Our water pump which supplies water pressure to the house has been going for quite a while. The pressure switch is wearing out. And as my son Bill works for Oak Lake RV and Campground, servicing many RVs daily, he had a pile of “broken” 12-volt water pumps in his garage which he’d saved from the garbage Dumpster. All had problems but could be fixed. So I called him and he not only said to come get some pumps but come down for a barbecue and ride on their pontoon boat.

So we did both yesterday. How enjoyable to combine work with pleasure. I got to fly a kite with grandson, Mason, and watch grandaughter, Ava, learn to troll for Northern Pike. Will was the official “I’ve got weeds on my lure!” remover while Bill drove us around the lake. We were the only boat on the lake and we enjoyed the breeze and seeing loons and turtles sunning themselves on logs.

Today, it’s back at it. Will’s hauling big round bales home from the hayfields while Ashley and I work at weeding and mulching. The gardens are doing well. We’ve eaten our first ripe tomatoes and the beans and peas are ripe. What fun to graze through the garden! The onions are starting to have their tops fall over. Wow, that sounds like fall! The bulbs are big and solid. The potatoes on the north and central gardens aren’t doing so hot. I’m sure we’ll have potatoes but we let the weeds get thick on those rows. So we’ve got to get busy and cultivate and hand weed so they get hilled. But the tomatoes, pumpkins, corn, and squash out there look nice. I planted Good Mother Stallard pole beans among the Seneca Round Nose corn and both are doing well. As Seneca Round Nose is such a lusty corn, it should easily support the beans.

Our Bear Island Chippewa corn in the main garden is tall and tasseled out well so, God willing, we’ll have a great crop of this early flour corn.

I put up the last of the cherry jam and then did a batch of red raspberry jam. For the first time, I used the berry screen on my Victorio tomato strainer. I wanted to remove the seeds as both Will and I have trouble with those little hard buggers. Let me tell you, I’ll never do that again! While the strainer works GREAT for tomatoes, it does NOT for berries. What a bunch of hard work for not much. I ended up dumping the whole mess into my wire sieve and pressing the pulp through that.

As nectarines don’t grow here, I bought several pounds of out-of-state fruit from the market. This will give us a big batch of nectarine jam, which we all love. The Hansen’s Bush Cherries are ripening, as well as the black raspberries, so I see more jam in the future!

Now I’ve got to clean out the pantry. We carried out the last of last year’s potato crop and a few surviving shallots. Now I need to rearrange the floor storage and scrub the floor in preparation for the fall harvest.

Wow, there’s always something to do on a homestead, isn’t there? I laugh when I hear someone say “I’m so BORED…”! — Jackie


  1. Thanks for your offer to help. The problem is it plugs up constantly and I have to take it apart to clean it. By plugging up I mean it will not process any more tomatoes, they will not feed in, and I then have to clean it out. But as I stated earlier it does a swell job on raspberries.

  2. David Young,

    Wow, I’d say you have some problem with your Victorio tomato strainer if it doesn’t do well with tomatoes. Mine is perfect and many of my friends always have great luck with theirs too. What happens with yours? Plugging up? Seeds and skins containing too much pulp? Let’s fix this problem for you so you can love your mill as much as we do.

  3. DonnaB,

    You’re welcome. The reason I aim for two years instead of the “normal” one year recommendation is that in a long-term emergency situation, you may have A. more people to feed (relatives or close friends for example) B. It may take a couple of years to get a good crop (newer garden, enlarged garden or really poor weather) or C. Until you’re living entirely off your pantry, you don’t really realize how much you DO use. More is better; hungry sucks.

  4. Maggie,

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for the tip. I’ll buy a grape spiral today. I knew there had to be an answer to that problem. Luckily, BHM has such smart readers who willingly share their tips!!

  5. I guess I am just lucky or just dumb. My Victorio berry screen works really well on raspberries but I have never had what I would call success with the tomato screen processing tomato juice. I prefer the old Foley food mill for tomatoes.
    I did have to loosen the wing nuts that hold the cone on the machine when doing the raspberries.

  6. Cindy, I agree with you about canning ahead. When I had a house, I always had a one year supply of canned items. (Hard to do in my apartment now with very limited space and no cool areas — praying for a homestead!!)

    I never thought about having a TWO year supply till Jackie suggested it. But, it sure makes sense — especially with the weather patterns changing so much the last few years — and two years’ supply is what I am aiming for now.

    Thanks, Jackie for the sage advice. It is always greatly appreciated.

  7. I know exactly what you mean about the berry screen. And don’t use the grape attachment either. Many years ago I tried the grape attachment. Got the grapes in there. At first it started squeezing really nice but then the seeds got stuck. Well the whole contraption came off the edge of the cupboard and there was grape juice and slop all over and up and down!!! I was devastated!

    But I did get the whole area of the kitchen really clean!!!

    I use my steamer. Just put whatever berries you have in there and juice away!! Works great!

    Love your garden. This is the year of extreme weather for us and weeds and woodchucks and rabbits and you name it!! It’s a fight for every bean. Thank God I have always heeded your advice on canning ahead!!!

  8. I know what you mean about raspberry seeds. I ended up puting through steamer then straining out the tiny seeds. But results are sooo good. Just put up 48 half pints of cherry jam. Yummy. Have a great fall.

  9. Hi Jackie, sorry you had such a mess with running raspberries thru your Victorio strainer. We have run gallons of blackberries thru our Victorio and had great luck. What you need is the grape spiral. It is shorter than the standard one used for tomatoes and it doesn’t jam up like the standard one. You can get it on Amazon, search their site for “victorio strainer grape spiral”. They list it for $12.56. If you go to the Victorio site it’s listed at $6.99 but would have to add shipping. With the grape spiral you can get rid of those pesky seeds just as easy as tomatoes.

  10. We also had to recently replace the pressure switch on our 12 volt pump, which supplies drinking water to the house. Best of luck with your garden. We can’t imagine being bored here either!

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