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Archive for the ‘Building’ Category
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
Although we have had a great fall with little snowfall until now and relatively decent temperatures for northern Minnesota, winter’s definitely here. I’m just recovering from a real nasty bug and poor Will’s been trying to get things done outside to get ready for the big snowfall that’s starting to hit us. We’re getting 2 inches today, another 2 inches tonight, 2-4 inches tomorrow …
Since Will has the roof done on the barn, he’s trying to get enough lumber cut on the sawmill to put up temporary walls to keep out the snow so he can work this winter on the hay loft floor. (And so we can kind of use parts of the barn.) And then there’s the unfinished front porch roof … We’d like to get it covered before too much snow hits us. So while I’m working on an article today, he’s cutting boards in the snow. Luckily, it’s not too cold but we’re heading for sub-zero HIGHS later in the week. Yuck! — 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
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
Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Besides daily chores, Will and I have been sawing logs with our Hud-Son bandsaw mill, edging boards on the hybrid gasoline-driven table saw and stacking them with stickers in between to allow airflow until we can use them. Some of the boards will be used on our front porch roof, some will be turned into barn siding and others will be the rest of the flooring in the hay loft of the new barn. The steel roofing should arrive this week sometime and due to winter closing in on us, Will’s getting anxious to get the barn under cover.
Today I helped Will with one 8-foot BIG log that he had to trim down to get in the sawmill. With a cant hook, we could barely turn it. After sawing it up, Will got more than thirty 2-inch boards — all from one log! Impressive.
Meanwhile, I’ve been saving tomato seeds by squeezing them out into bowls, filling the bowls with water, and fermenting the gel for a couple of days. Once fermented, I put the seeds in a sieve, rinse them very well, and dump them on an ice cream pail lid (with the variety labeled in permanent marker), then lay them out to dry.
I also have been trimming and checking our wonderful crop of onions over and putting them in bags and baskets to store. I had to separate out the Ailsa Craig onions (which are globe shaped) as they don’t store well. Later, I’ll dehydrate the ones we don’t use fresh because I’m getting low on onion powder and onion flakes for cooking.
And I finally got all our potatoes hauled down in the basement. Wow! We ended up with about 300 pounds of gorgeous, perfect potatoes. Yum. I can sure think of a lot of different ways we can eat them this winter: soup, stews, baked, roasted, scalloped, mashed, garlic mashed — Darn, I’m hungry! — Jackie
Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Our weather turned into a glorious Indian summer. Temperatures are in the high sixties and dry. Will made use of it by cutting the new seeding down below the goat pasture. Three years ago, it was a brushy wet area full of stumps and rotten logs. With Old Yeller’s help Will cleared it off, then we disked it and seeded it in to birdsfoot trefoil, clover, and orchard grass. We used it for pasture for two years. Since we didn’t have it well fenced, we didn’t pasture it this summer as the cattle were on the new forty. So here was all that beautiful feed, just standing there. Hopefully, we’ll be able to square bale it tomorrow. There are just a few acres, but whatever we get is all gravy and I’m sure our animals will love it.
Meanwhile, I’m madly trying to get our harvest canned up. Yesterday it was spaghetti sauce and Hansen’s bush cherry jelly. Today it’s going to be more spaghetti sauce and carrots. Our carrots are getting so big that they ARE like 2x4s, which is their name. I did plant some Tendersweets and even they are very big. Then there are the onions to pull today so they can dry in the sunshine we are forecast for several days.
Today, Will’s working on the front porch again, trying to get a roof on it before winter hits in October. He got it stained yesterday and today he’s doing the final fitting and screwing it together with 10-inch log screws. I think it looks very nice!
Saturday I’m speaking in Mt. Iron to the State Horticultural Society about self-reliant gardening and Sunday we’re hosting a potluck for local homesteaders.
I never did get my flower beds all weeded and cleaned out but oh well, maybe next spring. You NEVER get all you “need” to get done, but you just keep pecking away at it. That’s life. — Jackie
Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
With folks coming from as far away as California, Florida, and Alaska, it promises to be a great time and we’re busy getting ready. (Did you order the porta-potty? How about the tapes for the video camera?) We, as homesteaders, tend to ignore some of our messes. But when we’re expecting company, we suddenly see them as others would and rush around to sort of straighten them out.
Will had planned on baling hay today but last night we got a real banger of a thunderstorm. Not too much rain though, and it’s hotter than blazes today so he’s out raking it so it will dry and be ready to bale tomorrow. Seminar or not, homesteading must go on! After all, we’re just plain folk like all of you.
The garden, even though late, sure looks great. The corn’s seven feet tall and we have dinner-plate-sized cabbages and broccoli. The onions average about baseball size and some are softball-sized with no sign of shutting down. Carrots look great too and the bush beans are pumping out beans like crazy. Now if it doesn’t frost for a few weeks, we might get squash. A year like this enforces our feeling that when we get a bumper crop, I can up all I can. You never know when you’ll get hit with hail next year or have a goofy summer where you just don’t get a good crop.
I laugh when “survivalists” say that if TSHTF they’ll just dig up their yard, plant their survival seeds, and live off their garden. First off, when you don’t have the experience gardening, things just don’t go that well. Nor does a first…or second year garden, either. And what if that year is like this one? A big challenge even to us experienced gardeners. If you want to eat, you’d better get at it NOW! — Jackie