We had a great “vacation.” David had Thursday, Friday, and the weekend off from school. Of course, Thursday, being Thanksgiving, I cooked, cooked, and baked. That’s MY vacation; doing all that baking and cooking, which I really love. Mom eats like a bird; a very small bird. David’s often away doing young man stuff. So I don’t have anyone to cook for. When I get the chance, I go whole hog. (Look out, Will!) We had a whole lot of homegrown food on the table…the rest homemade, anyway. Boy, our garden really shined! Glazed carrots, green bean casserole, mustard bean pickles, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, blackberry jam, and oh those wonderful Yukon Gold potatoes! Add a blackberry cheesecake, apple pie with caramel drizzles and toasted pecans, half time spoon rolls and we were too stuffed to move!

But the next day we did. David’s deer is frozen under the greenhouse, where it’s hanging, and I sawed off a quarter, brought it in to thaw over night, then cut it up, ground it with the meat grinder, and made three flavors of jerky from it. Another quarter soon followed and I’ve got THAT batch of 8 dehydrator trays finishing up tonight. Wow!

Sprinkled in with that was the trip to my grandson, Mason’s first birthday party, down at Bill and Kelly’s on Sunday, which was a wonderful day and Mom’s trip to the ER on Friday, which wasn’t so great. She’s having trouble with a recurring bladder infection which, in the elderly, often shows up with hallucinations and disorientation. Very scary for ME! But the doctor put her on a different antibiotic and she was well enough to go to Mason’s birthday party Sunday and today, she continues to improve. But I’m kind of tired.

Will and I are already picking out varieties of strawberry plants for our new bed in the house garden and some more new trees for our orchard. See. Spring is ALMOST here! By the way, Hi Andy!

Readers’ Questions:

Filling Wall o’ waters

Wall o’ water filling tip: This is not a question but we know as do you the back breaking pain it is to fill dozens of wall o waters. My husband came up with this: He used some old black 3/4″ drip line and capped one end. He then made a circle that was about the same circumference of the outside of a 5 gallon bucket, capping one end. He wire tied it and left the uncapped end extending about 1 ft. He then punched 18 holes in it at equal intervals on the circle. He attached 9″ of 1/4″ drip line to each hole. He put a hose connector and then a hose shut off valve on the extended open end. Although this was easiest to use with two people, one to hold it steady while the other puts the “legs” into each hole, it took way less time and effort than the usual. Once the legs were in the wall o water (we had the wall o water already sitting over a bucket) we moved the whole thing on top of the plant and turned the valve. It fills all the channels at the same time and takes less than a minute. I’d guess that it only took about 30% of the time it usually takes, so even though it took two people it still was a time saver. We call it the “spider.” If you’d like a picture let me know. I saw all the rows of wall o’ waters in your book and thought this might ease the pain of filling them as it did for us.

Loved your book!

Lisa and Bob
Reno, Nevada

Glad you liked the book. I just read it and was humbled by how far we’ve come and how much we’ve gotten done with the help of friends and family.

Boy, I LOVE your idea for filling the Wallo’ Waters! YES I’d love a photo, and I’ll bet other readers will too. Why don’t you talk to the makers of Wallo’ Waters and maybe they’d consider buying rights so they could make and sell them! THANKS! I knew there had to be an easier way! — Jackie

Protecting food from weevils

Are plastic zip-lock bags or trash bags with the end tied in a knot sufficient protection from weevils?

It is so much more affordable to purchase rice, beans and corn meal in 40-50 lb bags, so I am seeking a second layer of protection around the one it comes in.

Jason Riggs
Cleveland, Texas

Plastic zip lock bags are generally protection against weevil infestation…unless there are weevil eggs in your grains. The trash bags with a knot tied are not. Better yet, put your bags of rice/grain in plastic garbage cans, plastic totes with tight fitting lids (some aren’t). If you want to use the garbage bags, you can beef ’em up by folding the ends of the bags back over the sacks and taping them securely with duct tape. I’ve done this and it’s worked pretty darned good. Then, in addition, I’ve placed the taped bags in a sturdy cardboard or plastic tote. No problems there. — Jackie

Storing corn

We tried to store 200lbs of field corn in a plastic tub in the basement. Condensation gathered on the lid to the container and dripped on the corn bags, which then swelled and grew bugs. How do you long term store your corn? We bought our corn at the local feed shop and I don’t know what the moisture content was. Thanks and your articles and blog are great. I am a huge fan and so is my dad.

Erin Crouch
Coats, Kansas

Do you have a problem with dampness in your basement, with other things. Like does rust form on paint can lids? I really think that probably your problem was corn with too high a moisture content, and it sounds like you stored it in the bags. I’ve always stored my whole corn and wheat “loose” in plastic garbage cans, and I’ve never had a problem with moisture, at all. I’d try it again with one bag of corn, dumping it in loose so there’s more air circulation within the container. If you still have this problem, buy your next corn in the summer, then dry it yourself by pouring a bag or two out onto a clean plastic tarp out in the yard, right in the sun. Stir it around all day, then cover in the late afternoon if there’s a chance of dew forming over night. In the morning, repeat the drying. Even quite moist corn is usually dry in two days of this treatment. Better luck next time. This definitely can be done! — Jackie


  1. Nancy,
    Sorry to hear your tomato paste based soup tried to curdle. Try this: Thicken your milk with flour, then heat tomato paste, thinned a bit. When it’s hot, quickly stir in 1/8 tsp baking soda. It’ll foam and fizz. but when it settles down, gently stir the tomato into the hot milk. That usually reduces the incidence of curdling the milk.

    I’m glad you’re reading my stuff. what I “have” came at a price, and it included a long time, plenty of work and some heartache, too. Keep at it, and you’ll be surprised at what the future can hold!


  2. Many many months ago I ask you about canning tomato soup and heating it with milk. You gave me a recipe using tomato sauce and said it was wonderful soup and took just minutes to make. I finally made it last night and as you said, it was wonderful.

    I made some with tomato paste and it is good but I seem to curddle the milk in it. So will stick to the sauce and good soup.

    Thank you so very much.

    I am going to tell you something that I am embarrased about. I have received Backwoods Home Magazine for years and would not read your articals. I was so jealious about where you are at and where I am. I want a self-sufficient life so bad, to grow more and can every thing but my husband thinks it is silly and to much work. So you had it all and I wanted it. Now that I have grown up a bit you are the first thing I read. One of the Ten Commandants, Do not covet what your neighbor has.

    I check two or three times a day to see if you have added any thing to your blog.

    Will be buying your books as soon as I can afford them.

    We have a 300 acre farm and I have a tiny spot I get to garden in but don’t kick much because my husband does not like horses but lets me keep mine. I will be gardening more in tires this year in places that can’t be used for any thing else.

    Again thank you so much.

  3. At this time of year I need to give thanks to the women (like my mother, grandmother) who make our holidays events to remember, if it was up to me, thanks giving dinner would consist of bread, instant patatoes and wild turkey(not the animal)

  4. I have a sneaky suspicion that Will is going to eat like a King… but he’s going to need to, as he’ll work off every calorie :)

    That was a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner; wish I’d remembered to take a jar of my dill pickles out to Mom’s last week!

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