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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Jackie Clay

There’s no place like home

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Well, we’re back from another whirlwind trip to Montana and back! Whew! We drove straight out there in 22 hours (obeying the speed limit). Got a motel and a good night’s sleep. In the morning, we went 20 miles to get Javid’s handicap van. It sat all winter and we were wondering if it had four flat tires and if it would start. Luckily, it had four round tires and with the help of David’s battery jumper pack, it started right up, even with old gas in the tank. It drove right up the ramp and in 15 minutes, David had it strapped down and ready to haul.

David’s girlfriend, Hannah, had never been out west and had never seen a mountain and he wanted to show her Yellowstone Park. Since we were “only” 150 miles away, we set out immediately as the van had loaded so easily. We unhitched the trailer with the van on it to pick up later.

We had been to the park many times and knew the routes we wanted her to see. Boy, in all our trips through the park, I’d never seen so many animals of all different kinds. We saw bighorn sheep close up, elk, buffalo, coyote, and a wolf. And we saw two different grizzly bears! One was far off and with the telephoto, we could just make it out good enough to take some so-so photos. But the second bear was only about 120 yards away, digging roots. We were so excited! Both David and I got some decent photos. Then my batteries died! And I’d left my spares in my duffle in the motel.

Hannah was thrilled to not only go right up in the mountains but to see snow in late May (one road was still closed due to snow) and all those animals.

We headed back to the motel at dark and got in kind of late. In the morning, we hooked up the trailer and headed east. And drove. And drove. And drove. We spent the night in Dickenson, North Dakota, and drove on the next morning. We left Javid’s van off at son, Bill’s (he’ll check it over for mechanical issues) then headed north. After leaving off the trailer at the U-haul dealer, we headed home. It was snowing hard! Then David came around a corner and there, right across the road, were two big trees! Luckily, David is always prepared. He carries his chainsaw and lots of tools at all times. He hopped out and started sawing the trees up. We hauled off branches and in a few minutes we were on the road again.

Boy, our bed felt good! This morning, I took the tour. Will had rain all the time we were gone but he and Krystal managed to get the plastic on the small hoop house and plant black raspberries as well as countless other chores. I’m glad to be home. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: raising beef and orioles

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Raising beef

I’ve been looking for information on raising my own calf or two for beef. Do you have some suggestions on what I need to do? I’ve raised my own chickens and turkeys but want to raise my own beef now. I know you buy calves at auction, what should I look for? So many questions.

Jennifer Grahovac

Several issues past (Issue #120, November/December 2009) I wrote a lengthy article on raising calves on a bottle. I’d suggest you read the article. You can buy calves at the auction barn but it’s much better to buy them from a local farmer. At an auction, calves trade “germs” readily and you often bring home calves already exposed to diseases such as scours (severe diarrhea) or pneumonia. When feeding your calves, always buy the best milk replacer available, which is also the most expensive. Cheaper replacers contain soy instead of milk-based protein and are not as digestible and will often cause calves to scour, which can be deadly. When calves scour, which bottle-raised calves often do, immediately take them off of milk replacer and instead give a bottle of mixed calf electrolytes (I like the one with gel as it soothes the calf’s digestive tract at the same time.) Only give the electrolytes until the calf’s stool is almost normal. At that point you can begin mixing milk with electrolytes and get the calf back onto milk. Again, read the article; it’ll help you out a bunch. — Jackie


Saw my first Orioles today! Do you have your grape jelly out? Seems kind of cool for them to be here.(SE Minnesota, around Rochester)

Carol Applen
Eyota, Minnesota

Yes, I do, plus three feeders with “oriole juice,” too. I love the orioles and they have such a pretty song too! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: preserving eggs and canning cherry pie filling

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Preserving eggs

What do you think about scrambling eggs with sausage, mushrooms and green and red peppers and canning them. Trying to get away from freezer and when I get my chickens and quit selling almonds then I will have lots of eggs and don’t like them pickled.

Nancy Foster
Dallas City, Illinois

Sorry, Nancy, but there’s just NO research that’s been done on canning eggs, other than pickling them and that’s minimal! Keep those hens producing. You can add a light during the fall and winter to keep ’em laying even, during darker days. Having a warmer coop also helps — no drafts and plenty of shavings for bedding. — Jackie

Canning cherry pie filling

I purchased several jars of tart cherries a couple years ago. I didn’t want them to spoil and the jars were still sealed and looked like when I purchased them. So I made cherry pie filling and recanned them in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes. After doing it, I wondered if that was the right thing to do?

Lorraine Sturgis
Standish, Maine

Personally, I would have left them in the original jars. But if you used an approved recipe for your pie filling, you should be just fine. I say “an approved” recipe as some folks try to thicken their pie filling to can with flour or cornstarch, which aren’t approved anymore. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Ah, Spring!

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Today it’s 65 degrees and sunny without much wind so it sure feels great. Will’s working on the barn, getting ready to put up our home-cut siding. Yesterday he worked on the sawmill all day, cutting ONE log. But that log was a huge spruce log that had to be cut down with a chainsaw to even fit on the sawmill! He’s putting first a layer of our free plywood up over the 2×6 studs, then adding furring strips on which to nail the vertical board and batten siding. The plywood is to prevent any slight drafts from getting through the barn. Inside, we’re going to add some insulation board that a friend found for us. It was a wonderful “deal.” We’ll be off to pick that up soon — a whole trailer load! Thank you, Mike!

I canned up bean soup last night after putting away 17 pints of baked beans first. Wow, that sure looks great in the pantry!

This morning we went to our friends’ house to disbud our new Nubian/Boer buckling.


He is simply stunning and so gorgeously marked; like a pinto-appaloosa horse. His mother and father were out of a buck and doe we used to have so we know his potential as a producer of great milkers on down the line. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he’s beautifully marked too! (No, he doesn’t have a roached back. Dara is just holding him still on the stump!) — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Spring is busy, busy, busy

Thursday, April 9th, 2015


I’m sure glad that the days are getting longer! I’m like a chicken — when it’s light, I’m active; when it’s dark I get sleepy. And with all we have to do, I’m glad I’m awake more. I’ve been working on the cover for my next Western novel and so far, it’s coming out great.

This morning, I set a pot of beans on to boil and now they’re setting in the pot for a couple more hours then I’m adding ham and bacon and making a huge batch of baked beans to can up. Hopefully, tomorrow I can get the ham bone boiled up and make another big batch of bean soup. I love it when I get lots of meals from one major piece of meat!

The peppers, petunias, and tomatoes are growing nicely and I need to get them transplanted soon. Boy, some days I wish I were twins.

Will’s been working on our old ’85 blue 3/4 ton Chevy pickup, getting it road-ready again after sitting for a few years. We have a long haul with the stock trailer on Monday so we’re crossing our fingers that Old Blue runs well.

Slowly, the birds are returning from the South. I’ve seen five more robins, two kestrels, two red-tailed hawks and a turkey vulture. We’ve also seen a few trumpeter swans, and both Canada geese and snow geese flying north. But today is snowy and raw. It sure doesn’t feel much like spring. It is supposed to warm up toward the weekend, though. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We had a busy but blessed Easter

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

I made plans to do all my cleaning/baking/pre-cooking on the Saturday before Easter but you know how plans go… We had company all day Saturday! Company that we really enjoyed. But boy, did that ever set me behind for Easter. But I got up early Sunday and got ‘er kind of done — enough anyway. Our guests were: my sister Sue from near Duluth, Javid from Orr, David, and Bill and his family from Kerrick. We had an all-homegrown feast of baked ham, garlic-whipped mashed potatoes (with sour cream and cream cheese, of course), carrots, green beans, rolls, etc. I even had some sweetened French soft cheese set out that we enjoyed with hot pepper rings and crackers. So nobody left the table hungry.

Easter was complicated as David had to arrive early so he and I could drive to Orr to pick up Javid. Since Javid he is disabled, he needs to be lifted from his wheelchair to the car and back out again at home. (Will’s back is better but not painless yet.) Then David had to work so I had to fix his dinner first so he could eat and run. The rest popped in about noon and I re-heated dinner for them. Hey, it all worked out great. We all took a walk down to the barn to show everyone how nicely the new barn is coming and to visit the cows and horses. Javid enjoyed visiting with Ladyhawk, our Friesian mare. She absolutely loved him and bent over to lip his jacket and face. And of course granddaughter, Ava, had a great visit with the cows, horses, and her favorite, Spencer. Our grandson, Mason, brought the radio-controlled helicopter we’d given him for Christmas and he amazed us all by flying it around inside the house. Wow — Our own drone!

Now it’s back at it again. I’m going to take the meat off the ham bone and add navy beans and can up a big batch of baked beans. Then the bone will be added to more beans for another batch of bean soup. Love those quick, meals in a jar! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We have a spell of warmer weather

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

I just made a big batch of soft French Chevre cheese from some outdated milk I was given by a local store (instead of them pouring it down the drain). It was simple to make and I finished it up in minutes, adding a bit of powdered sugar to some of it to make an awesome lightly-sweetened veggie and cracker dip. Wow, is that good! All it took was three drops of liquid rennet diluted in 1/3 cup of cool water, then 2 Tbsp. of that, 1/2 cup of buttermilk, and 2 gallons of milk brought up to 80 degrees and held at a warm temp overnight. I poured the curds into a cloth-lined colander to drain. How easy is that?

Meanwhile back on the farm, our friends’ teenage son James came over to clean out our goat barn for us. Will and I drove the tractor to the door, then James forked the manure out into the bucket. I carried a few loads to a squash isolation patch, then another load to another patch. Will carried loads out to our orchard, dropping one by each fruit tree to later scatter around them for fertilizer and mulch. (The chickens think it’s just wonderful and they’re already fighting over choice piles.)


You should see Hondo in the mornings. Will starts to get dressed for outside chores and he goes nuts. He gets in Will’s face and barks at him to hurry. If he doesn’t (or moves too slow) Hondo grabs his arms, his pants, or shirt sleeve and pulls on him like Lassie trying to get Timmy to follow her. Hondo REALLY likes being a homestead dog!

Happy Easter to you all! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

I saw our first robin today!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

First of all, I’m sure you’re wondering how I came out with my stress test. I passed. It seems like I got a case of walking pneumonia out of my last nasty cough-cold and that was what was causing my chest pains and shortness of breath. (The doctor looked at the first X-ray but didn’t see the light consolidation that was already fading, but the radiologist spotted it.) Anyway, I’m feeling better and so is Will. Come on, spring!

Every time Will has a hamburger, Spencer, Hondo, and Mittens crowd around for bits of the bun (and maybe a little meat). So I just had to post a picture of them. I think it’s so cute!

Today has been busy. I’m starting our first tomatoes, canning hamburger, and had to run to town this morning. But while I was in town, I saw a robin, our very first. I even backed up to make sure! Luckily, there was no traffic in town. Yesterday I saw three geese at home and Will also saw a pair of swans.

Will also split up a truckload of firewood from some logs that didn’t make the cut for lumber. Now all we have to do is to stack it inside the storage building. — Jackie



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