Although we’re hauling compost down to our garden by the tractor load, we’re still busily harvesting. I just finished the Swiss Chard. I plant Bright Lights, just because I love the pretty colors. Of course, when I can it up, it loses the color, but until then, I get to enjoy the brilliance. I just cut the leaves into larger pieces, then chop the tender stems up into one or two-inch long pieces, wilt them in a little water in a huge kettle, then pack them into jars to can. It takes a whole lot of chard to make a few pints of greens, but we like it and would miss it if I didn’t can some up for winter.

I’m also harvesting and canning carrots and rutabagas. When that gets done, there are cabbages to pull and the winter storage carrots and rutabagas to dig. We just finished digging and curing more than 10 five-gallon buckets of potatoes, both russets and Yukon Golds. They are very nice and larger than last year. But then, we planted them in May instead of the first of July!

I’m trying to find a spotted, very sturdy Nubian buck for our herd, which is crossed Nubian/Boer. We’re getting many 15/16 Boer does now and need to cross back to a Nubian. But wow, is it hard to find one to buy within reasonable driving distance. I found a nice one in South Dakota — 8 hours one way from us. But we just can’t be gone that long right now, so we’re keeping on looking.

The sun is shining today and we are making the best of it, cutting firewood and putting the finishing boards on the new training ring. Only 13 to go, when we get a little more cash, and it’s finished! Wow, does it look great. I’ll put it to good use soon.

Readers’ Questions:

Using baking soda in the wash

After a hard day working on the homestead, my clothes are a little sweaty (just a little here in Southeast Texas). We are on well water and after washing, my shirts smell fresh, but when they heat up they smell GROSS. Any tips? (We make our own detergent, but have used store bought also and we have tried a cup of vinegar) Help please.

Kevin Goats
Kountze, Texas

Try adding 1/2 cup of baking soda to your water before you add your detergent, and after you add your clothes. Then add your detergent. That should do the trick. I haven’t found many smells that baking soda won’t kill. Except skunk! Drying them on the clothesline will also do a lot to freshen your laundry. — Jackie

Jerusalem artichokes

I planted some Jerusalem artichokes. All the flower is gone to seed, and the branches look dead. What do I do with them now? I just planted them because my Mother used to and the next time I saw them, they were in a jar and were some good. However, I do not know how to fix them, will you help me, please?

Edwin Long
Plymouth, North Carolina

You’re in for a great treat! First, cut off the stems. Then dig the tubers. Leave the smallest ones to make plants for next year, which they will happily do, unaided. You can scrub the ‘chokes, then eat ’em raw, which we really like, or you can roast them with your roast beef, pork, or chicken, along with onions and carrots. They’re very good that way. Or you can pickle them, which is probably what your mother did. To do that, scrub and rinse the artichokes. Pick out a gallon of the smaller ones (reduce the recipe if you have less ‘chokes). Pack into jars. Make a pickling brine of 8 cups vinegar, 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1 clove garlic, 1 Tbsp turmeric and 3 Tbsp mixed pickling spices (put your pickling spices in a bag). Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes. Pour over artichokes, leaving 1/2″ of headspace. Wipe rim of jar clean, place hot, previously simmered lid on jar and screw down ring firmly tight. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for directions on increasing your time to suit your altitude, if necessary. — Jackie

Chest freezer storage

There is a large, nonworking chest freezer in the dirt basement of our 100+-year-old house. It seems like we ought to be able to use it for some kind of food storage because it’s dark and mice can’t get in there. Do you know what we could store in there?

Julie Hamilton
Lititz, Pennsylvania

As long as there is no condensation inside the old freezer, you could store bags of flour, sugar, dry beans, etc. in it. As an added precaution, I’d also put the bags in plastic bags — just to be super sure. You could also store your potatoes or apples in it. I’ve done that, with good results. — Jackie


  1. BamaSuzy

    I’m not supposed to answer questions on the comments section, but I’ll make an exception; The pepper jelly recipes I use are in the Kerr Blue Book; they’re all pretty much the same, from way back. I’ve never had one fail.


  2. I have heard of people using a defunct chest freezer to store animal feeds and I have heard of them putting live catfish in there (don’t know how that would work out) to raise.

  3. Jackie, Do you have a really good Pepper JELLY recipe? My farm stand customers are constantly asking for Pepper Jelly (because I make corn cob jelly, tomato jelly, honeysuckle jelly, etc.) but I want a recipe that I KNOW will turn out well instead of just one I get off the Internet. I’m HOPING to ge your food preservation book for Christmas!

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