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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Jackie Clay

Spencer had surgery

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Our faithful “BIG DOG” Black Lab, has Spencer, had a tumor on his hind leg. Although it was relatively small and didn’t seem attached, we opted to just leave it alone. But over the years, it grew slowly and finally developed a cyst, which broke and drained. So we decided it was time to have it removed. While he was at the vet’s, he also had a small skin tag removed from his right upper eyelid. It was causing his eye to matter in the mornings but didn’t seem to be bothering him, but we decided to have it taken off before it caused trouble for our friend.

The surgery went well and Dr. Fisher, our vet, said it didn’t appear to be cancer. So we were happy and Spencer was too when I drove to McDonalds and bought him two cheeseburgers to celebrate. Now he has a cute “little piggy” Vet Wrap on to cover the stitches. But I have to change it soon as he and Ashley’s Golden Retriever snuck down to the spring basin for a swim while she was brushing the horses. Bad dog! Otherwise, he’s good about leaving wounds alone so thankfully he doesn’t have to wear an Elizabethan collar, which is clunky and dogs hate wearing. (The collar keeps dogs from licking and chewing at stitched wounds or other sores.)

The garden is mostly fantastic! We’ve got White Flag cauliflower, Magpie bush beans and Iroquois pole beans. The corn is covered with big ears and the silks on some are starting to dry down. Our first ripe tomatoes are on the vine and we’re anxiously waiting for a taste test. (The garden is late this year, probably due to all the early high heat.)

This weekend, Will and I will be at the Orr Homesteading and Self-Reliance Expo in Orr, MN. I’ll be speaking on seed saving, heirloom seeds, and canning. And we’ll be at a booth, promoting our Seed Treasures seed business as well. If any of you can come, we’d love to have you drop by for a visit! And next week is our homesteading seminar. We’re busy getting ready, deciding menus for our afternoon lunches and other getting-ducks-in-the-row stuff. We did have one cancellation due to a lady’s back going out on her so if anyone would like to fill her spot, let us know. (218) 780-4902.

Our Hansen’s Bush cherries are getting ripe and I’m looking forward to making jam. They are SO good! This year, I’m saving their seeds to add to our seed listing next year. They are very easy to start from seed. A bird dropped one in an empty pot on our deck and now we have a bush cherry started. (I also saved seeds from our huge rhubarb. Right now, the stalks are two inches in diameter and the leaves are thirty inches across!)

I’m really enjoying our flowers this year. So far, my favorite is a daylily called Seashells and Lace, a very ruffled pink with a yellow throat and lighter edge. Mine came from Dancing Daylily in Georgia.
Becky has WONDERFUL flowers at reasonable prices.

Gotta run. I’ve got some shelves to put together for our front closet. Right now our winter boots are piled and overflowing onto the floor! Hopefully tonight it will be much more organized. Well, maybe… — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Our 12-volt household water pump failed so we had a barbecue

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

Our water pump which supplies water pressure to the house has been going for quite a while. The pressure switch is wearing out. And as my son Bill works for Oak Lake RV and Campground, servicing many RVs daily, he had a pile of “broken” 12-volt water pumps in his garage which he’d saved from the garbage Dumpster. All had problems but could be fixed. So I called him and he not only said to come get some pumps but come down for a barbecue and ride on their pontoon boat.

So we did both yesterday. How enjoyable to combine work with pleasure. I got to fly a kite with grandson, Mason, and watch grandaughter, Ava, learn to troll for Northern Pike. Will was the official “I’ve got weeds on my lure!” remover while Bill drove us around the lake. We were the only boat on the lake and we enjoyed the breeze and seeing loons and turtles sunning themselves on logs.

Today, it’s back at it. Will’s hauling big round bales home from the hayfields while Ashley and I work at weeding and mulching. The gardens are doing well. We’ve eaten our first ripe tomatoes and the beans and peas are ripe. What fun to graze through the garden! The onions are starting to have their tops fall over. Wow, that sounds like fall! The bulbs are big and solid. The potatoes on the north and central gardens aren’t doing so hot. I’m sure we’ll have potatoes but we let the weeds get thick on those rows. So we’ve got to get busy and cultivate and hand weed so they get hilled. But the tomatoes, pumpkins, corn, and squash out there look nice. I planted Good Mother Stallard pole beans among the Seneca Round Nose corn and both are doing well. As Seneca Round Nose is such a lusty corn, it should easily support the beans.

Our Bear Island Chippewa corn in the main garden is tall and tasseled out well so, God willing, we’ll have a great crop of this early flour corn.

I put up the last of the cherry jam and then did a batch of red raspberry jam. For the first time, I used the berry screen on my Victorio tomato strainer. I wanted to remove the seeds as both Will and I have trouble with those little hard buggers. Let me tell you, I’ll never do that again! While the strainer works GREAT for tomatoes, it does NOT for berries. What a bunch of hard work for not much. I ended up dumping the whole mess into my wire sieve and pressing the pulp through that.

As nectarines don’t grow here, I bought several pounds of out-of-state fruit from the market. This will give us a big batch of nectarine jam, which we all love. The Hansen’s Bush Cherries are ripening, as well as the black raspberries, so I see more jam in the future!

Now I’ve got to clean out the pantry. We carried out the last of last year’s potato crop and a few surviving shallots. Now I need to rearrange the floor storage and scrub the floor in preparation for the fall harvest.

Wow, there’s always something to do on a homestead, isn’t there? I laugh when I hear someone say “I’m so BORED…”! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Hot, hot, and hotter

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Okay, I’ll admit it’s not really that hot, compared to the heat in the South. But for Northern Minnesota, it’s been hot and muggy at times. Luckily, the garden loves it and is doing very well. So are the weeds, which we are slowly getting a handle on. The blankety-blank ground squirrels ate nearly all the leaves off our melons in the second hoop house but Will thinks one plant is still alive. We’ve waged war on the squirrels with Mittens and the dogs killing seven in the last three days. Hopefully, one of the seven was our melon-eating culprit.

Friends of ours have a greenhouse/garden shop in Cook called The Watering Can. We sell them our pumpkins and fancy gourds and squash in the fall and they make us a great deal on their leftover peppers. Luckily, Diane and Gina grew several of the heirloom peppers we grow so we are planting the east hoop house in peppers as it’s too late to start melons again. You learn to roll with the punches when you homestead!

Will cut hay yesterday and hopes it doesn’t rain before he bales it tomorrow. Today is hot (85° F) with a small breeze so the hay should dry well.

We’re getting a nice batch of pie cherries from our Crimson Passion and Evans Bali trees (both Zone 2) For the first time in seven years, we are getting fruit from our Nanking bush cherries. We’re going to pick this evening as the darned Cedar Waxwings already cleaned out one Nanking bush of lots of ripe cherries.

Early this spring I was sorting out dried Hopi Pale Grey squash seeds to sell and shoved the nastiest-looking seed in a pot, just to see if it would sprout. Surprise! It did. And I didn’t have the heart to kill it so we let it grow. It now sits out in front of the house and has two decent-sized squash growing from the little vine. Those squash sure want to procreate and save the variety. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Trouble seems to come in threes

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

First off, Will’s trying to get started haying and the last time he set out to cut hay, it poured rain even though the weather radio said “sunny and hot.” Ha! Then David’s rear end went out on his ’99 GMC pickup, which he uses at work.  And, of course, we were all pretty broke. Then, for the grand finale, the yearling calves got out and ended up in the main garden. Luckily, at 5 A.M., I heard a cow moo right below our bedroom window and I quickly got up and ran out to the garden. They only had time to munch a couple mouthfuls of corn leaves before I chased them out. (But on the way, I slipped in the wet grass and fell smack in a very fresh cow pie!)

Fast forward a couple of days — David found a used rear end in Grand Rapids, a city about 60 miles from us. But, when he and Will examined it, they decided the housing was too rusty. David had rebuilt the old one only two years ago, including new brakes & rotors.  So they spent a whole day taking the gears out of the new rear end to put in David’s old housing. Ashley and I played “go-fer,” driving for parts. While they were at it, they also welded a sturdy patch on David’s frame, which was very rusted.

Will and David spent two whole days rebuilding the rear end of David’s truck.

The mosquitoes were bad last night, but David and Will were able to get the rebuilt rear end back in the truck. They didn’t have time to get the tires mounted back on or give it a thorough once-over to make sure they didn’t miss anything.

Now Will has two fields of hay down. One is at home and the other about two miles away.  We were kind of nervous as they called for a 50% chance of rain yesterday. But we didn’t get any rain. Whew!

Today, hopefully, Will can get that hay baled. We need some extra as those bad yearlings are now shut in the training ring with a mama cow with a new calf.

The main garden looks great, despite a cow raid yesterday.

The tomatoes are getting huge and are starting to bloom.

The gardens look great. The main garden by the house is best as it has had many years of rotted manure and mulch to improve the soil.  But it all looks pretty good. (Please God, no hail … or cows!) — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’ve got beautiful wild orchids in bloom

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

We have a “secret” spot along the woods where Showy Lady’s Slipper orchids bloom, the state flower of Minnesota. And they are just now starting to bloom in force. There are dozens and dozens of them, too, so they make quite a show. I love the way they begin to bloom. First there’s a big, pure white puffy “snowdrop”. Then, quite quickly, the drop begins to open, slowly revealing the gorgeous pink and white “slipper. They are so big!

A couple of days ago, we had an unusual (and not happy) happening. Will was in the garden mulching and I was in town buying feed. He heard Spencer and Hondo, our dogs, barking like they do when they have a ground squirrel at bay. He didn’t think much of it until ten minutes later when he ran the four-wheeler and trailer up to get more bales of hay. He stopped, at our older Subaru, jaw dropping. The dogs had yanked both wheel well covers off and the bumper was sagging down several inches!

Obviously, the ground squirrel had run up under the hood and the dogs were bound to get him. Wow does my beautiful trusty Subaru look awful. (Sure can’t turn it in to the insurance; I can see me now: Yes, my car was attacked by wild dogs. Well, they WERE wild, trying to catch that ground squirrel!) David took a look and said he can fix it. I hope so. It’s an older car but very trustworthy.

The garden looks fantastic and we have high hopes for a very productive year. Will went out yesterday and finished putting up a two-strand electric tape all around the north garden as cows have eaten it twice before and we don’t want that to happen again, especially as well as it’s doing this year. The corn, pumpkins, and squash all look great and the “extra” tomatoes and potatoes are coming on strong. — Jackie

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


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