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Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Jackie Clay

There’s no place like home

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Well, we’re back from another whirlwind trip to Montana and back! Whew! We drove straight out there in 22 hours (obeying the speed limit). Got a motel and a good night’s sleep. In the morning, we went 20 miles to get Javid’s handicap van. It sat all winter and we were wondering if it had four flat tires and if it would start. Luckily, it had four round tires and with the help of David’s battery jumper pack, it started right up, even with old gas in the tank. It drove right up the ramp and in 15 minutes, David had it strapped down and ready to haul.

David’s girlfriend, Hannah, had never been out west and had never seen a mountain and he wanted to show her Yellowstone Park. Since we were “only” 150 miles away, we set out immediately as the van had loaded so easily. We unhitched the trailer with the van on it to pick up later.

We had been to the park many times and knew the routes we wanted her to see. Boy, in all our trips through the park, I’d never seen so many animals of all different kinds. We saw bighorn sheep close up, elk, buffalo, coyote, and a wolf. And we saw two different grizzly bears! One was far off and with the telephoto, we could just make it out good enough to take some so-so photos. But the second bear was only about 120 yards away, digging roots. We were so excited! Both David and I got some decent photos. Then my batteries died! And I’d left my spares in my duffle in the motel.

Hannah was thrilled to not only go right up in the mountains but to see snow in late May (one road was still closed due to snow) and all those animals.

We headed back to the motel at dark and got in kind of late. In the morning, we hooked up the trailer and headed east. And drove. And drove. And drove. We spent the night in Dickenson, North Dakota, and drove on the next morning. We left Javid’s van off at son, Bill’s (he’ll check it over for mechanical issues) then headed north. After leaving off the trailer at the U-haul dealer, we headed home. It was snowing hard! Then David came around a corner and there, right across the road, were two big trees! Luckily, David is always prepared. He carries his chainsaw and lots of tools at all times. He hopped out and started sawing the trees up. We hauled off branches and in a few minutes we were on the road again.

Boy, our bed felt good! This morning, I took the tour. Will had rain all the time we were gone but he and Krystal managed to get the plastic on the small hoop house and plant black raspberries as well as countless other chores. I’m glad to be home. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Rain, rain, rain

We’ve had nearly two inches of rain in two days and guess what? It’s raining again today. But at least it isn’t snowing. Monday we had heavy snow and rain — but we did need it. The creeks and beaver ponds were very low — like they are late August. Now they’re getting higher.

The cover of my newest book, Autumn of the Loons, is in the finishing stages; the painting has been sent to the publisher and I’ve got it back. Guess what? You readers can decide on the print of the cover title. The publisher and I can’t make up our minds which color print we like best so he suggested we let readers vote and help us make the decision. If you’d like to help, too, and go to the Jess Hazzard Series Facebook page ( and you can cast your vote so it’ll get done. Then it’s off to the printers and we’ll have it finished. The blog photo is of the cover painting to give you some idea of what we have. Please check out the Facebook page!

Friday, I’m heading for Montana again. Another fast trip to pick up our adopted son Javid’s handicap accessible van which has been in storage over winter. He sure misses having “wheels.” It hasn’t run for a year so we’re hauling it back on a car hauler behind David’s pickup truck. David is now building log homes for Voyageur Log Homes of Orr, Minnesota and can only take two days off work. So it’ll be a hurry out in one 22-hour day and night, get the van on the trailer, and then head home. Whew, I’m getting too old to do that!

Will and our new apprentice, Krystal, will man the homestead while I’m gone. I’m hoping we have a relatively easy trip without any break-downs. I’ll be glad to have it done so I can get back to homesteading and planting! We’ll be taking the van down to my oldest son Bill’s for him to go over and fix any problems before we drive it up for Javid to use. He doesn’t drive but friends often drive for him on shopping or fun trips. He misses that.

If I miss my blog post on Monday, we’re still on the road. I’ll post as soon as we’re home! I promise. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Our new apprentice, Krystal, arrived

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

We’ve got a summer apprentice homesteader, Krystal, who arrived yesterday from Georgia. She’s anxious to learn what we can teach her for her own future homestead. I’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun this summer together. Welcome to the family, Krys!

Yesterday, Will hooked our new tractor-mounted rototiller up and tilled a little out on the big pumpkin/corn patch on the new 40 to try it out. Then he brought it into the garden where there’s less room to turn around etc. It did a wonderful job of working in the rotted manure that we placed on the garden over winter, leaving a fluffy, deep seed bed. We were really impressed. Today he and Krys are moving some fence posts and PVC pipes off our old small hoop house so he can get in to till that western corner of the garden, which hasn’t been tilled for a couple years.

We are getting some rain today and we need it. The beavers say we’re in a drought and it’ll be a dry summer so we’re getting ready for it with plenty of mulch available. We harvested some asparagus spears yesterday and Will brought a tractor bucket full of nice old, rotted compost down to the garden so they can spread it out on the asparagus bed. It hasn’t had compost for a couple of years and we figured it needed it.

The fruit trees are starting to bloom and the Adirondack Gold apricot is absolutely covered with white blooms! And, boy, are they fragrant.

Tom got the shingles on the new porch roof and it looks great! I had a small accident as Will and I struggled to get a 500-pound porch rafter log stuffed into place (he thought the wide spacing would be okay but the roof was just too springy). I was hurrying to step off of the stepladder on the porch, missed a step and fell, bouncing off the porch onto the ground. Nothing broken but I feel like a truck ran over me, yet. Don’t hurry when doing a job! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Snow, snow, and more snow

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

We nearly always get an April blizzard so when we passed through much of April with warm temperatures, we figured it missed us this year. Well… kind of. We didn’t get a blizzard but for the last several days we’ve been having wet, nasty snow.

I’ve been getting a lot done inside because of it. All of our tomatoes are now transplanted and I’m working on our peppers. I should finish them today and start the petunias which will hang off our front porch in hanging baskets, tomorrow.

Will’s off to a farm auction today with truck and trailer so I’m wondering what new equipment will come wandering home. Well, not new equipment — rusty old equipment actually. But usable… sometimes with a little work (or a lot). But that’s how we manage to equip our homestead and still be able to afford it. Ah, homesteading! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

I saw our first robin today!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

First of all, I’m sure you’re wondering how I came out with my stress test. I passed. It seems like I got a case of walking pneumonia out of my last nasty cough-cold and that was what was causing my chest pains and shortness of breath. (The doctor looked at the first X-ray but didn’t see the light consolidation that was already fading, but the radiologist spotted it.) Anyway, I’m feeling better and so is Will. Come on, spring!

Every time Will has a hamburger, Spencer, Hondo, and Mittens crowd around for bits of the bun (and maybe a little meat). So I just had to post a picture of them. I think it’s so cute!

Today has been busy. I’m starting our first tomatoes, canning hamburger, and had to run to town this morning. But while I was in town, I saw a robin, our very first. I even backed up to make sure! Luckily, there was no traffic in town. Yesterday I saw three geese at home and Will also saw a pair of swans.

Will also split up a truckload of firewood from some logs that didn’t make the cut for lumber. Now all we have to do is to stack it inside the storage building. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Poppin’ peppers!

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Our peppers are really popping up! Today Will moved two tables into the living room windows so they can get plenty of sun until we get the other mini-greenhouse set up in a window. They are just leaping out of their peat pellets, despite waking up to snow falling this morning.



We’ve had a busy week. Tuesday Will and I had to drive to Minneapolis for a doctor’s appointment for his back at the VA hospital. He was not looking forward to that as it’s a five-hour, one-way drive. And sitting for even an hour is the thing that gets his back the worst. But he came through it fine and came home bearing a Tens unit, the battery operated machine that sends electrical impulses to electrodes pasted to his back. It does seem to help a lot.

Then we had to get up at 5 a.m. yesterday to get to the Hibbing hospital for my stress test at 7 a.m. Boy were we NOT ready to get up that early … again. But other than a nurse not being able to hit a vein in my arm (ouch, ouch, ouch!) it all went well. Tomorrow I visit my doctor and find out the results of all the tests; echo, X-ray, and stress test. I’m so hoping that my shortness of breath and chest pains are nothing to worry about.

This weekend we’re planting tomatoes, come rain or shine, as they’ve got to get in! Spring is coming, you know. All you lucky guys further south know all about that by now. I’ve also got to get at painting the cover for the next book in the Jess Hazzard series, Autumn of the Loons. I’ve been sketching and have a great idea — just have to get it down on canvas. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Our first seeds are coming up

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

We’re feeling springy up here in northern Minnesota! Our first pepper and petunia seeds are popping up. Boy, do they like the rock wall behind the little greenhouse. The woodstove is on one side and the warm rock wall behind, and a window beside them. You can see the little grins on the seedlings’ faces when they come up.

In a week I’ll be starting tomatoes. Yesterday I put all of the new types of tomato seeds we’ve ordered this year together and then counted them. Wow, more than 25 NEW varieties. Then there are the OLD ones we love and will keep. Will, get out Old Yeller, our bulldozer — we need more garden!

We got a phone call yesterday morning from Chiwon Lee, a professor at North Dakota State University in Fargo. We had met at the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Conference this spring and talked for a long time about hardy fruits and tomatoes, both specialties of his. He wondered if he could come visit us. Of course, we said YES! He brought a nice couple with him and we had a great time talking fruit and tomatoes. As NDSU has bred many early tomato varieties, he brought some of their seeds for us to try and I gave him many of our favorites along with some scion wood from our apple trees and a wild elderberry.

He brought us a whole carload of GREEN things! Seedling rootstock from Russian pears, apricots, Nanking bush cherries, and even grafted apples. Then there were four Easter lilies, a beautiful flowering house plant, and a HUGE hibiscus! We were floored! He also brought some tomato seedlings and grafting supplies and taught us how to graft tomatoes. And he showed us how to graft a tomato scion onto a potato rootstock, making a topotato (or whatever). I’m sure our grandkids will love those!

You never know when you’ll meet wonderful people with like interests, do you? — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Spring is so nice!

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

But yesterday, while I was cleaning on the back porch, I turned and saw bloody paw prints in the doorway…and across the dining room…and right up to Spencer! Real bloody! I picked up his hind paw and saw a big gash in between his toes. I took him immediately outside to stand in the snow as cold reduces bleeding. Then after calling Will over to watch him, I hurried inside to gather up first aid supplies. Drying his paw with an old washcloth, I packed his foot with soft sterile gauze pads, added another square and taped his paw and leg. All afternoon, we “made” Spencer lie down on his rug and not lick his bandaged foot.

The bleeding stopped and he was VERY good about the whole thing. This morning, I removed the nasty, bloody pack and took the tape off. It looked much better. I let him lick it a little, then re-bandaged it so when he goes outside to potty he doesn’t snag the wound on ice or something to re-open it. I’ll change the bandage again tomorrow and see if the cut is healed enough to keep the bandage off. Poor Spencer! We never did find out how he cut it.

This morning, I peeked at my petunias and guess what? They’re coming up nicely! Wow, after only five days, too. I set them on the table by my chair, in the window so they would get plenty of sun but wouldn’t cook. Some were still not up and as petunia seedlings are SO little and planted on the soil’s surface, I didn’t want them to dry out, either so they are still in their bags. The peppers will be next.

As our temps have been very mild, a whole lot of our snow has gone. I walked in the garden and orchards today and was real happy to report that there had been NO vole damage on anything I could see, even unprotected trees and shrubs like our wild pin cherries and some “wild” Nanking cherries. That was very exciting as I hate voles.

Will and I are both feeling better. He’s been working on our new tractor. It came with only one rear hydraulic outlet and he needs two to run our big round baler…which is why he bought the tractor in the first place. Instead of spending more than $300 on new parts, he remanufactured it himself (with quite a bit of trouble, I might add) and today it is working. He did have to raise the seat a bit as the seat had a rod that was resting on one of the new fittings. But that’s homesteading — you always have to think outside the box to get by! — Jackie



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