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Archive for the ‘Self-sufficiency’ Category

Jackie Clay

One of our hen turkeys hatched out … chicks

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Yep, that’s right, chicks, not poults (baby turkeys). It seems Mama turkey found a nest of chicken eggs and decided to sit on them instead of making her own nest. Oh well, she IS a good mother and it’s the second time a turkey has raised chicks on our ranch and last time she raised the whole batch.

Will got most of our tomatoes not only staked but mulched and caged, too. We’ve got to buy another roll of concrete reinforcing wire to do the last 30 or so tomatoes. Boy, there are a LOT of tomatoes in the garden this year! We’re out of money so in the meantime, we’re busy tilling, weeding, and mulching the rest of the crops. Today Krystal and Will are working on the isolation patches of squash.

All-caged_9128
I’ve been kind of under the weather with another bout of diverticulitis and finally had to go to the doctor for antibiotics. Whew! After three days the meds are working and there’s much less gut pain. Boy, how I hate that. So today I’m kind of easing back into the swing of things gently. No, I won’t overdo.

Our adopted son, Javid, is still in need of a donated used laptop or tablet to use while he’s forced to lie in bed to keep healing his previous pressure sore. So if you have one around you’d part with, please let me know, okay?

Our rhubarb is HUGE again this year. The stalks are the size of baseball bats and the leaves are higher than my head. Wow! One plant would make a million pies! I need to get busy and can up some sauce. My friend, Jeri, found that if she extracted a couple of pints of juice from cut-up rhubarb with her Mehu Liisa juicer, then canned up the rhubarb as well as the juice, the rhubarb was just right for sauce, not being watery like regular canned rhubarb. Great for rhubarb crisp, too. Yum.

Broc-and-cauliflower_9133
The broccoli and cauliflower is doing great this year, as it did last year. All mulched and weeded, they’re shooting up. Can’t wait. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

In between rains, work continues

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

We’ve been having a lot of rain lately, with a few sunny days stuck between them, thank goodness. Will pounded 104 T-posts in the garden to stake up the tomatoes we have growing in there. Our big tomatoes would break off wooden stakes in the wind! Then he weeded and mulched them with our seed-free reed canary grass hay. Once mulched, they’ll need no more weeding.

Pounding-stakes_9115
Yesterday, he finished putting wire cages over most of the tomatoes but he had to start making more cages as we’re growing so many more tomatoes this year in the garden. The ones I planted on the new forty acres won’t be mulched or caged; it’s just too much work for us.

Staked_9119
Today the sun’s out and Will’s busy making more cages and also side dressing our small household patch of corn in the garden with rotted manure. The corn sure jumps once that’s done and it already looks pretty good. On the end of the sweet corn is a small patch of Glass Gem popcorn.

Wire-cages_9125
Unfortunately the chickens got in the garden (we do have a few “wild” escapees) and scratched around in that patch. And ate some corn. But they are ousted from the garden and most of it has come up anyway.

The pumpkin patch/corn patch is doing well as is the pig-pasture corn and pumpkins. So we’ll pray for warm sunshine and alternate days of rain to keep it going. Lookin’ good so far… — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: free-ranging pigs, canned pinto beans, and sunless strawberries

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Free-ranging pigs

I remember you telling about a pig that spent the winter free and that it did very well. I wonder what kind of pigs you raise and do you think I could raise them without grain?

Sandie Heatherington
Siberia, Indiana

Well, Sandie, you remembered my story a bit wrong. There were two weaned pigs and they did escape and spend the summer and fall roaming 160 acres of fields and woods, eating all sorts of wild foods from roots and grasses to acorns in the fall. And they were very nice when we finally found and captured them. But they did not winter out “wild.” In Minnesota, they would never have wintered as food would have been nearly impossible for them to find. You can certainly let pigs roam free in a very large acreage to feed without grain as the old-timers did. But you can’t just fence a pig into an acre or two and expect him to do well with no grain; there’s just not enough food for him to choose and pick from. — Jackie

Canned pinto beans

I canned some pinto beans last fall and was going to use a jar and a few beans had some grayish spots on them. Almost like mold but the seal is perfect. Are they bad?

Carolyn Allee
Raymond, Washington

If your beans were processed correctly and the seal is still good, open a jar. If they smell okay, they will be fine to eat. As always, heat the beans to boiling temperature for 10-15 minutes before using. — Jackie

Sunless Strawberries

My son-in-law is in the Air Force, stationed in Japan. My granddaughters really want to grow strawberries, but they live in a high-rise apartment, and they get no direct sunlight, not even on their little balcony. Is there a way we can make their dreams come true? Is there a type of strawberry that will grow well under a grow light? Do you have any ideas on something else they might enjoy growing and eating?
 
Lisa G.
Cottondale, Florida

Any vegetables and, of course, strawberries, can certainly be grown under grow lights or even four-foot regular shop lights, held only inches above the plants. (Think of all of those marijuana growers!) They could try easy-to-grow things like multi-colored lettuce, radishes, or even bush beans. There are a lot of possibilities so they should have fun! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We had sad news

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Our friend, Linda, who helped cook at our homestead seminars passed away recently and suddenly due to undiagnosed cancer. Her service brought tears to many of us who knew her and will certainly miss her every day.

June-garden
But we go on, planting and believing in the hope of the future. Our hoop houses are bulging and so is the garden. I finally finished planting on the new pumpkin/corn patch yesterday. And already the pumpkins and squash are looking good out there. However, I will have to replant a couple varieties that I had old seed. It didn’t come up. Oh well, it happens.

House-garden_9069
This morning I got up at 6 AM to cows bawling and donkeys braying. Crystal, our donkey, as well as three calves were out. So I spent awhile herding livestock and enjoying the beautiful morning. There were even deer out browsing on the clover next to the woods. How pretty. Cows in, donkey in. So I came back to the house and made pancakes. I was hungry after playing cowboy! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

When the weather’s perfect…

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

You get a lot done. We’ve been having nice warm daytime temperatures and last night we had a good soaking rain. It makes seeds germinate quickly and pop up strongly. You can hear our pumpkins and squash growing!

Yesterday morning there were white pelicans on our beaver pond. You don’t usually think of pelicans in Northern Minnesota but we have quite a few. In fact, just a few miles north of us is Pelican Lake, a huge body of water that the pelicans enjoy. I think they are so graceful, soaring in flocks, way up in the sky, before they land. And on the water, they look like swans, all except that pouched bill. They like to swim and fish for minnows on our pond and we enjoy watching them.

Pelicans_9063
I’ve been planting up the rest of the land Will tilled on our new forty acres with the tractor-mounted tiller. He said he’s “all done planting corn!” It was pretty brutal when he and Krystal hand-planted the big patch that they did in the muck. But I can’t stand to waste tilled ground so I’ve been planting more pumpkins between varieties of beans. So far I’ve planted Cherokee Trail of Tears and I’ve got Hopi String and Tongue of Fire to go. Then we’ll see how much land is left…

Chives_9068
My favorite rose is blooming near the kitchen garden gate. It’s the old “Yellow Rose of Texas”, which is both hardy and beautiful. Pioneers often carried it West to remind them of home. I’ve always had a yellow rose by my house, no matter where we happened to be, so I really understand how it could be a symbol of “home.”

Yellow-rose_9073
We’re still searching for a used laptop or tablet for my handicapped son, Javid, so he can be online while being forced to lie down to ensure his pressure sore continues to heal. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: local co-ops in Minnesota and use for small dropped apples

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Local co-ops in Minnesota

We are new to the Iron Range. Also new to self reliance. My question is are there any good locally owned co-ops where we can get started on the range? Any tips or advice for the Virginia and Hibbing area would be greatly appreciated.

Kaila Kvasnicka
Chisholm, Minnesota

Welcome to the North, Kaila! As far as I know, there is only one Co-op: Natural Harvest Food Co-op. Their address is: 505 N. 3rd St., Virginia, MN 55792. Phone number: (218) 741-4663. There are farmers’ markets in the towns of Hibbing, Virginia, and Cook also. — Jackie

Use for small dropped apples

I have a lot of small apples falling from my trees. Is there something I can do with these small apples? Are they too green for spiced apples like pickled crab apples? Thank you for this helpful web site and the articles in Backwoods home Magazine.

Charles P. Britton
Southwest City, Missouri

Sorry, Charles, but these drops are usually way too green to use. If you have pigs or chickens, they will appreciate you tossing them over the fence to them. I would remove the apples from your orchard as they are sometimes stung by apple pests and will increase any insect problem you have in your apples, over time. This is one reason we have our chickens fenced in our orchard. They clean them right up as they fall. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: sealing cedar for raised beds and squash not germinating

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Sealing cedar for raised beds

We just got some cedar raised garden boxes. Do we need to seal them from moisture? We would like to seal them and also give them a little color with wood stain but fear that we will be putting harmful chemicals right where we are growing our food. Do you have any definitive information about this situation?

Deborah McEnulty
Priest River, Idaho

It is recommended that we do not seal our cedar raised beds for the best quality garden soil. Untreated, cedar boards should last for decades, leaving the soil pure. — Jackie

Squash not germinating

I bought some of your Hopi Pale Grey Squash seeds and planted them about a month ago (approx. early May). So far nothing shows. All the other seeds like Provider Beans and Pumpkin seeds have germinated and are about 2-3 inches tall. Is Hopi a slow germinator or did I put the seeds in too early? Will they still sprout after a month of watering? Your insights are much appreciated. Thanks for all the great articles and blog!

Draza Knezevich
Miramonte, California

No, Hopi Pale Greys are very fast germinators. They should certainly be up by now. I’d dig in a hill you planted and see if the seeds are still there. If they are and look rotted they may gotten dry while trying to germinate. If they are gone, a squirrel, chipmunk, or bird may have made off with them. If you have more seeds, go ahead and replant. I sure hope you have better luck. As you know, Hopi Pale Greys are one of our favorites! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

It’s finally drying out

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

After all the rain, making the fields and garden soppy, it finally quit pouring. Yesterday, Will and Krystal went out to the new corn/pumpkin field and hand planted several trial varieties of corn. If they do well for us, we’ll choose one to grow out next year and save pure seed. But planting was awful, with them sticking in the mud, hoisting heavy boots and struggling with the planting. Will wouldn’t let me help because of my bad knee and I kind of felt left out.

Planting-corn_9036
Luckily, when Krystal and I planted the pumpkins and squash on the pumpkin side, it was dry and very easy planting! Now we’re waiting for them to come up.

Today Will and Krystal went out again to plant more corn, and it went much better due to warmer temperatures and a good breeze that dried things out a lot. Now over half of the field is planted but we’ll have to wait to do the rest as it’s too wet for the tractor to till. We’ll see how that goes…

Every Wednesday we’ve had a baby doe goat born. And today we had another! Willow, our best doe, had a huge, long-legged doeling that we’re calling “Wednesday.” We’re thrilled at how pretty she is.

Wednesday_9045
Does anyone happen to have an old, working tablet or laptop they would donate to my adopted son, Javid, who lives in assisted living? He has a desktop computer but is restricted in the time he can be up in his wheelchair as he is still healing from pressure sores. So he spends a lot of time in bed (boring!) and would sure like to be online instead of watching daytime TV. Right now we can’t afford to buy him a new one so thought I’d ask around.

Hopi-babies_9040
We are amazed that our Hopi Pale Grey squash are popping up so strong. Most are as big as your hand when they come out of the ground. This year we are trying two new pumpkin/squash varieties,  San Filipe (Native pumpkin) and Apache Giant squash. We are hoping they’ll do as well for us. — Jackie

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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