Make that perfect plus! Wow — I sneaked a taste as I ladled it into the jars and even I am impressed. Now we have 14 pints of nice bean soup sitting on the pantry shelves. Won’t that be nice with some homemade bread? It made me want to can up some more, but I’m out of ham. A friend gave me an idea. Both she and I had gotten big bags of Johnsonville brats and Dara canned up hers with beans and said it was wonderful. Maybe I’ll give that a try. You never know when you’ll find a new favorite!

Will has been busy at the end of the Wolf Road, cutting up the black ash logs that were our “payment” from the loggers for going through our land to access their state logging site. And he’s also moving the slash piles back off our new garden. Soon we’ll be adding the Wolf Garden to our homestead. The ground is where David used to camp in the summer and is open, except for the debris and logs, as well as being mainly sand. As it’s a long way through the woods to the nearest other garden, the North Garden, it will let us grow another variety of corn and also another C. maxima squash without crossing.

Our doe goat, Bella (Sparkle’s mom) is really cranking out the milk. Sparkle can’t even drink it all so I have to also milk her. I’m thinking she’s giving at least a gallon a day between what Sparkle drinks and what I milk. Pretty soon I’ll be making yogurt again! If you’re thinking of adding a dairy goat to your homestead, check out the Backwoods Home dairy goat handbook.

Our goats are happy spring is here, and Bella is producing tons of milk.

The chickens are in full swing as well, cranking out eggs like there’s no tomorrow. Any of you who don’t have chickens and have room enough for a few, now might be a good time to pick up some of those cute chicks that the feed stores and catalogs are advertising. Sure, they won’t lay eggs till fall but that’s when I figure the you-know-what’s going to hit the fan. I hope I’m wrong…

Our hens are very busy!

Spring is actually happening here! My first crocus is blooming and also the squills. They’re so cheerful and very happy to be the first. Somehow a deer got into the backyard last night and I think he ate my tulips. (I’m too chicken to go look…) Will fixed the fence where he crashed out so I know one was in there.

The first flowers are blooming.

Will got my handy-dandy riding lawn mower out of the barn and running. No, I don’t have to mow the lawn yet. But I do want to chop up the corn stalks in the garden and mow the asparagus beds in two gardens. The gardens till up much nicer without the corn stalks, pumpkin, and squash vines still in them, all in one piece. I can’t wait to get started! — Jackie


  1. I have a bunch of beef bones but only a few ham bones. Have not raised any meat since we started selling nuts. I like beef and beans but prefer Ham and beans. Have to get them from the store.
    But maybe no nuts this year so am looking at a garden for the first time in years. YEAH!!!! I need to find some yellow pole beans. Will look in your web site.

  2. I have to laugh. This weekend, our new part-time apprentice, Kelly, came for a two day visit. She asked if I had some milk for her coffee and I checked the store milk in the fridge. Oh oh! It had gone sour. So I grabbed a canning jar, went out to the goats and milked a jar full of hot, foamy milk. Kelly had her coffee creamer and I used the rest to make the breakfast biscuits. I love those goats!!

  3. So glad all seems to be well we you and your family. I was wondering if you could pass on the recipe for your bean and ham soup. I have books Jackie Clay’s pantry cookbook and Growing and canning your own food and unless I missed something can’t find it. I really am trying to do more meals in a jar now so when I’m tired this summer from gardening and canning days I will have good easy food to open. Thank you.

  4. Speaking of beans, do you can red beans for red beans and rice? Have a good recipe or tips. I would like to try this. Thanks!

    • Sure. I can all sorts of beans in the same easy way. First I rinse and sort the beans then add them to a big pot of water and set it to boil. Then boil hard for 2 minutes. Take off the stove and cover; let set for 2 hours. With a slotted spoon, pack beans 3/4 full in jars. Don’t pack. When all the beans are in the jars, bring the liquid to a boil and ladle over the beans leaving 1″ of headspace. Process pints for 65 minutes and quarts for 75 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. If you live above 1,000 feet consult your canning book for directions on increasing your pressure to suit your altitude. I can up any old dry beans as they don’t cook down tender unless they are canned.

  5. Hi Jackie,
    Are you and Will still considering having a seminar this Fall? Distancing included?
    I don’t know how you, even with your assistant, keep up with the gardening you already have, so one with sand, and the watering involved, makes me laugh and cry at the same time! I love the idea. Makes me tired thinking about it though. You never cease to impress us all.
    Air hugs,

    • Yes, we are still planning on doing a seminar. It’s possible we may have to postpone but maybe things will settle down by then. We’ve got big 350 gallon water tanks that go in the back of the pickup if we need to water remote gardens. And while we water, there are always some odd jobs to be doing at the same time.

  6. Jackie, Brauts and other sausages are great in bean soups. I made a wonder Italian bean soup with german and Italian sausages. I used white beans, kale and peppers in it along with the usual veggies. I plan on making more this year.

  7. Your soup recipe is good. I have made it and canned it. There is much to do at this time of year but isn’t it fun?

    So what do you think may happen this fall? Not enough food in the stores? I would like to be more prepared but not quite sure what I am after yet?

    How about a short posting on possibly helping us prepare better for the fall and winter? What you may think will happen?

    • I’ll do that Cindy. But it’ll just be my “guess”. I’m thinking we’re in for a tight fall/winter, food wise. Right now farmers are plowing in crops like green beans, cabbage and peas (nobody working the canning factories), shooting pigs (processing plants with hundreds of COVID sick employees) and killing egg layers as there’s not much market for eggs now that the schools and restaurants are closed. This has gotta catch up with us sometime.
      Then when all the canned food from China is used up I feel there’s going to be a big lag before everyone gets back into the swing.
      Okay, say they “open the economy” due to pressure. I’m thinking in a couple of months we’re going to see another huge outbreak of COVID-19 as folks just aren’t taking serious precautions now and when they get back together????
      Again, just my view. I hope I’m wrong.

      • Thank you so much. I understand what you are saying. I never thought of the lag time between killing the animals off and then Oh OH we need to get more chickens and animals. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Jackie, what on earth are Johnsonville brats? Some of the words you use are really foreign to me. Only recently I realised what ground cherries are. We speak the same language but sometimes I must admit to total confusion, interesting in a funny way. Lol.

    • Johnsonville is a brand name and brats are bratwurst sausages. You can buy them in small or bulk packages at grocery, big box or restaurant supply stores

    • Johnsonville is a meat company which makes bratwurst sausages; brats with a long A; not BRATS like your bad kids! Sorry about that. A long time ago I did an article for the magazine and the then editor, John Silviera called me and asked if I was really canning children????? He hadn’t heard of brats, either. Woops. No John. We don’t can children.

  9. Dear Jackie,
    I have followed your blog for years and gotten so many good tips. Also several of your books helped too. I was wondering about your pic of Sparkle and friends. In the background there looks like a 5ft tall turkey. Is that a photo freak shot or that turkey seriously that big? Ha. ..Jan Raburn

  10. About chickens. Is it possible to buy pullets so that do not have to wait do long before they start laying?

    • Yes, you can but they are more expensive by quite a bit. Sometimes you can find ones people are selling that are 2 years old. They still will lay eggs but maybe not everyday.

    • LIke Kathy B said, you can buy them but they’re very expensive. So I’d either find some older, young layers or buy chicks and wait; time goes pretty fast.

  11. Just wondered how you make yogurt. I tried it and it didn’t turn out. If you are willing to share your recipe here I would thank you very much.

    • What I do is just take strained, raw milk (not ultra-pasteurized), warmed to 115 degrees F and nearly fill a wide mouthed quart jar. Then I stir in 2 tsp of a good quality store-bought yogurt with active cultures and put the filled jars in a turkey roasting pan full of hot tap water nearly to the necks of the jars. Put lids on the jars and the top on the roasting pan. Place a heavy towel over the roaster to insulate and keep it warm. Incubate for about 8 hrs. The yogurt will thicken but do not shake or stir it during incubation or it will ruin the set. If you have trouble getting your yogurt to set, mix 1 drop of liquid rennet to 3 Tbsp water and mix 1 tbsp of this with the above mixture and incubate as usual. The rennet helps it to thicken better.

  12. You inspired me to can up some bean soup. I have the ham bone and some ham in the freezer and I love putting things down in the canning cellar. It sure is a beautiful day today. I think I’ll make a cup of coffee, sit out on the porch and watch the rhubarb grow.

  13. I was in my canning room yesterday looking at a jar of ham and bean soup and was tempted to heat it up. I love the recipe from your canning book. Don’t work too hard.

  14. So glad you’re on the mend! We cleared the hill of blackberries, getting ready to plant strawberry sets to sure up the hill. Garden is almost tilled. We’ve had wonderful spring weather here in Western WA!

    • Are you SURE you got all the blackberries? They’re awful tenacious! Have a great spring.

  15. The bean soup looked good and l thought l could taste and smell it here. You sure don’t let anything go to waste up there. I understand why though. It’s a good thing you have that beautiful little Sparkle to prime the milk pump for you. Goats have always been one of my favorite farm animals. I used to collect the eggs from our hens growing up but l never liked to collect them from our one banty hen. She was mean and only let my mother get them. So glad spring arrived up there around you, enjoy it and life as you live the dream most of us can’t.

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