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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Jackie Clay

The weather’s nasty so we’re working inside today

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

It’s raining, mixed with sleet and snow. Freezing rain is forecast for later on. Earlier, Will was hard at work cutting up the big pile of firewood in front of the storage barn/wood shed. Yesterday, we worked hard splitting a big pile, which Will stacked in the wood shed. It’s getting full and we have lots of wood left to cut and split. Gee what a problem…

The painting of the living room is finished. Ashley did a great job and didn’t get a drop on anything. I’ve been coating the oak mantle and shelves with more poly and they’re ready to put back up as soon as the last coat dries. They look very good.

Our peppers are ready to be transplanted into their little individual Styrofoam cups so I’ll be doing that tomorrow. The tomatoes are nearly all up and looking good in the little plastic greenhouses in the living room windows. Boy do we ever have a variety this year!

The chickens are pumping out eggs and David is helping me by catching the “wild” chickens, cutting the flying feathers from their wings and putting them in the chicken run. We’re also holding the extra roosters out in the old small chicken coop, getting ready for a butchering day in the near future. We have way too many roosters but after they are all canned up, we’ll have lots of chicken-based meals available right from the pantry. Those “wild” chickens are a pain as they not only get in my flower beds, digging “fluffing” holes, but also run in the garden, scratching newly planted seeds up then later on eating tomatoes. Not this year, guys.

— Jackie

Jackie Clay

After a wet snow, the sun is back out — Happy Spring!

Monday, March 20th, 2017

On the first day of spring, we reflect on how grateful we are. Our weather’s turned nice again, into the forties with sun. Will and David managed to haul more than 9 full truckloads of firewood logs home from the logging site before thawing started. Will and I were able to cut up, split, AND stack away a whole cord, plus more into the wood shed. That’s a full cord, mind you (8’x4’x8′). Then it snowed and rained. Today Will’s out cutting up more logs to get ready to split as it’s again dry.

We heard and saw a Canada goose yesterday morning. Yea! Spring’s really coming. No robins yet, though.

I got all of our tomatoes planted. That’s three full flats of 66 plants each, plus three smaller flats. Hmmm, that’s a lot of tomatoes, isn’t it? (Will, get out the bulldozer…)

Our chickens are starting to lay with the warmer weather again. I can’t wait for my first rhubarb pie, topped with four-egg-white meringue.

I checked our fruit trees in the orchard and can’t see much, if any, winter damage or vole activity. We did have a very mild winter for northern Minnesota. We only hit -35 twice for a short time and we had plenty of snow cover.

Yesterday, Ashley and I painted the living room walls. Actually, she did most of the painting and I refreshed the paint roller for her and helped move things out of the way and position the ladder. I did buy a new ladder as the one we were using was totally unsafe and wobbly. So wobbly it scared the you-know-what out of me to step up on it. Now the old ladder is a pole bean support and we have a new, solid, safe ladder! The room looks wonderful. Will has to get busy and re-cut the logs which framed the walls and octagonal ceiling. It’ll look so pretty, all finished. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

The sun’s out and the birds are singing

Monday, February 13th, 2017

February is half over! Groundhog or not, we’re thinking spring around here. Today it was nearly 40 degrees above with the sun out. What a nice day. So Will decided he’d set out a few round bales of hay and then go work on the new barn. It’s been so cold he hasn’t gotten much done but hopes to stay on it for awhile now that it’s warmed up. So while he went up and down the hill, getting round bales with the Oliver, I stayed at the pasture gate, opening and shutting it to let him through. As the critters always have hay, they aren’t particularly hungry and will zip out the open gate if given half a chance, just for an “adventure.”

Today he hauled two bales out while I got a chance to pet the horses and donkeys. Crystal and Moose, our donkey “herd,” always leave the hay to come get some attention. I noticed Crystal, the tan one, is shedding. Wow! Another clue spring is not far away. And I did see some pussywillows in bloom yesterday on the way to town.

Yesterday I put away my last batch of chili. All in all, I now have 74 quarts and a pint of “new” chili on the pantry shelves! We ate the two which didn’t seal. (Real hard on us … lol)

Tomorrow I’ll get out the seed trays and some peat pellets then decide which peppers I want to grow this year. My friends, Mike and Dara, were here yesterday and we all discussed various varieties we’ll be wanting to plant. It was fun and exciting too. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’re back to sub-zero temps

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

What do we do when it’s so cold? Play catch-up on those chores we’ve been putting off before spring comes and we don’t have time. Today, Will brought in his chainsaw chain sharpener on the stand he’d put together from assorted “junk” and started sharpening. He has more than seven chains and now they’re all ready for the woods.

I cut up and canned a ham. And next I’m boiling the bone and will make bean soup to can. Out of that one half ham I’ll end up with about 35 meals, all totalled. Not bad for one piece of meat!

Mittens and the dogs just laid around in the sun and slept. Of course, Hondo, being a comfort creature, just hopped on the (forbidden) good sofa, put his head on a pillow and went to sleep, perhaps dreaming of chasing rabbits or coyotes.

For all you Jess Hazzard fans out there (Jess is the main character in my Western novels), I thought you might like to see the real country where he lived; the Upper Green River Valley and the Green Lakes region in Wyoming. We’ve travelled there several times and enjoyed the Bridger-Teton Wilderness. It’s one of the most beautiful sections of the U.S.

— Jackie

Jackie Clay

We had a very quiet Christmas

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Due to a big ice/sleet storm which deposited ½ inch of ice in some locations and more than two inches of sleet at our house, only our son, David, his girlfriend, Ashley, and Javid came to join us for Christmas dinner. (The power was out in many locations, making us feel kind of smug as we just tossed another log on the fire and enjoyed our Christmas tree lights.) I ran into a slight snag when I went to set the table, however. We still had our owl puzzle on the table and, with it being so large, we couldn’t move it without breaking it up. I solved the problem by covering it up with a holiday tablecloth and a lace over-cloth. It looked great and you’d never know there was a puzzle under it.

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It took half an hour the next day to chip the sleet off the windshield of our Subaru, after the defrosters had run for 15 minutes. Wow, that was a lot of ice!

Thanks to all of you for your Christmas wishes, cards, and wonderful letters. We enjoyed every single one of them!

Our 20-year-old wheelbarrow, which has seen a lot of use, finally had a handle break off. I suggested buying another handle, but ever-handy Will said he’d just make one from a piece of ash. He had cut several lengths for handles of various tools and had one already in the storage building. So, taking the drawknife out, he quickly fashioned a replacement handle. In less than an hour, he had the old handle removed and the new one in place. Believe me, it’s a whole lot easier to haul in firewood with two handles rather than one!

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Our biggest Christmas gift was not one that comes in a box. Our mother wild turkey showed up on Christmas Eve! Now she’s back in the yard with the other turkeys. One of her “kids”, a tom, showed up the same day, but must have decided Mom was nuts to come to civilization. I surprised him in the storage building when I was getting goat feed and he flapped and flew way up on a beam. That was the last I saw of him, but he may be back. After all, he found out where the grain is stored.

I’d like to wish all of you a very Happy New Year! May the coming year bring joy, peace, and a bountiful harvest to all. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

What a Christmas present — it’s 35 degrees today!

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

After a week of very cold weather, today is a gift like no other. We’ve been busy enjoying it to the fullest. Will had one of our old tractors way over at one of our rented hayfields. While loading a big round bale, it just plain quit and wouldn’t start. As it was getting dark, Will came home. Then it got cold and working on it was out of the question, especially because it’s a diesel. So with the warm day, Will drove over there, tools in the truck.

I’ll admit I prayed a lot for God to send diesel mechanic angels to help out. And when I drove out to mail some Christmas cards, there came the tractor with a round bale on the front spears! Thank you! Thank you!

I did extra chores this morning. I fixed the chicken feeder, which had come loose from the chain it had been hung on, cleaned the goat pen and fluffed up their new bedding. Meanwhile, Will took the scoop shovel and went out to clean the heavy snow off our big hoop house. (Friends of ours had their big, new high tunnel collapse during that first two feet of snow we got early in the winter.) So far, the 6 mil greenhouse plastic is holding up very well; this is its second winter.

snowhoophouse_1310

We’re looking at the radar map and cringing. They’re calling for a heavy, nasty winter storm for Christmas Day here. But we’ll wait and see. Often the weather swings south of us and we don’t get what is predicted.

We finally got our owl puzzle finished and are missing one piece. Our cat, Mittens, LOVES to pick up small things and trot off with them or else take a paw and shove them onto the floor. And Ashley’s dog, Cooper, will eat just about anything. So we’re not sure where the missing piece went. But I’ve had that happen before and am just going to cut out a similarly colored piece to glue in that spot. You’ll never see it when the puzzle is glued to the plywood.

Will and I wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season! May the new year bring nothing but joy and contentment. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Brr, our temps are reaching sub-zero

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

We have been spending time making sure our critters are extra comfortable. I spread a fresh bale of hay in the goats’ indoor pen so they could cuddle down together in a nest. And when it is getting dark, I shut the door so the wind won’t blow on them at night. The chicken coop is all spread with a thick layer of fresh wood shavings as it’s so cold the wood won’t get damp a bit. And I closed up a couple of air vents. The chickens sure don’t need more fresh air now!

Will screwed a few new sheets of plywood over the west side of the run-in shed to stop the wind for the cows and horses. (Our donkeys ate the last sheets!) Yep, I’ve tried hot pepper, anti-chewing sprays, bitter apple, and they still chew. It’s not like they’re bored or don’t have anything else to eat. Will hauled down three more big round bales to row up in a windbreak in the pasture so the stock can eat while standing out of the wind.

I fed our birds extra sunflower seeds and suet as those little guys sure need extra calories when it’s so bitter cold.

Then we added extra wood to the wood stoves and settled in for the evening. I have to smile — We’re working puzzles again and in the latest issue of BHM, there’s that picture of my late husband, Bob and son, David, doing a puzzle back in Montana. Yep, we still choose that low-tech form of entertainment. But I must say, the one we’re working now is the toughest one I’ve ever done! I sure hope it gets done by Christmas as it’s on our dining room table.

puzzle

In my “spare time” I even got the kitchen cleaned up somewhat after all the fall and early winter canning. I want to get some more chili and hamburger canned up as our beef is getting a little old and I don’t want it to freezer burn. Besides, I’m running a little low on canned chili, and we sure love it — especially in cold weather. Then there’s beans to can up, which we also love as it’s so convenient. See, I’m not done canning yet — I don’t think I ever am, really.

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Then there are the seed catalogs which are beginning to trickle in. We spend a lot of time scanning through them to see if there’s something new in heirloom seeds we’d love to try in next summer’s gardens. Just think, come February I’ll be starting peppers! Can’t wait. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Believe it or not, most of our two feet of snow is gone

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

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But it is snowing a bit this morning. Mittens went out exploring the big snow pile next to the yard made by the snowplow truck. She LOVES the snow. When fresh snow is deep she buries her head under it and runs forward. All you can see is her upright tail!

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When all the snow melted, I found a crate of carrots on my front porch. Yep, I’d forgotten them and they had gotten buried in snow. I gingerly felt one and was shocked to find all of them totally solid and in fine shape. I promise to get them canned up tomorrow! I hate to waste food.

While deer hunting, David saw the mama wild turkey and two others, going to roost in a big cedar tree on the edge of our woods. What a surprise! We were really happy to hear she was still around.

Prior to the rains, I bedded the goat stall with a bale and half of wood shavings. That was a mistake! In two days’ time, the shavings were totally soaked. So I had to shovel them out and bed them with a nice big bale of reed canary grass. Much better! It’s so fluffy that even when it gets damp it quickly dries out. The goats have a nice dry place to lay down now.

We are now watering the horses and cattle using the new well Will put down below the new barn. I can’t believe how much faster the water fills the tanks and as the water is spring water, it never runs out, no matter how long we use the well. Our house well is 375 deep, through 300 feet of bedrock and is slower to fill the casing. So we can only pump about 400 gallons before letting the well rest and refill. What an improvement our barn well is! And best of all, should something happen where we couldn’t get gas to run our generator which powers our house well, the barn well can be run from our battery bank! — Jackie

 
 
 


 
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