We’ve become pretty sun-deprived as it’s been cloudy for weeks now. And that’s unusual for this part of Minnesota. Usually we see the sun at least part of the day, every day. Not only is it hard on our spirits but also our poor solar array. But Will is plugging along, building the heavy pipe rack for our new, larger array. It’s kind of intricate as he is building it so he can easily change the angle of the panels to fit the season of the year. In the winter, the sun is lower so the panels must stand more upright to catch the most rays; in the summer, the sun is higher so the panels lay down more for the same reason. So the back “legs” of the rack are being built to telescope, one pipe inside the other so we can use the tractor’s bucket to move the rack to a different angle and keep it there by sliding a bolt through holes drilled in the telescoping legs. It’s getting there!

Will is busy working on the back of the rack, making the telescoping legs which hinge on the bottom to allow the solar array to be moved to a greater or lesser angle to suit the season’s sunshine.

Meanwhile, I’ve been canning like mad, and cleaning out our freezer to hold the beef we’re picking up at the butcher’s tonight. We also have to deliver quarters of beef, all frozen in neat white packages, to five customers plus ourselves. So tonight will be a busy night. I’ve got most of the “old” ground beef canned up, except for some I’m saving to make chili to can. We really love that and it’s so handy when we’ve been busy all day. I can make a quick batch of cornbread and I have a meal. Today, I’m canning turkey. I had two frozen “on sale” turkeys that needed to get out of the freezer to make more room. So I roasted them and we had great meals. Now I’m boiling the rest up in my big stockpot to can. Like the chili, that canned turkey sure comes in handy and it’s already nicely cooked. (Think creamed turkey and wild rice soup, turkey casserole, turkey with noodles, turkey sandwiches…) Now I’m hungry! (If you’ve never canned meat and are a bit leery of doing so, check out my article You can safely can your own meat in issue 105 of BHM or The Eighteenth Year Anthology. You can also find step by step information in my book, Growing And Canning Your Own Food.)

Here’s another pot of turkey simmering away on my stove. When it’s cool I will de-bone the meat and can it in the strained, reheated broth.

After hunting season was over, I started feeding our deer. You might think this is nuts with all the damage the deer can do to our garden. But we’ve got them fenced out and we feel that keeping our local deer population healthy and growing is like putting money in the bank in case we might ever need that meat. We also do this with our grouse and seldom hunt them for the same reason. After all, you never know… We live far from anyone else or a road so we’re not causing danger or annoyance to neighbors or travelers hitting one on the road. I get a kick out of running the ATV down into the pasture with the bucket of feed and seeing the deer come running, licking their lips. The grouse come to clean up what they miss. — Jackie


  1. I love reading what you write! I am in Northwestern MN, and it is hard finding articles that address the problems we get in our climate! Not everyone is homesteading in Idaho after all. Look forward to more.

  2. Glad to see the progress on the solar array and your canning! I need to get busy cooking and canning the turkeys I got at a great price at Thanksgiving. We are glad to see glimpses of the sun here in Michigan too. Not too many glimpses these days though.

    • It’s on page 183 of my book, Growing and Canning Your Own Food. If you don’t have the book, let me know and I’ll sure share it here.

  3. Merry Christmas Jackie & Will 😊 I noticed that as you can your Turkey you 1st strain the broth…are you cooling and removing the fat? Again with the silly questions.

    Thanks for all of your expertise throughout the years. You are a treasure.

    Judi Almand

    • And a very Merry Christmas to you too, Judi! I first roast the turkey, which removes a lot of the fat. I boil the rest, without the pan drippings so there’s not a lot of fat left. I do not remove that. A bit of fat doesn’t affect the seal and adds flavor to the canned turkey. We love it that way and it is so very convenient to have in the pantry.

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