesting material, and plant seed-producing flowers they love such as purple coneflowers, sunflowers, poppies, etc. We also keep oriole and hummingbird feeders going all season.

Besides helping to pollinate flowers, even the orioles and hummingbirds eat some insects; we’ve seen them.

We don’t have many nesting bluebirds yet but we do have some swallows and it’s sure cool to watch them swoop down through the garden and snatch cabbage moths right out of the air!

Our bird-and-insect friendly homestead is another demonstration of the full circle way we try to live. We feed and plant for the birds and pollinators (and beneficial insects such as ladybugs), provide good habitat for them year around. They make our lives more cheerful while eating weed seeds, “bad” bugs, and pollinating our crops. We grow stronger and more crops with their help, then we feed them in the winter. This makes a complete circle which we strive for in all things. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: pickled beets, enchilada sauce, and rabbits

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Pickled beets

I bought and froze 25lb of red beets last year and I pickled another 25 lb. I am now out of the pickled beets, can I make pickled beets with the already frozen beets?

Maida Marksheffel
Ketchikan, Alaska

Usually you can get away with pickling pre-frozen beets but I would do a smaller batch first to make sure your variety will hold up without getting soft. Thaw them slowly in the fridge, then pickle as soon as they thaw. — Jackie

Enchilada sauce

Jackie, you mentioned that you make enchilada sauce. I would love to have your recipe since I make them a lot at our homestead. I hate using the store bought but have so far have not found a recipe that we like.

Merrie Knightly
LaGrange, Maine

Here’s the enchilada sauce recipe I use most often:

2 gallons tomato puree
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 cup minced onion
4 minced chipotle peppers (if you can’t find them, add 1 Tbsp. or more to taste of chipotle barbecue sauce)
2 Tbsp. (or more to suit your taste) chili powder, as hot or mild as you wish
1 Tbsp. salt

Mix all ingredients well in stock pot and slowly bring to a simmer. Ladle hot into warm pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Process at 10 pounds pressure for 20 minutes. — Jackie


My question is about rabbits. If I’m right, you don’t raise rabbits but maybe some knowledgeable person can help me. I want to know what protein level to give them. One hardware store says 16% and another says 18%, I have 2 bucks, 4 does, and always babies at some level of growth. They are mostly for meat. They are Flemish crossed with Californians and/or satin and/or other mixed breed, but all big for meat.

Gail Erman
Palisade, Colorado

While we don’t currently raise rabbits, I have done so for many years in the past. A 16% pellet is all your rabbits require at all life stages. We also feed a good quality hay, fed free choice in wire feeders hung at the side of the cages and assorted “treats” from the garden such as carrots, sunflower seeds, cobs of dried corn, etc. (Never feed greens to young rabbits as it can kill them!) — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Hondo is a sitter!

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

I suppose I started it all by letting Hondo sit on my lap when he was a puppy. I did that with Spencer too. The trouble is that when I “explained” to Spencer that I still loved him but he was too big to sit on my lap, he understood. Not Hondo! He sits on everyone; Spencer, me, our visiting Lab, Buddy, and Will. Last night it was -12 when Will came in from chores. He sat down to warm up before he took off his chore clothes. Hondo was feeling needy and probably his feet were cold. So he popped right up and sat on Will’s shoulder. I couldn’t resist a picture!


Like all of you, I’ve been paging through all my seed catalogs like mad. Sure, I’ve decided on some new open pollinated and heirloom varieties to try this year. But I’ve also noticed that a whole lot of plants and seeds are now Plant Variety Protection and trademarked! Not just a few as in the past but a whole lot — pages of them! What this means is that you can buy the seeds or plants, but without “permission” (and paying a fee), you can’t propagate, distribute, or sell the seeds/plants you have grown. For decades, I’ve grown and given away billions of seeds. Now we have our little seed business so we can afford to help keep dozens of open pollinated and heirloom varieties alive and well. But now companies and commercial plant breeders are now “protecting” varieties, creating a monopoly on them. We’re tickled to have folks grow our varieties. And if they want to share them or even sell the seeds, great! (But then, we aren’t trying to get rich on our “own” special varieties!)

I’ve been pulling seeds out of our squash and pumpkins daily now. Most of the pumpkins are done; they don’t last much past the first of the year. Luckily, our squash are better storage candidates. We’ve eaten a lot of two year old Hopi Pale Grey squash that were still awesome. They’re still our very favorite squash. When I open one, we eat part for a meal, then I either can up the rest or make pumpkin pies. We quit growing acorn squash because it is basically bland and doesn’t store well at all. This year we grew both Canada Crookneck and Waltham Butternut as well as a new-to-us squash, Geraumon Martinique. This spotted dark green squash is wonderful! We’ve had raves from friends who we shared with and we’ve sure eaten our share. Very sweet and a wonderful aroma!


Our goats are also squash addicts. When they see me coming with an armful, they start yelling so much I’m afraid the neighbors two miles away will call the Humane Society on us! They eat everything: the guts, seeds (immature ones), meat, and skin. With their orange mouths, they bleat for more. And it’s good for them too.

Our weather’s turned real cold. Last night it was -22 with a high yesterday of -6. I’ll sure be glad when the next few days have passed and it warms up to the 20s. Above zero! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We finally got our Christmas tree up

Monday, December 21st, 2015

We finally got our tree up. David came Sunday and gave us a hand and now it’s feeling Christmas-y. Outside, there’s plenty of snow and its been cold enough.


I’ve got a turkey thawing out and plan on roasting it this afternoon so I can get it canned up. We got our fresh pork back and took the hams, bacons, and a boneless pork loin to Al, our butcher-friend, to smoke. We can’t wait for that to come back.

The new fridge is still working like a champ so I’m real happy about that!

Our wild turkey neighbor seems to be moving in up here on the ridge. She’s here every day now and is even flying into the orchard to mingle with our turkeys. She likes the corn Will and I are putting out for her too.

I’m feeling better after the latest spell of diverticulitis but, boy, does it ever tire me out! You can bet no more popcorn for me. Ever. I sure want to avoid surgery.

Although “canning season” is generally thought to be in the fall, I find myself canning quite a bit during the winter, too. We have canned chicken, turkey, and ham and will be doing more pork soon as well as making bean and split pea soup. I find that if I do a little, often, it’s easy and quick. Painless. And it sure fills up the pantry quickly. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We have a regular visitor

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Over the summer and some of the fall, we’ve had occasional visits by a wild turkey hen. She walked in last summer, interested in a couple of our domestic toms that wander around the yard. Then she got spooked and took off. Will saw her in the oat field this fall. We were real excited as wild turkeys are plentiful further south but not up here. They’re very rare. So when this lady showed up recently, we were tremendously excited. Will quickly went and turned a couple of our turkey hens out and spread some corn around in the edge of the driveway. She keeps coming back for more. I think she’s lonely as well as hungry with the snow getting deeper. We’ll keep feed out all winter for her. She’s getting less spooky around us and the dogs. Hopefully, she’ll hatch out some eggs, come spring, and populate our area with more wild turkeys.


I’ve been under the weather again with a bout of diverticulitis. My fault — I ate popcorn. I sure won’t do that again as it’s been quite a while since my last attack. The doctor’s talking surgery and I sure want to avoid that if possible.

Will and I went to get our pork yesterday and take frozen pork down to Bill in Sturgeon Lake. We met him at his lunch break. Luckily, he only lives a very few miles from home so he goes home for lunch. So we had a nice visit and headed home.

Great news! The new refrigerator is working perfectly. Merry Christmas to me — I’m SO excited! What a lot of room. That’s real nice, especially with the holidays coming up. I just love it.

Although I don’t usually browse the internet, a friend, Pam, sent me a real nice Awwww moment link. It sure made my day and I still think of it often and go back to see it again. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: book idea and neutralizing urine odor

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Book idea

Just a suggestion for “Will’s Book.” I am re-reading all of your old Ask Jackie columns and enjoying them just as much as the first time I read them. And as I read over them I come across many areas of where Will is either working on equipment or building something, the latest was putting Old Yellers track back on. This is the type of thing that would be wonderful for Will to put into a book. Just explaining how to go about doing something like this. Most of the guys and gal’s out there would not even have any idea how to start a project like that, let alone how to do it.

Lois Lara
Boring, Oregon

Thanks for the idea, Lois. I know what you mean. The first time Old Yeller threw a track, David and I didn’t have a clue as to how to get it back on. And in the process, we lost the steel ball bearing that controls the tensioner! As Dad used to say, “too soon old, too late smart!” Having some info sure does help at times. — Jackie

Neutralizing urine odor

The weather here finally warmed. Last week our county, Modoc, was colder than Barrow Alaska so my goats have been spending a lot of time in doors. Is there anything I can put on the ground (barn has earth floor) that will neutralize the urine smell.

Betsy Ingraham
Davis Creek, California

Many feed stores carry bicarbonate of soda in large bags pretty cheap. It helps a lot to sprinkle that down after cleaning out any old bedding. Another thing you can use is plain old barn lime, also available at feed stores. Both of these products sweeten up the smell a lot. I throw down a bale of pine shavings early in the winter, on top of barn lime. Then I bed with oat straw all winter, adding more as time goes on, keeping a good layer of straw down. This makes a manure pack that, in our climate, does not smell until spring when I clean out the pen. Then, PEE Yeew! If you clean daily or weekly, just sprinkle down lime or baking soda after each cleaning to keep the pen smelling sweet. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We got quite a snowfall, but it won’t last

Friday, December 4th, 2015


A few days ago we got hammered with about five inches of new, very heavy snow. For a while, you could hardly see the woods around us. We knew it was coming but by listening to our daily weather radio report, we know it won’t last as the temperatures are climbing into the high thirties and even low forties in the near future. We didn’t even plow the driveway. The ground underneath the snow has been very muddy due to the rain and hunters driving in and out of the mile-long drive to deer stands in the state forest and even though it is frozen now, plowing would dig up dirt we want to stay on our drive. I drove out with no trouble in our Subaru yesterday morning and a lot melted after that. So we’ll just wait it out.


Mittens just loves new snow. I’ve never had a cat like her. She digs her head right under the snow, running all over the yard. Then she pounces on pretend mice in the snow and runs around with her tail up.

Meanwhile, the thin steers Will bought cheap at the auction barn are eating and drinking and doing pretty well. One is still coughing and has a snotty nose so I’m keeping on with the antibiotic shots every day.


We were excited when the first of December arrived as that was the release date for my third book in the Jess Hazzard series of Westerns, Winter of the Wolves. I’ve got to get my box ordered! For any of you who are interested, click on the publisher’s box above the blog to learn more or order a book, available both in print and Kindle.

Will’s continuing work on insulating our enclosed back porch. It’s already MUCH warmer. I love insulation! And I’m slowly updating our Seed Treasures mini-seed business’ website,, as we’re offering a whole lot more good, productive, open pollinated seeds that we grow on our homestead. If you haven’t checked out the website lately, give it a click. You’ll be happily surprised! — Jackie



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