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Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category
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
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
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. http://emgn.com/entertainment/meet-ingo-and-poldi-the-most-adorable-unlikely-friends-in-the-world/ It sure made my day and I still think of it often and go back to see it again. — Jackie
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, www.seedtreasures.com, 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
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
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
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
Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
Although we have the woodshed stuffed full, which is about two years’ worth, we are now filling our enclosed back porch with small wood. (This is the popple sapling poles that Will saves when he clears or thins a patch of woods.) This small wood is often just piled and burned by those less frugal. But we find it such good kindling and kitchen stove wood we just can’t do that. We usually pile about a cord and half on the enclosed porch plus a little bigger split wood for nasty days or when we are sick and don’t feel like bringing in wood from the wood shed.
Of course, Hondo and Spencer help by carrying in wood. They love it and the small wood is a light burden for them. Mittens is there too, supervising from a spot above the noisy, panting dogs, just to make sure it’s stacked just right and that no mice get in while the door’s open.
My oldest son, Bill, works for Oak Lake Campground and RV, a quite large RV dealership. A while back, a man with a big motor home bought a new high-end double door propane/DC refrigerator as his older one had issues when he wintered in the South. In the North it worked just fine. As we live in the North, Bill thought of us and when David went down to visit, he brought the fridge up. Wow! After living years and years with a small propane fridge, a BIG, two-door refrigerator with a double-door freezer looks like heaven to me!
Will is putting it together and working on how to best fit it into our kitchen. We’ll keep the small one too but I’m thrilled to soon be able to have plenty of refrigeration without having to stack things precariously. Thank you Bill! — Jackie