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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Jackie Clay

We’re back to sub-zero temps

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

What do we do when it’s so cold? Play catch-up on those chores we’ve been putting off before spring comes and we don’t have time. Today, Will brought in his chainsaw chain sharpener on the stand he’d put together from assorted “junk” and started sharpening. He has more than seven chains and now they’re all ready for the woods.

I cut up and canned a ham. And next I’m boiling the bone and will make bean soup to can. Out of that one half ham I’ll end up with about 35 meals, all totalled. Not bad for one piece of meat!

Mittens and the dogs just laid around in the sun and slept. Of course, Hondo, being a comfort creature, just hopped on the (forbidden) good sofa, put his head on a pillow and went to sleep, perhaps dreaming of chasing rabbits or coyotes.

For all you Jess Hazzard fans out there (Jess is the main character in my Western novels), I thought you might like to see the real country where he lived; the Upper Green River Valley and the Green Lakes region in Wyoming. We’ve travelled there several times and enjoyed the Bridger-Teton Wilderness. It’s one of the most beautiful sections of the U.S.

— Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’ve finally got a few days without rain

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

But the bad news is the hayfields have standing water on them and we have two fields down and rained on. Sure, it wasn’t supposed to rain — so the weather radio said. But we got an inch. Will said it’s like haying in a rice paddy. Now we’ve got a few dry days and we HOPE we can get that rained-on hay raked and dried to bale on Saturday. We’ll see…


Our domestic high-bush blueberries are beginning to produce although they’re only about two feet tall. The deer nibbled the tops off two years in a row because someone left the gate open. Our Patriot blueberries are the size of the end of my thumb! I picked the ripe ones and added them to those given to me for my birthday by my friends Dara and Robin, and canned them all up yesterday. I ended up with eight pints of wonderful blueberries — translates to four big blueberry pies!


Just a note for you who haven’t yet read my Western novels, Summer of the Eagles, Autumn of the Loons and Winter of the Wolves; there’s a drawing for four copies of Summer of the Eagles, signed by me, on Goodreads. Here is a shortlink that will take people to the giveaway page: Here are a few customer comments from Amazon, where Eagles has a 5 star rating out of 91 reviews so far:

“I cannot recall the last book that I read that I just thoroughly ENJOYED anywhere near as much as this one. Great characters, quick pace, plenty of action, a good old fashioned western with a twist.
This is an authentic tale and just a ripping good story. A genuine “western” with good guys and bad guys and the good guys are actually admirable and worth cheering for.” wiseterrion July 14, 2016

“Absolutely wonderful — I read all three and hope there will be more coming … don’t want to give anything away but I love how Jackie views fathers and how important they are and Jess embodies the kind of father we all wish for.” Nancy

“I could not put it down! I was taken from my Iowa town and was riding along, on the horse. I just enjoyed reading the book, and ready to start the next one, as soon as I get the garden planted.” Flip Osan

Thank all of you who have purchased my Westerns and reviewed them on amazon. Those reviews do help! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’ve hit 50 degrees

Monday, March 7th, 2016

And boy, oh boy, does it feel good in the sunshine! I was outside yesterday in my T-shirt gathering eggs and playing with the goats. Nice sunshine, too!

Will is busy converting one of our two old pull-type corn planters to work on the three-point of our tractor. (In the north garden there isn’t room enough to keep turning tractor and corn planter around on the ends.) So he’s taking advantage of the warm weather by doing that and getting ready to install the rebuilt fuel pump for our Oliver tractor, which could come today.


I took the four-wheeler for a ride yesterday, down the mile long driveway and by driving very slowly, I could check out the tracks to see who had been there and what they were doing. I saw the big tracks of a male wolf who was sauntering along, marking his territory and advertising his availability to females as it’s their breeding season. There were also grouse, rabbit, and deer tracks. It felt so good to get out and be warm.


It’s looking like I’ll be headed for surgery to remove a section of my colon. If I have to have it done, I want to get it over soon so I’ll be healed up for spring. Not looking forward to it but if it’ll stop the diverticulitis attacks, it’ll be worth it.

I was real excited yesterday when I checked on my first flat of peppers. They were coming up nice and strong. The second flat is starting to pop too and will be moved in the little plastic greenhouse in the south-facing window soon. I can’t wait to get to planting tomatoes! Another week or so, now.


By the way, any of you who have read the Jess Hazzard Westerns and haven’t posted a review on Amazon, this is a reminder that those reviews greatly help the sale of the books and that, in turn, helps us. Thanks, in advance! (And if you haven’t read them, check out the reviews on Amazon; you’re missing a good read! Even if you don’t normally read Westerns.) — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Finally, I got a box of books

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Hey, I’ll admit the wait was my fault. After the holidays we had a cash flow crunch. But we were excited when I could finally order and receive the first box of books, the third in the Jess Hazzard series, Winter of the Wolves, which readers have been long awaiting. (Just a reminder to those of you who have already ordered on Amazon and read the book, please take time to add a review; it helps our advertising and (hopefully) sales. Thank you very much!)


We’ve been refining our planting list and when you plant as much as we do, believe me, this takes lots of time and study. It looks like we’ll be adding about 20 new tomato varieties to the garden. Of course, all will be open pollinated and most heirlooms as well. (If any of you have an old family favorite, especially rare ones, we’d love to have a few seeds!)

This spring we’re going to save seeds from about six varieties of peppers. This means that each variety will have to have its own screened-in cage in the hoop house. Peppers are chiefly self-pollinating but often insects will carry pollen from one type to another. So if you’re going to raise several varieties to save seeds from, they need to be caged so insects can not get to the blossoms.

Likewise, squash and pumpkins are insect-pollinated (chiefly) and must be separated by long distances, up to a mile in some instances where there are no natural barriers such as thick woods, steep hills, etc. Luckily, we have several friends who will be helping us out by raising different varieties which we don’t have enough isolation space/distance to raise. (There are three common species of squash/pumpkins and two or more of the same species will cross.)

I’m going to cut up a couple of Hopi Pale Grey squash to dehydrate. It’s so easy. I just cut 1-inch rings, rind and all, then cut those in half and peel off the rind. Then I cut ¼-inch slices across each piece, giving nice small, thin pieces which dehydrate very quickly. These are so handy to toss into soups and stews! I also grab a handful and throw it in the blender to reduce to a powder. I add it to many of my breads (including cornbread), soups for thickening, and even quick breads such as banana bread. What a versatile food! And tasty too. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Will finished up our new seed rack

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

I had to run to town for feed and when I got back, Will had the whole seed rack assembled in the sunroom/greenhouse. But when I took hold of one end, I wondered if just the two of us could possibly turn it upright! It was heavy and both of us have bad backs. But Will is a work-smart kind of guy and suggested he lift it a bit from the center, while I stuffed paint cans first under the top corners, one at a time, then repeated it, moving the cans closer to center. That went okay and when it was time to set it upright. I stood on the bottom while he lifted from the top center. As he lifted, I shoved the wheeled bottom toward him and … up it came, easy as pie. Wow, was I ever glad! (I had visions of crashing or a trip to the hospital for Will…) So yesterday, I moved the entire contents of the small, old seed rack, plus seeds from here and there all over the house (it seemed) onto the rack, not only in alphabetical order but also by species groups such as pumpkins/squash, peas, beans, etc. It’s so handy for us to fill orders — now if I can get our seed catalog finished and in to the printers.


(I’ve also been working on a Backwoods Home project too! Can’t tell, but it’s coming along fine.) Will is working on our new fridge, trying to determine just what is wrong. Hopefully we can escape paying $1,000 for a new cooling unit.

Don’t forget to browse through my books when you’re thinking about buying Christmas gifts for your loved ones. (Hint, hint!) Book sales sure help out our homestead efforts every day.

I recently had good news. I’ve been accepted into membership of the Western Writers of America. This is an honor for me, to be sure! — 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

Harvest is about finished

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Harvest is about finished

When the sun came out this morning after a full week of drizzly, nasty weather, we did a happy dance. I pulled our parsnips (in the rain) and canned them up yesterday. We had a good crop but something strange happened this year. They were not long and skinny; but turnip-shaped and had many roots, looking like aliens from Mars! We figure it was a combination of planting them where the ground was pretty heavily manured and where the run-off from our big hoop house frequently soaked the row. Luckily, despite the weird shapes, they were still tender and tasty. Now we have dozens of pints of parsnips ready to go into the pantry. Yum!


This year, we tried a San Felipe pumpkin that we really liked. Being a C. pepo, we could grow it in our garden along with Hopi Pale Grey, a C. maxima, without having them cross. We loved the shape and color along with the deeper ribbing. Just like the old pumpkins our ancestors grew in the cornfields. When I opened them to extract the seeds, I was happy to notice the fragrant smell and deep orange color. The seeds were nice too and would make wonderful roasted pumpkin seeds. A definite keeper for next year!


Good news!

“Winter of the Wolves,” the third book in the Jess Hazzard series, has been scheduled for release on December 1st. You can order an advance copy for immediate delivery here: . (If you haven’t yet read these fast-moving adventure stories, you don’t know what you’re missing.

If you’re a Kindle reader, you can pre-order it for Dec. 1st delivery here:

And if you can wait until mid-November, you can order the print edition direct from the publisher and save 10% – 20% (with complimentary bookmarks) here: .


Happy reading. I hope you enjoy it! — 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


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