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Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Jackie Clay

The sun was out today

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

So we decided it was time to work on our living room wood stove. The sun beats in the big south-facing windows, warming up the room (and us!) even on cold days so it was a good time to get this job done.

The old fiberglass gasket on the wood stove was getting worn and had recently ripped in a section, rendering the stove unsafe and inefficient as there was a gap between the door and the stove. This morning we drove to town and picked up a bag of new gasket rope among other needed homestead stuff. When we got home Will set to work fixing the gasket. He pulled the old one off with the aid of a big flat-tipped screwdriver and his pocket knife. Then he scrubbed the whole channel well with a steel brush. Next came the black gooey gasket cement and finally, the new gasket rope was pushed tightly into the slot. Will cut it to fit and the job was done, except for letting it cure.




Meanwhile, we cleaned out the stove and wiped the front door glass clean with a damp rag. Now it’s ready to fire up, all safe, efficient, and beautiful. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We got quite a snowfall, but it won’t last

Friday, December 4th, 2015


A few days ago we got hammered with about five inches of new, very heavy snow. For a while, you could hardly see the woods around us. We knew it was coming but by listening to our daily weather radio report, we know it won’t last as the temperatures are climbing into the high thirties and even low forties in the near future. We didn’t even plow the driveway. The ground underneath the snow has been very muddy due to the rain and hunters driving in and out of the mile-long drive to deer stands in the state forest and even though it is frozen now, plowing would dig up dirt we want to stay on our drive. I drove out with no trouble in our Subaru yesterday morning and a lot melted after that. So we’ll just wait it out.


Mittens just loves new snow. I’ve never had a cat like her. She digs her head right under the snow, running all over the yard. Then she pounces on pretend mice in the snow and runs around with her tail up.

Meanwhile, the thin steers Will bought cheap at the auction barn are eating and drinking and doing pretty well. One is still coughing and has a snotty nose so I’m keeping on with the antibiotic shots every day.


We were excited when the first of December arrived as that was the release date for my third book in the Jess Hazzard series of Westerns, Winter of the Wolves. I’ve got to get my box ordered! For any of you who are interested, click on the publisher’s box above the blog to learn more or order a book, available both in print and Kindle.

Will’s continuing work on insulating our enclosed back porch. It’s already MUCH warmer. I love insulation! And I’m slowly updating our Seed Treasures mini-seed business’ website,, as we’re offering a whole lot more good, productive, open pollinated seeds that we grow on our homestead. If you haven’t checked out the website lately, give it a click. You’ll be happily surprised! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

I hope your Thanksgiving was as nice as ours

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

I took some real nice photos and entered them onto my computer. But, lo and behold, when I went to blog today they were GONE. All of them! Oh well, if aliens got them they’ll know how much we enjoy our good homestead feasts! We had a full house. David and his girlfriend, Bill and his family, Javid and an elderly lady who lives at the assisted living where he lives, and of course, Will and me. Our big table stretches out pretty big and we all ate plenty — probably way too much. No one had room for five pies and two cheesecakes until later on. Now I have the rest of the turkey to get canned up.

I sliced up one of the Gila Cliff Dweller squash and was really impressed. There are two main types: one a round, white, pumpkin-shaped squash with speckled green stripes and a butternut shaped white squash. The one I opened up this time was a butternut-shaped one. The neck was all fragrant light yellow meat! It was good sliced fairly thin and fried with onions and a bit of garlic. Yum! Unfortunately, I have few mature seeds this year. But enough to grow it again and maybe next year I’ll have a bounty of seeds besides tasty and pretty squash. (By the way, Glenn Drowns at Sand Hill Preservation Center has seeds!)


We’re gearing up for a snow storm tonight that’s supposed to drop around 6 inches of the white stuff on us. Will went to the auction barn Saturday and picked up four young, weaned Angus calves cheap. They’re pretty darned thin and have snotty noses. So we started them immediately on antibiotics and are feeding them everything they’ll eat and keeping them in the goat shed so we can keep a real close eye on them. I hope they’ll survive and thrive. Will was also able to buy two 300-pound butcher hogs REAL cheap. Pigs weren’t bringing anything! So we will have our pork even though we didn’t raise any pigs this year. We need to get a butcher date; our butcher’s calendar is pretty full for several weeks. Oh well, for that price I’m sure things will work out fine. I can taste the pork chops and bacon now! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Another gray, gloomy, snowy day

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

We’re wondering what happened to the sun. Honestly, Minnesota is usually bright and sunny, even in the winter. Lately, not so much. Today is warmer, in the low thirties, but it’s very dark and cloudy, spitting snow. Again.

Son, Bill, came up to hunt Saturday afternoon and although he didn’t bag a buck, he did help Will set up our new fridge. Boy, was I excited as they got it moved into its final position and hooked up the LP and 12 volt wires, running downstairs to our old battery bank that still works but is just not enough to power the whole house’s needs. By the time Bill left Sunday evening, the freezer had gotten frost on the back.


While the guys were working on the fridge, I canned up 10 pints of small rutabagas. They do store well, but I always like to can up some anyway just so we are sure we have some later on. Once canned, they never get wrinkled and soft!


Unfortunately, this morning I opened the doors to find the refrigerator warm. No flame to the burner and the LED lights were flashing “no-co.” (We still don’t know what that means!) I texted Bill, who is an RV technician licensed in LP appliances, and he texted Will back how to re-start it. So he did and so far — cross your fingers and say a few prayers — it’s still working. I was disappointed but do know that some “free” things require a little work to get them up and running permanently.

In that vein, Will finally got the clutch apart for the Mule RTV so he could adjust it. He’s been working on that for months now, even taking it to our neighbor’s shop to use a press. But finally, as he was tinkering with it in his easy chair, it opened! So it looks like we just may have the Mule operational before too much longer.

In case the Wednesday blog doesn’t get up in time, I’m wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving and do take a moment to give thanks for all the wonderful things in your life. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

It’s still raining

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Boy is it hard to get things done outside when it’s raining all day, every day. Grump, grump, grump! I pulled our last carrots and found that the deer had gotten in the open gate and munched off all the tops and pulled about a third of the row. So I quickly pulled the rest … including some the deer had eaten a little of the top. I DO cut off the deer munched parts!


Meanwhile, Will has been working inside. He re-manufactured one of our new top kitchen cabinets to fit under the new refrigerator. We wanted it moved up some as the fridge part was just too low. In the RV, it sat up on a little step so now it sits on a 12-inch cabinet that I can use to store some miscellaneous stuff. More storage is always good. He has all of the gas fittings so now he has to get it hooked up and we’ll (hopefully) be in business. He is also continuing to install insulation in the enclosed back porch so it (and the house) will be warmer. Eventually, we’ll be heating that porch, which will give us additional greenhouse space, come spring. As the firewood is used, that will free up growing bench space. Pretty cool.


I’m still harvesting pumpkin, squash, and bean seeds for our little seed business. I really love those crops. The seeds are so cheerful, too; nice and plump, ready to grow. And as the first germination tests have indicated, they ARE ready to grow!

All this rain has Spencer and Mittens depressed. They don’t go out much at all. In fact, Mittens goes out more than Spencer. That dog hates rain! Go figure; he loves to swim but hates the rain. Mittens goes outside and gets wet and doesn’t seem to mind. But even Mittens is spending more time stretched out on the back of Will’s new overstuffed chair. I know the feeling.


Oh, by the way, it’s been suggested that I ask all of you for your favorite family traditional recipes for the holiday meals. I thought that was a terrific idea so are any of you willing to share? — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Where the heck’s the sun?

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015


We got hammered a few days ago with a sloppy, wet snow. True, it wasn’t cold but we didn’t want to see white. Luckily, after a day’s time, it slowly warmed up and the snow went away. But as we listen to the weather radio every morning, we heard that we were going to have a nice sunny, warm two days, then it would start raining again and then turn to more snow. When the snow went away, Will went into “get the trucks fixed” mode. First off was our plow truck. The brake rotor had exploded when he came up our driveway a few weeks ago, falling out onto the dirt in pieces. After a few false starts getting the wrong parts, he got that fixed in a day’s time.


Then it was on to “Old Blue,” our Chevy pickup; its clutch quit working when Will got home from trailering our neighbor’s bull here to romance our cows. As I’m the official go-fer, I spent a lot of those nice days running for parts. But both jobs got done with no major hitches.

In the meantime, I got busy and put vole protection around our fruit trees and honeyberry bushes. We had no voles last winter but Mittens caught a nice fat one yesterday so they’re around and can do SO much damage under the snow. I wrapped tree trunks with hardware cloth and window screen then cut the bottoms out of some two-gallon nursery pots to use as protection around our smaller honeyberry bushes we just planted this year. I’ve still got one more tree to do because our Bali cherry tree grew so much that the protective wrap we used for a couple of years no longer covers the entire trunk. It’d be just my luck to have the little buggers eat all of the bark up that crack. If it stops raining I’ll get screen around that tree too.

Today Will’s busy insulating the enclosed, unheated back porch to help keep it warmer, which will also help keep the house warmer. We’re all for that. We started off bringing in firewood and then he decided that before we filled it up we’d better get that insulation in. First things first. At least working on that job is NOT out in the rain and mud.

Our rain’s going to turn to snow as the temps drop to normal and if the amount of rain we’ve been getting is any indication, we’ll have plenty of snow this winter. But that’s what the beavers said. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’ve had a real wet spell

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

After so many nice sunny fall days, suddenly the rains are upon us. I finally got the last of the carrots canned up and, boy, do they look great in the jars. Yesterday I gathered up all of the onions that have been curing on the enclosed back porch and bucketed them down to the bins in the basement, next to the potato bins. The potatoes are in covered plastic bins as they need humidity to store well. But the onions are in slotted crates so they get lots of air circulation, which prevents rot. Both the onions and potatoes did very well this year.
It was supposed to snow last night so we were real happy that it rained instead but there’s mud everywhere!
We finished the final edits on my third Western novel, Winter of the Wolves, and it should be out about December 1st, a little later than we first anticipated. (For those of you who don’t typically read Westerns, you might want to give the first book in the series, Summer of the Eagles, a try. There are a whole lot of Amazon reviews that say things like “I couldn’t put it down!” and “I don’t read Westerns but this one hooked me from the first page.” No extreme violence, sex, or rotten language. Your pastor or grandkids could read it with no gasps. But it does move right along. The books are available through Amazon and are also available as Kindle reads.
I had a jar crack during processing my carrots. This is the first broken jar for years and years. (I use old mayonnaise jars and antique odd shaped jars…anything a canning lid and ring fit on, as opposed to what “experts” recommend. Hey it seems like they say I’ll go to hell for using mayo jars! But it wasn’t one of those “alternative” jars that broke; it was a relatively new Kerr. The side cracked enough to let the water drain out but didn’t totally break. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’re making good use of our spell of good weather

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Because we know the “other season” is roaring down on us like a freight train, Will’s still busy working on the water line insulation. And because last year our neighbor ran over our frost-free hydrant next to the driveway and bent it over flat, Will decided to dig it up and move it further away from the driveway. We were able to straighten up the hydrant and we used it for a year afterwards, but when Will dug down, he discovered that the pipe was bent like an S! So instead of buying a new hydrant (the top and bottom along with the inside rod were okay) I ran to Menards for a 10-foot length of pipe. It was pre-threaded on both ends.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. The 10-foot frost-free hydrant was 10 feet long overall. So Will had to cut the pipe and we don’t have a die. So I took the pipe to town to get it threaded. Still not the end! When I got it home again, Will discovered that he had made an error in measuring. So I ended up taking it back to town after running to the neighbor’s first (he has a machine shop, but no pipe dies!). Now it’s back together and has passed its inspection by Mittens. She closely follows everything we do.
Whew! Hopefully now that it’s back together, we can soon bury everything with plenty of insulation over all and no more frozen water.
Yesterday I harvested the last of our Glass Gem popcorn. It’s just beautiful. And because each plant stooled out and made multiple tillers, each plant produced up to five ears each on 10-foot tall stalks. Amazing, and truly beautiful as there are colors you seldom see on Indian Corn: pink, baby blue, lavender, and mauve. I love it! — Jackie



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