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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Jackie Clay

Fall baby goats are arriving

Friday, October 17th, 2014

We bred some of our does to freshen in the fall instead of the spring and the babies are just arriving. Recently, our doe, Clown, delivered twins, a doe and a buckling. The doeling was so big I had to help pull her into the world. The buck is the smaller guy. Go figure. Both are doing well and starting to explore the goat shed.


We’ve been hearing a lot of coyotes lately. For the first few years, they were very scarce, but lately, there have been a lot more. Our dogs, Spencer and Hondo, are very watchful and let the critters know in no uncertain terms that they are to stay in the woods! Hondo, especially, watches everything. He even watches airplanes and birds fly by. In fact, he is so watchful that he hopped up on top of our old Festiva’s roof to sit and survey the surrounding area! (I’m glad he chose the old car, not our Subaru!)


The other day I was watering our big steers and heard a noise above me. It was Hondo, up ON THE ROOF OF OUR STOCK TRAILER, watching the pasture below! Will says he had even climbed up on the hay bales and hopped into the loft of the new barn so he could watch the pasture. Now THAT’S a watchdog! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Fall rains have begun

Monday, October 13th, 2014

After several nice, sunny days with temps in the high fifties and even sixty yesterday, we woke up to rain. Yuck. But we had a nice week, last week. We even got to visit two different friends. The first visit was to Mike and Dara’s homestead. They are as dedicated homesteaders as we are, also having several large gardens. We took “the tour” and saw all they had been doing this fall, then sipped coffee and cocoa and talked seeds and crops. Dara gave me some of her Painted Mountain corn which she’d hung in ropes to dry as a room divider. It’s gorgeous! We both love Painted Mountain as it not only is beautiful and makes tasty cornmeal, but actually dries down in northern Minnesota. Their carrots didn’t do so well this year but their rutabagas sure did. So we traded two buckets of our carrots for some rutabagas, which I didn’t plant this year. Dara also gave us a Marina Di Chioggia squash and a beautiful squash that was a cross between Marina Di Chioggia and Hopi Pale Grey. It’s unusual because it’s orange, smooth skinned with ribs lined in green, and the Marina “turban” on the blossom end. If it tastes good, we’re going to save seed and see if we can breed a stabilized version of it that will reproduce true. How fun!


Saturday, we were invited to another friend’s family farm near Cook, Minnesota (Jan) to help her and her sister (Bette) start to develop a plan to rehabilitate the farm which had been mainly empty for several years. We discovered a row of asparagus in the overgrown garden, found rhubarb and wild plums in several spots, and figured out how we could help the historical place. Jan and Bette fed us a wonderful meal, which we didn’t expect, and we got to look at old family farm photos and tour the solid buildings finding history in each one. Jan had found some of her grandfather’s ears of corn in a box which she thought were sweet corn he’d grown at the farm. She gave us a dozen kernels which we brought home to see if I could germinate. It’d be great if the corn was still viable and we could develop a population of that old corn!

Yesterday morning, one of our doe goats had triplets. Unfortunately, she totally ignores them and won’t let them nurse. Eeek! I’m leaving on Wednesday to go with my oldest son, Bill, and his family, in their motorhome, to pick up my adopted son, Javid, in Montana. I sure hate to leave Will with three bottle babies, but that’s the way it looks. I bought a fifty-pound sack of doe milk replacer this morning. (I WON’T tell you what I paid!) But kid goats don’t do well on calf milk replacer and Homestead Mills didn’t have any lamb milk replacer.


Our front porch looks like, well, what it is: a seed saving area. It’s full of squash, pumpkins, baskets of tomatoes, etc. On nice days I work out there as it’s a messy job and I’d rather squirt tomato “guts” on the porch floor instead of our kitchen floor! The rain washes it away. Will was working there yesterday while I cut up Hopi Pale Grey squash for their seeds. He was husking our Painted Mountain corn so we could bring it inside to finish drying. We were happy with the harvest from our new cornfield/pumpkin patch. With all its problems (infertile soil, 17 inches of rain at one time, white clay, etc.), it still produced and the deer didn’t eat it.


Now Will’s hauling tons of composted cow and horse manure out to that two-acre patch, which he plowed. So far he figures he’s put around 200 tons on it. Wow, now that’s “Mo’ poo poo!” But we know it’ll really produce next year. Over winter we’ll be buying a roll of 6′ 2″x4″ welded wire, which comes in 50′ rolls, so when spring comes, we can fence it (at least mostly), to keep the deer out. This year they ate all our pumpkins and squash. Oh well, we did get to keep our corn! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Winter’s just around the corner

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

We had ice on the animals’ watering tanks this morning. Brrrrr.


Will’s been trimming dead trees that hang over the driveway and will cause trouble this winter when we plow snow. Luckily, a lot of it is birch which makes great firewood. Yesterday he cut up a trailer load and this morning while it was still very crisp out, he began stacking it in our wood shed. The dogs must have been cold too because they started picking up wood and following him in the shed! Unasked. But after awhile, Spencer started picking up wood and heading for the house. I opened the door and he dropped it in the woodbox and headed back outside. He repeated this four times, until Will had stopped carrying wood (or Spencer got tired). Who says animals are dumb? They know wood makes fire and fire makes doggies toasty warm when they lie in front of it!



I’m jumping through hoops, trying to get things arranged to get my adopted son, Javid, back to Minnesota from Montana. Because he’s physically handicapped, he is on SSI and MA in Montana. And to come here, they can’t simply transfer his MA. He has to reapply here in Minnesota. After he’s been in the state 24 hrs. Then it takes up to a month (or so) to be approved. Then he has to apply for a CADI waiver so the state will help with his housing/care expenses. That takes another (long) period to wait. And he can’t go into an assisted living apartment until he is approved for both. The only out is to transfer him from the nursing home he’s currently in, recovering from surgery on a pressure sore, to another nursing home in Minnesota. But I had one heck of a time even arranging that! Seems that some nursing homes require $5,000 up front for the first month’s rent in case the person is not approved for state help. $5,000 a month!

However, I think I’ve found a small facility fairly close (25 miles) that hopefully will take him, temporarily, until the paperwork is done. And they have an opening. (Seems like most nursing homes in our area are full!) Whew! All this makes me tired!

We’re trying to get this done so we can get Javid moved here before we have to travel across North Dakota in a blizzard.

Meanwhile, while I’m waiting for phone calls, I’m continuing seeding tomatoes, pumpkins, and squash. (If you’ve ordered seeds recently, which include Hopi Pale Grey squash, I know your order is late but I want to be sure your seeds are dry as they are very “fresh”! I don’t want them to mold.) — Jackie

Jackie Clay

So much for our nice weather

Monday, October 6th, 2014

After a gorgeous Indian summer, we’re into north country fall rains and the four letter word: SNOW. Yuck! I vote to cancel winter this year — anybody with me? We’re still harvesting; this time it’s cabbages and carrots. Yesterday we got a surprise visit from my oldest son, Bill, and the grandkids. How fun! The kids got to pick out pumpkins from our huge pile in the new barn and then got to pull carrots to take home from our three long rows of HUGE carrots. I never saw such excited kids! I am sure they’d have pulled every one if they had time. We had fun, tossing the tops and split carrots over the fence to the goats, who enjoy harvest time a lot, too.



We had a couple of days of not-so-fun homesteading. Will had been hauling logs out of the woods and had left the woods gate open as the horses and donkeys were shut out of that field. Unfortunately, they got the wire down and got into the field and OUT of the open gate!
The horses came back home during the night but the donkeys got turned around and went the other way, ending up in the neighbor’s woods two miles away as the crow flies. We hunted and tracked while it rained and snowed. We ended up soaked and freezing after hours of donkey-hunting. Then the next morning, we found them and Will ended up leading one while the other one (that we couldn’t catch) followed with me on the four wheeler kind of driving them … three miles through the woods and swamp, then down the road to our driveway home. Boy, were we tired! Homesteading isn’t always all fun, but then there’s always tomorrow.


Today Will’s back at work on the barn’s stonework as it’s starting to get real cold and he wants to get the concrete work finished before it gets too cold to work on it. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: chicks not going in coop and squash and pumpkins crossing

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Chicks not going in coop

We finally had our Mottled Java hen hatch a chick! After being broody and sitting for 3+ weeks. We usually get chicks and raise them in a series of enlarging pens and heat lamps, graduating to the small covered fenced in yard with old dog house for housing, inside the bigger chicken yard. The Mama Hen is being a very good mother, very protective, has the fear of God into the rest of the flock, keeps chick under cover when any danger is near (mainly us). The only problem is she can’t get the chick to go into the Hen house at night,so they end up sleeping under the Hen house.

We have a large fenced in area for the chicken yard but have always made sure they are inside at night, as we are on an rural acreage- sure there are predators out at night. We did try one night and forcibly put her in and then had to catch the chick. Very traumatic for them both. What do you think? Chick is only 4 days old now, I am hoping she can coax it into the hen house as it gets a little older.

Sheila Greenhaw
Springfield, Oregon

Can you reach the hen and chick under the coop? If so, you might try gently picking them both up after dark and putting them in the coop. After a couple of days they should be at home together in the coop each night and go there on their own. If not, I’d probably gamble that they would go inside on their own after the chick is older. (Do they have to go up a ramp to the coop door? That may be the problem and when the chick feathers out a bit, it will probably be more inclined to go up the ramp as it feels safer when it can fly somewhat.) — Jackie

Squash and pumpkins crossing

Wondering two things; one is my pumpkin patch… I planted pie pumpkins from my seeds harvested last year. I also had a plant come up later that I kept, which may have come from a butternut squash seed that made it to the garden, but I am not sure. The fruit that came up this year were half pie pumpkins, and half pumpkin/squash cross looking things. They are shaped like a large patty squash, pale in color, but with bright orange meat. Some also look like your gray squash, but I did not plant the seeds this time. What do I have growing in the garden?

Two: May I purchase seeds from your Winter Luxury pumpkins, and the Canada Crookneck Squash, if they will grow in Middle Tennessee?

Chris Hickman
Brush Creek, Tennessee

You have just got hybrid squash/pumpkins. All squash and pumpkins of the same species will readily cross even if planted many yards apart as they are pollinated by insects. Did you perhaps plant patty pan squash last year? Or did a neighbor several blocks away? That is probably what happened, giving you the strange squash along with your pie pumpkins. For most gardeners this isn’t a problem as the resultant fruit is still very edible (but the patty pan types may not store well).
If you want to save seed however, you must pay careful attention to what species you pick out and grow. For instance, our Hopi Pale Grey squash are Curcubita maximas, Canada Crooknecks are C. moschata and Winter Luxuries are C. pepo. So you can safely grow all three in your garden with no crossing. (Be aware that there still could be some inadvertent crossing by insects traveling up to a mile to pollinate.) Again, not a huge problem. Just save seeds from your most perfect fruit; you may have some crossing but it generally isn’t much.

Yes, you can grow these varieties in middle Tennessee or just about anywhere in the country, including the north as they are fairly short season crops. We harvested in about 90 days from direct seeding. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’re still madly harvesting (and having fun)

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

We’re still hauling in our garden treats and enjoying it so much. I still can’t get over the productivity of our garden squash patch. I counted over 37 BIG Hopi Pale Grey squash and that’s from only six hills! And both the Winter Luxury pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo) and Canadian Crooknecks (C. moschata) have produced very well. I haven’t counted them yet, but there are a lot.


Will harvested a couple of buckets of ears of our Painted Mountain flour corn and for the bad situation in that new patch (17 inches of rain on white clay, minimal manure, and weeds from hell) we were real happy with what we got. There are still more ears to harvest, too. We’ve got the Painted Mountain out on a table in the living room to finish drying and Will’s Seneca Sunrise sweet corn on a long table in our enclosed porch to finish up.


I’m still harvesting tomato seeds every day and we are talking about some new varieties of tomatoes to add next year (and maybe a corn).

This afternoon, I’m pulling in our onions. They weren’t as good as last year but we are happy with them anyway. The carrots are huge and, boy, do we have lots. The goats are loving all those carrot tops! They see a white bucket and come running with no calling needed. Yesterday I took a machete and chopped off the spent cauliflower leaves and the goats thought that was REAL nice. Munch, munch, munch!

We’re expecting kids this fall with four does getting fatter and making nice bags. It’s nice to have some fall kids as then we have winter milk.

I’ve got to go cut another head of broccoli to dry. See you in a few days! — Jackie

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



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