We’ve been here on our new homestead for 5 years and I’ve been washing with my old Maytag wringer washer since we had the house built, but I have had to use a propane dryer because we had NO place for a clothesline. All the ground around the house was either gravel and rocks or trees and brush. This spring, Will started our new equipment/hay/wood shed and suddenly, off to one side, there appeared a break in the brush; just the right size for a clothesline.


Then he and David went to a neighbor’s house for a load of scrap aluminum and steel they wanted to get rid of. Will LOVES to pick up scrap steel, as he is a great welder and has already made a ton of things for the homestead from nothing that turned out great and saved us a lot of money. The “junk” steel and aluminum go the the scrap yard; it pays for our gas to go to town, anyway.

But on the truck, when they returned, were two very sturdy clothesline poles! Wow, was I excited! They had cement around the bases, but Will broke it off with a sledge and they were now ours. We dug holes 3 1/2 feet deep the very next day. And yesterday, we mixed cement and set them into the ground. Today I painted the poles, sprucing them up, and hopefully in a day or two we’ll string the new lines we picked up. Very soon our clothes will smell like pines and the wind…not some laundry soap. How very little seems so much sometimes.

Readers’ Questions:

Chia seed

Have you heard of Salvia hispanica (Chia)? if so, do you know where to find seed? My Hopi Pale Gray Squash have taken over the yard (less to mow) hoping for a big harvest.

Audrey Bennett
Belvidere, Tennessee

Many health food stores carry chia seed, and as it can be sprouted, it can also be grown in your garden. (Remember Chia Pets?) Several seed catalogs carry it also. I’m glad your Hopi Pale Grey Squash is taking off. Here’s to a great harvest! — Jackie

Canning meat

I bought on sale 10 pounds of chicken breast and 8 pounds of sausage along with 6 pounds of chopped meat. I want to can most of this but as you can imagine preparing all of this food in one day and then spending hours under pressure of 90 minutes to can it I don’t have the time to make all of it in one day. Pressure canning 2 bottles of prepared food and then doing the same thing tomorrow makes little economic sense to me.

Can I prepare/cook the chicken and ready the jars today, then tomorrow cook and ready the jars of sausage, then the following day cook and ready the jars of chopped meat? Then when they are all ready shove all 9 jars in the pressure canner and cook for 90 minutes? Is this OK as long as I refrigerate the prepared jars? Do I start the process of canning with cold water and then bring all of them up to temp?

All above bad ideas…take the hit and do each item hot and in one evening each?

Bob Burbage
Belvidere, New Jersey

If I was in your position, I’d can up the chicken breasts in one sitting, then do the next meat until I was done. It’s too time consuming to refrigerate the prepared meats and then re-heat them prior to canning, as you should do. I’ve done “marathon” canning, and it sure isn’t any fun! I just bought three hams at a very good sale, cut all the meat from two, then made bean soup with the bones and scraps to can. Boy was I tired, doing it all in one afternoon. But it’s sure nice to wash off all the jars, then put them on my pantry shelves the next morning! — Jackie

Peach pie filling

I have searched for a recipe for canning peach pie filling. Do you have one?

Mary Ann Helwig
Red Lion, Pennsylvania

Quantities of ingredients needed for 1 quart (multiply as needed):

3-1/2 cups sliced fresh peaches
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon ClearJel powder (see below)
3/4 cup cold water
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice

ClearJel is a refined cornstarch used to thicken pie fillings that are canned. Cornstarch shouldn’t be used because it thickens it so that the heat may not penetrate the jel. You can find ClearJel on the Internet or at many stores that sell canning supplies, especially in Amish communities. — Jackie

Getting rid of ferns

We have an area of an acre or so that we cut the trees off a few years ago. It’s now covered with low and some high bush blueberries. In fact we picked about 20+ qts last year. My question is the area is covered with ferns which makes raking the berrys nye on to impossible. We pulled them all, we burnt over a 60′ x 60′ area this spring and I’ve tried Alum Sulfide. Any ideas how to get rid of them?

Bill Bryson
Milton, New Hampshire

Sorry, but I don’t have a great idea on ridding a big spot of ferns, other than chemicals, which wouldn’t be a good idea. We have them in our garden, and I just keep pulling them up as they appear, but in our own wild blueberry patch, we also have a lot of ferns, and I just pick by hand. And am glad I have the berries, even though I have the ferns too. — Jackie

Soaking pickles

Is it necessary to water bath cucumbers overnight in the cold salt water for pickling? We love the flavor of my pickles (sweet and dill), but my pickles come out so soggy, no crunch. I’m guessing it’s because of the salt water. Can they just sit for an hour or two? I always thought the vinegar and sugar from the brine helped out enough with the preserving? I’d appreciate any tips on keeping my pickles crunchy, as we are ready to make a summer batch.

Andrea Del Gardo
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

No, you don’t HAVE to soak your cukes in a cold salt brine overnight. But no, it’s not because of the salt water, which draws excess moisture and bitterness from the cucumbers. You can just brine them for a few hours, but make sure the water is ice water, not just cool water from the tap. To get crisp pickles, don’t cook them. Find recipes that don’t have you boil them for 20 minutes, for instance. And look for recipes with lower boiling water bath processing times, too. Also, pickle your cukes right after you pick them. If they sit in the fridge or in a basket in the kitchen, they won’t make crisp pickles. — Jackie

Canning beans with pork or chicken broth

As I started canning green beans and wax beans this year, I began wondering — since wife and daughter dislike the bland taste of green beans that haven’t been seasoned and cooked with salt pork or chicken broth, I decided to try adding ham bouillon or chicken bouillon to the boiled water that I pour over the blanched beans. We ate the one failed seal (out of 38 jars) and it was terrific — beans maintained their integrity better than simmering and the flavor was great.

Have you tried this? Do you see any potential problems with this process?

Cal Hollis
Houston, Delaware

This has been done throughout canning history, but I’ve always been leery of doing it because you are using a meat product (salt pork, ham, bacon, or broth). With the chicken broth/bouillon, the processing times would be the same; 20 minutes for pints, either green beans or broth, but with meat, such as ham, salt pork, etc., the processing time for meat is 75 minutes, so you could possibly run into problems…even though you are using it as a seasoning. I’d steer away from the meat in the green beans and use the chicken bouillon, if you wish. — Jackie


  1. Almost every time I hang clothes outdoors I think about the “poor” people who live in neighborhoods with neighborhood associations. Imagine being told what you can and can’t do on your own property, including having a clothesline!
    Love you Jackie! You are the reason I subscribe.

  2. Jackie, I know you’re just thrilled about having a clothesline. I finally got mine by purchasing two 4 x 4 posts and starting to dig the holes. DH took over and by the next day, I was hanging clothes again. Boy, the things we have to do…!!

  3. Hi! I just wanted to thank you for being such an inspiration… I also wanted to give back by telling you of a clothes like I made for in my home over the winter.
    We built a back room clothes line… 2 wooden studs, eye hooks set a foot apart from eachother. Put the done stud on each side of the room on a stud, and draped the lines… I have been using this for while.. Thank you for all your tips… I know at times it is nice to hear a thank you and since getting the internet… finally have my chance… I have been researching European Canning… Twist top lids… One piece lids…I did it with a Italian Jar I bought and a few others… Worked great! Anyhoo… Deeply appreciative…. Respect you alot for your strength and integrity. Thanks!

  4. Congratulations on the clothesline poles! I’ve been waiting for installation for mine for a couple months now, but hubby mucked up his knee and we’re in a holding pattern. Thank heavens for trees and hangers, else I’d have to use the dryer alot more. There is nothing so wonderful smelling as line dried clothes!

  5. If you want a ham taste to your beans you can buy a product called base in most grocery stores….usually by the saltier boullion cubes in 8 oz jars. Comes in chicken,beef,ham and vegetable. Excellent for adding flavor to canning or stews/soups,making quick sacues. We always keep it on hand–wonderful for bean soup when you don’t have any leftover ham to put in it!. The variety is excellent,too. DEE

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