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Archive for the ‘Building’ Category

Jackie Clay

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Planting, planting, planting … between the rains

We’ve been getting very little sunshine between the rains. When it’s nice, we’ve been planting like crazy. So far we’ve got in tons of different corns in various isolation gardens around the 120 acres, lots of beans from all over the world from Maine to China! We also have 107 tomatoes, including 68 varieties, this year. I also got 11 hills of Atlantic Giant pumpkins planted yesterday. We planted all of this just before the rain hit this morning. It looks like it will continue for a couple of days.


Inside, we’ve started several pumpkins, squash and long-season beans to set out when the weather is warmed up for good. And on these rainy days, we keep busy inside. Will is painting polyurethane on the home-sawn oak planks that will be the mantel shelves behind our wood stove. So far they look great! What a wonderful addition they’ll make.


For those of you who are wondering how Sir, our wonder goat kid, is doing, he’s growing like a weed! He’s still very friendly and follows me all over the pasture when I go out to check the electric wires on the fence.

— 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.


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.


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

Flip-flop weather

Thursday, March 17th, 2016


Just yesterday we were running around outside in our T-shirts. Will was finishing up work on his rebuilt corn planter and I was continuing the cleaning and picking up in the yard and house garden. So much for that!


This morning we woke up to a foot of snow with steady snow falling. They say it’ll make 1-2 inches per hour all day, continuing during the night. Oh well, we knew it was coming via our weather radio so we were ready for it physically, but mentally? Not so much… Just when all the snow was pretty much gone, too. Luckily, Will brought the red oak planks (which will be our mantel behind the wood stove) inside before all the moisture hit. They’re planed smooth and look great. I can’t wait to get poly on them and see them in place. Now if the snow just goes away…


It’s not supposed to last long with temps above freezing in the daytime. Our first “scout” geese arrived on Friday. Will came running in the house shouting, “The scouts are here!” and I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. (Black helicopters and armed SWAT team?) He quickly explained and we both ran out to hear geese in our big beaver pond. That was music to our ears, for sure. Ah, spring! Or not … — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Will finished up our new seed rack

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

I had to run to town for feed and when I got back, Will had the whole seed rack assembled in the sunroom/greenhouse. But when I took hold of one end, I wondered if just the two of us could possibly turn it upright! It was heavy and both of us have bad backs. But Will is a work-smart kind of guy and suggested he lift it a bit from the center, while I stuffed paint cans first under the top corners, one at a time, then repeated it, moving the cans closer to center. That went okay and when it was time to set it upright. I stood on the bottom while he lifted from the top center. As he lifted, I shoved the wheeled bottom toward him and … up it came, easy as pie. Wow, was I ever glad! (I had visions of crashing or a trip to the hospital for Will…) So yesterday, I moved the entire contents of the small, old seed rack, plus seeds from here and there all over the house (it seemed) onto the rack, not only in alphabetical order but also by species groups such as pumpkins/squash, peas, beans, etc. It’s so handy for us to fill orders — now if I can get our seed catalog finished and in to the printers.


(I’ve also been working on a Backwoods Home project too! Can’t tell, but it’s coming along fine.) Will is working on our new fridge, trying to determine just what is wrong. Hopefully we can escape paying $1,000 for a new cooling unit.

Don’t forget to browse through my books when you’re thinking about buying Christmas gifts for your loved ones. (Hint, hint!) Book sales sure help out our homestead efforts every day.

I recently had good news. I’ve been accepted into membership of the Western Writers of America. This is an honor for me, to be sure! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Will’s at it again

Monday, December 7th, 2015

First off, he got our Kawasaki Mule running and running well! Yea Will! He even took me for a speedy ride and then let me drive it. Then he went down the big hill to the barn and tossed two bales of hay in the back and sped right back up the icy, snow-covered hill. He still has a few small things to hook up (choke, starter, etc.) but that’ll be nothing.

And, because we’re offering dozens more varieties of seeds for sale on our little Seed Treasures business, we needed some sort of rack to hold all those plastic shoe boxes containing seeds. Last year we had a smaller one, but no way will that hold all the boxes we need this year. So yesterday, Will started measuring, sawing, and hauling lumber. We still have a big pile of the free ¼-inch and ⅛-inch Russian plywood in the barn, so as the shelves will only be holding very light boxes of seed, he’s making the shelves from that, nailed down to 2×2-inch lumber we cut yesterday on the table saw in the storage barn. We worked on it all day and today, Will’s busy putting it all together. When I get done blogging, I’ll be able to start stocking shelves. It’ll make filling seed orders much faster and more convenient.


I’m starting to receive seed catalogs, as I’m sure most of you are. And already, we’re planning on some new things to add to our garden next year. How exciting. I go downstairs and look at our bulging pantry and feel so blessed. I’ve been hungry in my life and this is SO much better! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

It’s still raining

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Boy is it hard to get things done outside when it’s raining all day, every day. Grump, grump, grump! I pulled our last carrots and found that the deer had gotten in the open gate and munched off all the tops and pulled about a third of the row. So I quickly pulled the rest … including some the deer had eaten a little of the top. I DO cut off the deer munched parts!


Meanwhile, Will has been working inside. He re-manufactured one of our new top kitchen cabinets to fit under the new refrigerator. We wanted it moved up some as the fridge part was just too low. In the RV, it sat up on a little step so now it sits on a 12-inch cabinet that I can use to store some miscellaneous stuff. More storage is always good. He has all of the gas fittings so now he has to get it hooked up and we’ll (hopefully) be in business. He is also continuing to install insulation in the enclosed back porch so it (and the house) will be warmer. Eventually, we’ll be heating that porch, which will give us additional greenhouse space, come spring. As the firewood is used, that will free up growing bench space. Pretty cool.


I’m still harvesting pumpkin, squash, and bean seeds for our little seed business. I really love those crops. The seeds are so cheerful, too; nice and plump, ready to grow. And as the first germination tests have indicated, they ARE ready to grow!

All this rain has Spencer and Mittens depressed. They don’t go out much at all. In fact, Mittens goes out more than Spencer. That dog hates rain! Go figure; he loves to swim but hates the rain. Mittens goes outside and gets wet and doesn’t seem to mind. But even Mittens is spending more time stretched out on the back of Will’s new overstuffed chair. I know the feeling.


Oh, by the way, it’s been suggested that I ask all of you for your favorite family traditional recipes for the holiday meals. I thought that was a terrific idea so are any of you willing to share? — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We are harvesting a bounty of carrots

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

As our nighttime temperatures are drifting into the very low twenties, I figured I’d better get at it and pull the remaining carrots and parsnips. Wow! They have gotten huge. Even our Scarlet Nantes are reaching a foot long and weighing in at over a pound. That’s a lot of carrot. And they’re so tender and crisp that when I gently toss them into a five-gallon bucket, some instantly snap in half or crack with a pop. I’ve got one five-gallon bucket all canned up and will get at the next one this morning. Boy, are they ever nice.
While I’ve been canning carrots, Will is busy pulling all of the tomato stakes, cages, and variety name stakes. He piled all the vines in huge piles to burn in the garden if it ever stops raining, then he raked all of the tangled squash and pumpkin vines into a row along the side of the garden, also to burn. By burning them we help prevent disease and keep insects from over wintering in the vines. Also, the ash adds a little fertilizer (potash) to the soil. Will wants to get the whole garden tilled before the soil freezes.
My parsnips grew funny this year. Instead of being long and thin as usual, they’re short and fat, almost like a beet! But they taste great and will be easy to peel and cook without waste. We’ll add them to the bins of potatoes, carrots, and rutabagas in the basement.

Monday we went down to my son, Bill’s, and helped him finish the sheet metal he’s laying on the old garage roof to match the new addition. The weather was supposed to be sunny and nice. Well… we hit rain in Cloquet, twenty some miles from his house and it continued until we got there. Bill was already on the roof, screwing down one-inch boards over the old shingles, on which to screw the sheet metal. Did I mention the temperature was forty degrees?

Luckily, Kelly’s two uncles, Mel and Vern, had already shown up so that made a good crew. They finished up after dark and Bill’s last screw was driven by the tiny light on Will’s Dewalt cordless driver. It was that dark. Luckily, the rain quit just as we got there so the guys weren’t too miserable all day, but the temperature never got over 45 degrees. But the job’s done, including the trim and ridge cap and it looks really nice. Now Bill can go deer hunting without that job hanging over his head. We got home just after eleven after being stopped on the highway by the State Patrol. We couldn’t figure out what he stopped us for as Will wasn’t speeding in our old ’85 Chev truck. It was a headlight that was out. We hadn’t even noticed! Will raised the hood and wiggled the wire. The headlight popped back on. The patrolman was nice and we were back on the road with two headlights! Seeing blue and red flashing lights up behind you sure makes your heart race. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Harvest is full under way

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Every single day now, we’re harvesting crops. As we were expecting rain, we pulled our two long rows of onions and a short one of shallots. All did very well. We had some of the largest onions ever. We ended up with four and a half 5-gallon buckets full of onions! I let them lay out in the sun, in the garden for two days then, because of forthcoming rain, I cut off the tops about two inches from the bulb as some of the tops were still green. I carried them up to the house and spread them out in the enclosed porch to finish drying down so they’ll store well.
The darned bluejays are starting to get into our very rare Bear Island Chippewa flint corn so we’re pulling several ears every day to keep ahead of them. This corn is very beautiful and will make lots of cornmeal as the cobs are about 9″ long with 10-12 rows of really big, fat kernels on each cob. And each plant made four or five stalks and most plants have four or five ears! Very productive…and early to dry down, too. We’ll add this corn to our seed list for sure!

We harvested our first Sugar Salmon muskmelons from our small hoop house. They are a beautiful golden color with tan netting. And juicy and sweet, too. Another winner!
Will’s busy burying our water line from the frost-free hydrant in the yard down to the one in the barn. It’s not 8′ deep but we blow the line out with the air compressor after each use and he wanted it out of the way and laid with no dips to hold water. He dug the trench with our little backhoe attachment we bought from our friend Tom at a great bargain. Today Will’s filling in the trench.
Yesterday we hosted a local garden club so we enjoyed talking about seeds, fruit trees, and plants as well as giving “the tour” of our place. The ladies enjoyed the tour and we enjoyed their company.

Our last two cows have just given birth. Mamba, our black milk cow, had a pretty gray heifer that we named Salsa and Lace, our “wedding cow” just had a huge bull. Darn; we really wanted to keep a heifer from her as she’s getting older. Oh well, you don’t always get what you want. The calves are all doing well and having fun playing together. — Jackie



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