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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

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

Jackie Clay

We’re happy to share our homestead, even with snakes

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

We have a large, fat garter snake hanging around which gives us a startle once in awhile. But we like having him around as he eats plenty of grasshoppers and other pests in the garden and flower beds. After living for years in rattlesnake country, I’ll admit to jumping more than once when he pops out of the grass but seeing his olive and yellow body quickly lets me know he’s totally harmless.

Will’s busy cutting, raking, and baling hay today. Yesterday he got up ten more round bales and today is breezy and hot, so hopefully, more will quickly follow. He is getting tired of making hay, however and we hope it will soon be done for the most part. We do have some second cutting clover to put up at home but it’s not much and will go fast.

I got another 11 pints of green beans canned up yesterday, filling our pantry shelves to bulging. What a good feeling as green beans are one of our favorite side dishes. I’ll be doing Dilly Beans and more Mustard Bean pickles with the next batch. They just keep pumping out the beans!
Our flowers around the house are really pretty now. Even the ones that are crowded with weeds. (Oh well, I can’t get ’em all!) Those flowers sure perk up one’s spirits, don’t they? — Jackie

Jackie Clay

I’m canning nearly every day now

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Our beans are in! And so are our peppers. This year I’m making batch after batch of Cowboy Candy, a candied jalapeño. Wow, are they ever good and really not all that hot. Especially when I mix Early Jalapeños with Fooled You, which aren’t hot at all. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try them:


3 lbs. jalapeño peppers
6 cups sugar
2 cups white vinegar
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. celery seed
3 tsp. granulated garlic

Slice jalapeños. If you don’t want so much heat, cut off top and cut out seeds and ribs before slicing ¼ inch thick. If you are sensitive or can’t keep from wiping your eyes (burns like crazy if you do!), wear plastic gloves.

Add all ingredients but peppers into a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add peppers. Bring to a boil and simmer 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove peppers and pack into half-pint jars. Bring syrup to a boil and boil hard for 6 minutes. This thickens the syrup somewhat. Ladle over sliced peppers, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Wipe rim of jar, add previously simmered lid, and screw down ring firmly tight. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

These are great on creamed cheese and crackers. Or about anything else! Yum.
Our bean crop is phenomenal this year. I only planted two short rows of Provider bush beans because I still have shelves full of canned beans. But those rows have given me four basketfuls of beans so far, and they’re still producing like mad. I canned plain beans and Mustard Bean pickles. Tomorrow it’s Dilly Beans. Guess why I love Providers? And they get pretty big but are meaty, with small seeds until they are pretty mature, so they last on the vine for quite a while before going seedy.
This year we tried a new pole bean, Neckargold, after our friend Dara raved about them last year. Our vines are covered with flat, long, tender gold beans. We ate one batch to try them, and they are tender with very good flavor. This is another keeper!
We are getting such a kick out of the batch of chicks that were hatched in our front yard. They run here and there, gobbling up bugs, grass, and seeds. We think they’re mobile yard ornaments! They’re so entertaining. Who needs TV? — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: fresh eggs floating, saving bean and pea seeds, and beaver forecast

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Fresh eggs floating

I’d like to know your opinion on this or any insight you might have. A person who buys eggs from us complained that some of them floated when she immersed them in water. I apologized and looked this up on the internet and found various sites that suggested such eggs are no longer viable for eating because they’re spoiled and should be thrown away. Since that time, I’ve been floating our eggs in deep water, and even some of the freshest eggs (less than a week old and kept in the fridge) ‘float’–they don’t lie totally horizontally on the sink bottom but rather pivot on their tip in the water. Some of the eggs less than three weeks old float above the bottom a little, others a bit more. I’m puzzled by this situation. In the summer I gather the eggs two or three times a day, and they immediately go into the fridge. They couldn’t get any fresher.

In summary, even some of the freshest eggs float a little bit, or quite a bit in some cases. I thought farm-fresh eggs were supposed to be viable for many weeks if kept in the fridge.

We wash our eggs about once a week and put them back in the fridge for keeping. I wonder if washing the protective coating off the eggs allows more air to enter through the shell, causing them to float. This shouldn’t render them spoiled, should it? We’ve always eaten even the floating ones, as I know they’re good, having only been in the fridge for less than a month or six weeks at the very longest. We’ve never been sickened by those eggs, and neither have any of our friends. I just can’t imagine that fresh eggs kept in the fridge no more than six weeks maximum, but which float, are not fit to eat.

Do you have any insight into this? How can home-produced eggs float after a week or two or three, when store bought ones apparently don’t?

Dallen Timothy
Gilbert, Arizona

The “floating egg” method of telling good from bad eggs is kind of misleading. Eggs that pop right up to the top are usually bad. But even eggs right out of the chicken will float to an upright position often as there is a space of air in the eggs which allows room for the embryo of the developing chick to grow and fit into the shell. Obviously, that air space will cause the egg to float a bit. Some float a bit more as all air spaces are not exactly the same and all eggs are not the same size, either.
We don’t wash any eggs at all except the dirty ones. Washing once is fine but I wouldn’t re-wash them as washing does remove the protective coating from the eggs. Store eggs are often sold as “fresh” and are a month or more old. I, personally, have used our own eggs that were over three months old and only kept in a cool (45 degree) pantry due to lack of refrigerator room and being isolated on a mountain over winter.

Few people check to see if store bought “fresh” eggs float; they just assume store bought anything is just great. Not me. — Jackie

Saving bean and pea seeds

I have been trying to save seeds from peas and green beans. By the time the pods are dry, they pop open and the seeds spill out. Can I pull the beans and/or peas off the plant and let dry or even dehydrate them? Along with that, I planted Blue Lake Bush, Phaseolus vulgaris. The seeds that I planted were white. The seeds in the dry pods are red. Will they grow true to what I planted?

Ankeny, Iowa

To harvest bean and pea seeds, wait just until the pods are tan and feel pretty dry then either pick the pods or pull the entire vines gently. You can lay the pods/vines on a tarp or child’s wading pool to finish drying in a protected location such as a garage or porch floor. When the pods are very dry, you can then pop the contents out into a bowl or pail. If you have a lot, just walk on the vines on the tarp with very clean shoes to thresh out the seeds. Then gently shake and lift the vines off, once the seeds have all come free. Winnow the seeds, pouring from one bowl to another, on a breezy day. The wind will blow off the chaff leaving clean seeds.

Blue Lake bush beans do have white seeds; it’s possible yours got crossed somewhere in the process. No, they won’t come true to what you’ve planted. But who knows? Maybe you’ve just created your own yummy hybrid! If you want true Blue Lakes, you’ll have to buy new seeds. Beans generally are self-pollinating and you can keep pure seeds by separating the varieties by about 50 feet or so. Garden beans are all pretty much Phaseolus vulgaris and will happily cross if planted together, including wax and pole beans. — Jackie

Beaver forecast

I know it’s very early but I was wondering if the beavers are giving you an indication of this year’s winter snow pack? It’s been dreadfully hot and dry here in Montana, and I can’t help but think ahead to the coolness of fall and winter’s months. Is it too early to give a slight prediction of what the winter of 2015-16 might hold for us?

Elizabeth Seymour
Whitefish, Montana

It’s too early yet. Ask again in early September and I’ll keep you posted. Right now they’re just happily doing summer beaver things: raising families, swimming about, and patching their dams. — Jackie



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