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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Jackie Clay

We’ve went from winter to summer; no spring!

Monday, June 5th, 2017

From rain and temperatures in the fifties, we swung abruptly to sun and eighties! Wow, is that hard when you’re trying so hard to get things planted. After all, we barely have a 90-day growing season… So we’re madly tilling and planting. We had visitors over the weekend in the form of a pair of pelicans. It seems so crazy to have white pelicans floating around on our beaver ponds when we live in the north woods. But they stop by regularly.

We got another surprise from a pair of residents. We’ve had sandhill cranes along our creek for a few years now, but this year, they brought family! It was very exciting for us to see that they have two chicks.

If you look closely, you can see the sandhill crane chicks in the foreground.

While Will’s been tilling the north garden with the tractor-mounted tiller, working in the manure he spread last week, I’ve been busy planting the last tomatoes in the main garden along with Burro Mountain popcorn ( a very rare ancient corn, said to come from the Anasazi), Bear Island Chippewa flour corn, Folsom Indian Ruin, Dapple Gray, Black Manitoba, Hurricane, and Succotash beans. And last evening I planted our Glass Gem popcorn in an isolation patch. Whew!

Today, I’ll get the Seneca Sunrise sweet corn and the Monte Gusto and Neckargold pole beans in. Hopefully, Will can also plant some corn with our tractor-mounted three-point corn planter in both the central and north gardens.

I’ve got some fence mending to do in the north garden. I used plastic zip ties on the six-foot-high fence and they photo-degraded, so the fence is now drooping in some places. But I’ll re-do it all with better material so we don’t have deer popping in without an invitation. Lots of pumpkins, squash, and corn will be going in there, along with our leftover tomatoes and potatoes.

The main garden is nearly full today.

We’re planting seven varieties of potatoes this year. One is Bliss Triumph, which is the potato my grandfather brought from Florida all the way to Montana, way back in the Depression. Now they’re nearly extinct. I only found one source and ended up paying, with shipping,
$5 per potato! Needless to say, I will be saving my own seed potatoes this fall for planting next spring. I hate to see old-time varieties of anything go away permanently. Bliss Triumph is a blocky red potato with great flavor and keeping ability.

Our flowers are starting to bloom around the house. I’ve got five varieties of lilacs. One of my favorites is Beauty of Moscow, a double white with lavender/pink shades and pointed petals. As two of the bushes are right below our upstairs bedroom window, the fragrance is very lush.

Aren’t Beauty of Moscow lilacs pretty?

On Saturday, I attended our granddaughter, Ava’s, dance recital down in Cloquet. What an event. There were dancers from age three all the way up to adults, many of which were very professional. Of course, the little girls were oh-so-cute!
Well, back to the garden. — Jackie

 

Jackie Clay

Will was busy while I was in Irving, Texas

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

While I was at the Self-Reliance Expo over the weekend, speaking and helping out at the Self-Reliance and Backwoods Home Magazine booth, Will kept busy. Not only did he set out 72 tomatoes inside Wall’O Waters, adding stakes to each with variety names, but he also did my chores. That included milking our newly-freshened doe and feeding her kid as her udder was too full for him to nurse without hurting her. She kept kicking at the kid and moving away. So Will milked to relieve that pressure and fed the kid. (Now the kid nurses on his own as Mom’s udder isn’t so tender.)

Look at what Will got done between rains while I was gone!

At the Expo, I enjoyed visiting with Dave Duffy and Annie Tuttle as well as meeting lots of readers and fans. I really enjoy that at each show.

I enjoyed meeting fans and readers at the Self-Reliance Expo.

Now that I’m back, I’m hitting the deck running as there’s so much to plant.
When I got back, it was rainy and 50 degrees … It felt really cold after the 95-degree weather in Dallas!

And now I’m busy too, getting ready to plant some beans and corn.

But today the sun’s out and it’s 60 already and not yet noon. I
already planted cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce plants as
well as readying another row of stock panel trellis for pole beans.
Hopefully today I can get the Bear Island Chippewa corn planted in the
berry patch and maybe some more tomatoes. (If only the days were
longer!) –Jackie

Jackie Clay

I hope to see many of you at the Self Reliance Expo in Irving, Texas this Friday and Saturday

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

I’m madly trying to get ready to leave for four days and this is a bad time to do that with all the planting I’m supposed to be doing. But, heck, it’ll get done when I get back, right? David and Ashley’s duck family is now in their new duck house/outside pen, complete with a swimming pool. The inside isn’t finished yet so they have to be herded in through the duck door and lifted up into their plastic tote for the night so they don’t poop on the unpainted walls. But they’re real troopers and hop right inside at sundown. (We have lots of owls so they can’t stay outside at night!)

Two years ago I planted some Johnny Jump-Ups in my front daylily bed and they’ve re-seeded happily. They were blooming through the snow! I’m leaving them as they sure won’t hurt the daylilies and make a nice groundcover. I love all those happy little faces smiling up at me!

Two days ago, our pearl grey mother turkey came off the nest with babies. She has nine. I worry about them as it’s been cold and raining but she won’t take them inside; we tried to herd them. No dice! But today the sun’s out and it’s warm so I’m hoping more warm weather’s in store for us all.

I hope all of you who can will come to the Irving Convention Center for the Self-Reliance Expo this weekend. I’ll be speaking but when I’m not, Ill be helping Dave Duffy and Annie Tuttle man the Self-Reliance/Backwoods Home Magazine booth. I sure do love meeting folks at these events! So don’t be shy; come on by and say hi. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’re getting plenty of spring rain

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Yes, we need it to perk up the pastures and hayfields, but it sure is hard to do outside work when it’s raining off and on all day … all week. But just before this rainy period struck, Will got busy and spread manure on our north garden and the old pig pen garden, which we now call the “central garden” just because it sounds nicer. Luckily, he only had two breakdowns with the old spreader. All those parts he put on last year sure helped. (Last year it broke down nearly every time he spread manure!) And that wasn’t fun as he had to unload what was left by hand.

He had just finished all of that when the rain began. Luckily, he’d also spread some manure on the small garden next to the house and tilled it in. So I began planting. First in were some of the fancy daylilies I’d bought on Daylily Auction during the winter months. They’ll make a border for that garden, facing the house. Then I drove in some steel T-posts and zip-tied 1½ stock panels to them as a trellis for the peas. I planted Alderman (or Tall Telephone) peas, an old variety I always used to plant, which climbs easily to 6 feet. They don’t blow over in rain and windstorms so they last nicely into summer. I also planted some Mammoth Melting sugar peas on an end trellis and will be planting some morning glories on some end trellises. Just because they’re pretty.

We keep our bird feeders full, year around and, boy, are we getting some pretty visitors. We’ve got lots of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Goldfinches, Purple finches, several song sparrows, as well as Orioles and many more common birds. The Grosbeaks are eating some of the grape jelly I put out for the Orioles. But because they’re so pretty, I don’t mind at all.

We got the big hoop house (which Will split in two halves) all fixed up and will be planting peppers in them by Wednesday. (We’re in for a hard frost Tuesday night so we are waiting … just to be safe.) It looks like we’ll be planting our first tomatoes today; when I got home from mailing seeds, Will had rows marked out and was busy digging holes for them. Of course we’ll use Wall O’ Waters to protect them from that darned frost.

Well, gotta run! Talk to you soon, folks. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Our tilling has started

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Because we currently have three tractors torn apart, waiting for cash to buy parts, we haven’t been able to get started tilling the gardens as early as we’d like. So when I got home from mailing a batch of seeds this morning, I found Will hard at work tilling our main garden the “old” way; using our two decades-old Troy-Bilt Horse tiller.

I was really impressed to see how nice our garden soil is looking. After all, I remember well having to haul trailer loads of big rocks off it every spring and the soil being sand and gravel. Now there are only a few small rocks and the soil is nice and black. Wow, that’s wonderful.

Now we have another garden to make that nice. Will was hard at work next to the training ring barn, dozing the new garden area clear of trees and then leveling. He was just getting ready to shove the “hill” on the far end down by the barn into a big pile (to use on the driveway) when the dozer went… the track won’t stay tight. The seal’s not expensive, but it’ll have to wait — just like the tractors.

David and Ashley’s ducklings are nearly “real” ducks now and are still living in the big plastic tote in the bedroom. So David is VERY motivated to get the duck house/garden shed finished. Yesterday, he worked from early morning to after dark on it. Now it’s all closed in with a big window to the east and a duck door to the west and a people door next to the window. He also put one coat of stain on the floor and will do another coat tonight after work. As ducks are very wet critters, he wants to give that floor four coats. Just because.

Our rhubarb and asparagus are coming up nicely. We should be eating asparagus by mid week. Yum. I could eat it three meals a day! The berry patch is fantastic. Our Mac Black black raspberries have all not only survived the winter but look great. And the blackberries we’ve struggled so hard to have survive are also wonderful this spring and very lusty. Finally, this year, I’m getting the grapes up on an arbor! This afternoon I’m going to prune them severely (the vines are running twenty feet along the ground!) and we’re going to train them up on a stock panel arbor so they can be maintained better. I can’t wait!

I’ve been planting some of the fancy daylilies I won during the winter on Daylily Auction (www.daylily.com). My “old” daylilies are coming up very strong and the new plants are fantastic, so I’m sure tickled. It’s sunny and 60 degrees out today so I’m going back outside. See you later! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

I had a terrible spring cold

Monday, May 1st, 2017

I hope I haven’t worried any of you but I just wasn’t up to blogging last week. I got a terrible spring cold — runny nose and coughing 24/7. Yep, I took zinc, vitamin C, etc. But it still hung on. Finally, yesterday, it started letting up and today I feel much better. Whew, I’m glad that’s over! Luckily, our spring weather was cold and rainy so I didn’t get too crazy waiting to get outside and do something.

David and girlfriend Ashley collected a big truckload of pallets from our local lumber yard (with permission, of course). Then they set about building … a duck house? Okay, a few weeks back, Ashley bought four ducklings from our local farm store. They’ve been housed in a plastic tote in the bedroom. But ducklings grow really fast and are hugely messy, playing in water more than drinking it. They had to go somewhere safe. When they asked where would be a good spot to build a duck house, I envisioned something like a dog house with a fence. So I walked them down to the garden edge where there’s a nice spot with some young poplar and chokecherry trees in it for shade. Well, they started building the floor. Holy buckets, it’s 8′ x 10′ square!

They sheeted the pallet floor with OSB and leveled it nicely, then started screwing pallets together for the walls, which were then sheeted on the outside with OSB. A trip to the lumber yard brought back enough 2x4s to do the rafters and upper side walls. Unfortunately, they ran out of cash about then. David brought home some used cedar 5/4 decking from a deck the company he works for was replacing and used that for purlins for the roof. They plan on buying sheet metal for the roof but for the time being, it’s covered by a plastic tarp until a paycheck rolls around.

Yesterday was gorgeous and I walked around outside, enjoying the sun, looking at the garden, orchard, and flower beds. Will is taking apart our house garden’s raised beds as we decided to re-do it as a regular row-crop type garden, which fits our needs more right now. And the raised beds were in sad need of either fixing or replacing.

We’d heard we were in for a nasty start to May; up to 8 inches of snow! SNOW on May 1st? Hey, it’s northern Minnesota, after all. So we did extra chores like setting out round bales for the cattle and horses, picking up miscellaneous tools, and putting out extra bedding for the goats. And it paid off.

At 7 this morning, it was raining off and on. But in an hour the snow began. And now it’s snowing like a blizzard. Tomorrow they’re forecasting fifty degrees! Wow … — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We got a lot done this past week

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Just as soon as Will finished the siding on our storage barn, we got it stained. Then Will stained the wood rack he’d built next to the south wall of the storage barn. He and David had been sawing up some of the wood they’d brought home from the logging site. So we all got busy and hauled it to the new rack and started stacking. That went great. Then we split up some very big pine rounds from a saw log Will had been trying to get ready to run through the band saw mill. They were HEAVY! But we got two trailer loads from just those four rounds.

Finally, all the wood that would fit on the rack was stacked neatly. All in all, the new rack holds a full cord of wood and we think it looks so nice, protected from rain by the roof overhang.

Meanwhile, I’m continuing to transplant tomatoes and a few peppers. The earlier transplants are doing very well and will soon be moved out onto our enclosed porch to continue growing slower in much cooler temperatures. The porch is pretty much unheated except for solar gain from the big floor to ceiling windows. (I can open the door to our greenhouse if the temps dip too low.)

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have supported our homestead growth by buying seeds from our Seed Treasures business. Every sale has contributed much to getting more done around the place: Without you, we couldn’t be doing as much as we have been. Thanks from the bottoms of our hearts!

Will is busy clearing another spot for more garden. Next to the training ring barn is a gentle slope, treed with young jackpines. The soil is mostly sand but the area is convenient to water from the new well and we have plenty of manure to enrich that sand. We need more room so we can better isolate different crops to grow even more pure, open-pollinated seed. I can’t wait until it’s cleared and level. (And we can use the waste rock and sand to improve our very bumpy driveway and to make concrete for the new barn. Another win-win situation for sure!)

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. We did, even though my oldest son’s, wife, Kelly had to work so they couldn’t come. David drove to town and brought Javid out so we had a nice dinner, some fun, and enjoyed the day. And we didn’t even have any snow. Often, here in northern Minnesota, there’s snow on Easter, so having spring-like weather was a huge blessing to us. We even got to play with Ashley’s four ducklings. For now they live in a plastic tote in the bedroom but are darned messy. So David brings them down into a duck corral he put together for some R & R while he cleans their tote and puts in new wood shavings. Javid really enjoyed watching them play in the fresh grass and in their little water dish.

Our birds have been joined by purple finches, pine grosbeaks, and a few grackles. Grackles are kind of bullies but are sure pretty with their shining blue-black feathers. Two days ago, our spring peepers joined the wood frogs in singing their little hearts out. They sound like thousands of jingle bells! Such a pretty night song, we just had to open our windows so we could go to sleep listening to them.

One of our readers wanted some photos of our hoop house so here they are:

— Jackie

Jackie Clay

Making siding from scraps

Monday, April 10th, 2017

David rescued a truckload of ¾” boards from the burn pile at work. They were cuts off of full length cants prior to being run through the mill to make round logs for building log homes. We didn’t exactly know what we’d do with them, but then we got an idea — siding!

Will began nailing them up on our storage barn wall, closest to the house, in board and batten fashion, only using a whole board for battens. Nearly running out of boards, he squeaked by at the final corner. Whew! Then he snapped a chalkline down the bottoms, which were uneven and cut them off with the circular saw.

Then he, Ashley, and I started giving it a good coat of semi-transparent dark stain to match our house. Will did the ladder work and Ashley and I traded holding up the can for him and painting the stain on the lower parts. It looks great.

As soon as that was done, Will had another bright idea: Why not build a wood rack next to the wall, which would be sheltered by the large overhang above? So he started building again. Now we have a wood rack which will hold more than a full cord of split firewood, conveniently accessed from the house. (The wood shed is full and we still have a big pile of wood to cut up and split!)

We spent the weekend picking up, raking, and cleaning around the yard. There’s still more to go, but we’re getting there. I saw a killdeer, a woodcock, and several pine siskins this weekend. We also heard the first wood frogs starting to sing in our beaver pond. But this morning, there was ice on the birdbath and goat water.

Our wild turkey hen has gone off to sit on a nest; she wasn’t in the orchard yesterday or today. We sure wish she’d bring her babies home instead of taking them off in the woods. But, hey, she’s a “wild” turkey — It’s what they do.

We got in from chores this morning and found Spencer lying in Will’s chair with one of his “babies” (stuffed animals). He sure loves them. Sometimes he lays on his back and tosses the baby up in the air with his front feet and catches it in his mouth with a happy smile. How many dogs play catch by themselves?

— Jackie

 
 
 


 
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