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Archive for the ‘Food Preservation’ Category

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

Time to can some meat!

Monday, February 6th, 2017

I’ve been canning up a storm trying to gain some freezer space. Since Will brought home about 200 pounds of hamburger from a steer we had butchered, I have extra motivation for canning more meat and meat recipes.

Friday I thawed out a shank portion ham that I got on sale. Over the weekend I first cut ham chunks from it, then dices, and canned these prime pieces. When there was still considerable meat left on the bone, I put it into a large stockpot with water and boiled it for an hour or so. Then I cooled the pot and later skimmed off the excess fat and took out the bone. Then I cut even more pieces from it, adding them to the broth, along with grated carrot and chopped onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Bringing this up to a boil, I added the dry beans I’d soaked overnight. When the pot again came to a boil, I ladled 1/3 of a jar full of beans/veggies and filled it to within an inch of the top with broth. This gave me 10 jars of ham chunks and 27 jars of ham and bean soup. Again the bone went into the stock pot with half a pot of water. I simmered it for a couple of hours, then fished out the spent bone. Adding split peas, grated carrots, chopped onion, and garlic, along with salt and pepper to taste, I again filled jars — only 10 pints, this time.

When all was finished, I had 47 meal ingredients/meals from one half a ham. Not bad! Today I’ve got 10 pounds of hamburger thawed out and a kettle brimming with soaked beans. So this afternoon, it’s going to be another batch of chili. We use a lot of this, especially in the winter with a nice batch of cornbread to go with it.

We are excited that we just got our Seed Treasures catalogs from the printer. They look great and I’ll start sending them to customers who’ve requested them. Past customers will receive theirs, mailed bulk mail from the printer. Wow, suddenly spring seems a lot closer! — 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 spent Sunday delivering beef to customers

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Ever have to be in two places at once? Not uncommon for us. For instance, we had two steers butchered and yesterday was the day we’d arranged to meet various customers who bought quarters of beef. But it was also the same day our son, Javid, was going skiing! Luckily David and his girlfriend, Ashley, drove Javid to the Giant’s Ridge Ski hill while we delivered beef.

Javid used to ski in Montana, using adaptive equipment and he has sure missed it here. He joined a special program here and yesterday he had a ball on the slopes. I asked David if they put him on the bunny hill. David laughed and said, “No, it was a pretty good hill!” And because David snowboards, I took his word. So we got it all done and everyone was happy.

Today it’s snowing pretty good and I’m getting ready to can up a big batch of baked beans. Like our beef, our pork is getting a little old so I need to use up the hams and bacon we have left. And we all love baked beans! So the beans are soaking and I’ll get at it soon. Mmmm!

We’ve finally set our program for the fall seminar so if any of you are interested, just click on the Seed Treasures link and check out what we’ll be offering in August. We’ve already got four people signed up so if you’re interested, I’d suggest getting signed up. We can only accept 14 people so everyone can get a good, hands-on experience.

It’s hard to believe we’ll be planting seeds soon! Especially when it’s snowing outside. But we’re real excited and are already discussing the wheres and hows of our 2017 gardens. And with the political unrest, we will be planting even more. Just in case … — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Are any of you suffering from lack of sun?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

We were until I came upon some of my photos taken in June! My gosh, the colors just knock us out after a winter of drab and white. Now I really can’t wait till spring.

We’re planning and ordering some interesting new seeds. As always, we look for beautiful, tasty and often Native heirloom varieties we can grow here in Zone 3. Already we’ve found some new-to-us old beans, squash, corn, and others. David’s girlfriend, Ashley, can’t wait to help out in the garden as she’s never had the chance to garden before and just loves all things “homesteady.” We have a lot of fun together.

Our warm weather has cooled and is heading back to normal for January. As long as I’ve lived in Minnesota — more than thirty years, in all — I’ve never seen a January thaw before. What a nice surprise that was! And it lasted nearly two weeks in what is usually the very coldest time of the year. Spring seems a lot closer even though I know we’ve still got a lot of winter ahead of us. (But, hey, we get to plant our peppers and petunias next month!)

I’ll be canning up some ground beef next; dozens and dozens of pints. It’s so easy to put up and so very handy to have around. I season some for tacos and leave other plain for a variety of mixed recipes. We just love having that pre-cooked burger handy for quick, homemade meals. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

I’ve been canning up a storm

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Since we have a freezer half full of nearly year-old hamburger, and Will just took in two steers to butcher, I’ve been canning like crazy. No more putting it off for me! So far, I’ve put up 36 quarts of chili. But I’ve got a little warning for you. I learned something in the process. I had nearly run out of quart jars so at WalMart, I saw Anchor Hocking quarts, with lids and rings for more than a dollar cheaper than Kerr jars. Being cheap, and have used “alternative” brands for years, I bought two dozen jars.

Okay, fast forward. Two jars’ rings let loose during processing, blowing chili everywhere! One in one batch, one in the second. Not good! Will checked the rings and found that if jiggled a bit loose, they would pop right off! So I threw away ALL of the shiny gold new rings and finished the batches with old Kerr rings. Yep, all sealed fine. Surprise! I figured Anchor Hocking had been around for decades and the jars would be okay; but I didn’t think about rings. Lesson learned! Just a warning to all you who can. Don’t use the rings that come with Anchor Hocking jars!

I have to correct a statement in the last blog; we did not buy a battery from DB Electrical, but a starter. Love the company!

We had one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen the other evening. I grabbed my camera and tore off around the house, trying to find where I could get a shot. Nearly killed myself, dashing under the deck! But I did get a few good photos and it was all worth it.

I bought a used rocker-recliner from Goodwill years ago but it was getting pretty shaky. So over the weekend, Will took it apart and re-glued and added a few screws to it to strengthen it further. Now it’s in great shape. It’s amazing what a good man, some glue and screws can do!


— 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.

kitchen_1297

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

snow_9931

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!

mittens_snow_9938

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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