It was nice yesterday so Will took me out to see a spot he’d discovered while making ATV trails through the dead, blown-down fir on our new Big Pines forty. It was a gentle hill, on which were nice maples just beginning to leaf out red, as well as some large, blown down pines and firs. (A few years ago, there was a very strong wind storm which blew through that forty acres, as well as neighboring land, felling big and small trees as it went.) We are always on the lookout for lumber-making trees as well as firewood, no matter where we go on our land. And we always have plenty of building projects, both of our own and David and Ashley’s cabin. Will brought the chainsaw with us and cut into a big fir he’d found on that pretty hill. The butt was bad but only one length up, most of the log is just fine. Hondo always goes with the four wheeler as he loves chasing rabbits and investigating wonderful woodland smells.

On the way to the back corner of the Big Pines Forty.
Will cuts into a blown-down tree to check to see if it can be used for lumber. Yes!

Our old Honda Big Bear ATV was dead and David wanted an ATV but couldn’t afford one. So he found a used motor and has been spending a few hours after work to replace the motor and fix up other things that were wrong with it. (It’s amazing how much we use our four wheelers around here! Many times every day — they’re real work-horses.) At first David was discouraged as he couldn’t get it to go into gear. But he worked and worked and took things apart. And, finally, yesterday, he got it running and drove it around the orchard a few times. It still has a few bugs but at least it’s running and shifts into all gears. Yea, David!

David is working on restoring our old Big Bear for his own homestead workhorse.

It’s time for me to get the cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflower started in the house. If the plants get too big before setting out in the garden, they become root-bound and do not produce well at all. That’s one of the most common cause of failures in these crops for gardeners — especially broccoli and cauliflower — often after buying plants from big box stores. I especially love Goliath broccoli and Purple of Sicily cauliflower. We love the nice big heads and the lovely lavender cast on the top of Purple of Sicily cauliflower! I can hardly wait.

Yesterday I set out all our tomatoes and peppers. Then a big wind came up and I couldn’t get them in fast enough. I had to water them as I brought them in and when I had finished, the plants looked pretty sadly wind-blown. But today they look like they have recovered well.

Our first rhubarb is almost big enough to pull a few stalks. I can hardly wait for that first pie of the year. (If you’d like recipes for pie, check out my book Jackie Clay’s Pantry Cookbook, or if you want to can up rhubarb or rhubarb preserves, check out Growing and Canning Your Own Food, available through BHM.) My friend gave me some dried-out raisins and craisins and as soon as the big rhubarb crop comes in, I’ll can up lots of rhubarb sauce and rhubarb conserve, using them. They’ll plump up just fine. They will also plump up when I soak them in hot water for a few minutes. So we’re in for lots of oatmeal-raisin cookies too. Darn — now I’m hungry! — Jackie


  1. Aaaaahhh…..I just planted my broccoli and cauliflower and they were pretty big already. I tried to loosen the roots and “uncurl” the circular ones at the bottom of the pot as I was planting them. Next year I’ll know better and not start them so early. But I sure was sad to read it might cause me problems! Thanks for all the info though. Love reading your homestead adventures. It always makes me think outside the box and try to be creative with what I have around here. Thanks Jackie. Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Yours will probably be fine; it’s usually the store-bought plants that become severely root bound but it is better to start them later in the spring. Happy Mothers Day to you too!

  2. Dear Jackie, I have to tell you it has been pure pleasure over the years to watch David to grow into the capable grown man he is now.Thru the Backwoods Home magazines and your blog. Just wanted you to hear it even tho I’m sure you already know how amazing he is.

    • Of course, being a mom, I am thrilled at how well he’s turned out! Happy Mothers Day to you too, Diana!

  3. Loved reading about the adventure on the new property, and all of it’s potential for your lumber supplies! Thanks for the great updates on what’s happening at Jackie and Will’s place!

    • We’re absolutely thrilled with all of the potential lumber on that forty that would have otherwise just rotted away.

  4. Hi Jackie

    If you have lots of maples – and they are sugar maples you can tap them

    My husband tapped his first (and only sugar maple this spring) and got a quart of runny syrup – I suggested he boil it down more so it would be more viscous but he wanted it ‘runny’ lol

    • Unfortunately, they are silver maples, not sugar maples, but maybe we’ll give tapping a try as all maples can be tapped; there’s just less boiling involved with sugar maples. Me, I like my syrup, well, syrupy, not runny.

    • Yup but just look for “oatmeal cookies” and when you make them, just toss in a handful or more of raisins!

  5. I ADORE oatmeal raisin cookies!! Would you please share your recipe? I have your books on cooking and canning.

    Enjoy your blog; reading “Starting Over” again.

  6. I love the joy that you find in every day. You remind me that the simple details are blessings.

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