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Archive for the ‘Building’ Category

Jackie Clay

Besides harvesting and canning, we’re finishing putting up firewood

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016


It was such a wet summer, we struggled to put up hay and work in the gardens. So that put us late getting some other stuff done — like firewood. We already had plenty in the woodshed, nice split and dry too. But we like to have it stuffed full — just in case. Last week Will found a broken off big ash tree down in the edge of the woods. Real big! He worked for a couple of days cutting smaller trees to get down to it. Then yesterday, he got it dragged out. Just the branches alone gave us half a cord, which we split and stacked before bringing out the main trunk.


I was seeding some Early Red Bell peppers yesterday afternoon. They are hugely productive, sweet, and big too. I cut up the first batch to dehydrate. The second batch I cut into larger pieces to make Cowgirl Candy, which we really love. Then Will asked for help with the downed tree. Glad to take a break from the peppers, I hopped on the four wheeler and Will and Hondo drove the pickup to the woods. Hondo approved of the big log, running up and down on its full length. Will got it cut up into blocks, then we started splitting the blocks into pieces small enough we could lift into the pickup. (I’ll admit, some I couldn’t handle and didn’t think Will should have either!)


We got ’em all home and this morning we split the whole works with our $100 tractor-mounted wood splitter. Now we just have to get them stacked and in the wood shed. Will took off with the truck to pick up some used tractor tires he’d bought on a Do-Bid online auction but he’s anxious to get back so he can work on the stonework along the lower wall of our addition. Of course he wants to get that done before cold weather hits. It’s coming along real nice and puts a lot of our “crop” of rocks to good use. (The addition has a cantilevered wall with joists extending out 2 feet over a block wall.) Will added treated plywood and lots of insulation board to back the new “foundation” of stone, mostly for looks as it doesn’t support anything to any great extent.


I’m still picking beans and am having such fun discovering some of the new varieties we’ve grown this year! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Log homes are great but they do need care

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Our log home has been standing for eleven years now and it really needed some help. The stain on the east and west sides had faded and the logs had turned gray underneath. There were also bad checks (cracks), some of which faced upward, letting the rain enter the log. Not good! Last fall, we tried sanding the logs; that left ugly “spotted” logs and it was nearly impossible to get in around the corners of the log corners.


Luckily for us, David has been working for Voyageur Log Homes for over a year now and has become an expert at caring for log homes. When he got back from a big job in North Dakota, he wanted to get right at cleaning, re-staining, and caulking the logs on our house. So we lined up a pressure washer and sandblaster. (Lucky for us, we have good friends who had both!) My son, Bill, also came up for our weekend job to help. God gave us a perfect day for the work, too; plenty of sun and a nice breeze.


We first pressure-washed the east wall which had no checks and just some faded stain. It’s log siding so it doesn’t tend to check as bad as full logs do. I just need to re-stain it with two coats of stain and a sealing coat.


It took about an hour to cover the windows on the west side of the house with plastic and cardboard and mask the drip edge below the logs with duct tape. Then David hooked up the sandblaster and the work got under way. I’ll admit David looked like a creature from outer space with his hood, long sleeves and welding gloves!


The sandblaster was smaller than the one David used at work and the job went a lot slower than he would have liked. But by dark, using the headlights of the four wheeler, he and Will finished the wall up to the front corner when the bags of sand ran out. Hopefully, today we can finish that corner. We still have the job of digging out any old, failed caulking from the largest checks so they can be re-done. Then I can start staining the wall again. It’s amazing how new the wall now looks! Thank you David, Bill, and Will! — Jackie

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


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