The chipmunks are real busy getting ready for winter, just like us. But they’re also a pain as they’re attacking our sweet corn which was drying on the stalk for seed and to use as cornmeal. As if Blue Jays weren’t bad enough; the chippies are even going after the corn ears in buckets on our front porch. Mittens did get two, but I think there’s a bumper crop of them this year. So I’m busy stringing up corn on recycled baler twine to hang in the enclosed back porch to finish drying as well as taking seed out of tomatoes, shelling beans, and canning, canning, canning. Those cheeky chipmunks even sit across from me on the porch and wait until I have to go to the bathroom or answer the phone, then dash over to snatch a few kernels of corn!

Our frosted garden looks kind of sad, but we’re still harvesting like mad.

Will’s busy hauling hay home now. He’s trying to make two trips or more per day, in addition to clearing the fence line on our new forty acres for cow pasture next year. He can haul six round bales per trip and figures he “only” has 24 more trips to go.

Although we got a killing frost, most tomatoes, such as these terrific Bill Beans, were undamaged.

Our neighbor, Kate, got pictures on her cell phone of a big cougar right on their driveway — twice! We wouldn’t think much of it except he has a big abscess on his cheek and some predators who have trouble hunting due to an injury or illness can turn to attacking people as easier prey. I’ve seen one cougar on our place a few years ago — a half-grown kitten. But the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has long denied cougars even lived in Minnesota, regardless of game camera photos and many sightings by reliable people. I’ve heard they’ve re-thought that recently. Here’s hoping our “local” cougar gets live-trapped, his abscess treated and released in a more remote locale. (Yes, I know cougars can cause trouble, but so can wolves … and people.)

While it looks dismal outside, our garden hoop houses still think it’s summer.

I “almost” got a beautiful Wolf commercial kitchen range. I really want one, as I do so much canning, cooking, and baking. But the one we looked at was a full five feet long and wouldn’t fit in my kitchen. Oh well, I’ve done without for all my life, I suppose I can get by without one. (I would have had to get rid of my wood kitchen range to make the Wolf fit and even then it was too deep and would have made getting past our kitchen’s island — where lots of prep work happens — nearly impossible. And I would never give up my wood range!)

These are some very hot peppers grown from seed a reader sent us from Thailand.

Our late plums are ripe now and boy, let me tell you, they’re really sweet! They came from an old, neighboring homestead where a 94-year-old widow lived all her life. We have two of Iva’s trees. Although Iva has passed away, her trees live on and we remember her every fall. (If you’d like to add plums to your homestead, check out my article in the Twenty-fourth Year Anthology.) Well, gotta go seed some tomatoes before they rot. In our seed business, all of the seeds are hand-harvested by us. No machines or hired help. — Jackie


  1. TLDR: Get a dog for chipmunks, your cat won’t cut it.

    First comment here, just thought I’d share a basic fact about dogs and cats that some people aren’t aware of that might be of use here.

    Humans started keeping cats around simply because they are soft and the like, their utility as an anti-vermin agent is far inferior to a trained dog of the right breed.

    Also cats are sort of indiscriminate and inconsistent killers where a dog can be trained to go after specific animals in a specific area.

    • We have two dogs, plus are dog-sitting another. But our cat, Mittens, gets more chipmunks than all three dogs. Our dogs are a Lab, Golden and Catahoula and sure try for the chippies, but seldom get one. Mittens, on the other hand, brings in a couple a week or better, as well as tons of mice, voles and squirrels. I’m sure a terrier would be better for chipmunks but we already have our dog-quota.

      • *smiles*

        Go find the footage from the BBC of the most efficient predator in the world to see just how effective cats are as small game hunters. (Spoiler, it’s a tiny little black footed cat)

        I also agree that farm cats are a far better vermin solution – domestic pets may seem soft and cute, but they, unlike dogs, are still close to their evolutionary roots.

  2. Iowa denied we had cougars until one was hit by a car. They are definitely beautiful animals, but very dangerous. Any sick animal is dangerous!

  3. We had cattle and sheep killed in the area and horses badly clawed up and the state still would not admit they were here. “Its coyotes”.
    Then one was hit by a car near a small town. Now we have a season. Hunters have filled all of the tags in the state every year since we have had a season. We ourselves have had horse a put through the fence and the neighbors have lost ewes and lambs. Be careful Jackie. They like horse meat but are opportunistic hunters. You are remote compared to us. (LE killed one in the k mart parking lot in Bismarck about 8-10 years ago.)

    • Yep, cougars are efficient predators. My best friend, Gloria, in Montana, lost many sheep to one before it was finally shot. Fortunately, we have never had trouble, but know when you live in the middle of the woods, wildlife isn’t always agreeable.

  4. We are busy harvesting the plentiful tomatoes we grew from your seed. As I was making juice today I thought I should save some seeds, but then I looked out the window and saw the cows being brought in to be milked. As I walked to the barn i threw the skins and seeds into the chicken fence. Maybe tomorrow when I make more salsa or not and I’ll just order a new to me variety from you! We are so very happy with all the seed we got from you. Thanks for all the hard work u do to provide us with safe and great seeds. We appreciate it.

    • Aw, thanks, Sarah! We always are happy to hear from our “customers”, who really seem like family. So we’re glad to hear you got a good harvest! We appreciate you more than you know. Through your, and others’ support of our little seed business, you help further our homestead.

  5. Wish I was near Jackie, I would happily come help you guys out. I hope that cougar get helped before someone or something gets hurt. Take care,

    • Thanks for the thought. We’d love to have you as it would make harvesting more fun. We sure miss cheerful Alisha right now!

  6. Jackie, would Will mind posting the specs on the wood framing in your hoop houses? We’ve recently moved to a new locale and I really like what I’ve seen from the pictures of the design. We love your blogs and all the stuff we learn. I can’t tell you how many customers at the Hardware I work at I have referred to you & Seed Treasures on the web. Thanx for inspiring us,

    • Thank you, David and Donna! I’m working on an article on building hoop houses, right now. Our best ones have been 12′ wide and 16′ long, framed on the bottom with treated 2″x6″ lumber. That size allows two people to pick up the whole thing and move it so the ground can be easily tilled and manured.

  7. State DNR’s have spent years denying mountain lions (cougars) are anywhere north of Texas, but I haven’t heard of a state that doesn’t have sightings of them. The state of Oklahoma denies black bears, but has a season for them, go figger! They are here, you just don’t see them. Just like the mountain lions.

    • There are a lot of critters who “aren’t” around. We’ve had friends see wolverines, which “aren’t” found in Minnesota.

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