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Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning with hominy and winter weather

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Canning with hominy

I want to can pork posole using raw hominy. Do you have any comments on using the raw hominy? I do not want mushy hominy.

Myra in Arizona

Hominy cans up great. I’ve even re-canned #10 cans of store-bought hominy. I’ve never had it go mushy. With raw or uncooked hominy, just pack it into canning jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Don’t pack it tightly, allowing a bit for expansion during processing. Add 1/2 tsp. salt to pints and 1 tsp. to quarts. Pour boiling water over the hominy, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Process pints for 55 minutes and quarts for 85 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in a pressure canner. — Jackie

Winter weather

So, have you noticed what the beavers might be saying about this winter weather yet? Or am I still too early?

Elizabeth Seymour
Whitefish, Montana

They say that we’re going to have early snow and a moderate winter with average snowfall and cold. Do remember that these are Minnesota beavers. Montana beavers may have another opinion based on their locality. Our beavers have already stockpiled plenty of brush for winter food, but not excessive and haven’t built up huge dams. All of this lets me know what the beavers “say.” — Jackie

Jackie Clay

A bigger and better harvest

Friday, September 18th, 2015

We are totally amazed at how productive our garden is this year. We’ve been harvesting tomatoes for over a month now, and the BIG Bill Beans are just now getting ripe. Some weigh more than 3 pounds and are not cracked or scarred. And the pumpkins and squash! Wow. Our new-to-us San Filipe pumpkins (an old south-of-the border pumpkin) is outdoing itself. Not only are they very productive, setting lots and lots of nice orange pumpkins, but they’re big, too! One cool thing about them is that they start out yellow (not green like most pumpkins) and slowly ripen to a nice orange.
Our onions were big; carrots huge, and the flour corn varieties amazing. Maybe it was the hot weather this summer, coupled with good watering from our spring basin. Of course “Mo’ poo poo” helps everything!

Will is out spreading lime on our fields today. He got a semi-load from a cement plant in Superior, Wisconsin, where it’s a by-product. And it was cheap; we only have to pay hauling (fuel) cost. As our soil is fairly acidic, that lime will help raise the pH so our pasture, hay, and garden crops will do much better. As it’s supposed to rain tonight, he wants to get it spread so it’ll wash down into the soil instead of clinging to the clover and grass.

I’ve been seeing migrations of wooly bear caterpillars so I figure we’ve got about four more weeks of Fall, then it’ll get cold. I’m SO not ready for winter. Well, we are ready, but I am not looking forward to snow. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

You never saw so many tomatoes in your life!

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Even we are amazed and, I’ll admit, somewhat daunted. (In our garden we planted 108 tomato plants.) A few days ago, frost was predicted and we went into hyperdrive. And, because of our little seed business, we had to not only pick ripe tomatoes but also keep them separate and labeled. Whew! Will figured he picked more than 400 pounds and in two days, I’m sure I also picked that many. And there are tons of tomatoes in various stages of ripening still on the vines.
Yep, we did get a frost, but the temp was only 31 degrees so it didn’t hurt us much. It did burn about half of the leaves on the squash and pumpkins and just a very few top tomato leaves but we felt so blessed to have missed severe freezing! I did get up at 4 AM to start our irrigation pump on the overhead sprinklers. We’ve found that watering in the early morning seems to save plants that otherwise would freeze (if the temp is not too low).
We had a visit yesterday by our oldest son Bill and our grandkids, my sister Sue, and nephew Sean, and a neighbor Ervin, from our old neighborhood, down on the farm near Sturgeon Lake. We were real surprised to see Ervin pile out of Bill’s truck! Our families were very close; his kids and mine were good friends and the two families hayed together for years. What a fun day! We picked some tomatoes and the grandkids helped pull carrots for Bill to take home to can. (I did get a little carried away with the carrots this year; two 50′ rows and boy are they productive! Bill got 2 five-gallon buckets full and we only picked about ten feet of row.) We got a big kick out of 3-year-old Ava, and Mason, her “big” brother pulling carrots. They would have gladly pulled the whole two rows.

Luckily, our temperatures have warmed up and there is no frost in the forecast for at least a week. That’ll give us more time to pull tomatoes, finish ripening some crops and let me seed more tomatoes on the front porch. (Boy, do we ever use our front porch!) — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We had frost last night!

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

But, many thanks to God, it only was on the roof, not in the garden! You can bet we ran out to the garden first thing this morning after seeing it on the house roof.

I’ve been canning every day. Today it’s more corn but this time mixed with peas. We didn’t grow many peas this year so I cheated and bought some frozen peas (on sale, of course) to mix with the corn. I love doing the mixed corn because it gives us so much more variety in the pantry. I can Mexican corn, corn with peas, corn with peas and carrots, corn with carrots, and just plain corn.

Then there are the Dragon Tongue beans which are just starting to ripen. I think I’ll use them to make more mustard bean pickles — we sure do love them. They’re more like a side dish than a pickle.
This morning my friend, Dara, called and said they’d be picking crab apples in town. They had found a pair of trees that the homeowner never picked and when Dara asked if they’d trade potatoes for apples, the deal was quickly made. So I met Dara and her stepson, James in Cook and we spent a companionable morning yacking and picking buckets of apples. I’ll be making apple jelly, juice and sauce from my share. It’s amazing how many folks have fruit trees in their yards and don’t pick any. It sure pays to knock on the door and ask! Give it a try and you will be pleasantly surprised. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

The corn is in!

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

On top of our fabulous bean harvest this summer, our sweet corn is ripe. This year our garden corn is Espresso, a SU hybrid that we grew last year. Boy, is it ever a nice, very sweet, albeit hybrid, corn. The ears are averaging nine inches long with plenty of tender kernels on each cob. So I’m canning like crazy. Yesterday I did Mexican corn (corn with mixed sweet green and red peppers) and today I’m doing plain old sweet corn to get ‘er done!
Unfortunately, the cows got into the old pig pasture and ate nearly all of Will’s highly prized Seneca Horizon sweet corn. Boy, are we ever disappointed! Talk about a crop failure! We have friends that are also raising this variety so we’ll have to see if we can buy seed from them for our seed business. Tough break.

Our tomatoes are beginning to ripen. The Hanky Red, a small to medium-sized very early tomato beat the pack. We thought Moravsky Div was the winner but then found our Hanky Reds were actually ahead of them. We even have a Bill Bean getting ripe that will weigh about 2 pounds. Pretty early for such a big tomato. We can hardly wait.

We’ve had very cold, rainy weather. Yesterday was 55 degrees and today the HIGH is 52, with rain and wind. Brrrr. Will hauled our last hay home from our second farm and the hay storage area is full. One more farm to go but he lost the brake rotor on our pickup near home so will have to do some repair work first. It’s always something but we just keep plodding along. Then some wonderful thing happens to surprise us and we perk right up. That’s homesteading! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

As usual, our beavers were right

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

We had a very hot, dry summer. Around here, some swamps are dry and even rivers are showing more rocks than water. Yep, we got rain. But only about 1/10 of an inch or less at a time; not enough to counteract the hot temperatures. Finally it is cooling down and we are getting some real rain. Luckily, we’re about done haying, with a good crop in, too.
This summer our poultry has been running crazy, nesting, hatching eggs, and raising chicks! We just had a White Laced Red Cornish hen come off a nest with a big batch of chicks. Our momma turkey must have been sharing her nest with a chicken because she just hatched nine baby chicks. She has her own turkey eggs in her nest too, so Will grabbed the turkey eggs (at great bodily risk!) and brought them in to put in our little incubator. As turkey eggs take about a week longer to hatch, they would have never hatched left outside in the cold as the mom abandoned the nest after hatching the chicks. So we’ll see if we can finish the job she started.
Our tomatoes are going crazy. Due to our cold, wet spring, all of them are late this year as are most of our neighbors’ tomatoes. But boy, do we have tomatoes! We just discovered the Farthest North plants are totally covered with tomatoes. We’ve never seen that many tomatoes on any plant before. It’s so productive. They are a cherry tomato but I use them in sauce and they do very well. Such a pretty plant, too!
Today it’s cloudy and rainy so we get a break. Our Subaru has been in for wheel bearings and other expensive repairs. And I ran over some broken glass on the road and ruined a tire recently, so this afternoon, I have to pick up a pair of tires for it. Oh well, we can’t complain as it’s been a very dependable vehicle and our rough, bumpy mile-long driveway is hard on vehicles. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We have a new baby

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Wednesday, our half Jersey heifer, Surprise, had her baby — a pretty heifer we are calling Fern because she’s just the color of dead fern leaves. And we know because that night both she and her mom got out and Surprise hid her baby and we couldn’t find her for two days! We searched and searched but no calf. But we knew that cows did that and weren’t TOO worried. Then out she came, fine as a fiddle and twice as bouncy. Now they’re both back with the other cows and all is well.
I’ve just had another bad bout with diverticulitis, but thank God I haven’t had to go to the doctor and I’m much better today. Nasty stuff and I really do watch what I eat; no popcorn, nuts, seeds, etc.
I’m just glad to be getting over it. There’s so much to do this time of the year. Our first tomatoes, Moravsky Div, a Russian tomato beat the pack in ripening and there are lots and lots of others coming along real fast. The sweet corn is starting to ripen. We’ve eaten our first potatoes. (Boy, do we love the Dakota Pearls!) and the peppers … All I can say is WOW!

Our garden squash is scary it’s so huge. We especially are waiting for our Apache Giant, a rare variety we are trialing. It has yellow blotched leaves that are gorgeous. (No, it is not diseased!)
The peas are all dried down and I’ll be pulling them tomorrow to save seed. We really enjoyed them while they lasted.

Our weather’s cooled down and we sure are glad. Will and I don’t do 90 degree temperatures; it just flattens us. He’s about done doing hay and is hauling big round bales home on our bus frame-turned-hay-transport. It’s going well and we are real happy to have so much hay this year.
How’s everyone’s garden doing? I’m hoping yours is as wonderful as ours! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Rain, sun, rain

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Boy, the weather can’t seem to make up its mind lately. We get a big thunderstorm and the next day the sun’s out. Then it rains again! But this rainy weather is pretty common for June in our country. And it makes the garden and flowers grow. I went out yesterday and took pictures of our big patch of lady slipper orchids, our state flower. They’re in full bloom and just gorgeous this year. Huge too! Some are the size of the palm of my hand.

This morning, between storms, we went to the berry patch and put up a stock panel for the pole beans we’re growing there this year. They’re already sending out long runners. Our friend, Dara, grew Neckargold last year and they were fantastic for her. So we thought we’d try them this year. They’re a bright yellow snap bean that simply covered her vines, making them appear gold from a distance. So far, ours are very lusty and we have high hopes. We’re also growing one of my old favorite flour corns, Bear Island Chippewa, which is getting extremely rare. It’s multi-colored and short seasoned, making it a great corn for those of us with challenging climates. And this is Chippewa country so we thought it appropriate!

Our peppers and melons in the hoop houses are doing great. Some of Will’s Hot Banana peppers already have peppers set on them. I’ve been thinning carrots and tucking tomato vines back inside tomato cages. Boy, are they growing fast! Some of the vines have wandered 18 inches out of the sides of the cages in a week’s time. Wow!

Everything in the pumpkin patch is doing very well and Will wants to get started fencing it as the deer are already wandering through “shopping.” So far, only a few nibbles on the potatoes. But we’re getting big thunderstorms today and it’s dangerous to be out when there’s lightning. A neighbor was killed by it getting into his car a couple years back and we’re very careful.

The dill I planted last year did so well that it self-seeded and is coming up all in that end of the berry patch. Cool! We love dill.

The red raspberries Will and Krystal transplanted are doing very well as are the blueberry row and the new Mac Black black raspberries we bought this year (supposed to be Zone 3). The rain and heat helps a lot.

Because he’s not able to put up fence today, Will is working on the forms for the interior slip form concrete and stone walls inside the barn. Not only will there be outer walls but interior walls as well; no rotten wood next to the manure. Ever. Nice but a lot of work! — Jackie



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