Top Navigation  
U.S. Flag waving
Office Hours Momday - Friday  8 am - 5 pm Pacific 1-800-835-2418
Facebook   YouTube   Twitter
Backwoods Home Magazine, self-reliance, homesteading, off-grid

 Home Page
 Current Issue
 Article Index
 Author Index
 Previous Issues
 Print Display Ads
 Print Classifieds
 Free Stuff
 Home Energy

General Store
 Ordering Info
 Kindle Subscriptions
 Back Issues
 Help Yourself
 All Specials
 Classified Ad

 Web Site Ads
 Magazine Ads

BHM Blogs
 Ask Jackie Clay
 Massad Ayoob
 Claire Wolfe
 Where We Live
 Dave on Twitter
Retired Blogs
 Behind The Scenes
 Oliver Del Signore
 David Lee
 Energy Questions

Quick Links
 Home Energy Info
 Jackie Clay
 Ask Jackie Online
 Dave Duffy
 Massad Ayoob
 John Silveira
 Claire Wolfe

Forum / Chat
 Forum/Chat Info
 Enter Forum
 Lost Password

More Features
 Meet The Staff
 Contact Us/
 Change of Address
 Write For BHM
 Disclaimer and
 Privacy Policy

Retired Features
 Country Moments
 Radio Show

Link to BHM

Ask Jackie headline

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post. Please note that Jackie does not respond to questions posted as Comments. Click Below to ask Jackie a question.

Click here to ask Jackie a question!
Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
on any aspect of low-tech, self-reliant living.

Read the old Ask Jackie Online columns
Read Ask Jackie print columns

Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Jackie Clay

Another cold snap lets me work inside this week

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Our temperature dived way down to a low of 7 degrees! Not fun to work outside so I did a lot of transplanting; seven flats worth of tomatoes and four flats of peppers. Boy, does that get my back but in just a few days the tomatoes have shot up and gotten nice and stocky.

I received my order from Sand Hill Preservation Center and planted more tomatoes, which are just coming up. They’ll be a little later but they’ll still be ready to set out in late May (in Wall o’ Waters). And I’ll have more than 27 seed varieties to offer next year.

Singing-tomatoes Sand-Hill-seeds

Will put new chains on the big round baler. He kept breaking chains last summer during haying and that was a huge pain. They’re heavy and hard to thread. (They’re the big chains that drive the bars that make the bales in the bale chamber.) He later found out that someone had replaced the heavier links of the 851 baler chain with those of an 850, which are much lighter weight. Once that was done, he took the weed burner and burned our asparagus patches to get rid of the long dead grass and weeds. It looks so much better already!

Today I went out and refastened the chicken wire to the cattle panels next to the old cow corral. My chickens were escaping and running free. Soon they’ll be in my flower beds scratching dust wallows, then they’ll get in the garden and start pecking at peas, etc. I’ll catch them off their roosts in the goat barn tonight and clip the feathers on their wings, just in case I have some flyers in the bunch.

Will disassembled our three hoop houses. He’s going to build two 12′ x 32′ houses instead of the three 12′ x 16′ ones we have now, putting 6 mil greenhouse plastic on, which is guaranteed for four years. We had ripping during bad winds last year. That’ll be fun having more hoop house space!

I wish each of you a very blessed and joyous Easter! And don’t forget to can up that leftover ham and make bean soup from the bone. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Our warming trend continues

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

And gee, are we losing snow fast! With the sun out and temps in the high forties and even fifties, our three feet of snow is down to six inches in the orchard and the backyard is nearly snow-free! Hooray!

Yesterday I put out two oriole feeders and a hummingbird feeder. Yes, it is early but those birds send out scouts (usually males) to find good spots and if they don’t find food, they buzz right on to our neighbors who DID put out feeders. One oriole feeder has pegs for orange halves, dishes for grape jelly, and a reservoir for orange nectar. Hey, I’d eat there, myself! Will saw two robins so far and heard a sandhill crane. I saw a pair of eagles and several migratory hawks. And we both saw several geese. So nice!

Meanwhile, Will and I have been picking up “junk” as it becomes uncovered: wood slats that were stickers between layers of lumber, odd chunks of firewood here and there, bags that blew around during the winter, hay strings, etc.

He’s been busy taking out the old chain that makes round bales in our baler as it was very worn. We bought new chains for it and it’s quite a process changing chains without dumping the whole (heavy!) thing in a pile.

I’ve been transplanting tomato seedlings into styrofoam cups in our greenhouse. I love doing it but it is tedious work and gets my back after awhile. I’ve done five flats so far and have another two to go then it’s on to peppers and petunias. Guess what? I found some new flats that were actually made in the U.S.! They were at L & M Supply. While my one oriole feeder was made in China, the other was also made in the U.S. We really pay attention to where things are from these days and will pay more, if necessary, to keep jobs in America. Luckily, the flats were on sale so we got them cheap. Win-win.



Just a note to let you know that we are still selling seeds. There wasn’t room for the new book, our seminar, and the seeds at the top of the blog so one had to go. I know some of you intended to order seeds but just didn’t get around to it yet. If you do, you can e-mail me
( and I’ll send you a seed listing.

Enjoy spring! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Gee, more blowing snow

Friday, April 4th, 2014


Spring MUST be coming soon, isn’t it? Anyway, today it’s sunny and mid-thirties after six more inches of snow. A warming trend is headed for us but so is another winter storm. (Maybe it’ll miss us?) My tomatoes and peppers are doing very well in their mini-greenhouse in the living room. In the greenhouse behind them amaryllis bulbs I got on a closeout sale are beginning to bloom. I bought them after Christmas and now they’re blooming their heads off. And with all the snow outside, it’s a welcome sight, for sure.


David’s motor on his car blew up so we’re madly trying to deal with that and still get him to college every day (a 60-mile round trip). He’s driving his old Geo with crossed fingers and plenty of prayer, hoping it will hold out until we can get his car back on the road. The good news is that the used motor is on the way and maybe can be put in by the weekend. Or the next week… CARS!

It’s so nice that Will is out with Old Yeller on the beaver flat, cutting some of the standing dead ash for firewood, for next year. There’s still lots of snow and I know it’s a lot of work trudging through it to load the wood. So I’m fixing a good pork chop and roasted vegetable supper for him tonight. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Okay guys, where are your questions?

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

I know a lot of you that I’ve talked to in person say the same thing: “We don’t want to bother you with questions…” But guys, that’s my job (think “job security”) and besides that I LOVE to help you out with your day-to-day questions. They don’t have to be earth-shaking ones, just questions that will make your life easier as it goes along. So stop being polite and ask away!

Our friend Eric stopped by the other day for a visit bringing with him some of his awesome hand-crafted knives he makes. We already have two of his creations and they always bring comments when others come by to visit. (They hang from our new rock wall behind the woodstove.) Eric is a true artist and his unique knives are awesome. He has a site on Etsy, Northside Knife, where he sells them. Like us and our mini-seed business, Eric not only makes knives as a hobby but to help support his homestead.


Hondo is learning to bring in firewood, just like his “big brother,” Spencer. Now if we can just teach the dogs to open the stove and toss it in… Honestly, we have the smartest dogs! Hondo already knows how to put the cows and goats in, sit, lie down, come (usually) and bring in firewood, along with “house” meaning go in your crate for a goodie. He’s still wiggly but as he settles down we’ll add more commands to his list. (I’m thinking, wash the dishes, mop the floor, but Will is thinking more like stay, go around, load up in the car.) Hondo, who took a trip all the way down to central Illinois at 6 weeks and did great, now gets car sick! When he gets in the car he drools and throws up! Will is working with him, only loading him in the car while it’s sitting, then taking him out, then driving only around the loop around our buildings. Hopefully he’ll soon love to “go” just like Spencer does.


Tomorrow I plant the first of our tomatoes! I’m so excited. I keep looking at the calendar thinking “only a few more weeks until dirt”… Sigh. But we still have lots and lots of snow on the ground. Soon… — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Warm weather is finally here!

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Yesterday it was 45 and today they say we’ll hit 50 and the sun is out. What a relief! I never appreciated water dripping from our roof so much as this year. Yesterday Will and I, along with the dogs, took a nice walk down the drive and onto some of the trails he’s been making with the dozer through the pines on our ridge. They are getting so big that they need thinning and in between other projects, he’s been going out there and thinning and pruning the lower branches so they’ll grow quickly and be nice and straight. In the bargain, we’re getting some nice walking/riding/atv trails. The rabbits are starting to eat the bark off of tender young popple trees so we know the sap is starting to run. Luckily they don’t actually kill many trees but I hate to see them munching the bark on our few maple saplings as some of the trees get girdled and don’t survive.


Today I saw a raven with nesting material in its beak! And I saw the first grove of blooming pussy willows. (Okay, so that bunch always blooms early.) Will has taken the OSB octagon down from the 12-foot peak in our living room. He is plotting out the pattern of wood pieces he’ll place on it to finish the peak with a decorative medallion. (I think this was hurried when the ceiling fan crashed to the floor a couple weeks ago! It shocked both of us. Luckily the dogs and I were in the kitchen and Will was sitting in his chair so nobody was injured. The glass globe shattered as did the four light bulbs but no other damage was done to the fan. Also lucky that the new laminate flooring was not done.) After examining everything Will found that he had “temporarily” left the locking ring loose so he could finish off the octagonal piece in the center of the peak which did not get done for quite awhile. The ceiling fan jiggled around and popped the ball that it hangs from loose and down she came! When Will’s finished, it will look great, I”m sure. And he is going to be sure to lock the fan in place this time.

For those of you who were wondering what the Idingtion Spring looks like, here’s a photo of where we are getting our water until our water line thaws out. It’s a bit inconvenient but not so bad. We’re sure glad that spring is there and has great water!


I’m starting my tomato plants next week. It’s so exciting. Not only are we planting our old favorites but we’re trying several other great open pollinated tomatoes too so we can add the good ones to our seed listing for next year. (By the way, we still have a lot of seeds so if you’re wondering if you should order, go right ahead. We’re still in great shape and spring is coming quickly!) — Jackie

Jackie Clay

They’re calling it the “Arctic Vortex” we call it a pain

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Yep, at the risk of sounding same old same old, we got another 14 inches of snow with 40 mph wind. Now the temp’s going down way below zero this whole week! This is getting really tiresome! And to top it off, our water line from the well froze. So we’re out of running water for about 6 weeks. At first it seemed horrible. But, hey, we’ve lived where we never had running water at all. So we sucked it up and started melting snow for flushing the toilet and washing hands. And on trips to town, I come back past a flowing spring and fill water jugs for drinking and cooking water. Heck, it could be worse. We’re warm, have plenty of food, and the critters have plenty of feed. We’ll get by just fine but still hope for an early spring.


Meanwhile, it gives Will and me more time to work inside. We’ve been cleaning and hauling furniture out of the living room, dining room, and entryway in preparation for laying the laminate flooring.


We do chores, shovel, and snow blow to clear paths and clear around equipment, then we come inside to work, taking a “break.” Hey, it’s working. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Our bitter cold is holding tight but the end is in sight

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Yeah, we’re darned sick of below zero temps, night and day with windchill temperatures of -5 to -60 degrees. (Did you know that your skin can freeze within 5 minutes when it’s that cold?) Will found that out the hard way … almost. We were tying our new countertop on top of the Subaru when it was -30 with a stiff wind. He couldn’t tie the ropes with gloves on and took them off. By the time we got the two ropes tied, his hands were REALLY cold. Painfully cold. And we were really glad that they were still pink instead of frostbite white! Close one.

Of course we’ve been getting chores done very quickly, making sure all animals have plenty of bedding and feed to make more calories to fight off the intense cold.

So once chores are done, we have a lot of inside time! I’ve been packaging seed orders; we’ve been planning on crops we plan on growing this year, both for trial, our use and to save seeds from; and working on projects in the house. I bought Will a chainsaw sharpener last year for Christmas and one of his projects was to build a stand for it. He’d picked up an old stand from a drill press at the dump a couple of years back and he added a slightly smaller pipe to fit down inside it and cut a circular plate of steel to fit on top of the pipe, welding it in place. Then he drilled two holes in the plate to match the holes in the chainsaw sharpener base. He added two bolts and he had a portable, handy chainsaw sharpener. So one cold morning, he brought in all ten of his chainsaw chains and sharpened them. Now he’s ready to hit the woods or do more log work on the front porch, barn, or house!


Will also finished the trim around the laundry room door and windows in the addition. A year ago we’d picked up a truckload of knotty pine paneling from the dump that someone tore out of their house. We didn’t know what we’d use it for but just that it could come in handy. It did. Will cut all the trim from that throwaway lumber and it looks great.


This winter, we’ve been accumulating boxes of laminate flooring for the entryway, living room, and dining room. We found a wood grain we liked, Brazilian Koa, at Menards and wanted to get enough in case they discontinued it. (Happens a lot!) Now we have enough to do the job so I’ve noticed Will figuring out the initial work needed. Could happen fairly soon, but first we’ve got to clean up the concrete and rock work behind the wood stove so we don’t make a mess on our new floor. Yes, we would have rather done the floors in real wood but just couldn’t afford it. The laminate will look pretty and has a 30-year warranty. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

There’s beauty outside even when the high is -18 degrees

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Sure it’s cold, but the sun’s out and it looks beautiful today. We had 40 mph winds with snow yesterday and there’s lots of drifts. I noticed how pretty they were when I drove out of the driveway this morning to go to the post office to ship two big bags of seeds. The graceful sculpturing the wind had done to the snow was simply amazing. It was like an artist had spent the night on our driveway. I hate to think of how it looks now, after Will plowed it.


I’m getting used to washing my hands in the new bathroom sink. How wonderful it looks! Now Will is going to begin work on the other larger antique dresser we bought on Do-Bit, which pretty much matches the one he just finished. That one is going on the other wall, making a corner of vanities. This vanity/dresser with large mirror will be used to store towels, washcloths, and other things.

I’ve been busy with our little seed business. Since I nearly ran out of Hopi Pale Grey squash seeds, I cut another three big squash and squished out the seeds to dry. I’m going to can up the squash so we can have “pumpkin” pie during the summer. Of course some of the squash will still be left so I can always use fresh squash (it’s stored more than two years for us!) but it’s nice to have extra canned squash. The goats and chickens appreciate the “guts” and any squash I can spare for them.


Our new kitchen is great for packaging seeds as I can sit next to the end of the island and package them easily. Will’s helping by packaging the tomato seeds, which are quite small. Then I only have to grab bags out of individual bowls to fill orders. We’re getting into a groove here.

I’m sure that all of you across the country are looking forward to getting in the dirt again. I know I sure am! — Jackie



Copyright © 1998 - Present by Backwoods Home Magazine. All Rights Reserved.