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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category
Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
On Saturday, we drove down to my son, Bill’s, for granddaughter Ava’s fifth birthday party. The weather was nice and we had a great time visiting with all the family and Bill’s friend, Andy and his family. Again, the kiddos played Pie Face and both Mason and Ava got a face full of whipped cream.
Thank goodness, our severe winter weather has broken. Yesterday it was sunny and 31 degrees and today it almost hit 36! Wow, I can tell you it sure feels great, just being in the sunshine and breathing in warm air. I’m sure we’ll still have plenty of snow and cold but a break is sure welcome, and it’s supposed to last for a whole week!
Let me tell you about a very positive business deal we just had. Four months ago, we bought a battery for our ATV from DB Electrical, online. Two weeks ago, it fried. I got busy and found the order number and Will called, hoping there was some sort of warranty. He was on the phone for exactly two minutes, 22 seconds and the guy said “It’s in the mail.” A replacement, that fast — it seemed unbelievable! No “Well, you must have done something,” or “We don’t warranty electrical products.” Just “It’s in the mail, should get to you on Wednesday.” Wow! So anyone who needs reliable service check out DB Electrical. I know we’re lifelong customers now.
It doesn’t seem possible but in three weeks I’ll be starting my first garden seeds: peppers and petunias. Once seed starting begins, spring seems a whole lot closer, doesn’t it?
Will and I have decided to offer another homesteading seminar here at our place, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, August 25th, 26th, and 27th, providing there is interest. A lot of people have been asking about another seminar so here is your chance, should you decide you’d like to come. I’ll be posting more information on our website, www.seedtreasures.com, in the near future. — Jackie
Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
Well, at least the perennial garden plants will have plenty of snow cover this winter. We just got another five inches today. I can’t lie and say I wish winter would stay for months and months. I’m about ready for spring! At least we aren’t suffering like some folks on the East and West Coasts are, though, with flooding and big snowstorms. We just do our chores and throw another log on the fire.
But chores are sometimes challenging. Like today when we had to set big round bales out and water the big livestock. The wind was blowing, snow falling sideways, and although it was 15 above, it felt VERY cold. I’m the official gate-opener so while Will runs up and down the hill with the tractor, I wait for him to come so I can open gates. Brrrrr! And although we now have a great new well downhill from the barn, you still have to warm up the generator, start it, hook up a hundred feet of hose (sometimes a little frozen in spots) and stand around while water fills this tank, then that tank. Then the hose must be drained twice in hopes it won’t be frozen next time we water.
No, living in the North is not easy but we couldn’t think of anywhere else we’d want to live.
For Christmas, my friend Dara gave me a big North Georgia Candy Roaster squash she’d grown. She said it’s one of the best tasting squash she’s ever had so she wanted us to try it. It is beautiful and I hate to cut into it! But, of course, we will so we can try this squash. If we love it too, we’ll be growing it this year so we can offer seed next year in our Seed Treasures catalog.
Meanwhile, David has been trimming out some spots in his old bedroom after work. (Work right now means taking his snowmobile and sled to Tower, about 30 miles away, unloading the snowmobile, then driving over seven miles across the ice on Lake Vermilion, to where Voyager Log Homes is working on a log house.) By the time David gets off work, it’s dark and the trip back to the truck must be interesting, especially when it’s snowing so much.
We’ve been spending a little time working on a couple more puzzles, first a bear, then deer, and just lately, an old farm scene. When you walk past the table, you just have to stop and find a few more pieces! We all really enjoy it. Hey, it doesn’t take much to entertain us homesteaders.
I just have to tell you about the huge pile of 20 solar panels we just got from a friend, on a VERY good deal! All totalled, it will boost our charging to double what we have now! Wow, were we glad to get them. Now, come spring, it’s one of the first projects Will has planned. We’ll have to run our generator very little once they’re all hooked up. So very nice! — Jackie
Thursday, December 8th, 2016
We’ve got serious snow on the ground and temps which are destined to see below zero this week, but Will and I are hard at work planning our next year’s gardens. Like many of you, we’ve been getting seed catalogs in the mail. To avoid missing out on some new listings of rare seeds I’ve been ordering a few things.
Not only do we raise food to eat and put up, but we also raise food for our seed business as well. We grow a lot more varieties than we offer in our catalog and on our website because not all meet our requirements: productivity, taste, and hardiness. This year we grew 27 different bean varieties; some we loved, some not so much, and a few were really rare varieties. Take Monacello di Trevio for instance — I paid $4 for 10 seeds of this gorgeous red and white shiny round bean. It was supposed to be a bush bean but I soon found out it was a pole variety. Will almost had a heart attack when I paid forty cents a seed for beans! But those 10 seeds produced more than 4 pounds of beans. They tasted great, shelled easy, and produced well. Not enough to offer yet, but you can be sure I will be planting many more next spring!
Not only do we study seed catalogs but also the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook, in which hundreds of seed savers across the globe let us know what seeds they have to offer folks like us. The seeds in this book are open pollinated, often ancient heirloom varieties. This past summer Will grew Yellow Monster sweet bell and Giant Chinese Hot peppers and I tried several new-to-us beans. What fun! It doesn’t take much to please us homesteaders, does it? — Jackie
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016
Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
We heard the dreaded four letter word: snow! And eight inches plus is forecast. In Northern Minnesota, that means it’ll probably stick all winter. This will most likely be our first permanent snowfall (which will not melt until spring), so we’ve been hurrying around all day getting chores done. We split up some more dry wood to add to the wood shed along with all the small wood Will has been cutting.
Then Will took the splitter off the tractor and attached the rototiller. He wants to get all of the gardens tilled before it snows so the sheet of manure he lays on it will more easily leach nutrients into the soil between now and spring. David’s girlfriend, Ashley, came out and Will says she’s now tilling the North garden! Wow, I’m impressed!
Meanwhile, I’ve been updating our Seed Treasures website as I know lots of folks are anxious to see what goodies we’re offering this year (and there are a lot). I have also been printing off hundreds of labels for all the different varieties. My printer is a dinosaur so every once in a while it has fits and won’t, but it is getting done. Now if that darned snow would just hold off … — Jackie
Tuesday, November 15th, 2016
We listened to the weather radio — which we just about live by — and they’re expecting rain and snow tomorrow and on through the week. And we still have a bunch to do. I just finished up the rest of our beautiful apples and now have dozens of quarts of apple slices and apple juice. (I put the peels and cores through the Mehu Liisa and turned out beautiful apple juice. Then the goats got the leftovers.)
I’ve still got a crate of carrots to do and some chili but that’s on hold right now as Will is sawing up lots of dry popple poles for our small wood. This stuff is great kindling and also works extremely well in our kitchen range. It’s pretty darned good when you can keep the house toasty and also be cooking and baking on the same stove at the same time. What a win-win situation!
My oldest son, Bill, got a nice fat five-point buck which is now in our freezer waiting to be cut up and canned. He’ll be up next weekend to help do that. We always have a great time visiting while we process venison. David saw a big eight-point buck but it ran straight away from him and he didn’t get a decent shot. So he’ll try again this week and see if he can also bring home the “bacon.” We really love making venison summer sausage with my electric meat grinder which has a sausage stuffing horn. It tastes SO good!
Well, I’m finally done processing all the seeds except some Hopi Pale Grey squash. All I have to do is update our website and I have to get at that pronto as we’re already getting seed orders coming in.
Gotta run so I can go help Will. Snow’s on the way… — Jackie
Thursday, November 10th, 2016
And with the warm weather, we’re getting a lot done. Yep, we should have had it done earlier, but it’s nasty to work in rainy, cold weather. So while the sun is out, we’re really hustling.
I’ve been cleaning the kitchen, which had turned into a pig sty while I canned and this afternoon I’m going to get the rest of the apples canned up.
Will has been busy hauling big round bales of hay home on our hay transport. Okay, most farmers use a REAL hay transport such as a Notch Wagon. But we can’t afford that. So Will traded some lumber sawing on our bandsaw mill for an old, stripped-down bus frame. It’s heavy, clunky, and doesn’t turn sharp like a Notch Wagon does. But it didn’t cost us anything except gas for the sawmill. And it lets Will haul home between five and six hay bales at a time so we get more home faster than two at a time on just the tractor. Plus it’s easier on the hydraulics than having a 1,400 pound bale bouncing up our bumpy driveway on the front forks of the tractor!
Will also got the tomato vines burned which he’d raked into a pile on the main garden. The livestock has been let into our North and Central gardens to glean the leftovers there and also to eat all the grass, clover and weeds which grew there due to our tremendously wet summer. They sure liked that. Now the gardens look nearly ready to plant, they’re so bare. We hope to be able to get the gardens tilled and spread with rotted manure before the ground freezes. We’ll see how that goes. You know you always have more plans than time allows!
Tuesday, November 8th, 2016
I had a great time at the Expo, meeting both old Backwoods Home family and new subscribers. And I got a chance to visit with Don and Nancy Childers (the wonderful BHM artist and his wife) as well as Ilene and Dave Duffy, and alternative energy guru, Jeff Yago.
We had a great Denver show! If you’d like to see some great photos, check out Dave Duffy’s Twitter page. Just click on “home page” to the left, then click on blogs and go down to Dave on Twitter and click. Lots of nice pictures of us all.
I will admit that when I flew over big metropolis areas such as Denver and Minneapolis/St.Paul I thought a lot about what would happen if some emergency struck and all those millions of homes were suddenly without power. Not a pretty thought, for sure. And it made me even more glad to get home to our own backwoods home, way in the woods!
While I was gone, Will and David’s girlfriend, Ashley, removed all the tomato cages and stakes. Then Will borrowed our friend’s tractor-mounted rock rake and raked all the tomato debris into a big pile in the garden to burn. It was a BIG pile this year due to our 107 tomato plants!
Now Will is busy hauling in big round bales of hay as the fields are finally drying out enough to drive on. And I’m playing catch-up. I’ve got a few apples and carrots to get canned up. Then I want to can up a huge batch of chili to use up some of our last-year’s beef. I opened two quarts of chili last night and boy did it ever taste great. Especially when I added some New Mexico red chile powder a friend, Mike, picked up for me while I was at the Expo. It’s addicting! Okay, so I can only use mild now because of hot setting off my diverticulitis. But even mild is simply wonderful!
Well, I voted this morning. Not because I was enthused about my choice but that it was the best I could do. Both candidates stink, I figure. Oh well, now we get to see how things play out. But at least all the political ads are done with. Thank God! — Jackie