Top Navigation  
U.S. Flag waving
Office Hours Momday - Friday  8 am - 5 pm Pacific 1-800-835-2418
Facebook   YouTube   Twitter
 Home Page
 Current Issue
 Article Index
 Author Index
 Previous Issues

 Kindle Subscriptions
 Kindle Publications
 Back Issues
 Discount Books
 All Specials
 Classified Ad

 Web Site Ads
 Magazine Ads

 BHM Forum
 Contact Us/
 Change of Address

Forum / Chat
 Forum/Chat Info
 Lost Password
 Write For BHM

Link to BHM

Ask Jackie headline

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

Order from Amazon. Order from the publisher, save 10%, and get FREE shipping.

Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Jackie Clay

Snow, snow, snow

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Well, at least the perennial garden plants will have plenty of snow cover this winter. We just got another five inches today. I can’t lie and say I wish winter would stay for months and months. I’m about ready for spring! At least we aren’t suffering like some folks on the East and West Coasts are, though, with flooding and big snowstorms. We just do our chores and throw another log on the fire.

But chores are sometimes challenging. Like today when we had to set big round bales out and water the big livestock. The wind was blowing, snow falling sideways, and although it was 15 above, it felt VERY cold. I’m the official gate-opener so while Will runs up and down the hill with the tractor, I wait for him to come so I can open gates. Brrrrr! And although we now have a great new well downhill from the barn, you still have to warm up the generator, start it, hook up a hundred feet of hose (sometimes a little frozen in spots) and stand around while water fills this tank, then that tank. Then the hose must be drained twice in hopes it won’t be frozen next time we water.

No, living in the North is not easy but we couldn’t think of anywhere else we’d want to live.

For Christmas, my friend Dara gave me a big North Georgia Candy Roaster squash she’d grown. She said it’s one of the best tasting squash she’s ever had so she wanted us to try it. It is beautiful and I hate to cut into it! But, of course, we will so we can try this squash. If we love it too, we’ll be growing it this year so we can offer seed next year in our Seed Treasures catalog.


Meanwhile, David has been trimming out some spots in his old bedroom after work. (Work right now means taking his snowmobile and sled to Tower, about 30 miles away, unloading the snowmobile, then driving over seven miles across the ice on Lake Vermilion, to where Voyager Log Homes is working on a log house.) By the time David gets off work, it’s dark and the trip back to the truck must be interesting, especially when it’s snowing so much.


We’ve been spending a little time working on a couple more puzzles, first a bear, then deer, and just lately, an old farm scene. When you walk past the table, you just have to stop and find a few more pieces! We all really enjoy it. Hey, it doesn’t take much to entertain us homesteaders.


I just have to tell you about the huge pile of 20 solar panels we just got from a friend, on a VERY good deal! All totalled, it will boost our charging to double what we have now! Wow, were we glad to get them. Now, come spring, it’s one of the first projects Will has planned. We’ll have to run our generator very little once they’re all hooked up. So very nice! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We survived New Year’s Eve

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

We were a little crazier than usual this New Year’s Eve. No we weren’t partying, but with David and Ashley moving into our house after their rent became a stone around their necks and company coming for New Year’s Eve, we were pretty busy. The craziest was when David and Ashley arrived with their huge king bed. (We didn’t even know if it would FIT up our stairs to the bedroom!) But David pulled from above and Will shoved from beneath and, lo and behold, it finally popped up the stairs! Luckily, the base and bedsprings came apart so those were a snap to get up the stairs.


My son, Bill and his family came up New Year’s Eve day for a belated Christmas dinner. We feasted and enjoyed opening Christmas presents. Then David took grandkids, Mason and Ava, out with the snowmobile. Mason rode the sled behind it. (David drove slowly and carefully!) Ava rode in front of David. Then they went sledding down our hill to the pasture.


Afterward, Ava and puzzle queen Ashley put all six of Ava’s Christmas puzzles together. Then, on a roll, Ava decided they’d start Ashley’s new puzzle. So they got that started, and now I have two puzzles on the dining room table, and neither is small! Oh well, we improvise well.


The new well is working to water the stock down by the new barn. Great water and LOTS of it! What a good idea that was. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Winter finally hit with a huge bang

Monday, November 21st, 2016


Although we’ve had a fabulous fall, with hardly any snow and cold, Old Man Winter finally arrived all at once. We were expecting 8-12 inches which the weather radio updated Thursday evening to 12-18 inches. Well, it began snowing and blowing, then REALLY snowing. We ended up with more than 24 inches of heavy, wet snow. Then it got cold. Will had to wade out through knee-deep snow in the evening to sweep off our solar panels so the heavy snow didn’t break down the rack as the wind was also pretty stout. It was very nearly a blizzard but the 40 mph wind came in gusts not steady winds as in a true blizzard. At any rate, we couldn’t even see the storage building from the house which is only about 50 feet away!


Luckily, we’d spent two days picking up tools, hoses, firewood, etc. in preparation for the snow or we’d have been in a fix. Will also got our plow truck ready. He found out the smog pump was seized up, making the fan belt screech. He spent all day Thursday working on getting that fixed and didn’t have time to put on the plow.


Well, the storm finally blew out and do we have snow! It took Will an hour to hook up the snowplow, which was buried in snow, of course. Then he worked for nearly three hours to just clean out our yard and make a couple of passes up our mile and a half long driveway. (We had small trees down all along the drive, due to the heavy snow and wind.)


Meanwhile, I shoveled out a path to the goat barn and chicken coop. Luckily, I’d brought the goats up from their pasture on Thursday, before the storm — just in case. All of us, including Hondo, were pooped. Now we just have to continue cleaning out to get ready for the next snowfall on Wed. Hopefully it’s not so much. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Winter “catch-up” canning

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Although we use winter as our resting season, a lot still gets done. This is the time I do my catch-up canning. As we usually have butchered chickens, turkeys, pigs, and beef, I have a lot of meat in the freezer, which we can only run during the colder months. Our wind and solar don’t produce enough electricity to run our greedy freezer, and running the generator is expensive. Then there are always on-sale foods that I buy extra, usually at holiday season. For instance, during Thanksgiving/Christmas, both ham and turkey were on sale, so I bought a few of each and when Easter approaches, the ham will again be on sale.

So with all this cheap meat, I am slowly beginning to can it up. I just finished a turkey and am thawing out a ham. I can the meat and also, in the case of turkeys and chickens, the broth. And with ham, I use the ham bone and bits of meat to can up baked beans and bean and split pea soup.


And every day I’m taking seed out of our stored squash to dry for our seed business, Seed Treasures. I’m able to not only feed the goats and chickens the “guts” but also am canning up lots of squash for future pumpkin baking.

Also, during the rush tomato season, I can up quarts of plain tomato puree. Then, when I have more time, I open jars, cook it down, add peppers, mushrooms, spices, and meat and make lots of spaghetti sauce. I do this to make enchilada sauce and barbecue sauces, too.

It makes winter go by much more pleasantly, with a warm kitchen and no rush at all. You ought to give it a try! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Over the cold and back in the saddle

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Finally, I got over my cold. Boy, was it a doozy! Just in time, too, as today we moved our adopted son, Javid, from his assisted living apartment at Orr to Cook which is much closer. It’s amazing how much stuff a person collects in a year’s time! It took us four trips to get it all. But this afternoon, we got him settled in and he’s as happy as a clam. He’ll be able to run his power wheelchair to church (2 blocks), to the clinic (2 blocks the other way) and all over town (several blocks). It’s much more “young guy friendly” as there are several young men working there and many friendly residents and staff.


As the new year passes, Will and I have been talking about next year’s gardens and, of course, looking at all the catalogs that come daily to help us decide what and where we’ll be planting. And as we’ve grown so used to white snow and no colors, I just had to browse the back blogs and look at all those pretty gardens, knowing that in just a couple months I’ll be starting the first of our plants inside. We’ve had a very mild winter so far with only a foot or so of snow so now that winter’s half over, we’re praying the nice weather will hold.



I hope each and every one of you have had a great holiday season and are looking forward to spring with the same impatience that we are! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We have a regular visitor

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Over the summer and some of the fall, we’ve had occasional visits by a wild turkey hen. She walked in last summer, interested in a couple of our domestic toms that wander around the yard. Then she got spooked and took off. Will saw her in the oat field this fall. We were real excited as wild turkeys are plentiful further south but not up here. They’re very rare. So when this lady showed up recently, we were tremendously excited. Will quickly went and turned a couple of our turkey hens out and spread some corn around in the edge of the driveway. She keeps coming back for more. I think she’s lonely as well as hungry with the snow getting deeper. We’ll keep feed out all winter for her. She’s getting less spooky around us and the dogs. Hopefully, she’ll hatch out some eggs, come spring, and populate our area with more wild turkeys.


I’ve been under the weather again with a bout of diverticulitis. My fault — I ate popcorn. I sure won’t do that again as it’s been quite a while since my last attack. The doctor’s talking surgery and I sure want to avoid that if possible.

Will and I went to get our pork yesterday and take frozen pork down to Bill in Sturgeon Lake. We met him at his lunch break. Luckily, he only lives a very few miles from home so he goes home for lunch. So we had a nice visit and headed home.

Great news! The new refrigerator is working perfectly. Merry Christmas to me — I’m SO excited! What a lot of room. That’s real nice, especially with the holidays coming up. I just love it.

Although I don’t usually browse the internet, a friend, Pam, sent me a real nice Awwww moment link. It sure made my day and I still think of it often and go back to see it again. — 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

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


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