After a week of back to back blizzards, the sun came out and the temperature climbed to 50 degrees today. It was SO nice. And today my son Bill and his wife, Kelly came up to help Mom celebrate her 92nd birthday. Of course their son, Mason, came with them and both Greatgrandma and Grandma got to play with him and be wowed by his frequent smiles!

Mom enjoying Mason

He was afraid of the chickens, but it won’t be long before he’s ready for a pony. His daddy was riding his pony, Sprite, while still in diapers. And they had years of history together. They went to lots and lots of horse shows, to compete with not only kids Bill’s age, but also adults on expensive horses. And you know what? They won a lot! We had Sprite until she was 42; she was a member of the family. I hope we can find Mason such a good pony!

Me trying to get another smile

Readers’ questions:

Cracked corn for chickens

I only have a handful of chickens and have access to pleny of free field corn. I would like to make my own “cracked corn”. What kind of grinder do I need? And, do you have any suggestions on where to get one?. Thank you SO MUCH for all of your help and articles. You are a treasure trove and I bow to your feet. I also have many other questions- how is it best to ask, snail mail or like this?

Grace johnston
Tangier, Indiana

If you have field corn, GREAT!!! You don’t need to crack corn for chickens. They digest it fine whole, and really prefer it that way. There really isn’t a home grinder for cracked corn, other than using your grain mill, which is plenty labor intensive for the results given.

You can certainly ask questions either way. Via snail mail shares the answer with a lot more readers. — Jackie

Uses for pig fat/suet

What are some uses for pig fat/suet, besides lard? Is there other uses such as candles or something? Thank you, I enjoy your writings and the knowledge you give out. This means a lot to me and helps out so much.

Scott Michael
Canyon City, Oregon

You can make soap from pork fat! Candles don’t work because pork fat has a low melting temperature and the candles won’t handle hot temperatures before melting down. (You could make fat oil lamps in a pinch, but I don’t think you’d like the results, otherwise; it tends to smoke and not put out great light.) Soap is a much better alternative. — Jackie

Canning bacon

How does one can bacon?

Kimberly Baxter Packwood
Ames, Iowa

You can home can bacon, but you’ll need “real” bacon, not store bacon, because store bacon is too fat and not “solid” enough to hold up for canning. I canned my own bacon by first smoking it, then cutting it into chunks that would fit into a wide mouth pint or quart jar. You don’t can it sliced. I heat the bacon in a roasting pan, in the oven at 200 degrees until it’s hot all the way through. Then I pack it into hot jars to within 1/2″ of the top. Bacon, as with all meat, is processed for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes at quarts, at 10 pounds pressure.(Check your canning manual if you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet and must adjust your pressure to suit your altitude.) Bacon is canned without adding liquid.

Important note: As far as I know, there isn’t an approved method of canning bacon, but this has worked well for me. Consider it an “experimental” method. — Jackie

Canned bacon

This is a response to the question asked by Pete Gibson in the May/June issue regarding canned bacon. It used to be manufactured by Celebrity Foods Canned Bacon but has not been available for approximately 10 years. According to the company’s web site it will soon be available again produced in Ohio under direct license from MRE Thought this might be of interest to the readers of BHM. Their web site shows them opening a can that was 20 years old and the product still good. Great idea for storing in case of an emergency.

Bill Lahnen
Lakewood, New York

Thanks for the info, Bill. There’s been a lot of interest in canned bacon, and for good reason; it’s a great product. I’ll be waiting to see it once again on the market! — Jackie

Freecycle groups, dehydrating

I hope you have plowed yourself out. We are getting snow this weekend in PA, but not like you. Thank goodness!! Recently, I joined a “free to join” group -“freecycle”, which, by the way, you probably would love. It’s an organization where people give others what they no longer need to help keep things out of landfills. The main stipulation for being able to join and participate is that every thing is “free”, absolutely no money exchanged. Today I received a slightly used dehydrator. If it’s been used, I would be really surprised, it’s still in the original box and spanking clean.

I’ve noticed that in several of your answers to questions, you mention your preference for dehydrating. Could you please tell me what you dehydrate and give me some tips for success. Onions are on sale for a really good price this week. I use a lot of onions and wanted to know if you have been successful drying them and how you do it. Also, potatoes. After they are dried … can’t they be used for frying, mashed or only in casseroles? What’s the storage method?

If you are interested in more information about “freecycle”, go to then browse the many groups by specific states. There are groups all over the US and possibly in your area, which might help you get things you need for your homestead and also possibly help someone else. Today was the first time I requested one of the offers and have gratefully benefited. Thanks for any advise you have time to offer. Since your advice helps me all the time, I hope I have given you something to help you too.

Rosemarie Wesolek
Mahaffey, Pennsylvania

I’m sure many readers will pick up on your tip about freecycle. I do know about them, but just don’t have the time to go so far out of town; there’s none within 35 miles of us and most of the better stuff
is in Duluth, 80 some miles south. Mom kind of ties me down as to my “going”. I dehydrate a whole lot of foods, as well as canning them. I dehydrate peas, carrots, onions, fruits of all kinds, asparagus, tomatoes, corn, squash, jerky and a whole lot more. Onions are dead easy; I just slice them into whole rounds, then lay them on the dehydrator trays, in a single layer. When they are dry, I either put them in jars that way or whiz them through the blender to make chunks or powder. These, I put on cookie sheets in the oven, with only the pilot light on and stir until they are really dry; they tend to clump without this extra drying.

To do potatoes, I slice them into salt water to keep them from blackening. Then I drain them and drop them into boiling water for a minute. Then I drain them and lay them out onto the dehydrator trays. The boiling keeps them fromdarkening during dehydrating. No, you can’t make French fries out of them, but you can rehydrate them and then make fried potatoes out of them. Or you can make potatoes augratin, scalloped potatoes or the like. Dehydrated foods are very good and take up little room on the shelf. I lovethat! — Jackie

Gooseberries not producing

I ordered & planted some Gooseberrys plants May-2005.They were 2 yr.old plants called (Hinnonmaki ) the red kind.Well they have never produced anything but they grew. Last fall I moved them & replanted to another place as I thought that might help. Why don’t they produce any fruit? What am i doing wrong? Thanks for the great info you give..

Sharon Beck
Sikeston, Missouri

Have patience. Most trees and shrubs, including gooseberries need a little time to sink their roots down and get over the shock of transplanting. This can take a year or more; often several years.
Moving them just delayed things. If they’re getting sunlight, a little compost and kept weed free, you will get fruit. — Jackie


  1. Cute grandbaby!! I have 9 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. I have so much fun when I get to see them all. Bill is your son as is David. Do you ever see your adopted children? We have a kind of adopeted son who lives in Brizil, he is from there, and while we see him on rare occasion, we hear from him a lot by email and the telephone. He is one of my children as far as I am concerned. Children are God’s gift, all of them.

  2. What wonderful pictures! You really resemble your mom!! (both lovely!!!) and that Mason is a cutie! He will be ready for a pony in the blink of an eye! I can hardly beleive that my oldest son is 30…he was just 12 a few weeks ago..right??? But grandkids make it worthwhile!
    Have a great week…and I am so grateful always for all your advice..I read it all and have learned alot from you!

  3. Wow Jackie, your mom looks great–I’d have guessed 72, not 92! Looks like you have longevity in your genes, so take specially good care of yourself! (Apparently even your livestock has that longevity gene–I’m awed that your pony made it to 42!) I hope Mason comes to love the chickens, but you’re so right, he’ll definitely love riding!

  4. It’s obvious you and your Mom both are enjoying your grandson and great-grandson, respectively… that’s great, and he’s a fine-looking young man!

    When I go out in the morning, I’ll blow really hard to the North, and try to get some of our warm Texas weather up to you :)

  5. Mason is beautiful! Bet he will be ready for a pony before you know it! Thanks for all the pictures. Living in Texas we never see that much snow…well, no much snow at all!

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