Hens not laying

We have 4 Buff Orpingtons that turned 2 years old in May 2013 and 1 that turned 1 year old August 2013. About April the 4 older ones quit laying eggs. The younger one lays every once in a while. We used to let them free range but lost 3 in 6 months due to hawks. Now they have to stay in their spacious fenced in yard. I was giving them scratch grain every day starting in Feb. 2013 or so and sometimes sunflower seeds. I’ve been feeding them only layer pellets since June. Still only 3-4 eggs/week. Any ideas?

Jane Conboy
Montrose, Pennsylvania

Try giving them a handful of cheaper dry cat food every day. It’s high in protein and has fatty acids that often kick hens back into the laying mode. When they free range, they pick up more bugs and get these things but when we enclose them, sometimes the laying mash doesn’t do the trick. — Jackie

Hopi Pale Grey seeds

We’d like to buy/borrow/steal some Hopi Gray seeds from you for next year; what is the procedure for doing so (assuming that they will be available)?”

Jack in New Hampshire

Wait a bit as our squash are just starting to get size on them and we want to make sure they mature and produce seeds. We’re going to start a small (tiny, actually) homestead seed selling business, selling a few of our old, favorite heritage seeds at a very reasonable price, including cheap postage. Watch the blog for more information or e-mail us later in the fall. — Jackie

Storing bulk foods

I was really fascinated about the question on oven canning dry goods and would like to learn more about it … After working all summer for a food distributor here on the island, I have been able to get bulk food items at cost, so I made sure to stock up my pantry following your advice in the BHM Emer Prep & Survival Guide. i.e. unbleached flour, sugar, brown rice, beans, molasses, etc.

Based on your bulk food storage container notes, I purchased 6 steel garbage cans to store the dry goods in …

As a footnote: for anyone looking for USA made, (Behrans) 31-gallon metal garbage cans, the best price I found was online at Mills Fleet Farm, under $19 each (amazon.com was $40), and shipping for 6 cans was only $16 …


All “dry canning” does is seal the food in jars. You can also do this by vacuum sealing in other airtight containers. But I’ve found that all dry foods will remain good for decades by simply keeping them in their original bags packed into jars, garbage cans, or other insect-rodent-moisture proof containers. The only exceptions are whole grain foods such as whole grain cornmeal, whole wheat flour, brown rice, etc. They tend to go rancid as do nut meats. I do can my nut meats and brown rice by simply heating them at a very low oven setting on a cookie sheet then packing hot into hot jars and processing dry in a pressure canner at 5 pounds pressure for 10 minutes.

I will do an article on long-term food storage, but I really don’t do “oven canning” as it ties up my valuable jars for storage that can be accomplished in other ways. — Jackie


  1. I planted your hopi squash. Then we moved to an old dairy farm, before we could harvest. We asked if we could come over and pick up one squash we told her about the special nature of the seeds. The lady threw the entire garden in the trash. To much work. I almost cried. I see you are starting a seed business please send information. I will purchase them from you.
    A credible source. I live just far enough out in Big Sky Country that internet is spotty at best I will watch for a comment. Thank you for all you do.

  2. Ellendra,

    There’s always room for more seeds! Even if we do grow and sell the same varieties, it’s a good idea to buy from a couple different sources to ensure genetic diversity. Keep us advised at what you do have for sale. I’m sure others will be interested too.

  3. There’s a coincidence, I’m just starting a tiny seed business, too. I’m pretty sure we don’t grow the same varieties, hopefully we won’t compete, lol!

  4. Hi Jackie,

    Thanks for the information on the dry goods oven canning. I will do up my brown rice as you mentioned above.

  5. Robin,

    Thank you! I’m so glad the seeds did so good for you. Be sure to save seeds from your own squash and share with friends. We’ll save this extremely rare squash yet.

  6. I’m so excited about your seed business. Planted our Hopi squash seeds you sent and it produced seven squash. Very large ones. I’m am looking forward to sharing seed with friends and family. Thank you,Jackie,for all your advice.

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