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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Jackie Clay

It’s springtime crazy around here!

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

After waiting so long for nice weather, we’re making very good use of it! We disbudded all five of our goat kids. That’s one of our least favorite homestead jobs but we feel it’s very necessary for the goats’ sake so they won’t get caught in fences, water pails, each other’s collars, or any other dangers. And we won’t get smacked in the face as they swing around to chase a fly. We also got our donkey, Crystal’s, feet trimmed. She has terrible feet which tend to grow twisted over winter. So we have to keep them well trimmed to prevent that. Poor Will, with his bad back, did the job while I handed him tools. Luckily, Crystal was pretty good throughout the process. I think she knows we’re helping her walk well.

While I finished transplanting our tomatoes and peppers, Will spread lime on our main garden as our soil is pretty acidic. He had also done the new north garden and the old hog pasture. So yesterday, he went ahead and tilled them with our tractor mounted tiller because it’s supposed to rain soon.

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He also seeded two more of our hayfields into oats and clover. (He slept very well last night!)

Our orchard is simply wonderful this spring. The trees are in full bloom and as they are getting bigger, the whole orchard looks like a snowstorm. Magnificent!

While I was driving to town, I noticed a Canada goose on a nest, on an old beaver lodge, in a creek. She’s sitting tight and didn’t move when I stopped to take a picture. She’ll be hatching soon and we probably won’t see the family again as they leave the nesting area right away after hatching.

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Last night we were all tired. I had to laugh when I came into the living room to find Hondo cuddled around a big Hopi Pale Grey squash Will had brought out to show some visitors. We all like our HPGs!

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— Jackie

Jackie Clay

I had a great time at the Self Reliance Expo in Irving, Texas

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

I was so happy to get to meet so many of my extended BHM family at this show! Thank you, all of you, for stopping by and saying hi, giving me a hug and telling me how much you enjoy what I do. It really means a lot to me. I spoke two days on gardening and canning, to a “full house” although I did have competition from a nearby group demonstrating their noisy attack dogs with BIG voices! (I much prefer our “attack” dogs, Spencer and Hondo, who, I’m sure would attack a “bad guy” if necessary but are gentle and saps for petting from “good guys”… and are MUCH quieter!)

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While I was gone, I kept in touch with Will at home, who said we had a quarter-inch of snow on the ground and temps in the high 20s-30s. Luckily, he took in my tender plants and Mother’s Day hanging baskets!

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Now, it’s back to homesteading. This afternoon I’m going to set out my onion sets and plant the peas; I’d meant to get that done earlier but somehow it always got shoved back to a lower priority. That happens on the homestead! Now I’ve got to play catch-up. Sort of like disbudding our goat kids. They’re way overdue so this afternoon we’ll get that done. (God willing and the crick don’t rise!)

Speaking of the creek, our pair of Canada geese came off the nest this morning with five (we think) babies. So cool. They nest on our small beaver pond every spring. But, unfortunately, they move the babies on to the large pond as soon as they hatch so we don’t get to see much of them after hatching. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We planted fruit trees … again

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

In Northern Minnesota, nothing much is easy. We had a couple dozen apple trees plus cherry and pear trees in our little acre of orchard. And they were doing great. But two winters ago, we had record-breaking winter temperatures: 90 days below zero. We lost about six apple trees and the rest took hits from mild to extreme. This spring we pruned them all, Will sawed out the dead trunks, and some were beyond help. So we ordered trees to replace them. The old saying “plant till you’re planted” sure rang true! So we re-planted trees.

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Luckily, all the survivors are looking very good as are the cherries, apricots, and plums in our other little orchard in the “back yard.”

I’ve got to start canning up hamburger as we’ve got a lot that needs canning before hot weather. It’s so very handy all canned up and ready to heat and eat! We love it. I just lightly brown and crumble the burger, spoon it in jars, leaving 1 inch of headroom, and process it — no liquid added. It turns out great every time.

By the way, our baby goat Sir is getting smarter; he follows me like a dog for his baba. And he’s doing great. Who’d have thought? — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Boy, are we happy to see the sun!

Friday, April 29th, 2016

And so are our goats! We just had two more “litters” of baby goats, twins from two does — two bucklings and two doelings. They must not have wanted to wait and see if more cold weather was in the future. All babies are doing very well.

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So is Sir, the baby who nearly died due to exposure after being born outside in the cold rain. He’s up and playing. This morning he discovered his ears. He spent a lot of time twitching his head to see them flap. And he’s starting to bounce and jump too. He won’t stay in his box during the day so I’m putting him down with his mom. He can play, nibble on grass, and when he’s tired, he finds a sunny spot to nap in. One of his favorites is on a half log near the gate. His mom watches over him but won’t let him nurse, yet. But she is a good milker and gives a gallon a day. Because Sir only eats three pints so far, I see a batch of yogurt in our future.

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I’m busy transplanting tomatoes. Whew, are there a lot! And because I strained my shoulder last week, I can only do it for a little while then need to give it a rest. But like the tortoise, it’s getting done, although slower than I’d like.

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Will helped me fix up our front flower bed for those fancy daylilies I ordered over winter, a little at a time. We added composted manure, put ID stakes by the plants that were already there then fenced the whole thing with 2-foot-high fence as I was tired of the chickens “fluffing” in deep holes they dig there, which isn’t good for the plants. Now the hens are confused and I’m sure depressed. Hey, they are our “wild” chickens; they can go down in the brush to dig! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

I think we’ve grown webs between our toes

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

We’ve had rain, rain and more rain. Four inches in several days’ time. Luckily, Will managed to get our main garden tilled just before the first rain hit. It tilled up very nicely and now I’m itchy to get in and get the onions and peas planted.

Tilling_0188

Our little buck goat is doing great. For a while there it was kind of come and go but suddenly he decided he’d live. We still have him on the bottle as his mom didn’t bond with him. She’s not mean to him but won’t let him nurse. We’ll keep trying. We called him Rocks. His grandfather was our Boer buck, Rocky, and unfortunately this buckling is as dumb as a box of rocks … Real cute, though.

The past weekend, we attended a gathering of Itasca Co. Master Gardeners, bringing a small booth to set up for Seed Treasures, our little seed business. We met a lot of nice people and were so happy to hear so many people concerned with planting only non-GMO seeds! We brought several bins of different beans and colored corn as well as a Hopi Pale Grey squash and some dry corn on the cob (Painted Mountain) which was very colorful.

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My Japanese morning glories are roaring up. Holy mackerel, you can actually SEE them pop out of the soil like beans do. They were very big seeds and the leaves are huge. I can hardly wait to see the blossoms! I’m starting to transplant tomatoes and, boy, did they germinate great this year. I put two seeds in each peat pellet and many had two plants (or more!) come up. I hate waste so I’m carefully transplanting each one so as not to waste. The extras I’m giving to my friends Diane and Gina to sell at their greenhouse. I don’t need 388 tomatoes! … plus the extras too.

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Will has the old, small hoop house down and taken apart so he can till the soil there. I’m not sure what his plans are — whether to put it back up or build a larger one in its place. Stay tuned and we’ll all see. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: sick chicken and jars not sealing

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Sick chicken

One of our old Rhode Island Reds isn’t able to get on her feet since yesterday. She never even made it in the coop last night. She ate some mealworms and had a couple sips of water this morning but can’t seem to stand on her legs. She was old when someone gave her to us 5 years ago. She hardly laid an egg even then but she was a sweet garden buddy. We don’t want her to suffer. If this is something she won’t recover from, how do we humanely dispatch her? Remember, we are vegetarians, not used to “dispatching”.

Draza Knezevich
Miramonte, California

You might try giving her oral tetracycline in water. While she’s probably on her way out naturally, this may help her recover at least for awhile longer. She may have picked up a bacterial infection which is harder on old birds. You can get tetracycline powder at your local feed store. Unfortunately, it’s meant for big flocks and it’s hard to figure out just how much to mix up for one chicken. We use one heaping teaspoonful in a quart of water. Mix well and give to her in an eyedropper several times a day. Keep her where it’s warm and dry meanwhile. Hopefully she’ll either recover or pass on so you’ll be spared having to dispatch her. — Jackie

Jars not sealing

I put up 9 pints of peas/carrots/potatoes and had 7 seal quickly. About 2 hrs. later one of the jars pinged closed. The 9th jar did not seal. My question concerns the unsealed jars of foods. I have read that the jars should be left undisturbed for 24 hrs. If at the end of that time is the jar that remains unsealed safe to eat? I have in the past put them in the refrigerator or freezer. I have concerns that food, especially something like chili, would pose health issues after being on the counter that long. What are the safe guidelines you follow for this?

Judith Almand
Lithia, Florida

I only let my jars stand until cool to the touch. If they’re not sealed by then, they won’t seal. At that time, you can put any which are unsealed in the fridge or go ahead and re-can them. With an unsealed jar left at room temperature, you usually wouldn’t have health concerns as the food was processed for the correct time. However, at room temperature, it would later go bad as you would guess. As with all canned foods, it’s safest to bring the food to boiling temperature (whether in a casserole, boiled, or fried) for 10-15 minutes before eating. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Spring is on hold

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Although it’s not sunny and warm, the temps are still hovering in the low 50s although it has been rainy and cloudy off and on. It puts a damper on spring fever. Especially when one of our doe goats delivered twins outside in the cold rain. She had not shown any signs of kidding prior to that, either. One kid was born dead and the other, a buck, was chilled and weak, unable to nurse or even stand up. I rushed him into the house and put him in a box next to the wood stove. Then I tore back outside and got the mother on the milking stand and quickly milked a quart of colostrum from her.

The buckling wouldn’t suck so I tube fed him about 2 oz. of warm milk. I repeated every two hours until he finally started sucking on the bottle. But last night he was very bad; I didn’t even know if he was alive but I still tube fed him, finding he was breathing but very, very lethargic. I didn’t expect him to last till morning.

He did. And this morning he not only took the bottle but actually sucked vigorously. Now he’s acting like he just might live, after all. We hope.

Buckling_0167

Will’s been peeling the long, black ash poles he cut in our woods for the front porch railings. There are three sections needing railings so he cut plenty so we’d be sure to have enough. Luckily, being green, they peel very easily. Now he’s finished and they are stacked with the other logs by the sawmill, drying. Hopefully, we can get the railings sanded, stained, and assembled soon.

AshPoles_0158

I got my morning glories planted this morning after soaking the seeds all night in cups of warm water. That helps them get germinating faster as the seeds have a thick shell. I can’t wait to see them bloom. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We made good use of our “summer” weather

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

We had an entire week of sunny, very warm weather and boy, were we busy. (We knew it would not last as it’s too early!) While Will went with our neighbor to pick up some farm equipment he’d bought at an auction last week, I hopped on the tractor and graded the driveway. It went great for two passes. Then the tractor bogged down in a frost boil and stalled out. (For those of you who don’t know what frost boils are, they are patches of soil, usually clay, which froze solid with frost and suddenly thaw out, becoming very soft. Often the ground for yards around is spongy. It’s sort of like standing on a mattress and jumping up and down — it’s all waves and wiggles.)

I tried several times to start the tractor but no dice. That Ford is funny that way, often needing a few hours to “cool” off after hard work before it’ll start. Anyway, I turned off the key and started hiking back — nearly a mile, up and down hill at 75 degrees. Huff, puff.

When I figured it was getting time for Will to show up, I hopped on the four wheeler and ran it back, just in time to see Will pulling up with the Subaru. He jumped on the tractor and it started right up so he drove it out of the hole and I took it home while he ran the four wheeler home. Then we both came back to get the car. Long story short, the driveway graded nicely but that frost boil will need a week of dry weather to go away so we’re not planning on running in and out much! AND today it’s raining as it’s supposed to off and on all week.

Yesterday was so nice, Will worked again on the Kawasaki Mule, getting it ready. The carburetor had gunk in it and needs a fuel filter, which I picked up today. It’s getting close to being usable! I can’t wait. How handy that’ll be and what a cheap vehicle at $200.

Mule_0161

I got two flats of peppers transplanted and in just two days they look SO good! I’ll be doing another flat soon as well as starting in our tomatoes. It’s looking like spring in the greenhouse for sure. Today I’ll be starting the Japanese morning glories I got from Baker Creek. They have huge blooms and I can’t wait to see them. Here in northern Minnesota we have to start them inside to get blooms by late summer. It’s a little more work but they’re worth it!

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Lots of birds showing up around here. Today I saw a flock of a couple hundred robins in a field on the way home. And our pair of Canadian geese is on the beaver pond by the house. Every year they raise a bunch of cute babies and we feel like they’re family.

The frogs have started singing. The wood frogs were first, sounding like ducks quacking, then the spring peepers started the next night, sounding like far-away sleigh bells. How exciting! — Jackie

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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