Of course part of the family is coming to help us celebrate Christmas so I’m pulling out a ham and figuring out what goodies to make between now and then. (Of course there is always apple and Hopi Pale Grey squash pie — beats pumpkin all hollow!) Then there’s cookies, bars, and veggie dishes. Gee, and I am trying to lose weight. Will is splitting time working between getting the solar array up and working and the outdoor wood boiler. He hit a glitch in the wiring for the solar array so has to re-do the wires from the control panel to the house. Oops! Better to find out now than later when something might get fried! We went to see his eye doctor yesterday in Hibbing and he just had minor changes. I was worried as he has borderline glaucoma and hasn’t had an eye exam in a while, but all is well. New glasses come just after Christmas. Now it’s my turn… We got the necessary wire while we were in town too, so he’s all set to go and the weather is very nice. After such a nasty November, it’s nice to be able to work outside without freezing.

Even watering the stock is much nicer. We’re doing that every day now as even though nights are not as cold, the tanks ice up too badly to break ice. We were watering every other day and breaking ice the second day and tossing it out of the tanks. That’s quit working so now we’re watering every day. A time consuming chore, but kind of pleasant watching the woods and livestock while waiting for the tanks to fill up. Yes, Will does have wood-fired stock tank heaters, but they must be fired regularly all day so we don’t use them until it gets really cold.

I just thought you’d like to remember what all those seeds you’re thinking about will produce, come harvest!
And a green garden…
Get ready! Spring IS coming…

I was looking through my photos and was sighing as I looked at those colorful garden and homestead photos. How quickly we get color-deprived in the winter! But the solstice is coming and the days will slowly begin to lengthen. That’s definitely something to look forward to! — Jackie


  1. Hi Jackie from Alabama! So glad we don’t have the ice & snow as much here. It is a delight to read of your adventures and routines. All the best, and Merry Christmas, Bo & Peggy McLarty

  2. Jackie, do you know how to make leather britches? My mother had talked about them as a way to dry green beans for the winter’s meals. I’m not sure if I am recalling this correctly.

    • Sure do, Judith! It’s easy. You just pick pairs of snap beans as in two growing together and “sit” them on a stout string in a warm spot; I use our enclosed porch as it’s quite hot in the harvest season. If you don’t have pairs of beans (depends on the variety), just “sew” the beans by running a threaded needle through the stem of each pod and over the main string…like a clothesline. They dry quite quickly in hot weather. When very dry, store them in an airtight container. I use old popcorn tins. When you want to use them, just soak in boiling water for a few minutes and they’re ready to go. (Remove the stem when you are using them.) They’re best in a mixed recipe instead of using them as a solo side dish.

  3. Merry Christmas Jackie and family! Those pictures make me long for summer! Do you have any idea when the first issue of the New Backwoods Home will be out? I hope you’re writing for it.
    Thanks for your blog. We live in Superior and haven’t had much sun unfortunately.

    • And to you, Pam! The next (first?) issue of the print BHM will be out soon. Sure I’m writing for BHM, just like always. I love the magazine. But I also love Self-Reliance too! Yeah, we haven’t had much sun this fall through now. I miss it!!!

  4. Those photos were a sight for sore eyes for me today as we have 100 km winds and pelting rain here on Vancouver Island. Luckily I loaded up the wood box yesterday and made spaghetti that I can heat on the woodstove if the power goes out. Yikes!
    Glad you are getting a nice stretch of weather and hope you have a lovely holiday with your family!

  5. Oh those pictures are such a welcome treat to see this time of year! Glad all went well with Will’s eye exams. Wishing you and all of your family a very Merry Christmas and wonderful year ahead Jackie!

    • We so love to see COLOR this time of the year! Will got his new glasses today and I know he’ll be able to read much better now. Whew! His arms were just too short…. Merry Christmas to you too, Wendy!

  6. Oh Wow, Those tomatoes look so good. I usually put a few green ones back to ripen during the winter but didn’t do that this year. Sure do miss them. Best of luck on the dieting. I gave it up until after Christmas. Just too much temptation. I don’t want to keep beating myself up over those temptations. After Christmas will get a fresh start. It sure isn’t easy. Hope you, Will and rest of family have a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous and Happy New Year filled with God’s blessings. You are an inspiration to a lot of people.

    • Thank you Deborah! And I hope you and your family will have a wonderful Christmas and the Happiest of New Years.

  7. Thanks for the pictures. They sure are a pick me up!! I can’t wait to really sit down and study your catalog!

    Thank you so much for all that you share all year! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, Will and your whole family!!

    • And a very Merry Christmas and Wonderful New Year to you too! I couldn’t resist the photos as I was wandering through Picasa 3 albums of my photos.

  8. Hoping to make sure that you will be selling seeds to your Canadian followers again this year – I save a lot of my own seeds from our best producers (many from you originally), but you keep on showing us a lot of amazing new veggies in your garden and getting me excited for Spring!

    Best of the Holidays to you and yours

    • Yes, we will be offering seeds to our Canadian friends. I do wish the “powers that be” would lower the postal rates to Canada though to make it easier for Canadians to afford seeds. Merry Christmas to you and a very Happy New Year!

      • Oh, I agree. I keep wanting to order some of Jackie’s books when BHM has the special deals but the shipping cost comes out to more than double the total cost of the books!

        The only major book retailers in Canada are Amazon.ca and Indigo/Chapters and neither carry the books.

        Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a healty, joyful, prosperous New Year.

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