We’ve had unseasonal cold but we’re still pushing on, trying to get some projects finished before winter really hits in earnest. One of these projects is the concrete pad for the wood boiler. Will’s been working on that boiler on and off for a couple of years, first using it to heat our old hot tub. Then it sprung multiple leaks which were fixed, one at a time until it became obvious the bottom was as thin as rusty lace. So he had a neighbor who does commercial welding weld on a new bottom half. Then, this fall, he dug a trench and laid insulated piping to the house. Then it got cold.

In between projects, Thanksgiving arrived! So on Wednesday, I cooked and baked — until I found my yeast had died. Luckily, I made so much to eat nobody missed the rolls but me. (First thing Friday, I ran to town for feed and also bought another pound of yeast.) I can’t believe “preparedness Jackie” had that happen. I’m sure I have a jar of yeast in the freezer of either the fridge or in the main freezer, but at the time I couldn’t find it. Bill and his family, Javid, David, and Ashley came up for our feast and I’ll guarantee nobody went home hungry. We really enjoyed visiting afterward.

When I got home from town, Will was mixing the first load of concrete for the boiler pad.

Luckily, it warmed up to 40 degrees so when I got back from town Friday, Will was set up to pour concrete into the forms he’d previously made. He ran a hose from the hot water faucet in the laundry room to the pad and soaked the frozen ground with many gallons of hot water in preparation to pouring. (We’re on gravel so the water quickly passes down through the surface.)

Our old cement mixer was a God-send. As gravel and cement mixed I was kept busy running back and forth to the house to carry five-gallon buckets of warm water for the mix. (It would have been too hard to keep running back and forth, turning the hose on and off during mixing.) By evening, the pad was poured and Will and I spent a few minutes screeding it off nice and level. Then Will laid some insulation board on top, along with a couple of blankets. Luckily, it didn’t freeze that night. Whew!

Will is hard at work on the rack that will hold our new solar panels.

Now, with that job done, Will’s back working on our rack for the new solar panels. Being built mostly out of “junk” steel from Will’s “supply pile” down by the barn, it’s much more sturdy than one you can buy.

Here’s the last batch of ground beef I canned yesterday.

I’ve been canning like mad. We took the three steers in to butcher and will be bringing a big load of beef home soon. So not only did I can up the leftover Thanksgiving turkey but also the rest of our old ground beef. I’ve got another 10 pounds thawed out to make chili to can this afternoon. Wow, does it ever look nice and full in the pantry now! Yes, we are truly thankful.

I thought this looked so cozy last night at bedtime.

— Jackie


  1. THANK for the info on the ground beef. I have 4-3 lb packages to do up. The picture looked like no broth. I canned ground beef once with water and did not like it. but I could see that without it, it would be so much better. Do you do the same with ground sausage.

    • Yes I do. Canning ground meat with broth ends up to have a texture like canned dog food. This is so much better. You can’t tell it from freshly cooked burger.

  2. Jackie, that is the same model cement mixer my Dad bought in the 60’s. Mixed a lot of concrete until the farm was sold in 1995. My brother still has it. Good memories. Thanks

    • Yep, it’s an old-timer for sure and Will has fixed it a few times but it keeps on mixing concrete! I remember helping Dad mix concrete in the one he had years and years back too. You’re right; good memories!

  3. Jackie

    I am canning up my meat as well. Would like to do chilli. Since we like beans in our chilli when do I add them? Should I precook as tho I am just canning the beans or is there a way to add the pre-soaked beans to chilli mixture?

    • What I do is rinse and put the beans in a large pot and cover well with water. I boil the beans for 2 minutes. Yep, that’s right. Then I let them sit in the water for 2 hours. Then I drain them and add to the chili. Just bring to a simmer and pack into jars. It works out just fine and lessens the work involved. I do add a little fewer beans as the beans will swell some more during processing. I’ve got to put up some more chili too. So handy!

  4. Thank you for the update Jackie! So glad you’ve been able to get those outdoor projects moved along so nicely.

  5. I know how you feel. We just took two pigs in to the packing house to be processed. I have a freezer of things I need to can now, as DH is always buying any chicken or beef that is on sale. I need room in the freezer now for pork when it is finished. I have not canned ground beef before, but have your canning book so will follow those instructions. Have canned Chicken breast. I like the chicken breast with the bone on it as it seems to give it more flavor.

    • Hi Nina and ALL Jackie friends. Not only is chicken wonderful when canned, but so is beef as the picture Of Miss Jackie’s ground beef attests( just as tasty as it looks), but canned pork either as pieces of meat or ground or made into sausage patties is GREAT,as is venison, turkey, fish or whatever meat your prefer. Try It!!! Follow directions in your pressure canning book. You won’t regret having a shelf full of each of your favorites for any time you need to get a lovely meal together in a short time, OR when the STINKY stuff hits the fan dear preppers….I love to can at any time of year…. Rick

      • Regarding canned pork, In my opinion according to my families tastes we feel canned pork lasts far longer than frozen pork.We think frozen pork tastes best if used within 2 months. If it lasts that long in my freezer I pressure can it. Rick

    • I’ll tell you a secret. Although the directions in my canning book say add broth to the pre-browned ground beef, I just lightly brown it, pack in hot jars and do not add broth. There’s still enough moisture in the meat to provide plenty of steam for safe processing and the end product is just like freshly browned ground beef. You’ll love it!

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