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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category
Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
Our Thanksgiving will be small and quiet with only David, Will, and me around the table. Of course our house pets, Mittens, Spencer, and Hondo, will share our bounty with us and the livestock will get special treats to celebrate our bountiful year.
Hondo is getting huge for a “puppy” only three months old! And he’s so smart, already being potty trained, going to the door when he needs outside, sitting on command with military precision (if you don’t praise him right away he does a “double sit,” sitting on his tail with his legs sticking right out under him), and he already is bringing in firewood with Spencer! He also has learned that Will’s comfortable old chair is doggy friendly. Sometimes he shares it with Spencer and sometimes he gets it before Spencer does! When Will comes in, he has to evict the dogs to sit down. Hondo is the last one out, giving Will the “do you really, really mean “get down”? Or is it just a suggestion” look.
Such a fun addition to our homestead. He already “guards” the gate to the goat pasture while I go in to feed grain. But I don’t know what would happen if one of the goats challenged him. Right now, they just play the game and stay away from the gate.
Again, have a real Happy Thanksgiving and count your blessings! — Jackie
Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
And Will got nearly all the big sheets of metal barn roofing on. We finished all but the very last big sheet last night. Luckily his cordless driver has a light! Today it’s in the forties with some sun so we’re running around playing catchup because it’s supposed to dive into the single digits pretty soon. Brrrr. I’m planting my daffodils in a few minutes. They should have gone in a few weeks ago, but better late than never! Oh well, there’s always something left undone … or pretty much done at the very last minute! Homesteading life.
Our tom turkeys are strutting in the orchard. Real pretty. No, we’re not going to eat them; they’re our breeders for next spring. I’m trying to get all of the orchard trees’ trunks wrapped with plastic spirals or window screen to protect them against vole damage during the winter. I’ve got ‘em all done but two plus our new cherry trees and honeyberry bushes. Hopefully I can get that done on Friday.
We’re hauling a load of cattle to the sale barn tomorrow so that day will be pretty much shot as it’s a hundred mile drive one way. Luckily David and the dogs will be around the homestead to keep an eye on everything! — Jackie
Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
We decided to sell five of our black Angus cross heifers that we bottle raised as Will and I hate to butcher good heifers. So I advertised them on Craigslist and a lady called and we worked out a deal.
Sunday, Will and I loaded Shy Girl (she hopped right in the trailer!) and we hauled her 95 miles to a farm near Swatara, Minnesota. What a surprise when I got out of the truck to discover that the couple are Backwoods Home subscribers! We had a real nice visit with Cindy and Darryl and got a tour of their pretty homestead.
Will had been real busy for two solid days, working frantically to get the sheet metal on the barn roof before real winter hit and he was ready for the break. Before hauling the cow, he had all of one side done and two thirds of the other. Hopefully there’ll be nice weather tomorrow so he can get the last five big sheets on then do the smaller pieces along the bottom and the trim.
Meanwhile, I’ve been continuing to can up all sorts of cabbage; the last batch was pickled cabbage and carrots. (Maybe I won’t plant SO much cabbage next year!)
Thursday, November 14th, 2013
There’s so much fall work to do that Will is feeling like nothing is getting done on the barn. The sheet metal is all here but the weather first was terribly rainy and windy, then VERY cold with five inches of snow. But finally we’ve caught a break. Yesterday it turned milder with sunshine and Will got up and knocked off as much of the snow and ice as he could from the rafters. And now it’s in the low forties with sunshine! So today, he’s down screwing on the flashing in preparation to putting up more (or hopefully all) of the sheet metal so the new barn will be under cover. Yes, he’s being careful but he doesn’t have to climb on the metal roof, only on the ladder and the ladder-like dry purlins.
Meanwhile, I’m watering stock and trying to get the house a bit cleaner and get more onions dehydrated. (I dehydrate my onions by cutting slices then dehydrating them. When dry I put them in my blender and whiz them into coarse powder. It works great in a ton of recipes.) When you have a three-month-old puppy, it seems like you spend the day cleaning up after him and saying “Hondo! No!” But he’s pretty much potty trained and is learning to mind (usually!). And grow? Wow, how he’s taking off — all legs and body. He’s going to be a big boy. We were told he was Australian Cattle Dog, but on closer look, he looks more Australian Shepherd as he has a fuzzy coat and floppy ears and a more “collie” look to him. Who knows? But we sure do like him a lot. Especially when he’s sleeping! — Jackie
Saturday, November 9th, 2013
Can goats eat fresh pumpkin seeds? Also I made some fig jam I don’t like and it has figs, pectin and sugar in it. They would love to lick it. They always beg for snacks
Litchfield Park, Arizona
Yes, goats LOVE fresh pumpkin seeds…and whole pumpkins. Pumpkin seeds are thought to be a natural wormer as well. You can also treat your goats with that fig jam you don’t like. Or find a friend who does enjoy your jam. — Jackie
Would like to try Hopi Pale Grey
Do the Hopi Grey Squash grow here in the south (Tampa)? If you think they may, are you offering the seeds for sale? I would like to try them if possible.
Yes, Hopi Pale Grey squash will grow in the south. We’ll be offering seeds for sale this winter. Stay tuned to the blog for further info as we work out details of our mini-seed business. — Jackie
Canning enchilada sauce
Quick questions: Can this be canned and if so, for how long? I figure it will need to be pressure canned. It is a recipe for enchilada sauce: 3T flour, 4T chili powder, 1T cumin, 1T garlic powder, T oil, 16oz tomato sauce, 16oz water. Heat to boil, then simmer for 20m. I plan on putting the sauce in half-pints, but would prefer to can if at all possible. What do you think?
Saint Paul, Minnesota
I’d suggest leaving out the flour as it is not recommended to can recipes containing much of it. However, the rest would can up easily in a boiling water bath. I’d also add 1/2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each 1/2 pint jar, just to be safe. It won’t affect the flavor. Process your pints or half-pints for 35 minutes and you’ll be fine. — Jackie
Storing powdered milk
How long can you store powdered milk? There are so many mixed reviews, it is difficult to distinguish fact from fancy. I would like to get some to keep on hand, but don’t want to risk botulism, or any other creeping crud that might be an issue. I wouldn’t be using it regularly, just if there would be an extended time where I wouldn’t be able to get milk, (i.e. a weather event such as a massive snowstorm, an extended power outage, or a zombie apocalypse.) Any thoughts?
Glenville, West Virginia
Regular store powdered milk will store in its original box for about 5 years with no loss of flavor. After that it may pick up off flavors but still be okay for cooking/baking. For best storage flavor, long-term, you can either routinely rotate your stored milk or buy canned instant milk from such companies as Emergency Essentials. This will stay fresh-tasting for 35 years or longer!
You’re on the right track in picking up some storage foods. The end of the world may never come but I’ll bet you a blizzard, power outage, or other event will make you real happy that you took the common sense approach to being prepared. Grandma never knew about zombies but totally believed in staying “stocked up.” — Jackie
Monday, October 28th, 2013
I’m so sorry to have worried everyone by missing my two blogs last week. You see, Will’s daughter, who lives in central Illinois, was in a car accident leaving her unable to work on her very-much-a-fixer-upper new home. She called her Dad and asked if he and I could come down and help her out with it. She and her four children need to get moved into it before winter as their house is for sale and might sell, leaving them in a camping mode in the new place.
So Will and I consulted with David and in short order, we were headed south with Spencer and Hondo along. We couldn’t leave them as nobody would be home during David’s hours at college to let them outside to potty.
Will brought tools he thought he might need and for five days straight we worked mightily on the house. I painted while Will sheetrocked and re-did walls, among other things. Besides that, we got to visit four great-grandchildren and they got to play with “adorable” puppies. The house isn’t finished yet, but is in so much better shape that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Daughter is fine but very sore on her shoulder and hip. She was staining kitchen cabinets when we left. Luckily, she has a part-time carpenter working for her to help finish the job.
Our pups took the trip very well and with rest stops every two hours and naps between, they fared better than we did. Our butts were petrified when we got home! A thirteen hour drive is a LOOOONG way. But we’re home and glad we went. There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…
Again, we’re sorry that any of you were worried about us. I have a desktop computer and couldn’t blog (didn’t have time, anyway!) and didn’t think to call the magazine until we were on the way home. We were not only butt dead, but brain dead as well I think. — Jackie
Friday, October 18th, 2013
We just had two nasty days of pouring rain. Yuck! So today, with the sun out, albeit 50 degrees, we’re back at work. Will’s up at the sawmill, cutting more boards for our porch roof and barn while I’m pulling the rest of the carrots and cooking down more tomato puree with the Mehu Liisa. For some reason this year our stored tomatoes we’d picked green tended to rot before ripening. So I have to pick through them carefully so I don’t get any rotten spots in the tomatoes I cook down for sauce. On the other hand, our onions, which have been plagued with neck rot for the last two years, turned out as solid as rocks. So I can’t complain and am very glad I canned tons of tomato products last year.
Spencer is very happy to have a sidekick around the homestead. Hondo shadows him inside and out and is quick to learn the ropes. (Look at mama chicken; don’t try to chase her chicks. She flies in your face and flaps her wings on your tender nose! Watch the goats; don’t try to bark at them. If you do, they chase you and stomp their feet on your butt.) Big dogs know stuff like that. Hondo is learning. And Spencer is so gentle with the little pup with the needle-sharp teeth who climbs on him and bites his ears. He just gets up and moves when the playing gets too rough. They’re already best buds. And Hondo already knows how to get into Will’s lap when he sits in his chair. He tried the flying leap but never got the timing right, so now he jumps then starts climbing up Will’s legs. Perfect!
We decided to go out of pig raising. We had been selling pork but after a couple of customers were unsatisfied with their country-smoked meat (which we had a local processor do), Will and I decided that it was too much stress on us because we really care about what folks say about food they buy from us. We had two litters of Red Wattle pigs, some of which we had planned on raising to sell for pork. Instead, we advertised weaner pigs and one fellow came and bought all of both litters! Now we have three sows to sell, one of which is bred to farrow next month. We’ll always raise a couple of pigs to butcher for ourselves and my son, Bill, and his wife. But we’re done selling pork. It’s really kind of sad for us. (We will still be selling beef as there’s no smoking involved!) Homesteading is full of ups and downs…just like all of life. — Jackie
Friday, October 11th, 2013
Cleaning cow teats
I was wondering what kind of cow teat prep you use in the winter for milking? I have been using bleach, dish soap mix in warm water for the summer and it has worked great. I really don’t want to use the teat dip that is sold to dairies. My barn does not have warm water or is heated so for both of us it is a little chilly to continue to use water.
York, North Dakota
Honestly, all I use is warm water and a clean old washcloth and towel. We don’t have any water in the barn right now, so I just take a bucket of HOT water down to the barn with me with the washcloth inside it and the towel (an old hand towel) over my arm. By the time I feed and brush the cow (you avoid lots of poop specks if you keep the udder clipped and brush the underbelly before milking) the water is still warm. I wash the udder well, then dry it with the towel. If it’s real dirty, I wash it quite well, pour more water over the cloth in the gutter, squeeze out the dirty water, pour more clean water on, squeeze that pretty dry, and wash the rest of the teats. It works quite well. After milking, I use a bit of udder ointment to help keep the teats soft and protected against frost. (If your barn is quite a distance from the house and your water gets cold, try taking some out in an old thermos.) — Jackie
“Rotten” odor in reusable lids
After water bathing my green beans this year for the first time most of the batch spoiled. Although I was very disappointed and intend to pressure can them from now on, I’m even more aggravated at the lingering “rotten” odor I can’t seem to get out of my new Tattler lids. I have tried soaking them for days in vinegar, then baking soda, and lemon juice, (obviously not together) and have ran them several times through the dish washer. Do you have any other suggestions of how to get the rotten food smell out of my reusable lids?
EEK! You’re lucky they did obviously spoil or your family may have eaten them and had a trip to the ER. NEVER water bath any vegetables or meat or any recipe containing them (other than pickles). I’m glad you “learned your lesson” before it cost you hugely.
For the smell on your lids, I’d try mixing half bleach, half warm water, then putting one or two lids and rings in it overnight. In the morning, rinse well. Put outside, in the sunshine, for two days. Sniff and see if this worked. It usually gets rid of objectionable odors in my plastic. Only try a couple at first to make sure the bleach water doesn’t adversely affect the lids and rings. — Jackie
I canned two separate batches of pumpkin chunks using the directions from your book. When I took them out of the pressure canners, they looked fine. (The liquid was bubbling inside the jars all the way up to the lid). But now that they are cooled, the jars are only 1/2 full of liquid! What happened? I’ve done lots of canning, and I didn’t do anything different or anything to affect the pressure canning or cooling process, so I’m confused what went wrong. Will the pumpkin be OK? How long will it last with only 1/2 the pumpkin covered in liquid? I’ve got 14 quarts and I’m worried about using them!
First off, don’t worry. Your pumpkin will be fine. This happens to me sometimes too, usually when I’m busy and don’t hover over my canner quite enough. The pressure gets too high, I turn the heat down and the pressure varies and the liquid blows out. (When it’s boiling, it comes high in the jar, but when it cools, there really isn’t much left!) Again, not to worry; enjoy your pumpkin. — Jackie