Spring is here big time, with balmy days in the fifties. So every day is a work day. We borrowed a big breaking plow from my son, Bill, and Will hooked it to our little Ford 8N tractor and plowed both our garden and the new berry patch. The garden went fine, thoroughly mixing in the sandy, gravelly loam with the black compost we’d spread on it over the years. But the berry patch was brutal. It was woods two weeks ago and after the trees were cut and most of the stumps bulldozed, it was still full of very large rocks and tree roots…not to mention a few big old stumps.

While Will was plowing up there, I was transplanting tomatoes, planting squash, and melons. But then we got to pick rocks and roots. Big time! That night, both of us were whipped!

So we took a “break” from that and began fencing in the three acres of new goat pasture. First we set in our corners, consisting of old power poles, dug in the ground three feet, with three posts on each corner, with a notched 4″x4″ brace between. Then we strung a string and pounded steel T posts every 12′ between them, so we kept straight. Next we’ll make wire Xs on each corner/brace post unit and tighten them, making the corner very stable and strong so we can stretch and staple on heavy duty woven wire stock fence. We faced the posts toward the pasture (bumpy side in), so we can also add stand-off electric fence insulators to keep the goats away from the fence. Goats don’t break through a fence, they lean through it! With the electric fence, they won’t touch the fence so they won’t weaken it.


Readers’ Questions:

Dehydrating meat

I would like to dehydrate chicken and beef in my dehydrator, but all the directions I’ve found call for marinading the meat in some sort of teriyaki base. My family is not wild about the teriyaki flavor and I was wondering if I can just make it plain. Also, do I cook the meat first or put it in the dehydrator raw?

Becky Pendergrass
Clover, South Carolina

Yes, you can make your chicken and beef plain. The different flavors are for taste, not to make it “keep”. No, you don’t have to cook the meat first; you can just slice it and put it in the dehydrator. If you cut the meat across the grain, it will be less tough and also dry faster. Enjoy your dehydrated meats! — Jackie

Color of goats teats

I have my first 2 buck kids, sold the two doe kids to the does original owner. My question is about the color of my big Nubian does teats. Is it normal to be bruised looking, I’m guessing from the kids punishment. She seems to be flourishing in every other way. No signs of mastitis or bad milk. And also what method of castration do you prefer for buck kids and at what age?

Dinah Jo Brosius
Battle Ground, Washington

Are they bruised or does she just have blotchy or black skin on her udder? My one doe has black teats and another has pink and black spotted skin on her udder and teats. If they are bruised, it may be from the kids; they can get very aggressive when they gain strength. I prefer to wait until the kids are two or three months old, then use a Burdizzo type emasculatome, which pinches the cords instead of cutting. This results in the testicles slowly shrinking and being absorbed; no blood, no flies. Many breeders use the rubber banding method, which slips a strong, round rubber circle around the entire scrotum, next to the body. This causes the blood supply to be cut off and the testicles to slowly die and fall off. It has caused tetanus, so if you decide to use this method, be sure to also give a shot of tetanus antitoxin at the same time. — Jackie


Do you have a generator to use for backup? If so, gas powered or propane powered? Any details would be helpful, we’re shopping around on craigslist, etc.

Joanna Wilcox
Boone, North Carolina

We have a couple gas generators. Neither was terribly expensive, under $600 each. I would like a propane generator, for the convenience of not having to haul gas so much, but they are more expensive, too. I really, really like our latest generator that has a Honda engine. We have had so much less trouble with it than previous ones with Briggs and Stratton engines. (Sorry Briggs!) And it starts even in very cold weather, where the Briggs must be warmed up first or you can’t physically pull the starter rope. With generators, you usually get what you pay for; the better generators cost more dough. Remember, if you are planning on hooking your generator to your grid box, you MUST have an electrician install a transfer switch so you don’t accidently fry an electric company repairman working on the line to fix the outage…expecting to be working on dead lines!

An option is to use extension cords to your most needed appliances, such as freezer, well or furnace and just shut off your main power switch until the power comes back on. — Jackie

Canning salt or table salt?

I was reading one of the post on the first page about canning mushrooms and would like to know if you use canning salt or just table salt on this recipe:

To can mushrooms, soak them in lightly salted ice water for 10 minutes. This not only helps clean them, but rinses out any hidden insects. Trim the dirty and tough parts of the stems, then rinse in cold water. You may leave small ones whole and cut large ones into convenient pieces. Boil three minutes in water. Pack into hot jars. Add a tsp. of salt to each quart or 1/2 tsp. to each pint, if desired. Fill to within 1/2 inch of top of jar with water mushrooms were boiled in. Put hot, previously simmered lid on jar and tighten down ring firmly tight. Process in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure (unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet and must adjust your pressure to suit your altitude, if necessary; consult your canning manual for instructions) for 25 minutes for pints and 35 minutes for quarts.

Tammy Barton
Clarkson, Kentucky

I use plain, non-iodized table salt in all of my canning except for pickles. With pickles, the table salt sometimes has adverse affects on the pickles. — Jackie

Canning jars

I am trying to increase my canning jar collection. Scouring the local papers and internet sites, I have found older jars (in a barn, covered with hay), without lids, for a great price. Should I be concerned about new rings/lids fitting? They are Ball and Atlas jars. Also, what would be the proper procedure for sterilizing them?

Sewickley, Pennsylvania

Wow! Good for you! Your lids and rings will fit, as long as the openings are the same as modern jars. Most are, but a few are considerably smaller. I would just wash them out well with hot soapy water, then put them in your water bath canner and cover with water. Boil them for 15 minutes and remove and air dry. They are then as good as new; maybe better! — Jackie


  1. No, I don’t use canning salt, except for pickles. You can use iodized salt for canning but with some light vegetables, with certain minerals in the water, you’ll notice a darkening of the vegetables. Yes, you can use plain non-iodized salt or sea salt for canning vegetables and meats.


  2. Hi Jackie!

    In question “Canning salt or table salt?” You said that you use plain non-iodized salt for your canning(except pickles). Does this mean you don’t use canning salt? Will iodized or non-iodized or sea salt work for canning veg etc?


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