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Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 10 Comments »
We had been noticing a new logging site about 10 miles south of us where there were several large piles of scrap logs left over. Luckily, David noticed a sign with the logger’s name and phone number on it. He called him and asked for permission to go in and take firewood. The man said yes.
So on his way home from Virginia (the town, not state!), David drove in and loaded up a medium-sized load. He didn’t dare load more heavily as his truck’s frame is pretty rusty. He and Will unloaded it.
The next day, Will took our old Chevy truck, “Old Blue,” over there and loaded up a real big load. Then on Sunday, he went back for another load. I helped unload at home and he went back for still another load. And with the sun shining brightly and temps approaching twenty degrees, Will (and Hondo) went back for more wood. We know there won’t be many more days because the temps will warm up on Thursday and the site will become impassable, even with a four-wheel-drive truck. So we’re hurrying as much as Will’s bad back will stand. Yep, we have woods on our land. But by getting this free wood, we’re saving our own wood to use later on.
Some of the poles are tamarack and will make good fence posts so we’ve set them aside for fencing projects this spring. Talk about a wonderful windfall! All it cost was one phone call.
Tomorrow I begin planting tomato seeds! I went through my box of seeds and we have a LOT of varieties of tomatoes. How exciting! We won’t even talk about beans. — Jackie
Thursday, March 9th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 6 Comments »
And they blew and blew yesterday and the day before! So hard, in fact, that I was having a hard time sleeping between the huge bursts of wind gusts and our wind charger’s brake screaming, trying to keep the charger from overworking. Luckily, Will had gotten all the big logs out of the woods and decked up temporarily in a cleared spot about a half mile from the house.
So while the wind blew, we quickly did chores and came inside to do other things. Will got caught up on his computer work for our seed business and I planted a few more new peppers. One interesting variety came from a gentleman now living in Georgia, who grows a “wild” hot pepper he used to harvest from the Florida orange orchards. I can’t wait to see … and taste … that one. What fun!
I know some of you are daylily fans — who wouldn’t be as this gorgeous perennial flower is extremely hardy and also edible! A reader turned me on to a website, The Daylily Auction, where you can bid on roots of some extremely beautiful flowers which would cost two or three times more elsewhere. Just thought I’d let you folks know about it too.
My seedling peppers are growing like weeds. They already have two sets of leaves so I’ll be transplanting them next week. And I’ll be starting our first tomatoes, too. (Remember we set them out in Wall O’ Waters, which allows us to plant out extra early.) I counted up and we have at least 76 varieties to plant this year; many are repeats of some of our favorites and quite a few are new ones that sound great. Time will tell! Can’t wait to get in the dirt. — Jackie
Monday, March 6th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 6 Comments »
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
Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 11 Comments »
Although we had temps of -2 last night, we are excited that our first pepper seedlings are up and looking great. We start them in peat pellets, soaked in hot water to puff them up, and then plant two seeds per pellet so we can choose the strongest plant to let grow. Sometimes we gently tease one plant out and transplant it while very young into its own peat pellet to grow on. Once a small container of one variety has been planted and labeled, I stick them in plastic bags or bread wrappers to hold in moisture and place them on the shelves behind and beside the wood stove where it is very warm. (Peppers germinate best in temps of 80-85 degrees!) Ours come up within five days or less and pop up very strong.
This year we’re trying some different ones, as usual. We’re adding Franks (a green sweet bell pepper from Sand Hills Preservation Center that’s early and hugely productive), a “bootlegged” hot pepper from Venice a reader sent us, which we’ve named “Bootleg,” Medusa, a container-type decorative mild multi-colored wild pepper we love the look of and New Mexico Big Jim, a large, medium heat chile pepper from, yep, New Mexico!
And beans! We have some VERY neat, new beans from all over the world to try — beans from Africa, South America, Poland, Finland, Native American tribes all across the country, some from the Old South, some from the far north. What fun the garden will be this year! I can’t wait. All those new looks and tastes. — Jackie
Thursday, February 23rd, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 4 Comments »
We’ll be having another homestead seminar, limited to 14 people, August 25th, 26th, and 27th. Subjects to be covered include: Canning meat & mixed recipes, homestead tools, raising heirloom vegetables, saving seeds and much, much more. Check it out on www.seedtreasures.com; click on seminars. Hope to see you then! It may well change your life! Secure your spot now. Email email@example.com for more details.
Monday, February 20th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 2 Comments »
We’ve had a very warm week; over 50° some days, with sunshine! The first day, Ashley and I set out lawn chairs in the driveway and sat down to absorb some fabulous vitamin D. We were in our T shirts! It felt SO very good. Now you folks living in more hospitable climates may figure doing this at 50° is NUTS, but when we’ve been used to below zero temps, 50 seems so very warm.
And it wasn’t just us, either. I had to go to town to mail some seed orders to people and when I got back, my friend, Dara, was sitting in a chair, knitting! I had to laugh.
Then on Saturday, David and Ashley helped haul out trees which Will had been cutting. They were stressed by bud-worms then carpenter ants got into the bottoms of them, which killed the trees. So before they fell and rotted, Will cut them down, limbed them and the “crew” started hauling them out of the woods. David used the four-wheeler for a while, then his snowmobile, giving the four-wheeler to Ashley. We all had a fun day and ended up with over a cord of fir which will be cut, split and stored for next year’s firewood. Will figures there’s over two more cords right in that small area. (We start cutting firewood EARLY in the spring so it’s all split and stacked under cover to dry well before use the next year.)
Today it’s raining like crazy and we even saw lightning. Pretty crazy winter weather, for sure. I guess the beavers were right, after all. They said we’d have an average winter; no crazy cold or snow. And, so far, that’s just what happened, no matter what the weather forecasters and the Farmer’s Almanac predicted.
We’ve been having quite a response to our fall homesteading seminar and so far, three people have sent in their deposits. I’m thinking we’ll fill up for sure. That’s nice, I’m sure we’ll have lots of fun, as always! — Jackie
Thursday, February 16th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 12 Comments »
By now, most of you with internet have gotten the message from Dave Duffy, saying that with the Nov/Dec 2017 issue of BHM, the magazine will cease publication of the print magazine. I’m sure this came as much of a shock to you as it did to me (I’ve been with the magazine since 1998). So we had a few sleepless nights figuring things out.
However, Self-Reliance will keep publishing and you’ll still find me writing for it as well as the Kindle version of Backwoods Home, which will continue. And I won’t abandon you with my blog. We’re still trying to figure out things regarding that and the Ask Jackie feature and I’ll keep you posted as the “powers that be” let me know.
On a brighter note, our little homestead seed business, Seed Treasures, is taking off as our catalog is now out and return customers from all across the country are sending in orders. (If you want a catalog, just let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org) Will gets up early and packages seeds. I do the mailing, so if you should get the wrong item or miss a pack, please let me know. Doesn’t happen often, but hey, we all make mistakes.
I just ordered a bunch of rare beans for us to try, from the Rare Seed Consortium. They are pricey but pretty cool. So we’ll try a bunch and offer them next year, if they make the grade with us.
I’m ready to plant peppers and am trying to make final decisions on which varieties to plant this year. It’s hard! We have many lively discussions around here about plant varieties and we tease Will that he’ll have to fire up Old Yeller, our bulldozer, to make some new garden spaces.
We are even talking about building a separate Seed Treasures building as the business is taking up a whole lot of the house now. But that’s the way a new home business gets and we are glad things are going well. — Jackie
Monday, February 13th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 6 Comments »
February is half over! Groundhog or not, we’re thinking spring around here. Today it was nearly 40 degrees above with the sun out. What a nice day. So Will decided he’d set out a few round bales of hay and then go work on the new barn. It’s been so cold he hasn’t gotten much done but hopes to stay on it for awhile now that it’s warmed up. So while he went up and down the hill, getting round bales with the Oliver, I stayed at the pasture gate, opening and shutting it to let him through. As the critters always have hay, they aren’t particularly hungry and will zip out the open gate if given half a chance, just for an “adventure.”
Today he hauled two bales out while I got a chance to pet the horses and donkeys. Crystal and Moose, our donkey “herd,” always leave the hay to come get some attention. I noticed Crystal, the tan one, is shedding. Wow! Another clue spring is not far away. And I did see some pussywillows in bloom yesterday on the way to town.
Yesterday I put away my last batch of chili. All in all, I now have 74 quarts and a pint of “new” chili on the pantry shelves! We ate the two which didn’t seal. (Real hard on us … lol)
Tomorrow I’ll get out the seed trays and some peat pellets then decide which peppers I want to grow this year. My friends, Mike and Dara, were here yesterday and we all discussed various varieties we’ll be wanting to plant. It was fun and exciting too. — Jackie