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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Jackie Clay

The cows got into our pumpkin/corn patch

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Yesterday Will was bulldozing the horse manure in the horse pasture where we feed round bales all winter up into a compost pile. He noticed that the cows seemed to be too far north on the new pasture. He dismounted from Old Yeller and walked out to see. They’d gotten the gate open into the pumpkin/corn patch on the new pasture and were eating/walking through corn and pumpkins. To make it worse, we were going to have our buyers from The Watering Can nursery out today to BUY pumpkins!
He called the cows and they came right out and he fixed the gate. Today I went early to buy that last 20 feet of fence we’d “Mickey Moused” with six-foot-tall chicken wire.

Luckily, although they had bitten and eaten some pumpkins and squash, there were still a lot that they hadn’t gotten into yet. So Gina and Dianne were still able to fill up their van. Oh well, you can bet that won’t happen again next year!
One thing we’ve learned is that you win some. And you lose some. It’s all part of homesteading. Luckily, Will harvested two feed sacks full of Painted Mountain corn BEFORE the cows got in. And it’s just gorgeous. Meanwhile, I continued picking and seeding tomatoes. I did a big batch of Topaz tomatoes. Boy, do I love them — about ping pong ball-sized perfect light yellow with white stripes. Gorgeous and great in salads too. They’re a new favorite, for sure!
While Will and I sure do our share every day, Hondo is bound to get Will outside faster each morning. Not only does he drag him out of bed by the pajamas, but he pulls his pant legs and jacket if he comes in to sit for even a short break. What a boss! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning acorns and double yolk eggs

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Canning acorns

We want to can burr oak acorns. These have some tannin in them, enough that we want to leach them, either in changes of boiling water, or room temperature water (to be determined). For this reason, we are uncertain if your method of packing dry into pint jars, and processing 10 minutes at 5 pounds of pressure will be safe. We would of course dry them first, probably at 100 degrees on cookie sheets. We hope to use the leached nuts for 1) Eating as is, 2) in cooked recipes, and 3) to grind into flour We do not want to refrigerate or freeze them.

Michael and Norma Bounk
Tipton, Iowa

Although I have not yet canned acorns, there’s no reason you can’t after they have been leached enough to draw out the tannin, then thoroughly dried. Be sure to stir the acorns several times during toasting so that they both dry and heat thoroughly. Then can as other nuts. Be sure to take care during the leaching process so they don’t stand too long in “old” water and get moldy or begin to spoil. — Jackie

Double yolk eggs

I have a barred rock chicken that every time lays double yolk eggs. Is that normal or do I have a special chicken ?

Bill Cole
Merlin, Oregon

While this isn’t “normal”, some chickens just do this. Give her treats for her productivity! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Harvest is full under way

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Every single day now, we’re harvesting crops. As we were expecting rain, we pulled our two long rows of onions and a short one of shallots. All did very well. We had some of the largest onions ever. We ended up with four and a half 5-gallon buckets full of onions! I let them lay out in the sun, in the garden for two days then, because of forthcoming rain, I cut off the tops about two inches from the bulb as some of the tops were still green. I carried them up to the house and spread them out in the enclosed porch to finish drying down so they’ll store well.
The darned bluejays are starting to get into our very rare Bear Island Chippewa flint corn so we’re pulling several ears every day to keep ahead of them. This corn is very beautiful and will make lots of cornmeal as the cobs are about 9″ long with 10-12 rows of really big, fat kernels on each cob. And each plant made four or five stalks and most plants have four or five ears! Very productive…and early to dry down, too. We’ll add this corn to our seed list for sure!

We harvested our first Sugar Salmon muskmelons from our small hoop house. They are a beautiful golden color with tan netting. And juicy and sweet, too. Another winner!
Will’s busy burying our water line from the frost-free hydrant in the yard down to the one in the barn. It’s not 8′ deep but we blow the line out with the air compressor after each use and he wanted it out of the way and laid with no dips to hold water. He dug the trench with our little backhoe attachment we bought from our friend Tom at a great bargain. Today Will’s filling in the trench.
Yesterday we hosted a local garden club so we enjoyed talking about seeds, fruit trees, and plants as well as giving “the tour” of our place. The ladies enjoyed the tour and we enjoyed their company.

Our last two cows have just given birth. Mamba, our black milk cow, had a pretty gray heifer that we named Salsa and Lace, our “wedding cow” just had a huge bull. Darn; we really wanted to keep a heifer from her as she’s getting older. Oh well, you don’t always get what you want. The calves are all doing well and having fun playing together. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We finally finished haying

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Yesterday, Will and I went out and picked up the very last square bales from the last hayfield. It was so good to be done haying finally and know that our animals will have all the hay they can eat and all the bedding they need. And we have stacked 100 bales of reed canary grass hay separately to use as mulch in our gardens next year.

I made another batch of Cowboy Candy (candied jalapeños) yesterday, using the leftover syrup to do two half-pints of red bell pepper pieces in the syrup. As the syrup is spicy hot from the boiling jalapeños, it perks up the sweet peppers very nicely. And I don’t waste the syrup! Waste not; want not.
One of the red sweet peppers I sliced up was a beautiful Lipstick from our house garden. We grew these in isolation so we can save seeds. (Lipstick peppers only have about two dozen seeds per pepper, at most!) These are such a tasty, pretty pepper. We sure love them.
Our son, David, now works at Voyageur Log Homes, and brought home a section of log railing from a remodel job that had been destined for the burn pile. For now I put it in front of our house, by the flower bed. Mittens just loves it. She thinks we put it there just for her to play on. She spends lots of time laying down, running around, and sleeping on it!
We’ve got some big Gila Cliff Dweller squash down in our barn isolation plot. We’ve never grown them before and they promise to be a great addition. They are big, white- and green-striped, and real pretty. It’s fun to try new, rare varieties. I picked a few ears of Bear Island Chippewa flint corn yesterday because the blue jays were starting to eat it. It’s a real nice, colored corn with large ears that have 12-14 rows of large kernels. And it’s quite early, too. We grew it several years back and were impressed with the quality of the cornmeal from it. And, as it’s very rare, we’re happy to add it to our growing list of seeds! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: laundry soap and giving spoiled fruit to livestock

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Laundry soap

Is your laundry soap recipe, found in BHM, safe to wash our baby’s clothes in? We are expecting our first child in October. One of the questions that was raised by grandma was laundry soap for the baby. We current make your recipe for our laundry soap. If it is not safe for babies do you have any suggestions?

Meghan Futterleib
West Windsor, Vermont

Yes, it is safe for babies. My youngest is now going on 24 and he, as well as my other kids, never had trouble with it at all. Just rinse well and you’ll be fine. — Jackie

Giving spoiled fruit to livestock

We live in fruit country — peaches, cherries, plums, etc. So, we have lots to dump at the end of season or the mush ones before then. Can I safely dump them for the cows? How about goats and pigs? Also have pears and apples which don’t have pits but do have seeds? Of course everything in moderation but it would save a lot on feed or hay if it is safe for them. Actually have already given them some but wondering if I can continue.

Gail Erman
Palisade, Colorado

Due to the toxicity of the pits, I wouldn’t advise dumping stone fruits to the cows, goats or pigs with pits intact. Pears and apples are fine. You can dump stone fruits into your chicken yard and they’ll love the treats and you’ll save money on feed, too. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

As usual, our beavers were right

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

We had a very hot, dry summer. Around here, some swamps are dry and even rivers are showing more rocks than water. Yep, we got rain. But only about 1/10 of an inch or less at a time; not enough to counteract the hot temperatures. Finally it is cooling down and we are getting some real rain. Luckily, we’re about done haying, with a good crop in, too.
This summer our poultry has been running crazy, nesting, hatching eggs, and raising chicks! We just had a White Laced Red Cornish hen come off a nest with a big batch of chicks. Our momma turkey must have been sharing her nest with a chicken because she just hatched nine baby chicks. She has her own turkey eggs in her nest too, so Will grabbed the turkey eggs (at great bodily risk!) and brought them in to put in our little incubator. As turkey eggs take about a week longer to hatch, they would have never hatched left outside in the cold as the mom abandoned the nest after hatching the chicks. So we’ll see if we can finish the job she started.
Our tomatoes are going crazy. Due to our cold, wet spring, all of them are late this year as are most of our neighbors’ tomatoes. But boy, do we have tomatoes! We just discovered the Farthest North plants are totally covered with tomatoes. We’ve never seen that many tomatoes on any plant before. It’s so productive. They are a cherry tomato but I use them in sauce and they do very well. Such a pretty plant, too!
Today it’s cloudy and rainy so we get a break. Our Subaru has been in for wheel bearings and other expensive repairs. And I ran over some broken glass on the road and ruined a tire recently, so this afternoon, I have to pick up a pair of tires for it. Oh well, we can’t complain as it’s been a very dependable vehicle and our rough, bumpy mile-long driveway is hard on vehicles. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: spaghetti squash and canning lamb/beef bones

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Spaghetti squash

This is my first year of growing spaghetti squash, and I baked my first one today. The inside didn’t come out stringy like spaghetti. It looks more like regular winter squash with a rice like texture. Any ideas what could have caused this? It still tastes great!

Johanna Hill
Arcanum, Ohio

What I do is cut my spaghetti squash in half, pick out any mature seeds, then gently “fluff” up the strings. I pour homemade spaghetti sauce over it all in a baking dish and top with cheese. Bake in the oven until tender. — Jackie

Canning lamb/beef bones

Can a person can beef or lamb bones? I am killing several and want to can the bones so they make a broth while they are canning. Then the bones would also be preserved so we could dump out broth for us and then give bone to our dog.

Lisa Leffert
Bonney Lake, Washington

You can certainly can bones with stock, as you indicate, but giving cooked bones of any kind to dogs is pretty dangerous. Raw bones’ slivers can be digested by dogs but cooked bones often pass into the gut, undigested and can block the intestines and even puncture them. I’d make your broth and freeze some of the uncooked large bones for the dog. He’ll thank you for keeping him safe. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We have a new baby

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Wednesday, our half Jersey heifer, Surprise, had her baby — a pretty heifer we are calling Fern because she’s just the color of dead fern leaves. And we know because that night both she and her mom got out and Surprise hid her baby and we couldn’t find her for two days! We searched and searched but no calf. But we knew that cows did that and weren’t TOO worried. Then out she came, fine as a fiddle and twice as bouncy. Now they’re both back with the other cows and all is well.
I’ve just had another bad bout with diverticulitis, but thank God I haven’t had to go to the doctor and I’m much better today. Nasty stuff and I really do watch what I eat; no popcorn, nuts, seeds, etc.
I’m just glad to be getting over it. There’s so much to do this time of the year. Our first tomatoes, Moravsky Div, a Russian tomato beat the pack in ripening and there are lots and lots of others coming along real fast. The sweet corn is starting to ripen. We’ve eaten our first potatoes. (Boy, do we love the Dakota Pearls!) and the peppers … All I can say is WOW!

Our garden squash is scary it’s so huge. We especially are waiting for our Apache Giant, a rare variety we are trialing. It has yellow blotched leaves that are gorgeous. (No, it is not diseased!)
The peas are all dried down and I’ll be pulling them tomorrow to save seed. We really enjoyed them while they lasted.

Our weather’s cooled down and we sure are glad. Will and I don’t do 90 degree temperatures; it just flattens us. He’s about done doing hay and is hauling big round bales home on our bus frame-turned-hay-transport. It’s going well and we are real happy to have so much hay this year.
How’s everyone’s garden doing? I’m hoping yours is as wonderful as ours! — Jackie



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