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Archive for the ‘Self-sufficiency’ Category

Jackie Clay

With winter definitely here we are planning our gardens

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!

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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

Jackie Clay

Now that most of the snow’s gone, we’re hurrying to finish jobs

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

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The two feet of snow is mostly gone and the ground froze, at least a bit. So Will is hurrying to haul our last hay home from the fields. He’s had a little tractor trouble — nothing serious, just a plugged fuel filter, so far. He’s almost done on one field and the round bale storage yard is about full. He’s got another thirty or so bales over at another field. If all goes well, he should be finished in a couple of days.

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We did get a little new snow but it’s nothing much; only a two-inch buildup and today it’s 32 degrees above! We’re rejoicing about that.

This past weekend we went to grandson Mason’s ninth birthday party. The best part of it for him was when Grandpa Will played Pie Face and got clobbered with a big gob of whipped cream right in his mouth and mustache!

I never showed you how the new stain on the west end of the house turned out. I got it done just before the weather turned too cold. I think it looks great and come spring, I’ll give it a couple more coats as that’s the “tough” end of the house. All our weather comes from the west and it gets plenty of hot sun in the afternoons in the summer. Some folks think once you build a log house you are freed from any maintenance. Not so. You need to keep the stain redone every few years to protect the logs as well as caulk up any large cracks so moisture doesn’t go in and start rotting the logs. But even with that, we sure love our logs!

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— Jackie

Jackie Clay

Believe it or not, most of our two feet of snow is gone

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

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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!

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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

Jackie Clay

We all had fun working off our Thanksgiving dinner

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

We had a full house for Thanksgiving. Bill and his family, David and girlfriend Ashley, and our other son, Javid, all came to help us eat turkey and tons of other goodies. What a pleasant day that was. We are truly thankful for all our blessings, especially including a wonderful family.

After dinner, Mason and Ava asked Uncle David to come out and help them make a snow fort because the snow was perfect for packing, and there was plenty of it. So creative David grabbed a plastic tote and headed for the side yard where there was plenty of undisturbed snow. He took the scoop shovel and tossed two shovels full of snow into the tote then Ava bounced up and down on it with her sitter-downer. Then David carried the tote to the fort area-to-be and carefully dumped it. Mason got to work and packed snow between the blocks. It wasn’t long until they had a great fort built, including turrets made by packing snow into a five gallon bucket.

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Then Mason came in and informed me they needed a flag. I quickly taped an old flag onto a plant stake and they had a completed fort. Then the snowballing began. Will stood way out on the drive and bombarded Mason, in the fort, with snow. (Okay, they were more like snow puffs, not hard-packed snowballs. But Mason loved it anyway and they didn’t clobber him so hard.)

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Ava dubbed the wire next to the garden gate as the jail so when someone got snowballed, they had to go to “jail.” What a fun afternoon!

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Now the temperature has warmed up and it’s been raining for two days and staying above freezing all night. Much of our two feet of snow is gone, including, sadly, the snow fort. But the memories remain. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

I’ve been cooking and baking up a storm today in preparation of our family’s Thanksgiving feast. I managed to do two of Will’s very favorite “pumpkin” pie made with Hopi Pale Grey squash, an apple pie, cheesecake, and pecan tartlets. And the garlic mashed potatoes are in the oven now so I just have to reheat them tomorrow.

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Amid all the tearing around and feasting, please take time to be truly thankful for all we have. We homesteaders are a blessed lot!

I just had to show you another Hondo picture. Last night he was again up on the “bad dog” couch but he’d fluffed the pillows just right and plopped down with both his hind end and head on his favorites — with a big smile on his face. I think he was dreaming of turkey leftovers!

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Happy Thanksgiving all! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Winter finally hit with a huge bang

Monday, November 21st, 2016

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Although we’ve had a fabulous fall, with hardly any snow and cold, Old Man Winter finally arrived all at once. We were expecting 8-12 inches which the weather radio updated Thursday evening to 12-18 inches. Well, it began snowing and blowing, then REALLY snowing. We ended up with more than 24 inches of heavy, wet snow. Then it got cold. Will had to wade out through knee-deep snow in the evening to sweep off our solar panels so the heavy snow didn’t break down the rack as the wind was also pretty stout. It was very nearly a blizzard but the 40 mph wind came in gusts not steady winds as in a true blizzard. At any rate, we couldn’t even see the storage building from the house which is only about 50 feet away!

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Luckily, we’d spent two days picking up tools, hoses, firewood, etc. in preparation for the snow or we’d have been in a fix. Will also got our plow truck ready. He found out the smog pump was seized up, making the fan belt screech. He spent all day Thursday working on getting that fixed and didn’t have time to put on the plow.

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Well, the storm finally blew out and do we have snow! It took Will an hour to hook up the snowplow, which was buried in snow, of course. Then he worked for nearly three hours to just clean out our yard and make a couple of passes up our mile and a half long driveway. (We had small trees down all along the drive, due to the heavy snow and wind.)

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Meanwhile, I shoveled out a path to the goat barn and chicken coop. Luckily, I’d brought the goats up from their pasture on Thursday, before the storm — just in case. All of us, including Hondo, were pooped. Now we just have to continue cleaning out to get ready for the next snowfall on Wed. Hopefully it’s not so much. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Snow’s coming … too soon

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!

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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

Jackie Clay

Winter’s on the way

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.)

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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

 
 


 
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