As our seed business is growing and we are getting older, we’d like to open our homestead to an additional apprentice or two. Our wonder-gal, Alisha, now has a boyfriend who has a farm in eastern Wisconsin so she’s getting busy with her own gardens, canning, and livestock. I’m sure she’ll be visiting from time to time but we need a bit more help. Now, we don’t care if you’re male or female, rich or homeless, what your color or religion is, your age or experience. But you must have a passion for learning to homestead and a good work ethic as there sure will be work. (It’s the same work Will and I are doing; we aren’t looking for slave labor.) We can offer low-key camping facilities in our old motorhome on the land, all the teaching we can give you regarding all aspects of off-grid homesteading, and a friendly environment. We live smack in the middle of the big woods so wildlife, nature, and birds abound. You’ll be treated as one of the family and you’ll be fed well. We can’t offer pay. You can be here for a month or the whole summer — whatever you want. No booze, drugs, or smoking please. If this is something you’d be interested in, please e-mail us at or write Jackie and Will Atkinson, 8533 Hwy 25, Angora, MN 55703. Alisha is coming for a three week visit tomorrow and we are excited as we haven’t seen her since fall.

Today, I cut up another Borchart’s Wonder squash and made two “pumpkin” pies, just like I do with Hopi Pale Greys. I was so tickled that the squash was just full of seeds! Now I can share them with many of our seed customers so they get a chance to try another great, rare squash. The pies were wonderful but were distinctively different in flavor than the Hopi pies. I could tell them apart with my eyes closed. Wow, two different pumpkin pies from the same recipe; the only difference was the type of squash I used. Isn’t that fun? (If you’d like more tips on squash, check out Issue 135 of BHM or the Twenty-Third Year Anthology.)

A nice Borchart’s Wonder squash
One of the “pumpkin” pies. Yum!

David and his brother, Bill, went coyote hunting down at Bill’s this weekend. I ask David if they saw any coyotes and he replied “No, just chickadees, red and gray squirrels, and crows.” But I’m sure they had fun, anyway — any excuse to get out into the woods. Meanwhile, Will was off in our woods, cutting down trees the loggers missed as he wants to clear about 10 acres of the 40 acres David’s cabin is on for more pasture. (This is why we had loggers come in that area while they were logging across our creek.) Right now it’s a mess with tangled branches everywhere but we’ll take what we can for firewood, then David and Will are going to bulldoze the rest into piles. From past experience, those piles will compost in about two years and be gone. And the cows will have another nice pasture.

I can’t wait to start a new garden at the end of the Wolf Road where Will is now clearing.

I am also going to put in another isolation garden there so we can grow more corn, melons, and squash, keeping them pure. It looks like spring is going to be busy … but then, it always is! — Jackie


    • I really like Prairie Gold, a nice spring wheat developed by a family farm in Three Forks, Montana. They now have a big mill and outlet there called Wheat Montana. (You’ll even see some of their flours in WalMart!) If you’d like a couple more sources of heirloom wheat, or another good spring wheat, let me know.

  1. Everett and Jackie: ancient wheat is fascinating – I got interested in it from reading Sepp Holzer’s books. He got ancient wheat seeds and grew crops in his short season alpine climate. If you will use ancient wheat seeds as a search term in Google you’ll get information from a lot of seed sources. Native Seeds SEARCH has two varieties from way back when most recently grown in the southwest that may work in other climates and they could advise you about that. I have some of their White Sonora wheat flour (I didn’t grind the wheat myself) and it is amazing.

    • I agree; ancient wheats are very neat. The one problem with some of them is that they’re hard to get the husk removed from the wheat berry. The way I’ve done it is by hand after combining it as the combine won’t separate the husk from the grain. (If anyone has experience doing this faster than rubbing the kernels between your hands, please let me know!)

  2. If age and health were different, I would love to work along side of you to absorb everything I could. Prayers for the perfect match to come and be the best help for you.

  3. You are teasing us by saying the squash pies are so different but not describing. How do i know which squash to dream about growing? I moved in to help my elderly parents and hope to add a raised bed/trellis to the small yard, so i can only plan for one variety. Lol

    • Then, even though Hopi Pale Grey squash makes THE best pumpkin pie, because you have a small yard and/or raised beds available, I’d suggest the Borchart’s Wonder squash as the vines don’t seem to be anywhere as long and aggressive as the ones Hopi Pale Greys have. They will even climb up trees! But boy do they make wonderful pies!

  4. If it weren’t for being mid-70’s I’d be there in a heartbeat! Good luck in finding just the right folks for the job.

    • Thank you Toni. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of young people who seem interested in gardening or homesteading and that’s a shame! What a wonderful lifestyle!

  5. Jackie, if I was not in my 60’s, married with 14 kids at home, the two youngest just turned one this week, and recovering from breast cancer/chemo/radiation, I would be there in a heartbeat. There is nothing I would love more than learning from the master. Good luck on finding the perfect apprentice. Heck, I would just love to be there for a week to watch and learn.

    • Thank you Jo. You sound like me, 14 years ago. I “inherited” my elderly parents while we were camping in a travel trailer, my husband suddenly died, two months later I was building a house and fighting cancer. But, hey, I’m still here and spring is coming. My prayers are for your quick and total recovery!

  6. An apprentice would learn a lot from you. It would negate many problems from just winging it. Oh if I could have had a mentor. Seminars and hands on work speeds the learning cook. Jackie do you know where I can get wheat seed? My order from Johnny’s was kaput due to crop failure. Wouldn’t that be bad if it happened worldwide? Spring is coming-yes.

    • What variety are you looking for? I’ve got a few sources you might use. You’re right, learning by doing sure beats just reading about it!

    • Everett

      Not sure what type of wheat seeds you are seeking or if shipping from Canada is an issue but there are some good high integrity companies here that sell wheat seeds. Prairie Garden Seeds from Saskatchewan has about 50 varieties ( and Salt Spring Seeds from British Columbia also carry a few varieties of wheat seeds. West Coast Seeds have winter wheat seeds (they don’t die off but lie dormant over winter, then germinate in spring).

      I know Jackie will have some good USA sources .

  7. My goodness, Jackie, how many gardens will that make? You may need an apprentice for each one. I’d love to be one, but I’ll just enjoy the memories I have of attending your first seminar. It’s nearly time to start seedlings and I’m looking forward to trying the new varieties I got from you. Wishing you a great Seed Treasures year. And, as always, you and Will provide unending inspiration. Thank you.

    • That’ll make seven and I’m also thinking about “stealing” a plot by David’s new cabin, where he plans to eventually build a garage. These won’t be big but will let us keep pure seed from more varieties. Can’t wait till spring!

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