From a too-rainy early summer, we’ve moved on to drought. It seems the weather gets stuck in one mode or another lately. So we broke out the irrigation pump last week and got everything hooked up. Now we’re watering with two wells and the irrigation system. Besides dragging hoses, we’re harvesting and canning like mad. I’ve canned green beans nearly every day for more than a month now. So you can imagine what the pantry shelves look like! Yep, they’re about full. And there are still lots of crops yet to bring in and put up. Luckily, God has mercy on me and seems to let one crop come in at a time … mostly. So I just keep plugging along.

This past weekend, my son Bill and his family came up for a visit, camping out by David’s campsite on Friday night. As Kelly had to work on Monday, they couldn’t stay longer, but grandkids Ava and Mason wanted to stay. So Ashley offered to drive them home on Sunday, since she didn’t have to work. They not only got to sleep in a tent, but helped pick green beans too. (Mason has never liked green beans but said he liked the Crawford beans and munched on a raw Strike bean as he picked. I think he’s coming around …) The bean canning is about done, but the apples have just started to ripen; the first are the Norland, a summer apple. I canned up some cinnamon applesauce, apple butter, and apple juice today. (If you want some apple recipes to can, check out my book, Growing and Canning Your Own Food, offered right here on the Backwoods Home website.) As soon as I shut down the computer, I’m off to the hoop house to pick peppers to make more Cowboy and Cowgirl Candy. We just love it, and it’s so handy in many recipes, especially stir-fry.

Ashley, Ava, and Mason helped pick Strike green beans this weekend.

Our wonderful Crawford beans continue to grow. Bigger and bigger. Fatter and fatter! Wow, we’re so very excited about these rare heirloom beans. Everyone loves them and nobody has ever seen a bean like them before.

Take a look at the Crawford beans now; they look like snakes who swallowed eggs.

We have neighbors who’ve moved in on our place. No, it’s not squatters — they’re Bald-faced Hornets! They are building a nest on the bottom of the switch box where the lever to turn the well on and off is located. Generally they’re not aggressive if you don’t bother them and they eat horse flies and even Yellow Jackets, who are aggressively mean. So we let them stay. But you can bet we think kind thoughts while we gently switch the well on and off. Sometimes we are in a hurry and bump the lever too hard and they come pouring out. But we slowly move away and keep thinking kind thoughts. No stings — yet.

I am careful when I throw the lever to turn on our well pump!

— Jackie


  1. Some days I make myself tired! But it’s so very exciting to be able to look at the huge variety of foods down in the pantry. And we thrive on variety and knowing just where every bite of food in those gorgeous jars came from.

  2. i am sorry, but i dont show any mercy for bad faced hornets! something to consider.. after getting stung all my life into my sixties,i almost lost my life to bee stings from my honey bees from my told me that it sometimes happens that your body doesnt tolerate them anymore, some technical term..have to go on shots the rest of my stung by some hornets last week, swelled up pretty bad.bald faced are the may think twice about the hornets..i found out almost too late that it only takes a couple stings. our bodies can change as we age..

  3. Jackie, last year I was inspired by you to make cowboy candy. Now I have lots of jars of it but don’t know what to do with it. Are there more uses than in stir fry? Also, what an awesome amount of green beans!

    • Brenda

      They can be used anywhere that you use a relish or condiment or just want a bit of spiciness. They are good as a topping on hamburgers (or minced and mixed into the meat before forming patties) or hot dogs. Good in sandwiches. Delicious with cream cheese and crackers or with any cheese. Add them to coleslaw or mix them into cornbread batter before baking. Try them on baked potatoes with a bit of sour cream. Use them as toppings on tacos or other Mexican dishes. Add some to soups (especially good in vegetable soup, broccoli cheese soup, potato soup, hamburger soup). Mix some into rice along with some canned tomatoes for a Spanish-type rice. They are delicious added to macaroni and cheese

      Hope this gives you some ideas.

    • Want something different? Make a cheesecake and lay a layer of Cowboy Candy on the top and watch it disappear!

  4. I have to report the Hidasta shield beans I received from you have a tremendous crop of drying beans. I have never seen so many pods. Once dry how do you use these beans? Also the Bill Bean tomatoes have massive tomatoes. The Hopi Gray squash are developing nicely. I also tried Golden Hubbard from SSE and it too has many squash. I am not knowledgeable in how one cooks/prepares either of them. We too have been canning green beans and tomatoes galore. I always enjoy your reports and don’t know where you get the energy. Be well. Say Hi to Will. I also had a bull problem 2 years ago and POOR conception the following spring. I hope your new one does the job. ER Lindsey

    • Glad to know your crops are doing so well! The Hidatsa Shield beans are great in any baked bean dish. We also use them in soups and stews, which they shine. For your squash, try baking pieces on a cookie sheet. (I often either make a stuffing of meat and veggies and or bread and cheese on top or rub with butter and sprinkle on brown sugar.) The left-over squash can be scraped out of the skin and made into either a “pumpkin” pie (Will loves his Hopi “pumpkin” pie!) or used as a casserole ingredient. I often fry up ground meat (Italian sausage is great.), onions, garlic and put on the bottom, layer with the squash and lay some bacon slices over the top and bake until done. No leftovers now!
      Yep, we’re praying our new bull, Cinco, does his job. He’s young but willing.

  5. Hornets, yikes! My Missouri friends hunt them in the winter when the Hornets are dormant. They gas the Hornets and sell the nest for decorations. All I know is that Hornets are faster then a John Deere tractor.😉

    Have a great day in the garden.

    Nebraska Dave

    • They’re faster than a fat old lady, too. A couple of days ago I was in a hurry to turn off the well and didn’t take my time. They didn’t like that a bit. Yep, I got stung but good. Now I slow down as those stings itch like heck for days!
      I’ve got to tell you about Will on the International tractor vs. the yellow jackets. He was running our tractor-mounted tiller over the rough headlands of a plowed field at home. When pow! He got stung. Now he’s been really allergic but he got mad. It seems he’d tilled their underground nest. So he swung around and ran the tiller over it again before he headed home in case he needed his epi-pen. (He didn’t.)

  6. Jackie, After the hornets abandon the hive, you can use it. My Grandmother cut her leg pretty deep and long. She lived about an hour or more away from any doctor, so she just cleaned it up, held it shut and put a layer of the hive over the cut. Not only did it shut the cut up, it stopped the bleeding. She went to the doctor (an old-fashioned country doctor) the next day and all he did was look at it, make sure that it wasn’t getting infected, gave her a prescription and told her to come back in a week. A week later, they said that the bees chew the wood and process the hive, and that it was pretty sterile. They said that it was a very good way to stop the bleeding. She always had a hornet hive in the house when I was growing up.

  7. Too funny about the hornets. I think they are one of the ugliest insects but didn’t know they eat horse flys and yellow jackets. From now on I’ll look at them with a new respect. We have had very little rain here. We haven’t had one day of a nice steady rain. All we get is a little sprinkle now and then.

    • Yeah, I didn’t know it either until Will told me how in Washington, he used to watch them line up on the wood fence of his pasture, by the barn, to eat their catches of horseflies and yellow jackets. Only the wings are left over!

  8. Jackie, You make me tired just reading about all that you do. But it is so wonderful to have all that tasty food put up for the coming winter and year. At today’s prices you are way ahead of the game. Thanks for the blog, I look forward to it every week.

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