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Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

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

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



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