Now that we’ve gotten our mule, Domino, moved down to our newly finished training ring (a process that went very well, by the way) we’re re-doing our pens and cleaning out the indoor stalls before we bring our does up from the pasture to breed to our three bucks. Rocky, our Boer buck, will have some; Aspen, our new Nubian buckling will have his share; and Tank (the buck we saved from our beautiful Boer that we lost to a bowel impaction from a plastic sack he ingested) will also share the does. Each buck and his harem will have their own indoor and outdoor pen and it’s so nice to have roomy pens for each of them!

Some of our high percentage Boer does will be bred to Aspen, the Nubian, where others who have heavier dairy breeding will be bred to Rocky or Tank. As some of our doelings are sired by Rocky, we’ll be using Tank, instead. By the way, that buck IS built like a tank in every way! Wow! For only being seven months old he’s huge! But you do have to laugh, because he’s got this little bitty baaaaaa and a cute little fluff of curls on top of his head!

Hopefully this spring we’ll have tons of real gorgeous babies!

Readers’ Questions:

Water blowing out of jars

I was wondering when pressure canning what causes the water to come out of the Jars. I have had two batches of Jars that I pressure canned that the Jars have ended up with almost an inch less water in them.

I’m guessing the few potatoes or squash sticking out won’t be hurt if they’re not all covered. I haven’t had a problem with that. It just sucks to pressure can potatoes and then have some of the water blow out into the pot.

Chris Deere
Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, Quebec Canada

The usual reasons for water boiling out of the jars are: the jars are filled too full, the pressure has fluctuated during processing (say went to 15 pounds, you turn down the heat and it drops to 11 pounds, then went back to 14 pounds, etc.), the pressure relief valve or petcock was opened before the canner’s pressure dropped fully to zero after processing, or the pressure during processing was too high. I agree, losing liquid out of canning jars stinks, but at least the food is sealed and is good to eat. We can always work on beauty later, as we go. — Jackie

Making acorns edible

I found your article and recipe on the web after my 6 year old collected about 8 cups of acorns from our yard and I told him I thought I’d seen a recipe back in the Y2K days of making bread from acorn meal. Yours was a much newer article of course, and I loved all the details and instructions.

I followed them pretty closely, but I’m wondering if we have the wrong kind of acorns and I’m afraid to proceed any further and make my family sick. Ours are really small (marble-sized) and must be really bitter, because after shelling and then 2 hours of vigorous boiling (changing the water 5 times at least) there was still some brown-ness to the water. I figured that HAD to be enough leaching and I dried them in a low oven. But I tasted one and it was TERRIBLE! I am concerned about grinding them into meal and making bread — do you think it will be too bitter and make my family sick? What should I do? Is it too late to leach them some more? This has already taken so much time (shelling and boiling, etc.) that I’m about ready to give up, but my son is so curious about acorn bread.

LeighAnne Wilson
Memphis, Tennessee

Did you grind your acorns before boiling them? That really helps relieve the acorns of their tannin. Soaking is often more effective than boiling them, too. Native Americans most often used a clear running stream to soak away the tannin in acorn meal. But by putting the meal (now a mush!) in a jelly bag, in a large kettle and pouring boiling water over it, then letting it soak, pouring off the brownish water, then repeating, you will sooner or later get rid of the tannin. Your acorns are probably from a black oak family tree, which have the most tannin. White oaks have a whole lot less tannin; and less bitterness. It sounds like your acorns needed a whole lot more boiling; up to 7 hours is common with a lot of black oak acorns…especially if they haven’t been ground first. Yes, it IS a lot of work, which is why most people process a lot of acorn meal at once. — Jackie

Making kefir

Read a little about KEFIR. Says you need starter seed to get going. I see grocery store is selling a KEFIR liquid drink all organic. Could that be used as a starter, if so how? Also how to make it thick like yogurt? any more info?


You might be able to use the kefir drink from the store, IF it also contains living kefir grains. This cottage cheese-like mass is sort of the “mother” of kefir; it contains the necessary culture (bacteria) to ferment a new batch of kefir. It’s best to start with a new batch of kefir grains and after that you can continue culturing kefir indefinitely, straining out the kefir grains from each new batch. Kefir does not get thick like yogurt; it’s a drink. You can get thicker kefir by letting it ferment for 48 hours instead of 12, but it is also much more acidic than most people like. — Jackie

Peach cobbler in a jar

I found this really cool recipe from Grit magazine online for Peach Cobbler in a Jar. I was wondering how long to process it since it doesn’t give precise times.

Here’s the recipe:
16 cups peaches
3 cups sugar
2 packets (6 ounces total) liquid pectin
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup flour
4 pie crusts, homemade or purchased
1/4 pound butter, melted
Mixture of an additional 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon to dust pie crusts.

Slice peaches with skins on to make 16 firmly packed cups. In large slow cooker, place peaches, sugar, pectin, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice and flour; stir to mix. Cook on medium for 8 hours. Stir occasionally.

Roll out pie crusts. Brush with butter. Dust with mixture of sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Cut into 3/4-inch-wide strips with pizza cutter. Arrange strips on cookie sheets. Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees F or until crisp.

When peach mixture has thickened, fill clean, 16-ounce wide-mouth jars to 2/3 full. Insert crust strips against glass on inside of jar and in middle. Top off with filling to within 1/2-inch of top.

Wipe rims of jars with clean, wet cloth. Seal. Process in hot water bath or pressure cooker according to manufacturer’s directions. Yields 12 wide-mouth 16-ounce jars.

Knoxville, Tennessee

I agree that that recipe does sound interesting. But with so many variables, such as the added butter, flour and baked pie crusts, I don’t have an answer for you, I’m sorry to say. Perhaps if you e-mail Grit, the author of the recipe can enlighten you….and me too! Let me know, okay? — Jackie

Storing potatoes and onions

Info on internet regarding storage of potatoes and onions after harvest is less than accurate, how do you do it, or better if you were in hot, dry central Texas how would you?

Pat D.
Lometa, Texas

Both potatoes and onions like cool, fairly humid storage conditions with NO light. If you have a root cellar or basement, store them in a large cooler or if you don’t have coolers, try plastic storage totes with snap down lids, in dark colors. If you don’t have such a cool spot, pick the coolest storage place you do have and store your onions and potatoes there. Again, an insulated cooler or two will help keep your root crops both more humid and cool. You DON’T want so much humidity, though, that it causes condensation to form on the undersides of the lids. If this happens, prop the lids open a little for a day to let the container dry out just a bit. — Jackie

Canning buttermilk

Is it possible to can buttermilk? I can’t find anything about trying this.

Smith Robert
Lenora, Kansas

Although I have never done this, I’m sure you could, using the processing times for regular milk. You’ll have to experiment as I’m not sure how the end product would work out. Let us know if you do it. — Jackie


  1. re: canning buttermilk. I do can buttermilk when I find it discounted at the store, for later use in breadmaking. It looks horrible in the jar, it ends up with a huge mass of curd floating at the top. I just give it a quick whir in the blender and proceed to use it in my recipe, I do this just before using as it is grainy like and the solids tend to drift to the bottom of the blender, but it cooks just fine like fresh in my bread. Just follow Jackie’s instructions for other milk.

  2. About the store-bought kefir. I buy the drinks all the time, but there isn’t any “mother” in them. You may be able to get a batch or two to culture, but I think that it would weaken after a couple of batches because it doesn’t have that mother plant to go off of.

    You can buy kefir starts from someone on Ebay or put an “wanted” in freecycle asking if anyone has a start. (that option is free!). You could also put an ad on Craigslist – but you’d need to live near a bigger city to get much results – unless you’re wiling to drive to pick it up.

    Once you have a start, kefir is easy to make at home. You just add the start to some milk and let it sit on the counter for 8-24 hrs. Longer you leave it, the stronger it gets. Use a strainer to get all of the mother out. When the mother gets too big, you can eat some of it, dry or freeze some of it in case your batch fails, or sell/give some of it away.

    There’s a good website out there that deals with all things kefir:


  3. Nancy,

    We have 9 does and 3 doelings from this spring, right now. We will be selling some of them in the spring, after kidding, as we want to keep our herd small and manageable (and enjoyable), keep our feed costs down, yet keep improving our herd as we go.


  4. I was raised with goats and love their milk. My hubby does not want them tho because we run a lot in the summer. How many does do you have? I would like some boer goats to clean up my pasture and keep down the brush. I have three pastures and hope to be getting a forth one soon. Lots of brush and boers would go a long way toward cleaning them up.

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