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Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Jackie Clay

It’s mid-forties but cloudy and misty today

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Today Will’s out in our north woods, cutting a trail through the trees to a huge white pine he cut two days ago. The pine had been leaning, more and more over the past five years, until it got hung up in a big tamarack fork. Working carefully as such a tree is VERY dangerous, Will got both trees pretty much cut through then drove wedges in. The wind did the rest. While he worked many yards away from the tree, cutting brush, the trees cracked and fell to the ground with a whoosh. The trees will be sawn into boards to use on our new barn. Waste not; want not!

We’re getting excited because the back yard and garden are slowly showing as the snow is receding. I actually walked in the yard for the first time since late last fall. The plum and cherry trees wintered well and I can’t see any vole damage, although there were a few vole tunnels in the grass. There is water on top of the beaver ponds now and the creek is running.

Inside, our peppers are jumping up and looking good. I’m especially excited about a variety a friend sent which she calls Venice Bootleg hot peppers (they were obtained in a cafe in Venice and “smuggled” home to the U.S.). It occurred to me how much gardening brings us all together. Through our seed business, we’ve had letters and seed orders from folks who are Amish, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists, and more. And you know what? We’re all excitedly awaiting our seeds springing to life with warm weather. Brothers and Sisters in gardening. I think that’s a lesson for us all. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We spent Sunday delivering beef to customers

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Ever have to be in two places at once? Not uncommon for us. For instance, we had two steers butchered and yesterday was the day we’d arranged to meet various customers who bought quarters of beef. But it was also the same day our son, Javid, was going skiing! Luckily David and his girlfriend, Ashley, drove Javid to the Giant’s Ridge Ski hill while we delivered beef.

Javid used to ski in Montana, using adaptive equipment and he has sure missed it here. He joined a special program here and yesterday he had a ball on the slopes. I asked David if they put him on the bunny hill. David laughed and said, “No, it was a pretty good hill!” And because David snowboards, I took his word. So we got it all done and everyone was happy.

Today it’s snowing pretty good and I’m getting ready to can up a big batch of baked beans. Like our beef, our pork is getting a little old so I need to use up the hams and bacon we have left. And we all love baked beans! So the beans are soaking and I’ll get at it soon. Mmmm!

We’ve finally set our program for the fall seminar so if any of you are interested, just click on the Seed Treasures link and check out what we’ll be offering in August. We’ve already got four people signed up so if you’re interested, I’d suggest getting signed up. We can only accept 14 people so everyone can get a good, hands-on experience.

It’s hard to believe we’ll be planting seeds soon! Especially when it’s snowing outside. But we’re real excited and are already discussing the wheres and hows of our 2017 gardens. And with the political unrest, we will be planting even more. Just in case … — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We took time to party

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

On Saturday, we drove down to my son, Bill’s, for granddaughter Ava’s fifth birthday party. The weather was nice and we had a great time visiting with all the family and Bill’s friend, Andy and his family. Again, the kiddos played Pie Face and both Mason and Ava got a face full of whipped cream.

Thank goodness, our severe winter weather has broken. Yesterday it was sunny and 31 degrees and today it almost hit 36! Wow, I can tell you it sure feels great, just being in the sunshine and breathing in warm air. I’m sure we’ll still have plenty of snow and cold but a break is sure welcome, and it’s supposed to last for a whole week!

Let me tell you about a very positive business deal we just had. Four months ago, we bought a battery for our ATV from DB Electrical, online. Two weeks ago, it fried. I got busy and found the order number and Will called, hoping there was some sort of warranty. He was on the phone for exactly two minutes, 22 seconds and the guy said “It’s in the mail.” A replacement, that fast — it seemed unbelievable! No “Well, you must have done something,” or “We don’t warranty electrical products.” Just “It’s in the mail, should get to you on Wednesday.” Wow! So anyone who needs reliable service check out DB Electrical. I know we’re lifelong customers now.

It doesn’t seem possible but in three weeks I’ll be starting my first garden seeds: peppers and petunias. Once seed starting begins, spring seems a whole lot closer, doesn’t it?

Will and I have decided to offer another homesteading seminar here at our place, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, August 25th, 26th, and 27th, providing there is interest. A lot of people have been asking about another seminar so here is your chance, should you decide you’d like to come. I’ll be posting more information on our website, www.seedtreasures.com, in the near future. — Jackie

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

Garden_5799

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.

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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

 
 
 


 
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