All three of us came down with a “spring cold” at the same time. Will and I had  severe headaches and the blahs, while David had the headache along with a sore throat, fever, and runny nose/cough. For three days, we barely limped along, but today all of us woke up feeling much better. David’s fever was gone too, and he felt great. And it sure helped that the sun was out after a week of rainy, cloudy yuck. It was over 60 degrees, too! Wow! Talk about your perfect spring day.

So we started in on projects. David and Will began working on the furrower, cutting and welding bracing, drilling holes for bolts and grinding rough edges. I rolled oil sealer on the 2″x6″s for the back board of the hay rack. And, later, working all together, we assembled the back board and actually FINISHED the hay wagon! Wow, it looks great. And it didn’t cost one penny, either. The screws and bolts were salvaged from the dump. The 2″x6″s were salvaged from the nasty old mobile home that is now almost a bridge. The tires were also salvaged. What a neat makeover!

While I did chores and made supper, Will and David worked on repairing the back blade on our tractor, which had cracked and broken from hitting rocks in our driveway and stumps in the pasture. (Now where would they have been?) Unfortunately, when you use equipment, you also break it, so we spend time, here and there, fixing stuff to use again in the future. Only if you don’t work, you don’t break things; the mantra of the homesteader in the backwoods!

Readers’ Questions:

Elderberry extract

Question: Elderberry Extract — July/Aug 2009 Page 64… #1. Says to weigh out berries and put in jar. #2. Fill jar with 80 proof Vodka. Quote: “This means liquid will be 40% alcohol & 60% water.” O.K. If I FILL the jar with vodka, then, where does the 40/60 ratio come in? I’m confused…please help me out here. I don’t want to waste the berries by doing something wrong. Would it be different if I used Everclear instead?…


The simplest way to make elderberry extract is to put 1/4 lb of dried elderberries in a quart jar, then fill it up with vodka. Let it sit, capped, in a cool, dark place for about a month. Strain off the berries, and you have elderberry extract. Use 1 tsp four or five times daily for illnesses such as the flu. — Jackie


  1. Wanda,

    You can often find dried elderberries at local health food stores and other stores that sell natural/homopathic products.


  2. So Jackie,….for those of us who don’t live on a farm, but would like to make Elderberry Extract and fight those colds and flu bugs – where can one get Elderberries? I know where to find the Vodka. *big smile*

  3. I’m sure when you’re under the weather, another reason to have home-canned goods handy. Just heat up some supper.

  4. Hi Jackie, i think J from Missouri was asking about the 40% alcohol and 60% water ratio. I can answer J’s question.

    80 proof alcohol is made up of 40% alcohol and 60% water.
    100 proof alcohol is made up of 50% alcohol and 50% water.

    If you want to make 100 proof alcohol into 80 proof instead, you’d add water (figure out based on quantity and some math).

    example: you have 10 ounces of 100 proof alcohol (is everclear 100 proof?), therefore it is made up of 5 ounces of alcohol and 5 ounces of water. To make it 80 proof, add 2 ounces of water, ending up with 7 ounces water and 5 ounces alcohol = 58.3% water and 41.6% alcohol.

    41.6% alcohol would be the same as 83.2 proof alcohol. Close enough.

    Some herbs are better extracted in 80 proof, some in 100 proof, some are ok in plain water.

  5. Only one question this time. What a disappointment. I am glad you are feeling better. I’ve been in the hospital twice in the last two weeks with kidney stones. Being ill is no fun. Prayers for your mother.

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