Our doe, Buffy, finally had babies, a cute tan and black doeling and a big white and lemon buckling. And we were able to be there when they were born, too, so we got all the excitement. They are doing well, and have been disbudded. I hate that job, but I hate having horns even more; they can even lead to the goat strangling in a fence or a collar.


We’ve been busily weeding our new berry patch, and putting in even more garden crops. Wow, is our expanded garden ever BIG! But in the afternoon, Will fires up the hot tub heater that he made from two junked hot water heaters, welded together, and by sundown the hot tub is steaming and ready for our old achy backs, knees, and hands. Heaven! That’s the best $50 I ever spent.

Our baby donkey, Crystal, is getting as fat as a little piggy. Her mommy has lots of milk and she’s eating grain now, too. She’s staying very friendly and can’t wait for us to come pet her. When we go in the pen, she makes this little grunting bray and trots right up to us, no matter what she’s doing. That makes handling her much easier. I wish her mommy, Beauty, had been handled from birth; she’s still pretty spooky of routine handling like having her feet trimmed. But I know that with patience, she’ll eventually come around, too.


Readers’ Questions:

Covering a chicken pen

We have built a chicken house similar to John Silveira’s father’s in the chickens book (in the garden, left and right chicken doors depending on which side of the garden is fallow). My question is – do I need to provide a covered “pen” for them? They’ll be out in the day, in at night, and surrounded by garden fence that is 5 foot high. We have hawks, foxes, and occasionally coyotes. There’s supposedly raccoons somewhere, but I’ve never seen any. We are in a fairly wide open space, and our neighbors dotted around us keep mainly llamas. This is rural Colorado. I believe they’ll be safe from most animals, but I would rather not make an outside roof and walls for them, using chicken wire mesh, unless I absolutely have to. Sometimes they’ll be out after sunset, but always in at night.

Kevin Long
Elizabeth, Colorado

Your birds will probably be fine that way, provided that they are shut in at night. Raptors (hawks, primarily) are your worst possible problem. I had one that used to try for my chickens in New Mexico. In fact it would land in the yard and go INSIDE the chicken door and chase the chicks around. Until I put our labrador retriever, Wab, in the coop one day. The hawk landed, hopped boldly into the coop, then flew a lot less cocky out the door and off into the sunset…with Wab hot on his tail. He never came back, either!

I have no top on my run; in fact, they forage our acre orchard all day. It’s not foolproof, but so far, so good! — Jackie

Canning whole chickens

I’ve been a reader and fan for years. My Mother used to can whole chickens in quart jars. She’s gone now and I will always remember that chicken for jungle lunches. Please pass along any ideas.

Mike Root
Patrick, South Carolina

You’d have to have real small chickens to fit in a quart jar; probably they were half gallon jars; I’ve done that. However, they don’t recommend canning whole chickens today, as there is a possibility that some of the meat might be too dense and not heat well enough during processing. Instead, I bone my chicken (more fits in a smaller jar!), then can it with broth it was boiled in. This is very good, tender and good for you because you did it yourself! — Jackie

Buying dehydrated items

I regularly stock my pantry with home canned foods, dry milk, paper supplies, etc., but am wondering what type of items do you buy dehydrated. I am thinking items such as dehydrated eggs, cheese – powder or freeze dried blends? Have you tried the shortening powder? I am trying to think of staples I can’t really do myself, or would be better bought. What are your thoughts on these preparedness catalogs for staples, is there a less expensive option?

Also, when are we going to be able to order your book? I’m looking forward to getting one for myself and my daughters.

Jo Riddle
Vienna, West Virginia

I buy dehydrated eggs, margarine, and butter powder and shortening powder from Emergency Essentials. These all work well. But I buy my grains from a local mill and package them in buckets after freezing to prevent bug infestations. (I buy in the winter and simply leave the bags outdoors for a week!). I do my own dehydrated vegetables and fruits. It’s MUCH cheaper! My dehydrated milk, I buy at a local grocery; it isn’t cheap, but it is cheaper in a box than a can. Then I repackage that, as well, in gallon glass jars.

Like everything else, you have to shop the catalogs with intelligence. Some things are great and decently priced. Others… However, if you are in a flood-prone area, having your emergency supplies in tin cans and waterproof, sealed buckets is a very good idea. If we flood here on this gravel ridge, Noah will be gathering animals again.

Annie Tuttle is working hard on finishing up my new book. Then it’s off to the printers, so it shouldn’t be tooooo long now. — Jackie

Recanning syrup

Can you re-can pancake syrup? I have a chance to get a fair amount of syrup, but it’s in gallon jugs. I would like to re-can it in quart mason jars. Can it be done in a water bath canner, and if so for how long?

Bo Suddueth
Jacksonville, Florida

Most pancake syrup contains mostly corn syrup or sugar of one kind or another. To re-can this, heat it in a large pot to a boil, then ladle out into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Then process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. (See your canning manual if you live at an altitude over 1,000 feet for directions on increasing your processing time, if necessary.) Enjoy! — Jackie

Asparagus ends

Is there any thing you can do with asparagus ends? It seems such a waste to dispose of them.

Barbara Winn
Kittitas, Washington

You can steam them or boil them up, puree them, removing the hard strings, add a few chopped nice tips and make cream of asparagus soup. It’s pretty darned good, served with toasted homemade bread! — Jackie

Cold weather summer

We live in Zone 3 as you do. With this “summer” of no summer, how is your garden doing? Are you going to run out of time before the first frost? What are you doing about it?

Marilyn King
Mora, Minnesota

Well, our first sweet corn seed rotted in the ground because of the cold weather that set in two weeks ago. So today, we replanted a faster maturing variety with huge prayers for a productive summer. One never knows what the growing season will bring. We keep planting, weeding, and hoping for the best. Somehow it all seems to work in one way or another. That is one reason I try to have at least a year’s food stored ahead; you can’t count on having a garden to can out of each and every single year. I have to laugh at would-be survivalists who say “I’ll plant a garden when I need one; anyone can toss a few seeds in the ground.” Yeah. Right.

If my beans are great one year, I still plant beans the next. If my beans are really great the next, I still can a lot and share with my friends who had theirs eaten by goats. What you give will always repay you in one way or another.

Because our spring was so cool, I planted more greens, cabbages, broccoli, celery, rutabagas, carrots, and onions. And I keep planting every little spot I find. Who knows what the rest of the year will bring. Some of my best gardens started out pretty hopeless! Never give up. — Jackie

New garden space

The wife and I just bought our home in February. I have a little garden area. I have tried to till it up, but uncovered nothing but lots and lots of roots. What can I do to get this area better for gardening? I keep trying to work and pull the roots up by hand, but feel like it is a losing battle. So do you have any suggestions?

Hollis Jones
Wilmington, Delaware

If they are huge tree roots, you should either move your garden spot or use raised beds (if the site is sunny most of the day, despite the trees). However, you probably are dealing with smaller roots like we are in our new enlarged spots in our garden and berry patch. Wow, do we have roots! We till, pull, chop, and pull some more. From my past experience, I know that most of the non-runner-type roots can be chopped up and will rot in a year or two. So our aim is to get the worst pulled, the rest chopped, and the garden planted. Take it from me–you can have a great garden despite all those roots! — Jackie

Canning with no salt

I have been put on a no salt diet. This is for a person who was born with a salt shaker in her hand. I am struggling to find recipes for canning that have no salt in them. I know you can can tomatoes and beans without it but I’m worried about other things such as swiss chard, spinach and above all my pickles. Is there such a thing as dill or sweet pickles without salt? Your help will be greatly appreciated.

Joan Toothman
New Carlisle, Indiana

Any meats, poultry, or vegetables can be home canned without adding a grain of salt. The salt is for a flavor enhancer, not a preservative. As for pickles, most pickle recipes only use the salt for a brine/soak to draw the excess liquid out of the pickles. You can rinse them several times after soaking in the salt water, removing nearly all of the salt. Some say soak overnight; you can shorten that down to two or three hours without compromising your pickling. By doing this, you further reduce the amount of salt retained by the pickles. Again, strain and rinse them well. I think both you and your doctor will be happy with the results! — Jackie


  1. Have been gone to a small fair in Indiana selling almonds. Missed my daily fix of your blog very much. Glad to see baby donkey and hear about baby goats. Missed the MRE fair. Wanted to meet the rest of the BHM people. Had to cancel at the last minute. But sold lots of almonds.

  2. The babies are gorgeous! I love baby goats, and baby donkeys…okay, I admit it, I just love baby animals. *grins*

  3. Jackie thanks for your answer, I will now proceed with my purchases. I do freeze my dry milk, but will begin putting it in jars though I’ve never had trouble with bugs…yet. Congrats on your new babies – they are adorable! Glad all went well.

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