And now a major storm is bearing down on us. So far we’ve had a relatively mild winter for Northern Minnesota, but that’s due to change tonight. They’re forecasting from 12 to 14 inches of blowing, drifting snow for this evening and tomorrow. Then the temperatures are going to drop. And drop. Gee, I hope those two cows don’t decide to have their calves then. We won’t be having any more winter calves as Will bought a bull this summer and is also raising another bull from one of our best cows. The bulls we have borrowed from a friend just didn’t get the job done, and a homesteader can’t afford having unproductive “pet” cows! We need those calves to help pay the bills.

Our son, Javid, was here to help us celebrate Christmas.

Javid, David, and Ashley were here to help us celebrate Christmas and we had a very nice day. It was too short as Javid could only stay an hour and half as he is still battling getting his pressure sore healed. But all in all, we had a great day and will repeat it on Saturday when Bill and his family come up for a second “Christmas.” That’s if that major winter storm doesn’t prove real nasty.

David and Ashley helped Javid open stubborn packages.

I can hardly believe I’ll be starting petunias next month! Wow, spring seems a lot closer once I get to start planting. I like to set my petunias out nice and bushy and blooming so I have to get them started early.

We’ll be having a nice Black Angus prime rib on Saturday as everyone is getting a bit tired of turkey and ham. Gee, but it’s nice to have your own meat. I sure couldn’t afford to go to the store and buy a prime rib — and not know where it came from. Our own beef is so good!

I just have to tell you how blessed we feel, even with a storm coming down on us. We have plenty of firewood, the animals have lots of feed (even the deer!), we, of course, have lots and lots in the pantry and freezer, We have our health and a wonderful homestead. We also have very good friends and a loving family. What more does one want? — Jackie


  1. Yes Jackie, you are blessed and reaping the rewards of all of your hard work! Glad you’ve had a great Christmas so far. Hope that snow doesn’t burden your efforts too much. Same here as what Heather said… We’ve gotten a snow dusting last night, and very cold here again in Michigan, after a weird day on Friday of 50 degrees. The seed catalogs are arriving though!

    • We got by nicely. We had a quite clear day and Will got us all plowed out nicely so even Javid’s handicap van could get in with no problem. Fifty degrees??? Wow that is strange alright.

  2. It is ugly here and heading your way. We got about 8″, but with the wind we have either bare ground or 2 foot drifts.

    Hunker down, bring some wood in, and spend some family time. It’s the Best!

    • We haven’t had much wind and have about 2′ on the level now. But we got plowed out between snow storms. Lots of wood in the house and it feels good to have chores done and sit by the fire. Couldn’t ask for more.

  3. Are the petunias you grow open pollinated? I haven’t saw their seeds on your site so I was curious where you get the seeds for them? I love petunias but have never started them from seed because I’ve heard it’s hard to do.

    • Some are; some aren’t as I like some of the fancy Wave petunias and others. They’re really not hard to start from seed but the seed is tiny and they take months to grow into flowering plants after transplanting them from their initial flat. During this time they need plenty of light and some pruning to keep them from getting long and weak.

  4. Hi Jackie, a belated Merry Christmas to you and Will and the rest of the family! As usual, I sent no cards…sigh. Things are about the same here, no “homesteading” happening any more. Sometimes I miss it…but not enough to “do” it! 😉
    Love, JoyceA

    • And to you, Joyce! I know how busy you are. It seems like every year we, too, send out fewer cards. Happy New Year to you!

  5. So nice to be with family. We had the 5 sons/wives and 14 grandchildren it was a busy day. We had our prime rib and it was enjoyed by all except the little ones got their favorite-mac and cheese. We had a light dusting of snow and still the winter chores are relatively easy and the cows requiring much less feed. We miss our usual wintery winters with snow. Stay warm

    • I’ll bet you didn’t have many left-overs either. We really enjoyed our prime rib. Can’t be beat! I think your normal wintery weather is headed your way soon. We’ve got about 2′ on the ground and we’re kept busy hauling hay, breaking ice and watering stock. (And Will has two cows who will calve fairly soon. NOT planned! The bull was no good.) Happy New Year!

  6. Looks like one of Javid’s gifts was packed in a cracker box. I got a kick out of that as we do that too. In November we start saving cereal boxes, cracker boxes, and any other food box we think might work to pack gifts in. Sure makes it easier to wrap the gifts plus we are recycling too. It has become a running joke in our family when someone opens a gift and finds a Bran Flake box.

    • I think it makes it more fun anyway. You can’t ever guess what’s in the package if it’s in a box!

  7. Merry Christmas Jackie and Will! Sounds liked you had a great time and hopefully the snow isn’t too bad. Here in the cities sounds like a bit of snow, rain, then snow and cold…all in all, yucky couple of days. Stay warm and happy New Year!

    • Happy New Year, Lisa! No, our snow isn’t bad. We have about 2′ on the ground but not enough wind to cause drifting and the snow is light and fluffy. We’re all toasty and happy entering the new year.

  8. Major storm coming in here tonight too but all the chores are done and we are ready.
    You mentioned starting petunias next month. Interesting.
    Makes one wonder just what would really be a good time to start various things. Planting season either finds us with tomato plants long and spindly or so small they needs weeks yet before going out same with many other things as well. I am sure it varies from year to year but surely there are some rough guide lines to follow instead of just guessing.

    • There are guidelines and they should be searchable online – they are for where I live. Your county Extension Service may have a printed sheet either from the office or online for your county. The difficulty is that those guidelines are just a rough guide – actual timing depends on your soil type which determines how quickly your soil warms – how much rock and gravel is in your soil together with how much direct sun it gets, how wet it stays, when the ground thaws, when your last snow is. I depend on my soil thermometer (or you can buy a thermal probe) because so many plants have temperature sensitive roots and stems. In spring I find it helpful to take and write down a series of soil temp readings in critical spots in my gardens. The temperature record over time tells me what is going on in the ground in each spot, and rather than being a guideline is specific to my land. And there are things you can do to warm your soil and keep your seedlings warm. The ambient air temperature matters too. If your budget allows, tunnels made with a woven poly material called di-betalon is a do-it-right product but it is very expensive. It can be cut and sewn by hand or machine for custom sized plots.

    • Stay warm, Reg! We start petunias in late January as they are SO slow in getting up to blooming stage and I like to make up my hanging baskets and hang them in our enclosed, heated porch in the spring when it still freezes so they get big. We advise starting tomato plants about 9 weeks before setting them out into the garden. Generally this is in early June here when all danger of frost is over. Like you said, it depends on the year; some start off warmer or colder than others. With the use of Wall’O Waters, we start ours in the garden mid-May when frosts are still happening.
      Peppers grow slower so we like to start them 10 weeks or more before setting out.
      Like Zelda says, there are “guidelines” but again, they’re pretty vague. Keep an eye on the soil temperature. A thermometer is perfect but I’ll admit I usually just dig into the soil with my hand. If it feels lukewarm or warm, seeds and plants can go in happily. If it is as cold as ice or pretty darned cool, I wait awhile even with such things as carrots. (They germinate much faster and better when planted in warmer soil.)

    • Cherish your warmer weather while you can. Winter will probably still arrive in your neck of the woods.

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